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Editorials: 7/31 edboard

Good morning ...

Here's what we talked about for the Friday editorial board meeting: The stricter House approach to FAA rules, the possible acceleration of Iraq troop withdrawals (with a side look at the impact of military activity on the ruins of Babylon), the dairy consortium forming in Congress and US-Syria relations and their effect on Mideast policy.

Comments and suggestions welcome -- and have a nice weekend!

-Mike Vogel  

Do it yourself

   The New York Senate came back to life this month, with little of its dignity intact, and passed a bill that can help you and your loved ones manage the end of your lives, with full dignity, in a way of your choosing. Good for them. Now, the Assembly needs to act, too.SenateNY

- Here's our editorial: Do it yourself
   Some still will see problems with this measure, though, so here’s the bottom line: Take matters into your own hands and decide your own medical decision-making process, rather than allowing the state’s fall-back process to take over. A simple health care proxy would do that job, and should be part of everyone’s personal planning.
-
Here's the News article: Health care proxy bill may finally be enacted
- Here's the bill: The Family Heath Care Decisions Act
- Here's the list of people for you to lobby: New York State Assembly members
- Here's information about how to handle your own health care proxy and other such questions, whether the Legislature acts or not, borrowed from the Web site of Univera Community Health: Advance Care Planning.
- Here's a song to go with it all.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Editorials: 7/30 edboard

Hello, all. Here's what we decided to look into, at today's editorial board meeting: The federal investigation of county jails, the Crowley-Webb "teachable moment" saga, passage of the rehab tax credit and restoration of the Roycroft power house.

Comments and suggestions, as always, are welcome.

-Mike Vogel

Editorials: Today's edboard

At today's editorial board meeting, we decided to look into the city pay-for-play issues ( two of you suggested that in comments to yesterday's topics post, as well), at texting-while-driving issues and at the hiuge uncertainties in health care reform, primarily involving costs. And we've got a writer and videographer out at the Richardson complex for a video editorial.

Nice to see the governor in town today to sign the historic structure rehabilitation tax credit bill, at last. Should help spur reuse of some of this city's older buildings. Tuesday's editorial page detailed the plan.

-Mike Vogel 

The Battle of Lackawanna

   An editorial in today's Buffalo News breathes a sigh of relief that, despite the fevered arguments of Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush never really gave much consideration to a plan to use U.S. Army troops to arrest members of the Lackawanna Six terrorist cell. [Background articles here and here.]
   It would have been a horrible, fearful, disruptive, not to mention illegal and unconstitutional, thing to do.
   Of course, if it had happened, there could have been a silver lining for Lackawanna. Tourism. T-shirts. Learned symposia and a whole new way to do historic re-enactments.
   And we'd need a song. You know, like "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" or, better yet, like Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans."

"The Battle of Lackawanna"
[sung to the tune of "The Battle of New Orleans"]

Back in 20-aught-2 we took a little drive
Along with Mr. Cheney up the New York Highway Five
We took some Blackhawk choppers and we took some Hummers too
And we rounded up those terrorists before they could kill you.

Well, we pushed our plans over legal consternation
We dissed the FBI and attorney gen'rl too
We pushed our plans to defend a frightened nation
By invading Lackawanna with the Airborne Eighty-Two.

We had some fancy memos from the White House legal team
Who promised that the Constitution didn't really mean
To stop the U.S. Army from drawing up a plan
To arrest anybody who'd been to 'ghanistan.

We pushed our plans over legal consternation
We ignored Condoleezza and we listed to John Yoo
We pushed our plans to defend a frightened nation
By invading Lackawanna with the Airborne Eighty-Two.

Mr. Cheney said we could take 'em by surprise
If we didn't let the rule of law muddy up our eyes
So we didn't tell the sheriff and we didn't tell the state
And we rounded up those terrorists before they sealed our fate.

The Posse Comitatus Law has never been the same
And the people everywhere sing the praises of our name
The neocons are joyful that they stopped bin Laden's plan
By rounding up the occupants of Lackawannastan

We pushed our plans over legal consternation
We ignored the Constitution and NYCLU
We pushed our plans to defend a frightened nation
When we conquered Lackawanna back in 20-zero-2.

We were going to sing it for you, but that would have undermined our editorial opposition to torture. If any of you go musically YouTube with this, though, we wouldn't mind getting a link.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Steps toward flight safety

   The lead editorial on today's Buffalo News Opinion page is coincidentally supported by a front-page article that includes more details about the woeful state of the people who fly for the smaller regional airlines, particularly the state of the crew that was struggling through Colgan Air's Continental Connection Flight 3407 when it crashed in Clarence Center back in February.
- The editorial:
Steps toward flight safety 
   The admirable human desire to build something useful out of something tragic has taken form in briskDealerairline action by one committee of the U. S. Senate—action that could improve air safety significantly in this country. ...
   It is now up to the rest of Congress, prompted by New York’s delegation, to maintain this sense of directed outrage and see it through to the meaningful reform of an industry that has received far too little oversight in recent years
.
- The article:
Preflight transcript reveals ailing co-pilot 
   The co-pilot of Continental Connection Flight 3407 said she was so sick that she didn’t want to fly — and groused about her pay and employer — in the moments before her doomed plane left Newark, N. J., for Buffalo.
- The newest transcript is here.
- The whole National Transportation Safety Board docket on the crash is here.
- Previous article:
Senate panel approves air safety measures
   The bill, which reauthorizes Federal Aviation Administration operations for the next two years, calls for an independent study of scientific research on pilot fatigue—and requires that the findings be included in the FAA’s upcoming new flight-time and duty-time rules for pilots.

  The Cleveland Plain Dealer, meanwhile, has been conducting its own probe, with more frightening results, into how pilots for regional airlines are being rid hard and put away wet.
Regional air pilots talk of long schedules and fatigue
   Michael Zaite learned a lot when he flew as a co-pilot for Cleveland-based CommutAir, but it wasn't the education he was expecting.
   Zaite, 30, saw how grueling schedules at the regional airline left crew members sleep-deprived, with bags under their eyes, "not thinking straight." He attended in-house training sessions where instructors skimmed over safety procedures. He sat in the cockpit next to rabid BlackBerry fans who text-messaged friends while the plane was taking off.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
 

Blog change: offering editorial previews

As you've already noticed, you now can comment on most of what The News publishes -- including the editorials and other stuff on the Opinions pages -- right at the end of the on-line versions of the articles themselves. A lot of you already are taking advantage of that, and while we still will post some aggregations with links to related materials and other papers' editorials in this space, we've been rethinking Matters of Opinions a bit.

So here's the new deal -- instead of just opening M.O.O. up for comments after we publish, I'm going to try to squeeze in some time after our daily editorial board meeting to let you know what we're working on.

We're hoping you'll take the opportunity to share some thoughts. Our writers will be mining the posts for insight during their research stage, before they write. You can also just vent, of course, and you can also suggest editorial topics (although please keep in mind we're not the news side and won't do news stories).

Today we've picked up some topics that we just haven't had the resources to get to immediately during the unusual summer onslaught of Albany and Washington action. We'll be looking at Sen. George Maziarz's claim that state legislation could siphon off even more of Niagara hydropwer's benefits downstate, at a bill that provides for an independent oversight panel for state authorities, at oil drilling proposals for Allegany State Park and at the way highway funding is distributed in this state.

-Mike Vogel/editorial page editor

How to cross a border

Today's editorial deals with the fact that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, requiring higher levels of documentation at checkpoints along the U.S.-Canada border, is understandably being blamed for significant declines in cross-border tourism in recent months.

Of course, a global economic recession and unseasonably wet weather probably had a hand in that, too.NY_EDL But, as outlined in a couple of recent Buffalo News articles -- here and here -- traffic really is down and WHTI is as logical a target as any.

The editorial suggests that, while government agencies need to step up their service and educational efforts so that people know what they need and how to get it, travelers must show some personal responsibility, too. We offer some compare and contrast information on the different forms of ID that satisfy the new requirements. For most New Yorkers, the new enhanced driver's license [right] might be the best bet. It allows you to cross the border, board a domestic flight, buy liquor and, oh, yeah, drive a car.

More information is available from the U.S. State Department, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the Erie County Clerk's Office, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

See you on the other side.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Probe. Merge. Pay. Beware.

   The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion page encourages Niagara Falls' new mayor, Paul Dyster [right], to look at the FBI probe of his city's government as a never-waste-a-crisis chance for Dyster reform.
- Probe in Niagara Falls
   The City of Niagara Falls is renowned for a lot of things. Corruption should not be one of them.
   News background articles:
- Gross is target of federal probe in Falls
Bax allegedly forced firm to hire Gross 
Plumber for firm in FBI probe pulled off city board

   The second editorial notes a new report from the University at Buffalo's Regional Institute about how much money could be saved by consolidating school districts. In most cases, they find, it's not much. But it's some.
Consider school consolidations 
   This region needs a full debate and investigation of the range of governance reform options available. This policy brief is a good start.
   The press release is here. The whole report is here.

   Today's Another Voice column belongs to Sam Williams, chairman of the Western New York chapter of the Working Families Party. He takes the other side of the argument, raised by our Wednesday editorial Create more jobs, on whether it makes sense for county industrial development agencies to require construction projects they aid to pay the union-preferred "prevailing wage." 
Economic expansion starts with good wages 
   Considerable research shows that wage standards in general, and prevailing wage regulations in construction in particular, have several economic positive benefits, including increasing productivity, reducing injuries and workers’ compensation costs and expanding health care coverage for workers so taxpayers aren’t footing the bill.

   And in the My View slot, Lockport's Mary Clista Dahl outs herself as Deadhead
Deadheads among us, so beware the tie-dye
   Until the National Deadhead Registry is published and flyers are sent home in your children’s backpack with our photos, you are on your own, so be careful while you sleep. You may just wake up with roses on your pillow or a peace sign on your pajamas and an overwhelming urge to mellow out. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
   Well. No registry that I can find. But there is, of course, an official Dead Website.

   Truckin' up to Buffalo.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Editorial: Upstate's leftovers

Today's editorial details the incumbency-protection tradition of doling out "pork," otherwise known as member-item spending, in which the Senate and Assembly leadership distributes money for lawmakers to hand out in their home districts  -- thereby creating grateful groups of supportive constituents, so the theory goes.

Surprise, surprise -- the political party in control always hands bigger pots of money to its own members than it does to the members of the minority.

In the past, the slant in the Democrat-controlled Assembly was offset by the slant in the Republican-controlled Senate. But this year the Democrats control the Senate, too. So most of the $85 million being distributed by each house is going to Democrats. And with Democrats concentrated in the NYC area and all the Republicans upstate, guess which area -- all the "one state" sloganeering notwithstanding -- is getting screwed?

The editorial has the numbers. And it also opines that if there is to be member-item spending, each legislator should get an equal share.

  

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