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Editorials: Today's edboard (9/10)

Hi, all:

Very long and spirited edboard meeting today, with a lot of debate about both the mayoral race and Obama's health care speech. Still have to put out a Sunday section as well as Friday's editorial pages today so that makes for a real time crunch, but the debates are a big part of what makes the job interesting.

Anyway, today's assignments for writers included the health care speech, the 9/11 anniversary, a United Way drive editorial as that effort gathers steam, and the mayoral race (for publication Saturday).

-Mike Vogel

A teachable moment

   When my brother was in the first grade, he got what may have been the only failing grade of his life. A frowny face on a book report.
   It was the first grade, you understand, and all the book report had to be was, written neatly, the title of the book, the name of the author and a sentence or two in response to the prompting, "I liked this book because:" His answer: "I didn't like this book very much." That was my brother all over.
   He might well have avoided the red pencil frown if he had said why he didn't like the book. [It was dull and he could have drawn better pictures himself.] But we all took it as a pedagogical statement that he was supposed to like the book, and that dissent was not tolerated.
   I thought of that when I read what the White House correctly described as an "inartfully worded" first draft of the study guide that went along with President Obama's speech to American students. The part that suggested students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." It was rapidly changed to something less partisan, and the study guides and the speech then went off without much further fuss.
   They should have left that bullet point alone. And they should have let it be known that it would be fully acceptable for any student to write something like, "I don't want to help the president. He's a dirty dog Democrat and I hope he fails in everything he tries." Just as long as it was correctly spelled, used complete sentences and was responsive to the question, it would have properly served as an educational exercise.
   Anyhow, here's the story, the Buffalo News editorial, the Clarence Page column -- which rightly wonders why we are worried that a school system that can't teach anything to anyone for the other 179 days a year can turn all our children into socialistic Obamatons on the first day.
   Other views from The Plain Dealer in Cleveland; The Philadelphia Inquirer; The Tribune in San Luis Obispo, Calif.; The Tulsa World; and The Miami Herald; and a pretty darn good one from the people who hold my old pulpit at The Salina [Kan.] Journal. The Los Angeles Times offers a side-by-side of Obama's points and recent remarks from Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
   And, if you're still hungry, here's the study guide for pK-6 and for 7-12. Here's the speech. And here's the speech:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Editorials: Today's edboard (9/9)

Hi, everyone. Happy 9/9/09. Meant to file this at 9:09 am, but as usual got swamped with the firstwave of work.

At today's edboard we spent a LOT of time taking about the mayoral race. The mayor's due in for his endorsement-process interview later today. The only contest for this office is in the primary, so even though we don't as a rule do primary races it's now or never.

In the day-to-day world, we'll be looking at the AG's investigation of the State Police, Crystal Peoples' campaign finance reporting and Colgan Air's pilot-illness policies.

-Mike Vogel

City of Good Neighbors?

So, I'm on the bus this morning and heading downtown. I plop down in the first seat of a momentarily near-empty bus in the disabled/elderly section at the front. Others picked up along the way, a fit-looking middle-aged construction worker type, a late teen/early 20-something and a middle-aged woman also decide the front of the bus is as good a place as any to park themselves. The young woman spends the entire time on her cell phone locked in an intense, if not self-important conversation.

Several stops into the ride down Genesee Street the bus stops and a frail, elderly woman probably in her 80s and sporting a cane and, upon close inspection, a bit of shakiness that often goes along with such advanced years, makes her way onto the bus. The driver immediately starts to set down the plank at the foot of the bus but you could tell the woman's pride overtook her because she shimmied her way up, instead.

Immediately I know I'm wrong. In fact, I knew that as soon as I sat down in the designated "disabled/elderly" section but I also knew that I wasn't alone. All of us "guilty" and somewhat fit folks, at least more so than this poor woman, should have jumped up and offered not one but ALL of the seats to her. I stare over at the construction worker guy. Nothing. He's lazily gazing straight ahead. The chatty young woman. Nothing. She's still chatting. My partner in crime next to me. Nothing.

The elderly lady glances at the full section and starts, slowly, to make her way to the other, less convenient seats to the rear. "Ma'am," I ask, while simultaneously jumping up, grabbing my gear and heading over to one of the seating areas in the middle section. "Here, please take my seat." She looked surprised. And grateful. It was as if that hadn't happened before and was remarkably unusual. That's sad.

Worse, another couple of stops and this time an elderly man carrying a cane enters the bus. He's a bit more able than his predecessor but nonetheless a little shaky and uncertain. After scanning the disabled/elderly section he, too, decides to silently and slowly head to the rear of the bus. No one moved!

People, we all should remember, myself included, that the disabled/elderly section of the bus, train or plane belongs to those who deserve it. (Same also could be said of parking passes but that's another of my colleague's blogs, Outrages & Insights). And the responsibility doesn't necessarily belong to the bus driver who could risk getting his block knocked off trying to enforce such a simple rule and whose primary job it is to drive.

Common courtesy. Respect. And decency. That's it.

I'm sure, or would like to think in this City of Good Neighbors, that such scenarios do not play themselves out on a regular, semi-regular or occasional basis. Perhaps my experience on that bus was out of the ordinary. One would hope so.

It's a lesson learned, or one that should be. Areas designated for specific individuals should be available, at all times, for the intended parties.

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

Editorials: Today's edboard (9/8)

Good afternoon, all:

Spent some time talking about federal deficits and health care reform again at today's edboard meeting. We also picked up two new topics -- the Obama school speech and the lack of a hate crime designation for the recent Buffalo beating.

Hope everyone had a really good holiday -- the first two days of the long Labor Day weekend brought some very good weather, anyway.

-mike vogel

Editorials: Today's edboard (9/4)

Good morning --

With one of our small band in Washington and another in Massachusetts today, it was a short meeting. We'll be looking at the state pension system's financial shortfalls and Obama's plan to detail a health care proposal.

Hope you all have a fine Labor Day weekend, and take full advantage at what looks like some of the best weekend weather of the year!

-Mike Vogel

Editorials: Today's edboard (9/3)

Hello, everyone:

Today's edboard meeting mostly involved discussion of the economy. That was one of the topics we picked up -- specifically, the uptick in local manufacturing and the increase of productivity but not yet in jobs. Might be a good one to run Monday, along with the annual Labor Day editorial (which this year will include the Delphi salaried employees' plight).

Other topics will include the huge Pfizer fines and a local advocacy group's push for universal rather than school-by-school dress codes in the city as a way to end some strife and boost school safety. We'll be doing some research on that.

Saturday, I'm thinking of running the editorial assigned some days ago on progress at the Richardson complex (full disclosure: The News' publisher chairs that effort). That gives us the chance to post a video that includes a rare look inside the structures. Pretty cool video; Dawn narrates her own script.

-Mike Vogel

Editorials: today's edboard (9/2)

Good morning, all:

Today's debates were pretty minimal -- we need more coffee around here. Anyway, we're happy FEMA is stepping up for the flooded communites but distressed that individual property owners still are left hanging (picking up on an earlier blog-comment suggestion by gravedancer) and, speaking of left hanging, we're concerned over the delays in air safety rules while the focus is on health care reform (seems the humungous federal government ought to be able to juggle two balls at once). And we'll be repeating our argument that West Valley merits full clean-up (the floods were a warning).

Nice how all that ties together, huh? And thanks, gravedancer.

Anybody else notice that when MSNBC held a cable discussion of Rep. Charlie Rangel's woes yesterday morning, the video backdrop was a reproduction of our editorial?

-mike vogel 

Peace Bridge editorial: A security clearance

Homeland Security's reaffirmation of an earlier rejection of Canada-side shared border facilities (the fed's won't conform practices at this crossing to Canada's constitution, arguing that doing so would mean a worrisome lower level of security here than at other crossings) restarts the long and laborious Peace Bridge Expansion Project process. Our Wednesday editorial weighs in on that decision.

As some commenters have taken pains to note in M.O.O. (Matters of Opinion) blog postings, this newspaper's stance has been consistent. But we recognize, and often publish, op-eds and letters from those with opposing viewpoints. The debate is healthy. Here's another chance to let your views be known. You can comment now, or wait for the editorial . . .

Editorials: Today's edboard (9/1)

Good morning:

Election season officially opens for us today, with an endorsement interview (momentarily) with Buffalo mayoral candidate Mickey Kearns. We'll do one with Byron Brown next week. That office will be decided in the primaries this year.

For topics from today's debates, we'll take up the emerging new Afghanistan strategy and the robo-call restrictions, as well as the disincentive to living/running a business here that's embodied in the new state-expanded utility fee that's on your bills.

-Mike Vogel

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