October 30, 2009 - 6:30 AM
Today's editorial space is devoted to our endorsements in the Erie County Legislature race.
There are 15 seats, but 5 lawmakers (4 Democrats and a Republican) face no major-party opposition (or, for that matter, any opposition). In the remaining 10 races, we recommend votes for 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Both of the Democrats are incumbents, although one is a recent appointment; two of the Republicans are incumbents, one an appointee.
Here's the list:
District 1: Vincent Tobia Sr.
District 4: Raymond Walter (i)
District 5: Diane Terranova (i)
District 8: Ted Morton
District 9: Brian Wirth
District 10: Kevin Hardwick
District 11: Lynn Marinelli (i)
District 12: Lynne Dixon
District 14: Shelly Schratz
District 15: Edward Rath III (i)
October 29, 2009 - 6:30 AM
Today's editorial endorsement focuses on the Erie County Comptroller race. We recommend Philip Kadet
. Current comptroller Mark Poloncarz is a bright, capable negotiator in the financial markets, but he's made the office far too political and the need now is for a numbers person who can use sound financial analysis to frame the debate, not just further the arguments. The political check on the county executive is the Legislature, not the comptroller, who's supposed to keep everyone financially grounded. Kadet has the solid accounting background to do that, we believe. Already retired from his accounting and auditing career, he's not seeking to use this post as a career starter.
October 28, 2009 - 12:41 PM
Today's editorial endorsements -- recommendations based on research, interviews and experience, but only recommendations -- urge votes for Cheektowaga Police Capt. John Glascott in the race for Erie County Sheriff and for Dr. Barry Weinstein for Amherst Town Supervisor, the post being vacated by Satish Mohan.
Read the Glascott endoresment here, and the Weinstein endorsement here.
October 27, 2009 - 11:48 AM
The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section unloads on the Pirates of the Hudson and the supposedly independent watchdogs who sold out their independence for a quick million.
- Moody's blues
The financial markets didn't just collapse. They were sabotaged. And the people who did it have names and addresses. [Fifty points for knowing what folk singer, and friend of Ani DiFranco, that paragraph is ripped off from.]...
A recent investigative report by McClatchy Newspapers outlines how the culture at one key ratings agency, Moody's Investors Service, radically changed over the course of a few years from that of a conservative watchdog to that of a go-go get-along that put short-term profits ahead of its long-nurtured reputation. (The McClatchy story focused on Moody's, because it had a good source in a whistle-blower who used to work there. But the entire industry had put itself in the same leaky boat.)
- Some lawmakers wary of 'Death Panels' for banks, too - McClatchy
The chairman of a key congressional panel Monday scaled back important parts of the Obama administration's plan to dismantle financial institutions that are deemed "too big to fail."
- Six Steps to Revitalize the Financial System - Sanford I. Weill & Judah S. Kraushaar/The Wall Street Journal
We need one regulator that can see a company's entire balance sheet. Pay caps will only drive talent abroad.
- Why Banks Stay Big - James Surowiecki/The New Yorker
Before the financial crisis, the banking industry was too concentrated and clubby. And now? It’s even more so. In the midst of the crisis, the country’s four biggest banks—Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo—actually got bigger. Thanks primarily to a series of government-sanctioned mergers, they now control almost forty per cent of the country’s total banking deposits and two-thirds of its credit cards, and issue half of all mortgages.
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
October 27, 2009 - 10:22 AM
Okay, no issues-related editorial board meeting today either, as we're deep in the end stages of the endorsement process and you'll be seeing endorsement editorials through Saturday. But you can bet the board spent some time this morning talking about Chris Collins' foot-in-mouth moment -- with his main opponent, and most of the local GOP heavy contributors, in the room. Talk about timing!
P.S. There's a bit of a hallowwen theme going on with tomorrow's syndicated op-ed columns. Kathleen Parker defends Republicans in a piece she titles "Franken sense," and Froma Harrop's column on health care reform plays repeatedly off a "phantom of the option" concept. But the scariest of all is liberal comumnist Clarence Page -- he's agreeing with Sean Hannity.
October 26, 2009 - 4:01 PM
The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section argues that if the free market can provide better health insurance than a public option, the market ought to be really free:
- Let insurers compete
It is one thing for the nation's big health insurance providers to object to a plan that would have them competing against a government-owned health insurance offering. It is quite another to hear them object to the idea of more competition from one another.
[AP article. Sen. Charles Schumer press release.]
Great minds run in small circles. Viz:
- A matter of trust - Editorial/The Philadelphia Inquirer
The insurance industry may find out that there's something worse than having to compete with a Medicare-style health plan for working-age Americans. How about yanking its long-standing exemption from federal antitrust laws?
Then this interesting wrinkle was in many newspapers today:
- Health insurer profits not so fat By Calvin Woodward/The Associated Press
Quick quiz: What do these enterprises have in common? Farm and construction machinery, Tupperware, the railroads, Hershey sweets, Yum food brands and Yahoo? Answer: They're all more profitable than the health insurance industry. In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making "immoral" and "obscene" returns while "the bodies pile up."
Ledgers tell a different reality. Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That's anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.
I wonder, though. "Profit" for private-sector health insurance companies would be what's left after they pay for marketing, salaries [often huge] for their execs, and for the people whose job it is to deny your claims. And taxes. Those are costs that a public option wouldn't have, or that a private firm might cut down on if it were in real competition with, well, anyone.
- Paul Krugman still thinks big-time reform is coming, and that it will work.
- Robert J. Samuelson still thinks we are arguing about the wrong things.
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
October 26, 2009 - 1:51 PM
The lead editorial in Sunday's Buffalo News Opinion section was headlined:
- Iraq paid a heavy price
Those who favored the war in Iraq are right to claim that, in an important sense, it was a mission accomplished. The vile dictator Saddam Hussein was deposed, along with his secret police, his enmity for Israel and whatever ambitions he might have harbored toward an arsenal of mass destruction.
But would the American people have stood for the expedition — would the Iraqi people have said thanks but no thanks — had we and they but known that the cost of the strife that followed was, by a new and clearly conservative estimate, the deaths of more than 85,000 Iraqis?
Maybe that headline should have been in the present tense, like this one:
- Baghdad steps up security after bombs kill 155
Iraqi security forces blocked streets around the capital Monday and conducted intense searches at checkpoints as authorities investigated the massive security failure that allowed two truck bombs to strike what was supposed to be one of the city's safest areas and kill 155 people.
The country's worst attacks in more than two years on Sunday targeted the Justice Ministry and Baghdad Provincial Administration in the heart of the capital, calling into question Iraq's ability to protect itself as it prepares for January elections and the U.S. military withdrawal.
- A resilient Baghdad on a day of horror by David Ignatius/The Washington Post
- Eyes on the Prize by Thomas L. Friedman/The New York Times
- Iraq is safer – but by no means safe by Patrick Cockburn/The (U.K.) Independent
- Carnage and corruption in Iraq by Sami Ramadani/The (U.K.) Guardian
It is tragic that Iraq hits the headlines only if there is a major explosion with hundreds killed and injured. Yesterday's carnage in Baghdad is the second of its kind in two months, and yet another horrific reminder that the Iraqi people are still paying with their blood for the US-led invasion and occupation of their country.
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
October 26, 2009 - 11:53 AM
Hi, all. There was an edboard meeting today, but it was just to discuss endorsements. We'll be busy researching and writing the endorsement editorials, which start Wednesday.
In the meantime, I noticed this quote in the paper today and decided to use it as one of our page quote-outs tomorrow: "There's real anger on the right, and that anger isn't matched by enthusiasm on the left. So the emotion is on the side of the far right. And voting has become very emotional." (C. Dean Debham, Public Policy Polling president).
Is voting emotional, or rational -- or is it both, but in what combination. I still think it's mostly rational, but there is a great deal of anger out there (as an example of which, Tom Golisano will be expressing some anger with us, in this Sunday's Viewpoints section; I've got an interesting job, one in which I get to beat myself up a lot).
October 23, 2009 - 1:14 PM
For some reason, the chin-strokers on The Buffalo News Opinion page were in a good mood, and today we were able to fit three point-with-pride editorials in the same space where we usually cram two view-with-alarm jobs. [Apparently, it takes fewer words to praise than to condemn.]
- Reform — and improve
Sometimes it pays to hear people talk common sense. That's what occurred this week at a hearing on New York's soon-to-expire Empire Zone program. Developers and other speakers told Assemblyman Robin Schimminger the truth about what needs to happen. The question now is how much — or whether — the truth matters in Albany.
- Canisius draws on experience
After a national search for a new president, the board of Canisius College decided it didn’t have to look any further than its own back yard. Or its own executive suite, where Tuesday John J. Hurley [right], executive vice president and vice president for college relations, was named the president of Buffalo’s foremost private college. ... [News article. Canisius announcement, w/video.]
Canisius College’s marketing slogan is “Where leaders are made.” Hurley’s rise to the top job of his alma mater is very much in support of that claim.
- Penney deserves thanks
Every community needs a Charles Rand Penney. Fortunately for Lockport—and all of Western New York, for that matter—it has Charles Rand Penney.
The art collector, whose name is emblazoned on Buffalo’s Burchfield Penney Art Center, has announced that he will donate his entire collection of Niagara County-themed art and artifacts to the Erie Canal Discovery Center. The collection comprises nearly 5,000 items. It’s a substantial gift.
OK. Enough sweetness and light. Check in over the weekend to see if we are back to our usual grumpy selves.
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
October 23, 2009 - 10:36 AM
Last day of candidate interviews!
And today's topics for research: The anti-blight program proposal, and the county's texting while driving law.