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More on Monserrate

   Two of New York City's big newsprint players have pitched in on the Monserrate mess, each with a useful bigger-picture angle:

 - New York State Senate should police its own - Newsday
  If the Senate doesn't act, voters will have their say next year. But New York elections seem all but rigged in incumbents' favor. Just getting on the ballot requires a team of legal experts. Campaign finance rules on the state level allow virtually limitless donations - favoring officeholders over challengers. Name recognition, safe districting and member-item cash to spread around the community put a virtual lock on an incumbent's chances.
   Until lawmakers can re-tilt this playing field, they need to enforce some standards.

- Senator Monserrate Must Go - The New York Times 
   The New York State Legislature has a lot of important business on deck. It must attend to an alarming budget deficit. It needs a major housecleaning, from campaign finance to redistricting. It does not need to be distracted or consumed by the reprehensible behavior of one senator. The best outcome is for Mr. Monserrate to acknowledge his duty and quit.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Where we stand on the 'Stans.

   The lead editorial on today's Buffalo News Opinion page determines that the move by the Pakistani army against Taliban and al-Qaida forces in that nation amounts to a mixed blessing for the Obama administration:
- Pakistan takes action Pakistan
   Being so dependent on the actions of a body that has, in the past, been allied with some factions of the Muslim Taliban and al-Qaida and hostile only toward Hindu India cannot be an attractive prospect at the White House or the Pentagon. But this is one of those times when, at least for now, our enemy's enemy is our friend, and we can only hope for their success.

   The Wall Street Journal lobs a two-fer at Obama:
- Obama Goes Wobbly on Afghanistan by Karl Rove
- Will Obama Finally Pay Attention to Sudan? by John Prendergast

   As does The New York Times:
- More Troops Are a Bad Bet by Nicholas D. Kristof
- There’s No Substitute for Troops on the Ground  by Max Boot (Wonder why this piece wasn't headlined "boots on the ground" - even though he really went to Kabul.)

- Pakistan fights back by David Ignatius/The Washington Post

- Karzai Salesman: How John Kerry got the Afghan leader to see sense by Fred Kaplan/Slate

- Nobody wins in the Afghan runoff election by Rajan Menon/The Los Angeles Times

- Army’s message to the Mehsud - Editorial/The Daily Times of Lahore, Pakistan 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Editorials: Today's editorial board (10/22)

Good morning, all:

Two more days of candidates, then the debates begin!

Anyway, we're still at the daily chores. Today's selected topics include Grand Island tolls, new leadership at the Albright, insurance industry anti-trust changes, cuts to bailout-recipient salaries and bonuses, and funding for Great Lakes restoration.

-mike vogel

A gentleman's incomplete.

   Rather than go at each other hammer and tongs, the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority [the "control Collinsboard" to its friends] has politely asked County Executive Chris Collins [right] to take another run at his four-year budget plan.
   The Buffalo News Opinion section appreciates the board's conciliatory gesture, and agrees that Collins needs to go back to the drawing board to fill in a lot of details in a plan that has a lot of hope in it.
- Accept the challenge
   Board members reasonably hope their gesture will be much more productive than a whack upside the head, which in this case would have been an immediate vote of the control board to return itself to "hard" status. Retaking control over the county's contracting, borrowing and hiring might, as control board members suggested last week, well have caused the county executive to dig in his heels and refuse to make any changes in a future-years budget plan which, the control board correctly argues, doesn't really add up.

   And, as the Rolling Stones might say to Collins, "You're not the only ship adrift on this ocean":
- Loudoun uses education reserves to help fill shortfall - The Washington Post
   Loudoun County [Va.] budget officers dipped into public school reserves to help fill a $28 million revenue shortfall this week, surprising the School Board, which was saving money for the lean years expected ahead.
- County budget cuts mean less help for battered, abused - KOMO/
   The King County [Wash.] Council is considering a budget that would slash funding for its 16 agencies that provide domestic violence and sexual assault help by 80 percent, from $400,000 to $50,000. And sex assault victims fear the cuts will wipe out the resources they rely on.
Jackson County trims proposed budget by $10.5 million - The Kansas City Star
   Jackson County [Mo.] has closed a $10.5 million budget gap for 2009 and is working on tightening even more in its soon-to-be-unveiled 2010 budget. Most important, county officials said Monday, they achieved the budget cuts with few involuntary layoffs.
- Sacramento supervisors win minor concessions, lay off 77 workers - The Sacramento Bee
   Those concessions amount to $195,000 in the general fund – not nearly enough to make up for the $4.6 million in savings the county executive's office had expected from the reduced work hours.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Editorials: Today's editorial board meeting (10/21)

Hello, all:

Again, candidate interviews. But also topics -- the proposed 72-hour rule for public Web posting of bills before Congress, Empire Zone reforms, Canal Side and the propositions you'll see on the Nov. 3 ballot.

-mike vogel

Things don't go better with Tonawanda Coke

   The other Buffalo News editorial today argues that the apparent air pollution from the Tonawanda Coke Corp. plant is a matter that has to be faced -- if not by the company, then by federal regulators.
- Cut plant emissions
    Company owner J.D. Crane has refused repeated requests to talk to this newspaper, the public and Cokeprotest members of the Western New York congressional delegation, although the firm is facing allegations that its emissions are sickening the surrounding community.
   [Related News article. Sen. Charles Schumer press release.]

   Meanwhile, The Chicago Tribune reports on a pending crackdown on pollution bordering a different Great Lake.
- Obama's EPA cracks down, orders more tests for BP refinery
    The Obama administration is cracking down on BP as the oil company overhauls its massive refinery in northwest Indiana, one of the largest sources of air pollution in the Chicago area. ...
   In a 24-page order, the agency directed Indiana to take a new look at several sources of air pollution at the Whiting refinery, 15 miles southeast of downtown Chicago. The results are due in 90 days.
   The decision is a policy shift by the EPA. In the last months of the Bush administration, the agency signed off on the BP project and rejected the concerns raised in Monday's order by President Barack Obama's EPA.
   [EPA press release. EPA order.]

   And McClatchy Newspapers are out with a report on how different kinds of coal-sourced air pollution are killing us:
- Report looks at hidden health costs of energy production
    Generating electricity by burning coal is responsible for about half of an estimated $120 billion in yearly costs from early deaths and health damages to thousands of Americans from the use of fossil fuels, a federal advisory group said Monday.
    [The report, from the National Research Council, is here. Press release here.]

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

At least throw this bum out

   The Buffalo News leads its Opinion section today with an editorial call for the New York State Senate to
- Oust Monserrate
   It's time for Hiram Monserrate to take his leave.
   Convicted of a misdemeanor for a vicious assault on his girlfriend, the Bronx Democrat now either needs to resign from his seat in the State Senate or be expelled by the chamber itself.
[Related News article]

   Among those who agree:
- Dan Collins - The Huffington Post
   There is only one possible upside to the pathetic, miserable, appalling story of state Senator Hiram Monserrate Monserrate: Teenagers are not generally known to take state legislators as role models.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomburg - The New York Daily News
- Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand ["Chuck, Gilly: Bye, Hiram"] - The New York Post

   The only dissent my Web searching can find is from Monserrate colleague Sen. Kevin Parker, a fellow member of the Legislature's Charged With Assault Caucus.
- Parker A 'No' Vote For Ousting Monserrate - Elizabeth Benjamin/The New York Daily News
   Parker, who has, like his colleague, pleaded not guilty to felony assault and other charges.... In other words, if things don't go Parker's way, he could be next.

   Caught in the middle is Democratic Senate Conference Leader John Sampson [contact] who, The Albany Times-Union reports, is about to follow the Senate's own procedure and name a nine-member committee to consider ouster proceedings. 

   Waiting for every member of the Legislature to beat somebody up might take awhile. But it may be all we've got.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Editorials: Today's editorial board meeting (10/20)

Hello, all:

More candidate interviews today, starting almost immediately, but at the edboard meeting we also chose some issues targets: the role of the Wall Street ratings services in ranking derivatives (the things that helped trigger the recession; McClatchy Newspapers has been doing an in-depth series on that), a new president for Canisius College, Charles Rand Penney's generosity in dispersing his lifelong art collection, and Justice Department moves on the issue of medical marijuana.

-mike vogel 

Throw the bums out.

   The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section questions the conduct of one New York state senator from the other end of the state:
- An outrageous hire
    New York Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. has no business spending $70,000 a year — plus Espada bennies — to install a friend of a friend in a job that is purported to connect the Bronx politician with the needs of Western New York. [Related news article. Previous outrage.]

   An editorial in Sunday's New York Daily News questions the conduct of a New York state senator from their own end of the state:
- New York's porkiest pig
   Meet the porkiest of Albany's parade of Porky Pigs, Sen. Craig Johnson. As the state goes broke, Johnson is dishing out millions of tax dollars to his mostly well-off Long Island constituents.
   Why? You must be new to Albany. To get Johnson reelected, obviously.

   And an editorial in today's New York Times questions the conduct of every single member of the New York Legislature:
- Fed Up With Albany
   The clock is ticking. In one year, unless the Albany crowd pulls off some miracle, which we doubt will happen, it will be up to the voters to get them out, all of them.
   Leave it to The Times to take the global view.

   The Post-Star over in Glens Falls wonders if what we need is a new crop of voters:
- He stands alone. But why?
   What does it say about New York state voters that the guy with the 20 percent approval rating keeps coming up with ways to cut the state budget, while the guys with the 98 percent re-election rate are conspicuously and irresponsibly silent on the subject?
   What it says is that voters have no idea how much trouble they're in for.


 -- George Pyle/The Buffalo News  

Editorials: Today's editorial board meeting (10/19)

Good morning, everyone:

More candidate interviews today, and we spent a few minutes today talking about NEXT year's elections and specifically the State Legislature. Some of us think we have a duty to endorse, others are just disgusted at the propspects.

Anyway, for today we're looking at some hospitality industry funding glitches in Niagara Falls, Pakistan's military operations in the tribal areas, the county control board's info demands and Sam Hoyt's schools proposals.

-mike vogel

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