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Snowe telling where health reform will go.

   I was expecting headlines like "Snowe drifts toward public option" or "Snowe driven to make health care work."
   Maybe that's why I don't write headlines any more.

   One of the editorials in today's Buffalo News Opinion section lauds Olympia Snowe, the much-headlined senator from Maine, for her willingness to seek a reasonable solution to the nation's health care dilemma rather than stick to the anti-Obama, anti-reform, ideologically driven position of most other congressional Republicans.
- Health reform in the Senate
    That’s as mature a response to high-profile legislation as we’ve heard in a long time from Republicans—or Democrats, for that matter. Too often, such decisions are based on party-line dogma or disdain for the opposition—in this case, President Obama—rather than the actual needs of Americans. This New Englander would rather think things through, press for changes, then act accordingly.

   The chin-strokers at The Toledo Blade [I love those Ohio newspaper names], in an eddie headlined Reproach to ideologues, were moved to compare Snowe to no less than the great British political thinker Edmund Burke, who said:
   "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter."  

   That, apparently, 'sno surprise to long-time political watchers Down East. [Key stat: Snowe was re-elected last time with 74 percent of the vote.]
- The centrist of the storm doing it her way - Bill Nemitz /The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald
   Her fellow senators, at the mere mention of her name, speak glowingly of her class, her intelligence, her independent mind, her fidelity to the art of legislating.
   Welcome to Sen. Olympia Snowe's world.
   Nemitz is also featured on this MSNBC clip [with the appropriate kicker: "The More You Snowe"]:

   Meanwhile, the folks at RedState are launching a Snowe Melt campaign, asking people to send the senator bags of rock salt to register their disgust with what is often called a RINO (Republican in Name Only).
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Editorials: Today's editorial board meeting (10/16)

Good morning, everyone:

There was a coating of Southtowns snow on the car this morning. Seems about right. From my days on the weather beat, I recall the long-term average date for first trace of snow to be Oct. 17. In any event, sure beats three years ago.

At today's edboard we picked up the obvious topic of Gov. Paterson's proposed cuts -- pain, anyone? -- as well as some upcoming county control board decisions, the outrageous case of a downstate senator now convicted, albeit only as a misdemeanor, for slashing his girlfriend's face, and the president's pass through New Orleans. We'll also look into an emerging issue regarding a Southern Tier hospital ER.

And, of course, interview more candidates.

-mike vogel

New York vs. California

   New York vs. California. It's a running theme in lifestyles, popular entertainment [Annie Hall, California Suite], politics and food production.Suite2
   Por ehemple: The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section -- Help small dairy farms -- argues that New York's style of dairy farming -- small farms that produce less milk, and less pollution - is better than the mega-milk factories found in California.
   Thus, New York's congressional delegation should resist efforts by California's delegates to tilt a new round of federal aid to dairy farmers in a way that helps the big boys as well as the small fry.

   Meanwhile, Stanford University brainiac Thad Kousser, writing in the LA Times, says that what's right about New York is what's wrong about California, and vice versa. Not just in culture, but in the states' constitutions. His solution: Switch 'em.
- Bicoastal constitutional conundrum
   The nation's two mega-states are poised to embark on constitutional experiments of a scale not seen since Philadelphia in 1787. Prominent New York leaders want to call a convention to enact term limits, an unfettered initiative process and a limit on the legislature's ability to raise taxes.
   Guess what? Californians have been there, done that and lived to regret it. Current calls for reform in California focus on exactly the opposite: loosening term limits, restraining the initiative process and giving a simple majority of legislators the ability to raise taxes.
   So here's a proposal that could save both states the time, expense and uncertainty of holding constitutional conventions: Let's swap constitutions. We could try it for five years, just to see if the governmental grass really is greener on the other side of the country.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


New York vs. Kansas

 Meanwhile, While Erie County's sheriff and executive are doing every thing they can to keep the feds out of what is, by all accounts, a disgraceful jail operation, Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson is inviting the U.S. Justice Department in to help him clean up what is, by all accounts, a disgraceful operation at one of his state's prisons.

- Governor calls for prison audit - Tim Carpenter/The Topeka Capital-Journal
   Gov. Mark Parkinson [right] reached out [letter] to federal corrections experts Wednesday for help identifying GovParkinson an independent, nationally recognized prison management expert to examine state policy and training in the wake of complaints about staff sexual misconduct at Topeka Correctional Facility.
   Officials with the National Institute of Corrections, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice, were asked to assist in advancing a broad investigation of the Kansas Department of Corrections designed to promote the safety and security of the department's 3,000 employees and 8,600 inmates scattered among eight prison facilities. The all-female facility for women in East Topeka will come under special scrutiny.
   "We must ensure that the policies we have in place are working, and that when people do not follow these policies, they are appropriately dealt with," Parkinson said. "An outside, objective evaluation by a nationally recognized expert will provide us the best results and most reliable information with which to move forward."

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

New York vs. Iowa

   And over Iowa-way, state officials are facing their budget short-falls head-on, unlike New York.Chet

- Human services to lose 150 to 400 employees - Jennifer Jacobs/The Des Moines Register
   From 150 to 400 employees at the Department of Human Services will likely be laid off to meet the state's 10 percent budget cut, a top official said Wednesday.
   Human Services Director Charlie Krogmeier said he's trying hard to use other strategies to reduce the impact of the $132 million cut.
   Gov. Chet Culver [right] last Thursday ordered across-the-board cuts in state government totaling $565 million.
   This is the third announcement in as many days that layoffs in a state branch or agency will be unavoidable. The court system will cut $16 million, leading to a still to be identified number of layoffs. The state Department of Public of Safety will cut $8.9 million. Two options outlined Tuesday would mean 100 to 169 layoffs of sworn officers and civilians.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Editorials: Today's editorial board meeting (10/15)

Oy. The Ides of October, already.

At today's editorial board meeting, we decided to look at Gov. Paterson's spending cuts, the civilian death count in Iraq, the $70,000 staff job the Senate just added, and the city's capital budget.

-mike vogel

Afghanistanism, The Next Generation.

   The old cliche among editorial writers was that if you didn't have the nerve to write something critical of the governor, the mayor or the school board -- or if they hadn't given you cause to write something critical of them -- you could always write about Afghanistan.
   Probably, nobody in your circulation area would care very much, so they wouldn't get mad at whatever Adamobamatank you wrote. Almost certainly, nobody in your readership would know enough to call you on it if you were wrong. We called it "Afghanistanism" and it was often a way to call another newspaper, or your own, cowardly.
   Not any more.

- Listen to the generals - The Buffalo News
   This cannot be a political decision. It must be a strategic one, based wholly on strategic -- not political -- considerations. The decisions to be made must be taken with an eye toward wise policy, not the politics of the moment.
- The president fiddles, Afghanistan burns - The Washington Times
- Obama is playing Emily Litella on Afghanistan - The Kansas City Star
- What's next in Afghanistan - The Dallas Morning News
- Be sure we know our goal in Afghanistan - The Gazette-Times of Corvallis, Ore.
- The Taliban Threat - The Washington Post
- Obama's Afghanistan options: no easy outs - The Orange County Register
- No good options in Afghanistan - The Wichita Eagle  
- Not Good Enough - Thomas Friedman/The New York Times

  Actually, the trend in these editorials is to punt, basically admitting we don't know the best course of action, or even the least worst one, setting some goals and hoping out loud that the president gets it right.
   Welcome to Afghanistanism, The Next Generation.

   Meanwhile, for some reason, no one else seems to care about Erie Community College. But, then, that's the problem.
- ECC needs repair funding
   ECC is the county’s second-largest post-secondary school after the University at Buffalo. It is not an educational afterthought for an ever-growing student population that relies on it for an education. It must not be a political or economic afterthought for county leaders.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Editorials: Today's editorial board meeting (10/14)

Hi, everyone:

Another day of candidate interviews ...

For topics, we'll be looking at the  latest developments in health care reform, the city's ownership of the Busti landmark, Obama's proliferation of "czars" and the language changes in the aviation safety bill.

And at a lot of candidates . . .

-mike vogel

Taking leaves of our senses.

   Two editorials today that each have something to do with leaves:

- Display the treasures
   With treasures like Mark Twain’s original handwritten manuscript for “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and first editions by astronomers Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe and William Herschel, the city’s inability to display these priceless works in a single, appropriate setting verges on the sinful. Certainly, it is wasteful. And self-defeating. And foolhardy. And shortsighted. And . . . well, you get the idea. The Crown Jewels  have the Tower of London. Our gems need their own special home. [Buffalo News article.]Huck
   Erie County Executive Chris Collins aims to provide that. He announced last week the formation of a commission to study how best to offer these treasures to the public. He wants the county to have a “signature place” to display works now held in multiple locations, including the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, the University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society and private collectors.

   Related from elsewhere:
- Rare books from China to be digitized - The Boston Globe
- Shakespeare collection donated to UCLA's Clark Library - The Los Angeles Times
- Merkel Speaks Out on Google Books - BusinessWeek
- Thief lives in thrall to books - National Post
   And, looping back to Buffalo:
- Oregon State receives rare books by Malamud - The Oregonian
   Howard Mills, who once owned a bookstore in Corvallis, has donated three rare books by Bernard Malamud — including an inscribed first edition of “The Natural” — to Oregon State University. Malamud taught at OSU from 1949-61 and wrote “The Natural” and most of the stories in “The Magic Barrel” while in Corvallis.

- Help tree-planting
   Three years ago, after the October Surprise snowstorm, both the trees and the power lines collapsed.
   The power companies scrambled the troops and, while it seemed interminable at the time, soon put the electric lines back. That part of life went back to normal.
   But there was no arboreal armada -- paid by your monthly utility bills -- on standby to restore the status quo of the urban forests. An organization had to be created from scratch to make that effort.
   Thus arose
Re-Tree WNY, a volunteer organization that set a goal of planting 30,000 trees in five years. Now, more than half way through that self-imposed time horizon, the organization and the individuals, groups and local governments that have supported it have planted 11,200... [Buffalo News article.]
   Support for Re-Tree WNY is still needed, and still deserved. Money doesn't grow on trees. But these trees won't grow without money.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


Editorials: Today's editorial board meeting (10/13)

Hello, everyone:

At today's editorial board meeting, shortened by the need to get to the next installment of a boatload of edorsement interviews, we picked up the following topics: the DA's handling of complaints about Steve Pigeon, the Tonawanda coke plant emissions, changes in aid to dairy farms and some develpments in neighborhood-based resources.

I'll be glad when the elections are over.

-mike vogel

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