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Albany: The Inepticenter

   Editorials about the New York Legislature today. They fouled up the state budget, and wacked UB in the process.

- Choking on a budget - Buffalo News Editorial
   Gloating was cut to a minimum for state lawmakers Monday as Gov. David A. Paterson quickly vetoed a poorly conceived attempt to avoid tough political decisions, in the form of a budget that spent money the Inepticenter state doesn't have.
   Paterson vetoed the education aid package of the budget, in which Democratic legislators sought to restore $419 million in cuts during this fiscal year … a move that would play well in home districts during this election year, but would keep New York in red ink as at least some state officials try to deal with a $9.5 billion deficit. That struggle now continues.
   Related:
- Legislative bosses made a bad budget situation worse - New York Daily News Editorial
- Albany clowns don't know own price tag - Bill Hammond/New York Daily News
- Ugly budget -- but a pretty precedent - E.J. McMahon/New York Post
- Only themselves to blame - Syracuse Post Standard Editorial
- Albany falls to pieces - Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial  
- The Wrong Way and the Right Way - New York Times Editorial
   New York City’s budgeting process may not be perfect, but it was the height of fiscal responsibility compared to Albany.

   - A setback for UB - Buffalo News Editorial

Continue reading "Albany: The Inepticenter" »

Launch the reforms. Hold the sweeteners.

   Editorials in today's Buffalo News Opinion section want action from a lawmaker who officially does not work for us, and some refusal to act from some lawmakers who only act as though they don't work for us.

- Get airline reforms done - Buffalo News EditorialOberstar
   If you know anybody who lives in Duluth, Grand Rapids or International Falls, Minn., tell them they need to call or e-mail their congressman. Right now.
   Rep.
James L. Oberstar [right] is a Democrat who represents the 8th District of Minnesota. The folks there have elected him to that post 17 times now, so presumably they feel he’s doing a good job for them. But to the people of Western New York, and to the people all over the country who fly on commuter airlines, Oberstar is a keen disappointment.
   The rest of us care because, in addition to being a gentleman from Minnesota, Oberstar is chairman of the
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. And, in that role, Oberstar has been a primary roadblock on the road to winning congressional approval of some needed reforms of the way airlines screen, hire and train their pilots.
   To contact Oberstar via his official website, you have to have (or pretend to have) a ZIP code from his district. More welcoming to outsiders' comments might be the folks at The Duluth News Tribune or the International Falls Daily Journal.

- No 'benefit sweeteners' - Buffalo News Editorial
   A New York Legislature that now cannot balance a budget to save its life is astoundingly considering a ream of bills that would make it that much harder to balance state budgets in the future.

Continue reading "Launch the reforms. Hold the sweeteners." »

More on the general situation

   More about the shake-up in the upper reaches of the American government:

- It’s time for Obama to replace Gates, too - Douglas Turner/The Buffalo News
   WASHINGTON — The day Gen. Stanley McChrystal was finally pulled off his soapbox by President Turner_doug Obama, Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly called McChrystal “a hero and a patriot.” Liar and mutineer are closer to the truth. ...
   Obama’s handling of that motor-mouth raises doubts about the president’s judgment, nerve and executive ability. It also raises questions about the conduct of Defense Secretary Robert Gates — before and after McChrystal’s removal — and about the growing arrogance of our uniformed establishment.

- Obama walks the fine line - David Broder/The Washington Post/The Buffalo News
   The firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the resignation of budget director Peter Orszag represent the most significant fraying in the top levels of the government since President Obama took office.

   Elseweb:
- Fire the lot of them, Mr. President - Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial

Continue reading "More on the general situation" »

Injured: On the road. On the job.

   A black and blue theme to today's Buffalo News editorials.
   The state needs to require a new way of looking as street and highway design. The city of Buffalo needs to get a handle on the number of police officers and firefighters who are on injury pay.

- Make roads safer - Buffalo News Editorial
   A high number of pedestrians and bicyclists are being struck by automobiles while navigating dangerous crossings both in Erie County and throughout New York State, and the AARP is trying to pushBikelane through practical legislation at the state level that will lay the groundwork for common-sense infrastructure on projects going forward.
   All that is now needed is some common sense from the Assembly.
   "Complete Streets" legislation (S. 5711-B), sponsored by Senate Transportation Chairman Martin Malave Dilan, D-Brooklyn, recently passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, 57-4. The bill would provide an innovative and comprehensive approach to the way the state designs its roads. The approach would accommodate vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities and public transportation users -- in other words, the entire public.
   Here's where the issue takes a wrong turn.
   A companion bill in the Assembly was amended by its sponsor, David Gantt of Rochester, who heads the Assembly Transportation Committee, to eliminate the majority of the roads covered in New York State. This is an unacceptable outcome to AARP and many other groups that support the "Complete Streets" legislation. Under the amendment, the bill pertains only to roads overseen by the Department of Transportation, thus eliminating the majority of roads in the state of New York.

Continue reading "Injured: On the road. On the job." »

Comments that get people in more trouble

   In case you were wondering just what it takes to get a four-star general fired, here it is:

- The Runaway General - Michael Hastings/Rolling Stone
  "How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite LADY-GAGA-ROLLING-STONE at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him.
   "The dinner comes with the position, sir," says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.
   McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.
   "Hey, Charlie," he asks, "does this come with the position?"
   McChrystal gives him the middle finger.

   And here is just a sampling of the pixels that have been spilled on the story about the story:

Continue reading "Comments that get people in more trouble" »

Good call ...

   The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News Opinion section says the president made a good decision.

- Obama's wise decisions - Buffalo News Editorial
   President Obama has replaced the commander who was losing the war in Afghanistan with the only Obamapetraeus general who may have a chance to win it.
   If, that is, the president will let him. ...
   
Changing generals was a good decision. Now the president has to make some other changes. To start out, he has to make three things clear:
   - Petraeus is in charge. Obama trusts him; he has given him authority to run the war to the best possible conclusion without over-supervising it from the White House.
   - Obama has to renounce "We'll be out in 12 months, Taliban, so keep killing our troops until then and we guarantee we will leave."
   - Finally, there has been constant conflict between U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and
[Afghan President Hamid] Karzai. While Karzai is less than ideal, he is the only Afghanistan leader we have to deal with. Eikenberry has to go.

   Related:
- Can a new commander improve the dire situation in Afghanistan? - Fred Kaplan/Slate
   McChrystal is out, Petraeus is in. Civilian authority is reasserted, with no real compromise to the military mission. Good news, masterfully played. Now what? Or, to put it more crudely, so what?

Continue reading "Good call ..." »

... call for help

   The second leader, er, editorial today says that the governor needs someone to stop him from making a very bad decision.

- Save the tax credit - Buffalo News Editorial
   Just when the state historic rehabilitation tax credits seemed a done deal and set to play a major role in the revitalization of Buffalo and upstate New York, the entire plan could be kneecapped to the point of inertia as a result of the New York State Legislature's consideration of tax law amendments that would "temporarily" defer certain tax credits for a period of up to six years.
   This is wholly unacceptable. This tax credit program must be carved out of an attempt to balance this year's budget on the backs of future returns and development. It's shortsighted, and Assembly and Senate leadership should correct Gov. David A. Paterson's egregious error in targeting the rehabilitation tax credit
.
   Background:
- Tax fix expected to boost projects - The Buffalo News, June 18
   The rehabilitation of the Hotel Lafayette is expected to move forward now that lawmakers have approved Roccoinlafayette changes in the state’s historic preservation tax credit program.
   The changes, sponsored by Gov. David A. Paterson and pushed by
Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, a Buffalo Democrat, are designed to correct what developers considered deficiencies in the tax credit law.
   “We’re planning to start the Lafayette 60 days from the point the governor signs the bill,” developer Rocco Termini
[right] said Thursday.
   Termini’s plans for the structure at 391 Washington St., at Clinton Street, include a high-end hotel, apartments and banquet center.
- Tax credit passed by lawmakers may be cut - The Buffalo News, June 23
   What New York State giveth, New York State can taketh away, sometimes just a week later.
   Gov. David A. Paterson is reportedly considering a budget reform that would delay for six years the same historic preservation tax credit improvements state lawmakers approved last week.
   “I can’t believe the governor would try to do this,” said Rocco Termini, developer of the downtown Hotel Lafayette and several other tax credit projects. “This would put them on hold again.”

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Let's be careful out there

   Buffalo News editorials today urge caution. Specificially, try to do justice, rather than just close cases. And don't use any more X-ray radiation than necessary. Viz:

- Convicted but innocent - Buffalo News Editorial
   For every innocent person who is in prison — and recent events in Buffalo have proven that it happens Pacyon — there is at least one guilty person on the streets.
   So as Erie County District Attorney
Frank A. Sedita III properly apologizes to Douglas Pacyon [right] for the more than six years he served in prison for a crime he did not commit, it may be even harder for the D.A. and the whole criminal justice system to explain themselves to the women who, it has been conclusively proven, Pacyon did not rape back in 1984. ...
   The Pacyon case is one more reason why we consistently call for a higher standard to be observed, for interviews and confessions to be videotaped, for
DNA samples to be collected from all convicted criminals, for the law to compel judges to require that testimony from jailhouse sources be supported by some other, independent, evidence.
   For the standard of success for police departments and prosecutors to be the same that it supposedly is for society as a whole: To punish the truly guilty. Not just the person who can be made to look guilty.
   Related:
- The Innocence Project

- Easy health reform - Buffalo News Editorial
   One of the reasons why real health care reform has seemed such a tough nut to crack is that it involves two seemingly contradictory goals.We want better care. And we want it to cost less.Scan
   But, in at least one area of medicine, there is reason to believe that cost-cutting, intelligently done, will actually improve the long-term health prospects of many Americans.
   As outlined in an Associated Press investigation that ran on the cover of Sunday’s Viewpoints section, doctors in the United States order, and their patients receive, many more X-rays and CT scans than do their counterparts in other industrialized nations.
...
   Setting up systems such as HEALTHeLINK costs money, of course. But, once in place, they can go a long way toward reducing both unnecessary doses of radiation and cutting the costs of practicing good medicine.
   Related:
- The Uncritical Use of High-Tech Medical Imaging - New England Journal of Medicine

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Did you feel that?

The news:
- Area rattled by 5.0 earthquake

The first thing you thought of: 

And I thought it was just that I'd had too much coffee.

Or maybe that's just what happens when the USA wins a game in the World Cup.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Lazy. Loonie.

    Today's Buffalo News Opinion section editorials: Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. Oughta, 'eh?

- Government in the dock - Buffalo News Editorial
   What do the stockholders of BP and the fishermen of the Gulf Coast have in common?
   A futile wish that the
federal government had refused to issue a permit for the well that the Deepwater Adamlossofhabitat Horizon was drilling on April 20 when the rig blew up, killing 11 workers and beginning what has now been two months of an unrelenting flow of black goo.
   Or, failing that, a wistful image of a real disaster plan, sharpened by federal or state experts, that might have ended the leak after a few days, or even hours, instead of the weeks and months we're all facing now.
   Businesses the world over
complain about how much government regulation can harm them. And, sometimes, it does.
   But sometimes it can
save their bacon. ...
   On a day-to-day basis, corporations will always try to get by with a minimum of expense for a maximum of profit. But, on the wider perspective ... a proper regulatory structure is not a business killer. It is a business saver.
   And
real business leaders should be at the head of the line in demanding that we have one.
   Related:
- Government shares blame for oil disaster - The Washington Times
- Clean up spill before assessing blame - Greenville News
- Oil spill exposes lack of federal oversight - Traverse City Record-Eagle
- Hayward gets his life back - Amarillo Globe-News
- Barbour’s (limited) vision - Anniston Star
- Restoring coast requires action, not just plan  - Mobile Press-Register

   And

- It’s the economy ... - Buffalo News Editorial
   With apologies to Monty Python, let’s play spot the loonie. And, having spotted it, let’s also be nice to it.
   A recent story in The Buffalo News shows that a number of Western New York merchants don’t like accepting Canadian dollars, known as the loonie for the engraving of a loon on the coin’s back. Some refuse to take it, some charge more than the going exchange rate. It sends a terrible signal to Canadian shoppers whose willingness to spend here is an important component of our retail economy.

   About that loonie [turn your volume down first]:

 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

 

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