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Adding insult to injury. Twice.

   Buffalo News Editorial thoughts from the last couple of days, on how politics takes things that are bad and makes them worse:

- A second oil disaster - Buffalo News Editorial
   Such was the dysfunction of the federal regulatory process that was supposed to be overseeing the Deepwater Horizon's drilling operation that now, almost three months after the explosion, we still cannot Newcap say whether the doings on that BP-sponsored project were a troubling anomaly or all too typical of the way the industry works.
   For that reason, the entire offshore drilling industry is now prevented from going to work every morning because Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cannot say with any confidence that the next permit he signs will not be the beginning of another environmental catastrophe.
   Salazar Monday issued a moratorium on offshore drilling — the Obama administration prefers to call it a "pause" — which he said would last at least until the end of November. But, just as it should not have taken BP this long to plug the bleeding hole, it should not take the government that long to sort the routine from the risky and put at least some of that key sector of the Southern economy back to work.
   Related:
- Gulf Coast waiting to exhale as BP tests well - New Orleans Times-Picayune Editorial
- What will we learn from the Gulf oil spill? History says little - Wilmington Star-News Editorial
- Let the People Decide the Future of Offshore Drilling - Bradenton Times Editorial
- The risk is ours, so the money should be, too - Mississippi Press Editorial
- Drilling debate on deck - Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin Editorial

- Why Republicans balked - Buffalo News Editorial
   Democrats in Congress argued — and we agreed — that the extension of jobless benefits for 2 million Americans whose opportunities for gainful employment have been sucked down with the economy was too important to be used as a political football.
   But a more detailed look at that particular batch of legislative sausage suggests that neither party was able to resist the temptation to put other interests ahead of the needs of the unemployed. ...

Continue reading "Adding insult to injury. Twice." »

The new commissioner. The late Boss.

   Editorials in the Buffalo News Opinion section today concern themselves with the top dogs in two important organizations. One involves too much secrecy. The other was larger than life.

- Why the secrecy? - Buffalo News Editorial
   They're hunkering down in City Hall. After choosing for police commissioner the man who appears to have been the mayor's favorite from the start, the administration of Byron W. Brown is not only refusing toDerenda release information on its "national search," but blatantly misstating the law in defense of its secrecy. It needs to come clean.
   No one in New York knows more about state open government laws than Robert Freeman, the executive director of the state
Committee on Open Government. He was succinct, if less blunt than he could have been, in commenting on the administration's claim that, as a personnel matter, the city was legally prohibited from disclosing details of its search. The position, he said, is "very far from the truth." ...
   Brown still has time to redeem himself on this one, before the revelations that may come from the
Freedom of Information request that The Buffalo News has filed. All he has to do is explain the national search, or why it never took place, or why there is no evidence of one having been undertaken … and why he believes [Daniel] Derenda [above] is the right man for the job.

- The Boss passes - Buffalo News Editorial
   He never claimed to be from New York. He grew up in Cleveland, felt at home with business partners and pals in Buffalo and insisted that his real home was in Tampa, Fla.
   But George Steinbrenner, who died the other day at the age of 80, came to personify the Big Apple in so many ways.

Continue reading "The new commissioner. The late Boss." »

A couple of quick fixes ...

    The editorialists on the Opinion page of The Buffalo News today hope for long-term solutions, but aren't above proposing a couple of duct-tape jobs on important matters. To wit:

- Allow Iroquois travel - Buffalo News Editorial
   In retrospect, it seems odd that the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team didn’t run into this problem before, given the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the nature of bureaucracies. This week, it did. Get these players to Iroquois their competition today, and sort out larger questions later. [They didn't.]
   Great Britain had denied the team visas to compete in the quadrennial world championships in Manchester because the U.S. government wouldn’t guarantee that team members would be allowed back into this country. The team has historically traveled on passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy, but this year the State Department decided those locally issued passports don’t meet the technology requirements of modern border documentation.
   Team members refuse to accept U.S. passports, based on Iroquois
sovereignty. Thus, the athletes were left in the lurch, risking the once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete internationally in the game their ancestors invented.
   Rep.
Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, began work with the State Department to resolve the issue. One approach would have been for the department to issue letters that would offer the guarantee the British need. It would resolve the issue without entering the thicket of federal authority versus Iroquois sovereignty and seemed a sensible way out of this difficulty. Late Wednesday, there was word the State Department, with the intervention of former senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would allow travel under the Senecas’ own passports. But British authorities later denied the team entry.
    Related, from across the pond:
- Iroquois lacrosse team cleared to travel by America – then blocked by Britain - The Guardian 

- Keep pushing for UB - Buffalo News Editorial
   A compromise has been floated in the State Senate in an effort to save legislation that would allow SUNY campuses to develop to their full potential. Its prospects in the out-of-session Assembly are uncertain, though they couldn’t be worse than the obstinate “no” that majority Democrats have been giving for the past several weeks.

Continue reading "A couple of quick fixes ..." »

Editorial views: Guarded

   Today's Buffalo News Opinion section editorials seek the right blend of security and humanity:

- Holding Center improves - Buffalo News Editorial
   The U.S. Justice Department was right when it said the Erie County Holding Center wasn't doing enough to prevent inmate suicides. Erie County Executive Chris Collins was right when he said that doing what the Jail Justice Department wanted would cost taxpayers money.
   And now Erie County is right to spend the money necessary to address the disgraceful rate of jailhouse suicides.
   It's cheaper than all the legal fees that would be necessary if the county continued to dig in its heels. And it is more likely than just about any other expenditure the county will make this year to actually save someone's life. ...
   This, plus the physical changes that are already under way to make the jail fixtures less useful as suicide tools, adds up to a good solution for the county's jailhouse suicide problem. Late, but good.

- Deep trouble at the pools - Buffalo News Editorial
   The only worse idea than having armed guards at Buffalo’s public swimming pools evidently would be not having them. That seems the only logical conclusion after days of vandalism and mayhem that included a serious injury to a 16-year-old lifeguard.
   It’s a shame because summer was made for the simple pleasure of swimming. Indeed, at a certain youthful period, it’s the very definition of summer—the reason for summer to exist. The joy of that experience is notably eroded when a few hours in the pool require you to be protected by officers with guns. It would be eroded worse, however, if you were injured in the kind of unruly behavior that gripped Buffalo’s pools last week.

   Now, here's some swimming:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Looking for trouble. In the Gulf. In court.

   A problem-solving pair of editorials in today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Look for more risks - Buffalo News Editorial
   Most Americans, we suspect, had no idea that more than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells dot the Gulf of Mexico, let alone the distressing fact that regulators do not inspect the plugging of these offshore Oilspill wells or monitor them for leaks afterward. With both those facts recently exposed by the Associated Press, and in light of the disastrous British Petroleum leak, Washington must take steps to ensure that these wells are properly and permanently sealed.
   The issue isn't merely a "what-if." As the AP noted in its story, tens of thousands of oil and gas wells are improperly plugged on land. What is more, state and federal regulators acknowledge that abandoned wells have already leaked offshore.
   As long ago as 1994, the Government Accountability Office warned that leaks from abandoned wells could cause an "environmental disaster" and suggested the now-renamed Minerals Management Service set up an inspection program. It didn't.
   Related:
- BP affixes new cap on Gulf oil well; tests ahead - AP/Buffalo News
- Louisianians expect balanced assessment from Presidential commission - New Orleans Times-Picayune Editorial
- Big Oil’s Good Deal - New York Times Editorial
- Jimmy Buffett: He's with the coast until the coast is clear - Mobile Press-Register Editorial
   [Jimmy sings below...]

- Courtroom or arena? - Buffalo News Editorial
  Cutting out the middleman can have its advantages. But when the idea is not a cheaper mattress, but an easier way to drag your obnoxious neighbors into court, there are reasons to be worried that the risks will outweigh the benefits.

Continue reading "Looking for trouble. In the Gulf. In court." »

Empire Zones. Front lawns.

   The big picture and the extremely local, the focus of editorials in today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Limited incentives - Buffalo News Editorial
   We hope Dennis M. Mullen is right about the state's new economic development program, called Excelsior, but like many other observers, we fear he is not.
   Mullen
[right], the head of the state's Empire State Development Corp., was in Buffalo last week, in part to Mullen defend the new program to critics. Excelsior, he said, is more targeted and better focused than the defunct Empire Zone program, whose flaws were legion. But the problem isn't the scope of the program, it's the scale: Excelsior offers too little for too short a time to do the job that this business-unfriendly state needs done. ...
   Governing is about making choices. For decades, Albany has made choices that have not only made it increasingly difficult to attract jobs, but have actually driven them away. For as long as that was the case, a strong economic development program was needed. Without one, New York will almost certainly fall farther behind states with better programs and a more
business-friendly reputation. We need to do better.
    [Maybe it would help if they had their own Excelsior house band. See below...]

- Hooray for lawn work - Buffalo News Editorial
   Tom Sawyer’s got nothing on the folks from the Western New York State Nursery & Landscape Tomsawyer Association. All he got for organizing the neighborhood was one whitewashed fence.
   The landscapers association—the members of which, by the way, didn’t have to be tricked into anything—will leave 19 homes on Buffalo’s
North Parade Street with totally refurbished front yards.
   To draw the maximum effort out of everybody, they have cleverly made it into a contest,
The Front Yard Garden Competition, with the public invited to vote for their favorite brand new yard sometime before Sunday.
   It is a grand gesture that shows off the landscapers’ talents, hopefully earns them some new business and brings some enhanced economic and spiritual value to a neighbor-hood that could use a little help. ...
   North Parade also stands near the Olmsted Conservancy’s Martin Luther King Park and the Buffalo Museum of Science. That makes it a logical target for the landscapers’ largesse and a worthy recipient of an effort to spruce—or shrub or rosebush or flagstone—up the whole neighborhood
.
   Update:
- Gardening competition attracts voters and visitors - Abram Brown/The Buffalo News 

   The Excelsior Fife and Drum Corps:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Going down in history. And math. And reading.

    Open with an old joke:
  Dad: How are you doing in school?
  Son: I'm just like Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt.
  Dad: How's that?
  Son: I'm going down in history.
  An academic theme to today's Buffalo News Opinion page editorials:

- Push 1812 bicentennial - Buffalo News Editorial
  We're having to play catch-up with our friends the Canadians, who have already poured millions of dollars 1812 into bicentennial observances of a time when they weren't exactly our friends.
   The
War of 1812 is probably the least-known of American wars, but in Canada -- which launched an invasion of Buffalo during that conflict -- the war has at least garnered enough attention to begin planning for its 200th anniversary. New York has done, well, almost nothing. Until now.
   The State Legislature last week approved
a measure to create an unpaid state commission to prepare for commemorations of the war, including re-enactments and other events to highlight notable sights and actions related to the war. We hope Gov. David A. Paterson will sign the bill promptly so planning can begin at more than just the local level. He vetoed a similar bill last summer.
   [What we need is a catchy song. See below ...]

- Tests may be failing - Buffalo News Editorial
   It is never pleasant to hear that your child has failed the state assessment test in math or reading. It is downright maddening to hear that the state assessment test has failed your child.
   And it is rather head-spinning to hear that it is the person in charge of the state educational system — in this case, New York State Education Commissioner
David M. Steiner — who has concluded that existing state assessment tests are not giving an accurate reading as to how well each student is being prepared for education at the next level. ...

Continue reading "Going down in history. And math. And reading." »

Problem to solve. Money to burn.

   A couple of problems that need solving -- or at least a hard look -- are on the editorial writers' plate today in the Buffalo News Opinion section:

- Fix immigration policy - Buffalo News Editorial
   President Obama is trying to resurrect the thorny subject of immigration reform this year and he is right on target. The only reason to delay it is to appease lawmakers — mainly Republicans — who want to avoid Borderagent the subject in an election year. We’d rather see legislators put on the spot.
   Obama
laid the blame squarely on Republicans’ doorstep last week, accusing minority party members of caving in to the “pressures of partisanship and election-year politics.” That, indeed, is what is happening as Republicans cater to their most extreme elements by insisting that any immigration bill forswear amnesty for illegal residents.
   While that sounds rational, the fact is that the country is not going to deport the
estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. It’s not even a practical possibility, and that ignores the moral problem of tearing families apart. But after right wing Republicans scuttled the immigration compromise hammered out by the Bush administration, it’s hard to image the current crop of Republicans agreeing to anything the Obama administration might midwife.
   [Obscure pop culture reference at the bottom.]
    Related:
- Immigration reform needed now - Arizona Republic Editorial

Continue reading "Problem to solve. Money to burn." »

Millions without jobs. One man with a new one.

   An employment theme to today's Buffalo News Opinion page editorials:

- Adding to the burden - Buffalo News Editorial
   Perhaps the Senate’s Republicans aren’t reading the news. The economy remains weak and, according to some reports, getting weaker instead of stronger. A double-dip recession is possible. Yet Republicans, Ineedajob playing to their worst stereotype, recently filibustered a bill to continue providing unemployment checks to millions of people. It was the third time they had blocked the bill in three weeks.
   The effort to extend jobless benefits is not a whimsy. As
President Obama noted in Toronto last month, while it is important for this country, and all nations, to reduce their deficits, the immediate problem is not to sabotage the weak economy. Without this extension, 1.7 million people who have been without a job for at least six months will have lost their unemployment benefits. ...
   To be sure,
Democrats can go overboard, too, but the Republicans’ reflexive reliance on “no” fairly shouts a party that is less interested in governing than in sabotaging. That would be a troubling pattern of behavior under any conditions, but it is unconscionable with millions of Americans out of work and financial system still in the same condition that capsized the economy.
   The Constitution set minimum ages for election to federal office, but it says nothing about the need to be grown up.
   Related:
- Senate Democrats' video.
- Punishing the Jobless - Paul Krugman/The New York Times
   A coalition of the heartless, the clueless and the confused is blocking extended unemployment benefits. What can be done?

Continue reading "Millions without jobs. One man with a new one." »

Hitching posts. Unhitching law.

   Editorials in the Buffalo News Opinion section today are about making it easier - to ride your bike in Buffalo or to get a divorce in New York State:

- Rack those bicycles - Buffalo News Editorial
   It's a heck of a lot cheaper than building parking spaces for 300 automobiles. And it can be a lot better Bikerack for everyone's health, too.
   The Buffalo
Common Council has approved a contract to put up another 150 new bicycle racks — each providing a secure parking spot for two bikes — around the city's various business districts. It will be $62,000 well spent. ...
   If you know of a place that needs one of the new bicycle racks, you can call the city's non-emergency line, 311, or go 
here.
   Previous: Make roads safer
   Related:
- Easy Rider: My revolutionary folding bike - Judith Shulevitz/The New Republic
- Bike to Work breakfast in Steamboat a success - Steamboat Today
- RiverScape additions invite visitors, skaters, commuters - Dayton Daily News
- In which one editor braves the Bike to Work - Marty O'Mara/Courier-News, Elgin, Ill.
- Bear attacks bike commuter in Alaska (and you thought your ride into work was tough) - The Oregonian

- Approve no-fault divorce - Buffalo News Editorial
   Divorce is nasty business, especially in New York State where the difficulty in obtaining one often leaves two people unwillingly coupled in the eyes of the law.

Continue reading "Hitching posts. Unhitching law." »

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