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I need more Canal Side!!

   The editorial mavens in The Buffalo News Opinion section want more cow bell Canal Side:

- Old treasures, new uses - Buffalo News Editorial
   Two things are true about the historic DL&W train shed at the foot of Main Street. One, this unique and cavernous riverfront structure needs to play a prominent role in planning for the Canal Side projects. It is too well-located, too useful and too distinctive a building to ignore. Two, while it is premature to eliminate other options, the idea of devoting the shed to museum space is both intriguing and attractive.
   [Terminal trains keen eye on future - Buffalo News, 8/10/10] 
   The possibility should be carefully investigated, both for existing museums and also for the proposed Great Lakes museum that was once to be part of a Bass Pro development. The goal should be to ensure that the site will incorporate a visitor attraction worthy of the building, and not just provide random cultural institutions with a home.

- What you can do to get in the debate . . . 
   Learn:
   Visit the Canal Side Web site, www.eriecanalharbor.com , to view documents, drawings and maps. Search The Buffalo News online at www.buffalonews.com for Canal Side stories, commentary and coverage, or to view a computer-generated “Buffalo’s Waterfront Reimagined” video by UB’s Center for Computational Research. Buffalo Harbor Bridge studies are online at www.buffaloharborbridge.com .
   Voice your opinion:
  
Comment via the newest channel, Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Citizen Waterfront Forum. Click on the forum’s Canal Side button on the city’s Web site, city-buffalo.com or wwww.ci.buffalo.ny.us/Home , or call the city’s 311 information center. Comments will be included in the mayor’s report to Canal Side leaders in mid-September.
   Write:
   Join the issues discussion by posting a comment on this topic in our Matters of Opinion blog at www.buffalonews.com or at the end of the Web version of this editorial, or write a letter of up to 300 words to the editor for possible publication on our op-ed page (e-mail to lettertoeditor@buffnews.com or mail to Everybody’s Column, The Buffalo News, P. O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY, 14240).

    About that cow bell:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

We cover the waterfront

   The cool, considerate writers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner are all about Canal Side:

- The future of Canal Side - Buffalo News Editorial - Sunday
   The headlong rush to accommodation that led last week to a city land transfer, one that might put a new Canal-Side-Renderings bank office building on a key waterfront block, stood in stark contrast to both the nine years of dickering over the now-failed Bass Pro project and the principles of open government.
   But it did hold true to the principles of hard-nosed business development, which insists on confidentiality in a competitive environment. And as rushed as the land-transfer proposal was, the outcome seems it could be a good one -- especially in a poor city that cannot afford more deep losses of businesses and the jobs that go with them.
   [Common Council approves land transfer deal - Buffalo News 8/5/10; Brown asks for public input on waterfront -  Buffalo News 8/10/10; Citizen Waterfront Forum - City of Buffalo website] 

- Review harbor elements - Buffalo News Editorial - Monday
   The success of Canal Side will be determined, to a great degree, by how many people choose to frequent—and not just visit—the area. Another measure of success will be how financially self-sustaining it can be.
   The location of a major employment center on the Webster Block, where planners hope to land an HSBC bank building, would help meet those goals. It could bring thousands of people into Canal Side, the larger 23-acre zone that includes the 12-acre Erie Canal Harbor that has been the focus of development efforts. But obviously the bank is not an attraction that is going to bring in visitors wanting to experience the waterfront.
   In a more prosperous community, the bank might not have been an ideal choice for a prime block of waterfront property. For the third-poorest large city in America, where the absolute number-one need is jobs, it is the ideal choice.
   [IKEA says no thanks to Canal Side location - Buffalo News 8/11/10; Arts planning company hired to shape vision for waterfront - Buffalo News 8/10/10]

- A conflict of interest - Buffalo News Editorial - Monday
   The worry that New York’s various economic development programs exist more to pass money around among the already wealthy than to benefit the taxpayers of the nation’s third poorest city got an unwelcome boost recently when some unseemly details came to light.
   It seems that the chairman of a state agency that is helping to pay for Canal Side development also works for a law firm that was about to make somewhere between$50,000 and $100,000 by doing legal work for that very transaction. That deal now, rightly, has been revoked and another law firm will be selected.
   [Harris Beach bond counsel contract revoked - Buffalo News 8/14/10]

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Legislative to-dos, state ...

   The agenda-setters in The Buffalo News Opinion corner have a couple of things to add to the to-do lists of the New York Legislature and Congress.

- Save the tax credit - Buffalo News Editorial
   It's a good thing New York State just gave the film industry $2.1 billion in tax breaks in the just-passed final budget agreement. That will come in handy when movie sets have to be built showing decaying historic buildings and neighborhoods that might otherwise have been saved and rejuvenated were it not for lawmakers' decision to "temporarily" defer a rehabilitation tax credit program that's desperately needed upstate.
   [New state budget takes bite out of taxpayers - Buffalo News, 8/6/10] 
   New York's new commercial and owner-occupied historic rehabilitation tax credit programs were included in the decision to defer 30 tax credits on business, environmental and smart-growth themes tax credits, for Roccoinlafayette up to six years. The other programs on that list are statewide in scope and long-established. By comparison, the rehabilitation tax credits are just getting out of the starting gate and were eagerly sought by municipal leaders and economic development officials who understand the need to prioritize downtown reinvestment in economic revitalization efforts. ...
   There are key redevelopment projects in virtually every upstate city ready to move forward, but which absolutely need an unaltered rehabilitation tax credit program.
   State Sen. David J. Valesky and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt have championed this program for upstate New York, and continue to seek a way to allow the tax credit program to survive the deferral plan and work unimpeded for such cities as Syracuse and Buffalo. The governor also clearly understands the economic impact that these rehabilitation tax credits could have -- in construction and permanent jobs, and in new tax revenues -- for upstate, in particular. Might there be an opportunity for a three-way agreement between the governor, Senate and Assembly, to protect this program outside the context of the final budget bill?
   There should, because this is a chance to rescue the rehabilitation tax credits and their extraordinary benefits from the deferral list. This outcome would not just write a better Hollywood ending, but protect and deliver a long-sought and critically needed economic development tool for this part of New York.
   [Photo: Buffalo News file photo of local developer Rocco Termini inside the Lafayette Hotel, one of the rehabilitation projects dependent on state tax credits to make it viable.]

   Related:
- Paterson signed the wrong budget bill - Tom Precious/The Buffalo News
- They're making you pay - New York Daily News Editorial

    Hollywood Ending, from Hollywood [I hadn't heard of it either]:  

... and federal

- Approve the shield law - Buffalo News Editorial
   The U.S. Senate is dragging its feet on approving a federal shield law. If it doesn’t move quickly, the opportunity to enact this crucial measure may be lost.
   The proposed law, the product of years of painstaking research and compromise, would protect reporters from having to reveal the identities of confidential sources except in certain circumstances. The bill, which provides exceptions on matters including terrorism and national security, has bipartisan support. It has already been approved in the House. It was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in December and is ready for final action.
   And there it sits. Americans have the best chance in decades to ensure that they can get the truth out of their government, but because of the congressional and political calendars, the window may soon close.
   Getting to the facts of how government operates – what it does, what it fails to do, the deals it makes, the corners it cuts — does not always come easily. Politicians and bureaucrats — just like the rest of us — don’t want their secrets told.
   Sources who tell reporters about what is really going on may risk their careers or even their freedom. They won’t speak if they think a reporter, who may be threatened with jail, won’t keep their identities secret. And government of the people, by the people and for the people goes by the boards.
   Forty-nine states, including New York, have shield laws. They understand that a vigorous press is not only valuable to a democracy, but essential to it. That’s why the profession of journalism is the only one protected by the Constitution. Washington, thus far, doesn’t understand—at least not officially. While broad support exists for a federal shield law, the law remains out of reach. It’s time for senators to get serious.

   Related:
- Shields and Subpoenas: The reporter's privilege in federal courts - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Struggling to Report - Society of Professional Journalists
- Federal 'Shield Law' needed - Cincinnatti Enquirer Editorial
- Senate must vote on shield law - Glens Falls Post-Star Editorial  
- Right to know - Florida Today Editorial
- Urge our senators to vote for bill - Fort Myers [Fla.] News-Press Editorial

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News   

Dirty Great Lakes ...

   Today's peanuts from the comment gallery, a.k.a. The Buffalo News Opinion page:

- Fouling our own waters - Buffalo News Editorial
   When it goes down the drain -- or down the toilet -- it is because we don't want it in our houses or in our streets.
   Nor should we want it on our beaches. But, according to a new report from the National Resources Adamraws Defense Council, that is where a lot of our runoff and sewage goes, all too often without the benefit of being run through a proper treatment process first.
   The fact that recreational beaches along the Great Lakes and elsewhere are being closed to swimmers more often than in the past is an indication that something is wrong. But, says the council, those alerts are only the tip of a very dirty iceberg.
   A study released early this week reported that five cities, including Buffalo, dumped 41 billion gallons of storm water runoff and untreated sewage into the Great Lakes last year, through what are known as combined sewer overflows. That may get diluted in the more than 6 quadrillion gallons in the lakes, but it's still as much water as goes over Niagara Falls in 15 hours -- and it's a health risk.
   "We need to stop dumping raw sewage into the Great Lakes," said Jeff Skelding of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition on Monday. Anybody want to argue?
   Related:
- 'Sewage crisis' overtakes the lakes - Brian Meyer/The Buffalo News
- America's dirty beaches - Newsweek
   Tar balls? A sheen of crude? Oil mousse? Amateur hour. The real villains of America’s beaches are not the scattered and dissipating messes from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but the nationwide and relentless releases of disease-causing pathogens—human and animal feces—that reach the shorelines from storm runoff and sewage overflows.
- Coalition asks Congress to fund upgrades to Detroit's leaky sewage system - The Michigan Messenger
- The real cost of oil - Muskegon Chronicle Editorial
- President Obama's reaction to Asian carp threat is appallingly weak and slow - Grand Rapids Press Editorial 

... Smelly 'compassionate release'

- Probe the Lockerbie release - Buffalo News Editorial
  The suspicious if not infuriating circumstances surrounding Scotland’s release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi last August have been made even more so with the recent release of Lockerbie publicly available documents and revelations from people familiar with the case.
   The 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 took 270 lives, most of them Americans including many students from Syracuse University. Some were from Western New York.
   The families of those victims remain justifiably angered over that inhumane act and over the release of al-Megrahi on so-called humane grounds on Aug. 20 last year. The prerelease medical report concluded that al-Megrahi had three months to live, which qualified him for Scottish guidelines on “compassionate release,” even after he was convicted in 2001 to a life sentence with a minimum 27 years of imprisonment.
   Al-Megrahi is still around. Families, the general public and four Democrats in the U.S. Senate want answers. In particular, they want to know the role of the now-infamous firm BP in urging the British government to sign a prisoner-transfer agreement with Libya, with which the oil company was negotiating a $900 million exploration agreement.
   Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, along with Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey, have asked the State Department to investigate a possible “quid pro quo” for al-Megrahi’s release.
   BP should adhere to the senators’ request to suspend its oil drilling plans in Libya until its role in freeing the convicted Lockerbie bomber is fully known.
   Related:
- Oiling a killer's release - New York Post Editorial
- Snake oil: British-Libyan-BP deal to free Lockerbie bomber gets dirtier and dirtier - New York Daily News Editorial
U.S. hardly lifted a finger to keep Lockerbie bomber in prison - Augusta Chronicle Editorial
- The Lockerbie bomber's overlong life - Steve Chapman/The Chicago Tribune
- How dare the US lay down the law on justice?  - Mary Riddell/The Telegraph [U.K.]
   Britain has no need to take lessons in due process from a superpower whose tally of executions place it alongside the world’s most despotic states.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

More mosque musings

- Mau-Mauing the Mosque - Christopher Hitchens/Slate
   The dispute over the construction of an Islamic center at "Ground Zero" in Lower Manhattan has now sunk to a level of stupidity that really does shame the memory and the victims of that terrible day in September 2001. One might think that a mosque or madrassa was being proposed in the place of the fallen towers themselves or atop the atomized ingredients of what was once a mass grave. (In point of fact, the best we have been able to do with the actual site, after almost a decade, is to create a huge, noisy, and dirty pit with almost no visible architectural progress. Perhaps resentment at the relative speed of the proposed Cordoba House is a subconscious by-product of embarrassment at this local and national disgrace.)

- As The GOP Descends Into Rank Demagoguery - Andrew Sullivan/The Atlantic
   What we're seeing is, to my mind, ominous. It's increasingly clear that the debt hangover of the last Adamgroundzero decade, combined with the financial crisis and the full and growing impact of China and India on global labor markets may well mean a long, grim, endless employment recession. At the same time, we have an opposition party that believes in torture, pre-emptive war, Greater Israel, and the stigmatization of Muslim-Americans. We have a party that not only has no serious solutions to any of our current problems (what climate change?) but wants to ratchet up the war on Jihadist terror in such a way that will embolden the Islamists, give our enemies a fantastic p.r. gift, conflate all Muslims as potential terrorists and elect a half-term former governor on the basis of her proud ignorance. And then what? Over to you, Mr Netanyahu. A global religious war is on - and coming to your neighborhood soon.

- Sheikh Your Newtie - William Saletan/Slate
   In the years since 9/11, Osama Bin Laden has issued more than 20 audio and video statements to spread his view of the conflict between the United States and al-Qaida. According to his worldview, the United States represents Christianity, al-Qaida represents Muslims, Christians won't protect Muslims, the West hates mosques, peaceful coexistence is a fraud, and the "war on terrorism" is really a war on Islam. By spreading this message, Bin Laden works to turn Muslims against the United States and rally them to al-Qaida.
   Now Bin Laden has an ally in this propaganda campaign: Newt Gingrich.

- Broadway and the Mosque - Thomas Friedman/The New York Times
   There are several reasons why I don’t object to a mosque being built near the World Trade Center site, but the key reason is my affection for Broadway show tunes.

- Why I'm returning an award to the ADL - Fareed Zakaria/Newsweek
   We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them. Were this mosque being built in a foreign city, chances are that the U.S. government would be funding it. 

- A Muslim Questions the Mosque - Asra Q. Nomani/The Daily Beast
   The Tea Party activists actually express the sentiments of Muslims such as myself who believe we have a serious problem inside our Muslim communities.

- Investment opportunity: My Ground Zero Islamic Gay Bar - Greg Gutfeld/Big Hollywood
   I hope that the mosque owners will be as open to the bar as I am to the new mosque. After all, the belief driving them to open up their center near Ground Zero, is no different than mine.
   My place, however, will have better music.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

Credit where it's due ...

   Today the thinking machines in the Buffalo News Opinion corner point with pride to two local accomplishments:

- Report cards for teachers - Buffalo News Editorial
   Anyone who has ever undergone a performance evaluation that is light on "performance" and heavy on Williamsrumore "politics" can understand the previous reluctance of Buffalo teachers when it came to an evaluation process that had been in place for the past 20 years.
   This is why a three-year cooperative effort between the school district and teachers union, one that resulted in a new evaluation process, is to be commended.
   [Evaluation of teachers overhauled - Buffalo News, 7/26/10]  
   Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore says the orientation of the evaluation now has changed from the "gotcha" system in which the process was sometimes used against teachers. Instead of focusing on what's wrong, marking "U" or "S" for unsatisfactory or satisfactory and seldom, if ever, providing any follow up, administrators will have to be more descriptive and explanatory. They'll have to provide guidance, not just a grade. ...
   Deputy Superintendent Folasade Oladele, whom Rumore gives credit for recent progress on this issue, should be commended along with union and other district officials for their work to fix what was broken, and to improve what had been an aging system that last developed an evaluation form in 1986.
   Related:
- Tenure needed to protect teachers - Decatur [Ala.] Daily Editorial
- Despite drawbacks, federal program could aid N.C. schools - Greenville [N.C.] Daily Reflector Editorial
- Mass firing of 'bad' teachers sets precedent - Delaware County [Penn.] Daily Times
- Washington educators should race for reforms - Spokane Spokesman-Review Editorial 
- What the union could teach us  - Linda Lantor Fandel/The Des Moines Register   

[Photo of Buffalo School Superintendent James A. Williams, left, and BFT President Phillip Rumore by Derek Gee/The Buffalo News]  

... and where it's overdue

- A victory for women veterans - Buffalo News Editorial
   For the most part, women veterans who served overseas or in a war zone have been given short shrift by the military and public. Some reportedly even have felt discouraged from seeking services to which they Womensmemorial are entitled.
   So it is pleasing to see that the new Dorothy Kubik/Katherine Galloway Post 12097, Veterans of Foreign Wars, has officially opened within West Seneca Post 8113. There are the requisite 41 eligible veterans to constitute a new post; seven of them are men, some of them military spouses of the women building up the post.
   [As example to the nation, a VFW post for women - Buffalo News, 7/27/10
   The point worth celebrating here is the recognition of the service and the sacrifices of women from this region who carried this nation’s colors to such places as World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
   In the current war in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq, women have been on the front lines, elbow-to-elbow with men. It can be seen as a nod to political correctness that women serving overseas or in a war zone aren’t necessarily visualized in the same manner or in as rough situations as their male counterparts. But any parent with a daughter serving in Afghanistan understands full well that she is not in a safe area.
   Related:
- UN: Afghan civilian deaths rise sharply - AP/Buffalo News
- VA is stepping up its services for female veterans - The Washington Post 
- Quilters sew their thanks for female veterans - The Salem [Mass.] News

-  George Pyle/The Buffalo News
[Photo of Vietnam Women's Memorial from Wikimedia Commons]

Hey, we made The Times

   The other day I was on about former New York City Mayor Ed Koch visiting us at The Buffalo News.

   This morning's New York Times has an interesting story about Ed's Excellent Adventure Upstate. It is Kochsnewcampaig-56165-001 more about the colorful politician than it is about Upstate. Or even about Koch's cause.

- Koch, at 85, Wages a New Campaign - Javier C. Hernandez/The New York Times
   BUFFALO — Edward I. Koch, 85 years old, thirsty for a Dairy Queen milkshake and ready for a nap, was fuming.
   “Throw the bums out!” Mr. Koch, the former mayor of New York City, shouted from the steps of a city hall 400 miles from his Greenwich Village home. ...
   Leaving The Buffalo News, he suggested a visit to the Erie Canal. When an aide motioned in the general direction of the famous waterway, Mr. Koch declared, “I’ve seen the Erie Canal, and now we can go back to the hotel.”

      A companion slide show has a photo of Koch meeting with The Buffalo News Editorial Board. But, in case you were wondering, the other people in the photo are not Buffalo News folks. They are part of Koch's posse. We're all much better looking. But, no, nobody has fixed those clocks for a long time.

   Related:
- Koch’s new campaign delineates ‘heroes,’ ‘enemies’ of state reform - Robert J. McCarthy/The Buffalo News
- Calling out the enemy - Bob McCarthy/The Buffalo News
   [Yes. He's Robert J. McCarthy on the news pages, and Bob McCarthy in the Viewpoints section. Friendlier that way.]
- Make Albany reform campaign even more visible - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
   Former Gov. Mario Cuomo and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani must do more than sign on as campaign trustees. Just as former Presidents George G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton teamed up to raise millions after the tsunami, a Koch, Giuliani and Cuomo team could do likewise.

   Hey. I didn't know that other photographer was from The N.Y. Times. You can't let him in here. He'll see everything! He'll see the Big Board!   

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
[Photo of Ed Koch in Buffalo by Derek Gee/The Buffalo News]

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