As always, the candidates are giving their reasons why they should be seated for the first time and incumbents are stating their case as to why they should be re-elected. Of course, the interesting twist in the legislative arena is the reapportionment and downsizing, in addition to open seats in both the County Clerk office and an Assembly seat vacated by James P. Hayes, R-Amherst, who took a job in the private sector.
The Buffalo News recently conducted endorsement interviews with Common Council candidates. We have edited 30-minute interviews into short clips to give voters and those living outside the district a glimpse into the candidates' viewpoints on why they should either be re-elected or seated for the first time.
All but one of the candidates, Rochelle A. Ricchiazzi in the University district, who did not respond to numerous requests by The News, is shown. We also offer our endorsement editorial for more information. Overall, it is important that voters go to the polls on a primary day that is expected to draw a low turnout. It would be nice to be proven wrong.
When it comes to our former editorial page editor, Mike Vogel, none of us really knows where to start. He was, is and always will be a friend, first and foremost.
As many readers have learneded through News Editor Margaret Sullivan's recent Sunday column, Mike has retired. His departure coincides with that of several colleagues, all of whom will be missed in the newsroom.
For those of us here among the nameless and faceless in the opinions department, Mike will be especially missed. He brought the highest level of professionalism to the job and, more important, he brought his sense of humanity. We strive to live up to the journalistic legacy he's created.
Part of that history can be found in the Viewpoints cover piece in today's Buffalo News, in which he gives a fascinating account of his sometimes adventurous career. Mike's writing, just like the man, is always a pleasure.
We expect readers will get as much enjoyment from hearing what our friend has to say as we did.
Primary election day is coming up on Sept. 13 and The News has chosen to take a look at the four of nine council seats up for grabs. Council seats go up for bid every four years and although this race seemed far from an attention-grabber once the Fillmore District contestants were decided, this election is going to determine how the next several years go in the city. Good or bad. Progress or no progress. The nine-member body is pivotal in determining the future of the City of Buffalo.
For that reason, we're a little disappointed that not all incumbents were challenged or that those who sought office, in some cases, seemed ill prepared. However, no one should be discouraged. There are a couple of potential stars among the challengers and they should be encouraged to try again. Overall, whether challenger or incumbent, all should continue to work for the good of the city.
A local radio host got all screechy this week over a Buffalo News editorial lamenting right-wing hate speech and a News' political cartoon unkind to Sarah Palin. So enraged -- or just looking for a hot topic to liven his show -- he urged listeners to cancel their Buffalo News subscriptions, and several dozen people did so.
But here's where it gets weird: The radio station didn't cancel its own Buffalo News subscriptions. Our records show that 16 copies of The Buffalo News will still arrive at the office at 500 Corporate Parkway Monday through Friday, same as always. Five copies will still arrive on Saturday, and five on Sunday.
Apparently, the radio station's managers see value in the newspaper -- especially as a guide for their own news department. They are are not about to practice what their morning pundit preaches. And if they were to cancel The News in protest, they probably shouldn't look at BuffaloNews.com either, to remain consistent, of course.
Hey, we believe in free speech, too. Rants over the airwaves can provide fine, fun entertainment that's good for business. We also are proud of the fact we provide a service for our friends in radio. We value them as customers.
In fact, The News values all its customers, even those who recently left us. Should you ever want to come back, our arms are open. The radio station that urged you to drop us seems to think The Buffalo News is worth the money.
This intrepid editorial writer (if there is such a thing)/traveler (again, questionable on the definition) had her choice, either the box (otherwise known as the Advanced Imaging Technology -- or dreaded, body scanner), or an extremely personal pat down in front of a very large group of impatient and otherwise disinterested strangers. That is, if I chose not to go into a private (and time-consuming) area.
Body scanner. Quick, easy solution for someone traveling from Baltimore Washington International Airport back to "sunny" Buffalo. Time had already been devoured in a slow-moving security line and, for the first time in years, the usual walk-through scanner had gone off. The sharp buzz was jolting. "Do you have anything in your pockets?" the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer politely asked. "No. Maybe it's the "bedazzlers" on my sweater. I've got another shirt on underneath. I'll put the sweater through the conveyor belt." Buzz!
"Are you wearing an underwire bra?" asked the helpful (male) TSA officer. Gee, that's a bit personal. Similar to the "boxers or briefs" question former President Bill Clinton received from a gutsy high school student so many years ago.
Well...OK. Now, it's a choice. Body scanner or pat down. Clock is ticking.
"I'll just step into the body scanner. Will it take long?"
"No," answered the TSA officer. "Stand on those footprints and hold your hands up."
Done. Exposed to some stranger, somewhere, forgotten for the moment and racing toward the gate. That wasn't so bad. Was it?
Apparently, this editorial writer wasn't the only one faced with the dilemma and who, after all the hemming and hawing, decided the best option was to meekly give in to a system TSA heads insist will offer the flying public better protection.
Resistance is futile.
Just ask opponents who promised mass protests at the nation's airports over the holiday weekend. The result: a faint whisper instead of an outcry, if the numbers and reports are to be believed. The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe quoted TSA officials, "Everything went smoothly overall." At the nation's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, 39 out of more than 47,000 passengers last Wednesday declined to use the machines. David Carr of The New York Times writes about "A Media False Alarm Over the T.S.A."
Still, it didn't stop truly intrepid travelers like college student Jimmy who videotaped his Speedo-wearing adventure through the Salt Lake International Airport last week. You be the judge:
And then there was the passenger who refused to go through the body scanner and upon hearing he would have to undergo a full-body pat down threatened TSA workers, "...if you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." That statement earned John Tyner a talk with a TSA supervisor...
Tyner didn't want anyone looking at his naked body. Understandable. And then there are some health concerns about low levels of radiation exposure. Also, understandable. Privacy. Security. Catching a plane. What are the options? And where are the limits?
When rushing to a plane, the decision becomes easier. Or, does it?
You can read any number of detailed, expert, deeply sourced examples of political reporting featured in the news pages of today's Buffalo News. Or you can just stop by the Opinion corner and have it all boiled down into two succinct essays [and one even more succinct cartoon]:
- Paladino triumphs - Buffalo News Editorial Carl "mad as hell" Paladino did it. He scored enough votes -- way more than enough votes -- from the "mad as hell" tea party and otherwise apathetic crowd to trounce Rick Lazio in Tuesday's Republican gubernatorial primary. Who would have guessed? Well, besides Paladino. Obviously not Lazio, whose dismissive, almost laid-back approach to Paladino cost him in the end. The former congressman apparently never saw it coming. But his opponent knew exactly how to tap into voter anger and anxiety over big government, taxes and an all-too-easy target of Albany dysfunction. ... Walking away with 67 percent of the vote, Paladino plainly tapped into a rich vein of voter frustration. Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee for governor, may seem to have an insurmountable advantage, but that's what Lazio thought, too. It won't be hard for Paladino to portray Cuomo as the Democratic-establishment-son-of-Mario candidate. ... The question now is who has the better program with the better chance of success: Cuomo the insider with a reform plan or Paladino the flame-thrower with his own reform agenda? Voters have less than two months to decide.
- Off with (all) their heads - Buffalo News Editorial A funny thing happened to the establishment Republican Party on its way to a smooth off-year, anti-incumbent surge into state and national office. In races from Alaska to Delaware, Republicans with the support and in the image of the party’s mainstream have discovered that, in the eyes of a great many voters, they just aren’t revolutionary enough to satisfy the small but deeply motivated electorate that shows up on Primary Election Day. ... But, then, New York’s mainstream Republicans have long played a dicey game with voters. They happily shoveled along unfunded mandates, played footsie with special interests and worried more about their re-elections than public service — just like Assembly Democrats. Paladino’s overwhelming victory may have come as a shock, but it can hardly be surprising that the party’s primary-election voters had had enough. ... But it wasn’t just Republicans who suffered at the hands of voters demanding change. In Democratic primaries in Western New York, voters threw out a couple of long-established officer-holders, Sen. William T. Stachowski of Buffalo and Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte of Lewiston. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo barely hung on to his seat. All were closely associated with their chamber’s dysfunctional leadership. The chickens are coming home. Voters crave choices. They’d prefer good choices, between two valid, but different, sets of political ideas and principals. But if the main crop of challengers looks too much like the same old stuff, then candidates who do offer a real difference, even a dangerous one, will rush in to fill the void.
Editorials in the Buffalo News Opinion section today call for the Buffalo Public Schools and the New York Legislature to work together as well as, at least in this one instance, the United States and Canada have.
- Working together - Buffalo News Editorial Fighting terrorism is not a game of hot potato, where governments can toss risks around from nation to nation in hopes that the bomb will blow up while the other guy is holding it. The understanding that a key tool for preventing the kind of terrorism that respects no border is cooperation across borders is behind a welcome agreement between the United States and Canada. That agreement—the Canada-U.S. Action Plan for Critical Infrastructure—sets up a permanent framework that both nations will use to jointly watch their shared borders and border facilities, making one another alert to risks, improving and securing lines of communication, cutting back on overlap and duplication and arranging to stand ready to help one another if terrorist attacks—or anything else—destroy security and transit infrastructure. Background reports, from this side: - U. S., Canada unveil joint border-security plan - Jerry Zremski/The Buffalo News and that side: - Cross-border security plan made with U.S. - Mike De Souza/Montreal Gazette
- Reconsider school districts - Buffalo News Editorial The standard reply to the suggestion that New York State taxpayers would save a bundle if only some of their 700 school districts would consolidate is, "You first." New Yorkers' heads tell them that the state has too many school districts, often small ones, supported by high property taxes that would be even higher if it weren't for the giant amounts of state aid that also come out of taxpayers' pockets. But our hearts are often loathe to let go of the many smallish districts that provide at least the illusion of local control. That's why it makes sense, as two Democrats in the State Legislature have proposed, to form a commission that would look at all of the state's school districts and come up with a set of reforms that would hit everyone, all at once.
Oh, brave new world, that has such awful, racist, sexist, violent, sniping creatures in it.
- End of anonymous commenting stirs debate - Margaret Sullivan/The Buffalo News A few weeks ago, I wrote about The News' plans to change our policy on readers' online comments. The gist is this: Beginning Aug. 2, we will no longer post anonymous comments. If you want to comment in The News — both in print and online — you'll have to give us your real name and hometown. Since then, the response has come fast and furious. The New York Times, CNN, the Boston Globe and Canada's CBC radio network have covered the decision, which seems to be the first of its kind for a metropolitan daily paper in the United States. ... The move has touched off the hot topic of anonymous Web flaming. Plenty of criticism has come our way — and some kudos, as well. The naysayers (many of whom, interestingly, prefer to remain anonymous) are blasting us for what they see as noxious free-speech violations and an effort to protect our evil political agenda. The Internet, as they see it, is a place where anything goes. Limiting that is a sin against free expression. The supporters, by contrast, are relieved that the astonishingly hateful and venomous commentary on news stories ("It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots," writes Gene Weingarten in a column that ran today) will likely be restrained once people have to identify themselves. They are hoping for a measure of civility, without the loss of wide-ranging discussion and diverse viewpoints.... Those who are working on the project here recognize that there will be some bumps along the way. We also know that, like so many ventures on the Internet, this one is something of an experiment. We've tried the other way, living in the anonymous Wild West world, for more than a year, and are ready for something else.
- Policing the Web’s Lurid Precincts - Brad Stone/The New York Times Ricky Bess spends eight hours a day in front of a computer near Orlando, Fla., viewing some of the worst depravities harbored on the Internet. He has seen photographs of graphic gang killings, animal abuse and twisted forms of pornography. One recent sighting was a photo of two teenage boys gleefully pointing guns at another boy, who is crying. ... David Graham, president of Telecommunications On Demand, the company near Orlando where Mr. Bess works, compared the reviewers to “combat veterans, completely desensitized to all kinds of imagery.” The company’s roughly 50 workers view a combined average of 20 million photos a week.