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County concerns: Add the auditors. Confirm the culinary.

   The score-keepers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner, doing our own sort of audit, today insist that Erie County should not be cutting auditors from the comptroller's staff, and that Niagara County should move ahead with a deal to put NCCC's Culinary Institute in the old Rainbow Centre.

Restore the auditors - Buffalo News Editorial
  County Executive Chris Collins [right] has cut a wide swath through a critical function of government by Chriscollins reducing [County Comptroller] Mark C. Poloncarz’s office by 36 percent, to 27 employees, including only two auditors. Collins should either retract his decision, or the County Legislature should do its part by restoring some positions, although there is slim hope that it could override an all-but-certain veto by Collins.
   The county executive’s action even has the county’s state-appointed financial control board up in arms. ...
   [Collins blasted over gutting of audit team - Buffalo News, Oct. 21]
   The comptroller is independently elected and performs critical duties. His oversight of county spending plays an integral role in the checks and balances that make democracy work. Collins’ budget cuts would subvert that role. ...
   [Note to the county executive: Hey, Chris, your official and campaign websites are both offline. Are those budget cuts, too?] 

Make this work - Buffalo News Editorial
   Efforts to create a downtown culinary school in the heart of Niagara Falls should move forward cautiously but with an eye toward making it work. This is no time for foolish obstruction.
   This $26.1 million project would rescue a derelict shopping mall that sits on prime land in one of the world’s most recognizable names in tourism. By turning the vacant Rainbow Centre mall into the new home of the Niagara County Community College culinary arts institute, downtown Niagara Falls will get a sustained dose of what it has been missing — vibrancy — and the county will bolster its entire tourism sector.
   [Agency paves way for culinary institute - Buffalo News, Oct. 26; County lawmakers wary of NCCC mall plan - Buffalo News, Oct. 24]
   The agreement is now in the hands of the Niagara County Legislature. It is structured so that the county can walk away with the slightest notice. But if it works, it could mean growing the current 395-student culinary institute and related tourism and hospitality majors into 800 to 1,000 students in downtown Niagara Falls. It’s no small matter that colleges would welcome with open arms the chance to set up a culinary program in an international tourist destination visited by millions each year. ...

   And, even though none of the above characters is on the ballot today, a reminder:

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-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Endorsement wrap-up

  One of the nice things about being an editorial writer is that, unlike all those TV ads people have been flooded with the last few weeks, when real live political candidates come to visit with us, they are always on their best behavior. Many of them have been by in the last month or so, courting the Editorial Board for our endorsements.
   It is a lot of work, but also the best way of gaining some understanding of just who these people are and what they want to do.
   We have discharged that duty for another year.
   Tomorrow, it's your turn.

-  Vote Tuesday - Buffalo News Editorial
   One of the most bizarre campaign seasons in memory will end tomorrow and voters will have to decide on the next governor, federal and state legislators and various local offices.
   It is vital that every registered voter take part in the process in deciding whether New York’s next governor will be State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo or Buffalo businessman Carl P. Paladino. Or, whether the State Senate will, indeed, swing back toward a Republican majority.
   Key seats remain up for grabs, including judicial, county clerk and other local offices. The News has not endorsed in all races, but it is important that voters also do their own due diligence in deciding the best candidates to deliver solutions.
   This campaign season has revealed the depths of voter frustration and outright anger at a system that favors the politically connected to the detriment of constituents. The “tea party” has tapped into that outrage and has offered various candidates throughout the country from which to choose.
   Elections always produce some degree of change. How much, and in what direction, are determined in part on how many people take the time to vote. It’s not only our duty, it’s in our own interest.
   The News has offered its own opinions on a selection of candidates. This guide is meant to recommend, not require, as voters make independent and personal decisions.

   Governor: Andrew M. Cuomo [editorial] [website]

   State Attorney General: Dan Donovan [editorial] [website]

   State Comptroller: Harry Wilson [editorial] [website]

   U. S. Senator: Charles E. Schumer(i) [website]

   U.S. Senator [partial term]: Kirsten E. Gillibrand (i) [editorial] [website]

   Congress, 27th District: Brian Higgins (i) [editorial] [website]

   Congress, 28th District: Louise Slaughter (i) [editorial] [website]

   Congress, 29th District: Matthew Zeller [editorial] [website]

   State Senate: 58th District: Jack Quinn [editorial] [website]

   County Clerk: Kathy Hochul (i) [editorial] [website]

(i) denotes incumbent

 

Keep the clerk. Cut out the middle man.

   The bean-estimators [beware journalists doing math] in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today focus on the sort of public office where performance can actually be seen, and rewarded at the polls, and on a good idea to see to it that an ongoing dispute between the Seneca Nation and New York State doesn't hurt the locals in Niagara County.

Hochul for county clerk - Buffalo News Editorial
   The job of Erie County clerk is really one of efficiencies and, as anyone who's been to the downtown auto bureau lately can see, all cylinders are running smoothly. And that's just one example, which is why Hochul this page endorses incumbent Kathy C. Hochul.
   She is being opposed by Cliff Bergfeld, who has a lot to offer but would be hard-pressed to come up with a good reason for voters to remove the incumbent. ...
  She has taken efficiency and inclusiveness to new heights as county clerk, requesting input from taxpayers on what they want to see and how they would like services delivered. She continues to streamline what can be a bureaucratic morass, such as developing a one-page form for enhanced driver's license applications.
   The list of initiatives are too numerous to name and, best of all, she's always looking for ways to improve. This one is easy: re-elect Hochul as county clerk.

Gambling on responsibility - Buffalo News Editorial
   One of the worst places to be is the middle of the fight between the Seneca Nation of Indians and the governor’s office, but there are exceptions, and the issue of sharing casino profits with local government and not-for-profit organizations calls for taking sides.
   The Senecas have withheld payments owed to New York for two years, claiming the state violated the terms of its compact by allowing other forms of gambling into an “exclusivity” zone. Thus, the Seneca Nation and four lawmakers want to see a portion of money from Seneca-run casinos given directly to local governments, rather than have the money pass through state government. All in all, it’s a good idea. State Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, put it best when she compared it to taking out New York State as the middle man.
   In addition to Young, State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, D-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, plan to push for passage of a law by the state that would see that the money goes directly to localities and nonprofits.
   Related:
Senecas gain allies in dispute over profits - Buffalo News, Oct. 18

 -- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Cast the vote. Reach for the deal.

   The cheerleaders in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today pick a favorite in the 58th District State Senate race and hope for the best with the possible addition of a $1 billion - or maybe $4 billion - Verizon data center in Niagara County.

Quinn for State Senate - Buffalo News Editorial
   In what might otherwise be a much closer decision, one factor stands larger than the others in the 58th District State Senate race between Tim Kennedy and Jack Quinn: the New York State Legislature Quinnsassembly desperately needs balance in its composition. That means the Senate should revert to Republican control and that, in turn, means that in a race between two competent candidates, the nod goes to Quinn ------>. ...
  Quinn’s election could also, as already noted, make the difference between Democratic and Republican control of the Senate, and while we believe restoring a GOP majority to be in taxpayers’ interest—for starters, the Senate’s Republican caucus would be centered upstate—we say that with our fingers crossed. The Republican Senate was firmly behind every bad decision made over the course of decades.
   Republicans claim to have learned their lesson, but on that score, New Yorkers can only hope.What they know is that Democrats have forfeited the right to leadership in the Senate.
   Related:
- Kennedy, Quinn raise volume on attack ads - Buffalo News Oct. 27
- Stakes high for balance of power in State Senate - Buffalo News Oct. 24
- Quinn’s Assembly years hint at Senate agenda - Buffalo News Oct. 10 

Reach for the deal - Buffalo News Editorial
   The possible construction of a Verizon Communications data center in Niagara County following the company’s tax break application has residents talking, and no wonder. Coming on the heels of Yahoo’s arrival, the prospect of another high-tech employer in Niagara County is attractive, indeed.
   Due diligence is necessary but the goal must be to make this deal work. The costs per job may be high, when all of the incentives are tallied, but New York State has no choice if it wants to bring in new businesses.
   Already, the process is morphing. At one point, Verizon was talking about making $4.5 billion worth of investment in 10 years and groundbreaking by mid-November, but the development timetable appears to be slowing. Instead of building three giant data pods at once, Verizon reportedly intends to build one right away with the others coming later.
   Still, that amounts to a $1.12 billion project with 145 jobs projected by the end of 2014 at a reported average of $85,000 a year. Beyond that, officials believe that economic spinoff would create other activities from suppliers, transportation, restaurants and perhaps even other data centers. ...
   The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency has scheduled a public hearing on the Verizon package for this Wednesday in Somerset Town Hall. It is expected to vote on the matter a week later.
   Related:
- Verizon's planned data center to get low-cost power - Buffalo News Oct. 26
- Verizon asks for tax breaks in Somerset - Buffalo News Oct. 13

- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Comptroller recommended. Controls needed.

   With just a few days left before the election, the great mentioners in The Buffalo News Opinion corner offer another recommendation, this one for state comptroller. We also take a very dim view of a set of circumstances that demonstrate why states need the kind of oversight provided by comptrollers -- and inspectors general.

Wilson for comptroller - Buffalo News Editorial
   New Yorkers are fortunate this year to have two solid candidates for state comptroller. Either, we Wilsoncomptroller
believe, would do a good job, but we lean toward the Republican challenger, Harry Wilson [right].
   It’s not just that Wilson, a newcomer to electoral politics, has a potent financial resume that recommends him for the job, though that is obviously important. At least as significant is the broader view he holds of how to make the office work on behalf of New Yorkers, the nation’s highest-taxed citizens. That approach to the job, together with a demonstrated ability to work in bipartisan fashion behind the scenes, could create a potent new force in the fight to restore fiscal sanity to this broken state.
   Wilson is running against the incumbent, Democrat Thomas DiNapoli, whose own record demands respect. ...
   Yet elections ultimately are forward-looking. Which candidate can better meet the challenges anticipated over the next term? Which has the better chance of leaving his office —and the state—better than he found it? When such questions form the test, we believe that while DiNapoli would continue his strong performance, Wilson would bring a different and important dimension to the task of overseeing the state’s finances.
   Elseweb:
For New York Comptroller - [Wilson] - New York Times Editorial
For state comptroller: Harry Wilson - New York Post Editorial
- Harry Wilson for state comptroller - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
Our recommendation for state comptroller [Wilson] - The Journal News

What’s worse than intolerable? - Buffalo News Editorial
  New York State Inspector General Joseph Fisch has seen it all in the 50 years he has served as an investigator, prosecutor and judge in Albany and New York City.
   Yet even he was “outraged and saddened” by what he found as he burrowed into the cesspool of pay-to-play associated with a since-canceled deal to give a multibillion-dollar casino license to an outfit that apparently did not earn the contract so much as buy it.
   The report shows just how poorly equipped the state is to make major decisions in a way that benefits the overstressed taxpayers rather than their tin cup-rattling elected officials. A whole new way of awarding contracts, one that leaves out the fund-raisers, is absolutely necessary if the state is to have the confidence of either its citizens or of those businesses that may wish to offer their services in the future.

 -- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Affirmative action in editorials

   It is a tradition for the deep thinkers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner, after we have published an editorial endorsing a candidate for a big-ticket office such as president or governor, to find another newspaper's editorial backing the other candidate and publish that, too.
   We did that today. We had to look around a bit to find it.

- Carl Paladino for Governor - New York Sun Editorial
   ...  It doesn’t take a double-blind study to see that Mr. Paladino is politically inexperienced and has his personal flaws. But it is also the case that he is the candidate who more clearly comprehends the Newyorksun catastrophe that has engulfed the state and more faithfully hews to the principles of political economy that will have to be at the center of any effort to turn it around. ...
   Though Mr. Paladino recognizes it would be a difficult fight, he evinces the grit that will be needed to maximize that advantage. He has budget goals and a timeline of governance. He has an upstater’s sympathy for those stranded by the kind of desolation that has been created by the tax-and-spend policies of the Democrats. He insists he wants but one term and intends, thereafter, to go back to his business. There is no doubt that the received wisdom is that the campaign is at a point where Mr. Paladino is going to lose no matter what happens — so that the better strategy is to endorse the likely winner. It’s the same thinking that got us Governor Spitzer. So we recommend a vote on the merits for Mr. Paladino.

   All of the other editorials we have been able to find have been of this variety:
-  Cuomo for Governor - New York Times
-  Waiting for (a) superman - New York Post [endorsing Cuomo]
-  Andrew M. Cuomo for Governor - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
-  Cuomo offers hope for improvement - Glens Falls Post Star
-  Cuomo for governor - New York Daily News [Aug. 29!]

   Related:
- Paladino's home paper endorses Cuomo in guv race - AP/Wall Street Journal
   Not that it made much difference:
- 'Hometown boy' Paladino leads in local poll - Robert J. McCarthy/The Buffalo News

   Also:
- Paladino to Tancredo: 10 Wingnuttiest Governors - John Avlon/The Daily Beast
   Actually, it should be the 10 Wingnuttiest candidates for governor. 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Endorsement season

   OK. We've just about wrapped up our list of Editorial Page endorsements for the 2010 election. Does that mean we can stop watching all those horrible TV commercials now?

Donovan for AG - Buffalo News Editorial
   The race for New York State attorney general this election is the difference between an experienced Donovan Democrat who has spent 12 years in the State Senate and leans to the left and a right-leaning Republican district attorney from Staten Island.
   For a variety of reasons, this page endorses Staten Island Republican Dan Donovan. ...
   Free of the Albany specter, Donovan should be better able to act independently and, as he has promised, fight public corruption. The attorney general, whose office primarily defends the state, must be above reproach as he's rooting out corruption by others, and Donovan must live up to that pledge, as well. ...
   State Sen. Eric Schneiderman, well meaning and with a history of public interest work, has served in the same dysfunctional Albany system that he says he has tried to clean up as a self-proclaimed reformer. ... his ability to truly be an independent voice after having been so long a part of the system is at least questionable.

   The view among opinionistas is not unanimous:
- Democratic Choice for Attorney General - New York Times Editorial
Donovan for AG - New York Daily News Editorial
- Attorney general: Eric Schneiderman - Albany Times Union Editorial
Donovan for AG - New York Post Editorial
- Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
- Schneiderman for AG - New York Observer Editorial

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Other choices to make

   Only 8 days to Election Day. Or, put another way, only 9 days to No More Campaign Ads Day.
   Don't be too hard on yourself if you forgot that the entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for election this year, too. The races in our neck of the woods haven't generated that much heat. But there are choices to be made. Here are ours.

Two solid incumbents - Buffalo News Editorial
   ... it would seem no incumbent would be safe in the upcoming Nov. 2 general election. Yet some incumbents earn their keep. So it is with two Western New York representatives whom The News enthusiastically endorses, along with an Afghanistan veteran running for an open seat. Another, Rep. Chris Lee, R-Clarence, has had a strong first term, but is running unopposed.
  27th District: Brian Higgins
  Incumbent Brian Higgins has taken on major fights using conventional and unconventional means for Louiseandbrian the betterment of Western New York. Most notable has been his work on demanding and securing for this area hundreds of millions of dollars for many years from the New York Power Authority that is now financing the redevelopment of Buffalo's waterfront. ...
   His Republican challenger, Alden businessman Leonard A. Roberto, is well intentioned in his effort to address what he terms an economic tsunami. He's frustrated with the country's debt, which he says will be passed down for generations. He's right, and Higgins -- should he win the race -- needs to become a leader in addressing that problem.
  28th District: Louise M. Slaughter
   Louise M. Slaughter has served 12 terms in office and, as this page has said in the past, she deserves another. ...
   Her challenger, Dr. Jill Rowland, a Buffalo dentist, echoes much of the tea party movement frustration about the country's direction, pointing back to what she deems as failures of the Obama administration. Rowland has been vociferous in her criticism of the national health care reform plan as well as the country's indebtedness, primarily to China.
  29th District: Matthew Zeller
   ... 
Vying for the position are Matthew Zeller, a Democrat and Afghanistan war veteran from Victor, and former Corning Mayor Tom Reed, a Republican. And although Reed is outpacing his opponent in terms of finances and apparent party support, we believe Zeller is the stronger choice.

   Elseweb:
Chris Lee - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
   Lee is being challenged by Democrat Philip Fedele, who is running a low-budget, near non-existent campaign. It may be that Fedele realizes that Lee, who succeeded retiring Rep. Tom Reynolds, a fellow Republican, has one of the safest GOP districts in the country.
Louise Slaughter for 28th District - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
Slaughter a clear choice in 28th District - Gates Chili Post Editorial
- Tom Reed for 29th District - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial

- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
[Photo: Reps. Louise Slaughter and Brian Higgins]

Video: Highlights of Cuomo's meeting with The News' editorial board

Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo met with The News' editorial board, as well as other reporters and editors, on Sept. 24 as the editorial board considered which candidate to endorse in the race for governor. That endorsement, which Cuomo received, was published today.

These clips, produced by The News' Aaron Besecker, provide an overview of what Cuomo had to say during the discussion and all of his comments on specific topics of particular importance. To watch the entire meeting, click here

Overview

Economic Development

The Culture of Albany

State and Local Issues

 

Video: Cuomo talks with The News' editorial board

Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo met with The News' editorial board, as well as other reporters and editors, on Sept. 24 as the editorial board considered which candidate to endorse in the race for governor. That endorsement, which Cuomo received, was published today.

Here is that discussion, broken into five segments. To watch topic-by-topic highlights of the meeting, click here. (Editor's note: Carl Paladino, despite repeated attempts by The News to schedule a meeting, did not meet with the editorial board.)

Segment One

Segment Two

Segment Three

Segment Four

Segment Five

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