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Donors: One proud, others fearful

   The scorers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today mark against the name of one generous [or, more cynically, opportunistic] gift that stands to do a lot for Niagara Falls, and calls out a group that would have the names of its financial supporters kept secret.

A gift for the Falls - Buffalo News Editorial
   Maybe David S. Cordish is being uncommonly generous by giving his long-term lease on the Niagara Falls Rainbow Centre mall to Niagara County Community College. Maybe he is just ridding himself of a Rainbowcentre costly 4-acre white elephant.
   It doesn't really matter which it is. The surprise move still has great promise for the long-awaited redevelopment of that undeservedly forgotten city.
   [NCCC plan for mall stirs hope for city - Buffalo News, Oct. 19]
   There are, as they say, many more dots and crosses to be made before the deal to turn the derelict shopping center into the new home of the NCCC Culinary Arts Institute becomes a reality. And, even with that done, neither the city, nor even the whole mall, will be instantly reborn.
   The mall, smack in the middle of downtown Niagara Falls, has gathered dust for a decade, a physical barrier and a psychological drain on a community that, by all rights, should be drawing tourists from around the globe. All the while, the American side of the Falls has watched large, profitable -- if sometimes garish -- development take off on the Canadian end of the Rainbow Bridge. ...
   None of these loose ends should be allowed to detract from the significance of this news. Just the knowledge that the Rainbow Centre may become a lively place again is inspiring the owners of nearby properties to improve their properties as well.
   It will be up to NCCC, its foundation, Niagara Falls city and county government, the state and others to follow through on the opportunity.
   At least, now, the opportunity is real.

- Keep out of the closet - Buffalo News Editorial
   Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.
—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
   The first thing we should expect of an outside group that wishes to influence New York’s future laws is that it be willing to abide by New York’s existing laws.
   A group called the National Organization for Marriage — based in that bastion of family-friendly behavior called Washington, D.C. — has gone to court seeking the right to exempt itself from the New York law that demands that people who spend money to shape public policy tell us where that money came from.
   [Gay marriage foes sue to keep donor names secret - Buffalo News, Oct. 20]
   The group plans, as is its clear First Amendment right, to air radio and TV spots and send direct mail pieces opposing same-sex marriage. The ads [like this one] will also actively oppose candidates who support marriage equality, most notably Andrew M. Cuomo, attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor. And they will support candidates who agree with the group’s philosophy, most notably Carl P. Paladino, Buffalo businessman and Republican candidate for governor. ...
   The organization has the right to promote any system of values it holds dear. And if it can raise a lot of money to raise its voice loud enough for all to hear, more power to it.
   But, under New York law, and under the principles of democracy and open government, it has not earned the right to be treated differently from every other group that seeks your ear before you cast your ballot.
   Because those voters have the right — the need — to evaluate that argument with information that includes the names of those who paid for its megaphone.

   UPDATE, Oct. 26:
 - Suit by anti-gay-marriage group dismissed in federal court here - Dan Herbeck/The Buffalo News 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Things not seen

   The searchers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today worry about government officials who like to hide things, and encourages other government officials -- mostly judges -- to make them stop.

- Burying the question - Buffalo News Editorial
   You'd think that people who aspire to the title "election commissioner" would be all about making it as easy as possible for the qualified electors of any jurisdiction to intelligently cast their ballots.
   Maybe in some places. Not in Erie County.
   [Referendum's place on ballot an issue - Buffalo News, Oct. 19]
   By working together in a way that gives the term "bipartisan" a really bad ring, Election Commissioners Dennis E. Ward, the Democrat, and Ralph M. Mohr, the Republican, have done about all that can be done to block, and then obscure, a public vote on the proposition to downsize the Erie County Legislature.
   First the pair tried to disqualify the referendum on shrinking the legislative body from 15 members to 11 on the grounds that the wrong functionary had filed the document after it was approved by the Legislature.
   After that stunt was rightfully rejected by a local judge, Ward and Mohr returned with the news that the ballot question would be printed on the back of the paper ballot, not at the top as has been the traditional home for such questions. ...
   The election commissioners should change their mind and put the ballot questions on the front. If they don't do it on their own, the commissioners' acknowledged hostility to the question should move a court to order it. ...

Affront to the Constitution - Buffalo News Editorial
  The ticking-bomb rule just doesn’t hold water if the timer has been going for a month.
   That was the ruling by one federal appeals court in August, when it rightly overturned a Washington, GPS D.C., night-club owner’s drug conviction on the grounds that the global positioning system device [right] police had attached to his car — for 28 days — amounted to an unconstitutional search.
   Unfortunately, other federal courts, including the usually liberal 9th Circuit Court in California, have held otherwise. Worse, the Obama administration in general, and the FBI in particular, continue to argue that investigators have the right to attach GPS gizmos to cars belonging to anyone, for any reason, for any length of time, without having to explain themselves to a judge.
   [Discovery Of GPS Tracker Becomes Privacy Issue - AP/NPR, Oct. 16]
   This line of thinking clearly offends the spirit of the Bill of Rights, even if its authors weren’t clairvoyant enough to include the letters GPS in the Fourth Amendment. ...
  Because some federal courts agree that a warrant should be required for such activities, and some do not, the logical next step is for the question to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. But, given its current make-up and the chief justice’s devotion to conservative judicial activism, the chances of the civil liberties of American citizens and legal residents being protected at that level are slim.
   Better the White House change its tune. Better still that Congress make the the warrant requirement a law, so no one will be confused that the Constitution means what it says.

   Nickelback: "Where Do I Hide?":

 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

NEI [Not enough information]

   The wordsmiths in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today view with alarm the looming cutbacks at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and the amusing-ourselves-to-death panel of people who want to be governor of New York.

Protect the library - Buffalo News Editorial
  No one is disputing that difficult decisions have to be made during rough economic times and that full county funding of every cultural organization is unreasonable. Having said that, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library stands out as a community gem, sorely needed by those who are out of work or soon to be unemployed.
   This is why it is such a shame that the library is facing a projected shortfall of $6.75 million next year, including a $4 million cut in the system's county funding by County Executive Chris Collins.
   [Libraries, trimmed again, won’t close - Buffalo News 10/17/10]
   Someone's got to make the hard decisions and that is the county executive's unpleasant job, but for a system that already shrank to 37 branches from 51 during a local budget crisis a few years ago, it's almost impossible to imagine contracting even more. This is a decision that bears re-evaluating. ...

A worthless ‘debate’ - Buffalo News Editorial
   Many New York voters may have been waiting for Monday’s gubernatorial debate to decide whether they should hop on the bandwagon of heir apparent Andrew Cuomo or give feisty Buffalonian Carl Paladino a shot at cleaning up the mess that is Albany.
   That’s not what they got.
   Instead of a debate between the Democratic attorney general and the Republican businessman, one Debate that might have brought out both the candidates’ ideas for government and temperment for governing, what the New York electorate was treated to was a mildly entertaining display of Empire State eccentricities. [Cuomo takes a group pummeling - Buffalo News] ...
   From the inexplicably gloved leader of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party to the professionally tarted-up standard-bearer of the Anti-Prohibition Party, this Monday evening version of “Saturday Night Live” provided a glimpse of some of the characters who make New York a singularly interesting place to live. But it did precious little to help the state’s voters decide if front-runner Cuomo deserves his large lead in the polls, or if persistent challenger Paladino is more than an angry man with a bat. ...
   It is too bad that it now seems that Monday’s event will be the only joint appearance of the campaign. ... [Paladino pushes for Buffalo debate, but Cuomo seems uninterested - Buffalo News]
   The big winners Monday were probably the state’s Libertarian and Green parties, each of which was represented by an articulate and on-message candidate, each with proposals that don’t have a snowball’s chance of becoming law but that still qualify as political viewpoints.
   Oh, and the one-time procurer of high-rent hookers, who won’t be moving into the governor’s mansion but may have won herself a reality TV deal.
   Those folks got something out of Monday’s display of dysfunctional democracy. If only the voters had, too.
   Also:
- At long last, Cuomo forced into the open - Donn Esmonde/The Buffalo News 

   Elseweb:
- Debatable Candidates - New York Times Editorial
   The main conclusions: Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat, did a good job of looking like a governor, but he is still not telling voters enough. And the Republican, Carl Paladino, was more like the fringe candidates around him than a serious person applying for a very serious job. He just wasn’t as funny.
That was fun; now, try a debate - Albany Times-Union Editorial
- What debate? - Watertown Daily Times Editorial
- Fringe candidates make mockery of gov debate - Bill Hammond/New York Daily News
Cuomo should agree to debate Paladino - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial

   And, from people who aren't even writing about the New York governor's race:
Farce is the new political reality - Kathleen Parker/Washington Post/Buffalo News
A cast of loonies - Eugene Robinson/Washington Post/Buffalo News
- Making Ignorance Chic - Maureen Dowd/The New York Times
  In Marilyn’s America, there were aspirations. The studios tackled literary novels rather than one-liners like “He’s Just Not That Into You” and navel-gazing drivel like “Eat Pray Love.” Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” paired cartoon characters with famous composers. Even Bugs Bunny did Wagner.
   But in Sarah’s America, we’ve refudiated all that. 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Taking the Senate. Losing the house.

   The cooler heads in The Buffalo News Opinion corner wrote these editorials before Monday's gubernatorial line-up. That's why they say nothing about how high the rent is.

Aiming for GOP control - Buffalo News Editorial
   If Western New York is to be given the consideration it deserves in the halls of state government, it needs to have some real clout in the Legislature, and it needs to have a unified and aggressive Western New York delegation that has a program of issues and needs that will gain attention and approval.
   As distasteful as it seems, the reality is that there is an upstate versus downstate battle for Albany’s largess. It isn’t that Manhattan members of the Legislature don’t like us; it’s that they spare no effort in getting what they want, and don’t care what happens to us.
   If we are to get our just deserts at the table, there is no hope that anyone in the Assembly will help us. That body, controlled by lower Manhattan Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is so overwhelmingly dominated by New York City Democrats that we should have no expectations of a favorable attitude about upstate New York.
   The Senate is another matter.While it has been a disaster these past two years, November’s election could create a functioning body that would be a counter balance to the Assembly and an instrument of progress for upstate. ... [Crunched numbers follow]
   Related:
- Throw the bums out - Ogdensburg Journal Editorial

- Answers, not a moratorium - Buffalo News Editorial
By now, most Americans are pretty well fed up with any discussion involving the concept of giving lenders or banks a pass. But the reality is that the push by the Obama administration to avoid punishing the banking industry must be heeded in order to right another wavering financial ship.
   As the administration and others have argued, punishing the financial industry at this time would only Tolesbanker hurt the broader economy and slow down an important process and, notwithstanding the pain-and-suffering of those losing their homes, also those waiting to purchase.
   Some of those buyers are not the wealthy investment gurus many might envision, but people who have been slowly stepping up the ladder out of their own difficult financial situations. And with many states under a foreclosure moratorium, there are now two parties whose housing is in limbo. Those on the verge of being put out and those who have relinquished their places in order to close on the deals they thought were finalized. ...
   This country is worn out when it comes to housing crises. It’s tempting, therefore, to call for a foreclosure moratorium. But that may be the political response that doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, shore up resources to carefully and correctly sift through the paperwork so that those who have encountered mistakes get them fixed, and those who have deals on the table to purchase can do so.

   Related:
- The Housing Bust Lobby - Wall Street Journal Editorial
   So far the Obama Administration, to our surprise and perhaps its own, has behaved with admirable sobriety despite the wailing from the political left.
The Foreclosure Crises - New York Times Editorial
   This latest foreclosure crisis should settle one issue once and for all. The banks that got us into this mess can’t be trusted to get us out of it. The administration and Congress need to act.
Obama puts brakes on foreclosure stampede - Fort Wayne [Ind.] Journal-Gazette Editorial
   The lending industry’s defenders say that once the lenders go back to redo and verify their paperwork, most of the affected homeowners will lose their homes anyway. Maybe so. But the lenders are supposed to be the grownups in this process.
- Don't be foolish on foreclosures - Orange County Register Editorial
   
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

More state scandal

   It can be hard to work up any more disgust at the goings-on among New York politicians. But, in The Buffalo News Opinion corner, we think of it as job security.

Thompson's audacity - Buffalo News Editorial
  It is absolutely amazing what some politicians think they can get away with and have the very voters they're trying to attract foot the bill.
   State Sen. Antoine Thompson [right] has decided to skirt Senate rules that prohibit him from using his Antoinethompson Senate account to send bulk mail to constituents during the election season by instead producing a 102-page soft-cover book about his legislative accomplishments. Seriously?
   The title of the book, "2010 State of the 60th Senatorial District," produced at taxpayer expense, is hardly going to make the New York Times best-seller list. But it should evoke some emotion among voters and that might be outrage.
   According to an article by News reporter James Heaney [Thompson book seen as tool for campaign - Buffalo News, Oct. 14] the book includes very little information about the district, except for two pages of demographic data. There is a list of state spending that Thompson takes credit for acquiring and bills he has introduced, in addition to other information -- about him. ...

Reform the pension system - Buffalo News Editorial
   If the recent guilty plea to a felony corruption charge by former State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi doesn’t make the case for establishing a board of trustees to maintain the state pension fund then nothing ever will.
   And to think that he once came to Erie County and declared that our own public officials were in need of “adult supervision.” How ironic.
   Hevesi is the personification of hubris, someone who presented himself as the trusted gatekeeper of one of the largest public pension funds in the nation. Now the former state comptroller has a sentencing date of Dec. 16 and could face up to four years in prison on the felony count, plus monetary sanctions.
   [Hevesi pleads guilty to felony corruption - Buffalo News, Oct. 8]
   He acknowledged recently in court that he steered lucrative state pension fund business to a friend and political backer who sent more than$1 million to the comptroller and his family and associates. The goodies came in the form of luxury vacations to Israel and Italy, first class all the way, including air fare, “lavish hotels,” security detail and helicopter tours, campaign donations and a “sham” consulting deal with one of his political advisers.
   The man with enough confidence and swagger to fill a room is now a poster boy for reform. ...

   The title of the song may or may not apply. But the name of the band fits:

 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Enough already

   The Sunday offering from The Buffalo News Opinion corner was one of a half-dozen think pieces from members of The Upstate Focus project. That's the loose association of newspaper editorial pages [think a herd of cats, only with coffee] who agree to say whatever they think on a certain subject on the same day, in hopes of getting more of our readers to think about the same subject.
   What we, they and you think isn't so important as that there is more thinking done. Here's some:

Enough Is Enough - Buffalo News Editorial
   We do not despair for the State of New York.
   But we do despair for the State of New York's Legislature, deemed the most dysfunctional in the nation well before this session's budgetary incompetence and political debacles, including the mess Upstatefocus Democrats made of the Senate.
   And we have been so critical of that performance, which made up in show what it lacked in substance, that we can recommend neither re-election this year of many of the Legislature's current members nor election of many challengers who seem to be running more on a show of anger than on a substance of policy knowledge, experience and expertise.

- New leadership must take the reins in Albany - Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Editorial
   ... Power mongers such as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who controls the Democratic majority in his chamber, must go. At the least, voters must send a message to Silver and his minions that New Yorkers are no longer willing to allow them to continue ruining a once great state.
   The best way to communicate that sentiment is to refuse to return all incumbent Democrats who control both the Assembly and Senate.
   Minority Senate Republicans deserve the boot, too, because they have shown more interest in regaining power than real reform. Remember their ill-fated coup attempt last year and their willingness to broker a deal with Sen. Pedro Espada, the disgraceful Bronx Democrat? ...

Your vote is your voice — even if you have to hold your nose - Syracuse Post-Standard Editorial
   ... The Post-Standard’s policy on election endorsements is based on deeply held positions: 1) Voting is a privilege and an obligation of citizenship; 2) Voters deserve a thoughtful assessment of the major choices they face; 3) If editorials call on voters to make a decision in each race, editorials should set an example; and 4) Every election offers an opportunity for civic advocacy. ...

- Albany - The Auburn Citizen Editorial
   As badly and as embarrassingly as the state Legislature has performed in the past two years, incumbents should be filled with dread about the Nov. 2 general election.
   Unfortunately, most of them are not. ...

- Legislature candidates must keep reform vows - Central New York Gannett Newspapers Editorial [Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Elmira Star-Gazette, Ithaca Journal]
   The sad reality is that despite candidates' promises to reform state government, it almost doesn't matter who is warming the seats. Thanks to the infamous "three men in a room" system perpetuated by both Republicans and Democrats, all decisions are made by the governor, the Assembly speaker and the state Senate majority leader. That includes anything from the state budget to what pieces of legislation are allowed to come up for a vote.

- Think big - Watertown Daily News Editorial
   The Empire State needs a new generation of creative thinkers, budget balancers, realists, visionaries and hard workers to represent its people and advance the state's future prospects.

   So there.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Learning from our mistakes [or not]

   The president of Chile is talking big about how his nation will write new safety rules to make sure it never again has to live through the 69-day ordeal suffered by those 33 trapped miners.
   The people in charge of airline safety in the United States may not be so resolute.
   The watchdogs of The Buffalo News Opinion corner weighs in:

- A drama for the ages - Buffalo News Editorial
   ... For most of us, we can do little more than imagine what it might be like to have a loved one returned safely into our care after 69 days of agonizing worry. For all the rest of it, only the 33 men rescued from a Chilean copper mine know. The corps of miners spent nearly three months trapped below the surface while rescuers drilled an escape shaft through some of the Earth’s hardest rock, built a Adamminer rescue capsule and meticulously planned how to get those men out. No one knew if they could, and there was no model on which to plan. No one in history had been trapped underground this long and come up alive.
   On Wednesday, the job was completed. Thirty-three men were safely ferried from darkness to sunlight and from misery to sweet relief. They have many people to thank, beginning with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who insisted on the rescue effort when many thought hope for the men’s survival was in vain.
   [All 33 miners raised safely in Chile - AP/Buffalo News 10/13/10]
   As much as anyone, though, the miners have themselves to thank for their safe returns. They were, as best as anyone knows at this point, a tough and disciplined lot. They resisted panic and despair, though there were low points— waves of them, likely. They were, in fact, a small community with enough skills among them to bolster their chances. ...
   But the bottom line is that they survived. The endured a trial most people can never begin to know. This is a story of resilience and of the remarkable strength of the human spirit. It’s no wonder the world was watching.
   Elseweb:
- In Chilean mine rescue, a triumph of human spirit - Denver Post Editorial
- Capitalism Saved the Miners -Danniel Henninger/The Wall Street Journal
- Over at The New Republic, James Downie disagrees.
- Chilean mine rescue: Glad to be alive - The Guardian Editorial
- Lessons of Chile mine rescue - The Daily Trust [Nigeria] Editorial
- Man's humanity to man - Anderson [Ind.] Herald-Bulletin Editorial
- Chilean mine rescue brings world together - Appleton [Wis.] Post-Crescent Editorial
   Finally, there's Luis Urzua, the miners' foreman. Urzua was credited with leading the miners during the first 2½ weeks after the incident, when they were in isolation. He helped make 48 hours worth of food rations last during that time period.
   And he was the last miner brought up to the surface. 

   Wonderful news, that. But here's something else that needs watching:

- Enforce the rules - Buffalo News Editorial
  What is it that the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't understand about airline safety?
   The families of those killed on Continental Flight 3407 fought for months to win passage of a law requiring better pilot training, and no sooner did they succeed than the FAA appointed an official from the regional airline industry to lead a panel opposing those new rules. That panel now wants to gut the legislation by suggesting that minimum flight hours for new co-pilots be reduced to 500 hours from the legislation's required minimum of 1,500 hours. Previously, the minimum number of hours for new commercial co-pilots was 250 hours.
   [Reform in pilot training is undercut by industry official heading panel - Buffalo News 10/13/10]
   Perhaps the FAA has already forgotten that a poorly trained and poorly performing cockpit crew was responsible for the February 2009 crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence Center. Maybe the FAA doesn't remember that the crash killed all 49 people aboard the plane and one man on the ground. ...
  Sen. Charles M. Schumer said on Wednesday that he doesn't believe any loophole exists and that the intent of Congress was clear. "It is outrageous that before the ink is even dry on this new law, the airline industry is already waging a campaign to undermine the very safety standards designed to prevent future tragedies like Flight 3407." ...
  The FAA has been criticized for being too close to the industry it is supposed to regulate. If this is the evidence that it appears to be of that coziness, then Congress has more work to do to ensure that the FAA is actually independent and focused on the issue of airline safety.

   A short song for the weekend:

 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

A good cop. A new center.

   Sherlock Holmes was smart enough to take note of the dog that didn't bark. Didn't take that much intelligence for the brains in The Buffalo News Opinion corner to note the professionalism of the police officer who is proud of the arrest he didn't make. And we like the new Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center, too.

Follow this example - Buffalo News Editorial
   There's a message for the State Legislature in the retirement of Lackawanna Police Capt. Ronald S. Miller. Over a 26 1/2-year career that came to a proud end on Oct. 1, one moment stands out for him over all the others: the arrest he didn't make.
   [Retired cop proud of doing right thing - Buffalo News 10/12/10]
   Miller had his hand in many events over the span of his career, the last 8 1/2 as chief of detectives. He helped craft the city's sex offender residency law, put child molesters and killers behind bars and assembled a solid group of investigators.
   But he says he is most proud that, despite pressure from federal authorities, he intervened to see that a suspect he believed to be innocent wasn't put in jail. A federal agency arrested the man as a suspect in a bank robbery in the mid-2000s, but Lackawanna cops didn't think he did it, and Miller told the judge as much. Because of his intervention, the man was released on his own recognizance and, about 10 days later, a suspect in another robbery confessed to the Lackawanna hold-up.
   Said Miller: "My proudest moment was this guy not spending a day in jail for something he didn't do." ... 
   Recorded interrogations would help diminish the strange but real problem of false confession, for example. New lineup and identification procedures would help diminish the acknowledged problems of witness misidentification. [Suggestions from The Innocence Project] ...
   Legislators can serve the cause of justice and help police do the jobs they want to do by facing up to these problems and dealing with them. Other states have done it. This one should be able to, as well.

Becoming better hosts - Buffalo News Editorial
   The Buffalo Niagara Convention Center was long overdue for a makeover. It’s good to see that, finally, it got one.
   The Convention Center, which opened in 1978, has undergone $7 million in upgrades to improve basic infrastructure and make it into a more salable venue to attract conferences and conventions and offer a “rebranding” of the region.
   [Revamped Convention Center unveils $7 million upgrade - Buffalo News 10/5/10] 
   In other words, Buffalo will have a stronger foothold in comparably competitive markets. While this city’s Convention Center is too small to attract the really large conventions that planners once hoped to bring to Buffalo, it can and should offer better amenities than others in its size class.
   This point is understood by County Executive Chris Collins, who encouraged the rebranding effort. It’s also under-stood by Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitor Bureau President and Chief Executive Officer Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, who points to the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference planned for Buffalo next fall and to this area’s goal of continuing to increase that type of cultural tourism. ...
   The Convention Center improvements, the renovation of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the additions of the Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites and the upcoming Adams Mark Hotel renovations have boosted the city’s convention possibilities. With other upgraded attractions such as the Erie Canal Harbor, Darwin Martin House and the Burchfield Penney Art Center – and, of course, with the world tourism attraction of Niagara Falls just a short distance away — the Buffalo Niagara region is a product worth selling, and the $7 million now spent to improve the hosting of visitors is well worth the investment. 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Residency rules. Sharing savings.

   A Niagara County tilt to today's Buffalo News Opinion corner.

Residency rule denied - Buffalo News Editorial
   The judge may have been right when he ruled that the implementation of the Niagara Falls School Board's residency rule is fatally flawed, but he was on less firm ground when he nonetheless called the rule "reasonable." In almost all cases, residency rules serve little purpose even as they can work to undermine the agency's core mission.
   The issue arose last week with State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III ordering the reinstatement of two of the district's teachers -- with full back pay and benefits dating back more than a year -- after finding that implementation of the residency rule is "unenforceable, incomplete ... arbitrary and capricious."
   [Falls school residency rejected, so what next? - Buffalo News 10/8/10]
   In fact, just about any government rule that seeks to tell employees where they can live is, in some way, capricious. We understand the concept: Employees -- teachers, cops, firefighters and so on -- should pay taxes in the district that pays them. With law enforcement officers, in particular, it's easy to see the advantage of having police living in the neighborhoods their department serves.
   But with that possible exception, residency rules cause two significant problems. One is that governments (or school districts) should not be in the business of telling people where they can live. It's an unwarranted interference in family life. ...
   Elseweb:
- Enforce residency rules - Fresno Bee Editorial
Residency ruling for best, yet wrong - Lima [Ohio] News Editorial
- Residency requirement would be bad for Methuen - North Andover [Mass.] Eagle Tribune Editorial

Niagara cities find savings - Buffalo News Editorial
   Change is often difficult, and it is not uncommon to find parties involved going about that process with reluctance or contention. That indeed was the case for a couple of local municipalities, but in the end a much-needed adjustment was approved and taxpayers will benefit.
   [Cities agree to share water, sewer director - Buffalo News 10/6/10]
   North Tonawanda and the City of Lockport will share the services of a single water and sewer director, after lawmakers signed off on an agreement that was revealed in mid-September and initially rejected by the union representing department heads in North Tonawanda.
   Both cities formally approved the intermunicipal agreement recently, and Paula Sattelberg, Lockport’s director of utilities, can now settle into her new dual role. The notion of the two cities equally splitting a salary and benefit package of $106,144 creates a win-win situation for taxpayers. ...

   Speaking of city budgets [and a lot of newspapers are these days]:
- City's budget crisis calls for solutions - Jackson [Mich.] Citizen Patriot Editorial
- City spends plenty in tight times - Wisconsin [Madison] State Journal Editorial
- Candidates challenged to write specific prescription for curing city budget ills - Calgary Sun Editorial
- No tax; no books or food, either - Philadelphia Daily News Editorial
- Be civil while negotiating - Troy Record Editorial
- The property tax question - Steamboat Today [Steamboat Springs, Colo.] Editorial
- Vote yes on city questions - Tulsa [Okla.] World Editorial 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Private vision. Public oversight.

   The observers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner today laud the private-sector vision of a Lockport developer and urge the public oversight of government surveillance of new forms of communication.

Small steps, big progress - Buffalo News Editorial
   Maybe it would work in Buffalo and maybe it wouldn't. But it's working in Lockport, and that makes it a success there and worth considering elsewhere.
   The "it" is an economic development strategy. It doesn't involve silver bullets, big-name stores, state commissions or millions of tax dollars. What it does involve is the vision of a Lockport developer who ULRICH was willing to put up his own money to meet a business need and, at the same time, solve a long-standing problem.
   The developer, David L. Ulrich, [right] built the Ulrich City Centre along Main and Walnut streets in downtown Lockport, putting up three-quarters of the backing himself. Its spaces are 90 percent filled and include two restaurants, a day spa, a flower shop and offices of doctors and accountants. ...
   [A renaissance in the heart of Lockport - Buffalo News 10/4/10]
   As a result, the long-vacant lot is now a vibrant and contributing part of the city's life. And all it took was vision, opportunity and the willingness to take a business risk.
   So why can't that happen on Buffalo's waterfront?

Technical pathway needed - Buffalo News Editorial
   The Obama administration has raised an important issue in looking into how to use legal surveillance authority on new technologies, such as social networking Web sites and voice-over-Internet telephone services.
   [Mueller: Revise telecom law to aid terror probes - AP/Buffalo News 10/6/10]
   The administration is concerned that terrorists are migrating to such services from traditional telephones, and the new technology doesn’t offer a way for the government to intercept those communications. Thus, the administration is planning to seek legislation that would require those companies to adapt their technology to the needs of law enforcement.
   It’s a reasonable request, one that involves cost but doesn’t dodge existing safeguards. What remains to be seen is if it is a doable one. ...
   An expansion of the law will necessarily require some degree of trust, but it should also include an ability to watch the watchers. Oversight will be necessary.
   Elseweb:
- Wiretapping the Internet must be balanced with privacy concerns - San Jose Mercury News Editorial
- Our government looks for new surveillance tools - Keene [N.H.] Sentinel Editorial
- Obama administration’s Orwellian proposal - Eric Carcia/Albany Student Press
- Applying the Fourth Amendment to the Internet: A General Approach - Orin Kerr/Stanford Law Review

    Don't want to wind up like this:

 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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