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Some days I think it's hopeless

A read of the morning paper has me thinking today that we should post signs at all access points into Western New York that read "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."


Officials in Orchard Park are balking at plans for an affordable senior housing complex in their town because  -- gasp! -- some of the residents might not be from Orchard Park.

I mean, we can't let the riff-raff in from Hamburg or East Aurora. And perish the thought that some of "those people" might venture out from an inner-ring suburb or -- double gasp!! -- the city.

Town Council Member Nan Ackerman, part of the political crowd that tried to suppress voter turnout in the recent referendum to downsize the board only to complain about low turnout is among the NIMBY crowd. Speaking of the senior complex, she said:

"We were hoping it would be for our own residents and not a lot of other people ... We felt, if we were serving our own people, that was one thing. If we're serving the needs of the greater community, we need to go where those needs are."

Nan, who exactly are "your people"?

Ah, scratch that. I don't think we want to know.

Then we have Erie County Attorney Cheryl Green.

Not content to keep out the U.S. Justice Department as it attempts to scrutinize conditions at the county prison and holding center, she has told the state Commission of Corrections that it can't interview staff or inmates about an escape earlier this month from the holding center unless a county attorney is present or a video camera is rolling.

Speaking from my nearly 30 years of reporting experience, I can tell you that the best way to keep people quiet is by insisting that their boss be entitled to know every word they say. 

Then again, that's probably the point in this matter.

This latest stunt by the Collins administration is part of its MO of ignoring any power or authority that it does not control itself. Be it the county comptroller, the County Legislature, the control board, the Justice Department or the Department of Corrections, Chris Collins and Co. appear to see no authority that it feels obligated to recognize or respect.

Finally, we have yet another mindless pronouncement from one of the guys entrusted to make wise use of public dollars to develop the inner-harbor.

A while back, Jordan Levy, chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., was quoted as justifying the project and its huge public subsidies on the grounds "if you built it, they will come."

Never mind that the development history of this community runs contrary to that. Witness the parking lots that surround HSBC Arena and whatever they're calling Pilot Field.

Now we have Tom Dee, president of the development corporation, declaring: "If you're for Buffalo, you're for this project.

Donn Esmonde takes it from here:

Not really.

There are people who are heart and soul behind Buffalo who have reservations about this project, for good reasons.

We are trying to create a retail-heavy district where none exists. A few blocks away, Main Street is an ode to empty storefronts. Bass Pro ups the long-term ante by requiring four new, nearby parking ramps. It is not clear how much money Bass Pro is putting on the table, or how many millions of taxpayer dollars are needed to bring it. Bass Pro has a heady track record for luring customers. But the more stores it builds … and it has two within a two-hour drive … the less of an attraction each one becomes.

I haven't formed an opinion about the merits of the Bass Pro project. But I've got to cringe when someone in a position of authority wraps himself in the flag, so to speak, and pulls out a set of pompoms when perhaps a calculator might be more in order.

As Donn put it:

There are arguments to be made for and against this thing. But reservations about Bass Pro equals anti-Buffalo? Sorry, that does not play in a town riddled with self-inflicted wounds.

 Indeed. The City of No Illusions needs leaders, not cheerleaders.




Economic Development | Local Government
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