Fighting for our Freedom in Western New York
An in depth look into the politics of Erie County, Albany and Western New York.
More than 2,500 health care workers and patients, representing about 140 New York hospitals and health care facilities, will rally at the Capitol March 8.
The march, organized by the Healthcare Association of New York State, will be held in opposition to Gov. George Pataki's proposed state budget, which the industry claims would cut $1 billion from health care funding. The rally also will call for fair emergency room reimbursement.
The program will begin at 9:45 a.m. at the Empire State Convention Center in Albany, N.Y., with speeches from elected officials including Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-New York). The group will then move to the eastern steps of the Capitol.
Bruno and Silver working hand in hand to undermine us... this rally brought to you by Danny Donahue and SEIU because we care about how much more we can take out of your pockets...
By David Staba
If you live in Niagara Falls, Buffalo or any of the surrounding towns and villages and occasionally venture more than a few miles from home, you know the drill.
Slow down as you approach the toll booth. More often than not, wait in line at the toll booth. Once you get there, give someone money -- usually 75 cents -- for the privilege of driving on a road that you have already paid to build and maintain.
Congratulations. You've just paid the Western New York Commuter Tax. As the name suggests, it's a unique gift-in-reverse bestowed on the region's residents by your good friends in Albany. No other urban area in upstate New York has a single toll booth not on an exit from the mainline Thruway, much less the four collection checkpoints dotting the I-190 in the region anchored by Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Great article by David... I must stress that in 08 Grand Island is looking at closing one of the south bridges. Closing the toll booths is imperitive! Work needs to be done 24 hours a day and both bridges should be done at the same time. One N and one south. Either that or have the Army Corp of Engineers set up a couple Pontoon Bridges..
ALBANY, N.Y. Holiday parties. Car payments. These are campaign expenses?
A new report from government watchdog groups raises that question today.
The report says state Assembly and Senate candidates spent more than 3 (m) million dollars in 2004 on a category labeled "other" on expense reports.
For example, Democratic Senator Martin Connor paid more than 70-thousand dollars in campaign money from July 2003 through winter of 2005 on a car and parking.
Connor says he reimburses his campaign committee when he uses the car for personal matters.
Less than one percent of New York residents gave money to a candidate in recent elections.
But New York ranked third in the country behind California and Illinois in total contributions raised by legislative candidates in 2004. The report says that's about 50-point-25 (m) million dollars.
The report was released by Common Cause-New York, the New York Public Interest Research Group, the New York chapter of the League of Women Voters and the Women's City Club.
Residents gave less than 1%..... Just goes to show you how much special interests control our Legislators.. They are far beyond representing us, they represent the unions and other special interests..
March 6, 2006) — As a state taxpayer, I am amazed at the number of bills passed yearly that only partially solve a problem.
For example, Medicaid spending is out of control. So we cap the county share of Medicaid and shift it to the state — but we still don't address the systematic problem of a bloated, out-of-control program.
Now, we have another example. Recently, a bill has been proposed in both the Senate and the Assembly to establish a construction liability fund through the State Insurance Fund to ensure that insurance coverage exists for contractors to protect against liability under Section 240 and 241 of the Labor Law. Instead of amending the law because it costs you and me money, we simply shift the burden to a new program.
This antiquated law is creating a crisis in the construction industry by imposing absolute liability — you are guilty and can't be proven innocent — on the organization for falls from height regardless of the employee's actions and/or culpability. It is driving up the cost of homes and other buildings such as libraries and schools. New York is the last state in the country to have such a law.
Worse than that, it is costing you money every day. Consider:
# If you buy a new home for $150,000, you will pay an extra $9,000 for that house because of Labor Law 240/241.
# In 2004, the capital project expenditures in five school districts totaled $61.36 million. That equals nearly $370,000 needed for added insurance coverage under Labor Law 240/241.
We elected our legislators to do what is right for each of us and not succumb to the power of special interest groups. However, too often they get mired in Albany politics. We need to speak loud and clear: Reform is still important. Pass legislation to solve the macro issues; stop giving in to special interests.
He said it as well as I would have and something I have been saying for years.
BAGHDAD: Iraqi tribesmen have captured 1,700 alleged terrorists of different Arab nationalities in recent days as part of a drive to hunt down gunmen in Ramadi area, 110 km west of Baghdad.
In a report carried on Sunday by the daily al-Sabah, Sheikh Usama al-Jadaan, a Sunni Arab tribal leader, said that tribesmen had captured 1,700 terrorists of Syrian, Jordanian, Yemeni and Algerian nationalities.
Al-Jadaan said the captured men had entered the country to "carry out terrorist plots". "All detainees have been handed over to the intelligence services for interrogation."
Sunni-dominated Ramadi is the scene of regular armed attacks on US troops.
Why have we not heard about this in the American Press? This article is from India.. Good News and of course in this country they only cover bad news.
Law forced builders to train apprentices
By MATTHEW SPINA
County Executive Joel A. Giambra has vetoed a new Erie County law that forces construction contractors to maintain a state-certified apprentice-training program if they want to work on a county government job.
Opponents of the measure have said it is crafted to benefit unionized bidders, who all use apprentice programs approved by the state Labor Department.
Giambra vetoed a nearly identical measure passed in 2004. At that time, the Associated Builders and Contractors, made up of non-union firms, said the costs of a public works project rise 3 percent for every potential bidder who is excluded.
This time, the Legislature in early February approved the law 11-4 when 10 votes are needed to override a veto. So if the law's 11 advocates vote to override, it will set up a showdown with Giambra over whether he follows it.
In a three-page message dated Tuesday, Giambra said the law interferes with competitive bidding, creates favoritism, goes beyond the scope of the state's Labor Law and is both too restrictive and unclear.
Legislature Chairwoman Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, said the question of whether to override Giambra's veto will probably go before lawmakers at a later meeting. It is unlikely to be added to the Legislature's agenda for a session that starts at 2 p.m. today.
This ties in perfectly with the two articles posted below. This is the unions dictating to the legislature, this is what we want now give it to us.. Lunacy and more proof that the unions dictate to our elected and they jump. All this will do is drive up the costs of any and all projects, allow them to hire more and more people that we pay for... When are people going to get it? We are getting screwed, blued and tattooed by the very people elected to represent us. Project labor agreements keep union labor employed while the non-union companies get locked out. Write-Call your legislators, demand them to do what WE want for once.
firstname.lastname@example.org, ErieCoDistrict2@hotmail.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
If these two articles don't infuriate you then you are either part of the corrupt system or just numb to the corruption in politics.. We should never wonder why we don't see anything changing in NYState politics, they are bought and paid for using our tax dollars.
Brian McLaughlin, head of the Central Labor Council and a Queens assemblyman, is in big trouble.
FBI agents swooped down on CLC offices yesterday, carting off documents by the boxload in what they confirmed was an ongoing probe of McLaughlin (and who knows how many others). The investigation reportedly targets bid-rigging involving at least $162 million in city contracts for street-lighting projects over just the past two years.
The news sent shock waves through both political and labor circles.
This may seem harsh, but labor unions lately don't regard laws - or even generally accepted moral codes of behavior - as anything that applies to them.
When a particular law seems annoying, they simply dispatch their bought-and-paid-for lawmakers to change the law.
Laws they can't change, they tend to break.
Yet, while prosecutors and G-men can hunt down outright theft and fraud and lawbreaking, there's little anyone can do about the legal corruption for which New York unions are famous.
For starters, the two hats McLaughlin has been allowed to wear - one as a lawmaker and the other as one of the most powerful labor leaders in the city.
Hello? Are we the only ones to see some sort of conflict of interest there?
But he's hardly alone. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is paid a king's ransom by a top tort-law firm, even as he legally blocks tort reform and champions the law industry's interests in other ways in Albany.
He should be bounced out of the assembly because of conflict of interest at the very least.
Then there's Dennis Rivera, head of SEIU Local 1199, the health-care-workers union and a member of the CLC
Reminds me of the idea we had about of filing a lawsuit against elected representatives negotiating union contracts. Who benefits? Not the people for sure, the unions benefit with very lucrative contracts and the politican benefits with tons of cash from the unions dumped into their PAC's and re-election warchests. When the Press caught wind of our (PrimaryChallenge- FreeBuffalo) idea, they took off with it and ofcourse we were instantly labeled Anti-Union groups...
Nothing could be further from the truth. Our idea was and is Pro-Taxpayer and is against politicans and unions benefitting off our backs. Any and all contracts that were negotiated by a politican and he or she benefitted from should be declared null and void, plain and simple. But what Judge would even hear the case? That is the question.
Federal agents raided the city's biggest labor group and the office of its politician-president yesterday in what a source said is a probe into bid-rigging on lucrative city streetlight contracts.
One target of the investigation is Brian McLaughlin, a seven-term Democratic assemblyman from Queens and the 11-year president of the New York City Central Labor Council, the source said.
Investigators believe electrical contractors schemed with corrupt union officials to manipulate the city's bidding system so they could divvy up street light contracts worth tens of millions of dollars among themselves, the source said.
JAMES ALLEN (LITTLE HITLER) OF AMHERST IDA
James Allen, Chairman of the Amherst IDA, has fallen from grace with Amherst leaders because of his lack of bringing businesses to Amherst instead of office buildings. The way he screws companies or places he doesn’t like is demonstrated in what he does to Amherst.
James Allen is known for squeezing the Town for not being kind to him. He has a real problem with being disliked. He can’t tolerate it.
Written by Allen Coniglio
A congratulatory letter to Byron Brown for his victory:
Interesting page I found while doing some research on the Taylor Law and the Tribourough ammendment... Remember Coppolla said he will not vote to repeal it... Can you say, I represent all the working families?
Contract Bulletin #1
The Taylor Law: Blessing or burden?
There’s good news and bad news in New York State’s Taylor Law.
On the plus side, it gives us (and all other public sector workers in the state) the right to unionize and to use our collective strength to bargain salaries and working conditions. That right is denied to many public employees elsewhere. It also defines and prohibits improper labor-management practices and establishes procedures for settling disputes, including the failure to reach a collective bargaining agreement.
In return, however, the law imposes a huge restriction on public sector workers who are fighting for fair treatment: we cannot legally strike under any circumstances.
Issues and demands
Read it, it gets interesting... All I have to say is DEMAND THIS! Your killing us.
Voting results from Grand Island....
Christopher L. Jacobs:
Republican - 1011
Conservative - 151
Marc A. Coppola:
Democratic - 498
Independent - 60
Coming soon to a cell phone bill near you -- a slight increase, courtesy of the Erie County Legislature.
County lawmakers, Thursday afternoon, approved a 30 cent per cell phone, per month surcharge that will help underwrite the costs of operating the county-wide E-911 emergency call system. The measure is now in the hands of the state Legislature in Albany. The home-rule request for the increase is expected to gain approval.
The county measure passed 13-2 with Republican Legislator John Mills and his Democratic counterpart Michelle Ianello-Ward voting against it, both saying they opposed adding a new tax on county residents.
The cell phone fee will raise about $830,000 annually.
"This isn't a great thing to do, but it is a pay-for-a-service fee," said Legislator Kathy Konst, D-Lancaster.
Erie County isn't alone in adding the cell phone tax. Officials said 27 other counties across the state have either instituted the fee or have a request pending in Albany.
"We're only doing what our peer counties are doing," said Legislator Cynthia Locklear, D-West Seneca.
So everyone else is doing it, that makes it alright? NO! Wrong. You all sound like a bunch of spoiled brat kids that will kick and scream until you get your way. These kids could not have had any parental guidence growing up, they show it more and more everyday...
Ya, but I'm over the top.
Morons! That is all I have to say Morons.... You are witnessing the implosion of government across the state. Never ever look inward to clean up your own house, just continue the practices that have been killing us. Raise taxes, fees and anything that you can to get it out of our pockets. Everyone runs on reform platforms and never do it when they get in.
It is getting closer and closer to an all out revolution in this state.
To re-coin an old phrase, they're asking the Thruway not to toll!
State lawmakers held hearings Thursday on proposals to eliminate the Niagara Thruway tolls in Buffalo.
Erie County Clerk David Swarts says a long list of interstate highways are toll-free elsewhere in New York State.
Swarts said, "I-290, I-390, I-490, I-590, I-990, I-81, I-690, I-481, I-790, I-88, I-86, I-890, I-787. No tolls! No tolls! What is wrong with people in Buffalo and Erie County, that there are tolls here?"
Swarts says the Thruway Authority is picking the pockets of Buffalo commuters unfairly, and hurting the local economy.
He is exactly right.. One thing that cannot get lost in the shuffle is the problem we on Grand Island are facing, every day we pay tolls for simple trips down town and then on the way back home. Get rid of the tolls once and for all, finish the LaSalle expressway and divert the traffic from the bridges.
Attempts to restructure New York's oversized and inefficient hospital industry have failed in the past. Now, a new effort offers some hope for success.
The reason: At least $1 billion could be up for grabs.
A state commission later this year will recommend closing unneeded buildings, merging facilities and regionalizing expensive, high-tech services.
It won't be easy.
But as public hearings began in recent weeks across the state, hospital officials made one thing clear: If the commission offers enough cash, collaboration and downsizing can happen.
"Everyone now is saying, "Don't touch my hospital.' But as soon as money is on the table, you will see people fight for it," said Michael Young, president of Erie County Medical Center.
Hospitals statewide lost an overall $127 million in 2004, the seventh straight year they operated at a loss, according to the Hospital Association of New York State.
The result: too many weak hospitals with a lot of empty beds chasing fewer patients.
On average over a year, 44 percent of the nearly 5,000 licensed hospital beds in this region aren't used. The decline in hospital use has been so steep that hospitals have mothballed entire wings or converted them to other purposes. But even with those changes, just 67 percent of the beds in operation have a patient in them on any given day, according to commission data.
Hospitals in this state are overstaffed, unions demand that hospitals are staffed from the cleaning person up to the highly paid executives. If they were privately owned they would have closed or consolidated hospitals.
We cannot sustain our current rate of government growth vs population loss.
Look at the article below...
ALBANY - New York officials trying to put together a state budget have a somewhat rosy economic forecast this year but were warned by a panel of experts Wednesday that the state's economy could be poised to take a turn for the worse.
State lawmakers and Gov. George E. Pataki's budget division received the most somber assessment of the day from Rae Rosen, chief economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who said the state is facing anemic job growth as the number of people leaving the state continues to outpace those moving here. What modest job growth there is - chiefly in lower-paying hospitality and other service industries - is being overshadowed by continued declines in manufacturing and other high-wage jobs.
Moreover, Rosen said, the state is seeing a continued drop-off of people moving to New York from other countries, while the number of people leaving for other states is growing again after several years when the exodus was fairly steady. Leaving, she said, are mostly middle class families searching for better jobs. Entering the state, she said, are a large number of unskilled and uneducated workers.
New York City's economy continues to "flourish," Rosen said. "Upstate and Western New York are in a long-term structural decline that we haven't been able to reverse."
Exactly what I have been saying for years and I'm not an economist, I am just a lowly contractor struggling to make a living. You don't have to be brillant to see what is going on here. People are leaving.. I was just offered a job in South Carolina running job building a sub division of 75 homes by the end of the year.
They are desperate for people in the south and people are leaving, 26,000 more last year. We have created a welfare state culture in NY, one that we cannot sustain. The population is getting older and more reliant of gov't handouts. We advertise food stamps, welfare and all social services.
If people need help we need to give it to them on a temporary basis, not a lifetime of sucking off the system generation after generation.
Cradle to grave politics of the Liberals, guarantee their votes and re-election while all the good hardworking people pay and leave for greener pastures.
New York's surplus revenues seem to be growing by leaps and bounds -- some $4 billion by most recent estimates -- and so do the suggestions on how to spend the windfall. There was Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, on Tuesday, calling for a new round of tax cuts that would total $8.4 billion when fully in force, and joining with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, in urging more spending on health care and education.
This being an election year, the urge to spend is understandable. It's also irresponsible......... Mr. Hevesi's numbers tell the story: State spending is growing by nearly 20 percent, more than double the 7.3 percent growth in revenues; tax cuts in Mr. Pataki's proposed budget would escalate from $397 million in the new budget to $3.4 billion in 2008-09, and new general fund spending will zoom from $406 million in the new fiscal year beginning April 1, to $1.2 billion in 2008-09.
All that is just what Mr. Pataki wants. Now, with a $4 billion windfall on their hands, legislative leaders want to spend that like there's no tomorrow. It's a formula for fiscal disaster.
Once again we see in plain english what their mindset is. spend ourselves into oblivion in complete disregard of what they are doing to the taxpayers and the businesses of this state.
Everyone is ignoring the warning signs, the outright cries for fiscal restraint and the reduction in taxes and controlling the outrageous and ever increasing utility costs.
ALBANY - Federal officials sued New York on Wednesday over its worst-in-the-nation record of complying with the Help America Vote Act, the first time the Department of Justice has sued a state over the new voting requirements.
The state has been negotiating with Justice Department officials for weeks in an attempt to avoid the lawsuit.
Thus far, New York has received $221 million in federal aid to help it comply with HAVA requirements, including $49 million specifically dedicated to helping pay the cost of replacing the state's lever-action voting machines
Compliance with HAVA requirements was slowed in New York by partisan bickering involving Republican Gov. George Pataki, Republicans who control the state Senate and Democrats who run the state Assembly.
Partisan bickering?? No not in this state....
Much of the fighting didn't even have to do with HAVA, but with control over the state Board of Elections.
They can't return the money, it has already been spent.......
Compiling a centralized voting list… This is where the corruption has it’s source. New York, especially the city, rigs their lists, according to the lawsuits. They do this for two reasons: funding from Medicaid and representation in Albany. The lists are supposed to be Voter eligible, meaning US citizens of voting age.. The lists they have are Voter age, which includes all people of voter age regardless of their citizenship. Including non-citizens inflates their numbers so they can have more representation in Albany, and increases funding for Medicaid and other programs.
"An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." —Joseph Pulitzer
Now that the senate race is over who will take over the Delaware District Common Council seat once held by now senator Coppolla? Word has it that Hoyt/Lenihan's pick will be Mike LoCurto...
Another Liberal political hack, just what we do not need. Hoyt, Lenihan and Coppolla just don't get it..
Who is Michael LoCurto, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Special Assistant, Assemblymember Sam Hoyt's Office, M.U.P., University at Buffalo.. firstname.lastname@example.org
Some other names.. Bill McGuire, Rose LoTempio and Joel Feroleto....
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thomas Suozzi, former Mayor James Griffin by his side, reached out a hand to Elzrie Nelson as the old-timer chatted with friends at the Broadway Market Wednesday. "I'm running for governor," Suozzi said.
"You're running for governor?" Nelson, 81, shot at Griffin hopefully.
"No, I'm running for governor," Suozzi interjected. "He's helping out."
So it went in the opening minutes of the Nassau County executive's first upstate campaign stop since entering the race for governor Saturday.
Absent were the local Democratic leaders who already have a candidate in Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "When Jimmy was mayor of Buffalo, Buffalo boomed," said Orendick, 73, "and if Jimmy says he's like him, then he's gotta be like him, because Jimmy don't make comments he don't back up."
I think Suozzi will become a better and better choice for Democrats once they get to know he has a record he can run on as a County Executive unlike Spitzer who has no management experience, a prosecutor doesn't make a good governor..
March 1, 2006 -- Wanna-be governor Eliot Spitzer donned his "reformer" hat Monday, focusing on the state's poorly regulated public authorities.
Prime target: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Maybe, maybe not. We can think of several that fit the description, but that's a topic for another day. But we'll stipulate that public-authority oversight is lacking — and that the MTA's finances have been opaque (at best) for far too long.
State Comptroller Alan Hevesi has accused the MTA of keeping "two sets of books." City Comptroller William Thompson has said the agency "lies."
No wonder the public is skeptical: It hears first of budgetary disaster unless there's a fare hike — and then, the next minute, learns of record surpluses.
Notice Spitzer will not make the first move, so for anyone to claim that he will reform Albany is in dream land.. He does what is politically expedient not what will need to be done... Will it always take public outrage before he steps forward? Most likely
Stop us if you've heard this before ...
The Republican-led New York Senate concurs on the trend but not the amounts. Its estimators say there will be $1.09 billion more than the governor's estimators.
What state Comptroller Alan Hevesi thinks about this is unknown. Nobody in Albany pays any attention to the state's chief financial officer.
This is politics as usual in Albany. Both chambers of the Legislature annually reject the governor's figures and project their own - usually higher. The motto seems to be "More pork for thee and me."
No one is really much interested in accuracy here, but if the state is indeed flush then we should assume all that extra money will be returned to the taxpayers, right?
Wrong, they are stumbling over each other trying to spend it..
As the state tried to ward off a lawsuit over its worst-in-the-nation failure to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the bottom line became clear Tuesday
I posted this in my other site and would like some opinions of it, if you are a Judge, a Lawyer or work for the Board of Elections, please leave a comment.
Thanks to its sky-high personal income, sales and business taxes New York state has the least business-friendly climate in the nation.
According to a study by the tax foundation, the State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI): "Taxes matter to business. Taxes affect business decisions, job creation and retention, plant location, competitiveness and the long-term health of a state’s economy.
"Most importantly, taxes diminish profits. If taxes take a larger portion of profits, that cost is passed along to either consumers (through higher prices), workers (through lower wages or fewer jobs), or shareholders (through lower dividends or share value). Thus a state with lower tax costs will be more attractive to business investment.”
Nothing new here, move along.....
We can talk about it till we are blue in the face but until we actually do something about it, like elect new leaders in Albany we will continue.............
SANBORN - In the first step of what is likely to be a rough and wrenching process, administrators of hospitals from all over Western New York urged an advisory panel Monday not to recommend them for closure.
Many hospitals across this state need to be closed but stay open regardless of their bed occupancy.. Why.. Answer, union control.. If these hospitals were privately run they would have consolidated. It makes no sense whatsoever to have full staff from the cleaning staff up to highly paid administrators. Unions dictate how many employees they need, what they do and then control the politicans in Albany. Albany of course is controlled by the unions and we pay.
Read more about this..
NYSUT proposes return to a progressive tax structure
New York state could raise nearly $8 billion — money that could be used to close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students — and cut taxes for an overwhelming majority of taxpayers by returning to a progressive income tax structure, union leaders say.
"New York needs to increase the state's share of educational funding," said New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi. "The best way to do that would be to restructure the state income tax and place a greater share of the burden on wealthy New Yorkers."
Brilliant, just brilliant.. the modern day Robin Hood. We should just move into full communist mode and get it over with, even the Soviet Union only lasted so long and then collapsed in upon itself.. NY is not far behind...
In testimony submitted to the joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees, NYSUT showed the state could generate billions in revenue by returning to a system of 14 income tax brackets vs. the current five income tax brackets.
14 income tax brackets? These people are stuck in reverse, while the rest of the country moves forward we continue to go backwards. How insane is this type of thinking? And these people dictate to the teachers? We pay the highest per student rates in the country and they want more and more.
My solution still stands, go to a voucher system for school choice and open hundreds more Charter Schools. Competition is the best remedy for the broken school system.