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ECMC Scam, er, Plan - We are really fucked if this thing goes through. Joel Giambra and the Erie County Legislature have dollar signs in their eyes with some cockamamie plan to change ECMC from a public hospital into a nonprofit public corporation. It’s basically switching words on a piece of paper and will allow ECMC to partner with private physician groups and health care organizations, something which is restricted under state law. Much ado about nothing except this also allows Erie County to borrow a whopping $106 million on the hospital and use $85 million of it to cover county debts. Giambra claims that’s how much ECMC owes the county in the same way he tells us Medicare eats up all our property taxes, a grand statement without any facts provided.In short, ECMC will be mortgaged to make this years’ budget look good, a desperate move destined to fail in the long run. Under the plan being considered, the county will have thirty years to pay the loan back, so taxpayers will be left holding the bill long after our current crop of politicians are dead and gone. This solves the county’s short-term financial situation but the future consequences for city healthcare will be devastating. As a public hospital, ECMC is filled with patients that can't afford private care and the hospital gets a pittance from the federal government through Medicaid which is the reason it runs the red every year. So instead of addressing this issue the proposal opts for short-term politically motivated fix.. For all that money there ought to be some serious consideration being given to the future of ECMC, not just a $19 million dollar bone that’ll be swallowed whole. So the hospital will get a brand new legal structure with the same old problems and no thought given to fixing any of them. How will this "plan" bring in droves of private practitioners who will revitalize the facility? Who knows! The county will more than likely hire one of Joel's public relations/marketing campaign donors and give them a big contract to lure affluent suburbanites into the filthy dungeon that is ECMC. ECMC is old and run down, full of poor people, medical students, and nursing home patients, there’s no profit to be made without some real visionary thinking of the hospitals’ future role in the community. Apparently foresight takes too much time in Erie County, this deal went down in secret during the short weeks leading up to Christmas. Look for ECMC to run up a truly mind boggling debt in the coming years, double or triple the initial $106 million, and eventually close down, leaving county taxpayers with a huge debt and minus one hospital. It’s amazing how such a complex piece of legislation gets slapped together in less than thirty days, yet a restaurant can’t get a simple smoking ban waiver for nine months and counting. This one is big, and it’s sliding under the radar- feels like there’s nothing but zombies inhabiting Erie County, the placid, bovine variety, and not the ravenous, pissed off, flesh-eating dead people we ought to be.

Bass Pro Lures - Break out those fishing poles, kiddies, because an $80 million red carpet’s been rolled out to lure Bass Pro into downtown Buffalo. That’s right, the "projected" $105 million idea got a big boost from the Empire State Development Corporation who, never mind not having a state budget or anything, are working on a package comprised of federal dollars (money set aside for the Adelphia building that never went up), "unspecified state sources" (no idea!), and of course, loans to the city and County on the future tax revenue of the site. None of it’s binding so for now it’s just hot air, Bass Pro hasn’t even decided this is something they want to do, they’re still doing research (and hopefully not testing the local fish for radiation). If it happens, great, but citizens really need to watch this thing because it sounds all too familiar: a legitimate business is proposed, the city or the county or both mortgage the assets before anything’s built, things start off in the red, continue losing money while running up giant bills, then one day the doors close and everyone involved magically disappears, leaving taxpayers to pay for it all. Hopefully it’ll be more like Dunn Tire Park or HSBC Arena, beautiful but underused county facilities we’re still paying for instead of getting them to pay for themselves like every other community in the country does. That’s the bait to get Bass Pro in here, your money, and it’s going to redecorate the Aud. It would cost far less to tear it down and build a real 21st Century structure but what we have here is a good ol’ construction project smack dab in the middle of downtown Buffalo! This opportunity only comes once every few administrations so watch that projected budget skyrocket while the politicians and businessmen gorge themselves like rabid piranha. At least, if it gets built we’ll all become fishing aficionados and nine thousand years from now our descendants can enjoy eating what they catch in Lake Erie.

Man’s Inhumanity To Deer - What happens when a deer collides with a car on Route 20 and survives the accident? Well if you’re the Town of Aurora highway department you put on a real show for bystanders and run the squealing, squirming vermin over with one of them new fangled Hi-Lift construction machines a few times! This technique is being field tested in a few redneck counties and it’s certainly a novel alternative to cops just shooting the darn thing in the head and putting it out of it’s misery. According to the story they’ve cooked up to appease the SPCA crowd (who certainly know more about putting pets to death than anyone else in the world besides Chinese peasants), the Hi Lift was called in because State Police deemed the area, a bank parking lot, too dangerous to chance a bullet ricochet. The plan was to gently hoist the injured animal onto a flatbed and truck it out to a less dangerous place for gunfire when another horrific accident took place: the Hi Lift ran over the dying deer not once but twice, a mistake blamed on "operator error". Witnesses claim otherwise, it seems more like some Billy Bob thought he was being funny. We’re no strangers to running construction equipment and anyone operating heavy machinery with forks on the front who keeps running over what he’s supposed to be picking up gets his ass kicked first and fired second. Just hearing this awful story has caused us severe pain and mental anguish- Cellino and Barnes, where are you?’

Budget Cuts - Decades of fiscal mismanagement, graft, and shameless corruption have finally come back to haunt us. Our debts are insanely outrageous and we’ll be paying them off for many, many years under a state authorized control board because our politicians and bureaucrats screwed us to the wall. Where the hell did all the money go? Supporting a degenerate bunch of swine who’ve used the political system to bleed taxpayers dry, making bankers and developers and politicians rich men while ordinary people struggle to get something positive going in Buffalo. In this climate Mayor Masiello released his budget and what do you know? Property taxes are going up four percent, permits and fees are increasing, including a 20% bump on garbage collection and things like those pesky $50 parking tickets you keep getting. In a ridiculous cost cutting move the entire Olmstead Park System will be absorbed by Erie County this summer, otherwise there isn’t a single dime for the city to run it come June. Our parks are something you would think any Mayor of Buffalo would fight forever to keep, Big Tony spent so much money rebuilding it, but no, they’re the first goddamn thing to go and it’s pretty sad. Now the same guy who runs a crooked Highway Department among others we haven’t heard about yet, joker Joel Giambra, fresh from his massive furniture buying spree, will takeover a giant piece of the city with the potential to rob it blind as he is wont to do. It’s a contentious bombshell, City Finance Commissioner James Milroy threw a fit and walked out of a recent Common Council meeting when Marc Coppola refused to let him speak out on the record against the plan. The only good news is the city is at long last cutting some fucking jobs. Many of the positions being terminated are vacant, what’s known as "plum" jobs, you know, for people like scumbag Michael Muscarella. What’s ironic is that our garbage costs didn’t cause these financial woes, nor did our property values, certainly not in a place where the population is fleeing, but these are the easiest targets to start milking cash from. What caused the problem is do nothing political patronage jobs, a tax base hijacked to the suburbs and a slew of stupid decisions (the Skyway, the 198, UB and the Bills moving away, etcetera. The bottom line is our public administration needs to be depoliticized across the board with an emphasis on paying the service providers and the needless pencil pushers. We can't let politicians steal our tax dollars to pay for some asshole sitting on the Water Authority at $80,000 a year plus a car, or any other no-show, bullshit jobs, but so far the only people getting fired are the bottom-feeders in this horribly corrupt pyramid scheme. Masiello calls it "painful for everybody" because he doesn’t have the honor to do the right thing: bring some accountability to local government. We guess the city is about medium rare right now, just getting a hint of the fire, but don’t worry, this place will be a hardened lump of shit before the barbecue’s over.

Shitty Schools Not News! - Buffalo’s Business First released its annual list of the best area school districts in terms of overall academic achievement and, surprise, surprise, some goddamn suburban school ran off with the award! The Buffalo School District ranked 97th overall, not too bad considering it would have been lower if more schools were reviewed; thank god they stopped when they did. A half billion-dollar budget and Buffalo schools barely crack a hundred, that’s seriously retarded. For that kind of money NASA’s playing Robot Wars on Mars while Buffalo’s education system sucks up cash like a black hole and has nothing to show for it. Good thing public schools and charter schools are at war with each other and everyone’s salary just got frozen by the control board and the teachers union’s going nuts, this is just the sort of motivation everyone needs to get kids learning! I guess what we need is to spend more money on bloated administration payrolls—the kids are too dumb to save, anyway, right?

Metaphor Comes to Life - We’re no strangers to guns on occasion, but thankfully not this one. A Drug Enforcement Agent shot himself in the leg while conducting a gun safety class in Orlando, Florida late in April. With over fifty observers watching, the Narc ejected the clip of his .40 caliber automatic handgun, pulled back the slide and asked an audience member to confirm the chamber was empty. Guess he asked the wrong guy, because upon releasing the slide a bullet exploded into his thigh, ending the class prematurely. It’s a perfect example of why idiots shouldn’t handle guns, especially if they’re cops; a few misfires here and there’s not TOO big a deal, but shooting yourself in the leg while conducting a gun safety class is. Just think of the office jokes this putz will have to endure for the rest of his life.


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