Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

Issue #70    Buffalo's New Best Fiend       March 9th - March 23, 2005
Tumors for Sale
by Allan Uthman
ABOUT WHAT'S ON PAGE 7 - I'm Not Sorry
by Matt Taibbi
About the Upcoming Death of the Pope
by Matt Taibbi
by Gabe Armstrong
SPOILER - AV Publisher Ruins Movie for WNY
MIDDLE AMERICA - Out of Step with Hollywood Values
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We thought we lived in Buffalo, where the media never ever takes notice of government mismanagement and the politicians have had free reign to ruin county finances. It was a hell of a run, the last 40 years, but now it's over; the TV stations and even the blind Buffalo News have been all over the county budget fiasco since December. Citizens actually know who their elected representatives are and how badly they're being screwed over.

So what exactly happened to change this? Joel Giambra's implosion as a respectable leader for one. It's not that surprising; Giambra is an opportunist of the highest order, switching from Democrat to Republican in order to become County Executive. It was a fine line to walk, too fine for someone as arrogant, crooked and shifty as Giambra. Joel cut property taxes, but not spending, trying to force a regressive sales tax increase. He couldn't get Republicans or Democrats in the legislature to vote for it, even with his extortive Red and Green Budget ultimatum. The results have been disastrous. County workers are being laid off and the unions are going bonkers trying to preserve their jobs, ludicrous benefits and all. Basically, people are only paying attention now because the situation has become so dire, like a man who ignores a bug bite on his leg until it has to be amputated.

The unions are rightly pissed at being targeted, because Giambra alone sits on 700 vacant patronage jobs and it certainly makes sense to get rid of those first. That's not how it works around here, though. Even with a heavy spotlight shining directly on him, Joel knows what his real role is. This battle's been brewing for decades as Erie County's public sector jobs have grown steadily while businesses closed, until now government jobs pump more money into the economy than private sector jobs. That's no way to run a government, unless you plan on running that government into the ground. Joel is now a politician without a party, and the odds of him reestablishing an effective coalition in the legislature is zero. He's alienated everyone and, to make matters even worse, Sam Hoyt's begun the process in Albany which will lead to a state mandated control board for the county. Guess Giambra feels pretty stupid for trying to oust him last fall.

Here's where things get interesting: After a well deserved Florida vacation, Giambra is back and acting as conciliatory as is possible for him. He says he takes the blame but hasn't apologized, and everyone knows it's the act of a desperate man. Now he's talking about taking a pay cut (after dismissing the idea a couple of weeks ago as "symbolism") along with a handful of legislators, making us wonder what planet we're on. These people were trying to vote themselves raises less than six months ago, and if the sales tax had passed they probably would have them. They're also echoing taxpayers who've screamed long and hard to quit playing games, come back to reality, and fix this retarded county government. Don't be fooled; the first chance they get taxes and fees will be raised and it'll be back to buggery as usual. All the solutions proposed will surely turn to dung in the hands of the thieves in charge.

Glowing Performance
Work at the West Valley Demonstration Project was halted last month after three accidents occurred over the span of 15 days. The former nuclear waste reprocessing center located in Cattaraugus County is terminally contaminated, requiring a "cleanup" program which seems to have no end in sight. Contractors accidentally caused two fires in the same building where two workers were exposed to more radiation in a few minutes than the average American receives in a year (360 millirems). Workers say they're being pushed to finish the job by management, which is creating an accident prone workplace. So far, no radiation has escaped into the environment because of these klutzes; at least that the public's been told. It's a shame that shoddy, old nuclear waste reprocessing centers outlive their usefulness and require decades and hundreds of millions until they're ready to be the next Hickory Woods. That's your federal government at work, taking care of past crimes in a timely manner.
Educator, Teach Thyself
The Buffalo Board of Education recently voted to approve a single health insurer for all school employees, a move which will save 250 teaching positions and over $27 million over the next two years. Sounds like a win-win situation for everyone except Phil Rumore, President of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, who considered the vote "an insult and a slap in the face of every employee...," because the Board won't consider full contract negotiations. Workers currently choose from 82 different insurance carriers offering the most premium, all-inclusive plans imaginable, with benefits including free cosmetic surgery. In the private sector, health insurance costs employers hundreds of dollars a month per employee, and employees also contribute a substantial percentage of their meager paychecks as well, plus costly co-pays for office visits, prescriptions, etc... Basically, it's really expensive and a lot of Western New Yorkers don't even have it, much less the option of getting a boob job on the taxpayer's tab.

Why is it that a good idea benefiting taxpayers and school employees alike gets so much heat? Maybe because the state control board froze all their salaries and seems hell bent on reforming bloated school financing. Citing declining enrollment rates, the control board criticized the Board of Education for not cutting teachers and the fact the district has 93 more teachers on the payroll than are included in the current budget. Now that's creative accounting! Buffalo schools have been circling the drain for a long time; that's the number one reason families move out to the suburbs. Until it's corrected (if that's even possible), this area will continue to decline. Of course, while local government criminals and the Buffalo News are pushing for a merger of city and county governments, no such regionalization of school systems is on the table.

Adelphia Goes Limp
Just when our hairy palms were all set to start stroking to XXX pay-per-view in crystal clear digital cable, Adelphia chickened out because of a Catholic backlash. Apparently the church STILL hates pornography, despite the fact that half its clergy are buggering pedophiles. Oh sure, there's still "porn" available; highly edited affairs which turn a 30-minute scene into three minutes of T&A that's about as arousing as the Medical Procedure Channel. So it's back to the satellite, where XXX is king, at least for now. Bankrupt Adelphia executives are going ape imagining the millions they're losing to unscrupulous competitors who have no shame-who aren't Adelphia.
Heroin May Be Health Risk
Life sucks, especially here, but Buffalonians know just how to turn those frowns upside down: drugs. Booze and pot are old standbys, and cocaine is certainly a popular item these days, but for the money nothing flips your happy switch like a bag of smack. If you were lucky enough to get some of the "Fear This" heroin that recently made the rounds, then you know what we're talking about: the stuff is pure and powerful! Distributed by Mexican locals, "Fear This" is in high demand among drug connoisseurs and is responsible for at least two deaths so far. At $20 a hit, it's a small price to pay to circumvent your body's chemical reward system. Police arrested 17 people on the Lower West Side over two days in connection with the "Fear This" heroin ring, but are unsure how much remains on the street. Users can rest easy, however; a new drug gang is already being put together in order to supply local demand. Or you could wise up and kick, dumbass.
Now They Got Me In A Cell
Remember when Da' Franchise blew into Buffalo a while back with "The $4.4 Million Project?" He and his entourage lived it up big time, scamming various studios, hotels, limo services, talent agencies and whoever else was dumb enough to believe an unknown rapper could make them all rich. The scam was so successful they pulled it off in half a dozen East Coast cities, but the law finally caught up with Da' Franchise in Augusta, Georgia where one Walker Washington and a female companion were arrested after police got an anonymous tip. A long list of creditors will now undertake the arduous process of trying to get their money back, a hopeless idea unless one of the CDs or videos Da' Franchise fraudulently produced climbs the charts and starts generating some serious income. It could happen-after all, he is a criminal.
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