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May 18 - June 1, 2005 Issue #75
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Williams: The Great Communicator


The appointment of James A. Williams as Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools demonstrates some important realities about politics in Buffalo.

First is that even in the midst of all the political turmoil created by the establishment of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority and the successive collapse of Erie County government, weíre still being victimized by a closed door decision making process, despite the fact that this process has helped put the region in its current predicament.

Secondly, it demonstrates that political considerations outweigh those of merit, and of course, political considerations are almost exclusively driven by financial muscle across the spectrum of American government.

In the case of Williamsí appointment, the selection was strongly influenced by M&T Bank CEO Bob Wilmersí contribution of $100,000 to fund the handpicked right wing search team of Heidrick & Struggles. It should come as no surprise then, that the sole candidate they presented was one who represents the interests of Mr. Wilmers, an advocate of charter schools.

It didnít matter that Williamsí contract as superintendent of schools in Dayton, Ohio was bought out as a result of a financial crisis he kept hidden from the community. If anything it was a plus, because doing so allowed him to award several charter school contracts that would most likely have been voted down had it been known how dire the fiscal situation of the school district was at the time of their approval. If you donít believe that feigned incompetence Is a great political virtue, look at the career of Tony Masiello.

Regardless of how you feel about the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the cost of public education to taxpayers, itís important to note that the superstructure of charter schools that Mr. Williams left in Dayton has not improved the quality of public education in Dayton. The plan merely Balkanized the district into a maze of privatized schools competing for the same dollars, each with a keen eye on the profit margins. Where are the promised savings? Where are the promised improvements? CEOs donít have to answer those kinds of questions.

Since Mr. Williams understands well the management of the press from his connections to the Bush administration (his last employer was Community Education Partners, a private alternative school management company promoted by, among other prominent Republicans, George Bush Sr.), itís not surprising that no one opposed to his nomination had a chance to publicly confront him with questions about his political philosophy, his track record in the Dayton district or about why he walked away from a cushy six figure job as an assistant school superintendent in Maryland.

In his sole public appearance before being appointed Superintendent, Williams talked to a room packed with supporters at the Matt Urban Center about his "moral values" growing up as the son of a minister. A recent Buffalo News article focused on Williamsí people skills and his ability to win over a crowd. Buffalo School board member Betty Jean Grant was quoted as saying, " I call him the great communicator." Of course, Ronald Reagan also went by that moniker. Given his association with right wing privateers, this comment may prove prophetic.

The Christian coalition has made inroads in the black community, and Williamsí appointment also represents a victory of sorts for them here in Buffalo. Letís hope he doesnít share the popular fundy belief that public education is little more than a secular humanist brainwashing industry.

Politicswny.com: "More Popular Than Jesus Christ"

Oftentimes, in local politics, the reality is more absurd than anything you can make up. PoliticsWNY.com is clearly a website in this vein.

The whole concept of PoliticsWNY, both the website and the new, slick magazine, is to shake down money from politicians. Hereís how it works: Joe Illuzzi, the Dr. Frankenstein of this operation, is tied in his pal Anthony Orsini, Jr. Chairman of the Erie County Independence Party, whose endorsement can, theoretically, swing a close election. An ad on PoliticsWNY.com might be seen as a way to curry favor with said Independence Party. The site is also a notorious political rumor mill Ė another reason to stay on Mr. Illuzziís good side by taking out an ad. So thereís two main motivations for politicos to advertise: the safety of an extra line on the ballot and protection from nasty gossip.

  • Illuzi has served jail time for both bank robbery and securities fraud.
  • In 2003 he was convicted for failure to pay child support totaling $22,000.
  • What a fucking prick

Once an ad is taken out by a politico, weíve noticed a mysterious pattern emerges. Politicswny.com routinely kisses the asses of its clients with incredibly boring reprints of their press releases.

The two selling points that are apparently "closers" for our wonderful elected and wannabe elected officials are as follows:

The siteís easy navigation strategy: everything is thrown onto a single web page. Itís designed to appeal to someone who is afraid of what will happen when the mousethingy clicks on different color words. That is to say, it makes our brilliant elected officials feel comfortable as they look at pictures of each other and attempt to read each otherís horse shit. Just because politicswny.com looks and reads like it belongs in the book "Web Pages That Suck" doesnít prevent the usual suspects from dropping serious cash on it.

Ridiculous Number of Hits: The web site routinely makes outrageous claims as to how many people visit. At the top of the page a banner proclaims, "4.266 MILLION HITS IN APRIL." Of course, a "hit" is different than a "read." A common misconception is that if a web site gets a "hit," that means a human being actually perused its content. You canít blame Illuzzi & company for exploiting this fallacy, but letís help out our fearless leaders with a little math here. If the site got that many hits, that would mean that the equivalent of every citizen in Erie County would have had to visit the site four times in a month. Since the population of active churchgoing Christians is less than half that number, this would make political bottom feeder Joe Illuzzi and his pathetically funny little political cesspool site more popular than Jesus Christ.

Now he has a magazine, which serves as another PR cash cow. Rest assured that each cover will feature another politicianówhoever coughed up the most cash that issue.

Impostor!
The Buffalo BEAST: is it a hard-hitting, award-winning bastion of free speech, or a diabolical robotic killing machine of the future envisioned by the Department of Defense? Two inventors from Lockport hope itís the latter. They designed an "Autonomous Non-Manned Transport" for military use, and nicknamed the Buffalo Beast. A 2001 act of Congress calls for one third of all ground troops in upcoming wars be unmanned and the DOD is offering a $2 million prize for an ATV-type vehicle which can think on its own and, naturally, be equipped with machine guns, rocket launchers and a tactical nuke or two. Itís a good idea because kids all over the country are unwittingly training to operate these things remotely with Playstation controllers. But then there is the inevitable outcome, taught to all of us by numerous science fiction movies, that the machines will turn on humanity and enslave us all. Not to worry, though; thatís something our children will have to deal with.

It is feared that roughly 1 in 5 killer robots may develop a hilarious personality
In the test of our namesake, the Buffalo Beast did a lot of lurching, hesitating and veering off course, barely even able to cross the starting line of the test course. It did, apparently, chase a guy around some. The inventors blamed a strong wind for confusing the robot brain. Officials from the Defense Department offered encouragement but were pretty unimpressed. When they order a killing machine, they mean business.
Fresh Meat

Buffalo used to have a horrific Narcotics Squad full of detectives who enjoyed shaking down local dealers, stealing cash and drugs, which proved an excellent supplement to their income. But greed got the best of them and now almost a dozen former officers are current felons serving hard time for civil rights violations. Sylvestre Acosta is the latest bad cop to get convicted, and Judge Arcara sentenced him to 45 years(!) in the can.


Who would have thought a guy named "Sly" would be such an asshole.
Itís quite the turnaround; one day youíre a pig stuffing your pockets with drug money, the next youíre headed to prison to pal around with the same people you ripped off. Acostaís attorney claims he was convicted by "liars and convicts," all of whom were former colleagues. Dirty cops framing an innocent? Weíve seen that before, what was that movie called? Too bad Acosta didnít take the plea deal prosecutors offered, he would have been out in three years.

Good News, Bad News

They got us into quite the budgetary mess and now many county legislators and officials like Nancy Naples are quitting. Thatís right, they steered the ship onto the rocks, and now theyíre running off like rats. Chuck Swanick, Jeanne Chase, Ray Dusza, and Steve McCarville have all decided not to seek reelection. Had the budget crisis not occurred, these folks would never even entertain the idea of giving up their cushy part-time jobs, but the writing is on the wall. Like lemmings off a cliff, Erie Countyís "experienced" legislators are jumping en masse and itís quite the spectacle. Trained chimps couldnít do any worse, so weíre glad to see some new people coming in. But it may be like injecting fresh blood into a rotting corpseótoo little, too late. Stay tuned for more political obituaries!

Theyíre patting themselves on the back for re-opening county parks and a downtown Auto Bureau, but itís just a sign of how inept county government really is. The DMVs never should have closed in the first place because they actually bring in money, and closing the parks was just a way to slap stingy taxpayers in the face. Nobody knows exactly how bad the deficit is this year, but all agree itís between $60 and $120 million dollars. Re-opening the parks only adds another million to the deficit (and gets parks workers the hell out of ECMC), and jacking up the processing fee at the DMV by $10 a pop brings in more revenue AND punishes taxpayers at the same time. So it makes a great headline with a positive spin, but the reality is that Erie County will be broke in July and have to borrow to cover operating expenses. Borrowing will push our bond rating even lower than it already is, making us a risky investment requiring outlandish interest ratesóif thereís a lending entity out there even willing to take the risk.

Itís almost June, and the county budget still isnít balanced 6 months after it was "passed." Despite all the cuts and layoffs nobody has a clue whatís going on except taxpayers, who know theyíre getting screwed good and hard. No other county in the country has been mismanaged so badly. Joel Giambra is the prime cause of it all, because he cut property taxes simply to get re-elected and continue hooking up his friends and relatives with free money. The sales tax increase which started the whole mess will again be revisited by our shameless leaders. Anyone else thinking of moving?

Good News, Bad News

Speaking of crucial decisions being made in anti-democratic fashion, Pinnacle Entertainment of Las Vegas announced that it has made a proposal to the Seneca Nation of Indians to build a casino on waterfront property owned by the NFTA. Brilliant! Elderly people who gamble at casinos really love howling, cold, gale force winds cutting through their bones. Finally a silver bullet project that will save Buffalo!

Pinnacle doesnít have to consult taxpayers, thanks to the gaming compact with the Senecas brokered in Albany. Itís also nice to see that the strong moral stand against a downtown casino taken by our fearless leader Joel Giambra has been reversed, now that itís clear that he couldnít get elected dogcatcher.

Will Andy Rudnick of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership come up with some statistics that will enable his group to drop their opposition as well? Because our leaders like nothing better than to all be on the same page. What suspense! What drama!

Joel Rose, co-chairman of Citizens Against Casino Gambling in Erie County sent out an angry e-mail to supporters in response to these new developments. "Now, if we donít act, it appears that this third casino is going to happen," Rose wrote, "We know that the area will become more devastated financially than it already is. We know there will be new crime, new bankruptcies, new wife battering, new child neglect, and new suicides. All of those dire predictions weíve made will come to pass, and if we havenít done everything in our power to stop it, part of the responsibility will be on us."

Some say a casino will bring economic stimulus, though the statistics donít bear them out. Some just want a nice big place where people can gather to pay their stupidity tax. But more than anything, we just donít want a giant box-shaped building full of risk-junkies blocking our view on the soon-to-be-developed waterfront.

The new casino, while bringing the area more poverty and desperation, also promises to bring such classic performers as Oats.
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