Archive for the ‘The Nickel City’ Category

Filling Station

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Plans for a filling station by Frank Lloyd Wright have finally been built.

I’ve always said that if there’s one thing missing from the average gas station, it’s a fireplace.

Tax Break Shakedown

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Delaware North, one of Buffalo’s oldest and most successful private corporations, feels that they have outgrown their current headquarters in Key Tower. They are looking to move a few blocks west, to a new corporate headquarters built by Uniland. And the two of them are asking for a whole bunch of tax breaks to make the numbers work. In particular, they really need an extra ten million to build a parking ramp on a street with bike lanes, which is a couple of blocks from the Metro Rail stop.

Because, you see, the taxes in this state are so high that there’s no way to compete with other cities to land these big corporations. So if you’re big enough to have leverage, you get to offload your tax burden onto all of the citizens and smaller businesses instead. Of course, this means that they’ll have to pay more in taxes… but that’s okay, we can just give even bigger tax cuts to the big fish the next time someone threatens to leave.

This is all insane.

Kindergarten

Friday, October 25th, 2013

In Henrietta, where I grew up, school selection was straightforward. There were a half dozen or so public schools scattered around the town. When your child was old enough for kindergarten, you signed him or her up at the one closest to your house. Done. If you didn’t want public school, the only other real option was a diocesan Catholic school over at Guardian Angels, which ran through third grade, and then Good Shepard for fourth through eighth.

Here in Buffalo, it’s not that easy. There is school choice, which means that you can send your child anywhere in the city for public grade school. Additionally, there are charter schools (none of which cooperate, by the way, which means applying to each one individually) and a scattering of Catholic schools. They all have different application deadlines and requirements — some programs use testing to determine which students are admitted, some use a lottery system. Some have “sibling preference”, where a student with an older brother or sister at the school gets priority, some don’t. Some reserve spots specifically for students in the neighborhood, some don’t. The age cutoffs are all over the place. It’s all very confusing.

Since Dean will be going into kindergarten next year, we’re working through all of this stuff right now. I just dropped off his Buffalo Public Schools application this morning — yes, in the year 2013 you still register by filling out a paper form and taking it to the Registration Office — and we’ll be sending in some for charters in the next couple of weeks.

I suppose it’s nice to have all of these potential options, but it really causes a sort of option paralysis; there are so many different decisions to make, and of course as a parent you’re constantly afraid that the slightest mistake or misstep will send your child’s entire academic future right off track. There are times when I envy the simplicity of the Henrietta approach.

Paladino’s Resolutions

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Carl Paladino, one-time gubernatorial candidate, lawyer, and real estate developer, was elected to the Buffalo School Board this year.

He has submitted a long list of motions and resolutions for their meeting tomorrow. Most of them deal with the terrible spending decisions and lack of leadership in the district.

I don’t agree with the man’s politics, for the most part, but it’s sure going to be fun watching the fireworks. The BPS desperately needs someone who knows how to properly manage a billion dollar budget, and he’s the man for the job.

Cargo Bikes

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

The Wall Street Journal ran an article in their weekend edition calling cargo bikes the new station wagon. They’re longer, sturdier bikes, designed to carry groceries and passengers with a significantly greater capacity than the typical commuter’s rack and panniers setup.

Naturally, being the Journal, all of the models that they profiled cost thousands of dollars. It was lovely to daydream about, but it looks like Dean will be riding to school in the garage sale acquired trailer after all.

Evaluation

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

In a city whose school district has a graduation rate under fifty percent, you’d think that the Superintendent would be on the hot seat. The board would be demanding answers. They wouldn’t be doing things like approving her annual evaluation without reading it first.

At least, that’s what you’d think if you’d never been to Buffalo.

Irony

Monday, May 13th, 2013

I love the headline of this article:

“UB grads urged to ‘find a better way’ to connect with communities they serve ”

Naturally, the University at Buffalo graduates who were being told this were listening to the speech in Amherst, because the actual University turned its back on Buffalo and moved out to the ‘burbs years ago. Nice.

Light Show

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

After years of calls to demolish them, the grain elevators of the Buffalo waterfront as being repurposed — as screens for a giant light show.

This should be interesting. I look forward to taking the kids down to Canalside when this starts up.

Linwood Lanes

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I went out for a short ride yesterday afternoon — took the river path into downtown, then looped around to Franklin Street and north to Linwood.

They re-striped Linwood last fall, and this was my first time seeing it. It used to be a one-way street with two lanes of automobile traffic, heading north from North Street to Delavan. Now, it’s still one-way automobile traffic, but they cut that down to one lane and added bike lanes in both directions. Essentially, it’s a north-south bicycle “highway” from North Buffalo into downtown. Pretty cool.

Silo City

Monday, April 8th, 2013

This is a cool idea from Sunday’s paper — some rock climbing enthusiasts are turning a section of Buffalo abandoned grain elevators into a climbing site.