Archive for the ‘The Nickel City’ Category

Gas Prices

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Stopped to put gas in the Saturn on the way home today. Learned two important lessons:

1. That shit is getting expensive at $4.09 a gallon for regular.

2. That car is much less efficient than I thought – somewhere around 22.5 mpg, at least in the wintertime.

So, with a round trip commute of about eleven miles, I’m burning half a gallon of gas to get to work and back every day. Two bucks a day, five days a week, fifty-ish weeks a year depending on how much vacation time I cash in; that’s five hundred dollars every year, and that’s with an astonishingly short commute and a car that’s not entirely awful on gas.

I’m sure glad bike commuting season is coming up. I’m thinking mid-March this year.

“Chin Up, Detroit”

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Man, you know your city must be circling the drain when you get a patronizing editorial like this from the Rust Belt’s paper of record.

I like Buffalo, I really do. But I don’t think we’re in a position to tell anyone what it’s like to recover.

Love Canal

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

There are 21,800 tons of toxic waste buried in Love Canal. Government agencies insist that it’s still a safe place to live, and have actually spent tremendous amounts of money upgrading the neighborhood around it to attract residents. Some of them disagree about the safety and have filed a $113 million class action lawsuit alleging that the pollution is not remediated and that it is causing health problems.

I’m torn. On the one hand, I understand that these people are upset and that there very well may still be contamination in these homes, no matter what the government says. On the other, who thinks buying a house in Love Canal is a good idea!? What’s next? Bhopal Estates Patio Homes? The New Chernobyl Retirement Community? What the hell are these people thinking?


Thursday, January 17th, 2013

As I’m sure you’ve read, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE, isn’t that adorable?) was passed by both houses of the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo this week. From the Buffalo News article, here are the highlights:

Assault weapons: Expands current ban on semiautomatic rifles.

Grandfather clause: Current owners may keep assault weapons but must register them for state database.

Private sales: Current owners cannot sell or give assault weapons in New York but may sell them out of state.

Background checks: Private gun buyers must undergo federal background check.

Ammunition: Magazines restricted to seven bullets, down from the present maximum of 10.

Mental health: Care professionals are required to report to authorities any of their patients who may pose a danger to themselves or to others; weapons may be seized from such people.

Tracking of sales: Real-time tracking for large purchases of ammunition.

Crimes: Stronger penalties for offenses committed with firearms.

Schools: Additional money for school safety.

The parts that are getting the most publicity, of course, are the restricted magazine sizes and the ban on semiautomatic rifles that have one or more “assault weapon” features (such as a collapsing stock or a flash suppressor).

I like some of this. The mental health reporting and expanded background checks make sense. But outlawing magazines or weapons seems silly to me; these types of weapons are used in a very small percentage of crimes, and this seems more likely to inconvenience legitimate users than anything else. It’s a silly, knee-jerk law that was pushed into service so Governor Cuomo could point at it when he starts his Presidential run in a couple of years and claim that he’s tough on crime.

Casino Hangover

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

So, it’s been ten years since the city of Niagara Falls agreed to let the Senecas turn their convention center into a casino. How’s that working out for them?


Apparently, building a giant, untaxed money vacuum in the middle of a post-industrial and economically depressed city doesn’t help matters. I’m certainly glad that construction is continuing apace in downtown Buffalo, especially since it’s right across the street from an enormous public housing complex. That should help.


Monday, December 24th, 2012

People United for Sustainable Housing, or PUSH, is a non-profit operating on the West Side of Buffalo to help rehabilitate old buildings and provide affordable housing in the neighborhoods. They’ve had a lot of success — in fact, maybe too much.

There’s an interesting article in this morning’s paper about how the work PUSH is doing is actually raising property values in this part of the city enough to start gentrifying out the current inhabitants. With the number of immigrant and refugee communities on the West Side, it’s more complicated than you might expect for them to pull up stakes and move to another, still inexpensive, part of the city.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Central Terminal Light

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012



Buffalo’s Central Terminal, abandoned since the late 1970s, was pillaged and its fixtures stripped out and resold. They’ve shown up all over the world, from art galleries to restaurants in Asia.

Supporters of the neighborhood recently concluded a fundraising drive to bring at least one of the art deco lights back from an art dealer in Canada. Merry Christmas!

Carlin on Election Day

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

“If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, if you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you are gonna get selfish, ignorant leaders. The term limits ain’t goinna do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So maybe, maybe, maybe it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here. Like… the public. Yeah. The public sucks! There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody. “The public sucks, fuck hope!”. Fuck hope. Because if it’s really just the fault of these politicians then where are all the other bright people of conscience? Where are all the bright, honest, inteligent americans ready to step in and save the Nation and lead the way? We don’t have people like that in this country; everybody’s at the mall, scratching his ass, picking his nose, taking his credit card out of his fanny pack and buying a pair of sneakers with lights in them!”

Well, with all due respect to¬†Furious George, I went and did my civic duty this morning. No lines, no trouble, though I’ll admit that I still miss the kathunking of the lever machines. Stupid scantron¬†ballots just aren’t the same.

Foreclosure Auction

Friday, October 19th, 2012

The city foreclosure auction on delinquent properties is coming up at the end of the month. Though the numbers are down from last year, there are still nearly 5,000 properties on the list to be auctioned off over three days. If you’ve ever wanted a Bart Simpson style dilapidated warehouse, or a chance to be an absentee slumlord, this is your chance!

Central Office

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Shockingly enough, it appears that administrative staff who spend their entire careers inside of a broken, dysfunctional school system may end up prolonging and preserving that dysfunction.

I really, really hope that the state is as serious as it seems about overhauling the BPS. Because, frankly, spending $23k a year per student on a system that can’t even manage to graduate half its students is ludicrous.