The Erie County Water Authority goes on its merry, spending way

When you are a monopoly, does it matter what you do to take in revenues or spend money? Sure, there are budgets and audits and all that good stuff. But when you are a monopoly that is a government agency, why doesn’t anyone seem to mind what the agency is doing?

The Board of Commissioners of the Erie County Water Authority (ECWA) recently approved their annual budget, with operating expenses totaling more than $60 million. They approved a $10 million increase in the capital budget, requiring new borrowing of $10 million. The rate for water will increase by 3.9 percent for 540,000 customers in 2016. In other news, Christmas decorations are popping up everywhere and the Sabres are not very good, but are no longer tanking. Continue reading

Back in the day: Part One

After my blog post about the results of the recent elections I got a comment from an old friend, Paul Fisk, who had left the Buffalo area some time ago to the effect that it made him feel old to not know any of the candidates but to have known many of their parents. This led to some mutual reminiscing about people we knew in local government and politics “back in the day,” which for us was the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s. As we had both held various appointive positions, we brought up a number of higher profile non-elected people we knew who had made a difference back then. Long story short, we decided to go visit one who we knew was still around: John B. “JB” Walsh, the attorney who lobbied Albany to get the City of Buffalo help during a period of extreme fiscal stress. Here are Paul’s comments about our visit with JB. Continue reading

“Are we really talking about fantasy football?

“We have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work, we have ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us and we’re talking about fantasy football?” Chris Christie, at a Republican presidential debate, as quoted in the Washington Post, October 29, 2015.

Christie had a point, even though as Governor of New Jersey he has made efforts to allow sports betting in the state’s casinos.

This brings us to New York State, or more specifically the 61st Senate District in Western New York, which is represented by Michael Ranzenhofer. Continue reading

The Right to Vote

by Steve Banko

Another Veterans’ Day has come and gone and with it, all the spoken plaudits about how appreciative society is for the service of current and former service members.  Gone also will be the pap about thanking vets for the freedom we enjoy.  One of the most important freedoms is the right to vote.  In many states in our country, that right is being limited and diminished in shameful acts of political expediency.  Thankfully, New York is not one of those states. Nonetheless, people don’t vote.  Ask Kelly Brinkworth about people not voting.  Some would rather bitich and complain about so-and-so after they are elected.  Too many of the gripers are those most apathetic about voting.

So if you are grateful for the service and sacrifice of veterans, one of the best ways to say “thank you for your service” is to exercise a freedom many have died for, a freedom that is slowly eroding in our country.

Steve Banko is a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.  His working career included service with city, state and federal governments.

This is what it will come down to — Cruz versus Rubio for the soul of the Republican Party; selling snow

With all the discussion of who won or who lost this week’s Republican presidential debate, the talking heads who populate the all-news stations, radio talk shows and newspaper columnists, main stream media and far-right media alike, are trying to keep alive something they should really let go of. The contest is narrowing a lot quicker than they would have you believe. Continue reading

Going down the road with the highway bill; New York State’s public integrity rankings

When John Boehner was preparing to leave the House Speakership last month he said was going to clean up the barn before the new speaker started. He and other congressional leaders did get some things done during the last week in October. There was one corner of the barn that Boehner did not get to.

Congress that week approved the 35th short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, providing funding through November 20th. This was all to set the stage for a final resolution of the Trust Fund matter for a six year period. Continue reading