A soldier’s Christmas story

Politics and Other Stuff is taking a holiday break, returning on January 2nd. In the meantime, I am re-running a post from my friend Steve Banko, a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. Whether you are re-reading the article, or seeing it for the first time, the story provides a touching narrative of what is important in life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

By Steve Banko

For me, Christmas will always be found in the music.

From those long ago days of grammar school innocence when the nuns embarked on the crusade to drill the words of every carol in Christendom into my brain, until today – with innocence a faded memory but the joy of Christmas a constant prayer, I found great delight and consolation in the music of Christmas. Some of my most enduring memories involve those nuns, the songs they taught me, and the way we sang them. Continue reading

Journalism in the 21st century; a footnote about changes coming at the County Legislature

You are looking at the future of journalism. Okay, I’m exaggerating – a lot. This humble blog is just a humble blog.

But take a few minutes to consider how you, personally, gather information you need or want about the region, the country and the world. More and more, we all have created or are creating our own individual versions of “the news.” Continue reading

The City of Buffalo’s fiscal crisis

It is the holiday season. There are decorations everywhere, likely even in Buffalo City Hall. Lots of red and green.

But I’m thinking here more about something familiar to many Western New Yorkers when they think about a crisis in municipal finance. The red and green I’m referring to is the Erie County government financial crisis brought on in 2004 when former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra presented two versions of a 2005 county budget. One would have cut spending in a draconian way – the red budget. The second was the green version, which would have balanced the budget by raising the sales tax by one percent – referred to as the “Medicaid penny.” Continue reading

Civility and trust don’t come easy

Back in the days when a real Republican was President of the United States, people like Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush ruled the land with strength, grace and eloquence. Democrats fought Republicans over policy, but could still occasionally work together. Compromise was not a dirty word.

That seems so long ago, but as the nation honors the memory of H.W. this week there have been lots of commentaries about how it used to be. Reagan talked about a “city upon a hill.” Bush spoke of “a thousand points of lights.” They were trying to inspire the country by speaking of charity and volunteerism. Continue reading