Chris Collins — right for the wrong reason

As the garbage piles up at national monuments and parks; as TSA agents and other federal security personnel go to work without a paycheck; as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s minions cut favors for their banker friends; Trumpworld spins out of control in all sorts of ways. This is all very unsettling, but probably makes Trump pals in Moscow very happy.

With all that is going on with Trump, it’s not hard to overlook some lesser political issues that are serious, but have been pushed out of the limelight by bigger developments. So that you don’t forget the less shiny objects, Congressman Chris Collins has come to the rescue. Continue reading

Off to the races for 2020, with some interesting new developments

Well, we are nine days into 2019, so it’s about time that the 2020 election began. Not! For historical reference, John F. Kennedy announced his bid for the 1960 presidency in January 1960. Everything moves faster these days.

We are, for the moment, talking primarily about the Democratic contest for the presidential nomination. On the Republican side John Kasich and maybe Mitt Romney would probably love a shot at Donald Trump, but that seems highly unlikely. There have been reports about some states (South Carolina comes to mind) where the native Republicans are looking to short circuit even the chance of a challenge to Trump by eliminating primaries. That seems so fitting giving the authoritarian ways of the party’s leader. Continue reading

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