Wednesday, July 28, 2010

(SIC) 7/28/2010

I offer these two emails without commentary. I have edited the one slightly simply to hide the writers identity ...

1) Hi Scott (Email Writer) here.I live here in Lockport.Im a Christian and a Veteran..somebodys good friend and a father and grandfather..i attend (church) funny and somebody whose done tons of research,are you gonna sit and there and watch our country destroyed and taken over?theres like a 100 national writers on conservative .jewish christian etc i also scan the christian radio and tv well as fox etc..Cant you see that they are deliberately destroying our country?we are two thirds toward a complete Communist Muslim takeover and you dont say nothing!you keep goin on and on about side stuff and we are being destroyed ie Clowardpevin plan etc check it on google how about Chuck Norris etc on Lindsey talked about it Chuck Missler..Glen Beck..The Cloward pevin Plan we have a Communist Muslim in power?..i want my country back..yes like Andy Griffith ..Family Matters Cosby etc John Wayne..hey your either blind as a Bat or you want us destroyed.Which is it?some people have said to me Scott Leffler is becoming more Conservative..we can round file that ..when christians and conservatives are hunted down and persecuted where will you be?My prediction is that he will succeed in destroying us..ill keep fighting and you can keep writing about gay rights and Soda Pop taxes while Rome Burns..My Hope and my prayer is that you do care..if so wakeup like Chuck Norris and others and Show it!!!!!!

2) I liked your article about Paladino. I'm running for Governor and I have a reason you might find acceptable.

If I get 50,000 votes (about 1%), the Libertarian Party gets ballot access for the next four years.

And maybe I can draw attention to some issues (like the budget instead of the mosque).

Campaign site is if you're interested.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Run Carl Run ... but why?

Politics to me is a sport. And I'm a fanatic just as many are sports fanatics. I'm not just interested in who wins or loses the game, I'm enthralled with the play-by-play and the locker room interviews … and even the cheerleaders.

One of the things I find most compelling in politics is what makes a candidate decide to be a candidate. Specifically, I'm always intrigued to see what makes someone jump into a race they're pretty sure they can't win.

Now in sports, this is easy. The league determines the schedule and you know that every so often all teams end up playing each other. The Bills are a perennial candidate, kind of like Ralph Nader. They can no easier opt out of playing the Patriots than Nader could say “no” to another publicity filled run for president.

The Bills do it because it's required. Nader does it because he's full of himself. Those two are easy.

But what makes a guy like Carl Paladino run for governor? This thought had been plaguing me for a while. Then I heard my friend Chris Smith talk about it on a recent podcast hosted by another friend of mine – and former colleague – Brad Riter.

Chris is a very bright guy and gets politics better than most. Begrudgingly, I might even say he understands politics better than yours truly. And I endured four years of schooling and tens of thousands of dollars in loans studying the topic.

But enough about Chris and enough about me. Back to Carl Paladino, the Republican-ish candidate for governor who has only a slightly higher chance of winning than you do. And I probably don't need to remind you that you're not on the ballot.

Some people run knowing that they'll lose because their political party has offered them a job after they lose. The party wants to save face by having a candidate. The party also wants to make the other candidate spend money. And there's always a chance that the other guy - who everyone knows is going to win – does something really stupid and loses. This does not describe Carl. He created his own party and has no need for a government or political job.

Some people run knowing that they're going to lose in hopes of increasing their profile for another race in the future. Their first run is strictly to get their name out there so that two years from now when people go to the voting booth, they say, “hey, this name looks familiar.” This also does not describe Carl. He has no interest in running for anything else. He just wants to be governor.

Some people run knowing that they'll lose because they want to inject their ideas into the system. As a candidate it's easier to get your message across. Hopefully someone with some authority will pick up your ideas and run with them. This doesn't describe Carl either. He hasn't exactly released a platform of things he wants to accomplish. His whole message is “I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.” It's kind of hard for someone to pick that up and run with it.

The best I can figure is that Carl Paladino is running for governor because he likes the attention. And I think he enjoys playing spoiler, having effectively neutered Rick Lazio's candidacy. There's also the possibility that he thinks he can win, but I doubt it.

Basically, Carl Paladino is our own home-grown Ralph Nader.

Hey, look, I'm mad as hell, too. And I'm not looking forward to four or less years of another Cuomo … or Rick Lazio. But I also can't vote for a guy who has poor judgment (his email fiasco) and no real solutions.

So to those of you with the orange “mad as hell” yard signs, do us all a favor and take them down. You're just enabling him and feeding his addiction.

Plus, you look silly.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What a weekend ...

Just a quick note to say that I had a phenomenal weekend.

The concert in Lockport Friday was awesome. The firefighter convention afterwards was ... interesting to say the least.

Saturday was kind of crazy ... and we'll leave it at that.

Sunday was the closing ceremonies for Canal Fest. The fireworks were more than I expected. And I kind of fell in love with the patio at Crazy Jakes in NT.

Tomorrow's column is about Carl Paladino and his reasoning for running for governor. Or at least why I think he is.

It'll appear in the Tonawanda News, Lockport Journal, and right here at - same as always.

More to come. And have a great week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Airport Plaza Jewelers.

By far my favorite "float" of the parade so far.
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These guys were fun.

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Not quite sure why ...

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Abe Lincoln at Canal Fest parade.

Also saw George Maziarz and Scott Kiedrowski. More to come.
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Redefining "lost"

A story published over the weekend really kind of raised my ire.
For those of you who may have missed it, Neale Gulley's piece in the Sunday paper discussed the recent line item veto's by Governor David Paterson and how they would affect Western New York. Specifically, the piece mentioned a $9,450 procurement from Assemblyman Robin Schimminger to the United Way of the Tonawandas.
The story said the organization “stands to lose $9,450 they already got from Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, for a new computer system.”
We were told the money would be there but we’re waiting for the paperwork,” the organization's director of finance and administration said. “it was submitted a couple weeks ago.”
So if I read Gulley's story correctly, the organization obviously didn't “already got” anything. They were promised it by Assemblyman Schimminger but it hadn't been delivered yet. And since they didn't already have it, they didn't lose it. They just didn't get it.
If I tell you I'm going to give you a dollar and then don't, you didn't lose a dollar. You just didn't get the dollar I said I was going to give you. That might make me a bad guy, but it doesn't really make you a victim.
Since the $9,450 in question here isn't from Assemblyman Schimminger's bank account, maybe he shouldn't have promised it in the first place. Seems to me there's a saying here about your mouth not writing checks your butt can't cash.
Further, the story explained that the money was there for the United Way of the Tonawandas to use, but they hadn't done so by the end of the fiscal year, so they lost out.
If you call me today and ask if you can borrow a cup a sugar, I'd likely say yes. If you fail to pick up that cup of sugar in a reasonable amount of time, I'll probably just end up using it myself. Several months down the road if you happen to stop by and say, “hey where's my sugar you said I could borrow,” I'd probably look at you like you had multiple heads. And if I don't have the extra sugar anymore I'm not going to feel guilty about it.
That's not much different that the United Way's not using the money it had been promised.
You still couldn't tell anyone that you “lost” a cup of sugar that you never had. Especially if it was your laziness or disorganization that prevented you from getting the sugar in the first place.
You may think I'm being hard on the United Way here. After all, they're a great group with great goals and they help a lot of people. But I'm just using them as an example – just like Gulley did. And no matter how good they are, that doesn't mean that we have the money to give them.
The reason for Paterson's vetoes in the first place is because the fiscal state of the empire state is deplorable. And we just can't give money out the way we used to. In fact, had we not been giving this money out in this manner for the last 30 years, maybe we'd be in a lot better shape now.
Someone somewhere will try to make the argument that this is “just $9,450” and considering the size of the state's budget, it's proportionally just a drop in the bucket and they should be able to find the money to honor Schimminger's word.
In all, Paterson vetoed $700 million in expenditures.
I guess it's true what they say, “ten grand here and ten grand there and eventually you're talking real money.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Of food and baseball ...

I'm constantly re-evaluating my relationship with Western New York. Like most relationships, it is – at times – rocky. Sometimes I'm completely in love. And sometimes I'm utterly disgusted.
But there are definitely things that keep me attached to the area. There's my friends, of course. My family is a pretty big one. I like all the water. And then … there's the food. The food here is akin to whatever glue it is that holds many real-life relationships together. As much as you may hate the fact that Western New York snores and picks fights about stupid things, you stay for the food – among other things, of course.
Sunday was my day of gluttony here. A celebration of the phenomenally unhealthy menu choices housed at the 43,000 restaurants we have. And people did celebrate. The massiveness of the crowd was outweighed only by the massiveness of some of the people in the crowd, who looked like they had previously sampled each and every of the aforementioned 43,000 restaurants.
There are other gluttony celebrating events in Western New York, including “The Taste of Lockport” and “The Taste of Niagara,” each run by friends of mine. But they simply don't compare to “The Taste of Buffalo.”
When I go to “taste of” type events my goal is to try things I wouldn't have otherwise. I like to sample menu items I've been afraid to order. Or sample things from restaurants I've been afraid to commit to … or hadn't heard of.
Sunday I had something called a Sicilian cigar. I had spicy Malai Tikka. I tried some blue crab sushi. It was extra tasty. I tried a pulled pork and coleslaw wrap, which wasn't as good as it sounded. And I had a strawberry kabob, which may not be all that unique, but who says no to strawberries dipped in chocolate?
I discovered three new restaurants that I want to try and one that I don't. I ran into several friends and was reminded that gluttony may be ugly, but it sure is fun.
It may be the pizza and chicken wings that keep me here, but it's the variety that keeps me intrigued.
If you missed The Taste of Buffalo this past weekend, don't miss out on the Taste of Niagara on July 23, 24 and 25; and the Taste of Lockport on August 15. As I said, they may not be as big as this past weekend's event, but it sure beats waiting another year.

On a completely unrelated note, I enjoy baseball. But I can't stand the New York Yankees.
That said, I also can't stand the Boston Red Sox.
Now I've likely confused a whole lot of people reading this who seem to believe that those are the only two teams that play baseball. I've actually had people tell me they don't understand this concept. I must like one of them.
The Yankees and the Red Sox are akin to the evil empire and the other evil empire. And I want no part of either of them. In the American League, I root for the Cleveland Indians, which was at one time my home team. In the National League, I root for the Washington Nationals, which may some day be my home team if I can figure out how to get decent pizza and wings down there.
It's kind of like politics, really. I'm not a Democrat, nor am I a Republican. There are other “teams” out there. Find one that suits you. Make it your home team. And don't let anyone tell you that because you're not rooting for the evil empire, you're not really a fan.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

With friends like these ...

Having been in the media here for the past decade, it's not all that unusual that my name pops up on the internet. As such I have a Google Alert sent to my phone daily with any new occurrences of "Scott Leffler."

Monday morning, I was excited to see a new hit from the local newspaper, the Niagara Falls Reporter. It was buried in the body of a guest view written by my friend Jim Hufnagel. Jim had been a guest on Dialog on a number of occasions and although we disagreed on some things, we agreed on others.

Jim's guest view was talking about the Greenway Commission, a topic that makes my eyes gloss over every time, which, Jim notes:
Around the same time, I called Scott Leffler, host of Dialog on WLVL-AM Lockport, about doing a Greenway show a week before the critical meeting at the Niagara Falls Conference Center. I had been on Leffler's show no fewer than six times earlier during his tenure, when he seemed genuinely interested in having guests with alternative and provocative points of view.

I pleaded with him.

"Scott, we're talking about how $7 million will be spent, every year for the next 50 years!"

"Boring!" was his response.

Scott might have lasted as a talk show host if he had had more of what it takes: talent, insight, maturity and a working knowledge of politics.
It was the last line that really caught my eye. It was the type of thing that I'd want on the sleeve of my book if I were to ever write a book. "Scott might have lasted as a talk show host if he had had more of what it takes: talent, insight, maturity and a working knowledge of politics."

Ouch. And yet, I loved it. Much better than any flowery eulogy could be.

So, I wrote my friend Jim to basically tell him I had seen the guest view and harbored no ill will. Politics is politics and if I got mad at everyone who had disagreed with me publicly, I wouldn't have any friends at all.

Nice diss in tomorrow's reporter.

I still love you, you jerk!

- Scott

Simple. To the point. Olive branch extended.

Apparently, my friend Jim is allergic to olives ... and/or their branches. Cause this is the response I got:

Publicly accusing someone of genocide is a "diss". Publicly accusing someone of murder is a "diss".

These words came from a fellow founder of your political party here in Niagara County. You did nothing to moderate, distance or disabuse yourself of his publicly stated views.

I have had friends harassed and even killed, and myself attacked, in no small measure because you, members of your political party, and people of similar "viewpoint", have publicly stated hate speech against a woman's right to choose and people like me who support them.

You still love me? Good luck, because I hate you.

Wow! Not what I expected. At all.

I'm not sure how we went from the Greenway Commission to abortion. And, frankly, I'm not even sure of what he's talking about. Many of you may know, I'm a registered member of the Libertarian Party. And when I lived in Niagara County, I was the chairman of that party. Libertarians have a split view on abortion. Some oppose it. Some support it.

My personal view is that I am opposed to abortion and I will do everything in my power to make sure I'm not responsible for any. But I hardly harass, attack or kill people over my viewpoint. And find it hard to believe that any fellow Libertarian would.

But if "I still love you" got a return of "I hate you," I'm not sure I want to continue to trade emails with my friend ... or should I say "friend?"

Hate mail is fun. But sometimes difficult to figure out.

Keep it comin'.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Deadlines and repercussions

We were all children once. And as we got older, our parents gave us chores. Well, mine did at least.

To be honest with you, though, I didn’t have many chores. On a regular basis, the only things I recall having to do was mow the lawn, stack wood and bring wood into the house. Other than that, mom took care of most of the stuff. Thanks, mom.

My daughters don’t have it so lucky. They have things they have to do.

And if they don’t, they get punished in some way or another. You can most likely recall having a conversation with your parents similar to the type I’ve had numerous times with my girls. It goes something like, “Just make sure you have X done before X time.” Maybe it’s cleaning their rooms. Maybe it’s making their lunches. Maybe it’s bringing wood into the house. Whatever it may be, there’s a duty and a time.

It’s not all that dissimilar from work. Your boss gives you a task and tells you to have it “on my desk by noon Friday.”

Right now my main time-based duty is this one, where I have to have my column written and sent into the editors by a certain time on a certain day each week. I usually procrastinate ... in order to have the freshest topic possible when you read your paper on Tuesday. Or maybe I’m just a procrastinator. But I get it done and I get it in on time. Each and every week.

What do you think the paper would do if I didn’t? You’d have to imagine there would be repercussions, right? Maybe they’d politely tell me they didn’t need my services. Maybe it wouldn’t be so polite. Either way, there would be some sort of fallout.

And what do you think I would do if my kids didn’t do the things they were supposed to on time? More repercussions. Just like when we were young. If we didn’t get that wood stacked when mom or dad said to, there would be no TV that day. Or we wouldn’t be able to go to the field day. Or something.

Point being, there are repercussions to not doing what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to have it done.

Unless, of course, you’re the New York State Senate and Assembly.

They’re now more than three months late with the one job they have to do: the state budget.

Thursday night, they packed their bags and headed to their homes, not having the budget process completed.

And to make matters worse, not only don’t they seem to care, they appear to think they’re doing a bang-up job.

“I want to congratulate all of my colleagues for a very exhaustive legislative session,” Senate majority leader John Sampson said after they wrapped their session up.

Know what’s exhaustive? Having to put up with what comes out of Albany year after year.

Where are the repercussions? They’re supposed to come in November when we replace our elected officials with people who might actually do the job.

Unfortunately, that’s our responsibility. And we fail to get that job done. So we will have to deal with the repercussions; having to watch this circus again next year.