Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I’m kind of wondering, though, due to the stories I’ve been reading about all the school budget workshops and meetings, if that really is the case.
The state’s education system got rocked when Gov. Andrew Cuomo told every single school district in the state that they’re getting less money due to statewide belt tightening. Every school district locally has been told that they’ll be getting less state aid next year than they did this year.
Of course, the school boards have done their obligatory whining, which I would expect. Then they dug in deep and cut programs and salaries, like they need to. Or, at least that’s what they said they’ll have to do. But not before almost every school district said they’d be digging into their reserves in order to preserve as much as possible.
This is the part that confounds me ... the digging into the district reserves, also known as the “rainy day fund.” It seems like their thought process is if they can just get through this year, everything will be OK and they can go back to taxing and spending and hire all the teachers back and restore all the programs, etc.
Except, my understanding is that this isn’t a matter of it being a rainy day. This is the way things are now. The state is not going to pony up as much money as it has been because of the dire financial straits it is in. And next year, the cuts may be deeper, even.
I know I said previously that I thought it cheap that Cuomo’s two best ideas for saving money were a property tax cap and a limit on superintendent’s salaries. That still remains true. But many of the correspondences I’ve gotten in the past week pointed out — and correctly so — that school districts are out of touch with reality.
One prime example last week came to me from a friend of mine, who happens to serve on a school board. This friend advised me that two of her school board colleagues had suggested that they jack taxes up as high as they can get away with this year, before the property tax cap becomes a mandate.
Because obviously the answer to all our prayers is higher taxes.
I pointed out that these were school board members, right? The smart ones. The ones running the show. The ones deciding how our children should be educated.
If the high taxes don’t get you, the rampant stupidity will.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
With a $10 billion budget gap, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided that the best thing he can do for us is tell local school districts how much money they can spend and what they can spend it on, proposing a property tax cap and salary limits on school superintendents.
As much as I love the concept of my local school districts not taxing me to death, it’s not the governor’s decision to make. Those school budgets come before the voters and we always have the option of turning them down, which we do often.
And as much sense as it makes to me that school superintendents should make less than the state’s chief executive, that’s another thing that shouldn’t be up to that chief executive. If Andy Cuomo is so interested in how school districts run, maybe that’s the job he should have gone out for instead of governor.
Personally, I want Andrew Cuomo making as few decisions about my school districts as possible. The state meddles in the affairs of other government agencies way too much. And frankly, if the state would cease some of that meddling, those local school taxes wouldn’t be as high as they are to begin with.
The multitude of governments we have to deal with is already frustrating. The interaction between those governments makes it downright infuriating. If the federal government would worry about federal things, that’d be awesome. And if the state government would stick to state things, that would be equally fantastic. And that would make it so much easier for our towns, villages, cities, school districts, counties, etc., to do their jobs.
It’s akin to working for a mega conglomerate corporation and having six different bosses, each of them telling you to do something different. Or having your mother tell you to take out the trash right now while you’re trying to bring in the wood that your father told you to bring in. It’s simply impossible to serve two masters. Especially simultaneously.
The power to control your school districts lies in your hands. And if you let Andy Cuomo take that power from you, you will never get it back.
So as much as you may like the idea of saving on your property taxes, you should tell Andrew Cuomo to stay out of your school district’s affairs. And as much as you may think that your superintendent is overpaid, for the sake of simplicity, tell Andy Cuomo to stick that idea in the circular bin ... or wherever you want to tell him to stick it. I don’t judge.
As an unrelated side note, I’d like to wish a prosperous retirement to a friend and former colleague of mine. WLVL’s news director, John Raymond, called it a career last week.
Radio has been good to John. And John made for some great radio.
He made me laugh at times. And he made me livid at times. But I enjoyed working beside him for the better part of seven years.
I’m certain I’m not alone when I say, John Raymond, you will be missed. Thanks for the memories.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Anyway, having gotten up early - and having a list of things I want to accomplish today, I set out to reinstate my XM service in The Box.
I tried logging in to my account online, but that didn't work. So I looked up my most recent email from SiriusXM and called them.
Victoria was her name. I like the name Victoria. She asked my account number. I gave it to her from the email I had gotten. Then she asked my address. I told her. She said she didn't have that address on file and politely asked for an old address.
I told Victoria that they definitely had my current address. She said "let's try the old address anyway." So I gave her the other four addresses I've used in the past two years. When I hit the Lockport address, she said, "that's the one we have."
I said, in that case, it's for the wrong radio. I don't have that one any more. She asked what I had and I told her it was a factory installed model in my Honda Element.
She said, "oh, then you'll need to talk to XM," ... And gave me their number. Hmm, I thought it was the same company now?
Called XM. Got "LJ." I also like that name. Gave her my deets. And told her I wanted to reinstate service. She said I had a past-due balance of $16.75 I had to clear up first. Okay. Whatev. So I paid that.
Then she asked if I wanted to use the same card for the recurring payment. I told her I needed to know what the current deals were first.
$140 a year. Plus $15 surcharge. That's $155 a year, which is basically $13 a month. I said no.
She then offered $43 for three months. Basically, $13 a month. I said no.
"Call me back when you've got an actual deal," I told her.
The entire phone call, she kept calling me Mr. William. Ugh. Why do foreign call centers always do that?
So basically, I'm out $16.75 and an hour of my life ... And still don't have my XM back.
Oh, and next on my agenda? I'm off to pay a parking ticket.
I have it on good authority that the day will improve though.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®
Thursday, March 03, 2011
I took out the left navbar entirely and added links to the top of the blog, taking you to those things that had been on the navbar that I decided to keep.
I removed the pictures, calendar, and podcasts pages completely, since;
1) no one wants to see pictures of me ... and if you do, I have a bazillion on Facebook.
2) I hadn't updated the calendar in like 27 years. And the thought of updating it and keeping it updated was not palpable.
and 3) No radio show means no podcasts.
I'm not 100 percent pleased with the new design, but it is a little less 1996, which is when I learned HTML ... and when I stopped learning HTML. The interwebz have changed just a bit in the past 13 years ... and like most things in life, I haven't kept up.
If you find any glaring errors or anything totally stupid, please email me so I can fix it.
Thanks and have a great day. :)
Poloncarz' letter to the Democratic chairmen (text below) basically said he has to keep his current job to protect Erie County from Chris Collins.
March 3, 2011
Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan
Genesee County Democratic Chairwoman Lorie Longhany
Livingston County Democratic Chairwoman Judith Hunter By E-mail Only
Monroe County Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle
Orleans County Democratic Chairwoman Jeanne Crane
Niagara County Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera
Wyoming County Democratic Chairman Hank Bush, Jr.
Working Families Party Chairman James Lakeman
Re: 26th Congressional District Special Election
As you are aware, due to the resignation of Christopher Lee as the elected representative of 26th Congressional District, a special election is to be called to fill the remainder of Mr. Lee’s term. The chairpersons representing the counties within the 26th District will choose the candidate for the special election.
While I am flattered by the encouragement I have received from many of you to run, after conferring with my family and friends I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration to be the Democratic and Working Families Parties’ Candidate for the special election.
I make this decision not based on the demographics of the district, as some will surmise, because a Democratic candidate can win the special election, especially if a third party candidate should run. Instead, I can best represent the hard working men and women of Erie County by continuing to be their voice against the current county executive who is determined to destroy what makes this community the great place it is to live, work and raise a family.
During his first term in office Chris Collins raised taxes while reducing services, refused to spend $80 million of stimulus assistance and attempted to subvert the democratic process by ignoring the checks and balances required by state and local law. Additionally, he recently proposed amending state law to provide counties the right to refuse to provide eyeglasses and hearing aids to needy families on Medicaid, as well as announcing his support of efforts to deny working men and women collective bargaining rights.
As such, I withdraw my name from consideration for the 26th Congressional District special election to focus my efforts on being the voice for the hard working families of Erie County. I look forward to assisting your efforts to win the special election, and as always, if you have any questions please contact the undersigned at your earliest convenience.
In truth, I'm not sure I completely buy Mark's reasoning, but never a more entertaining withdrawal letter have I read.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
For a visual representation of the words I used most, check this wordle.
Or if you'd rather just read the column, that's cool, too. It's here.
Want to comment? Please go to the forum.
The labor dispute in Wisconsin is an interesting one. Many of my conservative friends now herald Gov. Scott Walker as their new hero.
Many of my liberal friends, meanwhile, seem to think he’s the new anti-Christ. I think both are exaggerating just a bit.
I’m not nearly as familiar with Wisconsin’s budget problem and political landscape as I am with New York’s. But if it’s even remotely similar, they need to do something to save money before the whole thing goes down the drain. In New York, Gov. Cuomo has his strategy. In Wisconsin, Walker has his. Both have their opponents. Both have their supporters.
In general, I will support an executive who tries to get an unwieldy government under control. Smaller is better. At least when it comes to government. As such, I’m OK with Walker’s position.
When the Sabres new owner, Terry Pegula, took over, I was thrilled with the prospects for the future. And then the team won. And then they won again. And the Sabres were never going to lose another game — at least in my head, they weren’t.
Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings brought me back to reality a little bit though. The Sabres looked great in the first period. And not as great in the second and third. Having a 2-0 lead, they eventually lost 3-2 in the shootout. Same Sabres as before.
So maybe they’re going to lose some games now and again. But the Pegula era of Sabres hockey is bound to be a good one. I’m looking forward to it greatly.
My opinion on Chris Lee still hasn’t changed — despite the new allegations. I thought he did his job of congressman well. His job of husband, apparently, he wasn’t as good at. But that’s between him and his family. These new charges have brought new jokes. And undoubtedly new pain for the Lee family. It’s sad, surely. But some free advice to wannabe politicians? Your skeletons will come out. If you don’t want your private life public, pick a different career. And if you must run for Congress, keep your private life clean.
I got a news release last week from congressional candidate Jane Corwin, stating that she had a “major announcement” to make and she’d be dropping by a few of the cities within the 26th Congressional District to let the people know what that announcement was.
The newsroom was abuzz. What could she be announcing? Friends e-mailed and texted me asking what Jane had up her sleeve. I didn’t know. I couldn’t even speculate. I took a couple stabs in the dark. Boy was I wrong. Corwin’s big announcement? That she was running for Congress.
Dearest Jane, the fact that you were running for Congress was already well-known. That “announcement” wasn't worthy of a Facebook status, let alone a press conference in four different cities.
So you wanted to get out and meet the people? Cool. Come say “hi.” But don’t sell it as some major announcement. Because now I’m already skeptical of whatever your next press release may be.
Let me remind you of Aesop’s fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” It ends very similarly to a Grimm’s Fairy Tale. And surely, you don’t want your congressional campaign to suffer the same fate.