What Jenny Sanford Should Have Said

June 25, 2009

Well, yet another politician whose brains are in his pants.

It is one thing to preach about the sanctity of marriage, wholly another to practice that sanctity.  My husband, like so many other politicians, lives in a world where egos are stroked at every turn and power is more addictive than cocaine.  He obviously felt that he needed more stroking than I could give him.  The sense of entitlement that comes with political office carried over into the rest of his life, and he failed to keep them separate.

I’m sure his biggest regret is getting caught.

If I were a bit less civil my first reaction would be to Bobbetize him.  Instead, for the sake of our children, I will try to work through this.  But you can bet that he’ll be cut off for a long, long time, maybe for good.  I may love him, but he’s a jerk and like so many other jerks, could not keep a commitment he promised to keep, twenty years ago.

Going forward, Mark’s words will be repeated in the press; but they are just words.  I and others will from now on be vigilant of his actions, and the effect that every one of those actions will have on regaining his trust.

That will take a long time, probably longer than one election cycle.  This is something you too should consider the next time you vote for governor.

Society tends to reflect the morals of its leaders.  Those who decry the loss of family values and the failures of society – especially those in office – should look no further than themselves as the starting point for re-establishment of those values.  This post is not really about Mark Sanford’s failure or the failures of those other high-ranking politicians – God knows they’re only human – it is about the failure of government to adhere to tough ethical standards that have teeth, that hold politicians accountable for immoral or unethical behavior.  Instead, we find ourselves all but disregarding any political rhetoric because the person behind that rhetoric has no credibility.  We are more likely to do as he does – and not do what he says.  We’ll follow our leaders all the way down that amoral pit.

This all leads to the fiasco that is New York State government, a government that has established new lows in ethics, where a political official currently under investigation for fraudulent campaign tactics is one heartbeat removed from the Governor’s mansion.  Whose Legislative Ethics Commission in its 20-year existence has never filed a notice of wrongdoing and whose findings are specifically exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Law.  Whose Senate is so beholden to the Party that not only can they not conduct the people’s business, they can’t even find cordiality in the same room.

Many of these politicians will be re-elected to office.  They are doing nothing that the majority of Americans have not come to expect of them.  The real failure of our society is our own unwillingness to hold these guys accountable for the very societal standards demanded of us.

It’s been interesting to watch the slow disintegration of my state government and the short-lived furor over national political figures who have strayed.  We’ve been on this slippery slope for a while, and we’ve got only a short distance to go, I hope, before it becomes so revolting that society revolts against the system.

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Yearning for Those Friendly Skies

June 18, 2009

crowded airport

I loathe what air travel has become.  Used to be that flying made sense when travel by car would take more than 2 or 3 hours.  After 9/11 it was closer to 4 hours – making trips to Albany, Detroit or Pittsburgh more convenient by car than plane.  This past year, 6 hours’ drive time became my decision radius.

This week I debated if driving 7+ hours to Baltimore would be less stressful (and time-consuming) than arriving at the airport at least an hour before flight time, having my oversized can of shaving cream confiscated at security, waiting through incessant flight delays, being packed like sardines into the aircraft, developing motion sickness on the (very) turbulent flight, getting a lame rental car and driving the remaining distance to my hotel.

Flying to and from Baltimore saved me barely more than an hour in each direction.  And it was way more stressful than driving ever is.

Next time it’s going to be my car, a bunch of CDs, a list of NPR stations along the route and some coffee.  Air travel is too crazy.


“Let’s Just Go Home”

June 17, 2009

Today’s State Senate quote is courtesy of Senator John Sampson (R, Brooklyn); here’s the link to the whole story.

The rest of the New York population gave up on the State Senate (and the rest of State government) long ago, so it’s not really news that Senators are giving up on themselves.  My advice echoes Senator Sampson’s:  Go home.

I’ll add:  Don’t come back.

I chuckle at the suddenly used and in vogue phrase “the work of the people.”  The Senate long ago stopped doing the work of the people and have been party automatons ever since.  Like robots, they don’t take accountability and don’t do anything they’re not programmed to do.  It is clear that these guys are merely puppets whose balls are being squeezed strings are being pulled by other, more powerful men.

Some court case years ago ruled out the possibility of withholding Senate paychecks (regardless of what Sampson says) over a debacle like this; that’s okay, the pay is a just a zit on skin raked with raging melanoma.  I just hope that we voters remember this past week the next time these half-wits come up for re-election.


What’s Wrong With This Picture?

June 15, 2009

Dewitt

Behold the tree-statue of DeWitt Clinton marking the opening of the Erie Canal.  What’s wrong is the car in the background.  The parking lot is just past the single row of trees, about 20 feet from the sidewalk and adjoining Erie Street.

No matter what direction from which you photograph this and all the other tree-statues (the “Carvings“)  temporarily lining Erie Street as it extends to the end of the Erie Basin Marina, you cannot get away from the asphalt.  You can find plenty of parking and a very nice road that hugs the shoreline, but virtually no grass.  Barely a place to spread out a picnic blanket, set up a tent, hold a party.

No place to avoid engine exhaust.

My last post was about the lack of access to our waterfront.  This post is an example of how development of that access has sacrificed the very reason we go to the water:  To get away from the sights and sounds of urbanization.  In this regard we planned poorly but executed the plan well, leaving us with a jetty that from above looks dull and gray, and from the ground looks wanting for anything green.  I recall while living in Silicon Valley how parking lots were divided by fingers of grass and foliage to break up and hide the proliferation of cars.  Is that design, which sacrifices one in ten parking spots, not feasible out here?

The planned redevelopment of the Waterfront Village – with a newly approved hotel plan – really needs to incorporate natural elements into the design.  So do the existing properties in the Village, the road leading to the marina and the oversized parking lots on it.  My suggestion:  Take out the road beyond the last set of boat docks, and force everyone to walk the final 400 yards to the end of the marina on a grassy and sandy surface.  Barefoot even.


Getting To Buffalo’s Waterfront

June 13, 2009

Buffalo’s waterfront is a vibrant, ever-changing world of private and public investments, dwarfed only by the length of its shoreline and frustrated by the lack of access to it.

I saw this firsthand today on while on a tour sponsored by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Young Professionals group.  We traveled as far south as the Bethlehem Steel property and north to Squaw Island.  In between there was some amazing development, made even more so by Luke the bus driver’s needle-threading precision maneuvering around roads not ever meant for bus travel.

The Bell Slip, a tranquil cove adjacent to a staging area piled high with stone curbing.  In the calm and soothing natural setting you could almost ignore the deafening bellows of the front loader working on the Route 5 redevelopment nearby.

Bell Slip Panorama

The Outer Harbor Parkway Project, which punches holes into the soon-to-be new Furhmann Boulevard so that traffic will eventually be able to move east/west under Route 5, connecting the outer harbor to South Buffalo, possibly allowing South Buffalonians to flee west.

The Antique Boat Club, nestled inside and behind Nanodynamics, the old Ford Plant.  One would think that the Antique Boat Club area is a perfect spot for a boat launch, inside the breakwall, were it not for the fact that the water is 15 feet below the rusted steel pilings that make up the abrupt and artificial shoreline in that area.

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The Old Freezer Queen (cum next condominium, if the economy ever improves and the Outer Harbor starts to take shape) complex, taking up oodles of space on the water, almost directly across Furhmann Boulevard from the Tifft Nature Preserve.  The amazing Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, a huge plot of reclaimed brownfields encompassing the Union Ship Canal, parkland and brand new facilities courtesy of Sonwil Distribution, Certainteed, Cobey and a dozen yet to be claimed undeveloped and spooky-being-in-a-city parcels.  The Riverwright complex, which while shockingly ugly and even uglier up close still holds promise as a future biofuel manufacturing center until we Buffalonians litigate it to death or controlled nuclear fusion is realized, whichever comes first.

There’s the cobblestone district, Canal Side and Buffalo Harbor, condos on the lake, LaSalle Park, the Black Rock Channel, Towpath Park, Cotter’s Point and that tiny part of the Erie Canal that sticks out by the Scajaquada and is full of driftwood and old tires.

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And there’s a most tortuous trip between really ugly Navy property and the no-man’s land adjacent to the tracks which are adjacent to the I-190, to the West Side Rowing Club and an absolutely spectacular Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fontana Boathouse next door.  I now know how to get to this place but it would be impossible to give someone directions to it.  Frank’s secret is safe with us.

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These and other small parks, slips and marinas pepper the waterfront among the ruins of a once booming shipping and transportation center.  What’s lacking is a great many small things.  For instance, there were a total of three restaurants along this 7-mile stretch, one of which was the Hatch which no one in their right mind would consider a restaurant.  There are rusting and crumbling industrial properties looking for a buyer.  There are still huge brownfield areas begging for reclamation dollars.  There’s barbed wire, concrete walls and debris strewn everywhere.

But the big thing that’s lacking is easy access.  Squaw island via a narrow one-lane steel-decked bridge?  The West Side Rowing Club via a snaky drive past some snarky buildings?  Buffalo Harbor via streets that twist and turn under the elevated I-190?  Who dreamt up this road map?

There’s a ton of stuff on the waterfront.  We just can’t get to it.


Fights Behind the School

June 10, 2009

School Fight

As I read about the ever-dysfunctional New York State legislature I’m reminded of my youth, growing up in Holland, watching the fights break out among the 12-year-olds who wanted to use the basketball court behind the school.

We were twelve.

We pay our Senators how much to act like this?


Thinking about Next Year’s Ride

June 9, 2009

Tour de Cure 100 mile Start

Except for a slightly sore butt I feel completely recovered from Saturday’s 100 km Tour de Cure bike ride.  Next year I think I’ll start training just a little earlier, and go for the 100-miler.

To everyone who donated on my behalf or for anyone else, thank you so much for the support.  The Tour de Cure is much more than a fund-raising event; it’s a festival, the first of many festivals held during our wonderful summer months, when the glorious weather brings out the best in us.

Last week was also the Greek Festival and this weekend it’s the Allentown Art Festival; then the Ride for Roswell; and shortly after that the Taste of Buffalo and the Italian Festival and many other great places to gather and celebrate.

Buffalo’s great for that kind of stuff.