Open Letter to NY Assemblyman Quinn

November 21, 2009

Dear Assemblyman Quinn,

I want to thank you for your 18 November response to my recent email regarding my opposition to balancing the 2010 budget with additional fees and taxes. While you explained to me your stance on the original budget as well as the upcoming mid-year adjustments, you did not seem to appreciate the frustration and anger that many of my colleagues and I have with you and your fellow legislators. Perhaps I did not elucidate this well in my email; perhaps you merely replied with a form letter. One thing, however, is clear:

You do not understand what we are angry about.

We are angry at you – the collective you – because you cannot get beyond the side of the aisle on which you find yourself. It doesn’t matter to which party you belong: Your actions are those of children in a schoolyard, taking sides but never reaching across to resolve the differences.

Your letter contained many promises and calls to action. Nothing in it, however, spoke of the need to reach across that aisle to address New York’s problems in a bipartisan manner; nothing spoke of doing the Peoples Business. Instead you emphasized your frustrations with the Democrats, and the us versus them mentality that pervades the legislature.

Your letter was full of bellyaches and personal accomplishments, but no mention the word bipartisan. Not a single sentence spoke of collegiality or a sense of urgency. You are quite eloquent at placing blame on the Democratic Party, not so articulate at offering an olive branch. You don’t seem to get it: We are angry at you because you are all to blame.

You – the collective you – need to get beyond your rhetoric in a hurry, for the sake of this state and for your jobs. I for one remain unconvinced that you and your fellow legislators deserve another term. Without seeing real bipartisan action in the near future I intend to join the rapidly-growing ranks of those determined to help vote you out of office. You demonstrate by your words and collective (in)action that we no longer have anything to lose by throwing the bums out.

One final point: What happens behind those closed doors in Albany may be deemed progress by the few of you privy to the inner sanctums. But the perception out here is one of shady deals, power grabs and chaos; the perception is that it’s all about you, not your constituents. You have scarce time left to change that perception.

Here’s a suggestion: Reach across the aisle with this letter. Let your Democratic colleagues know that as many voters are gunning for their jobs as yours. Then offer that olive branch.

Best Regards.


Extreme Makeover – The Aftermath

November 18, 2009

Mayor Brown would be smart to distance himself from taking any credit for the success that Extreme Makeover brought to Buffalo’s Massachusetts Avenue neighborhood.  Instead, he should cite this as an example of what can be accomplished when everyone works together for the betterment of a neighborhood.  He’d be way ahead if he uses his political clout to help sponsor and organize Extreme Makeover, Part II – XYZ Neighborhood.  I think any area around Jefferson and Best would do just nicely.

Someone asked about the tax liability that Delores Powell will have on her new home.  Rest assured that the producers of Extreme Makeover don’t leave that open-ended.  Essentially, they got the city to agree never to raise the assessed value of Delores’ property so long as she owns it.  What Extreme Makeover did was lease the house for two weeks from Delores, so that they could renovate it under leaseholder improvement provisions.  There is even a federal provision nicknamed the Extreme Makover Loophole that Congress passes every year, just so these guys on ABC can do what they do.

I’m not sure how New York State sees this but I wouldn’t be surprised it sends Ms. Powell some kind of tax bill for imputed income.  It is New York State, after all.

It’s a wonder that this Extreme Makeover segment even happened.  When the producer first went to City Hall with the schedule, some of the first words out of the Municipal Housing Authority were “It’s not gonna happen by those dates” to which the producer said “We’ve done 168 homes throughout the country so far; do you really want to be known as the first city that couldn’t accommodate the schedule?”  The permits were put into place shortly thereafter. 

This is yet another example of the territorial nature of our local government.  I’m happy that clearer heads prevailed and if Mayor Brown had something to do with this, then good for him.  Rather than embrace Extreme Makeover and its potential for great intentions and even greater PR, some clown in City Hall decides to throw his weight around.  The issue of little duchys permeates across Western New York govenment and grows by example, starting with our political leadership.  How do we ever change something so ingrained as this?

Buffalo needs more Extreme Makeovers.  What a great way to bring out the best and show the rest of the world why we so rightly deserve the title “City of Good Neighbors”.