The Ohs Get a Sendoff

January 1, 2010

Today is the first day of the new decade (well, not technically but that’s okay).  The Buffalo News wishes us a Happy New Year with these three front page headlines:

  • Colgan pilots fault stall training (describe method as ‘Joke’)
  • A Year of Tragedy
  • Brown ousts Gipson as city’s top cop

The first article that one might construe as “hopeful” (albeit unlikely) is found on page 4North Korea makes a commitment to a nuclear-free peninsula.

This is a depressing, depressing newspaper.  Even Esmonde’s New Year’s wish list is nothing more than whining about what will prevent his wishes from happening.  There are good things worth reporting, aren’t there?  The News always surprises with their slant toward the forelorn and depressing. I just couldn’t get through today’s paper.  I think it will be the last Buffalo News I try to read.

So, my response to what the News does not provide is a list of some of the really neat things that happened last decade.  They give me hope for a Happy New Year and the start of a great decade.  Here goes:

  • Lance Armstrong.  He never gives up.
  • Planets Everywhere.  The odds of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe keeps going up as we discover just how common planetary systems are.
  • …and related to this, Water on Mars.  The odds of finding any kind of life elsewhere takes a giant leap forward wherever we find water.
  • The Human Genome Project, and the hope that it brings to understanding the genetic framework for many diseases, including cancer and diabetes.  I may not live long enough to reap the benefits but I think my children will.
  • The 2008 Olympics.  Beauty, form, grace, and grandiose settings.  Amazing what a country with a limitless supply of low-cost labor can do for a few billion dollars.  [Anecdote:  Today the Bird’s Nest is barely used and needs a bit of a paint job.] May Rio de Janeiro be so successful in 2012.
  • Globalization.  New markets, new opportunities.  Fear mongerers spew nonstop about cheap labor overseas destroying America, but we saw that in the 70’s and got through it.  America is still the land of innovation and so long as we continue to innovate we will continue to be an economic powerhouse.
  • Extreme Makeover, Buffalo.  ‘Nuf said.
  • Alternative Energy.  Finally, government and industry are taking notice.  Even if we can’t eliminate fossil fuel use (until it’s gone) we are rapidly approaching cost-effective alternative energy.   At that point – I predict it happening this decade – the alternative floodgates will open.
  • Going Green.  Even if global warming turns out to be more hype than substance, awareness of how we are polluting our environment has raised our efforts at conservation.  We see it in everything from simpler packaging to more efficient building construction.  Clean Technology grew almost 20-fold last decade to a $10 billion industry today.
  • The Internet.  The awakening of an online generation to the power of a tweet and a blog.  Social networking now wins and loses elections and drives the direction of government and industry faster than ever before.

I wait with excitement for what the 10’s will unveil.


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”.