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News roundup: City poised to scrap county-wide ambulance service

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 23, 2009, 8:26am

Batavia is ready to get out of the ambulance business. City Council said last night that it would vote Monday to terminate its agreement with the rest of the county to provide ambulance service throughout the county, according to an article this morning in the Daily News. Joanne Beck writes: "That will mean no more city ambulance service for all residents of Genesee County, including the city."

"No more city ambulance." Flat out.

WBTA's Dan Fischer is quick to point, however, that the void will not remain empty for long. "If council votes to close down the ambulance service, expect a deal to be struck with a private ambulance service out of Rochester or Buffalo," he says.

Beck put together a fine article, replete with colorful quotes from Council, such as this one from Frank Ferrando:

“If we’re making money, none of us would want to give it up.... I think we want to provide this service, and it’s an excellent service, we just can’t foot the bill. We can’t foot the bill for the whole damn county.”

As for the rest of "the whole damn county"—they're not so willing to give up the service. Beck writes:

Seventeen of 18 Genesee County municipalities have indicated they’d like to extend the current ambulance service agreement another year, City Manager Jason Molino said. Pembroke opted out. The city must first “execute an extension and modification agreement” to continue offering the service before it can then notify those municipalities of the city’s termination clause, Molino said.

Senate seat goes to Kirsten Gillibrand

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 23, 2009, 8:04am

Gov. David Paterson has tapped Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, from Hudson, to fill the junior Senator seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, who has taken the post of Secretary of State in the new administration of President Barack Obama. Buffalo News reporter Tom Precious has all the details this morning. Precious calls Gillibrand "a moderate beginning her second term in the House." Gillibrand's office did not return calls for comment from the Buffalo office. Likely, she's a little busy today.

From Gillibrand's Web site:

In her first term in office, Congresswoman Gillibrand established herself as an independent leader in Congress. She was the lead sponsor of legislation that would implement the bipartisan 9/11 Commission Recommendations, which will help protect our borders and keep America safe. She has been an advocate for decreased federal spending, and introduced legislation that would require the federal government – just as all New York families do - to balance their budget every year. Finally, she has made tax cuts for Upstate and North Country families, one of her highest priorities. She has authored legislation that would double the tax credit for child care expenses and make up to $10,000 in college tuition tax deductible.

Precious reports that Gillibrand was getting the push from both Democrats and Republicans among her constituency, as well as from Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Gillibrand is a member of the conservative Blue Dog coalition in the House. She is known as “Little Hillary” — a nickname conferred by critics who claim she fancies herself the heir to Clinton’s job.

In recent days, gun-control advocates have come out against her because of her opposition to tougher gun laws.

Gillibrand, who also opposed the $700 million bailout of the financial industry, comes from a politically connected Albany family. Her father, Douglas Rutnick, was a lobbyist.

Elba girls prove themselves against good Alexander squad

By Brian Hillabush
Jan 23, 2009, 1:17am

 Two of the top three teams in the Genesee Region League squared off in Elba Thursday night. 

It was the host Lancers that battled back from a huge early deficit to beat Alexander 61-53, improving to 12-2.

They keys to the win again was solid pressure defense, fresh legs ... and holding Alexander star Anni Lehtola in check.

The Trojans opened up a fast 9-1 lead as Rachel Pettys scored four of those points and Lehtola drained a 3-pointer.

The first basket for Elba came from Chelsie Pangrazio, and the Lancers closed the lead to 13-9. But Alexander went on another run, with three free throws and were ahead 17-10.

Meg Stucko had a bucket to end the first quarter to make it 17-12.

Elba quickly took the lead for good in the second quarter as eighth grader McKenzie Bezon went off.

Bezon hit a free throw, then dropped in a 3-pointer, stole the inbounds pass and scored again, making the score 20-18. Rachael Cook had consecutive rebound put-back baskets and all of a sudden a 9-1 lead turned into a 25-18 deficit for Alexander.

Cook had another bucket, Julie Marshall scored and Bezon hit one of two foul shots to make it 30-20 at the half.

The Lancers came out hot in the third quarter with Sarah Schwartzmeyer, Cook and Bezon scored three-straight baskets. 

Lehtola had her best quarter, scoring six of her 13 points before fouling out in the third quarter. 

But Elba had taken control with a 47-36 lead going into the final frame.

Midway through the final period, Alexander made a run. Anna Dominick scored, Rachel Pettys hit two free throws, and Dominick hit two more foul shots to cut the lead to 52-47.

Pettys hit a foul shot and Katie Kochmanski scored and the score was 52-50 with just over two minutes left.

Schwartzmeyer scored before there was an intentional foul called on the Lancers, giving Schwartzmeyer a chance to hit one of two free throws. 

Cassy Engle scored and then hit a free throw and the lead was back up to 10 points with about a minute left to play.

Cook scored 12 points with 10 rebounds and Stucko added 10 boards to go with her three points. Bezon had 11 points with Chelsie Pangrazio added seven points. Schwartzmeyer had six points and Missy Call added six points and four assists.

Dominick had 12 points and Pettys added 11 for the Trojans (9-3)

Pavilion Post Office waiting to get plugged in, may open in a few weeks

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 22, 2009, 3:53pm

Pavilion residents may not have to wait much longer to get their stamps and pick up their mail in town again. They have been without local walk-in service, since a fire destroyed the old post office on South Lake Road in early November. Mail delivery has continued, but folks who pick up their mail at the post office have had to do so over at the Fire Hall, and only at a certain time each day. The original post office is now boarded up, and a spokeswoman with the Postal Service tells us that there are no updates on its status.

Fortunately, the trailer that has been set up behind the town hall may soon be ready to open. From Karen Mazurkiewicz, spokeswoman:

"We are in the process of establishing utility services to a postal trailer located at 1 Woodrow Street adjacent to the town of Pavilion Library. The trailer will house the rural carriers and allow customers access to retail services and Post Office box mail.

"We have not determined an opening date yet but hope that it will be in the next few weeks."

For those who have not yet been by, here's what to look for:

Oh the Responses We Weave

By Patrick D. Burk
Jan 22, 2009, 3:00pm

A few short days ago I wrote a small blog entry on the wonders of America and the heroism that was displayed during the Hudson River Rescue.  I am still in awe of that total sense of sacrifice and service.  I also included a request that everyone give our President Barack Obama some time to accomplish things and recognize that he too needs to step up  to serve and strive greater than any recent President to help solve our mounting problems.  I do believe he will be a wonderful President.  In his first two days of office, he has achieved and accomplished so much.  I don't see vacation on his schedule anytime soon.

With all that being said, my simple request for time and patience and my belief that Americans in general do feel positive about the new President (recent poll showed 83% felt positive) has resulted in some of the very sophmoric replies that really do rankle me.  For an American to use a person's name as a "slur" or negative connotation is just as demeaning and nasty as using many of the words that we have defeated in the past.  Equating the President's middle name as a negative reference is perhaps the lowest of low.

I respect that all Americans have freedom of speech, but that does not mean I have to like it, tolerate it or even accept it.  It basically takes an unintelligent mind to become so low that a person's name can be used as such.   Our President's name is Barack Hussein Obama.  Learn to live with it and if you don't like it ignore it, but don't use a man's name as derision or as a blatant racist attempt to lower him in the eyes of America.  I happen to think it is a great name that reflects "all that is indeed possible in this wonderful country we call home".

My "Time to Renew" blog entry is exactly what it says.  I believe it is such a time in America.   Time to heal and to move forward, to enlighten those who lead into greater service and to call up to service those that want to lead.  It was meant to reflect on the heroism in the Hudson River as a wonderful exmple of "people helping and indeed saving people".   To my amazement it solicited 62 responses to date, many of which contained hateful insights, off-topic giberish and senseless drivel. Some of the responses attempted to lower hope and return to name calling nastiness.  Other responses attempted to prove who was smarter, who knew more and who could have the last word.  That certainly isn't renewal.  It is rehashing the crap from that past.  As an American, I feel that is not acceptable.

Now it is my turn.  Like I said before, I respect your freedom of speech and the open medium of blogging.    Please remember, my intent is to be positive and to express hope and solutions for the future.   If your intent is not the same then take a flying leap.  Start your own blog that points out who is better than who, uses names as damaging labels and resorts to one-up-man-ship.  As the old adage goes, if you are not part of the solution, guess what..... you are part of the problem.  Please join me on the side of Solutions and Hope.

Stay Safe, Prayers for our New Leaders and as always, Thanks for listening.

Akron man in emergency room after being hit by car while shoveling

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 22, 2009, 2:25pm

Louis J. Scafetta Jr., 31, of Akron, is currently being treated for facial lacerations and an internal leg injury in the emergency room of United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Scafetta was taken in earlier today, after he was hit by a car while he was shoveling out another car that was stuck in the snow in the driveway at 5778 Walkers Corners Road in Byron.

Johnna H. L. Mancuso, 23, of Le Roy, was allegedly driving too fast on Walkers Corner Road when she lost control of her car on an icy stretch of road. Her car then crossed the road, spun halfway around and crashed into the car parked in the driveway near where Scafetta was shoveling. The parked car was then thrown into Scafetta, who was knocked to the ground and injured. Mancuso was not injured in the crash.

No charges have been filed against the driver.

Lee makes first floor speech: Urges Congress not to "rubber stamp"

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 22, 2009, 1:46pm

Rep. Chris Lee read his first speech on the House floor last night to "urge Congress not to rubber stamp another $350 million in taxpayer funds for the struggling Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)," according to a statement released by his office this morning. TARP is the official name for the financial assistance package put together by the Fed last year to purchase the infamous "toxic assets" in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis—better known to all of us as: the bailout.

(A quick aside here: Does anyone else see the irony in the acronym? Sure, a tarp can be strung over some poles and shade the backyard crew for a summer barbecue. But isn't a tarp more commonly found in the cluttered garage thrown over the broken lawnmower and the 80 pounds of manure still waiting to fertilize the garden out back that hasn't pushed out a bud in half a dozen seasons? Am I pushing this metaphor too far?)

We've decided to include the full text of Lee's speech here for you to glean from what you will. I'll keep my opinion out of this one. You can also view a poorly synched video of Lee delivering the speech, if you're not in the mood to read right now.

“Taxpayer dollars must be spent with accountability and transparency. To date, the Troubled Asset Relief Program – commonly known as TARP – has failed to meet this common-sense standard of fiscal responsibility.

“TARP was established last fall as an emergency plan to prop up the ailing financial markets. But today, we have far more questions than answers.

“Taxpayers have already lost $64 billion on the first round of investments made through TARP.

“The new administration has asked this Congress to double down on TARP and rubber stamp another $350 billion without credible assurances of future results.

“With a $1.2 trillion deficit on the books and a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package looming, these are resources we cannot afford to spend without responsible oversight.

“Western New York’s economy is in a perilous state. What we need right now is swift, bipartisan action that creates jobs and spurs future growth, not another bloated Washington program that overpromises and underdelivers.

“I hope my colleagues will reject any attempt to rubber stamp the TARP program and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, not wastefully.”

Spectating History: My Thoughts On Witnessing The Inauguration

By Daniel Jones
Jan 22, 2009, 1:31pm


On a briskly cold day in January at around 5:45 AM, I pulled up to 17th Ave and L Street, which isn't far from Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC.  The atmosphere was serene, almost quiet, yet one could feel the excitement bubbling out from the anticipating crowds making their way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the national mall.  A few minutes later, I received a call from a WBTA (a local radio station) asking for some of my the moment that he called I looked forward and saw a majestic site, I rubbed my eyes and in the twilight, saw the White House.  It all started to hit me then, the history that was being made, the greatness of America, the civility that we possess in this country, where the most powerful among us willingly gives up his power. Despite all that we had been through, there it was, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, ready for its next occupant.

We made our way to the national mall, first passing through the area around the Washington Monument, we ran into some very helpful volunteers, girl scouts, boy scouts (a favorite of mine, given that I'm an Assistant Scoutmaster) and just regular people. Some offered directions, some gave out maps, some cheered on to “fire up” the crowds and others offered a friendly “hello”.  Then came the street vendors, there was absolutely no end to the people selling Obama, well, everything, a person whom I was sharing the experience with referred to the event as “Obama-palooza” partially because of this, Obama buttons (I bought a few), Obama T-Shirts, Obama hoodies, if you can imagine just about anything, it was there with our new President's name on it.  After making our way through the crowds it was still relatively early, we arrived at the spot that we would call home for the next 6 hours or so at around 7AM, it was a good spot, close the National Observatory yet still about a half a mile away from the capitol.  The distance wasn't really relevant, jumbotrons and speakers had been set up throughout the mall and as far back as the Lincoln memorial so everyone could see the event.

This may be the most shocking part of all, the crowd, in addition to being extremley diverse, with every group represented (Young, Old, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Indian etc), all were also extremely polite.  After the event I learned that despite the large attendance there hadn't been one arrest....and I never saw behavior that would warrant an arrest either. I saw nor experienced any pushing, shoving, fighting or even argument, everyone that needed to get by provided a polite “excuse me” and passed through.  That also being said, the excitement was in the air for sure, people were shouting, cheering and even singing in anticipation of the arrival of the President elect, that all being said, it wasn't “crazy” at all.  I received a few text messages asking if the situation was “crazy”, but inact, because of the politeness and almost serenity of the crowd, it really wasn't.  No one got violent or even upset, it was an atmosphere of togetherness, a friend of mine likened it to a “football game where we're all rooting for the same team”.  He had it right on.

As the hours approached, we we're entertained by a replay of the concert broad casted on HBO on the Sunday before, this added to our excitement and almost feeling of community amongst the crowd.  We were standing next to a group of people from Greensboro, North Carolina and we couldn't have asked to have had a better “neighbors” per say for the event.  They were just as excited as we were, not only that Barack Obama had won their home state and that he got elected President but that on this day, the spirit of American renewal was upon us all.

Time continued to pass and soon, the moment was beginning to arrive and the dignitaries began to pour in.  As they appeared on the jumbotron before the crowd, the reactions went from rousing to amusing. Firstly, Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman were soundly booed (so was President Bush, but not as badly), as Cheney was wheeled out onto the stage, all that I could help to think of was Mr. Potter from “It's a Wonderful Life” and Lieberman, well, I can imagine that the crowd was still not too happy about his endorsement of John McCain.  I do wish in many ways that this would not happen, but it gives a clear snapshot of the opinion of the current administration, even a normally unpopular administrations faces wouldn't be booed at an inauguration, but this shows the new low in popularity and the general divisiveness that Bush, Cheney, Lieberman and co. have brought upon this Country.  It also showed the real need for renewal, at that moment I realized that we needed this Presidency.  The time couldn't have come sooner.

The other reactions we're fine, John McCain received nominal cheers, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (being the last Democratic Presidents) were given roaring receptions and even George HW Bush was cheered. During all of this, everyone's favorite celebrity began to appear on the screens.  Everyone from Oprah and Jay-Z to Bruce Springsteen were all present.  I usually loath to get hyped up about celebrities, but in this case we saw a number of high profile people who showed an interest in civics and stood for patriotism, perhaps this is a good example that they can set for years to come.

The big moment came, and it came with force, for the rest of my life I will now be able to say when Barack Obama took the oath of office that I was there, standing among a crowd that Martin Luther King Jr. would be so proud to see, surrounded by “Black Men and White Men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics,”, all people from different walks of life standing together in solidarity, supporting our new President, celebrating the casting off of the old and applying the new.  A professor of mine said that this inauguration was more about the “seeing” than the “hearing”, I can't help but totally agree.  This was the clear moment of change, this is when America renewed itself, this was when Barack Obama, who described himself as a “skinny black kid with a funny name” after a dynamic campaign took the office that he had earned through hard work and determination.

This was when Barack Obama became the President of the United States. Being there for that alone is a privilege itself worth a thousand lifetimes, it is something that I surely will remember with a sense of inspiration, a moment that said above all else embodied the true spirit of this country “With hard work, you can do anything that you try,”.

God bless America.


Jeep rollover accident on Griswold Road

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 22, 2009, 1:22pm

A woman reportedly suffered a head injury in a single-vehicle rollover accident on Griswold Road east of Warner Road.

We have no information on the seriousness of the injury at this time.

The woman was reportedly in a tan Jeep Grand Cherokee.

We will provide more details when and if they become available.

Poll: Downtown Batavia celebrations: Fund 'em or scrap 'em

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 22, 2009, 11:00am

Yesterday, we ran a post about the push by some members of Batavia's City Council to cut down on the funding for downtown celebrations, such as Summer in the City and Christmas in the City. Councilman Bob Bialkowski explained that they only wanted to limit the amount of funding available to cut down on overtime costs, but that they would not eliminate the celebrations altogether. Bialkowski justifies the push for cuts as a measure to minimize the city's property tax rate. Opponents of the cuts, however, argue that any cut in funding would shift too much of a cost burden onto the Batavia Business Improvement District, sponsors of the events.

What do you think?

Should the city cut funding for downtown events?
( surveys)

Genesee Fire Wire photo gets nod in international Media Awards Contest

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 22, 2009, 10:24am

Hats off to Jay Lynch and the Genesee County Fire Wire for picking up a second place grab in the International Association of Fire Fighters Media Awards Contest. Lynch won in the category of "Fire service photo on a Web site" for this shot of city of "Batavia Fire Department Lieutenant Mark Mikolajczyk pulling down the ceiling during overhaul operations at 39 Washington Avenue."

From the press release:

Each year the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) holds their “Media Awards Contest”. The Media Awards Contest honors communications, reporting and photography that best portray the professional and dangerous work of fire fighters and emergency medical personnel in the United States and Canada.

These awards recognize the exceptional work by IAFF affiliates who serve a vital role in their communities while generating public awareness for fire fighters. The stories and photos entered also bring to light important issues that affect the welfare of fire fighters throughout North America.

The 2008 Media Awards Contest entries are made up of many categories including print, internet, and video media. City of Batavia IAFF Local 896 entered several photos in following categories:  “News Photo With A Circulation Under 100,000” and “Fire Service Photo On A Web Site”.

That seems like quite an honor for Lynch and the Fire Wire. Congratulations!

The Daily News also picked up a nod. A photo of fire fighters tackling a blaze at Pauly's Pizza received honorable mention.

Honorable mentions ... are used in the IAFF’s Burn Foundation Calendar. The Burn Foundation is dedicated to burn prevention and education, burn research and improving the quality of life for burn survivors. It was created in 1982 and is the largest non-government source for burn research grants and the sponsor of the annual IAFF National Children’s Burn Camp, held each fall in Washington, DC. The Batavia local of the IAFF is proud to have the Daily News photo included for the 2009 IAFF Burn Foundation Fundraising Calendar.

You can purchase a calendar at the IAFF Web store.

Pedestrian struck in Byron, minor injuries reported — UPDATED

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 22, 2009, 10:03am

A 31-year-old man in Byron was struck by a car while he was shoveling his driveway, according to a report on the scanner.

He is complaining of back pain and has minor abrasions. The incident is at Byron and Walkers Corner, according to reports. Ambulances are responding.

We will add details later when and if available.

Updated at 2:25pm.

On the Beat: Pavilion woman accused of forging drug prescription

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 22, 2009, 9:07am

Michelle L. Smoth, 37, of Pavilion, was charged with a felony count of second-degree forgery Wednesday, city police said. Smith is accused of forging a legitimately issued prescription by altering the drug and refill portions of the script. When she allegedly presented the prescription to be filled at a Batavia drug store, the pharmacist contacted the doctor who confirmed that it was forged. Smith was released under the supervision of the Genesee County Probation Department pending an appearance in City Court on January 27.

Stephanie Andrews, 18, of Akron, was charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny Wednesday, Genesee County sheriff's deputies. Andrews allegedly possessed her mother's ATM card and is accused of making an unauthorized withdrawal at a business located on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation on December 29.

Ronald M. Kowalczewski, 23, of 8976 Wilkinson Road, Batavia, was charged with driving while intoxicated early this morning, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Kowalczewski was stopped by deputies after allegedly running a red light on Route 77 in the town of Pembroke. He was also ticketed with passing through a red light and parking in the roadway.

Freezing drizzle may slicken roads and sidewalks this morning

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 22, 2009, 7:56am

We've got a winter weather advisory in effect until noon today. From the National Weather Service out of Buffalo:

Patchy freezing drizzle will be found across the region into the late morning hours. The freezing drizzle will likely produce a very light glaze on untreated surfaces, with the greatest potential for trouble being found on sidewalks.

Temperatures will lift throughout the day, and we may even get up above freezing.

Here's a look at the current Thruway conditions:

Batavia cheerleading wins fourth straight Monroe County title

By Brian Hillabush
Jan 22, 2009, 12:57am


Many sports enthusiasts will tell you that cheerleading is not a sport. I disagree. 

These teams that you see on the sidelines at football games and at the ends of the court at basketball games, practice as much as those boys sports teams.

They don't have as many competitions, but so far Batavia is doing as well as possible, going 3-0 with just sectionals coming up on Feb. 22.

I showed up for a quick video shoot and some interviews and was able to see what a group of 20 cheerleaders together can be. Rookie coach Colleen Sullivan let them have fun, but when it was business time, it was business time.

Maybe that's why she's carrying on the tradition of Krista Shamp (used to be Glow), who turned Batavia cheerleading from an average squad into a county and sectional contender.

Heck, the squad won its fourth consecutive Monroe County League title on Sunday, beating second-place finisher East Irondequoit by a whopping 19 points. This comes after sectional championships in 2006 and 2007 and winning a first-ever fall title this year.

The squad has many personalities, ranging from some quiet girls to the boisterous senior Ana Spikes, who spent much of the end of last basketball season harassing me at games.

And then you have some true leaders, like Taylor Chmielowiec, whose brother Mike is one of the best basketball players in Batavia history. In chatting with her, I see a lot of similar personality traits. You can tell that a senior that has been on varsity for four years is a leader.

And then there is the new coach. 

Sullivan is a 2006 graduate of Batavia and was a football cheerleader for three years and basketball for four, all under Shamp, who is her neighbor, friend and mentor.

Sullivan also cheered for the Rochester Elite All Heat All-star team for two years.

She is currently in college and plans on running the program for as long as possible. 

She is 3-0 as a basketball cheerleading coach and can end up 4-0 if Batavia can win sectionals on Feb. 22 at RIT.

The entire roster is:Sasha Mruczek, Carissa Hyde, Madison Musilli, Taylor Chmielowiec, Jamie Turman, Sarah Stendts, Amanda Wormley, Kaley Falkowski, Jenna Sallome, Nikki Longhini, Petra Dietrich, Mari Geer, Alex Saraceni, Morgan SChlossel, Shawna Platt, Ana Spikes, Meghan Dwyer, Mikala Phillips, Leah Mruczek, Emily Sallome, Erika Bucci, Rachel Guppenberger, Natalie Tuites and Amy Schmitt.

Caroline Kennedy reportedly withdrawing from Senate consideration

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 21, 2009, 9:54pm

Just picked up this from a D&C tweet: Caroline Kennedy is withdrawing from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as a New York Senator.

OK. Curious move. There must be some explanation.

According to reports from two New York City newspapers, Kennedy decided to withdraw because of the illness of her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

Certainly, Teddy's illness is of great family concern, but correct me if I'm wrong: Wasn't Kennedy gravely ill before Caroline threw her hat in the ring to become Senator?

Surely, there's more to this story than what is being reported.

UPDATE: A friend on Twitter writes "Want to bet that NY Gov. Paterson decided against naming Kennedy and this is a face-saving way for her to bow out?"  Makes sense to me.

Which might also indicate, announcement coming soon.  My bets are on Cuomo.

Obama: Government should be transparent

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 21, 2009, 7:54pm

Today, President Barack Obama made this statement:

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

On the same subject, the Washington Post reports:

The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears," Obama said in the FOIA memo, adding later that "In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public."

His memo on government transparency states that the Obama Administration "will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."

Follow the Post link for full text of President Obama's message.

The need for government transparency isn't just a federal thing. It applies to local government as well.  You know, governments like, oh, the City of Batavia.

Whenever a government agency fails to answer timely requests for information, to not ensure all relevant media receives ready and easy access to information, to stymie full disclosure of information by prohibiting government employees from speaking publicly about issues that effect taxpayers, then it isn't really serving citizens to its highest and best ability.

Today's technical glitch

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 21, 2009, 6:35pm

The Batavian site was down for at least 30 minutes today after one of the databases used to manage the site developed a problem and required an emergency rebuild.

After the site came back up, there was another database problem that prevented users from logging in.

All seems back to normal now.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

By the Numbers: School aid cuts as suggested in proposed state budget

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 21, 2009, 5:54pm

If Gov. David Paterson's proposed state budget were to be passed as is tomorrow, Genesee County school aid would be looking at a loss of about $3.3 million compared with this past year's aid.

As for specific school districts within the county, here's the breakdown (based on proposed aid levels for the 2009-10 school year as compared with the current 2008-09 year):

• Alexander: A loss of $541,112, or 5.78 percent.

• Batavia: A loss of $637,011, or 3.14 percent.

• Byron-Bergen: A loss of $338,474, or 3.37 percent.

• Elba: A loss of $160,084, or 3.06 percent.

• Le Roy: A loss of $586,993, or 5.64 percent.

• Oakfield-Alabama: A loss of $372,623, or 3.57 percent.

• Pavilion: A loss of $163,353, or 1.88 percent.

• Pembroke: A loss of $537,260, or 5.01 percent.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer has teamed up with Paterson to seek federal block grants to help offset the cuts to school aid. Nothing specific is yet worked out on that. From Schumer's Web site:

There are various approaches that Congress can use to deliver these critical funds to students and schools. U.S. Senate and House Leadership are consulting with the President's team to determine the best, most effective way to provide schools with the targeted resources necessary to maintain jobs and academic programs. Congress is considering using existing federal education funding formulas, such as the one used for Title I, No Child Left Behind funding, to determine the amount each state will receive in block grants. Schumer said it is essential that the block grants are distributed in a way that gives states and districts the flexibility and tools they need to keep serving our children.

What do you think? Is shifting the burden from the state to the Fed to cover these deficits the best move? No matter where the "billions" Schumer quotes so frequently with such bravado come from, don't they, in the end, come from our pockets. But what other choice do we have? Should the schools suck it up and try to face the cuts? How can they?

No charges filed in Route 33 crash

By Philip Anselmo
Jan 21, 2009, 1:23pm

The driver of a vehicle that crashed into a utility pole along Route 33 near West Bergen Road yesterday afternoon will not face charges for leaving the scene of the accident, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble reported today that the driver, whose crash was the result of his falling asleep at the wheel, was located without any difficulty following the accident. He had not been drinking and was advised not to leave such a scene in the future.

Dibble explained in an e-mail: "Having someone leave the scene out of ignorance, to get help, for convenience, especially in car/deer accidents, happens often."

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FULL TIME POSITION The Town of Elba is seeking a Motor Equipment Operator (MEO), truck driver and equipment operator with a clean class B license. The applicant must have some mechanical skills for truck and various equipment repair. Applicant must be available for winter hours from November – April for plowing of roads. Pre and random drug/alcohol testing per requirements. MAIL resume to - Town of Elba, 7133 Oak Orchard Road, Elba NY 14058 NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE
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Crossroads House is a comfort care home for the dying, located in Batavia NY, and is looking for a compassionate caregiver to provide personal care and emotional support to our dying residents, consistent with Comfort Care Philosophy. Must have prior caregiving experience. Licenses or certifications are not required. Must be able to work weekends, overnight shift is required. (11pm-8AM) Day and evening shifts are also available on weekdays and weekends. Must be able to work as a team member and independently. If interested, or have any questions, apply online at or email [email protected]
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Petschke Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is hiring Technicians for residential and small commercial service. As a family-owned company that has been in business for over 25 years and still growing. We’re looking for Technicians who are looking for a place to make a strong and lasting career. Requirements: • Willingness to learn, grow and expand skill set • Maintain a clean and professional appearance • Strong verbal/ written communication skills • Clean driving/drug record • Join the On-Call Team Benefits: • Full time Hours with potential overtime - Paid Time Off • Life-Insurance policy • Health Insurance/401K Enrollment Petschke Plumbing & Heating is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Crossroads House is a comfort care home for the dying. We are a non-for-profit organization that provides its services free of charge. We run on a supportive community and selfless volunteers. With out both of those we would not be able to serve our community. If you have a caregiver's heart and 2 to 4 hours a week, we would love for you to become a part of our Crossroads House family! No experience required, we will train you and provide mentors and experienced volunteers to guide you. Please go to to apply, click on volunteer tab to complete application or email [email protected]
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