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November 2, 2018 - 5:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, batavia, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party candidate in NY-27, will be visiting all eight counties this weekend as a part of his grassroots Get Out the Vote effort to talk to as many voters as possible across the district. He will travel to the counties in the following order: Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Ontario, Monroe, Livingston, Wyoming. The tour will end with a GOTV rally with Talia Shire, an Oscar-nominated actress of two of the most successful movie franchises in history, the "Rocky" and "Godfather" sagas, at the campaign’s headquarters in Hamburg.

McMurray will be at Tim Hortons, 20 Main St., Batavia at 8:45 a.m., Sunday, for 30 minutes.

November 2, 2018 - 5:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Richard D. Hanes, Raymond Morgan, murder, crime, batavia, notify.

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      Richard Hanes

A former Orleans County resident whom investigators believe planned the murder of Raymond Morgan before beating him to death in his apartment at 111 Liberty St., Batavia, on July 24, was charged in Genesee County Court today with murder in the second degree.

Richard D. Hanes, 36, entered a not guilty plea before a courtroom packed with Morgan's family and friends as well as several police officers and detectives from Batavia PD. He was shackled and dressed in the green jumpsuit of the Department of Corrections and accompanied by a pair of corrections officers.

"Right now we don't have a motive," said Det. Kevin Czora after Hanes was arraigned on the single count of second-degree murder. "All we know is that it was an exceptionally violent attack that happened in an extremely short period of time. I believe it was premeditated from the evidence that we've collected, and what we know, but as of right now we do not have a motive."

Hanes has been in state custody since July 26, two days after the murder, on an alleged parole violation. He is being held at the Attica Correctional Facility.

He was convicted in Orleans County in 2003 of burglary, 3rd, attempted robbery, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th. His parole on those charges expires Dec. 7.

According to a police spokesman, Hanes was living at 5 Thorpe St., Batavia, a rooming house for clients of GCASA, at the time of the alleged murder.

The evidence against Hanes, according to Czora and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, is wide-ranging.

"There were witnesses in the area who, when this happened, identified him," Friedman said. "That's how it got started. So we have that. There are various items of physical evidence that were found and connected to him. We've got surveillance video from various locations that follow his path after the crime. There are also various items of scientific evidence."

Hanes is scheduled to remain in state custody until early December. Judge Charles Zambito ordered him held without bail but Fred Rarick, representing Hanes, said he reserved his right to make a bail application at a later date. Hanes will next appear in County Court on Jan. 9 for a hearing on any motions that have been filed.

Though Morgan had his own trouble with the law, he was a 47-year-old Batavia native with a large, tight-knit family locally, including five grandchildren, and a large network of close friends. Victor Thomas said they're all relieved to see the case reach this stage after months of waiting for justice to be served.

"This is the first step," Thomas said. "At least we start to see some justice; at least we got a name; at least we have a charge; at least we've got a prosecutor and somebody who is going to fight for us."

While police identified a suspect early in the investigation and gathered several items of physical evidence, formal charges were delayed until DNA could be analyzed.

Friedman said, because of ethical guidelines, he couldn't discuss that aspect of the case but he said the important factor was just making sure all of the evidence was ready for a successful prosecution.

"I can say that the delay was a matter of completing the investigation," Friedman said. "Fortunately, we had the luxury of time knowing that he was being held on a parole detainer and we knew what our timeline was as far as when we needed to have a grand jury presentation to make sure that we were at this point before he got released by parole."

He said he understood the desire of family and friends to see an arrest made quickly.

"Obviously, I've known all along that there are a lot of people who are very interested in this case, family members, people who are anxious to see something happen and we're maybe at times troubled by the fact that that wasn't happening quicker," Friedman said. "But my position has always been in this case and others is, we're going to do it right rather than doing it quickly. We're not going to jump the gun before we've got everything in order."

Todd Crossett, Batavia PD's assistant chief, said patrol officers and detectives put in more than 800 hours on the case so far (and the investigation isn't done).

"This is a culmination of many hours of work from patrol officers doing an excellent work at the initial crime scene and then going to the detectives," Crossett said. "Anything that came into the department, they were on it. Long, long hours, especially when it initially came in, long hours of chasing everything down. I think because of that hard work in the beginning that's why we ultimately got to where we are."

There has been speculation, Czora acknowledged, that there may have been other people involved in the murder of Morgan. He said every lead along those lines has been pursued and so far there is no evidence of any other people being involved.

The investigation doesn't end with the arraignment today, Czora said.

"There are countless numbers of pieces of evidence that we've obtained and processed and continue to process even still to this day," Czora said. "Our investigation continues even after this arraignment. It's just been an extensive amount of work that needed to be accomplished."

Top photo: Friends and family wearing T-shirts in tribute to Ray Morgan.

November 2, 2018 - 3:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, moonjava cafe, ILGR, art.

The Independant Living Center of the Genesee Region is calling for entries of artwork to be exhibited in the "Art of the Town" free public art display on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

The exhibit will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at Moonjava Cafe, 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia.

For information and submission guidelines, contact Cathy DeMare at (585) 815-8501, ext. 400.

The exhibit is presented by ILCGR, Moonjava Cafe and the University Heights Arts Association.

November 2, 2018 - 3:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in BREAKING, news, notify, crime, batavia.

Richard D. Hanes is charged with second-degree murder, a Class A-1 felony, in the beating death of Raymond Morgan on July 24.

The crime occurred at 111 Liberty St. in the City of Batavia.

Hanes was indicted by a Grand Jury and arraigned in Genesee County Court this afternoon.

The charge carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

UPDATE: Investigators believe murder of Ray Morgan was premeditated

November 2, 2018 - 3:00pm


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November 2, 2018 - 2:49pm

Press release:

Blue Pearl Yoga (200 E. Main St., Batavia) will host a Healing Sound Bath from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10 featuring Sonam Targee of Ancient Universal Medicine, Rochester.

Targeee will also be teaching a three-hour Nada Yoga Workshop that afternoon in cooperation with the Yoga Teacher Training occurring at Blue Pearl.

He is a professional complementary medicine practitioner and musician with more than three decades of experience counseling thousands of people in the art of gaining the knowledge necessary to improve their health.

A Sound Bath is a musical and spiritual journey, a healing meditation through the use of sound and music. It is deeply relaxing and comforting, allowing you to let go of anxiety and worries, open your heart and create a profound sense of inner peace, the place where healing can happen.

The sounds come from many instruments from all around the world, and can include crystal singing bowls, five-metal singing bowls, voice, flutes from around the world, shakers and rattles, didgeridoo, hammer dulcimer, mountain dulcimer, tanpoori, tabla, frame drum, gongs, recorders, harmonium, and harmonica.

The music is evocative of ancient temples, caves, and ancient tree groves. No participation other than active listening is required. It’s like a purifying shower of love through sound!

A Sound Bath uses the ancient Indian system of Nada Yoga, the science of sound for transformation. In Yogic philosophy (and quantum physics) everything in the universe is made of energy and possesses a basic vibration that interacts with everything else, including your body and mind. If you can imagine your body like a guitar, disease and discomfort can arise because your guitar strings are out of tune, the music of the body has literally gone out of tune.

We can use music, sound, and the principles of Nada yoga to “tune” our bodies, bring back equilibrium, and facilitate healing. Come and experience why music soothes the savage beast. It’s cool science! All are welcome!

Cost is $25 (or two class card punches). Purchase by Friday, Nov. 9. Tickets can be purchased at bp-yoga.com.

November 2, 2018 - 2:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, city fire department.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department is reminding everyone to change their clocks and change their smoke alarm batteries.

Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. this Sunday, Nov. 4th.

“When you turn your clocks back one hour, it’s a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are working properly and tochange the batteries,” said Chief Stefano Napolitano, City of Batavia Fire Department.

“Plus with winter quickly approaching and most everyone turning their heating systems on, it also makes this an ideal time to make sure your heating system is working properly. This is a great opportunity to check your carbon monoxide detectors as well.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71 percent of smoke alarms which failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

Fire Prevention Officer for the City of Batavia Fire Department, Capt. Greg Ireland, knows how this simple but important task can be overlooked.

“As parents we’ve got a lot on our minds -- jobs, busy schedules, meal time; so it’s easy to let home fire safety slip from our radars," Capt. Ireland said. "You never think a fire will strike your home, but it certainly could and it’s important to take as many proactive steps as we can to protect our families.”

The City of Batavia Fire Department would like to see every home in our community equipped with a working smoke detector. If you do not have a smoke detector or if you are unsure the batteries are working properly, members of the City of Batavia Fire Department will come to your home and ensure that you have a working smoke detector, absolutely free of charge.

Call (585) 345-6375 to set up an in home appointment.

“The message is simple,” Chief Napolitano said. “Change your clock, change your batteries. Using that extra hour is a perfect time to do it.”

November 2, 2018 - 12:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Larry Piegza, NY-27, news, notify.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. with additional comments from Piegza.

President Trump "is a traitor." He's "Putin's lap dog." "He colluded with the Russians." These aren't statements you would expect to hear from a candidate for Congress who wears a red MAGA hat and holds himself out as a better choice for Trump Republicans than the current incumbent.

But Larry Piegza has used these phrases in his social media advertising The Batavian has learned.

Shortly after our story about Piegza was published yesterday a reader sent us a link to his advertising history on Facebook.

There's a clear pattern: Before Rep. Chris Collins was arrested by federal authorities on insider trading charges, Piegza attacked both Trump and Collins. Trump as a traitor, Collins as corrupt and unethical.

After Collins was arrested, Piegza donned the MAGA hat and proclaimed himself the only pro-Trump conservative who wasn't also facing criminal charges in the race. He's been selling himself that way to the media and on social media and at campaign appearances ever since.

Asked about the transformation, Piegza issued a statement to The Batavian and said the attacks on Trump were an attempt to draw attention to his campaign. He wanted to offer an alternative to Collins -- who was already facing an ethics investigation -- who wasn't a Democrat but Republicans didn't want to listen to him.

"The problem came up against when I tried to get my message out as a third-party candidate," Piegza said. "When people heard that I was against Collins, they accused me of being a Democrat and walked away.

"Noting that Trump gets a lot of press by making huge, provocative statements, I followed his example and called him out on some issues, namely his over usage of Twitter and his bizarre love of Vladimir Putin. I was doing this to create media buzz and get some free press."

After Collins was arrested, Piegza said he changed his tone because he calculated that in the changed political environment, he would get coverage.

"When Chris Collins was arrested, I panicked (like the rest of the district) when I realized that he couldn't get off the ballot," Piegza said. "Our district might be known as the district that elected a criminal! I dropped my provocative statements because I felt the press would cover me more naturally."

We also asked if the Democrats had anything to do with his campaign. He hasn't responded but that's a suggestion raised by Ellis McNally, who describes herself as a Republican strategist in Western New York, in a piece published on the blogging platform Medium in September.

In his statement, Piegza didn't address that charge directly but he did lead off by saying that there had been a fake candidate in the race early on, one seemingly put up by the Collins team, Mike Zak, as a Green Party candidate (an apparent attempt to draw votes from the Democratic nominee). Zak was eventually found out and he withdrew from the race.

In a follow-up e-mail, Piegza said of the suggestion that the Democrats have something to do with his campaign, "It is false. The Reform party has always supported Chris Collins in the past. In this election throughout the state they are endorsing conservatives. They chose to endorse me because Chris Collins probably broke the law and they wanted an ethical candidate. If the local  GOP offices had just endorsed someone else, I wouldn't be running, and the Reform Party wouldn't have endorsed me."

In a NewsGrowler piece about the controversy, published in May, Piegza is described as supporting the Mueller investigation.

Like Collins, Piegza is a hardline conservative. He is pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and for lowering taxes. Unlike Collins, Piegza describes himself as “pro-Mueller,” indicating his support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump.

Piegza sent two press releases (one, two) to The Batavian before Collins was federally charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI (charges he denies). Neither of them mentioned Trump, though Piegza did say he wanted to return the GOP to its conservative roots.

“Many people are saying we’ve drifted from believing in good fiscal responsibility, ethical values, and a government that stays out of our lives. People are saying they’d like to see us return to these values. I’ve shown that I can make good fiscal decisions that aren’t at the expense of another person. I’d love to help restore the party to a strong ethical foundation.” 

It's a common complaint of NeverTrump Republicans that Trump is pulling the party away from its traditional values.

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After the jump, the complete statement from Piegza:

November 2, 2018 - 11:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, news, St. Joe's, fire safety poster contest, batavia.

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Capt. Greg Ireland, of the City of Batavia Fire Department, applauds first-grader Adam Laska after he arrived at St. Joseph's school this morning. Adam got to ride to school in Engine 11 because he was one of the winners of the firefighter's annual fire safety poster contest.

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Adam and his family: Mike Laska, Adam, Ewan, Amy, Randy and Nilsson.

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November 2, 2018 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Bataiva, news.

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Local commuters found it was a foggy drive through Batavia this morning.

November 2, 2018 - 10:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, news, business, Ellicott Station, batavia.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved a revised PILOT -- Payment In Lieu Of Taxes -- for the Ellicott Station development project and incentives for the construction of a spec building at the Gateway II Corporate Park in the Town of Batavia.

The Ellicott Station project in the City of Batavia is a mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project including adaptive reuse and new construction of a blighted property in a key gateway to Downtown Batavia.

The GCEDC Board approved a $22.5 million PILOT for Savarino Companies, the developer of the project, to meet the financing needed for the project’s expanded scope and scale. Incentives are an estimated $3.25 million, including property tax abatements and sales and mortgage tax exemptions.

When fully developed, Ellicott Station will create 68 full-time equivalent jobs and will include the construction of 99,000 square feet of brewery, restaurant and beer garden, a five-story apartment building with 55 apartments and class-A office space.

The Board approved an $18,000 mortgage tax exemption for Gateway GS, LLC for the first of five planned 27,000-square-foot spec buildings the company is building at the Gateway II Corporate Park in the Town of Batavia.

The $2.6 million project, which is being managed by Gallina Development Corporation, has previously received approval for property and sales tax exemptions.

November 2, 2018 - 10:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GGLDC, GCEDC, news, business.

Press release:

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) approved a revised and consolidated loan and two purchase and sale agreements for parcels in the Gateway II Corporate Park at the corporation’s Nov. 1st board meeting.

Artisinal cheesemaker Yancey’s Fancy requested the revision and consolidation of a January 2017 loan for an expansion project at the company’s Town of Pembroke facility. A $233,449 loan from the GGLDC’s Revolving Loan Fund #2 will close out the fund in its entirety and will be consolidated with two outstanding loans totaling $340,000.

The GGLDC also approved the sale of a 22.2-acre parcel of land at the Gateway II Corporate Park in the Town of Batavia to Mega Properties Inc. which plans to build a 60,000-square-foot facility.  

Wellsville Carpet Town Inc. received approval from the GGLDC to purchase a 2.9-acre parcel of land also located in the Gateway II Corporate Park. Wellsville Carpet Town plans to construct a 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot facility for an outlet center at the site. A purchase and sale agreement set the land price at $45,000 per acre. The company owns Ashley HomeStore, a business also located in the Gateway II Corporate Park.

Both Mega Properties Inc. and Wellsville Carpet Town Inc. may seek incentives from the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) in the future.

November 2, 2018 - 10:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GGLDC, GCEDC, news, business.

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) passed a budget for fiscal year 2019 at its board meeting on Nov. 1. The budget anticipates cash outflows of approximately $2.5 million.

“The mission of the GGLDC is to foster local economic development by making real estate development investments that prepare sites in Genesee County for new corporate tenants,” said Tom Felton, chairman of the GGLDC.

“The GGLDC also provides strategic investment funding to support the GCEDC’s ongoing economic development and workforce development programs.”

The anticipated 2019 expenditures of the GGLDC include operations and maintenance for the MedTech Centre building, site/corporate park maintenance, an economic development program support grant to the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), continuing to support a dedicated workforce development consultant, and professional services. 

Other significant items include: an $890,000 pass-through grant from the New York State Department of Transportation that furthers the ability of the tenants of the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park (Ag Park) to access rail; $655,000 in debt service payments supporting development at the Ag Park and the MedTech Center campuses; as well as $352,000 in expenses related to wastewater treatment facility upgrades in the Village of Corfu in partnership with the Town of Pembroke, supporting the Buffalo East Technology Park. 

A major source of revenue is rent of $670,000 from the MedTech Centre facility. In addition, $205,000 will be received through the Empire Pipeline Community Benefit Agreement for the final payment of Ag Park bonding. Additional cash receipts will include $202,000 in principal and interest payments from several companies repaying loans made in previous years.

“The GGLDC will continue to actively market our shovel-ready parks in collaboration with the Genesee County Economic Development Center in 2019,” Felton said. “We have been working on a few projects that we anticipate will come to fruition by the end of 2019.”

November 2, 2018 - 10:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stroh Road, infrastructure, news, alexander.

A $1.423 million project to replace the bridge over the Tonawanda Creek on Stroh Road in Alexander was completed yesterday and the bridge was opened to traffic.

The bridge has been closed since early May.

Contractor L.C. Whitford Co. Inc., of Wellsville, rebuilt the bridge.

November 2, 2018 - 10:09am

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In a very tight sectional semifinal class D3 matchup Notre Dame of Batavia edged CG Finney last evening in five sets 25-20, 21-25, 20-25, 25-17, 25-20 at Wayland Cohocton High School.

Notre Dame took the first set win but CG Finney came on strong catching the Irish down two sets to one. Lots of energy flowed from play to play for Finney, which carried the momentum into the fourth but the Irish delivered with some key kills and digs to force a deciding set.

The Irish got off their heels and back in the game in the fifth to win it and send them to the finals against Hammondsport, who they play at SUNY Geneseo college tomorrow at 3 p.m. There was a lot of heart played by both teams especially the underdogs CG Finney.

To view or order photos click here.

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November 2, 2018 - 9:51am
posted by Steve Ognibene in Knights of Columbus, news, fundraiser, steve ognibene's blog.

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Some members of the Knights of Columbus along with Father David Glassmire invite you to their pancake breakfast this Sunday at Ascension Parish Hall, 19 Sumner St., Batavia.

Tickets can be purchased at the door. Adults -- $5; children 4-12 -- $3; and under 3 years old eat for free. This event is open to the public.

There will also be a 50/50 and basket raffles available. All proceeds to support catholic education locally.

November 1, 2018 - 5:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Larry Piegza, NY-27, news, notify.

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Don't call NY-27 Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza a spoiler. He may be behind in the polls but if the media had just given him as much attention as Chris Collins and Nate McMurray he would be leading those same polls, he believes.

He is, after all, the only not-arrested, not-out-of-jail-on-bail, pro-Trump candidate in the race.

The tech-company CEO says he has the data to prove he is a logical alternative to incumbent Chris Collins, who has a federal court date pending in 2020 on insider trading charges.

"What I did was I had a robocall," Piegza said. "I called every single Republican, conservative, independent and unaffiliated voter that has voted in the last in an off-year election. In five seconds explain it, 'Hi, I'm Larry. I'm a pro-Trump candidate running against Chris Collins. He's the guy who recently got arrested. Would you consider voting a pro-Trump, third-party Republican?' "

In all, his computer dialed 125,000 phone numbers. Of those, 19,000 phones were answered. Of those, 1,900 completed the survey. Of those completing the survey, 59 percent said they would consider voting for a pro-Trump alternative to Collins. Only 22 percent of the respondents said they would still prefer Chris Collins.

"So as soon as they were actually given a choice, people were actually willing to consider a third party conservative," Piegza said during an interview with The Batavian two weeks ago at Moonjava Cafe. "These are the people that actually vote in off-year elections. Interesting. So, I'm actually convinced that if I can just get my name out that clearly I cannot only win this election but if I don't it's because Chris Collins is actually the spoiler."

Piegza entered the race well before Collins was arrested Aug. 8 by federal authorities on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI (charges Collins denies, though has refused to explain), not just because he wanted to run for Congress as a minor-party candidate but because he knew trouble was looming for Collins, who was already facing a Congressional ethics investigation for his dealings with Innate Immunotherapeutics.

For Piegza, who jumped on the Trump "drain the swamp" bandwagon, Collins is just another corrupt politician out to serve himself rather than the voters of the NY-27.

"I actually believe if the liberal media started to actually realize that I am a real candidate, and get my name out there, I believe I have an excellent chance of winning this election."

Piegza shares the president's concern about "fake news" (though he wishes the president would stop calling reporters "the enemy of the people"), so much so that he and software engineers who work for him, created a now-defunct website, Identifact.org, designed to rate reporters and news organizations on their adherence to facts.

The site never gained traction but Piegza has continued to look toward technical tools to help solve democracies' problems.

His other venture is eDemocracy.us

Piegza has big ambitions and eDemocracy is at the heart of his plans, now that his company GAP Technoligies Inc., has reached a sustainable level of success, giving him more time to try and make the world a better place.

"(Collins) never had town hall meetings and I thought to myself, 'well, how can I do better than that?' " Piegza said. "It occurred to me that we should really be putting constituent feedback online. Why can't somebody who is actually in the district and has an opinion on a piece of legislation or wants to contact their congressperson, why can't they just log online, go into a secure website and tell their legislator how to vote?"

According to Piegza, eDemocracy is designed to match constituents with their representatives, contain every piece of legislation coming up for a vote, provide a place to petition representatives on any topic, and allow representatives to explain themselves to the voters. The site is also designed to contain a reservoir of fact-based information to help voters better understand issues so they can provide more informed advice to elected officials.

Piegza has a lot of faith that such a system would temper the partisan divide and get representatives to actually do what their constituents want them to do rather than legislate based on sound bites.

"If we can get the entire United States onto a system like this that it would be really, really exciting because you'd be able to break down each district, what their residents feel," Piegza said.

"This would take all of the politics out of it," he added later, "because you would actually know what the people in the United States want. It's an exciting concept and I really believe it can revolutionize policymaking in the United States."

If elected, Piegza said he will use the system and will vote according to how voters on eDemocracy tell him to vote. If 60 percent of those who log on and express their opinion tell him to vote a certain way, that's how he will vote.

We grilled him on this idea a lot.

For example, as far-fetched, as it sounds, what if the district flipped on Trump and 60 percent of the voters told him to vote to impeach the president? He ran as a pro-Trump candidate. Would he really betray that campaign promise because a poll told him to change his mind?

"That's a great question," Piegza said. "I think most people, given the fact that it's one of the few parts of my platform that I say 'this is what I'm standing for,' I would follow my conscience, most likely," Piegza said. "Obviously, if 80, 90 percent of people said yes, absolutely. We need to oppose this particular Trump policy, yeah I consider it."

Piegza thinks eDemocracy can help untangle complicated topics such as immigration. If eDemocracy were widely used, he said, the country would be less divided over the issue.

"Take something like immigration," Piegza said. "Everyone wants legal immigration, but that means different things to different people. They have different tolerances for various things. So since nobody really has a great handle on what the people want, the parties are fighting. There's all the chaos that's currently going on.

"What would happen if you could administer a survey across the United States and everybody who cares about immigration logs in and completes this 50-question survey? It asks questions like: Do you want a border wall? How much are you willing to pay for a border wall? Do you support DACA? You administer this across the entire United States and you find those places where it's extraordinarily calm, like 80 percent of the people agree that on whatever, like we should have a border wall, and then we craft legislation that's custom tailored to what you know 80 percent of the people want."

That, Piegza said, would make policymaking easier and less political.

However, immigration is also a good example of a policy conflict where facts don't matter to popular opinion. For example, we pointed out, it's well documented that farmers need immigrant labor to help bring the crops in, yet much of the opposition to immigration comes from residents in those same rural counties.

Piegza said he believes if people are given good facts through eDemocracy they will come to the right decisions.

Which brought us to a discussion of climate change, a topic where the data is clear yet some people hold steadfast to the belief that climate change is a hoax.

Piegza said he would approach legislation related to climate change like any other issue that might pop up on eDemocracy. We would want the facts presented, the policy issues fully vetted, and he would vote the way his constituents said he should vote.

"I would consider a carbon tax," Piegza said. "We'd have to figure out how to pull it off so it doesn't damage any businesses or limit small business growth. I believe that we as the United States should be encouraging small businesses in research and development to make sure that we can have businesses that are running more effectively.

We also asked about confirmation bias and the tendency of people to put the belief of their political cohort ahead of what the data says -- people defend their beliefs no matter how wrong on the facts might be presented to them that contradict their beliefs.

It turns out Piegza is well acquainted with confirmation bias. He has a degree in Psychology. He believes eDemocracy can overcome confirmation bias.

"If there's one thing that I could add to our culture or to the United States, it's that there has to be an attempt at getting Democrats and Republicans to see eye to eye," Piegza said. "It is eDemocracy? I'm not saying that's a complete solution or anything like that. What I am saying is that it can't hurt knowing exactly what the Americans feel exactly and what each district feels."

For a guy who believes political harmony can be achieved in the United States, it might be surprising he supports Trump, who calls Democrats "evil" and has a tendency to come up with derogatory nicknames for his opponents ("Lying Ted," "Little Marco," "Low-energy Jeb").  He does wish Trump wouldn't go there.

"He's got he's got a bombastic personality," Piegza said. "He likes charging events and charging words and using explosive phrases. As a leader, I think he should step back from that. I'm a big believer in getting consensus. I'm a big believer that we can make better decisions together. So I'm not a big fan of the explosive language. You know to be perfectly honest, if there's one thing I could do it could be to grab the President's phone and throw it in the toilet."

November 1, 2018 - 3:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chamber of commerce, news, notify.

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It's been a banner year for the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce -- more ribbon cuttings, more members, more tourism dollars, and even higher attendance at the chamber's annual meeting at Terry Hills.

This year, 156 people turned out for the luncheon and Chamber President Tom Turnbull's upbeat review of the past year of chamber activity.

Membership has increased from 425 businesses on the Chamber's rolls to 464, a 9-percent increase, the largest single-year climb in membership on record.

"I think we've done a better job of conveying the value of being a Chamber member," Turnbull said after the meeting. "From our improved staff, improved social media, improve the communication with our members, we've been able to let people know what the chamber does and that it's growing.

"It also is a reflection on the business community. Businesses are growing. We're doing ribbon cuttings because there are new businesses. I think we that reflects what's happening in the business community."

The new visitor center on Park Road has given a boost to local tourism, Turnbull said, but new hotels, more travel, a good economy, are also giving a boost to the bed tax, which funds tourism promotion in Genesee County. Bed tax revenue was up 11 percent in 2017.

Tourism is the county's second leading industry, after agriculture, Turnbull said, with nearly two million visitors passing through the county annually contributing $180 million to the local economy. Darien Lake alone draws 800,000 people during its short 100-day season.

During the summer, sports events have become a big draw for the county, leading to all rooms booked at every hotel in the county on many weekends.

This past summer, 53 events in Genesee County drew 123,000 people.

Asian tour companies have discovered Batavia is a convenient location for an overnight stay, Turnbull said, because it's still close to Niagara Falls but with competitive room rates. As many as 10 tour buses a day stop in Batavia.

Local tourism employes more than 2,000 people at 380 tourism-related business with a $58 million annual payroll, Turnbull said.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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