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Howard B. Owens's blog

September 4, 2008 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Michele Iannello, Joe Mesi, Dan Ward.

OK, maybe you knew this already, but it's news to me.

Michele Iannello, and Erie County legislator and Democratic candidate for the 61st State Senate District is married to Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward.

If that isn't weird enough, Dennis is the brother of one of the other candidates in the race, Dan Ward.

According to this Tonawanda News story.

The third candidate, boxer Joe Mesi’s, is not, as far as I know, but correct me if I'm wrong, related to any of the three.

Oh, and the real point of the Tonawanda News story is how Mesi and Iannello and hurling charges back and forth.

As Erie County Legislator Michele Iannello renewed her request for an evaluation of Joe Mesi’s campaign finances, Mesi’s camp struck back with a charge of their own.

Their concern over the integrity of Tuesday’s elections stems from Iannello’s husband, Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward, also the brother of third candidate Dan Ward not responding to Mesi’s request that Commissioner Ward recuse himself from oversight of Tuesday’s elections.

On a somewhat related note: We've asked all three candidates to respond to a short questionnaire, and none have yet responded.

September 4, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Muckdogs dropped a crucial Pinckney Division game Wednesday night in Jamestown, as the second-place Jammers closed within a game of division-leading Batavia.

After the 7-2 lose, the Muckdogs (44-27) have a chance to claim the division title at home tonight against Jamestown (43-29).  The two teams square off at 7:05 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium.

A game and a half separate the Western New York rivals.

A lot is on the line for both teams as Brooklyn (44-29) gained a half-game lead in the wild card race. The red hot Cyclones are 9-1 over their last nine games, and beat Hudson Valley last night 9-6.

The Jamestown newspaper reports this morning that because of rain outs that won't be made up, Batavia has a slight mathematical advantage in the division race.

It was a must win for the Jammers, but still might be too little too late. With the victory, Jamestown now trails Batavia by 1 games in the Pinckney Division. The teams play tonight in Batavia and if the Muckdogs win, they claim the title.

If Jamestown wins, it is still alive, but Batavia has a big edge. The Muckdogs had a game each with Mahoning Valley and Oneonta rained out and the NY-P League has announced that those games will not be made up. The Muckdogs have three games left while the Jammers have four, so if the teams end up tied, the Muckdogs would still win the title on percentage points.

In last night's game, Frederick Parejo had three hits, while Jermaine Curtis and Shane Peterson each collected two.

The Muckdogs made five errors and turned two double plays.

Josh Hester (2-2) took the loss, going 2 1/3 innings and giving up four earned runs on nine hits.

The Jammers struck early, as the first four batter reached base, including a three-run homer from catcher Miguel Fermin

It should go without saying, but you need to be at the game tonight.

September 3, 2008 - 7:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

From the Post-Journal:

WILLIAMSPORT-The Jamestown Jammers are doing everything in their power to not make the playoffs this season, dropping their second-straight contest against Williamsport, 2-1, in the New York Penn League.

What also hurts is that every other team in the playoff hunt has been winning lately.

Batavia won Tuesday, pushing the Jammers 2 games out in the Pinckney Division and game out in the wild card with only four games left in the regular season for Jamestown.

The Brooklyn Cyclones, after winning nine in a row, finally took a loss as well to keep their slim game lead over the Jammers for the wild card spot.

Tuesday's loss was a tough one, as the Jammers pitching staff didn't allow an earned run all night while the offense left seven on base and grounded into two double plays.

Meanwhile, the Centre Daily Times reports on the Spikes/Muckdogs game and its playoff implications:

UNIVERSITY PARK — With a two-game series against Jamestown looming, fiery Batavia manager Mark DeJohn handed his team explicit instructions:

Take advantage of a battered opponent.

The Muckdogs again met their animated manager’s demands.

The differences between a team approaching the postseason and one collecting return tickets home were on display Tuesday as the Muckdogs hammered the Spikes 10-2 to easily sweep a two-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Take away a two-error ninth inning, and the Muckdogs resembled a playoff team the past two nights.

Batavia scored 23 runs and recorded 30 hits to move 21/ 2 games ahead of Jamestown, which lost to Williamsport 2-1, in the Pinckney Division standings. The Muckdogs (44-26) can clinch their first division title since 1998 by defeating the Jammers (42-29) tonight at Jamestown’s Diethrick Park or Thursday in Batavia.

September 2, 2008 - 7:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, Philip Penepent.

In the category of new local videos found on YouTube, Philip Penepent's 86th birthday party.

September 2, 2008 - 7:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, Genesee County Animal Shelter.

The Genesee County Animal Shelter has posted another video to YouTube encouraging adoption of felines at the shelter.

September 2, 2008 - 7:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs.

Just checking out YouTube for local videos this morning, and came across this:

September 1, 2008 - 11:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Some people think the web makes the world bigger. I say, it makes it smaller.  Some people say the web makes us neighbors with people in Kenya or the Ukraine.  I say it makes us better neighbors with the family next door.

There was a time in United States history when newspapers served as a centralizing force for drawing communities together -- and then came  television, and cable, and satellite -- all the forces that did nothing to humanize communication, but made mass communication more mass and less personal. (Radio is a mixed bag. For every WBTA there are 10 radio stations programmed by a computer in Texas, Nevada or Pennsylvania.)

The Internet brings back the possibility of human-sized communication.

At a time when too many glass-eyed Americans turn to network TV for their "Heroes" and get "Lost" in the idea that last night's episode of whatever flimflam Hollywood is dishing out this season is worthy of deep discussion,  the Web opens up new possibilities for people, local people, people who share a common interest in a common community, to partake in conversation and pursue change with conviction.

If I might share a bit of personal biography: In 1995, I started a web site in eastern San Diego County called East County Online.  At the time, I would tell any number of colleagues in the newspaper business: "Mark my words, the web is the best thing that ever happened to local news; all the fascination now is with global communication, but eventually, people will look homeward and want to use the web to build better communities."

I've never stopped believing that. I believe it to this day.

I've learned a lot about the Internet and how people use it since 1995, but the philosophy remains the same: Together, we can use digital communication to build better, stronger, more self-reliant communities.

That's what I want The Batavian to do for Genesee County. And maybe, along the way, we can convince a few people to turn off the TV once or twice a week and visit a local art gallery, spend an evening  with the Batavia Players, or "root,root, root for the home team."

September 1, 2008 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta.

Happy Labor Day, everybody. How come you're inside staring at a computer screen on a beautiful day like this?

Philip Anselmo has the day off. I hope you do, too.

There's  news on the WBTA news page.

A car struck a tree off the Thruway this morning. One person is unconscious. Mercy flights dispatched. Listen to WBTA for updates.

Police dispatchers made the switch to the County's dispatch center at midnight.

And those, so far, are the biggest news items of the day.

Be safe and have fun.

September 1, 2008 - 9:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Batavia Muckdogs (42-26) enter the closing week of the season with a half game lead on the Jamestown Jammers (42-27) for the PInckney Division crown.

Winning the division could prove more significant than it seemed a week ago, when the Brooklyn Cyclones (42-28) sat three games back behind Batavia (then in second place in the division).  Since then, Brooklyn has reeled off eight straight wins and now sits a mere game behind Jamestown. If Brooklyn stays hot, the Pinckney's second place team -- either Batavia or Jamestown -- may not make the playoffs.

The next two days of games, however, are decidedly in Batavia's favor as they head to State College (16-52), where the Spikes have flirted with achieving the worst record in New York-Penn League history (the 1981 Batavia team holds the record at  16-59). Meanwhile, the Jammers travel to Williamsport (35-33, but 17-19 at home).

Tonight's game is at 5 p.m., while Jamestown and Williamsport clash at 1 p.m. and Brooklyn plays Aberdeen (34-36) at 7 p.m.

The Muckdogs are in Jamestown on Wednesday and then close out the season with three games at home -- Jamestown on Thursday at 7:05 p.m., and State College on both Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

According to the printed schedule, Friday's game is not slated to be a fireworks night.  Maybe Red Wings management will have a change of heart (hint, hint) so the team and fans can celebrate a great season -- especially if that turns out to be the night the Muckdogs clinch the division.

August 31, 2008 - 9:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jon Powers, Jack Davis, Alice Kryzan.

Here's the audio from today's 26th Congressional Debate between Alice Kryzan and Jon Powers.

I haven't had time yet to listen to it. If anybody wants to write up a report of it, that would be great.

As for Jack Davis not participating -- his reported demands that his opponents sign various pledges before he'll debate them is down right anti-democratic (and I mean that with a small "d").

If you run for office, you don't get to dictate what issues your opponent will support, what ethics (or not) they will follow, what sort of campaign they will run. To expect otherwise is just basically anti-American.  Either Jack Davis wants to be a lawfully elected representative, or he wants to be a dictator. To dodge debates under the pretense of lecturing other candidates is unconscionable.

We need representatives who will speak up for what they believe without fear or favor. We need representatives who will be transparent about what they believe and why they believe it. We need representatives who will discuss with anybody -- other candidates, media or constituent -- what they believe an why. We should fear those candidates who purposely make themselves inaccessible.

Again, i'm not taking sides here. I'm just saying why Jack Davis was wrong to dodge the debate.

August 31, 2008 - 8:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, WNY, housing.

The story is about young people returning to Buffalo, but it probably could apply to any Western New York town, including Batavia.

The Buffalo area has lost a huge share of its younger population to other places, as U. S. Census numbers routinely show. But Burns is part of a segment of the population heading the other way, looking to return as their priorities change. Often they are people in their late 20s or early 30s who want to be near family, familiar places they grew up around, and crave a lifestyle with a pace different from larger metro areas.

...

A recent story in New York magazine is calling attention to the area’s low cost for living space and how it has helped persuade some Buffalo expatriates living in New York City to come back. As of late last week, the article was ranked the most read, commented on and e-mailed story on the magazine’s Web site.

Part of the article dealt with the price chasm between New York City and Buffalo for homes and apartments, as well as the difference in the amount of living space that comes with those costs. One couple gave up a tiny Brooklyn apartment for $1,300 a month for a spacious place in Buffalo for $795 per month.

Realtors interviewed said the region’s home prices could be a draw for young people who have tried living somewhere else but now want a place where they can afford to settle down.

“The crucial thing is the lifestyle,” said Phil Aquila, general manager of M. J. Peterson Co. “You can have a lifestyle here because you can afford to live here.”

Are there prodigal sons and daughters returning to Genesee County?

While jobs are not in abundance, there are jobs here, and it's never been easier to work from home or start you're own business.  When compared to most major metro areas, you can't beat housing prices and it's a heck of a lot less crowded, smoggy and crime-ridden.

August 31, 2008 - 8:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan.

Joyce Miles of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal offers a profile of sorts of Alice Kryzan, Democratic candidate for the 26th Congressional District, and suggest that Kryzan has deeper roots in her party than either of her opponents.

In person, Kryzan’s manner is soft-spoken and elegant, yet down-to-earth and steeped with a sense of mission. She’s proud of her Democratic roots — her dad was a mayor of their hometown, Youngstown, Ohio, and was among the first Ohio Democrats to throw in with John F. Kennedy for President in 1960 — and she doesn’t hesitate to point out that her competitors are both former Republicans.

Is being more Democrat-than-thou a virtue in a Republican-leaning district?

As for coverage of her policy statements, it's all about the environment.

She wrote a fairly extensive policy statement linking environmental protection, U.S. energy independence and western New York economic growth opportunities. Among other things, the statement calls for a federal goal of 20 percent renewable-source power generation by 2020; a moratorium on construction of coal-fired power plants; enhanced federal tax credits for renewable energy producers and no new drilling for oil; ramped-up fuel economy standards for vehicles and expanded public transportation; sprawl control and encouragement of “walkable” communities. For western New York, she picks ecotourism and development of “green” industries like biofuels as growth engines.

Kryzan acknowledges the plan is ambitious but she’d argue it’s no more so than President Kennedy’s call to send men to the moon. She figures that got done and so can this.

“All we have to say is say, ‘we’re going to be energy independent in 10 years. We’re going to marshal all of our resources to do it,’” she said. “All we need are leaders who have the courage to do it and people to follow them.”

UPDATE: In other campaign news, the Buffalo News carries an article about Powers neglecting to mention War Kids Relief in his latest campaign literature.

In the campaign’s early days, his charity was mentioned often. But Democratic challengers Jack Davis and Alice Kryzan may have found the Achilles heel.

They’re kicking it at will, and probably will continue to do so until the three-way party primary vote on Sept. 9.

“It was the prominent aspect of his biography when he first started running for Congress,” said Kryzan campaign manager Anne Wadsorth. “And now that some questions have been raised concerning the charity and Jon Powers’ role in it, he has eliminated any reference to it as he talks about his experience.”

Any mention of War Kids Relief on the Jon Powers web site is also hard to find. At least, I couldn't find it without using Google to do a site search.  Ooops, I'm blind.  There's a button on the upper right of the home page. 

August 30, 2008 - 10:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Jamestown got to Muckdogs ace Arquimedes Nieto (6-1) for six runs (four earned) in the fist four innings tonight and never looked back, beating Batavia 10-2 to regain a half game lead in the Pinckney Division.

Jose Garcia and Charles Cutler each collected two hits. Garcia also had two stolen bases.

Jamestown and Batavia clash again Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Dwyer Stadium.

Box Score.

August 29, 2008 - 10:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

A mere half game will separate Pinckney Division leaders Batavia and Jamestown as the Muckdogs enter into a two-game series with their Western New York rivals.

The Muckdogs will be on top after a 4-2 defeat of Williamsport Friday night behind the pitching of Hector Cardenas (5-0) and Adam Reifer, who notched his 21st save.

Jamestown, meanwhile, lost to Auburn 5-4.

Saturday's game will be in Jamestown and begins at 7:05 p.m.  On Sunday, the teams return to Batavia for a 1:05 p.m. game.

August 29, 2008 - 7:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

In the tight race for the Pinckney Division crown, the Muckdogs pulled back within half a game of Jamestown Thursday with an 11-7 win over Williamsport.

Meanwhile, Jamestown was clobbered by Auburn, 15-2.

The hometown heroes were powered by catcher Charles C. Cutler, who went 4-5, including a home run, two runs scored and three RBI. He raised season average to .283.

Shane Paterson also picked up three hits. Jose Garcia had two stolen bases.

Starter George Brown went four innings and gave up four runs. He did not factor in the decision. The winning pitcher was Thomas Eager, who went four innings yielding a single run. His record moves to 5-3.

Closer Adam Reifer was called on to get the final out and he picked up his 20th save of the season.

The Muckdogs remain three games ahead of Brooklyn in the wild card race.

Complete box score. Standings.

The Muckdogs face off with Williamsport again tonight at 7:05 p.m. and are home Sunday to play Jamestown at 1:05 p.m.

 

August 29, 2008 - 7:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

If you look at the people page, you'll note that we list only 318 members.  I don't have an exact count, but we're past that.  There's some software glich preventing an accurate count from appearing.  Our engineers will look into it soon.

Account confirmations: But speaking of members -- we've had at least 100 people sign up for accounts, some multiple times, but never confirm their account.

You must confirm your account in order to post anything.  When you sign up, an e-mail is sent to you and you must click on the link in that e-mail to confirm your account.

And to be clear, registering for the site is not required if you only want to read what's posted. That said, we hope and encourage everybody to post blog items and make comments, and registration is required for participation.

UPDATE (from Philip): If you are waiting for a confirmation e-mail or trying to retrieve a forgotten password and no e-mail seems to be showing up in your Inbox, check your spam folder. We've had a few folks whose aggressive spam-filter software relegated Batavian mails to the junk bin.

Advertising: If you have a business and are interested in advertising, write to me at howard at thebatavian dot com.

Free Job Ads: If you're an employer, you can post job ads for free.  Just click on the "Jobs" tab above and follow the directions from there.

Free Classifieds: Any private person can post free "Buy, Sell or Trade" ads. To post, click the "Buy, Sell, Trade" link above and follow the directions. Pictures are allowed with these posts. Just make sure the picture is no wider than 470 pixels.

August 29, 2008 - 7:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman, Present Tense, Den Linnehan, Nick DiChario.

Local authors Bill Kauffman, Den Linehan and Nick DiChario will be at Present Tense on Saturday, Sept. 20.

They will be helping the store celebrate its third year in business. Even goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the authors will be on hand at 1 p.m. for book signings.

Kauffman will be there is support of his new book, Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin.  Kauffman's previous books include Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, Ain't My America, America First! and Look Homeward America.

Den Linnehan is a photographer who's books focus on Upstate New York.

Nick Dichario is a science fiction writer and his latest book is Valley of Day-Glo.

On Friday, Sept. 19, author Christopher Paolini will be at the store at 11 p.m. for a release party of his new book, Brisinger. Costumes are encouraged. UPDATE/CORRECTION: The author will NOT be at the store.  This is merely a local release party.

August 28, 2008 - 7:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Vindy.com reports that last nights game between Batavia and  Mahoning Valley was rained out.  No make up game is scheduled, the site reports.

That seems surprising given how tight the race is between the Muckdogs and Jamestown.  If the season ends with a tie or only half game separating the two teams, wouldn't this be an important game to get in the books?

Jamestown beat State College last night and sit atop the Pinckney Division standings by a game in a half at 41-24, while the Muckdogs are 39-25.

Batavia has the third best record in the league and a comfortable three game lead over Brooklyn in the wild card race.

The Muckdogs are at Williamsport tonight and tomorrow, and will match up with Jamestown on Saturday. The next home game is Sunday at 1:05 p.m. against Jamestown.

August 27, 2008 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jon Powers, Chris Lee.

Chris LeeThe Powers campaign is trying to make an issue of who Chris Lee (the Republican candidate for the 26th District) sold his company to.  The D&C:

The company Lee helped manage and his father founded was sold for $395 million less than a year after the buyer, an international conglomerate, pleaded guilty to two felony charges related to sensitive defense technology that had been sent to China, Britain, Singapore and Japan. The conglomerate, ITT, also paid $100 million in fines.

The Lee campaign maintains that International Motion Control, an engineering and technology company founded by Patrick Lee, was sold to a division of ITT that was separate from ITT's defense operations, which incurred the charges and fines.

...

"As a combat veteran, Jon Powers is deeply troubled by anyone who profited from a company that gave our national security secrets to the Chinese," said John Gerken, Powers' campaign manager. (via Rochester Turning)

It seems a stretch to knock a guy for legally selling his company.  It  doesn't seem like the sort of thing that will resonate with voters, and what Powers is doing is reminding people that Lee is an experienced, successful business man -- something that Powers, for all his great military experience -- doesn't have in his portfolio.  While that doesn't disqualify Powers for office, why draw attention to it?

It also seems to be a political misstep for Powers to raise this issue now, before he's even won the primary. By the time the general election rolls around, this will be a stale story that most media won't cover.  (Though, a lot of times campaigns get these stories planted in the press so they have a clip to include in a hit piece mailer. The timing, then, doesn't matter.)

I don't know much about International Motion Control, but if it were the case that IMC dealt in defense-related technology that could maybe make its way into Chinese hands via ITT, then Mr. Lee's judgment and fitness for office could be legitimately questioned.  But merely profiting from the sale? That's a stretch.

There isn't much on the web now about IMC, but I did find this press release about the sale. The list of products appears pretty non-threatening. However, it is interesting that Mr. Lee outsourced some manufacturing to Asian countries. That could be a liability for him in this district, but it seems Jack Davis has the stronger track record to make that case.

Chris Lee's campaign site. Jon Powers  campaign site.

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