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Howard B. Owens's blog

October 4, 2008 - 8:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, steve hawley, Chris Lee, Mike Ranzenhofer.

Submission from Jay Grasso:

All are welcome to attend the grand opening of the Genesee County Republican Headquarters.  The new headquarters will open today at noon and is located at the corner of Rt.5 and Lewiston Road (former Georgie Porgies).

Meet Congressional candidate Chris Lee, State Senate candidate Mike Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Assemblyman Dan Burling, and State Supreme Court Candidate Jeff Voelkl.

October 4, 2008 - 8:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, genesee county legislature.

The Genesee County Legislature will meet in Regular Session on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 7PM in the Old Courthouse, 7 Main Street, Batavia, New York.  Prayer will be offered by Legislator Upson, followed by the Pledge to the Flag.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES- September 23, 2008




1.    Purchase and Removal of Co-Gen Equipment-Nursing Home-Approval Of
2.    Contract-Grants Writing Consultant Services-Approval Of
3.    Contract-Mercy Flight, Inc.-Approval Of
4.    2008 Budget Amendment-Public Defender/Renovations-Approval Of
5.    Capital Project Amendment-EMS Fire Training Center/Parking Lot Improvement-Approval Of
6.    Award of Contract-OFA/Central Registry System-Approval Of
7.    Contract-OFA/Nutrition Program Meal Site-Approval Of
8.    Relevy of Unpaid School and Village Taxes-Treasurer-Authorization For
9.    Contract-Treasurer/Independent Auditing Services-Approval Of
10.    Contract Renewal-Health Department/Children with Special Health Care Needs Program-Approval Of
11.    Budget Transfer-Health Department/3-5 Preschool Program-Approval Of
12.    Contract-Health/ National Recovery Agency-Approval Of
13.    County Owned Property-GCC/Right of Way to National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation-Approval Of
14.    Audit

October 4, 2008 - 8:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, Charter Review Commission.

Press release from the city:

Please be advised that the Charter Review Commission for the City of Batavia will hold a meeting on Monday, October 6, 2008.  The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room on the second floor of the Batavia City Centre.  

The public can speak at the meeting by signing in with the Chairman prior to the start of the meeting. 

October 3, 2008 - 6:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, alexander.

When I told Hilly today that I was going to drive around Alexander, he told me I had to checkout Field of Dreams. 

What a great public sports complex.  I'm sure you all know about, but I couldn't resist doing a quick video. 

So, what are your memories of past glories at Field of Dreams?

October 3, 2008 - 4:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, GCC, Pavilion.

More than 120 young men from Pavilion went off to war in the 1940s, and a proud town honored those soldiers with a plaque that hung in the high school for decades -- until it fell in such a state of disrepair that it was put in storage.

School board member Sarah Moag didn't forget about the Roll of Honor plaque, however, and one day she called on Stewart Whitney, a local woodworking hobbyist, to see if he could restore it.

He said he would give it a try.

Please be sure to pick up a copy of today's Daily News and see a picture of the stunningly restored Roll of Honor.

Writer Roger Muelig unravels the gripping narrative of the restoration project.

Also on the front page, Joanne Beck captures the magic of the moment -- when the sun came out just long enough yesterday -- for the dedication of a new nature trail at Genesee Community College. It's really a restoration of a trail that "seemed forgotten" after the 1970s/80s. There are 21 markers identifying plants along the trail.

We already linked in Regional Headlines to another front page story -- that Buffalo stations Channel 4 and 9 have been pulled from the cable lineup by Time Warner due to a contract dispute.

The County has named a new IT director -- Steve Zimmer, who has 30 years experience in the IT field, both in the private and public sector, and will earn $72,000 per year.

On the inside of the paper, one of the more interesting pieces that caught my eye was an op-ed column by Dan Radmacher, an editorial page editor in Roanoke, Va.  Radmacher writes, "Newspapers are vital to the functioning of democracy."

This is the typical arrogance of many newspaper people.

A free press -- broadcast, print and, now, online -- is essential to democracy. Ink on paper is just a delivery format. It does not magically imbue the words and pictures with any weightier meaning. In fact, the limited format does more to constrict information dissemination than help it.

Radmacher correctly points out that online newspaper sites have helped newspapers reach readers they might otherwise miss, but it's also true that newspaper web sites have contributed some to circulation declines over the past four years. Giving away all your newspaper content online is not a long-term winning strategy. Meanwhile, even the most successful newspaper web sites have not been able to generate enough revenue to support their current news operations. Many experts fear that the gulf between the newspaper model and the online model may be too wide for the typical print publication to survive the transition. If you're interested in this topic, read this post about Steve Smith, the former editor of the newspaper in Spokane, Wash. -- one of the real thought leaders of the industry -- and why he quit his newspaper this week. If you're a newspaper person, it's not a hopeful note.

However, because independent, thoughtful journalism is important to our nation, it is vital that we find a sustainable business model in online news. And that is why The Batavian exists. We see a bright future for online journalism and are thrilled to be a part of helping define what tomorrow's journalism will look like.

Of course, there's still a lot of life in print, and print does indeed remain an important part of sustaining a community, which is why we continue to encourage you to subscribe to the Batavia Daily News.

October 3, 2008 - 8:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, veterans affairs.

Submitted by Evangeline Conley, Public Affairs Officer:

Nurses looking for a rewarding career serving America ’s heroes, are invited to attend a Nursing Open House, Thursday, October 16, 2008 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Freedom Hall, room 301 at VA Western New York Healthcare System, 3495 Bailey Avenue , Buffalo .

Did you know that the Department of Veterans Affairs is a leader in health care technology and patient safety?   If you are an RN, LPN or Nurse Practitioner, please join us and learn how you can make a difference in the lives of our veterans.  The VA offers a competitive salary and excellent benefits along with education assistance programs and RN Recruitment bonuses . 

Come see us to learn more about starting the career of a lifetime. We look forward to meeting you.  For more information call (716) 862-8872 or check out job opportunities on the web at http://www.buffalo.va.gov/.              




October 3, 2008 - 7:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

Here's a web site that gives an easy to follow guide to the financial crisis and the bailout proposals.

October 2, 2008 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Batavia Muckdogs, sports.

For all you Batavians who are still sore your team is called the Muckdogs, remember, it could be worse. Your team could be the TinCaps.

October 2, 2008 - 12:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Joe Mesi, Mike Ranzenhofer.

Joe Mesi commercial:

Mike Ranzenhofer commercial:

Wow, imagine that, two politicians not attacking each other. Think it will last?

October 2, 2008 - 8:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

Financial assets as works of art, or how accounting rules put Wall Street in a bind and give Paulson's plan a chance to make a lot of money for taxpayers.

Well worth the time to read.

October 2, 2008 - 7:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Episcopal Church, Simon Howson.

WBKW in Buffalo reports that Simon Howson's lawsuit against the Episcopal Diocese of Wester New York (story with video) has been settled.

Howson was a priest at St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia in 2004 when he was accused of stealing and dismissed.  He claimed his firing was retaliation for him making a sexual harrassment claim against another priest.

Howson says he is finally publicly exonerated and the diocese is apologizing. "The bishop has stepped up and he's going to apologize in writing for what happened to Simon Howson." said attorney Andrew Fleming.

"You asked me how I feel," said Howson. "Numb. Numb." Howson filed a same sex discrimination and retaliation suit claiming Bishop Michael Garrison removed him from the church after he complained, that an admitted homosexual Episcopalian priest, now serving in Massachusetts, was sexually harassing him with unwanted advances. Howson is heterosexual. "Simon is a man of God. This was very difficult for him in a sense that this was very challenging to his faith journey." said Fleming.

Here's the Buffalo News story.

October 1, 2008 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman.

In the Charelston City Paper, Dylan Hales reviews Bill Kauffman's new book about Luther Martin, and refers to Kauffman as "the patriot of Batavia." 

I kind of like that better than Gore Vidal's "sage of Batavia."

It's a favorable review.

As Kauffman aptly notes, the Founders are often revered as the designers of a "federal compact," wary of the dangers of big government tyranny.

In fact, it was the "anti-Federalists" who were the true advocates of self-government, and Martin was their most spirited proponent.

One of the implied theses of the book is that history is written by the winners, and we are all worse off for it. Kauffman is at his best noting Martin's unfair treatment by Constitutional scholars and historians, who have for the most part regarded him as "the town drunk, the class bore, the motormouth."

Kauffman thoroughly debunks this as obtuse obstructionism. In fact, Martin was a relatively modest participant at the Constitutional Convention. His attachment to the Articles of Confederation was predicated on a reverence for local government as well as the illegality of the usurpation of power promoted by Hamilton, Madison and the gang.

I just started reading the book last night.  I'll probably post something about it after I finish it.  The book can be purchased at Present Tense, where last I heard, there were still autographed copies available.

September 30, 2008 - 7:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tom Reynolds, Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, Randy Kuhl.

Lame duck Rep. Tom Reynolds has not yet posted any news release to his web site explaining his vote yesterday in favor of the Bush-requested, Democratic-sponsored $700 billion bailout for Wall Street banks.

The following passage from the Buffalo News contains a brief quote from Reynolds explaining his position:

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said the bill would have put the nation “on the slippery slope to socialism. If you lose your ability to fail, soon you will lose your ability to succeed.”

Some Democrats indicated that the consequences of refusing to act had been exaggerated. “Like the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, this bill is fueled on fear and hinges on haste,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

Reynolds and Higgins disagreed.

“This is one of the last votes I will cast on behalf of the people of Western New York, and it may be the most important one,” Reynolds said.

Acknowledging that he wished he could support a more cost-effective alternative, Reynolds said: “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my over three decades in public service, it’s that you cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Too many jobs, too many homes, too many 401(k)s, too many college educations, too many community banks are on the line to risk further inaction.”

In contrast, Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-29), issued a statement immediately after the vote.  He's also posted an alternate plan. Blogger Rottenchester says the plan is hardly serious.

As for the positions of the two candidates for the 26th district on what to do in regard to current economic conditions, still no word from Republican Chris Lee. Several days prior to yesterday's vote, Alice Kryzan issued this statement.

UPDATE: Via the 26th District blog, we get an updated statement from Kryzan.  Kryzan talks about the importance of consumer protection and oversight, but the plan rejected yesterday was weak in both those areas. Also, the blog contains this quote:

“Chris Lee has made deregulating our economy a centerpiece of his campaign,” said spokesperson Anne Wadsworth. “Now that we’ve seen the disastrous result of continuing Bush’s failed policies, he has nothing to say. The people of this district need answers, not knee-jerk deregulation rhetoric.”

The problem with the statement is there is already no lack of regulation in place -- such as the job-killing Sarbanes-Oxley Act -- and none of it  prevented the current situation. The housing bubble has a lot more to do with Clinton-era policies, which Bush neglected to address, and with the Fed manipulating interest rates (which Bush doesn't control at all).  I'm not defending Bush here by any stretch, just trying to keep the record straight.  If you want to blame Bush for anything, blame him for trying to shove this "rush to bailout" down the throats of Americans, which House Democrats (except for 95 brave souls) seemed quite willing buy into hook, line and sinker.

September 29, 2008 - 6:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, nation and world.

Congress is set today to vote on a plan to commit $700 billion of U.S. taxpayer money on a Wall Street bailout plan that editorialists (such as the D&C), politicians and pundits across the country cry as one, "painful, but necessary."

But is it?

Some economist and other observers disagree.

From the McClatchy News Service:

"It's more hype than real risk," said James K. Galbraith, a University of Texas economist and son of the late economic historian John Kenneth Galbraith. "A nasty recession is possible, but the bailout will not cure that. So it's mainly relevant to the financial industry."

This Washington Post story questions not so much the necessity of the bailout, but the wisdom of the rush to get it passed.

David Sirota offers up five reasons why the bailout is insane, and concludes, "If this bill passes, it will be a profound referendum on the dominance of money over democracy in America."

Caroline Baum offers up a variety of view points, including:

Paulson has said repeatedly that the "root cause'' of the problem is "the housing correction, which has resulted in illiquid mortgage-related assets that are choking off the flow of credit."

"The root cause of the problem is that we don't have any homebuyers," Edward Leamer, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Associated Press.

The "root cause of this crisis" is "the lack of capital in the banking system," said Paul Ashworth of London's Capital Economics. "The only way the Treasury's plan would have any meaningful impact on banks' capital ratio is if it vastly overpaid for the securities it is buying."


If you don't diagnose the problem correctly, the odds are you won't prescribe the right medicine. The troubled assets are the result, not the cause, of loose lending practices, a housing bubble that burst, a glut of unsold homes and home prices that are still too high relative to incomes and rental costs, according to many economists.


"If you need money, sell assets,'' Rosner said. "Excess inventory is liquidated at 99-Cent Stores every day, and it doesn't require the government to get involved.''

The Wall Street Journal, in an article that speculates that the bailout further erodes Bush's so-called "conservative legacy," notes:

Meanwhile, conservative legal scholars question whether the rescue plan is constitutional, and predict court battles in the years to come, similar to those set off by President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs.

Grover Norquist, a leading conservative organizer and president of Americans for Tax Reform, says the financial crisis stems from Mr. Bush's abandonment of conservative principles. He cites the president's failure to undo policies of the past that led banks to make unwise loans, as well as expanding the roles of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Dean Baker say there is no way a no-bailout leads to another Great Depression.

While their argument is wrong, these are powerful voices in national debates. If the bailout proves to be an obstacle to effective stimulus in future months and years, then the bailout could lead to exactly the sort of prolonged economic downturn that its proponents claim it is intended to prevent.

Pulitzer Prize winner and Rochester-area resident David Cay Johnston points to an IMF study that suggests bank bailouts rarely work as intended and transfer wealth from taxpayers to bankers.

September 28, 2008 - 10:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Jon Powers, Western New York, green.

The smartest thing I heard from Jon Powers during his campaign was about turning Western New York into a decent place to start new, green businesses.

I thought of that when reading Thomas Friedman's column today.

But that is not the point of this column. The point is, we don’t just need a bailout. We need a buildup. We need to get back to making stuff, based on real engineering not just financial engineering. We need to get back to a world where people are able to realize the American Dream — a house with a yard — because they have built something with their hands, not because they got a “liar loan” from an underregulated bank with no money down and nothing to pay for two years. The American Dream is an aspiration, not an entitlement.

In a green economy, we would rely less on credit from foreigners “and more on creativity from Americans,” argued Van Jones, president of Green for All, and author of the forthcoming “The Green Collar Economy.” “It’s time to stop borrowing and start building. America’s No. 1 resource is not oil or mortgages. Our No. 1 resource is our people. Let’s put people back to work — retrofitting and repowering America. ... You can’t base a national economy on credit cards. But you can base it on solar panels, wind turbines, smart biofuels and a massive program to weatherize every building and home in America.”

So even if Jon Powers ain't the 26th District, why can't WNY be a leader in creating new green businesses? Does it take a congress rep to make that happen, or just visionary entrepreneurs?

September 28, 2008 - 8:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

September 28, 2008 - 8:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in main street.

I've walked past this sign many times and never noticed what Darrick did.

September 28, 2008 - 8:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in john mccain, nation and world, Sarah Palin.

Sarah PalinAnybody of any ambition has probably found themselves in an awkward moment, dealing with something he or she isn't simply prepared to handle.

Conservative writer Rod Dreher reminds us what that is like, and why we might have sympathy for Sarah Palin, we're talking about somebody who would be Vice President of the United States.

I remember the morning I woke up in my college dorm room and went in to take my final exam in my Formal Logic class. I knew I was unready. Massively unready. And now I was going to be put to the ultimate test. I sat down in Dr. Sarkar's class and resolved to wing it. Of course I failed the exam and failed the class, because I had no idea what I was talking about. I wasn't a bad kid, or even a stupid kid. I was just badly unprepared, and in way over my head. Seeing the Palin interview on CBS, I thought of myself in Dr. Sarkar's exam. But see, I was a college undergraduate who had the chance to take the class again, which I did, and passed (barely). I wasn't running for vice president of the United States.

I came to this quote through Ta-Nehisi Coates, who writes:

In election season, there is a price for being turned into a symbol. When actual journalists, with a rep to protect, show up, they are going to do their job. Which brings me to the sexism of John McCain. He knew full well what Sarah Palin was going to face if he nominated her. He knew that reporters would go through her past, that they'd quizz her on the present, that she would need to be ready, and he shunted concern aside, and tossed her to the wolves. Think on that for a mement. For one last run at the White House, he risked a future star of the party he claims to call home. How do you do that? I don't meant to rob Palin of agency, certainly she is also a victim of her own calculations and ambitions. But where I am from the elders protect you, and pull you back when you've gone too far, when your head has gotten too big.

McCain has a temper. It's one of the most distinguishing marks of his career. The American people haven't really seen it yet, not on a big stage. McCain is most vulnerable when attacked for what he has some glimmer of recognition is his own personal failings. If Obama really wanted to show America the real McCain, in the next debate, he would repeatedly question McCain's judgment in selected Sarah Palin as the veep nominee.  McCain would come unhinged. He blew it. Surely, he's losing sleep over it.

UPDATE: And this from Fareed Zakaria:

Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start. The next administration is going to face a set of challenges unlike any in recent memory. There is an ongoing military operation in Iraq that still costs $10 billion a month, a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is not going well and is not easily fixed. Iran, Russia and Venezuela present tough strategic challenges.




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