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Howard B. Owens's blog

August 20, 2008 - 8:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, thebatavian.

UPDATE: Ooops. My fault.  Show is at 9:40, twenty minutes later than the original headline indicated.

I will be on WBTA in the morning to discuss blogging -- not The Batavian so much as blogging in general.

My goal is to encourage more bloggers in Genesee County.  I don't care if you blog for The Batavian or your own Word Press or Blogger site, just blog.  It helps extend the conversation.

That will be my theme.

August 20, 2008 - 9:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jon Powers.

JON POWERSI just stumbled across blog post by Linda Stephans that casts a more critical eye on Jon Powers than we usually get around here.

Compared to Kryzan and Davis, Jon Powers has an exceedingly thin resume.   He joined the army to get the education benefits and was sent to Iraq.  After he returned to civilian life, he became a part-time substitute teacher.

The one thing that he could really boast of in his campaign was a nonprofit organization he started called War Kids Relief, meant to help Iraqi youth.  Now, the Buffalo News reports that the War Kids Relief isn't all it's cracked up to be. Read their story HERE. Seems Powers puffed up things to grab the interest of the media and may have profited from the project more than he should have.


Oh, one more thing about Powers.  He's a flipflopper par excellence.  Example:  At the start of his campaign, he told Democrats for Life he was on their side about abortion.  Didn't believe in it, couldn't support it.  Then, when he talked with Planned Parenthood, he told them he was pro-choice all the way.

That ploy came back to bite him.  The head of Dems for Life in New York had contributed money to his campaign.  When she found out Powers was telling folks he was pro-choice she asked for her money back.

There's no link or other evidence to back up the allegation.

It should be noted, as to the charge that Powes resume is thin: He was a captain in the armed forces during a time of combat. That is a heck of a line or anybody's CV.

August 20, 2008 - 7:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, New York-Penn League.

Batavia Muckdog closer Adam Reifer, who leads the league in saves with 18, picked up the win Tuesday night, and Muckdog Charles Cutler scored the winning run, as the National League erased a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth to cap a 4-3 walk-off victory.

In fact, NL manager Darin Everson said it was Reifer's performance that semi-inspired the comeback win.

"It was very dramatic," Everson said. "I was telling the other guys that having the energy of Reifer throwing in the ninth inning, our dugout was kind of bubbling with energy after watching him throw."

Muckdog Frederick Parejo broke the game's scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth when he he homered off of right-hander Robert Bell (Auburn).

Here's the game's box score.

The Muckdogs host Mahoning Valley tomorrow to open the closing weeks of the season in first place with a half-game lead over Jamestown.

Thursday and Friday's games start at 7:50 p.m. 

Williamsport is in town Saturday and Sunday. After that, there are only four more regular season home games (the team is 18-10 at Dwyer this year), including two against Jamestown, which should make for a dramatic close of the season.

Your team is fighting for the division pennant, Genesee County, go support them. General admission tickets are only $5. These kids have put on a great show all season; they deserve to see the stands packed with fans.

My wife and I will be there Friday night. Look for us in the third-base bleachers. I expect I'll be wearing my old school San Diego Padres cap.


August 19, 2008 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis.

In a lengthy post about the 26th District congressional race, Buffalo Pundit writes:

Over the weekend, I was at University Plaza across from UB South waiting for a pizza. There was a young African American guy in the plaza sporting a “Save Jobs” t-shirt with a clipboard and Davis lit. I asked him what he was collecting signatures for, and he handed me the clipboard. He explained to me that he was there on behalf of Jack Davis, who is running for “councilman” and that he wants to “save our jobs and stuff”, and the clipboard held petitions to add the “Save Jobs and Farms Party” to the ballot in November. Yes, he was being paid. So, if Jack can’t buy himself the Independence or Democratic line, he’ll buy himself a minor-party line and will undoubtedly be campaigning through and until November. Particularly amusing was the party emblem, resembling an early 20th century socialist cog symbol.

Um, "Save Jobs and Farms," from a guy who supposedly wants to prevent farmers from hiring the labor they need to bring in their crops?

This sounds like shallow populist posturing rather than a sound policy platform.

As for what BP describes as a "socialist cog symbol," I suspect Davis is tone deaf to the leftist motif, but I suspect he is quite well attuned to the power of propaganda.  Have you heard his ridiculous radio commercial (it plays on WBTA)? Besides making one wonder if Davis is trying to sell used recreational vehicles, the platitude-ridden ditty is a clear appeal to the cult-of-personality vote.

Again, we're not trying to be pro-Powers or anti-Davis here, but you know, when there's a big hole, and a Mac truck sitting there with the engine running, you gotta put the hammer down.


August 19, 2008 - 6:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in governor Paterson, taxes, property tax, teachers union.

The Buffalo News this morning reports that New York teachers are increasing pressure on the state Legislature to oppose. Gov. Paterson's property tax cap.

The campaign to stop the cap is intense. NYSUT last week withheld endorsements from 38 state senators who voted for the Paterson tax cap. The Working Families Party mailed out 200,000 fliers in a bid to ensure the Democratic-run Assembly does not take up the cap this week. The party, along with the Alliance for Quality Education, has begun a one-week, $1.5 million TV ad campaign blasting the cap. It has also run radio ads.

High taxes -- and they are outrageously high in New York -- impede economic growth, cost people jobs, discourage businesses to relocate to New York, drive businesses out of New York, and ultimately decrease the amount of money local governments can generate in revenue.

Gov. Patterson's proposal is modest compared to the substantial cuts that should be made.

It's disappointing that the teachers union, at such a critical time, is putting self interest ahead of community interest.

August 18, 2008 - 10:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart.

Tonight I am reading, as I have been for the past three nights, Bill Kauffman's Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette.

I come to this passage, related to the rising of Wal-Mart in Batavia:

My voice is as mute as the others in that silent night, unholy night. I supposed I am of the old  school of Thoreau and Emerson in that I distrust political solutions and prefer individual revolutions of the soul. I sympathized with those townspeople who wished to keep Wal-Mart out. But instead of passing laws to compel behavior I would rather my neighbors choose to shop locally. They will only do so when Batavia becomes once more a city with its own flavor and fashions. Whether that day will come, I do not know.

For me, if The Batavian can accomplish one thing, it will be to give voice to the people who want Batavia to be Batavia again.

I'm no Pollyanna. I know we cannot put the Brylcreem back in the tube, or unwind the the movie or rebuild C.L. Carr's, but we can promote an ideal that a rural town like Batavia should be more than bathroom break on the Thruway.

We have our corporate sponsors, which means that if the heavens opened up and Wal-Mart or Kmart decided to bequeath to us some ungodly sum of money for advertising (not likely, ever), we couldn't say no, but we are here first and foremost to support the businesses that support Batavia (and the rest of Genesee County).

We only ask one thing -- that you do the same. Before your next trip to Wal-Mart or Target, find out what local shop can do you the same service and patronize that store first.

August 18, 2008 - 1:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in mall.

During Summer in the City, I had a chance to chat with Assemblyman Steve Hawley.  Of course the subject of the mall came up, and a friend/supporter/consitutent (I'm not sure which best applies) standing nearby chimed in and said he thought the mall should be turned into a college campus.

That idea, though I gather it's not a new one, has some merit.

The influx of students would be a boon for downtown restaurants and bars, and the foot traffic of people to those businesses would help other retail establishments. 

However, such a solution would do nothing to deal with the "eyesore of a mall" issue, and by not tearing down the building and creating new Main Street-facing structures, you're making it harder to profitably relocate current mall occupants who might wish to stay downtown.

Still, a two- or four-year campus (could the New York university system be enticed into an extension campus?) would generate a lot more people traffic in the city's core.

Setting aside for a minute the logistics and difficulties of making it happen, what do you think -- is a college campus a viable alternative to the current sputtering, life-sapping, soul-sucking mall?

August 17, 2008 - 12:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jon Powers, Jack Davis.

The Buffalo News reports this morning that opponents of Jon Powers are making an issue of his ties to "netroots," the supposed grassroots movement of online activists.

The Iraq War veteran and former substitute teacher has raised $322,452 through ActBlue, a Web site that bills itself as “the online clearinghouse for Democratic action,” while winning the praise of bloggers from Buffalo to the Beltway.


But there’s a downside to Powers’ prolonged courtship of the netroots. It’s the reason he raised nearly twice as much money from New York City as he has from the Buffalo area, a fact that allows his opponents to charge that the 26th District might not be foremost in his mind if Powers makes his way to Washington.

“Jon Powers is campaigning the same way he’ll govern; from outside New York and inside the pockets of the special interests,” said Joy Langley, a spokesman for Davis, the millionaire industrialist who’s paying for his third congressional race with his own money.

Of course, if you're going to do your fundraising in a manner that allows anybody anywhere to contribute, New York City (pop. 8 million ) is going to out raise Buffalo (pop. 1 million). Proportionately, you could argue that Powers has done pretty well with fundraising in WNY.

For the record: I neither support nor oppose Jon Powers. I'm just saying ...

A lot of people think this is a pro-Powers site. This site is neutral at this point in the race; their are just a lot of Powers supporters who like The Batavian. That, too, probably says a lot about how strong Powers support is among Netizens.

August 17, 2008 - 11:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, farms, agriculture, Tom Rivers.

This weekend, Tom Rivers delivered another in his series of farm work articles for the Daily News.

Again, it's a stunning piece of writing and reporting. We could never summarize if for you in a way that would do it justice. You will need to find a copy of the paper for yourself and read it.

Besides producing a fine article, I admire Tom for sticking with such a physically demanding job under adverse conditions for a full 10 hours.

The article makes the point well that if you like -- as Jack Davis apparently does -- that there are locals ready, willing and able to do this farm work, but they're just being pushed out of the way by immigrants, you're deluded.

Darren, 42, seems a little bewildered by my interest in the job. He can't remember anyone from around here ever wanting to cut cabbage. The farm puts many ads in local newspapers seeking field help, and no locals have even called about a job in at least two decades, Darren said.

Cutting cabbage may not be "skilled" labor as we traditionally define it, but you better have the right muscles and motor skills developed, and have built some level of mental immunity to the demands of the job. This is a job that not just anybody can do. Clearly, farmers can't just hire a crew of anybody off the street and expect to fulfill the tons of orders for their crops.

Rivers is doing a good bit of public service journalism with this series.  We wish him well in the appropriate journalism awards competitions.

Of course, what these stories lack are video. We've offered the Daily News help in this regard. So far, they've declined.

August 17, 2008 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, Charlie Mallow, Bill Cox, Bob Bialkowski, mall, Scott DeSmit.

The Saturday/Sunday edition of the Daily News contains a rather odd, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy narrative by Scott DeSmit in which he puts himself in a benighted Batavia. How far hence, we are not told.

A man is peering out from behind his door. I see the glistening barrel of his gun and I keep walking, keeping tight to what is left of the sidewalk.

A newspaper. Almost intact.

I reach down and scoop it up. A rat skitters away.

"Last of City Council Disbands" the headline reads.

Ahhh. I remember that. Three of them, as I recall. Mallow, Bialkowski and Cox.

Ahhh. So lurking within the vitriol and sniping that is what passes for dialogue between these three men is a Batavia of buckled sidewalks, parks gone to seed, creek water that will melt skin and a Sheriff who has barricaded the city's borders.

A little over the top, don't you think, Scott?

While the animosity and bitter words over what amount to rather trivial issues (when compared to the big question of the final resolution of the mall) might impede progress. It's takes a pretty active imagination -- which Scott clearly has -- to expect their bickering to lead to walled off Batavia.

That said, point taken, Scott -- and one we don't disagree with: These men need to stop arguing and get down to business. The mall has got to go, and they should busy themselves generating a plan and public support to make it happen.


August 17, 2008 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Batavia resident Donald Weyer writes in the Daily News that WBTA's broadcast of Muckdog games helps reduce attendance.

I disagree.

I bet Mel Allen would, too. And Harry Caray. And Jack Buck. And Red Barber. And Vin Scully.

My point is, baseball and radio have a pretty long, rich and memorable love affair.  WBTA has a pretty fair announcer, to put it mildly,  in Wayne Fuller.

Good baseball radio does more to sell the team than detract from it. If that were not the case, wouldn't MLB franchises have stopped broadcasting their games decades ago? In fact, today, every MLB puts every single home and away game on television (which is even a closer substitute for actually being their than radio). Why? Because it helps sell tickets.

Game broadcasts do as much to put people in the stands than any other marketing a team could do. Broadcasts help generate interest in individual players, allow people who can't attended every day to keep up with the running story line that is a baseball season, act as a regular reminder -- this is your team, support it.

I thought about responding to Mr. Weyer in a letter to the editor, but since it is allegedly an offense punishable by firing to even acknowledge the existence of The Batavian in the pages of the Daily News, I figure the letter's editor wouldn't publish it.  So if somebody could let Mr. Weyer know -- in case he doesn't know about the site yet -- that somebody did attempt to "disabuse" him of is "erroneous reasoning," as he requested.

In his letter, Mr. Weyer offers four other suggestions. If you've read the letter and have thoughts about any of those other ideas, feel free to post a comment below.

Previous post: Daily News: Muckdog attendence lagging

August 16, 2008 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, Summer in the City.

We're having a great time at Summer in the City.  It's fun to meet so many fans of The Batavian, and we're also finding lots of people who haven't heard of the site yet but say it's a great idea and long over due for Genesee County.

Yesterday, we did a video asking people "What do you like about your home town?"  Here's the video:

August 14, 2008 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Since we launched The Batavian in May, we've heard a recurring question: What about advertising?

The question has come from two quarters: Business people interested in advertising, and people wondering how the heck we're going to make this adventure into a paying business.

Starting this week, we get serious about the business side of the business.  The traffic is now strong enough, we have an engaged audience, the name of the site is spreading fast -- we now  have a good, fair value to offer the businesses of Genesee County.

We have two sales reps who start calling on area businesses this week.

They're going to offer the standard banner ads, of course, but what we're really excited about are the text ads we will offer. 

Ten percent of the revenue from these text ads will go to The Batavia Players, Inc.,  Summer Youth Theater Program.  On top of that, we are sending $500 to the program.

As we've said from the start, the goal of The Batavian is to be more than a news enterprise. We want The Batavian to help our communities grow stronger and enhance an area that is already a great place to live and work.

To that end, we're concentrating our sales efforts on local businesses (the big chains, not so much) so we can help those businesses thrive, and we're giving back to the community through donations and sponsorships.

Meanwhile, here's something you can do to support the youth of Genesee County, and more specifically, the Youth Theater -- go see Jesus Christ Superstar.  It opens tonight and runs through Saturday.  Patrick Burk tells us ticket sales have done well, but there's still plenty of seats left.  You should go. 

Our ad reps are Melissa McIntyre and Vanessa Haar. They, along with me and Philip, will be at Summer in the City on Friday and Saturday. We'll have balloons, water bottle kozies and bumper stickers.  If you come by and say, "hi," we may even put you in a video.  Look for us on Jackson Street on Friday and Main Street on Saturday.

August 14, 2008 - 7:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Joe Gerace.

HarnessLink reports that local barber Joe Gerace will be honored August 23 at Batavia Downs as "Italian-American of the Year."

This is the first such award given by Batavia Downs, and HarnessLink says the gaming facility and race track is planning other ethic awards this year.

The life-long Batavia native is the 2008 Humanitarian of the Year for United Memorial Medical Center and the Jerome Foundation, 2006 City of Batavia Volunteer of the Year, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Genesian of the Year in 1993 and was honored for his community service by the Paolo Busti Foundation Scholarship Committee.

The active 72-year-old grandfather of six is the former president of the Batavia Youth Bureau, co-chair of the Genesee County Cancer Society's Festival of Hope, a director of the Batavia Muckdogs (where he is also on the team's Wall of Fame), member of the Batavia Rotary Club and St Nick's Social Club and sat on the City of Batavia zoning board of appeals for 12 years.

Also a licensed realtor and military veteran, Gerace and his wife, Lois, have been married 48 years and are the parents of three grown children.

That's an impressive resume.

August 13, 2008 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Rochester Red Wings have done everything that the team was told was needed to improve attendence at Batavia Muckdogs games, General Manager Dave Wellenzohn tells David Hibbard of the Daily News, and the team is drawing no better this year than last.

Fireworks don't help. A better field doesn't help. More marketing hasn't helped. Even a winning record and exciting pennant race aren't putting more people in more seats.

In May, Wellenzohn predicted that 60,000 people would pay to see the Muckdogs this year. At the current rate, only about 45,000 people will come through the gates.

"They've kept their word. They've invested a lot of money into the franchise," Wellenzohn said. "Rochester's (Red Wings) kept their promise 100 percent, even more. They're spending more money than I thought they would -- an maybe even should. Because they're thinking, 'Well, maybe if we do this, this will trigger more attendance.' It hasn't."

Wellenzohn says the team is likely to stay in Batavia next season, but if attendance doesn't improve, he isn't sure how long the Red Wings will keep investing in the team.

So here's the thing: Batavia is damn fortunate to have a minor league baseball team. In fact, having lived in major league cities, I'm not sure Batavians realize how fortunate they are to have a minor league baseball team.  It's a hell of a lot of fun to watch these developing players in a small venue with your friends and neighbors.

So what will it take to get Batavians to support their home town team?

We've been trying to do our part -- The Batavian is a team sponsor and we carry as much team coverage as we can -- because we believe sports teams serve a civic purpose of promoting community and local pride. 

In an era of high gas prices and higher and higher costs of everything, isn't a $5 general admission ticket quite a bargain for such great entertainment?

So what else can we do, what can we all to do, get more people at the games?

And, FWIW, kudos to Hibbard for a fine article.

August 13, 2008 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in downtown, history, pacino.

In February, Present Tense Books, hosted a talk by Josh on Patti Pacino centered around old photographs Patti's father either took or collected of old Batavia.

The collection of photos is posted here.

It contains a number of photos related to the destruction of the north side of Main Street to make room for the mall many people, including City Council President Charlie Mallow, call an eyesore.

Here is a video slide show I put together of from those old photos:

I haven't found anybody so far -- long-time resident or not -- who has good things about the mall.  Even Mitchell Chess, president of the Mall Merchant's Association, doesn't come across as a particular fan. With all of the conversation about the mall on The Batavian this week, not a single commenter has come forward to say it should be saved.

In a back-and-forth with Mallow over whether we were hyping his statement that parts of the mall (which, frankly, I too quickly turned into "all of the mall") should be razed, I quipped, "Mr. Mallow, tear down that mall," which was good for some comic relief.

But it can also serve as a rallying cry. 

Not everybody is pleased that there is so much heated discussion over the mall, but sometimes in such discussions a vibrancy can be found for finding new solutions to old problems.

Nobody has a plan yet, and the city and the MMA are spending way too much time on signs, bird poop and whether Bob Bialkowski has a conflict of interest, but the community needs to move beyond these trivial matters and focus on a long-term solution to the eyesore of a mall. 

A good plan will improve downtown, not waste taxpayer money, help the current merchants find new Main Street-facing shops and create jobs.

Mr. Mallow, tear down that mall.


August 13, 2008 - 7:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Brian Walton, writing for Scout.com, reports that six Muckdogs have made the NY-Penn League All Star roster

They are:

  • Arquimedes Nieto
  • Adam Reifer,
  • Colt Sedbrook
  • Jermaine Curtis
  • Frederick Parejo
  • Shane Peterson.

Click the link above for details on each player's season and photos.

Last year, the Muckdogs had only three all stars. 

The game will be played in Troy on Aug. 19.

August 13, 2008 - 6:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farmers market, locavore.

A friend introduced me to the term "locavore" a couple of weeks ago. It stuck with me because being a bit of "locavore" was something my wife and I were already mostly doing without knowing there was a word for it or that it was a trend. The furthest thing from our mind was the environmental benefits. We just think locally produced bread, meat, milk and veggies taste better and last longer.

This week, McClatchy/Tribune news service has a story out on locavores. You can read it here.

Last month, Lenae Weichel embarked on an ambitious dietary experiment: to feed her family for a year with food produced within 100 miles of her Rockford, Ill., home.

Inspired by a Vancouver couple who wrote a book on their ‘‘100-mile diet,’’ she joined a community-supported agriculture program, visited her local farmers market and started growing fruits and vegetables in her backyard.

Weichel, 33, is an extreme example of a vibrant movement of ‘‘locavores,’’ or consumers who try to shorten the distance between their food and its origin, largely from a desire to eat fresher produce, support their local farmers and reduce the carbon pollution associated with transporting goods. Only a few set 100 miles as a strict limit; others might just seek produce from the Midwest. But eating locally grown food, an idea once limited to hard-core environmentalists, is gaining traction among mainstream consumers. Already the movement has inspired a slew of books, prompted restaurants to use local food as a selling point and established ‘‘locavore’’ as the Word of the Year for 2007, according to the Oxford American Dictionary.

So, if you're a locavore in Genesee County, where do you go for produce, milk, bread and meat?  The Batavian would like to find out more about these businesses.  What other locally produced goods and crafts do you prefer to buy from local merchants?

August 12, 2008 - 10:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Employers -- you can post free Help Wanted ads -- here.

Everybody else, got something to buy, sell or trade -- post your FREE ad here.

August 11, 2008 - 8:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman.

Another YouTube discovery this morning -- a two-part radio interview with Bill Kauffman. The primary theme of the interview is anti-war conservativism.

The interview was broadcast on July 22, 2008 on 1250 AM WTMA talk radio in Charleston, South Carolina.




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