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September 9, 2008 - 12:49pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, Daily News, veterans, city council, GCC.

Today's Daily News features two more reports from Matt Surtel who is on a trip to Washington D.C. with a group of area veterans led by Assemblyman Steve Hawley. Surtel steps out of the spotlight for the front page piece which includes reflections of some of the vets as they observe the National World War II Memorial. A fantastic article, worth reading in full. In another article inside the paper, Surtel thrusts himself back into the fore in a quirky tale about his first-ever trip to the mess hall. My only critique of this short and punchy piece is that we only know that Surtel is in a cafeteria, but we don't know where. Where are you, Matt?

Joanne Beck must have been a busy writer yesterday. She has three pieces featured on the front page. One is about the City Council—Council President Charlie Mallow says they are "moving forward very, very quickly." Another is about Mallow stepping down as chair of the county Democratic party, news that was featured on WBTA and The Batavian this morning. The third article by Beck—which does not feature Charlie Mallow in a prominent role—is about the quartet of Chinese students who have settled at the campus of Genesee Community College for the year. It's a fun article.

Cregg Paul, co-owner of Center Street Smokehouse, was convicted of repeated failure to file corporate tax returns for his company, Employee Leasing Network, in county court Monday. He was acquitted of four other felony charges and four misdemeanors related to the returns. Paul could face up to four years in prison or "a lesser term in local jail or probation." He will be sentenced on December 10.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your nearest local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

September 8, 2008 - 1:42pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Barack Obama, Daily News.

When an editor or a reporter at the Daily News—or any newspaper for that matter—makes a mistake, the error is routinely corrected in a subsequent edition of the paper. That's how it works. That same striving for accuracy should equally apply to Letters to the Editor and any other content of the so-called "Opinion" page. If the newspaper prints something it knows to be false or misleading in a letter to the editor—something it should know in advance of the printing—the letter ought to be appended with a note saying so.

Such was not the case with a letter to the editor today that amounts to little more than hatemongering. In that letter, Frank M. VanApeldorn writes:

National chastening is taking place in America today for long-standing immoralities and because of the removal of almighty God's laws from the land. ... Today, Senator Obama, a born Muslim, may be God's instrument to bring this professed Christian nation to its just rewards for turning their back on God.

Senator Obama's membership of a church in Chicago, whose pastor is known to visit with Muslims in foreign countries that are haters of America, should open our eyes. Osama and Obama sound a lot alike to me. ... I believe our Lord Jesus Christ is warning us to wake up from our sleep before we are taken over by Islam.

Aside from the preposterous rhetoric of such lines as "Osama and Obama sound a lot alike to me," the author of this letter is fundamentally misinformed. Senator Barack Obama is not a Muslim. He has never been a Muslim. This issue has been covered extensively by media across the nation. You can read some of those articles as well as Senator Obama's statements on the issue at his campaign Web site.

The Daily News has made a serious mistake here by printing this letter without amending it with a clarification to situate this individual's commentary in the context of real events. Instead, the Daily News displays a hands-off policy that amounts to no less than the propagation of lies and misinformation.

Hate and misstate sound alot alike to me.

September 8, 2008 - 1:00pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, youth football.

Daily News reporter Scott DeSmit was at Lions Park Saturday for the opening games of the new youth football season. More than 1,500 people came out to scope the nearly 300 players and cheerleaders. This will be the first year for the program at Lions Park after the group was told they would have to vacate Dwyer Stadium after a 32-year run.

DeSmit spends most of the article dwelling on the details of that move and the results of the program's break with the city. Little is said of the games. Instead, DeSmit spoke with the organizers about what had to be replaced because of the move from Dwyer and how much it all cost. He also wrote about parking and traffic problems and the problems encountered by the concessions stand because of the move. The article wraps up nicely with a return to the action of the games.

All in all, DeSmit does a fine job getting some color, previewing the season and handling the problems encountered by the program due to the move from Dwyer, if he doesn't spend a bit too much time on the latter.

Today's front page features one of Matt Surtel's on-the-road dispatches from his trip with area veterans down to Washington D.C. I'm becoming more of a fan of Surtel every day, especially when he gets the chance to write outside the confines of the typical hard news format. "So the buses wind again through the overcast, which resembles night more than day," writes Surtel, proving his penchant for the poetic. Or take this line about the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Museum at the Smithsonian: "It's a collection of the famous, the infamous, the odd and the simply beautiful." Nice.

Musical Celebration 2008 to benefit Crossroads House will be at 7:00pm Saturday at City Church, 210 E. Main St. The show will feature performances by Phyl Contestable and Alan Jones; Aislinn Call and her dad, Glenn Adams; Mark Hoerbelt, Lauren Picarro Hoerbelt and Jason Wiley; accordionist Alex Alexandrov, St. Joe's Brass Ensemble and Bart Dentino. Tickets are $14 prior to the show and $15 at the door. Pick up yours at Travelore Travel Service, 204 E. Main St., or at Main Street Coffee, 111 Main St.

I would encourage folks to get out and pick up a copy of today's paper, if only to read the travel article by Matt Surtel. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

September 5, 2008 - 12:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, veterans.

A crew of other area veterans led by Assemblyman Stephen Hawley take off today on a four-day bus trip down to Washington D.C. to visit solider memorials and Arlington National Cemetary, according to the Daily News. What's more, the paper sent Matt Surtel on the trip with them. Surtel "will be writing stories on the experience for the newspaper."

This would be a perfect oportunity for Surtel to log onto The Batavian and do some live blogging of the trip, even let some of the veterans get on the computer and talk about their time at Arlington, on the road and in the capitol. What would it take to persuade Surtel to post his travelogues on The Batavian? If he can't do that, does he at least have a private blog of his own that we can link to? Batavia would really love that.

Batavia's new fire chief, Thomas Dillon told reporter Joanne Beck that he intends "to include all the members of the department and include them in the day-to-day decisions ... I know I will depend on them tremendously, and I will include them in my decision-making as much as I can." Dillon starts September 17.

John Lincoln will retire as state Farm Bureau president after 14 years in that position. The Bloomfield dairy farmer "was a strong advocate for getting the new federal Farm Bill to finally include aid for specialty crops, the many fruits and vegetables that are grown locally." Tom Rivers put together a detailed piece on this, for those interested.

Genesee County GOP Chairman Richard Siebert told Tom Rivers this morning that he has already "fielded a dozen calls from people looking for signs touting the John McCain and Sarah Palin ticket." Judging from the response we got from a post about Palin we put up following her speech earlier this week, we can see that folks in Genesee County on both sides of the party aisle are fired-up about this election and this veep choice especially.

As always, we encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

September 3, 2008 - 12:37pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News.

Batavia's new fire chief, Thomas Dillon, will come to the department with 29 years of experience with the city of Rochester department, according to the Daily News. That's about all the new information on the chief that we did not pick up already this morning from the story that ran on WBTA yesterday. With Dillon's appointment, the city is down to only one full-time vacancy, according to city officials, and that's the code enforcement officer, though interviews are already being conducted by City Manager Jason Molino.

Not much else to mention today. Albion got a new fire truck—a sleek-looking red and black pumper. A Warsaw restaurant got a makeover—stop by Laurie's and check out the wainscoting. And the Le Roy Nursery School set an open house—it's at 7:00pm Thursday at First Presbyterian Church.

Check out our separate post on Mark Gillespie's piece on the Democratic debate in Geneseo.

We ecnourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News. Or subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

September 2, 2008 - 1:11pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News.

Every Monday the Daily News runs a fun feature called Q&A that introduces us to an interesting guy or gal in the community. Today's Q&A is about Nicole Brady, a gal from Bergen who collects animal skulls. Fun stuff. But the reason I mention this profile in particular is because of Brady's response to the question: "If could do over again..." She says: "Buy a winning lottery ticket." Excellent.

OK. Other than that, there isn't much in the paper today. Joanne Beck looks at Batavia High School's Link Crew, "a new transition program" whose "goal is to help incoming freshman feel more at ease in high school." Matt Surtel has a fun piece on the Oakfield Labor Daze festival this past weekend.

Pick up a copy of the Daily News at local newsstands. Or subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 29, 2008 - 2:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, column, comics.

One of the best things to keep in mind when writing a newspaper column—or if you're getting started on a serial blog here on The Batavian, wink wink—is that you will write better the better you know your subject.

On that note, Daily News reporter Matt Surtel proves me right and then some in his column on today's op-ed page. His style is fun and quirky, true to its theme, but above all else, it's informed and well-written, and that's what makes it so enjoyable.

Surtel writes about his longtime obsession with the comic strip For Better or For Worse, introducing me to the devoted and surprisingly zealous fan base of the strip that will end its original run Sunday and start over from scratch. Start over from scratch? Well, you see, this comic strip followed a family in real-time for 30 years, and now it will start over, reducing the kids to toddlers and going at it all over again.

Surtel does not shy from passing judgement on some of the strip's characters, calling out one of them as a "gigantic, stupid dweeb," or lamenting the "stupid mustache" of another whom he describes as a "boring milquetoast loser."


All in all, this is a great column from a reporter I wouldn't mind hearing more from aside from the usual beat reporting. I've never read For Better or For Worse, but by the end of the column, I shared Surtel's disdain for that "milquetoast loser" who finagled an otherwise ambitious and interesting gal into a mediocre suburban pantomime of life, love and marriage. Damn that Anthony!

August 29, 2008 - 1:55pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in community, Daily News.

Whether the news is good, sad or bad, today's Daily News is mostly about people.

First, there's Annie Jones, a longtime nurse at United Memorial Medical Center who retired recently after 42 years at the hospital. Jones told the reporter that "even though I'm getting tired, I really love what I do."

Also in the news is Amy Johnson, who "has been named director of advancement at Notre Dame High School." Johnson formerly worked at Canisius College as the director of the annual fund and as director of marketing for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Paul Cregg, co-owner of the Center Street Smokehouse, was in the news again today. County Judge Robert C. Noonan will rule on whether Cregg is guilty of three felony charges by September 8 in a non-jury trial decision. Cregg is charged with failure to file corporate tax returns, offering a false instrument for filing and filing false returns on corporate taxes.

I hope that the Daily News considers itself fortunate to have Virginia Kropf on its staff. Every time she has a story in the paper, it's interesting. She may not be a great stylist. She may not turn the swankiest phrase. But Virginia Kropf has an eye and an ear for what makes small towns tick, and she brings to life with a cool-handed delivery the idiosyncracies that you can find around every corner.

Today, Kropf visits Eugene Beach of Oakfield who barters flowers for fruit. The story is a fun one and worth checking out.

So get out and pick up a copy of the Daily News. Or, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 29, 2008 - 12:48pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News.

Thank goodness for the explicit good nature of news article headlines. Otherwise, there would be no way of knowing what Joanne Beck's front-page article in today's Daily News is about until you read down to halfway through the third paragraph. Her article starts out more like a guessing game than an informative piece of journalism.

It juts out above the roof just enough to display one set of arched windows.

Wait a second. What is this it? How can you start a story with a part of speech (pronoun) whose sole purpose is to stand in for a previously established noun, when that previously established noun has not been previously established? Maybe we'll find out in the next paragraph...

Other than that, most passersby wouldn't even know it's there or think to cherish its historical significance.

So we're still not told what it is. More than that, we're introduced to "passersby" though we don't know what they are passing by. All we know is that it juts, it's got windows, it can be passed by and it has historical significance. Can you guess what it is? (Of course, the answer is that you shouldn't have to. This is a news article. Not a game show clue.)

But Genesee County Landmark Society is quite aware of it: the cupola affixed to the top of old City Hall.

Phew. There it is. It's the cupola on top of the old City Hall. But why the wait? Why do we have to wait three paragraphs to learn that Beck is writing about the cupola? This isn't a mystery. In fact, the story is pretty simple and truly best served being told in a simple manner. But... wait a second... what is the story? We don't even find that out until the sixth paragraph in the article, and it's not even stated explicitly. Instead, we read:

The group [Genesee County Landmark Society] has donated $1,490 toward the cupola's restoration. Add that to another $500 from the Historic Preservation Commission's city-funded budget and $600 worth of labor from Stafford Painters. It totals $2,590 for a restored structure that was pressure washed on Monday, scraped and primed Tuesday and given two coats of "Super White" paint Wednesday.

Why not start with that? Or something like it. Why not just begin the article: "Work started Monday on the restoration of the cupola atop Batavia's old City Hall." Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Now get on with the fun background stuff. Save yourself some ink, maybe some more room for photographs, etcetera. Maybe you can even expand your informative "So what is a cupola?" section.

August 28, 2008 - 12:46pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, police, sheriff, consolidation, Oakfield.

The Genesee County Legislature voted unanimously last night to go through with the consolidation of sheriff and city police dispatch services, according to the Daily News. Most of the ground work has already been completed and the city sent its two dispatchers to the sheriff's facility on Park Road, where all calls will now be fielded.

In other news:

  • Batavia's Yard Waste station on Law Street will be closed Monday. It will resume normal hours of operation Tuesday.
  • Tom Rivers wrote a fantastic column about getting held up at a Canadian immigration check-point where he was given "the treatment."
  • Between 4,000 and 5,000 people are expected to come out for Oakfield's Labor Daze parade Monday morning at 10:30am. the village will celebrate all weekend with "bed races" and square dancing on Saturday; gospel music, crafts and bingo on Sunday; and more of the same all day Monday. Should be a fun time.

UPDATE: I meant to say something about this earlier, but I forgot. Mark Gutman did a great job getting photos of the fire out in Byron yesterday. Every one is well composed and full of action. Great job, Mark!

For more on these and other stories, pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 27, 2008 - 1:44pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, city council, police, sheriff, consolidation.

City Council President Charlie Mallow said in a Daily News article today that the consolidation of dispatch services "handicaps our police a bit." Council OK'ed consolidation Monday, and the county legislature will vote on it tonight.

[Harriet] Scopano, a senior citizen, felt safer with someone at the station around the clock. Mallow, City Council president, said the city would lose its small-town appeal and become more like his native crime-ridden Buffalo.

Now that the station at 10 W. Main St. will close for nights and weekends, both of them feel the same, they said.

That just doesn't sound right.

Moving the dispatchers 1.7 miles away will make Batavia like "a crime-ridden Buffalo"? That just doesn't sound right. Scopano is quoted later on in the article as saying that "we'll have to watch ourselves, especially in the parking lot." It doesn't seem reasonable to suggest that just because dispatchers will no longer occupy the facility at all hours that the parking lot outside of headquarters will become more of a risk for violent crime. Heck, there's hardly any violent crime in Batavia as it is. It's one of the reasons why Batavia is a better place to live than, say, Buffalo. Do we really believe that criminals will now congregate outside the police station?

Police Chief Randy Baker makes a good point.

"For citizens, you're not going to see much of a change. We locked the doors after hours anyway for dispatchers to let (visitors) in," he said. "If someone is in immediate danger, they can go to the lobby at the jail. That's a manned area. They've always had that."

Don't people just call 911 when they're in trouble? Who goes to the police station? We call the police. They come to us if we're in trouble. That's why they've got the fast cars with the loud sirens and the bright flashing lights.

City officers are certain to shift their perspectives to go along with the changes, Mallow said. "They're going to do what they need to do to protect the citizens," he said.

Exactly. Especially since what they do won't change. Nor will what the dispatchers do change. The only thing that will change, really, is that when you call the police for an emergency, they'll pick up your phone a mile and a half away from where they did it before.

August 26, 2008 - 12:53pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, fire, emergency.

You've likely already read our coverage of last night's City Council meeting, when we posted it last night, so we won't bother with a recap of Joanne Beck's articles about the meeting in today's Daily News. Instead, we'll jump right to the local section...

Reporter Paul Mrozek tells us that the fire Friday at Willow Specialties caused more than $100,000 in damage—but it could have been much worse. Willow CEO Jeff Daggs said: "Ninety percent of our product is not damaged. That's what we believe right now."

Matt Surtel put together a nice tribute piece about Jenny Snow, the news director at WCJW, Warsaw's AM radio station, who died unexpectedly at her home Saturday at the age of 53.

The Genesee County Legislature will meet Wednesday in a special session to vote on the proposed consolidation of dispatch services that was approved last night by Batavia's City Council. City police dispatchers will make the move to the sheriff's office on Park Road complete by Monday. That meeting will be at 7:00pm at the Old County Courthouse.

Roger Muehlig was in Le Roy Monday when Republican Congressional candidate Christopher Lee stopped by Stein Farms to chat with area farmers about labor issues. Muehlig writes: "Lee, a political newcomer, said he didn't have all the answers, but one of the reasons he was successful in business was that he listens to everyone." That's well and good. But there are already plenty of politicians in Albany who are good at listening. Anyone can listen. We don't need more people to listen. We need people to act.

For these and other stories, pick up a copy of the Daily News at local newsstands. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 25, 2008 - 1:58pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, public market.

Batavia bids an early adieu to another of its downtown amenities. Last week, the city announced the closure of the spray park two weeks early due to mechanical problems. Today, the Daily News tells us that the downtown public market is closed for the season, several months early—it was supposed to run through October 11.

Business Improvement District (BID) Manager Don Burkel said the decision was made Friday due to "a shortage of vendors and the lack of community support." The market that opened in late June ran from 9:00am to 2:00pm Saturdays in the parking lot at Ellicott and Jackson streets. On opening day there were maybe 10 vendors total. Lorraine Schaub said she was one of only three vendors when she showed up for the market most days. Schaub owns Cookies & Milk inside the mall. She blamed Burkel and the BID for the poor support, citing a lack of planning and promotion.

Says Schaub: "I don't think they worked on it ahead of time. It's a good thing we had tents; otherwise nobody would've known we were there."

Another vendor, Joan Shuknecht, owner of Ole Barn Country Market of Elba, said the BID did a fine job of promoting the market. She said she was doing well at the market though she could have done better. That sentiment is contrasted with Shuknecht saying elsewhere that during the Summer in the City festival she had to throw out 10 crates of produce because of a lack of sales, in part due to a lack of access to the market because of all the efforts concentrated on Summer in the City. She then told Burkel she would not be returning to the market.

We have not yet been able to reach Burkel for further comment, though he told the Daily News that he is not sure the BID will again support the market in 2009.

In other news:

  • Area farmers assessed the damage from this summer's repeated hailstorms and found a beaten crop: whole fields of tomatoes and cucumbers wiped out, apples dented and bruised. They will seek additional federal disaster aid. Check out the extensive article by Tom Rivers for more details. One aspect of the issue not dealt with in much detail that would be interesting to hear more about is the affect the loss of so much produce will have on the market. Will it be strictly local? Will the local market not be affected at all?
  • Batavia Downs hosted its fourth annual wiener dog races Sunday. Defending champion, Rudy, owned by Ann Schiller of Lancaster, won his first heat but came in second in the finals to Bambi, owned by Grace De Valder of Bergen.

As always, we encourage you to get out and pick up a copy of the Daily News at local newsstands. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 22, 2008 - 3:11pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, wind power, agriculture, wind farm, alexander, track.

After 87 years, the Genesee-Orleans Vegetable Growers Cooperative Association voted to dissolve the organization Monday, according to the Daily News. No summary will do justice to the fine piece by Tom Rivers, so today might be a good one to go out and pick up a copy of the paper, if you don't already have one. Rivers really has his finger on the pulse of this agricltural community, and it shows in the depth of his reporting.

Reporter Matt Surtel informs us that the Citizens for Wind Energy in Perry and the Wind Information + Responsible Energy group from Alabama have joined forces and become part of the statewide organization: Renewable Energy Advocates Coalition, which is some 80,000 members strong.

For those who haven't yet heard, Sen. Barack Obama says that he has made his choice for vice-presidential candidate. But he's not telling anybody. Why say so, then? Oh, politics.

Congratulations to the Alexander girls track team, which won the Genesee Region League Championships, the Section 5 Class CC title, and now send 10 girls to the 2008 Genesee Region League girls track all-star team. Not to mention that their very own Dave Radley was named coach of the year. The lucky all-stars from Alexander are: Stacey Flint, Courtney Aldrich, Taylor Antinore, Kayleigh DeAngelo, Amanda Zielonka, Maranda Ohlson, Alyssa Hinkson, Jodie Skidmore, Eleonara Costa and Sidney Flint.

If you don't believe me that the talents of Tom Rivers are enough of a reason to buy today's paper, let me entice you further with another fun feature story by Virginia Kropf. In this tale, she sits down with Catherine Roth, who turns 88 on Saturday, along with her two sisters. They're triplets, and may be the oldest surviving triplets in the whole country. Kropf writes a fabulous tale about the sisters, full of such great lines as: "She liked it when they started wearing different things, because if one wanted to borrow the others clothes, they had a variety." Or this one from Catherine: "We were spoiled collectively." So much fun. Thanks again, Virginia.

As I've already said twice, you should head out and pick up your own copy of the Daily News. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 21, 2008 - 1:17pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, school for the blind, emergency, spray park.

Austin Spray Park is closed for the season—two weeks early, according to the Daily News. A waterline break that damaged "some electrical components" is cited as the cause of the early closure. It would have taken more than two weeks to fix the problem, and since the park was scheduled to closed on September 2 anyway, officials decided to just call it quits for the season.

In other news:

  • Canandaiguan Erin Fairben will take over as superintendent of the New York State School for the Blind. She comes to Batavia from the Geneva City School District. She starts September 2.
  • Wyoming and Orleans counties have joined in the statewide NY-Alert system that provides emergency alert information such as road closings and severe weather warnings. Genesee County is "implementing the service."
  • Assemblyman Steve Hawley will lead youth in a pledge to be drug-free at 6:30pm at the Muckdogs game this Friday.
  • Victorian Manor will host a get-together "for people in any type of business to get acquainted" with the staff and amenities of the refurbished apartment building. Show up at 427 East Main St. from 5:00 to 7:00pm.

Pick up your own copy of the Daily News at local newsstands. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 20, 2008 - 2:59pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, Daily News, business, police, planning.

A Batavia detective will become a full-time member of the Genesee County Drug Task Force, according to the Daily News. This marks the first time since 2002 that a member of the city force joined up full-time on the multi-agency task force. Police Chief Randy Baker said he hopes the group will continue its focus on "the big guy," as well as the "smaller concerns of neighborhoods." At least, that's what I think he says. Here's the full quote, from reporter Scott DeSmit:

"We met and we wanted to refocus our efforts ... They were doing long-term investigations, focusing on getting the big guy rather than addressing the smaller concerns of neighborhoods. That's all tied together and that's what we're doing."

It's not clear if the chief is saying that the task force was concentrated on the big guy and now they will focus more on smaller concerns, or my interpretation up above. I phoned the chief to clear up the ambiguity. He was unavailable. I left a message.

UPDATE: Chief Baker did get back to me this afternoon to confirm that the second interpretation is correct, that the task force will do more to address the "smaller concerns."

Plans for the soon-to-be-built Sallome's Deli on Oak Street—check out their job listing on our site—were approved by the city planning board last night following a brief debate over the number of signs to be allowed. There's no mention of when the deli will open at 34 Oak St., but the hours will likely be from 8:00am to 8:00pm six days a week.

Richard J. Peters II, 18, of Batavia, was sentenced to 11 1/2 years in state prison for the rape of a four-year-old girl. Wyoming County Judge Mark H. Dadd added 20 years of post-release supervision. Peters could have faced up to 25 years in prison for pleading guilty to a felony county of first-degree rape and a felony count of first-degree criminal sex act.

As the wrecking ball gets set to smash Le Roy's historic Masonic Temple to the ground, Genesee County's Economic Development Center gets set to give Walgreens $122,375 in tax exemptions. The temple, a few neighboring retail spaces and a couple of homes around the corner are all being torn down to make way for the pharmacy chain.

Batavia's town planning board has determined that the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park will have a "significant impact on the environment." A public hearing has been set for 7:00pm on September 16 at the town hall, 3833 West Main Street Road, for residents to hear about the impact and voice their opinions on the project. "The potential effects of constructing the Ag Park," writes Paul Mrozek, "include increased noise, odor and traffic and converting 200 acres of vacant land into an industrial park."

August 20, 2008 - 1:32pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, gas prices.

Have you ever wondered why gas will cost you $4.19 in downtown Batavia while guzzlers in Henrietta are paying $3.67—real prices from last week? Well folks, it's called "zone pricing," and it's another example of why we read lines such as these in the New York Times: "By any measure, Exxon Mobil's performance last year was a blowout." That's from an article this past February, written after the oil giant recorded the highest profit for any company ever. Broken down, the $404 billion in sales translated to a profit of $1,287 for every second of the year in 2007, according to the Times. In case you're wondering, every second of the year, Exxon Mobil earned several hundred dollars more than a minimum wage worker earns in a month. So you know, there are 2,592,000 seconds in a month.

While those staggering inequalities probably won't change any time soon, the state is taking a small but significant step in evening out the playing field of hometown gasoline sales. Tom Wanamaker writes in an article that appears in today's Daily News that the state senate passed lesgilsation yesterday that would "outlaw zone pricing of gasoline." The bill which sailed through the assembly and senate awaits the governor's approval.

Zone pricing is a technique used by petroleum wholesalers in which they determine prices based upon the demographics of the region.

Sen. James Alesi explains zone pricing this way:

"If one area typically is more affluent than another ... the price per gallon determined by the wholesaler, at which gasoline is offered for sale to the retailers may be slightly higher in that area, than an area where the clientele is primarily a working class neighborhood."

New York's North Country Gazette interprets zone pricing slightly differently:

Petroleum companies use "zone pricing to determine geographical price zones based on the demographics of a certain area. For example, in areas where competition is limited, wholesalers will charge a higher per gallon tank price to retailers. Gas retailers who are charged more then pass those increased costs onto the consumers at the pump, in many cases affecting those who are least able to pay.

So, one source figures the phenomenon as affecting the affluent, another decries it as a means of further extorting the poor. Whichever is more accurate, in a time when gas prices are already prohibitive for many, the technique of zone pricing just shouldn't exist.

To learn more about the bill, visit the state assembly Web site.

August 19, 2008 - 3:07pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, genesee county.

I've been reading and summarizing articles from the Daily News every weekday for nearly four months now. Sometimes, it's smooth sailing: reporter so-and-so wrote such-and-such about who, what and where. Bada bing, you know. But not always. Somewhere in the middle of the bada and the bing, everything just goes haywire and I'm literally left scratching my head and chasing sources to make sense of what seemed at first glance to be a very simple story. Take this headline from today's local section: Genesee Co. seeking to raise fees for filing papers, copies.

What would you expect this story to be about? Maybe the cost of copies going up at the county offices? That's what I thought. But... no. Not exactly. Here's what the reporter tells us: A proposed law that will come up for vote at the meeting of the Genesee County Legislature next month could mean an increase in costs.

The measure would affect the cost of recording property records such as affidavits, deeds and mortgages, an increase from $3 to $5 and the clerk's endorsement (official stamp), increase from $5 to $20.

The clerk's office is also requesting a decrease in the cost of a copy of a document's recording page, from $10 to $5.

Aside from the grammatical train wreck of the first sentence, can you tell what costs are actually going up here? Not copies. It looks like they're decreasing. But no. Not even that. I phoned County Clerk Don Read this afternoon to clear things up. A copy, he told me—that is, the cost to make a photocopy of a document at the clerk's office—will remain the same price it has been for the past several years: 65 cents. More than this, the cost of "the copy of a document's recording page"—yikes!—is, in fact, decreasing, which completely contradicts the headline that told us the fees were going to be raised for copies.

As for what's really going on, here are the plain facts, courtesy of Read:

1. An increase in the fee for recording property records such as affidavits, deeds and mortgages from $3 to $5 per page. Read says that "recording" is not exactly the same as "filing," but the action is essentially the same.

2. An increase in the fee for a clerk's endorsement from $5 to $20. A clerk's endorsement is essentially the official info inscribed by the clerk on a document including the signature. Yes, you have to pay for that.

3. A decrease in the fee for a recording page from $10 to $5. The "recording page" is sort of like the cover page that goes on other documents to identify the contents of the documents—think the cover letter for a fax, for example.

There you go.

If you're looking to contract a headache over lunch, pick up the Daily News at any local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

August 18, 2008 - 1:27pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News.

Former principal and longtime pastor the Rev. David J. Schneider died Saturday at his home in Batavia, according to the Daily News. He was 84. Schieder was born in Brooklyn and moved with his family to Batavia when he was a child. He was principal of Notre Dame High School for 15 years, until 1989, when he became the pastor of Holy Name of Mary Church in East Pembroke. "A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary's Church, 16 Ellicott St., Batavia. Burial will be in St. Joseph's Cemetery."

You can pick up a copy of the Daily News at local newsstands. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

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.

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