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February 25, 2009 - 12:53pm

Sen. Charles Schumer, in tandem with newly appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, issued nearly twenty press releases this morning on funding earmarked for upstate New York communities in the upcoming federal omnibus bill. None of that money has yet been tagged for projects in Genesee County, at least not according to the announcements out of Schumer's office. Buffalo and Niagara Falls were both listed as recipients of significant funding.

Buffalo was awarded $950,000 for its Main Street revitilization project. Niagara Falls will receivie $950,000 to ramp up its "international railway station." Tack on funding for university and medical projects, railway infrastructure and tourism, and the funding level for the greater Buffalo region tops $3 million.

From an article in the Buffalo News this morning:

The money for Buffalo and Niagara Falls will be included in an omnibus federal spending bill funding government operations through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill today, with Senate consideration set for next week.

Rochester also looks to benefit. The George Eastman House is on the bill for $381,000 "to preserve and allow access to museum library collections through new Web applications."

From the press release:

"This is terrific news for the entire Rochester community," said Schumer.  "The George Eastman House is one of the oldest and most revered photography and film museums worldwide. In these technology-driven times, it’s important for the federal government to do everything in its power to ensure that such historic, cultural gems as this one are able to adapt in ways that allow them to both preserve their heritage and expand their resources.”

“These federal dollars will go a long way to preserve the collections at the George Eastman House while making them accessible through the internet,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These snapshots are an important part of our history. I will continue to work with Senator Schumer to ensure that New York receives its fair share of federal funding.”

A significant portion has been eyed for higher education in the state. St. John Fisher College is on tap for $475,000. Albany's College of Nanoscience and Engineering is marked for $1 million. Binghamton University is in line to receive $2 million.

Batavia City Council members Charlie Mallow and Marianne Clattenburg were in Albany recently meeting with "key officials," according to Mallow, in the hopes of securing fundig for the city. We hope to soon hear what progress they made.

February 24, 2009 - 11:57am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, GCC, schools, Nation, Sudan.

From Genesee Community College:

Genesee Community College is pleased to announce that second year student Moses Nhial has become a United States citizen. A celebration for this significant occasion took place on February 19 with students, faculty, friends and local legislators in attendance to congratulate Moses on his remarkable achievement.

The celebration took place in the library at the Batavia campus and many library staff members, as well as friends and College Village roommates of Moses, were present. Local legislators on hand were Genesee County legislature chair, Mary Pat Hancock, Genesee Community College's Board of Trustees chair, Laurie Miller, and Genesee County legislator, Jerome (Jay) Grasso on behalf of New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer.

Moses was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from Senator Ranzenhofer, as well as gifts from Genesee's library staff. Moses took a few moments to express his gratitude and speak on his past and future plans. "When I came to the United States, they called us the Lost Boys," Moses said. "But now I feel as if I have been found."

Moses Nhial, a refugee from Sudan and a full-time student at Genesee Community College, has experienced trials and suffering that most Americans can hardly imagine, much less endure. Moses overcame incredible adversity to become an ambitious young man, flourishing in an environment very unlike what he experienced growing up. Born in 1987 in Sudan, Moses' childhood was filled with attacks on his village and constant fleeing to new refugee camps and other countries to avoid violence and brutality. With help from the United Nations and Catholic Charities, Moses came to the United States in 2001 and ever since has been thriving as an extraordinary young adult. For more information on Moses' past and future plans, please visit http://web.genesee.edu/news/dspArticle/2554/.

Photo caption: Standing left to right are at Moses Nhial's U.S. Citizenship celebration: Mary Pat Hancock, chair of Genesee County Legislature; Jerome J. Grasso, Genesee County Legislator standing in for Michael Ranzenhofer of the New York State Senate; Moses Nhial, Genesee Community College student and recent US citizen; Laurie J. Miller, chair of Genesee's Board of Trustees; and Genesee's President, Stuart Steiner.

February 23, 2009 - 11:27am
posted by Philip Anselmo in economy, Nation, polls.

An article in the Buffalo News this morning takes a look at an economic forecast that sees a further worsening of the nation's economy throughout this year with an upswing due to start in 2010 and gain momentum in 2011.

From the article:

The economy is expected to remain feeble this year - even with new efforts by the administration and Congress to provide relief.

Just over the past few weeks, a $787 billion recovery package of increased government spending and tax cuts was signed into law, the president unveiled a $75 billion plan to stem home foreclosures and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said as much as $2 trillion could be plowed into the financial system to jump-start lending.

In terms of lost economic activity in 2009, the biggest hit will come in the first six months, forecasters said.

And...

Even in the best-case scenario, with the recession ending sometime in the second half of this year, employment conditions will be tough.

Some of the forecasters said the nation's unemployment rate could rise as high as 9 percent for all of 2009 and hit 10 percent next year. In 2008, the jobless rate averaged 5.8 percent, the highest since 2003. The survey's median forecast - or middle point - called for the unemployment rate to rise to 8.4 percent this year and 8.8 percent next year.

Companies touching every part of the economy have announced thousands of layoffs already this year and more cuts came last week. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., said it will cut nearly 5,000 jobs, or almost 7 percent of its work force, this year, following the elimination of about 4,000 jobs in the second half of last year. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler, which are asking the government for billions more in aid to remain viable, announced plans to cut 50,000 more jobs, 47,000 of which would be at GM.

What do you think? Will we start to pull out of this at the end of this year? Or will the vicious cycle suck us further down?

February 11, 2009 - 12:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in politics, Nation, Washington, Whig.

We often receive press releases from distant sources or from businesses that kind-of-sort-of have a tenuous at best connection with our region. For the most part, they end up in my trash bin, because they just don't have anything in them that would appeal to our readers.

Not so today.

We received a news release from a fellow from Buffalo, representing another fellow from Washington, D.C. They wrote to us to inform us of the up-and-coming modern Whig party.

From the release:

Founded by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Modern Whig Party has quickly attracted 20,000 members to go along with 25 state chapters. On the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, this grassroots political movement will announce the official modern revival of the historic Whig Party. Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, with Presidents' Day officially celebrated February 16, 2009.

The Whig Party is intimately intertwined with Lincoln's legacy. This vaunted president helped build the Whigs into a mainstream, common-sense movement and in fact served as a Whig legislator. While Lincoln joined the newly formed Republican Party after the demise of the Whigs, he always maintained the rational mentality of his longtime party.
Through the hard work and motivation of recently deployed service members, the Modern Whig Party was organized to be a home for those voters who place common-sense, rational thought ahead of ideology. Like the original party of Lincoln, the Modern Whigs cater to those who subscribe to mainstream values across the political spectrum.

During the organization phase of this movement, the Modern Whig Party already is recognized as the fastest-growing mainstream political movement in the country. Thousands of moderate Republicans and Democrats have signed on. With an executive committee and national headquarters in Washington, DC, the Modern Whig Party is recapturing the longtime ideals of Lincoln as they build toward being a true party for the rest of us.

Contact: Mike Lebowitz — 571-251-1490, [email protected]

The Modern Whig Party
2141 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite C-2
Washington, DC 20191

For a little bit of background, here's a nugget of info from Wikipedia on the original Whig party:

Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from 1833 to 1856, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party. In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the executive branch and favored a program of modernization and economic protectionism. This name was chosen to echo the American Whigs of 1776, who fought for independence, and because "Whig" was then a widely recognized label of choice for people who saw themselves as opposing autocratic rule.

My dictionary tells me that the word "Whig" is likely a truncation of the Scottish term: "Whiggamore," which was the nickname given to a band of 17th century Scottish rebels who fought against British hegemony. Cool.

February 10, 2009 - 9:43am

In the New York Times this morning, we read this of President Obama's appearance last night at a White House news conference:

The news conference was the centerpiece of an intense and highly orchestrated campaign by the administration to wrest control of the stimulus debate from Republicans and reframe it on Mr. Obama’s terms.

Did he succeed? Was it what he needed to do?

February 10, 2009 - 8:16am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, business, city council, construction, finance, Nation, stimulus.

Batavia's City Council voted in favor of a measure last night that would use $425,000 to "design work for a half dozen" infrastructure projects, WBTA's Dan Fischer reports. That investment of $425,000 is supposed to yield $4.5 million worth of construction, on projects such as: undersized water mains, waterline break history, inoperable valves, sanitary sewer line conditions and road conditions.

Fischer explains that the $425,000 would be part of the aid received by the city from the Video Lottery Terminal Aid that was received earlier this year.

Councilman Frank Ferrando is quoted in the Daily News this morning as saying: "If we can get $4.5 million to get jobs that we have to do and can get it for an investment of $425,000, I think we have to do it,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of money out there."

No one, however, explains how any of this would work. In fact, rather than explaining it, the article today in the Daily has only this to say:

It is a gamble. Assistant Manager Sally Kuzon said there’s no guarantee of the city actually getting the money from the state Economic Facility Corp. But spending $425,000 to design those six projects is a move toward it, she said.

It's a gamble!? So the city plans to gamble with gambling money. A little irony, perhaps. Furthermore, where did the state Economic Facility Corp. come from? No one is explaining this to us, folks. All we hear is Frank Ferrando saying: 'Hey, we can turn $425,000 into $4.5 million. Poof! We're rich and we have jobs. How can we not do this?'

What everyone has failed to note is that the hoped-for millions that would magically be available if only the city spent this $425,000 are part of the proposed economic stimulus package that just last night was the subject of a national news conference.

From a letter drafted by Assistant City Manager Sally Kuzon:

I have been monitoring the progress of the President's proposed Economic Stimulus Package over the last several weeks in an attempt to place the city in a competitive position to receive funding for infrastructure improvements.

Kuzon goes on to say that while there has been "tremendous debate" over just what will happen with the stimulus, she believes that "infrastructure improvements nationwide will have a prominent position within this initiative." In other words, the city should get it on it. We should submit "shovel ready projects" to the state's Economic Facility Corp., which will adminster the federal funds allocated to New York.

She continues:

Although there is a certain amount of uncertainty as to whether or not the programs will include loans or grants or whether the program will extend to projects not currently listed on the (Intended Use Plan); it is clear that only shovel ready projects submitted to the EFC will be considered for the current or future funding rounds. Based on this premise, I am recommending several projects for Council to consider submitting tothe EFC for economic stimulus funding.

We mentioned some of those projects above. The $425,000 requested by Kuzon would be used to design the projects and submit the designs to the state so that they would be eligible to receive the funding if and when it became available. However...

It is unknown at this time if the design phase or only construction cost will be eligible for reimbursement. If for some reason the city does not receive economic stimulus funding the projects will be designed and ready for construction as funds or grants become available in the future.

In a letter drafted to the City Council on Kuzon's proposal, City Manager Jason Molino writes: "The crux of this stimulus package is to get people back to work receiving pay checks; with $4,500,000 of infrastructure improvements that goal will be acheived."

Nowhere does anyone explain how these infrastructure improvements will acheive the goal of "getting people back to work." Kuzon never once takes up this issue in her letter, and nothing from Council addresses this either. We only hear people tell us: It will happen.

Molino justifies this use of these funds in this way:

Utilizing a portion of this years (sic) VLT aid to support the project design costs is both appropriate and realistic considering the City did not budget for this one-time revenue and these costs are one-time capital costs.

Council President Charlie Mallow can be heard in an audio quote on WBTA as saying that Batavia needs to do this. Otherwise, the jobs will go to New York City. He wrote to us in an e-mail this morning:

The action council took last night was about job creation right here in Genesee County, instead of New York City. Regardless of how we feel about the spending on the national level, we owe it to our residents to secure our share of this huge stimulus package. We are all going to pay for it whether we have enough foresight to act or not on a local level.

We're waiting to hear back on how this will create jobs. See below.

Click here to download the letters by Molino and Kuzon, along with descriptions of the infrastructure projects noted in the proposal.

Councilmen Sam Barone and Bob Bialkowski were the only two members of Council who voted against the measure, saying that the state aid could be used instead to reduce the city's deficit or for "future needs."

Updated (8:28 a.m.): Council President Charlie Mallow responded to our question of how this stimulus money would create jobs.

Any aid we receive needs to be spent on projects that are shovel ready and can break ground in 180 days. That means putting people to work this summer. Local construction workers would be the first ones to work or to keep on working. Then there is the trickle down affect with people who work driving trucks, making concrete, selling building supplies, laying pipe, and even restaurants the workers, etc. We as a local government decided to do what we needed to do so that our people would feel the benefits of these make work projects that will be going on around the country. I believe this depression era type projects will boost our economy up and out of the slump we find ourselves in.
 
If fully funded, these projects will rebuild parts of 11 streets in the city this year. These projects are for sewer, water, road surface and sidewalks, and most call for complete reconstruction. This work will be on top of the work being done on Walnut, Oak and the $150,000 of sidewalk repair already budgeted this year. There will be a lot of activity going on this summer to rebuild the city from the ground up.

Update (8:35 a.m.): A very timely headline in the Buffalo News this morning reads: New York loses millions in revised Senate stimulus bill. From the article:

Gone entirely is funding for higher education construction, which, under the House-passed version, could have meant up to $242 million for the University at Buffalo.

Similarly, the Senate eliminated funding for school construction. The House bill would have provided $31.9 million for the district of Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.

Senators also halved a $79 billion fiscal stabilization fund for the states. While much of the aid to local school districts remains intact, the cuts included a $25 billion fund aimed at helping governors balance their budgets.

Will we see even more funds cut from the stimulus by the time it is passed?

October 21, 2008 - 4:12pm

 

The Neutered American Dollar
 
There are several words that hold the contemporary news media hostage: the Dow, economic recession, fuel prices, and bank loans. We are the only nation on earth that has "In God we trust" inscribed on our dollar bill, but that dollar is shrinking daily. It doesn't buy what it once did. Why is this happening?
 
God warned Israel that if they failed to follow Him, they would lose His blessing and become in indebted to foreigners: "He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail" (Deut. 28:44). He said that they would also have droughts, incurable diseases, and aliens would fill the land. Think of what's happening to America:
 
Our national debt exceeds 10 trillion dollars. Much of this debt is to foreign nations. We experience torturous droughts, and then massive floods. We are also plagued with devastating hurricanes, killer tornadoes, and wildfires that torch thousands of acres. A little closer to home, over 2,300,000 Americans will get cancer in the next year. These things are not evidences of God's blessing. So why are they happening to us?
 
Aren't we a morally good nation? Don't we trust in God? Before you answer, here are some statistics for you to consider:
 
  • Since 1990, more than 300,000 people have been murdered in the U.S.
  • More than 50 million babies have been aborted since Roe v.Wade.
  • 50–60% of married couples admit to adultery, and 5 million unwed couples live together.
  • 75–80% have had premarital sex by the age of 19.
  • One-third of births are out of wedlock.
  • 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Americans spend up to 13 billion annually on pornography.
  • We have over 2,200,000 people in prison - the highest number in the world.
  • Surveys suggest that 91% of Americans lie regularly.
Still, the idea that we have somehow offended God is unthinkable to us as Americans. Rather, we blame the economy, politicians, pesticides, global warming, global cooling, El Niño, Mother Nature — anything but ourselves and our relationship to God. However, if you are in the middle of smog, the air may look normal and clean. But from a bird’s eye view of 10,000 feet, you will see that the toxic, innocuous smog envelopes your entire living space.
 
To see our true moral state, we have to look at ourselves from God's perspective. Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." The Bible says that if you hate someone, you are a murderer. Lying lips are "an abomination to the Lord." Deceitfulness is so serious to God that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. Also, no thief or adulterer will enter Heaven.
 
How many lies have you told in your life? Have you ever stolen anything, used God's name in vain, or looked with lust? If you have broken those Commandments, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and if you are guilty on Judgment Day God’s Word clearly states that after death you will face eternal condemnation, torment, and punishment in Hell.
 
That’s bad news. But that's not God's will. He is rich in mercy and has made a way for you to be forgiven. You broke God's Law (the Ten Commandments), but Jesus paid your fine in His life’s blood when He suffered and died on the cross. That means God can legally dismiss your case. Imagine you are convicted of a serious crime for which you are legitimately guilty. The penalty is death. Having received your sentence from the judge, suddenly an innocent man bursts into the courtroom and offers to pay the death penalty for you. That’s what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished. God’s righteous justice and wrath demands death for sin. But He can commute your death sentence and let you live, because of the suffering death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." What you must do is repent (turn from all sin) and trust in Jesus alone to forgive you, and rescue you from sin and Hell. If you do that, God will grant you the gift of everlasting life. So, don’t put it off. Repent and trust in Jesus today. You may not have tomorrow.
 
It may come as a surprise to you, but that is the core message of the Bible and the truth on which our founding fathers built our beloved nation. Yet our society has slid so far from its roots it has reached the point where most will likely take offense at such talk. If you care about this nation and where you will spend eternity, get right with God now. Cry out to God, acknowledging your sinful condition before Him and your desperate need for a Savior. Such a cry might sound something like this:

"Oh God, please forgive me for sinning against You. I turn from all my sin and trust alone in Jesus as my Savior from sin and Hell and the Lord over my life. I will read the Bible daily and obey what I read. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
 
 
 
 
Modified from “The Shrinking American Dollar,” by Ray Comfort, http://www.livingwaters.com.
 

 

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