If the inability to find microphones in one of the best concert facilities in the country is a harbinger of the control board's ability to find a way to save Buffalo, we’re in trouble.

When asked his impressions of this opening performance, regionalism guru Kevin Gaughan expressed dismay. “It was poor, very poor. It didn’t seem to convey a genuine understanding of the importance of conducting an open process. This has to be conducted as an open process,” Gaughan said.

Unfortunately, running government like a business requires the abandonment of the open process, in the philosophy shared by most of those who are enmeshed in the local political-business nexus. It mirrors the changes that have taken place in this country under George W. Bush.

As if to underscore that connection to the grander scheme of things, rumor has it that control board member and M&T Bank CEO Bob Wilmers had as his lunch guest none other than former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, Jr.

Given the deep pockets of many of the players on the Buffalo scene, the question remains: why has there been practically no investment in this community? Could it be that Buffalo is broke by design?

As long as the control board operates in secrecy, these sort of questions will remain.

PBA Hearings Assemblymember Richard Brodsky of Westchester County chaired a public committee hearing on the Peace Bridge Authority’s eminent domain proposals on July 16 that highlighted a lot of the reasons why, one year after the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Peace Bridge, there is still no new bridge under construction.

To realize its goal of expanding capacity at the existing crossing, the Peace Bridge Authority has requested power of eminent domain on the American side to cover all possible plans that are on the table.

That pre-emptive insurance policy, however, renewed some of the major problems that the PBA has faced throughout the entire process, which has gone on for nearly a decade: mistrust, fear, and a suspicion, whether real or imagined, that the PBA is either unable or unwilling to communicate effectively with the community on this side of the border. Some of the residents who have been directly affected by increased traffic and who may be evicted by construction in the area were on hand to express their anger at the PBA and to plead their case against granting the PBA the extraordinary powers that it has requested.

Yet after some very tough cross-examination of the PBA and its American and Canadian counsel, Brodsky said, “I do not sense a tremendous wave of opposition to the PBA moving forward.”

He added, “An enormous amount of improvement in the process could be made by better communication.” Of course, both The Buffalo News and Artvoice did a great deal to fuel the public mistrust and opposition to the PBA. Now that it has become clear that no signature span will be constructed with public money, the only alternative to the PBA’s plan has been presented by The Detroit International Bridge Co., a company in which Buffalo News, Chairman Warren Buffett held (still holds?) a substantial stake. Opposition to this plan appears to be strong on the Canadian side, as it would require a new plaza. That doesn’t mean, however, that the PBA will be able to avoid further delays, accusations, and complaints about the public process that it must, by law, pursue to achieve its objective of expanding capacity at the border crossing in Buffalo.

While the Detroit International Bridge Co. would like to control truck traffic at an additional crossing here, limitation of commercial capacity at the Peace Bridge also benefits its interests.

Now That’s Italian!: Local GOP Plays Ethnic Card Word is that one of the main goals of County Executive Joel Giambra's administration, now that it is counting its chickens, has to do with reform -- reform of Italian-Americans who are Democrats, that is. Buffalo has a long history of myopic tribal leadership and the current county executive is certainly no exception. Making the GOP the default political association for as large and diverse a population as Italian-Americans represent might not appear to be the greatest area of need that Erie County faces, but it is if you’re Joel Giambra.

Now that the Buffalo Common Council has been reduced to a sort of academic debating society through downsizing and the governor’s draconian control board, you wouldn’t think that it would be a focus of intense campaigning. Yet, Common Councilmember Marc Coppola will be under intense pressure this fall as the GOP spends big on its strategy of eliminating as many Italian-American Democrats as possible. The hope is that voters of this ethnicity will switch their loyalty to the Republicans, based on nothing more than ethnic loyalty to Italian-American Chieftain Joel Giambra. Ironically, Coppola was loyal to Giambra in the push to trim black political representation on the Common Council. His refusal to join the party of the Plutocrats may be his downfall.

Other targets include Al DeBenedetti, former chairman of the Erie County Legislature, and Lynn Marinelli, an artificial Italian by marriage. All of these offenders will be faced by other “good” Italians who are either crypto-Republican Giambracrats or flag waving followers of our “education president.” Joel’s trying to pull an Italian job. It’s a shallow, parochial, and extremely cynical “anti-ideology,” the kind of mindset that has always held this community back. But when you have no new ideas, sometimes it's best to just make believe and keep doing things the old-fashioned (tribal) way. The “Complete Control” Board: Executive Session

To demonstrate the level of transparency that will be practiced, Buffalo’s new ruling junta, aka “the control board,” held a public meeting at the Mary Seaton room of Kleinhans Music Hall. After managing to round up the necessary microphones, the group dispensed with preliminary formalities and promptly moved to adjourn to executive session.