It all started with Erie County Legislator Al DeBenedetti's interview featured in the last edition of Alt, so perhaps we're partly to blame for Erie County's failure to produce a budget.
Al accused the Giambra administration of presenting a phony budget. He said that the budget that the Erie County Legislature was permitted to see depends on hundreds of early retirements that we know will not happen. Therefore the county executive is knowingly presenting a false picture of the county's finances.
After that story aired, a special hearing on the budget was convened. Representatives of the Giambra administration appeared before the legislature with a secret weapon: PowerPoint.
The Democrats, however, had their deflector shields up. They refused to be mesmerized by the horror story of runaway Medicaid costs. So the County Exec's team took its fine Microsoft product elsewhere. The false information on early retirements never came up. The failure to respect the power of PowerPoint made it personal, so personal that the budget thingy has been postponed until September, so that everyone can just chill out. Maybe by that time, both branches can agree to watch some Macromedia Flash presentations. God forbid government provides a plain old spreadsheet to anybody.
Artvoice Ignores Bass Pro Gambling Link Artvoice recently featured a cover article about Seneca opposition leader, Bobby Jones. Jones and his political party, Senecas for Justice and Preservation, have been given short shrift by The Buffalo News, which managed to run a six-part series on issues confronting the Seneca Nation without so much as mentioning Jones or his many criticisms of the Seneca Tribal Council.
The Council has pursued casino gambling at the expense of core issues of sovereignty, most notably tribal land claims cases. Additionally, New York State's attempt to tax sales to non-Native Americans could shape up to be the main issue in this fall's tribal elections. And, while many consider Mr. Jones to be an outsider, he has been successful in putting pressure on the Tribal Council to be held accountable for its cozy relationship with Gov. George Pataki and the Niagara Falls Seneca Casino kingpin, Mickey Brown.
While the Artvoice article did a good job of describing the numerous legal options available to the Seneca Nation and outlining general strategies of the SJP, it failed to mention an important issue of some concern to the City of Buffalo, namely, the very real possibility that the city's pending sweetheart deal with Bass Pro shops may represent a Trojan horse for bringing a Native American casino into the Aud. You don't have to believe allegations made to this effect coming from people such as Jones; all you have to do is go to the company's website to discover the fact that Bass Pro does indeed have close ties to the gaming industry and is currently constructing a Las Vegas Pro shop/casino/hotel. According to www.basspro.com, The hotel and casino will also be themed around hunting and fishing traditions and all will be connected by a common entry.
How's that for seamless?
Is it possible that Bass Pro would consider a similar arrangement in the Aud? Certainly, with people such as Masiello so enthusiastic about providing Bass Pro with millions of dollars of taxpayer support, one can be excused for expecting another shoe to drop.
What's so disconcerting about this is that Buffalo Sabres managing partner and Artvoice supporter Larry Quinn is a big proponent of Bass Pro coming to Buffalo. What's the thought process here? Are we making Delaware North happy? Do Sabre fans really want to share a parking lot with a casino? Will Sabre fans lose money at the casino, only to wind up listening to the hockey game on the radio while driving home?
In terms of economics, at what point do all of these new gambling opportunities in Western New York begin to make a real dent in discretionary income? It's a social experiment, and, if it turns out to have a negative impact, there won't be anything that residents can do about it.
If Bass Pro isn't interested in developing a casino in the Aud, why are they being fed so much government money? When Bass Pro competitor Gander Mountain opened its doors, it did so on its own dime. Is it government's job now to punish them by subsidizing a competitor? Regular Alt readers should know the answer to that question. Briefly
by John McMAhon
As noted in State Comptroller Alan Hevesi's recent report on public authorities in New York State, more than ninety percent of state debt is generated by New York's shadow government: public authorities.
Now, the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority has the Holy Grail of State authorities in its grasp: it is on the verge of being able to borrow money. In the public authority world, that means that the control board can borrow for itself into infinity.
In layman's terms, it's simple: taxation without representation. This great news for Bob Wilmers and his friends at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership was delivered in a Buffalo News article on Buffalo Comptroller Andrew SanFilippo's appearance before the city's Common Council, earlier this month.
Buffalo's rating is at the lowest investment grade. SanFilippo thinks that some are assuming that, if the rating drops even more, the control board could borrow on the city's behalf. The control board is expected to approve plans for bond-anticipation notes when it meets July 21.