The Griffin administration presented a tough front of blue collar tenacity in the face of the consequences of the disintegration of the American industrial economy which gave birth to the City itself as well as its working class culture. In hindsight, the Masiello regime, though nurtured in the traditional Democratic Party politics of Chairman Joe Crangle, owed more to the get-rich quick, excessive eighties mentality of the Reagan era.
Under Masiello, the political machinery of the Party continued running, even while key components started to break down or stopped working entirely. Masiello claimed to pledge allegiance to Governor Pataki for the purposes of obtaining more State aid to the City. In the meantime, federal aid most notably, HUD money flowed into the pockets of wealthy Democrats and Republicans alike. What the City wound up with in the long run is a fiscal control board run by the Republican Governor, and a tax base that has collapsed.
Enter Byron Brown and his comprehensive plan. We know what they say about the best laid plans, be they comprehensive or piecemeal. The best thing about the Brown administration is that it's history has yet to be written. We can be certain that Brown and his plan will soon be forced to deal with the mostly negative consequences of the actions or inactions of his predecessors.
It's not too late for Brown to redress the serious planning disasters that are swiftly moving forward in the proposed Bass Pro/Downtown Casino/Waterfront for the Wealthy schemes currently on the table. This would be no small feat, but Brown's political capital as new Mayor may never be higher than it is right now. What will he do with it? If brought to fruition these Masiello-era schemes will only add to Buffalo's rich legacy of squandered opportunities. We all know the litany: U.B. In Amherst, single line subway running above ground downtown, etc.
On the other hand, the continued accumulation of federal and state debt, the collapse of Delphi (and perhaps GM and Ford), a seemingly permanent radical right hegemony in Washington and the unintended consequences of the global economy and the new crusades in the Middle East may relegate the new Mayor's role to one of symbolic protest at the destruction of the community he was elected to represent.
The Buffalo News Is The News New York Times reporter Judith Miller recently resigned from her position because she was becoming the story. Her protection of confidential source Lewis Scooter Libby placed her at the center of an federal investigation over the blown cover of a CIA agent.
The Buffalo News doesn't seem to share such journalistic ethics. Whether it's the Peace Bridge debate, the absence of investigations or prosecutions of corrupt public officials, or the promotion of Joel Giambra, it seems that the Buffalo News, or to be more precise, its editorial staff, is a major chapter in every local story that develops in Western New York.
When the second richest man in the world is chairman of a monopoly daily newspaper in a town this small, questions are invariably asked. When that paper's community experiences a free fall into an economic and cultural abyss as has happened here in Buffalo, many just assume that the paper and its management are complicit in said decline. The News seems bent on proving its critics right at every turn. If there's one thing those on the left and right can agree on in terms of local issues, it's that the political influence of The Buffalo News has had negative consequences for the community.
In reality, The News and its culture merely reflect the prevalent attitude of business administration in a global economy. The News is run like any other business is in a rust belt economy. Sins of omission are really just benign neglect. Like the textile mills for which its parent company, Berkshire Hathaway was named, The Buffalo News like its host community, is being run into the ground. Why, you ask? In the words of the great Canadian News Baron Conrad Black, In rust we trust.
The Buffalo News has always returned a tidy profit. Many News critics are seeing the writing on the wall Former Artvoice writer and U.B. Professor Bruce Jackson lambasted The News on his website www.buffaloreport.com for a new laundry list of offenses.
Apparently, The News is planning to kill its evening edition as well as its northtowns and southtowns bureaus. Management also wants to slash benefits for writers represented by the news writers guild. No surprises, of course. In addition, Jackson cited a few unnamed sources regarding New President Warren Colville acting like the humorless martinet that he most assuredly is and the rumor that has been circulating ever since the new color presses at the News started rolling that The Buffalo News is going to be sold.
Jackson also beats up on The News for promoting the Bass Pro/Casino developments as done deals but he does so wearily, knowing full well that such a position is to be expected. What he doesn't fully address is the fact that all of these government funded developments are taking place in the very close vicinity of The Buffalo News plant. What would the real estate currently be occupied by The Buffalo News be worth to a prospective buyer if the whole slate of waterfront projects being promoted by The News takes place.
With the advent of the internet, print media has undoubtedly declined and writers can post stories from anywhere, so why maintain a monolithic plant where everything is done under one roof?
The old press facility lovingly referred to as Warren's Museum by the now deposed pressmen at The Buffalo News certainly had longevity going for it, if nothing else. Will the new presses last as long in their current location? Don't bet on it.
By attempting to increase the real estate value in its neighborhood, The Buffalo News may simply be working on its own curb appeal. The News appears to be acting like any other model corporate citizen. That is to say, it's exploiting government resources to extract maximum profit before cratering the entire concern and kicking its workers to the curb. Buffalo may have a new mayor, but the lead story as usual, is that dysfunctional old power broker on Scott St., The Buffalo News. When it came to redirecting federal aid to the inner city of Buffalo into the hands of wealthy political cronies Hizzoner Anthony Masiello was in a class by himself. Few local politicians have ever used the raw materials of likability and incompetence as shields for malfeasance as effectively as Tony. So likable was he, that he ran unchallenged and his reputation for incompetence became so universal that no one ever checked to see who benefited financially from all of his supposed boneheaded-ness.
Well, as Too Tall Tony relinquishes the scepter and crown, in favor of political lobbying and managing the philanthropic institution created by an excess of two million dollars in campaign contributions, there's a new Mayor setting up shop in our downtown art-deco treasure.