Time for a local news roundup, that’s almost completely true!
UNDER THE BUS?
A preliminary vote by the NFTA favors a 25 cent fare increase, raising the fare from $1.75 to $2.00, to help eliminate a budget gap that threatened to severely curtail bus and rail service.
The 367 commissioners voted to approve to raise the fare, save for two holdouts: Michael Hughes and Mark Croce. Croce, (who you may know as a big time developer who owns plenty of restaurants, parking lots and now, the Statler) said:
“I think we need more support from the state. The increase is just a temporary solution. But for a long-term plan, we need additional state support.”
Croce is an expert in getting government support, as he received a $5.3 million dollar grant funded from the State Dormitory Authority to restore the Statler building. This money, presumably, will help make next year’s Ice Ball at “Statler City” suck less than the one that rang in 2012.
EERILY SIMILAR COUNTY POLITICS
The new Erie County Executive has been back and forth with the Republicans in the legislature on how to pay for a $7 million dollar legal settlement. The county just happens to have a “risk” fund to cover such settlements, but there’s only about 5.5 million in that pot, and plenty of lawsuits already going that could potentially deplete the fund. Executive Mark Poloncarz wanted to borrow the money to cover the 7 million dollar settlement via a low-interest judgement bond. The Republicans wanted to not borrow at all, but then suggested paying out 3 million, and borrow the rest. Poloncarz has issued multiple counter-offers with the latest being 5 million borrowed, and two million paid out of the risk fund. And yesterday, the Exec called them on the carpet over not being able to seal the deal. Republican Legislator Kevin Hardwick says they have compromised more than halfway, while Poloncarz accuses the Republicans of “holding the agreement hostage” and risking additional monetary penalties if they don’t pay the settlement by March 5th. Were the Republicans genuine in their offers of compromise, or was this a case of “moving the goalposts”? Suggestion: Why not make one final offer to split it straight down the middle? Besides, if there are any lawsuits pertaining to getting more staff at the Erie County Holding Center due to too many prisoners swinging from the rafters, they just may need to take out another loan…
*UPDATE: I’ve changed my mind on this. Until the Republicans in the County Legislature can address and/or refute the financial breakdown of the various borrowing scenarios that Executive Poloncarz has laid out in his press release , (after all, he was the former County Comptroller, so he can lay out the numbers pretty good) then I’ll assume they’re operating in bad faith. Framing it solely as a “borrowing bad, cash good” scenario and making comparisons to “running the county government on a MasterCard (as the Erie County Republican Committee accuses) may make for a good soundbite, but it doesn’t address the reality of the situation. Can the two parties work together on this? Why not? “ An agreement was reached by former-County Executive Chris Collins and then-County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz (and endorsed by the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority) to borrow $7 million to pay for the lawsuit through a judgment bond.” It was good enough enough for Chris Collins, good enough for Mark Poloncarz, and even the control board signed off on it. I give the Republican legislators 24 hours to break down their reasoning…starting…now…
Daredevil Nik Wallenda finally convinced the Canadians that it would be a good idea to allow him to do a tightrope walk across the Falls this summer. One of the conditions the Niagara Parks Commission made was that Wallenda would pay VAT tax on any sneakers he purchased at the outlet mall on the U.S. side when he crossed over the gorge into Canada.
Wallenda believes this will be quite the revenue generating tourist attraction, rivaling the media circus created when daredevil/stuntman “Super” Dave Osborne attempted to go UP the Falls in a barrel in 1982. Hopefully, Wallenda won’t crack his skull open…
Speaking of attractions in Niagara Falls that could crack your skull open, the drama of the Seneca Niagara Casino fight involving state senator Mark Grisanti, his wife, and a prominent Seneca businessman and pals continues as the Seneca Nation of Indians President Robert Odawi Porter has released a statement. Here’s the shorter version:
“All parties involved are at fault, and don’t make fun of Indians…”
And that’s the mostly true news of Western New York from Tommunisms: “All Potshots, No Solutions…”