This 1966 Plymouth Valiant 100 four-door sedan was a pretty cheap car when it was new (starting price was $2,095), and it was the second-biggest-selling Valiant that year (over 36,000 produced). Seeing one which still looks to be in service some 46 years later is nothing short of amazing. It’s certainly no collector car, but I’ll bet it gets a lot of looks wherever it goes. That bit of a blackened area around the gas filler cap would have me worried, though. I hope it has full insurance coverage; looks like things could get a little on the hot side if it’s not taken care of. This one was seen in a driveway in the Town of Barker, along with several other old cars. Here’s all of the ’66 Valiants for your perusal.
With today’s anti-school piece about Clarence’s difficulties with its school taxes, you’ve hit a new low. Frankly, given that you’re usually a reasonably progressive thinker who may have more than a passing interest in education, it’s appalling.
Did you speak with your anti-tax friends how the school tax rate – even with the 9.8% hike would have been significantly less than it was in 2003? 2005? The rate would have risen to $15.52/$1000. In 2007 it was $15.86. In 2003 it was $16.85. Did you know that in the last 4 years, Clarence has lost $13 million in state and federal funding? No, you didn’t. If you did, you ignored it.
Did you happen to mention to them that the tax rates in other highly-ranked districts like East Aurora, Williamsville, and Orchard Park are in some cases 2x the ~$15/$1000 it is in Clarence?
Did you mention to them that Clarence has the 2nd best district and is ranked 6th most cost-effective in the region by Business First? Did you know it’s 93rd out of 98 districts in WNY in per-pupil spending?
Did you mention to your tea party friends or your readers how the district cut 60 full-time staffers since 2011? That the proposed budget that failed would have cut another 24?
Ever heard of the Triborough Amendment or the Taylor Law? Did you know that the union agreed to a lower salary increase in its most recent contract than they would have received under Taylor? Did you mention to anyone that, even if the teachers and administration contributed 25% or 50% towards their health care, it wouldn’t close this year’s budget hole?
Did you happen to question whether they knew that state pension costs are completely outside of the control of the local district and the teachers (and their union)? Did the issue of the pension and the recent recession’s affect on it come up at all? Did you know that pension costs take into account the past five years’ worth of investment income, which includes the crash of 2008-2009? Did you happen to mention that the district had basically played Giambra-type games with the budget in past years, leaving us with a green/red budget type situation now?
Did you happen upon the fact that the so-called “Citizens for Sustainable Schools” is a local front group for Americans for Prosperity?
Why are we comparing what an educator makes to what someone at DuPont makes? In what way are they similar, except for the fact that they are “jobs”?
Did you happen to ask your friends what they think an appropriate salary for a tenured teacher with 20 years’ seniority should be?
Did you happen to speak with anyone who supported the tax hike and could have explained why it was deemed necessary? If so, why wasn’t that included in your piece? Why did you simply digest as fact what you were told by opponents?
All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.
1. As you may know, I am a regular contributor to another local website, Trending Buffalo, where I record podcasts (like this one) twice each week with Brad Riter and Alan Bedenko. The operators of TrendingBuffalo have taken it upon themselves to hand out some awards, but unlike the Artvoice or Buffalo Spree awards, the #Trendees will reward local people and business who use social media to make Buffalo a more interesting place to live. I think it’s a cool idea and if you have the time or interest, I’d like to encourage you to vote. Everyone likes lists and awards, right?
2. Last night, Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner and the Buffalo zone chairs voted to endorse Mayor Byron Brown as the Democratic candidate in the 2013 Mayoral election.
Since being elected as the County Democratic Chairman, Zellner has made continual efforts to repair burned bridges between the ECDC and Mayor Brown, resulting in this endorsement. While party unity is nice (tenuous as it may be), it’s still disappointing that Brown is the presumed winner of the primary. As such, it was a no-brainer for Zellner to endorse the Mayor as a means to improve his bona fides as a unifying presence in the party. I mean, what was he going to do, endorse the alleged sexual harasser for the job? Come on.
Anyhow, Brown has done a solid job of making it appear that there is a lot of progress without actually accomplishing a lot. He’s a nice and pleasant enough man, but those who pay attention know that Brown is running a secretive administration that fights real transparency at every turn and has been more focused on the centralization of political power than progress. His Citistat program is a joke, based on garbage data going in with garbage analysis coming out. Personnel scandals, missteps, podium abuse, economic development corruption, alleged FBI investigations into misuse of HUD monies, and a tendency to assemble task forces (in lieu of taking direct action on issues of import) have been the hallmarks of this administration. I could go on and on, but let’s just say there’s no there, there.
Brown’s record is one of efforts taking precedence over results, which after three terms of Tony Masiello’s one-two punch of failure and incompetence seems like progress to most residents of Buffalo. Buffalo is at a crossroads where a dynamic leader with big ideas could implement generational change, but instead we get crumb-hoarding and petty political battles.
Let’s cut to the chase, while Byron Brown is the human equivalent of a long nap, unless he gets caught with a dead girl or a live boy in the next three months, he’s going to coast to victory. The announcement of his aforementioned primary opponent was met with an audible yawn in most corners of the city and Brown’s Republican opposition has secured neither the endorsement of his own party nor made any tangible progress in fundraising. So, hooray, Brown has been endorsed for another term.
Throughout the 20th century, American stores were the locus of low-skilled employment. The total retail workforce tripled between 1940 and 2000, and for much of the century, the sector employed more people than construction and health care combined. Even today, the two most common occupations in America, by a wide margin, are retail salesperson and cashier. Last year, 7.6 million people held those jobs—more than the total number of workers in Florida.
Retail still employs one in nine working Americans, and retail jobs have grown since the bottom of the Great Recession. But we might be witnessing the moment when it passes over the mountaintop. Between 1950 and 1990, retail employment grew more than 50 percent faster than the general workforce did. Since 1990, it’s grown 50 percent slower. Retail now employs fewer people than it did in 1999. And those people work significantly fewer hours, too.
If so, what does that mean for the economy?
Standard economic theory suggests that, in a smoothly functioning economy, low-skill jobs really do grow on trees, and are largely fungible—it’s the steady loss of middle-class jobs we should worry about. Retail jobs aren’t going suddenly, cataclysmically extinct; they’re likely to decline slowly.
Yet there is a worse scenario, in which the squeeze in retail work intensifies competition for other low-skill jobs, pushing down wages at the bottom and pushing some people out of the labor force entirely. This possibility should not be dismissed too readily.
Think about what happens to the low-skill labor market in 20 years, where will they go and what will they do?
4. Six facts lost in the IRS scandal nontroversy about the agency “targeting” conservative ideological groups that were among those which poured over $256 million into last year’s elections.
1. Social welfare nonprofits are supposed to have social welfare, and not politics, as their “primary” purpose.
A century ago, Congress created a tax exemption for social welfare nonprofits. The statute defining the groups says they are supposed to be “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.” But in 1959, the regulators interpreted the “exclusively” part of the statute to mean groups had to be “primarily” engaged in enhancing social welfare. This later opened the door to political spending.
So what does “primarily” mean? It’s not clear. The IRS has said it uses a “facts and circumstances” test to say whether a group mostly works to benefit the community or not. In short: If a group walks and talks like a social welfare nonprofit, then it’s a social welfare nonprofit.
This deliberate vagueness has led some groups to say that “primarily” simply means they must spend 51 percent of their money on a social welfare idea — say, on something as vague as “education,” which could also include issue ads criticizing certain politicians. And then, the reasoning goes, a group can spend as much as 49 percent of its expenditures on ads directly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate for office.
Business profits are escaping U.S. corporate income taxes in three big ways. First, business is literally moving away from the U.S., as multinational companies have expanded abroad. Second, large companies are wise to the tricks they can use to move income through foreign subsidiaries that avoid America’s high statutory rate. Third, smaller companies are finding ways to avoid corporate taxes, altogether.
Also, if profits are up and taxes are down, why won’t the “job creators” quit it with their god damned whining already?
As many great columnists (not that I’m claiming to be one of them) have said over the years: it’s one of those opinionated days. Looking through the many, many car pics on file which haven’t yet been used, I’ve decided that this one is — well, one of the cars I wouldn’t mind actually owning. It’s a 1972 BMW 2002 which I saw last summer at the Hemming’s Sports & Exotic Car show in Saratoga Springs. This is the car which BMW, after they’d gotten their feet wet with enthusiasts, jumped head-on into the water with. If only there was still a similar offering — a simple two-door sedan with a superb chassis and powertrain. No geegaws. No bells and whistles. Just an honest enthusiast’s car. A Driving Machine, if you will. Note the license plate frame: it’s from Hoffman Motors in Manhattan. Max Hoffman was the forward-thinking automobile dealer/importer who, in addition to BMW, brought VW, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and Fiat to North America back in the early 1950s. Read the New York Times story about him here. Click here for a Salon article on Hoffman’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed showroom, which was completed in 1955 and demolished a couple of months ago. Sigh.
I am a constituent of Mr. Rath’s but am writing to you to inquire about a resolution sponsored by Mssrs. Lorigo, Rath, and Hardwick, which will oppose Governor Cuomo’s proposal to eliminate the “Wilson-Pakula” law, which enables party bosses to endorse other parties’ candidates.
I submit that eliminating Wilson-Pakula is hardly enough to reduce the power of money and patronage in politics, and our entire system of electoral fusion should be abolished, full stop. Electoral fusion and Wilson-Pakula are not used for good; they are used for political advantage and power. The Independence Party is essentially controlled by one marginally intelligent character from Long Island, and exists to enrich and employ him and his close followers. Its name is constructed so as to confuse low-information voters who think they’re registering as unenrolled.
The Conservative Party is controlled locally by Mr. Lorigo’s father, and has shown itself to be exquisitely flexible – when convenient – with respect to the “principles” on which it purports to base its endorsements.
In my town of Clarence, the Conservative endorsement for Supervisor was allegedly withheld not on any ideological grounds, but partly due to personal animus, and partly due to private business interests. That’s the stuff of petty banana republics.
Political decisions and government leadership should be based on merit, not on personal vendettas or misinformation. The system of electoral fusion should be well known to the legislature, as the Independence Party was intimately involved in the so-called “coup” which took place in early 2010 whereby the Republican caucus joined with several breakaway Democrats to create an ersatz “majority”.
That was one of the most embarrassingly tumultuous periods for the Legislature and cheapened it and its mission, such as it is. If the Conservative and Independence Parties want to participate in New York or Erie County politics, Mr. Lorigo and Ms. Dixon have established that members of those parties can run and win.
But if anyone’s goal – at any point – is to establish a cleaner, more honest, and less corrupt political environment, then eliminating Wilson-Pakula is a great first step. Banning fusion altogether is an ultimate goal.