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Echo Chamber…All the News You Could’ve Gotten Anywhere—March 20

Happy Spring! Today’s the Vernal Equinox…

Sabres rally against Lightning…

Reynolds not running again…

Fleeing WNY in droves…

New, cheap bus service…

Collins’ version of CitiStat scaled back by control board…

Mobile tax service offered…

Stocks tumble…

Neighbors recognize Kosovo…

LOCAL

Sabres strike with six late goals against Lightning
After a slow, terrible start against the last-placed Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sabres dug themselves out of a 4-1 deficit by scoring six goals in 15 minutes last night. The final score was 7-4, putting Buffalo 1 point behind Philadelphia, who currently holds the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Sabres have now scored 20 goals in the past three games, giving them more goals than any other team in the league this season. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville led the team last night, with Vanek scoring a hat trick and Pominville logging two goals and two assists. Next up are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who come to town tomorrow (along with, as usual, half of their fan base).

Reynolds won’t run again
The good news keeps coming…Republican Congressman Tom Reynolds is expected to announce in a few hours that he won’t seek re-election this November. He will have served the 26th New York Congressional District for 10 years by the end of his run. Reynolds would’ve otherwise faced an uphill re-election battle against long-time rival Jack Davis, whom he beat by a narrow 4 percent margin in 2006. Davis plans to take another crack at the seat, but will face stiff competition from Democratic newcomers Jonathan Powers (a substitute teacher in Clarence) and Alice Kryzan (an Amherst lawyer).

WNY continues to empty out
Erie County lost a net of 5,001 residents last year. In retrospect, this doesn’t classify as news.

Discount bus service will help the cause
Megabus.com will soon offer locals a $1 ticket out of town. The discount bus service announced yesterday that it will begin express bus service to and from New York City and Toronto. As the company likes to boast, the cost of a one-way trip begins at $1. That low price is only available to the early birds who reserve their seat in advance, though. Prices rise as the departure date nears. Still, its highest prices promise to beat out those of its only competition, Greyhound ($81 day of to NYC, $43 with two weeks advance purchase). Megabus.com has served more than 900,000 customers since setting up service from its Chicago hub in April 2006. The Buffalo station for Megabus.com will be near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport terminal entrance.

Control Board puts brakes on Six Sigma
The control board won’t sign off on the $912,000 of state money that Erie County Executive Chris Collins requested to launch his Six Sigma management program. Instead, the board released $120,000 for a pilot program. Six Sigma is a management program—similar to Buffalo’s CitiStat—that is designed to reduce inefficiencies and waste. The money will go towards training nine county employees to use the program, and training 18 comissioners and department heads to support it within their departments. Alfred Hammonds Jr., who was hired to run the program on a yearly salary of $110,000, predicts $900,000 in savings in its first year.

Income TAXi gives free tax consultation
Free tax preparation at your doorstep? Not quite, but pretty close. The Income TAXi, a blue bus that offers free tax prep and financial education for anyone who earns less than $40,000, could be rolling into your neighborhood soon. Provided by a nonprofit coalition called Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH), it’s the first mobile tax service in the state. Although free tax help is already offered at 45 locations around Erie County, the Income TAXi brings the service out into the community, visiting libraries, schools, employers and community centers. The bus is staffed by tax pros from M&T Bank, the IRS and Daemen College. Visits are currently planned for South Buffalo, the Fruit Belt, Fillmore Ave., Roswell Park, Gowanda and Springville, in addition to visiting City Hall every Wednesday afternoon. To contact CASH, call 887-2717.

NATIONAL

Stock market tumbles
Stocks tumbled yesterday in the wake of the worst one-day dollar decline for gold in 28 years and the biggest one-day loss for oil in 17 years. Overall, the Dow Jones dropped by 293 points, to 12,099.66.

Today, however, the market is rebounding slightly, with the Dow Jones up 143 points at 11:51am.

WORLD

Neighbors recognize Kosovo

Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria announced yesterday that they would officially recognize Kosovo. This comes as a major blow to Serbia, who’s been fighting for a month to overturn Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The former Serbian region of Kosovo is inhabited primarily by ethnic Albanians (90 percent). The countries stressed the importance of protecting the Serbian minority. “Countries that make this decision cannot have good ties with Serbia,” said Serbia’s foreign minister Vuk Jeremic.