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Echo Chamber: the local chatter

BEES As if there weren’t enough stress in the world food system, the Buffalo News has a disturbing story today about the struggle in Niagara County and across NY state that farmers are having with the loss of bee populations. “Without bees, none of the crops would produce food,’ said Jessica Chittenden, spokeswoman for the state Dept. of Agriculture and Markets. Bees pollinate more than 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable crops grown in NY state. There are number of possible causes for the loss of bee population, from decimation of habitat by development, insecticides, parasites and other possibilities. No single factor has been pinned as the sole cause, but whatever the cause, it needs to be identified and addressed. Without bees there is little pollination, without pollination, no food.

Antoine Thompson is no doubt somewhat discouraged about a being a member of the minority party in the NY State Senate. Today’s Buffalo News story about pork barrel spending showed that republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno doled out not twice as much cash, not five times as much cash, not ten times as much cash, but more than 20 times the amount of cash that was given to Antoine to spread around his district. Bruno clocked in with over $4.2 million to dole out, while Antoine limped home to Buffalo from Albany with what must seem like pocket change, $190,000. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger of Kenmore controlled a hefty $2.2 million to give away…. but he gave three quarters of that to places far away from home, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Syracuse.

SHEILA KEE DOUBLE DIPS: A former Erie County worker is collecting a big state pension, while drawing an even bigger state salary at the same time! All this with a huge state deficit looming.

Sheila Kee was appointed as Associate Commissioner of the New York State Health Department for the Western Region in 2007. But at the time, as a state retiree, she was collecting a pension of $99,000. Typically, if someone is going to enter back into the state public workforce, collection of their pension is suspended until they retire again. But in the case of Sheila Kee, she continues to collect her pension, while also being paid $143,013 as Associate Commissioner.

Nardin 8th Grader Michael Viola is headed to the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. at the end of the month to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Viola won the 81st News Spelling Bee after correctly spelling “gelatigenous,” which means producing a gluey material. It was that correct answer that earned him the ticket to the national competition. (Artvoice feels obligated to promote anyone who can spell, there are so few out there.)


  • Antoine Thompson’s failure to bring “pork barrel money” to Buffalo further indicates his powerlessness as a black politician to help the City of Buffalo. He also refuses to investigate the racist/discriminatory employment practices at Forest Lawn Cemetery.