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Seven Days: The Straight Dope From the Week That Was

Thursday, December 3

The New York State Assembly: only slightly less effective when empty.

O Albany: The New York State Legislature has left the building, turning out the lights on an inglorious year. Among the many, many pressing issues left on the table: ethics reform. Go figure.

Friday, December 4

But the tragicomedy that is our state government continues to bear bitter fruit: Today State Senator Hiram Monserrate, who was caught on camera dragging his bleeding girlfriend to the emergency room after he’d slashed her face with a broken wine glass, was sentenced to three years’ probation, 250 hours of community service, and counseling for a “reckless act.” He could have spent two months in prison. The Democratic leadership in the State Senate has convened a special committee to consider disciplinary action against Monserrate, who joined State Senator Pedro Espada in defecting to the Republicans in last summer’s Senate leadership coup—and then defected back to the Democrats, resulting in a stalemate that parlyzed Albany for weeks. State Senator Ruben Diaz, who led the fight against the effort to legalize same-sex marriage last week, has chastised Democratic leaders, specifically John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, for pursuing disciplnary measures against Monserrate. Not coincidentally, Monserrate—who has supported same-sex marriage his entire political career, carrying the endorsement of LGBT groups in his district—joined Diaz in voting against the Marriage Equality Act on December 2.

Meanwhile, back in Buffalo, today was the deadline for applications to fill the vacant Ellicott District seat on the Common Council. (Has anyone heard from or seen Brian Davis since he resigned? Brian, check your Facebook page: Betty Jean Grant is looking for you.) And the candidates are, in no particular order: Todd Maclin, who works for a wine and liquor distributor; attorney Bill Trezevant; firefighter Bryon McIntyre; True Bethel Baptist pastor Darius Pridgen; City Hall veteran Don Allen; housing specialist Fred Heinle; community activist Marilyn Rodgers; Buffalo State economics professor Curtis Haynes; marketing specialist Nicholas Primerano; former New York State Trooper Dudley Gilbert; Subway franchise owner Bobby Horton; and Griffith Pritchard, who used to manage the M&T Bank branch at the Broadway Market. You can read their resumes and their responses to a questionnaire from Artvoice at AV Daily at

Saturday, December 5

Protest of the week: The Obama administration’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan, coupled with the New York State Senate’s failure to leaglaize same-sex marriage, injected new life into this afternoon’s weekly demonstration for peace on Bidwell Parkway at Elmwood Avenue. The Women in Black, who have been holding down the fort pretty much every Saturday since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, were joined by protesters from the Western New York Peace Center and other antiwar groups, who organized a caravan of cars that paraded through the city, flying banners, honking horns, and eliciting honks (and other gestures) from motorists in kind. At the same time and place, members of Outspoken for Equality, a group that lobbies for LGBT rights, gathered to protest the State Senate’s nay vote on marriage equality.

Sunday, December 6

Pearl Harbor Day, on which one wonders at what point this new century will surpass the last in bloodiness.

Monday, December 7

The Joe Bruno verdict comes in: guilty on two counts of fraud, not guilty on five. His lawyers will appeal, of course, and hope that the US Supreme Court will chuck out the somewhat vague federal statute under which he was prosecuted—having to do with depriving the public of honest services—when they decide a case challenging the law. The Supremes are listening to arguments on the case now.

Tuesday, December 8

This morning, Erie County’s Democratic legislators overturned four vetoes by Chris Collins of amendments the Legislature had made to the county executive’s budget. (You can read more about that on page 9.) And Mickey Kearns, who represents the South District on Buffalo’s Common Council, held a public forum this evening to discuss what he perceives to be inequities in the capital budget proposed by Mayor Byron Brown. The district represented by Kearns, who ran a primary against Brown this year, received zero dollars for capital projects, apart from sidewalk and curb repair that is paid for out of a citywide pool of capital improvement funds. (Again, turn to page 9 to read more.) And a new group called Save Waterfront Health Care Center announced its formation in front of the Kaleida facility at Seventh and Carolina Streets facility this afternoon. Kaleida announced in November that it would close the health center because Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements from the state threatened to make it unprofitable. (Kaleida projects a loss of 42 million next year if the facility stays open.) The coalition, comprising labor unions, ministers, and community activists, will hold a forum on Friday, December 11 to urge state lawmakers to find a way to keep the health center viable. The alternative is the loss of 160 jobs and the transfer of resident patients to facilities outside the city, far from their families.

Wednesday, December 9

Mayor Byron Brown hosted a jobs forum this evening at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, at the request of the Obama administration, which is setting up similar meetings in cities across the country. (The president convened a jobs forum of his own at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in DC.) The idea of the jobs forums is to bring business owners, labor leader, nonprofits, community organizers, economists, bankers and anyone else with something to say into conversation about ways to put people back to work. At press time, no one seemed to know what the hell the forum here in Buffalo would entail.

And here’s how Tom Bauerle finished his radio show today, comparing Kevin Jennings, an Obama appointee to the US Department of Education, to the 100-year-old sexual offender whose release from prison was a front-page story in Monday’s Buffalo News: “You do realize that your president—and I say your president because Erie County voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama—your president has a friend, Kevin Jennings, who is a pervert. He is a pervert because he thinks it is okay to teach children about hardcore sexual activity…you’ve got the president’s safe schools czar, who is a pedophile by proxy.”

To justify his odious comparison, Bauerle read aloud an editorial in the Washington Times attacking Jennings, and alluded to a litany of Jennings’ supposed offenses fabricated by right-wing attackbots which even Fox News has disavowed. This Limbaugh by proxy has run his course.

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