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Seven Days: The Straight Dope From the Week That Was

Our capitalist economic system (and numerous copyright violations) on display.

Tea Bag Swag

The Tea Party Express “crazy train” rolled into town Monday before an estimated crowd of hundreds at the Commercial Slip. Three tour buses, and lots of angry white people. If you missed it, you missed your chance to get neato T-shirts and stickers that can proclaim your anger to everyone, even when you finally get tired of shooting your mouth off.

“Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms should be a convenience store, not a government agency,” read one. Should be popular at the next militia cookout.

Also popular: “I (heart) Fox News”, a picture of an M-16 with the phrase “COME AND TAKE IT”, and for you ironic hipsters, how about a red “Enjoy Capitalism” shirt in the Coca-Cola font? Clever. “I Am the Mob” and one where the word “SOCIALISM” is illustrated by a man holding a bag of money, as another man levels a gun at his head.

The big disappointment however, was the no-show by organizers of a Facebook group which planned to protest the frothing, angry mob with members of Buffalo’s transgender and cross-dressing community (they it described as an expression of their indvidual liberty, a supposed tenet of the Tea Party movement).

Big props however to the British Loyalists, resplendent in red coats, who paraded in to decry the dumping of tea (“It’s delicious!”), and explaining the price of freedom to confused onlookers. One mobster suggested they should be thrown into the canal.

Overall, a much smaller turnout than the seven-thousand who assembled at the Old South Meeting House in Boston in 1773, before a hundred or so broke off, dressed up as Mohawk Indians, boarded British ships, broke open boxes of tea with tomahawks and dumped them into the harbor. But the marketing at today’s event was much more sophisticated.

Speaking of Boston

With the Sabres final regular season game on Sunday (a 2-1 loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils) the Sabres officially punched their return tickets to the playoffs—the first time in three seasons—and began preparations for a tough first round matchup against the Boston Bruins.

A Horse of a Different Color

In news you probably already know, Carl Paladino’s gubernatorial bid suffered, let’s say, a bit of a setback when revealed that he had forwarded racist, sexist, and pornographic bestiality emails involving a horse to friends and business associates—only one week into his official run for office. This resulted in unprecedented site visits for WNYMedia, and culminated in MSNBC’s liberal Keith Olberman naming him the Worst Person in the World, while Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, labeled him “incompatible for everything we stand for” almost immediately after Paladino had addressed the Tea Party Express crowd in Buffalo.

What's the Rush

Last July, the Erie County Legislature approved $2.9 million in federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds made available from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, “to develop an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy and implement projects that will reduce energy use and green house gas emissions within county operations and the community.”

The money was designed to fund things like a “Green Team” within county government to reduce energy consumption, while promoting waste reduction and recycling. Another project would reach out to businesses and non-profits in the county to promote energy reduction while helping to create a countywide energy “blueprint” that would identify sources of grants and loans for new equipment.

A third element would have helped to create a viable food waste composting program—a component that had been gaining support of the county, the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tops Markets, Wegmans, the Hyatt, and Adam’s Mark—for a Green Hospitality Initiative, which is a concept that’s been taking off elsewhere.

But not here, apparently. Sources tell Artvoice that county executive Chris Collins unilaterally ended these projects a few weeks back. Two to three county employees who’d been working on the projects have been let go, and county legislators we spoke with confirmed that they had no knowledge of Collins’s move—only hearing about it as we did, through the grapevine.

Erie county commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning (DEP), Kathy Konst, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the situation. However, a spokesperson for the county comptroller’s office confirmed that they have been investigating similar complaints.

According to July 9, 2009 meeting minutes, the grant would have provided money to hire a Solid Waste Recycling Specialist, a Junior Environmentalist, as well as contractors like locally based energy performance specialists C.J. Brown Energy, P.C., and internationally recognized Ecology and Environment, Inc.—which has “extensive experience assisting communities nationwide in adopting and implementing energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

Since there is no official acknowledgement from Collins or Konst, it’s difficult to know what strategy the county executive intends to employ against the DOE, to bend them to his will. The applied-for grant money is there, the county legislature approved it, but now it appears the executive has other ideas on how it should be spent.

This could be another chapter in Collins’s ongoing willingness to take on federal authority, like he’s done with the holding center. Stay tuned.

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