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Predictions for the Year to Come

What Lies Ahead... 2011

Last year, we asked a dozen or so friends and contributors to offer their predictions for 2010 and the decade to come. We’ve done the same thing this year, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t provide some sort of scorecard to measure last year’s prognostications.

There’s a tie for most spot-on prediction, between librarian and author Cynthia Van Ness and the First Amendment Club’s John Duke. Van Ness’s prediction: “City Hall will get slapped with a restraining order for its stalkerish, nine-year obsession with the obviously disinterested Bass Pro.” That’s not precisely how it went down of course, but close enough: Bass pro ditched Canal Side, leading to tumult and public hearings that tried (but so far have not succeeded) in changing the plans for development of Buffalo’s waterfront.

Scarily prescient was this item by Duke, which offsets the fact that most of his list of qo predictions did not come to pass: “[State Senator Antoine] Thompson will skate through the September primary only to be defeated by a very well known and very well liked Democrat in the general election on a cold and rainy November night.” The weather did not cooperate, but wow—who’d have thought Thompson could have lost such a heavily Democratic district to Democrat-turned-Republican Mark Grisanti?

The biggest clunker? Attorney Peter Reese, who continues to spend his retirement years as a mote in the eyes of the powerful, was way off base with this one: “Andrew Rudnick will begin wearing regular ties.” Indeed, the bow ties worn by the mustache-free iteration of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Rudnick are bigger and floppier than ever.


Al Coppola's Christmas Wish

’Twas the night after Christmas, wrapped gently in snow

All glistening, all peaceful on the West Side of Buffalo…

In my Christmas wish, Congressman Higgins is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, and overwhelmed by the beauty of the neighborhoods, the people, and the architecture of the West Side bordering our waterfront. With the Peace Bridge lit in red and green as a backdrop, the congressman joyously announces that President Obama has provided the money not only for neighborhood preservation and restoration of homes once slated for demolition, but that the Peace Bridge will be confined to car traffic. A new truck plaza will be built in Niagara Falls, soon to be connected to Buffalo by super-speed train.

Without a truck plaza in the future, the former Episcopal Church Home on Busti is no longer obliged to sell their vacant National Historic Register property to the Peace Bridge Authority and instead sells it to D’Youville College, which converts the church to a library and the former senior home to a dormitory. Congressman Higgins and Al Coppola stand side-by-side as the first shovel of earth is turned.

Since D’Youville no longer needs to buy houses to clear land for construction, and with 120 homes ready for rehab and repopulation instead of demolition, and the Peace Bridge Authority selling the seven boarded-up homes they once planned to demolish for a truck plaza, eager buyers quickly begin moving back to this exquisite historic neighborhood, ready to fulfill its potential by living near the lake and a culturally exciting college, no longer worried that their children will develop asthma.

Homes are filled with loving families, children build snowmen and women in the front yards, you can hear Christmas carols being sung in English and Spanish, and some homes have lit menorahs in the front windows. The 300 trees that didn’t get cut down sway and glow with icicles. The Ghost of Christmas Future looks around, and smiles.

—Al Coppola (with Hope Hoetzer-Cook)

Cynthia Van Ness, Librarian and Webmaster for

• Carl Paladino is sentenced in Housing Court for refusing to fix the hole in the roof of the Graystone. A grateful city sighs with relief.

• The Mohawk parking garage will, by virtue of its age, become eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Preservationists reach for the Xanax.

• Buffalo will finally get over its infatuation with the implausible and evidence-free theory that our name derives from a corruption of “beau fleuve.”

Bruce Beyer, Peace Activist and Wood Butcher

My precognitive abilities have never been very sharp. I’ve rarely voted for a political candidate who won an election or chosen an issue to support which has prevailed. Nevertheless, I am flattered to be asked to make predictions for the coming new year even though I find little hope in making them.

I predict:

• The acronym IWOT will join the lexicon of the mass media as a way of describing American interventionist foreign policy going back as far as the Gulf War and Somalia and extending into further incursions into Pakistan and Iran. No longer will I be able to object to the war in Afghanistan or the occupation of Iraq, rather I will face the daunting task of opposing the International War on Terrorism.

• Thousands of veterans of the IWOT will be revealed to be suffering the long term effects of war. I believe that IWOT veterans will become an increasing demographic in the makeup of our homeless, hospitalized, and prison populations.

• The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans afflicted with traumatic brain injuries will dramatically increase the longer we allow the ourselves to be manipulated by fear. I believe that disability claims submitted by these vets will peak in the year 2040—unless, of course the war drags on for far longer than I care to predict.

• The military will continue to order thousands of our sons and daughters to multiple deployments despite alarming increases in the number of suicides and reported PTSD claims.

• The Veterans Administration will spend $42.2 billion over the next 10 years to treat Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange sprayed over the lush landscape of the Indochina peninsula. This expenditure takes place more than 40 years after the end of the war.

• An increasing number of Americans will subscribe to the belief that “war is peace” and will come to believe that “broke is rich.” How’s the war economy working for you?

• Finally, on a local note, I predict that Public Works Commissioner Stephen Stepniak and his duplicitous Deputy Commissioner Andy Rabb will bury the issue of a small East Side children’s playground so deep in legal razzmatazz and phony environmental issues that children in the Emslie/Bristol neighborhood will be left without swings, slides, and seesaws.

Alan Bedenko, A.K.A. Buffalo Pundit @

In 2011, nothing will change significantly.

• As in every year, Buffalo and Western New York will take two leaps backwards for every tentative step forwards—in all things. Incremental change (or more accurately, window dressing that masquerades as change) will take place here and there as the community’s attention turns to unproductive arguments over the Peace Bridge, the inner and outer harbors, casinos, and other longtime development projects.

• Chris Collins will rudely run roughshod over friend and foe alike in his re-election campaign, and a Democratic challenger will be far more competitive than in 2007. The Legislature will be downsized, and Collins will attempt to dictate the outcome.

• As Carl Paladino’s 15 minutes of fame elongates like Stretch Armstrong’s appendages, he will attempt to generate political buzz every few months by insulting people. A compliant local media will transcribe his every vendetta-fueled outburst and treat it as “news,” whilst asking its readers to weigh in through idiotic online polls. However, without Michael Caputo in charge of messaging, “clever” will be replaced by “disturbing.”

• In late 2011, the Erie County Legislature will again turn into a three-ringed circus whereby local cultural organizations do battle with Republicans over 0.1 percent of the total budget.

• The Statler will become a flashpoint for a civic discussion (re: blood feud) regarding buildings that have outlived their current usefulness, are historically significant, but unreasonably expensive to do anything with. This will become particularly acute when the preservationist conference comes to the renovated-but-still-just-awful Convention Center.

Michael Kelleher, Just Buffalo Literary Center

I predict that Chris Collins will be defeated by Kathy Hochul in the Erie County Executive race thanks to a grassroots groundswell of support to restore country arts funding.

Peter Fowler, Artist

• The world will continue to careen towards hyper-consumerism and unsustainablilty to the point that by year end, economically stagnant Buffalo will be globally recognized as an economic-model world leader.

Sam Magavern, Partnership For The Public Good

• The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation will sign a community benefit agreement to guarantee that we get local businesses, green design and operations, and quality jobs for local and minority residents in return for the public’s $150 million investment in Canal

Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell, AV Sportswriters

• June 3, 2011: The Buffalo Bills will be playing half its schedule in Toronto beginning in 2013, and the NBA and Major League Soccer will be making its way to Buffalo, in a historic deal announced today between the Bills and Rogers Communications.

The Toronto-based telecommunications giant recently completed its purchase of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in a blockbuster acquisition valued at $1.2 billion, bringing the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA Toronto Raptors, and the MLS FC Toronto franchises under the Rogers umbrella.

Edward Rogers III, Chair of the Rogers Trust, explained how the deal will work. “Following the 2012 season, the ‘Bills in Toronto Series’ will renew for another five-year term, running from the 2013 through the 2017 seasons. The Bills will play four regular season games and one preseason game, half its home schedule, each season at the Rogers Centre. We know how excited Bills fans will be to partake in this partnership. Fans who have been there can surely attest that there is nothing quite like the electricity and pageantry of a Bills game day under the dome at the Rogers Centre.”

Rogers added that Buffalo fans will be compensated for the loss of home game dates in the Western New York region. “Beginning in 2013, we will schedule five regular season Toronto Raptors games each year at HSBC arena. Additionally, we will schedule one date of our FC Toronto soccer team at Ralph Wilson Stadium throughout this period. We recognize that Buffalo was once a proud NBA city as the home of the Braves, and are confident that fans in Buffalo will embrace our Raptors as a true regional franchise,” said Rogers.

Both Rogers and Bills CEO Russ Brandon acknowledged the help of New York State government officials in brokering this deal. Said Brandon, “We could not have put this all together had it not been for the help our partners at the State. Particularly we want to acknowledge the roles of Commissioner of Sports and Tourism William Stachowski and New York State Senate Lead Majority Counsel Dale Volker for their leadership. These two men epitomize the best of what government in Western New York is all about.”

Mike Hudson, Niagara Falls Reporter

• My number one prediction for 2011 is that Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster will suffer a humiliating defeat at the polls in the general election on November 8. Following a bitter primary against Niagara County Legislator Vince Sandonato, he will go down to School Board Member Johnny Destino in what will be called one of the dirtiest campaigns in Niagara Falls history, which is saying a lot. Dyster will become the fifth single-term mayor Niagara Falls has seen in the past 20 years as voters reject his “At least I haven’t been indicted yet” campaign platform.

Whitney Crispell, West Side Resident and Chief of Staff to David Rivera

• Councilmembers David Rivera and Mike LoCurto will win their primary elections despite challenges from Mayor Byron Brown-supported opponents.

• The Erie County Legislature will run on its old lines after numerous lawsuits prevent downsizing decisions to be made before June petitioning.

• Chris Collins will keep funding his office’s Six Sigma nonsense while libraries, cultural organizations, and essential social services programs remain under threat of devastating cuts.

• Chris Collins will figuratively put his foot in his mouth six or seven times, and literally maybe once.

• Public awareness about the air-quality and respiratory health issues on the West Side will increase exponentially.

• PUSH’s housing rehabs on Massachusetts Avenue will be completed or near-completed by the end of the year, and the subject of national media attention.

• Hundreds of youths across the County will be without summer youth programs due to Chris Collins and Republican county legislators gutting of Primetime funding. We’ll experience it on the West Side in the form of increased violent crime.

Greg Olma, The Politician Formerly Know As...

• The Bills will draft a quarterback high in the draft while ignoring other more important needs, repeating a mistake they made when they picked up Drew Bledsoe.

• M&T’s Bob Wilmers’ familial link to Nahum Isaakovich Eitingon, notorious Soviet NKVD agent responsible for the assassination of Leon Trotsky, will become public knowledge, but no one will care, except for Chris Collins. Collins will refer to Wilmers as a “comsymp” and a “Bolshie” in the 2011 State of the County address.

• Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver makes Buffalo politics more interesting by putting Assembly members Crystal Peoples and Mark Schroeder in the same district. Shelly will have more fun as he stuffs Congressmen Brian Higgins and Chris Lee into the same district along with every African-American Democrat he can find. Finally, just to show he has a sense of humor, Silver will ensure that Senator Tim Kennedy represents the East Side of Buffalo, including Antoine Thompson’s home, in the newly minted “urban district.”

• The alliance between Mayor Byron Brown’s faction and Brian Higgins’ South Buffalo cronies will end in a spate of primaries.

Artvoice will acquire After 50 (a newspaper for Western New York’s active people over 50) and install Javier Bustillos as editor.

• Dennis Gorski will get the band back together and run for county executive as a consensus Democratic candidate. Al DeBenedetti will endorse him.

John Duke, The First Amendment Club

[Editor’s note: Duke has offered three free car washes at Delta Sonic and dinner for two at Applebee’s to the first person to correctly translate all of his Nostradamian ravings. Send your guesses to by 5pm on January 4, 2011.]

• When eight becomes four and half of seven returns, eerie changes will begin on September’s 13th night…

• The Council of Carnage will play musical chairs; the School and the River will be seated last…

• Under the Magna Carta a clerk will find a crown and wear it for four years...

• The Bürgermeister of Zion will be summoned by its Governor; his choice of successor will be filled with Love and Joy…

• Upon hearing so, Iberia will react; its diamond anniversary will be celebrated by returning to its beginning…

• The sounds of harps and uilleann pipes marching to the battle will cause Marcus Junius to cross the Rubicon…

• Angel Moroni returns to the West Side; he will bring the Sword of Laban from Puerto Rico and entrust it to the father of El Cid…

• Shortly after, Mapother will arrive at Black Rock and receive the First Book before the Evolution of a Science…

• Two hundred and seven years after the expedition began, a Dupré will travel North from Louisiana to conquer the West; his name will be James…

• The Lake of History and Art will be washed so that the Children of Shem can be coached by the Pets of Noah…

• Cincinnatus will then build the Corridoio di Hippocrates…

• His ally will meet the small ones at the end of the Shannon, he will have traveled by air on the road of many colors and his numbers will have proven to be true…

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