Monthly Archives: February 2009

Joe Cicero

This post requires some background reading. Go read some recent posts on Sean Kirst’s blog about downtown (here and here), and all the comments. Then, when you are done with those, go to Syracuse B-4 and read her latest, and all the comments there. (Make a cup of coffee or pot of tea, because the discussions are long, but I think they are getting somewhere.)

Okay, did you really read all those? (Really?) Then it’s time to talk about that mysterious, perhaps misunderstood figure; the fly in the ointment who isn’t part of any of the discussions about downtown or city living but whose shadow hangs over all; the proverbial Man Who Wasn’t There: Joe Cicero.
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Upstate NY: Gitmo North?

You can hide the fire, but what you gonna do with the smoke? You can close Guantanamo Bay, but what are you going to do with the prisoners? Someone’s afraid that Attica is the new Gitmo:

Chautauqua County Legislator James Caflisch, R-French Creek, sponsored a motion in recent days that would signal the legislature’s opposition to the relocation of Guantanamo Bay inmates to prisons across the state. To Caflisch, it is important that legislators be on the record when it comes to Guantanamo Bay prisoners being relocated to New York state. He believes it is a very real possibility some will be housed in prisons such as Attica Correctional Facility only 50 miles away from Silver Creek and Irving. ”There was a news report out there. … A couple congressmen or federal officials in Washington were saying Upstate New York is the perfect place to relocate Guantanamo prisoners,” Caflisch said. ”It wouldn’t be fair for New York state.”

Wondering how hard this Republican official campaigned against Guantanamo in the first place – chickens coming home to roost, anyone?

I’ve searched but haven’t been able to find any reference to the “news report” Caflisch is referring to, but at least one other observer appeared to be thinking of Upstate prisons in this British report, although in the negative:

Those found guilty face a very short life expectancy if they end up in a US prison. “You put them in a prison in upstate New York, those guys are going to get knifed in their bed the first night,” [intelligence expert] Bob Ayers added.

So, is this inconvenient problem potentially best solved by warehousing Guantanamo prisoners in the towns and villages of beautiful Upstate New York — New York City’s (and now America’s?) ever-popular human dumping ground?

Whatever the status of this horrible idea, it’s clear we don’t need toothless county legislature resolutions, but instead a regionwide discussion about this area’s economic overreliance on prisons full of Downstate inmates. This pattern has simply got to stop. Someone needs to ask Caflisch why Upstate Republicans have been so eager to house prisoners in their communities at all. Well, we all know the reasons why. But when are people and political leaders in Upstate New York going to stand up and have some self-respect in the face of the poisonous “business” of prisons? (Because frankly, I’m not too enthusiastic about the passive, “it’s none of our business” reaction of the Chautauqua County Democrats, either.)

Upstate officials can’t just turn a blind eye to Upstate prisons packed with Downstate prisoners, and then scream bloody murder at the idea that the Federal government wants to house Gitmo prisoners in their town. If you’ve got a problem with that, you’ve only set the table for that situation yourself.

Albany’s leaders refuse to deal with the ramifications of the Rockefeller drug laws which has swept up many people who may or may not be hardened criminals; and the Obama Administration can’t or won’t deal with the wider questions of why we have these un-charged Gitmo prisoners in the first place, who may or may not have committed any crimes.

This is a classic example of why all politics are local.

Weirdest job title ever?

I noticed the following confusing job title in a business roundup in the Post-Standard today: Director of Self-Directed Personal Services.

Just think about that for a second.

They’re “personal services,” but they’re also “self-directed,” so you’re apparently expected to handle them yourself, which implies you’re not exactly getting “personal service” (or indeed, “service” at all…)

And they’re “self-directed,” which means they don’t need a director… except that they do.

George Carlin could have built an entire routine around this one.

Thinking of WNY…

This morning at around 3 a.m. I woke up for no reason to see that my little Peek was flashing with a new message alert. Normally I would ignore it and go back to sleep, but decided to check. It was an ABC News Alert, which ordinarily isn’t really important news, but I wondered what they would be sending out at 12:30 a.m. It was an alert about the plane crash in Buffalo – Clarence Center, to be exact.

Well-known blogger BuffaloPundit is a resident of Clarence Center. His house was a half mile from the crash site (and he was out of town at the time). Sadly one family on the ground was not so lucky. This amateur video appears to have audio of the confusing aftermath and (apparently) of two family members who escaped the house. I couldn’t watch it without tearing up, especially since my grandmother used to live right under the flight path of Hancock Airport. I hope they will get some information out soon about how these people and the families of passengers can be helped.

On a grim note, this Associated Press fact sheet would appear to indicate that 5 of the last 10 commercial U.S. airline disasters (including 9/11) have taken place in New York State.

Hang in there Buffalo, we’re all thinking of you.

Updated: Among those lost on the flight was human rights investigator Alison Des Forges, whose book Leave None to Tell The Story is the definitive chronicle and analysis of the Rwandan genocide. Des Forges was a native of Schenectady and was married to a University at Buffalo professor.

Updated: An aviation blogger offers a highly detailed look at icing and how pilots deal with it, and offers his thoughts on what may have happened to Flight 3407.


All those years that the Three Men held sway, didja ever want to imagine what sort of crap was caked-on in those Augean stables of Albany? The NYT takes a look at some of the “recently discovered” perks that Senate Republicans enjoyed during their long decades of power: a TV studio, a Senate-owned printing house that made color brochures for them (Democrats only got black and white ones), and a “Brunomobile.” And with every rock lifted up, dozens of squinting government employees are unearthed.

The new Democratic Senate majority, for their part, are acting “shocked, shocked” that all this stuff existed… it was either “far off campus” (seven miles out of town) or on Long Island. You know, in darkest Africa and all. Now I’m intrigued to know what sort of sweet setups the Assembly Dems have.