Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to properly support an increase in the minimum wage; activism:

Do not [only]
purchase, buy, use or operate
products, goods, foods and services
that pay, fund, use or utilize
labor that is
less than, under and below [more than, over or equal to]
what you think is
fair, just and proper.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

PUSH's Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company

People United for Sustainable Housing, PUSH Buffalo, has announced that their Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company, in conjunction with Syracuse based Housing Visions, will develop 46 rental units aimed at Buffalo's West Side immigrant and refugee community at a cost of $11 million to be completed by August 2015.

Funding the project is the City of Buffalo, KeyBank, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and New York State Environmental Facilities Corp.

The project will renovate seven existing structures and build nine new structures.

The cost per unit is $239,130.  ($11,000,000 / 46)

PUSH has 27 employees.

-Based on a Buffalo News article by Mark Sommer on 6/3/2014


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Global Warming, Lake Erie, The Buffalo News, Jerry Zremski, August 8, 2002

[Editor's note: This article helped cure me of the Global Warming hysteria I was afflicted with since the 1980's.] 

Imagine the Buffalo summer in 2050. It's hot the way summers used to be hot in the Maryland panhandle, before it got hotter there, too. 

Broad sandy beaches line Lake Erie. Bathers enjoy this new weather extreme as if it were an antidote to Buffalo's other new weather extreme: a big increase in precipitation, sometimes in the form of blizzards, but mostly rain.

One thing is missing from this lakeside scene: the ships. They disappeared as the beaches appeared, driven out of business by the new low water levels. 

These new hot summers are imperfect in other ways, too.
Shallower water means pollutants are more concentrated, wreaking havoc for local water authorities. 

The Niagara flows so slowly now that the river's great hydropower project is a historic relic. 

And the woods to the south and the east of the city aren't what they once were since the maple trees started dying off. 

Welcome to Western New York in the age of global warming. In some ways it's oddly reminiscent of 2001 and 2002. 

Just like then, winters pack an early wallop, and summers range from sultry to stifling. 

In other words, the Buffalo of your children's future is likely to be very different than the one you know, the Buffalo of consistent but not crazy lake effect snow, the Buffalo of soft summer breezes and radiant fall colors. 

Of course, that future scenario is just that - a projection of what very well could happen if the scientific models prove to be true. If they do, global warming will remake Western New York. 

"It's going to affect everything," said Rich Thomas, chief of water management at the Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo, where the impact of climate change is a growing concern. 

Those concerns reflect a dramatic change in the global warming debate. A decade ago, the question was whether "greenhouse gases" - the kind that spew out of your car and into the atmosphere - are increasing temperatures across the globe. 

Yet after the warmest decade in recorded history, most scientists regard global warming as a reality, though there's still a political debate about what ought to be done about it. 

In fact, after the Environmental Protection Agency recently produced a report spelling out dire consequences, President Bush dismissed it as the product of "bureaucrats" and defended his own plan to limit the increases in greenhouse gases rather than cut their output. 

Those bureaucrats predict some big changes ahead. 

"For the Great Lakes region, the next century could bring one of the greatest environmental transformations since the end of the last Ice Age," the EPA said in a study on global warming in the Great Lakes. 

Temperatures are expected to rise, on average, from 31/2 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. Temperatures in Western New York might come to resemble what western Maryland experiences today, according to David Easterling, chief scientist for the National Climatic Data Center. 

Changes in Lake Erie

As temperatures rise, Lake Erie as we know it would be transformed. Like the rest of the Great Lakes, it would start to evaporate, meaning water levels would fall by as much as five feet over the next century. Most scientists expect the bulk of the drop to occur in the next few decades. The remaining water would be warmer and might never freeze during winter. 

There is a plus side. 

"You'd have some nice wide sand beaches," said Frank Quinn, retired head of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. 

But that's about where the plus side ends. 

Fed by greater evaporation from the Great Lakes, overall precipitation could increase 10 to 20 percent, the EPA says. 

"A lot of scientists mention getting fewer storms but of greater intensity," said Helen Domske, a researcher at the University at Buffalo's Great Lakes Program. "What could be a better description of last winter?" 

In the first few decades of warming, lake-effect snowstorms could be more frequent, thanks to Lake Erie's refusal to freeze. But Easterling said temperatures will probably warm to the point where lake-effect rain is increasingly common. As a result, lake-effect snow could decrease by half within a century. 

What's unknown is exactly when it will be warm enough for the snow to diminish. 

Essentially, the warmer temperatures would pick up more of Lake Erie and deposit it on the land. And that would create all sorts of problems. 

Great Lakes ships have to reduce their cargo load every time the level of the lakes drops, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association. And if the lakes dropped by five feet, the smaller loads would boost the cost of shipping so much that shippers might have to switch to the rails or trucks. 

"This could conceivably put the Great Lakes shipping industry out of business," Nekvasil said. 

It could do the very same thing to the New York State Power Authority's Niagara Power Project. When lake levels fell last year, the project's power output fell by as much as 20 percent. And last year's lake drop was minuscule compared to what's expected in the future. 

As a result, the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory predicts "greatly reduced electricity generation there under low flow conditions." 

Things don't look much better for municipalities such as Buffalo that get their water from the lake or its adjoining rivers. Thomas, of the Army Corps of Engineers, said most water intakes in the Great Lakes basin are located in spots where the water would likely be much more polluted if lake levels were lower. That could force hugely expensive improvements in local water plants. 

"The biggest problem will be the water intakes," Thomas said. "The quality of the water won't be as good." 

You might think that all of these problems might be solved through increased dredging, but that's unlikely. Costs would easily reach well into the billions of dollars, and by solving the water-level problem, the dredging could cause another: finding a safe place for all the contaminated sediment that would be removed.

Wells might run dry

Scientists say the shallower, warmer water could pose problems beyond the lakes, too. People who get their water from shallow wells might find them running dry. 

Brook trout could become increasingly rare in the Great Lakes basin, pushed aside by warmer-water fish such as bass and walleye. 

And Western New York's forests would come to look far different, too. Maple, beech and birch trees now dominate much of the forest cover in Western New York, but many researchers expect oak and pine to come to dominate over the next century. Fall would be far less colorful. 

"No, you're not going to have a dead-looking forest," said Ann Fisher, an environmental economist at Penn State who headed the study of the Mid-Atlantic region in a recent national assessment of global warming. "You'd just have a gradual change." 

Of course, that's just a prediction. Scientists caution that they're basing their descriptions of the future on climate models that may or may not be accurate. And there's debate among the scientists about those models. 

Brent Lofgren, a scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, doubts that there will be a huge drop in lake levels. He notes that some of the most prominent studies look at warming on a strictly global basis and never fully consider the role of the Great Lakes. 

Nevertheless, scientists generally regard warming as a matter of fact now. "The consensus is getting very solid," said Reg Gilbert, senior coordinator at Great Lakes United, a Buffalo-based environmental group. 

What's less certain is exactly what should be done. 

Bush has proposed a plan that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent, relative to the size of the economy, over the next decade. "The president's plan is predicated on ensuring the strength and growth of the American economy," said James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. 

Bush plan "science fiction'

Political opponents and many environmentalists say the Bush plan won't do nearly enough to curb greenhouse gases. For one thing, the administration refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, an international agreement to curb global warming. And for another, the plan it did put forward would allow overall emissions of greenhouse gases to increase. 

Add it all up and the Bush plan for addressing climate change is nothing but "science fiction," said Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who may run for president in 2004. For scientists looking toward the future, though, climate change is already a reality. Fisher, the Penn State economist, notes that she looked for benefits that might spring from global warming in the Mid-Atlantic. "It was very difficult to identify benefits," she said. 

"The damaging impacts tend to be larger."

Friday, February 28, 2014

Buffalo School District, Mary Guinn

Buffalo's deputy superintendent position vacant since Folasade Oladale resigned in 2011.

Mary E. Guinn hired as interim deputy superintendent of Buffalo schools to June 2013.

Not directly employed by the district, her salary paid from $550,000 donation raised by:
-Cross & Joftus education consulting firm located in Danville, CA
-grant money from Say Yes to Education
-John R Oishei Foundation 
-Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

Guinn hired by the district as a consultant.
The school district agrees to pay her $290,359 plus expenses for traveling and lodging through June 2014. 

HealthNow's CEO Alfonso O'Neil-White volunteers his company to help with search for deputy superintendent position, agreeing to work with Guinn for six months.

HealthNow, not being supported by the district, presents three potential candidates and ends its efforts.

Guinn's work with the district raises questions among board members - taking too much authority as consultant: signing off on payroll documents, directing employees, presiding over meetings.

Summer 2013
Guinn, spearheading the district's central office reorganization, recruits and hires Yamilette Williams as chief of curriculum, assessment and instruction and Faith Morrison Alexander as a district chief of school leadership with salaries of $130,000 and $135,000 respectively. 

Guinn, Williams, and Alexander (all from out of state) are all connected to the Arizona-based Evans Newton educational firm from which all three worked as consultants.

Neither Williams nor Alexander have the required state certification to hold their jobs.

Williams and Alexander oversee numerous education proposals, contracts, and employee evaluations (without having technical authority to do so).

Buffalo district spends $12,997 in local leadership grant money to cover tuition costs for Williams and Alexander to attend the accelerated superintendent development program through Greater Southern Tier BOCES. *

Cross & Joftus asked to cancel its $432,000 year-long contract with the Buffalo school district amid questions about Guinn's role and responsibilities.

Consulting firm president Scott Joftus said the search for a deputy superintendent was conducted by an interview team that included representatives from HealthNow, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the district’s human resources director and chief financial officer, and the superintendent Pamela Brown.  Guinn was also on the interview committee, but as a nonvoting member.

Guinn applies to the state education department for administration credentials needed to fill the position of deputy superintendent.

Superintendent Brown denies that she plans to re-hire Guinn.

Guinn is appointed to the position of deputy superintendent until June 30,2014 at an annual salary of $175,000. ($58,333 for four months if she lasts until June 30.)

Brown claims that HealthNow led the initial search to fill Guinn's spot.
HealthNow's director of corporate relations Julie Snyder denies this.

Brown says the district received 35 applications and conducted phone interviews but, she claims, candidates did not want to come to Buffalo because of the political climate.


Mary E. Guinn

-1977 to 1981 speech and language development specialist at a Head Start program in Arkansas

-1981 to 1984 speech pathologist in Little Rock school district

-1984 to 1985 principal of an elementary school in Little Rock

-1985 to 1998 held a number of administrative positions in various districts in Louisiana

-1998 to 2004 superintendent in Gary, Ind., a district about half the size of Buffalo
--citing decline in test scores, board voted not to renew her contract

-2004 to 2009 deputy superintendent in Tulsa, Okla., a district about the size of Buffalo
--lost her job in a restructuring
---private donors provided the $188,000 to buyout her contract

-2009 to 2012 a “deputy superintendent/consultant” in Falcon, Colo.
---news reports from February 2011 indicate that she was in line to become the district’s chief education officer, but she irked school board members by asking for a raise for taking a job that would have involved fewer responsibilities

-July 2011 to June 2012 head of a charter school in New Orleans.
--news report published on March 29, 2012, indicated she had resigned. Her boss in the charter school network told a reporter at the time that he and the charter school board had doubts about the school’s goals under Guinn’s leadership

-July 2012 to 2013 an educational consultant for Evans Newton Inc. in Scottsdale, AZ. 
--she works with number of administrators who eventually come to Buffalo

-2013 senior associate at Cross and Joftus

Guinn holds a bachelor’s in speech pathology and psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; a master’s in special education from the University of Central Arkansas; and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

* The Buffalo News 3/22/2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ACC, Anthropogenic Climate Change, Global Warming, Survey, 97%

2010 PNAS Survey

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

William R. L. Anderegg --- Department of Biology, Stanford University
James W. Prall --- Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto
Jacob Harold --- William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Palo Alto, CA
Stephen H. Schneider --- Department of Biology & Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

Excerpts from the survey:

"We compiled a database of 1,372 climate researchers based on authorship of scientific assessment reports and membership on multisignatory statements about ACC...

Between December 2008 and July 2009, we collected the number of climate-relevant publications for all 1,372 researchers from Google Scholar (search terms: "author:fi-lastname climate")...

We compiled a database of 1,372 climate researchers and classified each researcher into two categories: convinced by the evidence (CE) for anthropogenic climate change (ACC) or unconvinced by the evidence (UE) for ACC. We defined CE researchers as those who signed statements broadly agreeing with or directly endorsing the primary tenets of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report that it is "very likely" that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth's average global temperature in the second half of the 20th century...

We then imposed an a priori criterion that a researcher must have authored a minimum of 20 climate publications to be considered a climate researcher, thus reducing the database to 908 researchers...

We ranked researchers based on the total number of climate publications authored. Though our compiled researcher list is not comprehensive nor designed to be representative of the entire climate science community, we have drawn researchers from the most high-profile reports and public statements about ACC...

The UE [those unconvinced by the ACC evidence] group comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers of the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200, excluding researchers present in both groups...

Regarding the influence of citation patterns, we acknowledge that it is difficult to quantify potential biases of self-citation or clique citation in the analysis presented here...

Ultimately, of course, scientific confidence is earned by the winnowing process of peer review and replication of studies over time. In the meanwhile, climate science, we must seek estimates while confidence builds. Based on the arguments presented here, we believe our findings capture the differential climate science credentials of the two groups."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

RiverBend, Buffalo, New York, Cuomo, Soraa, Silevo, SolarCity

Governor Cuomo commits $225 M for Fremont, CA companies Soraa and Silevo to locate in Buffalo, NY.

The proposed solar panel facility would be an anchor to the yet to be developed RiverBend clean-energy hub in South Buffalo.

Soraa and Silevo commit $750 M each for the Buffalo project and pledge to hire 850 employees.

founded 2008
makes LED lights
250 employees
financing raised: $100 M

founded 2007
makes solar panels
200 employees
financing raised: $72 M
has yet to turn a profit

Sorra and Silevo have a combined workforce of 450 employees and have raised $172 M in financing over five years.

Remarkably, we are told that these two companies will raise $1.5 Billion to finance a Buffalo project that will create 850 jobs.

When Buffalo News reporter Jerry Zremski asked the Governor about the plausibility of such a project he was admonished and dismissed for being cynical.



SolarCity Corp of San Mateo, CA acquires Silevo for $200 M in stock with the potential for another $150 M in additional payments if certain performance targets are met.

SolarCity's chairman is Elon Tusk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. 

Chris Beitel, Silevo's executive vice president, claims that instead of the 475 jobs promised, there will now be "well over 1,000 jobs" created at a factory that will now be five times as big as originally planned.

SolarCity's 2013 sales were $164 M resulting in a loss of $1.69 per stock share (SCTY).

Estimates for SolarCity's 2014 EPS is -$3.92.

Earning for Q1 2014 compared with Q1 of 2013 is down 78.26%.



EYP Architecture & Engineering, the biggest architecture firm in Albany, has been designated by Cuomo to design the RiverBend project - no details of the bidding process or price was given.

SolarCity executives are seeking additional state aid to because of their expanded factory plans.

SolarCity's panel systems typically require hefty federal tax subsidies - a 30% tax subsidy that expires at the end of 2016 - to be financially viable.

New projects at the site must comply with state requirements that at least 20% of the contractors be minority or women owned businesses, that minorities and women must comprise at least 25% and 5% of the construction workforce.
The state will purchase and own equipment that the companies will use, local colleges and universities will have access to the facilities, equipment and partnerships.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Buffale News, NY State of Health, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, enrollment

*11/13/13 front page above the fold:

48,000 Enroll in State Health Exchange
number of applications for insurance are on target

New York ACA tallies:
  48,162  ACA exchange enrollees
- 23,653  new Medicaid enrollees  (reported in paragraph 24 of the article)
  24,509  new paying enrollees  (calculated using article figures)
-137,000  cancellations of private insurance policies  (not reported in article)
-112,491  change in # of NYers paying for private health insurance

+ 23,653  new Medicaid enrollees
- 88,838  change in # of NYers with health insurance coverage

[HHS report:  All state exchanges (including NY's) account for 79,391 enrollees]

*11/15/2013 front page above the fold:

Obama acts on letting health plans be restored
Wants states to resolve problem of cancellations

*11/26/2013 section B page 6:

   41,021  new private insurance enrollees

   35,156  new Medicaid enrollees

*2/10/2014 New York State of Health press release:

Enrollment of New Yorkers on NY State of Health Tops 412,000
[the 412,221 enrollments include public and private coverage --- 251,000 are private plans]

66 percent of enrolled New Yorkers were uninsured when they applied

Nearly 70 percent of those who have enrolled thus far have qualified for financial assistance to help pay for their coverage

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 Federal Government Shutdown, Buffalo, NY

Day 1 - 10/1/13
Unidentified woman interviewed by WBEN had tried to pay an unspecified bill at the downtown Federal building and was told she would have to mail the bill via US  Postal Service. 
She thought that this was inconvenient. 

Day 2 - 10/2/13
Tourist from Vancouver is shown on front page of The Buffalo News above the fold in a 6 x 4" photo under the banner headline Starting to feel shutdown's pain. 
Trying to visit the closed Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site, he was "disappointed." 

Day 3 - 10/3/13
Dozens of Western New Yorkers were denied entrance to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.
The 91 travelers were able to catch just a passing glimpse from afar.
The entrance to the park, parking lots and highway pull-off areas where people usually are allowed to stop their vehicles for photographs of the monument all were blocked to any traffic.
“It’s all closed up. They won’t even let you stop and take a picture. You can only drive by.”

Day 4 - 10/4/2013
Rep. Brian Higgins, D - Buffalo goes on record saying that he is exasperated by the "small group of extremists within [the Republican] caucus," and that "[House Speaker Boehner] doesn't have the courage..." to force a vote on a bill acceptable to President Obama.

Day 5 - 10/5/2013
Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails tells a Toronto concert crowd 98 miles north of Buffalo that he will be moving to Canada because of the US government shutdown.

Day 6 - 10/6/2013
A: "Those jerks closed the libraries?!"
B: "No, the libraries are still open."
A: "Well, they're still jerks!"

Day 7 - 10/7/2013
Local political reporter predicts that Western New York Congressional Representatives Chris Collins, R - Clarence and Tom Reed, R - Corning will not be reelected because of the shutdown.

Day 8 - 10/8/2013
In Grand Island, NY, 13 miles north of Buffalo, no residents spoke at a public hearing to suggest uses for Federal Community Development funds. 
In lieu of other suggestions, the Town Supervisor will likely revamp last year's application for a senior transportation van.

Day 9 - 10/9/2013
The Buffalo News editorial board lists shutdown "facts":
*This is wholly a product of the GOP.
*A minority of the Republican Party doesn't care about [global financial chaos].
*Republicans are taking a beating over the government shutdown.
*The shutdown is not only reckless but potentially fatal...

Day 10 - 10/10/2013
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo:  "Congressional dysfunction has already hurt New York and the nation's economies by fueling a lack of consumer confidence nationwide."

Day 11 - 10/11/2013
Rep. Tom Reed, R - Corning (105 miles SE of Buffalo) stands up at a private meeting of GOP House members to say that he stood by Tea Party members when they tried to defund Obamacare and that they owe him and other electorally endangered lawmakers by backing a temporary hike in the debt ceiling.

Day 12 - 10/12/2013
The Buffalo News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski:  "Republicans... weren't even discussing transformative changes to the health law.  What happened?  Well, it seems the people got their say.  Establishment Republicans in Washington say that, day by day and poll by poll, it became clear to them that the fight to end Obamacare via government shutdown is a political disaster for the GOP."

Day 13 - 10/13/2013
NY Governor Cuomo on the state spending $61,600 a day to reopen the Statue of Liberty National Park during the shutdown: It is in the state's economic interest to make sure the statue is accessible.

Day 14 - 10/14/2013
"Shutdown stalls area SBA loans." 
The SBA has halted approval of 7(a) loan applications since many of its employees have been furloughed. 
M&T Bank, the largest SBA lender in the region, has 26 pending loan requests in the Buffalo area.

Day 15 - 10/15/2013
Realtor in Erie County tells pending home buyer to expect a delay in their closing date due to the shutdown.

Day 16 - 10/16/2013
Shutdown ends.