Long Story Short: Arms and the congressman, blobs and jellyfish attack, BOE conspiracy theories, and the Doktor is in
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In a August 2 editorial letter to the Buffalo News, Republican Congressman Chris Collins explains why he introduced the Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA), which would prevent states from exceeding existing federal regulations on rifles and shotguns. Note: this is a law to protect a constitutional protection, prompting the question, when will we need a law to protect the law that protects the protection? Also note: Republicans claim to oppose federal interference in state rights—until it’s inconvenient.
Why is Collins doing this? He wants to repeal New York’s gun regulation law, the SAFE act. He writes, “The Constitution grants American citizens the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment. This amendment shall not be infringed upon...” Of course under the contemporary definition of “arms”—weapons and ammunition; armaments. synonyms: weaponry, firearms, guns, ordnance, artillery, armaments, munitions—Collins could mean that the US Government must allow your next door neighbor to keep a portable surface to air missile launcher.
Collins goes on to describe a couple flaws in the law (which could be amended rather than repealing the whole law). Then he writes: “The Second Amendment can only be interpreted one way, and that is it guarantees that Americans have the right to own a firearm.” Hold on there, congressman—you’re an educated man; are you really unaware that there has been a long debate among scholars in and out of the courts, as to what the Second Amendment really means? Do you know there are three distinct schools of constitutional interpretation of the word “arms,” in American law? The entire amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Surely you must know that there’s strong evidence suggesting that the framers of the Constitution intended the Second Amendment to apply only to organized and trained militia groups, right? If not, here’s a well-written article that explains it:
We all agree that the Second Amendment has limits. The question is where you draw the line. The SAFE Act draws it more to the left than Collins would like. Other states draw it way to the right. That’s states rights, which Collins claims to back. Collins’ bill has little chance of passing, but it may really be written to excite his conservative base as we approach mid-term elections.
Attack of the Blob
July 29 conversation at Niagara Falls Waste Water Treatment Plant:
Person 1: “We have the sewer discharge paperwork, and the contractors are coming Monday; when should we flush the sewage filtration basin into the lower Niagara River?”
Person 2: “Let’s see…it’s Saturday…peak of tourist season…on a sunny day… the sewage will surround the Maid of the Mist while it’s packed full of passengers… Let’s do it now.”
Person 1: “Roger that. Oh hey, should I alert city or state park officials?”
Person 2: “Nah.”
And so it came to pass that the thing described by the media as a gigantic black blob engulfed the Maid of the Mist, and continued downstream well into the night, as tourists, businesses, and government officials scrambled to identify the smelly gunk. According to the Water Board, this was just routine maintenance, done within prescribed limits. The black color resulted from carbon filter residue at the bottom of the basin when they flushed it. They promise in the future to let everyone know ahead of time when they flush. Moving on.
Not so quick. Governor Cuomo promises an investigation. And Niagara County Legislature Majority Leader Randy Bradt joined legislators Rebecca Wydysh, Kathryn Lance, and Will Collins in drafting a resolution demanding that the entire Water Board and senior management resign. And the Environmental Conservation Department paid the Water Board a visit. And the Niagara Legislature is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate. And they will also ask for a criminal investigation.
Meanwhile, in Canada…Niagara Falls Provincial Parliament Member Wayne Gates said the Ontario government wants to be involved in the investigation too.
Like the 1958 film by the same name, this Blob just keeps growing bigger.
Carl Paladino is sticking it to the man
In a letter recently published in the News, Carl Paladino all but revealed his ingenious deep cover strategy to expose the crimes of everyone (except for him and one or two friends) associated with the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) contract negotiation. He also sent the letter to his email list, and to Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
It’s now clear that his plan all along was to simply pose as a racist jackass and leaker of confidential material (like those in Donald Trump’s porous White House). This, he correctly surmised, would lead to an unprecedented hearing with the State Education Department (SED), where he would uncover conspiracies that no one but him sees.
Crazy like a fox.
Paladino opens his letter with this: “In a hearing for my removal from the Buffalo Board of Education (BOE) before Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, evidence was presented that board members Barbara Seals Nevergold, Sharon Belton-Cottman, Theresa Harris-Tigg, Paulette Woods, Hope Jay and Jennifer Mecozzi, the Buffalo Teachers Federation and its president, Philip Rumore, conspired or colluded to rig the October 2016 contract between the Buffalo Public Schools and the BTF.”
Having uncovered this deeply hidden conspiracy, Paladino is sagaciously calling for the entire board to be discharged, and a “competent special master” appointed to operate Buffalo schools. No doubt our man will advise on what constitutes competency.
Paladino charges, among many other things, that the negotiated contract exceeds the ability of the BPS to pay. Before the settlement, Buffalo teachers were paid $20,000 dollars less per year on average than their colleagues in other districts. Which meant that for working in the most challenging school district in the area, they earned around $1 million dollars less in lifetime income. And the city of Buffalo pays a substantially lower percentage of the cost of public education than other cities across the state. That’s the way Undercover Brother likes it. Keeping it real.
Paladino also claims that “[Buffalo Teachers Federation president Philip] Rumore brazenly and overtly refused to bargain in good faith,” despite the fact that on August 2, 2016, The Public Employment Relations Board found the Buffalo School District guilty of bargaining in bad faith. Undercover Brother saw through that charade.
Paladino goes on with numerous other claims, none of which appear evident to anyone untrained in the illuminati-like conspiracy tactics of the Buffalo BOE and the BTF. These conspirators are so good, they took twelve years to settle the contract just to throw everyone off. Thank you, Undercover Brother, for looking out for our interests (and definitely not the interests of those who want to privatize schools).
The News reports that Craspedacusta Sowerbyi have invaded Lake Erie.
That’s Latin for a type of freshwater jellyfish, and full disclosure, they are found just about everywhere. They’re very small, reaching only one inch in diameter. They are delicate and hard to spot, which is why you probably haven’t noticed them. In pictures, they look like space ships from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They’ve been reported in Fort Erie, and the assumption is that they are in Buffalo. In fact, they were discovered in Lackawanna way back in 1934. No one knows for sure how they got here. The little fellows eat plankton, and crayfish eat them, and since they are not without predators (like the Zebra Mussel), they pose no threat to the ecosystem. As with all jellyfish, they have stinging tentacles, but they are too puny to sting humans. So basically they just float around without bothering anyone.
Move along, no story here.
A business that’s taking off
Who: Jamie Doktor, aka Mistress J Kiss
What: The Buffalo Burlesque Studio
Whether you’re looking to start a career in the burgeoning world of neo-burlesque, or longing to release your inner-bombshell, the spanking new Buffalo Burlesque Studio offers something for everyone. This is not your grandfather’s bump and grind show; neo-burlesque entails greater self-awareness, gender-fluidity, and body acceptance, injected with ironic humor and nostalgia. Doktor (who professionally goes by Mistress J Kiss, and was the subject of a 2014 Buffalo Spree profile) brought the craze to Buffalo, founding the area’s première neo-burlesque troupe, the Stripteasers. She has trained many others in the art, some of whom have since started their own troupes.
Recently, Doktor took the big plunge and opened her own studio. She offers an intro course called Art of the Tease, which covers the basics: your bumps, your grinds, your shimmies—with boas and gloves of course. There’s a popular chair dance class, and a fun aerobics class called Burlesquercise. And there may soon be recital workshops, “for budding stars.” More specialized are workshops on pinup makeup, and yes, tassel twirling. What, you thought they just did that?
Who takes burlesque lessons? According to Doktor, “anyone who wants the opportunity to feel the empowerment of self-confidence.” Her website enthuses: “Feeling and believing that you are beautiful, sensual, and truly divine is the ultimate gift that everyone deserves…100% fun guaranteed!” In the past, Doktor has seen people so “sad, insecure, shy, and stone-faced” that she wondered what possessed them to join her class. But she has seen dramatic transformations, “which blow me away,” she says, “I offer the best therapy in town!”
Can a woman carve out a living running a burlesque studio in Buffalo? “The studio is new,” says Jamie, “but I have been teaching for years. The arts and dance community have been so supportive. If I struggle, well I struggle. But I think in the long run I will appreciate it that much more.”
If you want to check out Mistress J Kiss and the Stripteasers, there’s an August 12 fundraiser for the new studio.
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Bruce Adams is a longtime Spree contributor.