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Long Story Short: Politics as usual


Funding that has helped make Buffalo waterways safe for recreation is in jeopardy.

Stephen Gabris


Tales from Trumplandia

The unsuccessful bid

Since Long Story Short focuses on news from Western New York, we don’t often cover the antics of President Trump. But when the President’s disgraced former attorney-turned-informant, Michael Cohen, provides Congress with copies of falsely inflated financial statements he says Trump submitted to Deutsche Bank in his failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills, it becomes a local story.


Last Monday, the New York State Attorney General’s Office issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank for records related to Trump’s failed Bills bid. Cohen says Trump kept two sets of books, to deceive banks and insurers about his cash holdings, outstanding debts, and the value of his real estate.  In the loan documents submitted to Deutsche Bank in 2014, Cohen says Trump inflated his net worth from $4.6 billion to $8.7 billion.


As we all know, Trump lost the bidding process to Terry and Kim Pegula. Trump claims he offered one billion dollars cash, but Pegula bid $1.4 billion. Imagine if Trump had won. Like most of his businesses, the team would probably be bankrupt by now, and Donald Junior would be peddling surplus Bills jerseys in Moscow.


Buffalo and the national budget

On February 6, President Trump assured regional news reporters that they shouldn’t be concerned about local flood control funding being diverted to help pay for his border wall. In fact, he said, the border wall “will not affect Buffalo at all."


That would be lie number 8,158.


The President’s proposed 2020 fiscal budget calls for $8.6 billion for the wall, but chops ninety percent off Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, which is largely responsible for the Buffalo River cleanup, stormwater reduction, and many other projects. He’s also calling for a one third budget cut for the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees area flood control projects.


In addition, the proposed budget eliminates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which serves nearly 70,000 Erie County families. Other cuts would likely impact Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and hospitals and doctors who accept Medicare.


Congressman Tom Reed, a Republican from Corning, disagrees with the President on certain “minutia” of his budget, like the Great Lakes cuts. Congressman Brian Higgins, a Democrat from Buffalo, is, of course, hopping mad. And even indicted congressman and uber-Trump-supporter, Chris Collins, says he “will fight for priorities such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, LIHEAP, and other important Western New York initiatives.”


Trump may be uniting Democrats and Republicans after all with this fantasy budget, which is mainly just red meat for his base.


Has this happened to you?

Someone comes to your door or approaches you on the street and asks you to sign a petition to get an candidate on the ballot for some New York office in an upcoming election. Maybe it’s for governor, maybe for school board. You may or may not have heard of the person running for office, but, you think, why not?


Keep reading

Perhaps you believe that more candidates mean more choices. Get as many on the ballot as possible, listen to their positions on the campaign trail, and the public can decide who gets their votes. So, you sign and wish the petitioner good luck.


Later, another petitioner approaches you about another candidate for the same position. As a registered voter, you take your civic duty seriously. So, you sign again—the more the merrier.


Not so fast citizen

In New York, voters are only allowed to sign one petition for any office. If you sign another petition for that race, your signature will not count.


The takeaway:

Many people aren’t aware of this rule, and it presents a quandary. Do you sign the first petition, or wait for something better to come along?


At least now you know.  



As if the SAFE act wasn’t bad enough!

Those dang New York lawmakers are always chipping away at our Second Amendment rights!  First, they banned bump stocks, which make run of the mill assault rifles fire like rapid-fire lead-spewin’ machine guns. Then they lengthened the background check waiting time, so you gotta wait even longer to shoot something. Then the radical Dems passed a bill taking away our rights to leave our guns unsecured around the house where young’uns can get at ‘em.


A few deranged people shoot up some schools, churches, and synagogues, and the next thing you know law-abiding New York gun owners can’t even stockpile AR-15s. All told, Democrats have introduced more than 150 gun-control bills since they took control of the state legislature.


Now they want to outlaw gun raffles?

A new bill introduced by downstate legislators would ban charity gun raffles. Can ya beat that? Without gun raffles, how are fire companies going to raise the funds for those rubber boots they hold out to passing cars for donations at the traffic bottlenecks they create? I mean, how many Chiavetta's chicken barbeques can you have?


A prayer for gun owners

It’s true that this bill hasn't advanced in the state Assembly, and there isn't even a similar one in the Senate. In fact, as legislators learn that, unlike meat raffles, people don’t leave gun raffles with their winnings, until they pass the same background checks as in gun shops—which now take -longer—it’s likely the bill won’t pass at all. If so, it’ll be because East Aurora Assemblyman David DiPietro led a prayer at a recent gun raffle, in which he asked God to open lawmakers’ eyes and “let them know what we do is right and just.”





Loved to death

Two weeks ago, I recounted my personal experience eating at the new Gigi’s soul food restaurant that reopened in the Northland Workforce Training Center. I’m glad I got in when I did.


The story

The East Side institution was reopened by the original owner’s son, Darryl Harvin, after fire gutted the previous East Ferry location in 2015. Harvin’s mother Blondine, had died just a little over a month before the grand reopening, and, at an already-emotional time, Harvin was overwhelmed by enthusiastic customers, anxious to once again savor the food they had enjoyed for five decades. There were also many like me, trying it for the first time. I attended on the second day, midafternoon, and it was crammed with more customers than the staff could possibly handle.


The next day, Gigi’s closed temporarily so the owner and staff could retool. It opened again several days later to the same massive reception, and closed again temporarily, reopened again, and then closed finally.


Harvin left a pharmaceutical industry career to bring his mother’s restaurant back to life but came to realize that his experience working with his mother had not prepared him for the rigors of managing a highly successful restaurant.


From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire

On Thursday, the owner announced that the beloved restaurant would not reopen. He says some version of Gigi’s might open one day under new management, but the current location will likely become a different restaurant.  


Reports say Harvin is deeply saddened by this turn of events. No one expected his mom’s restaurant to be loved to death by a grateful and ravenous public. Perhaps Harvin can take solace in the fact that Gigi’s ended, not in the fire that burnt the original location, but in metaphorical flames of devoted desire.


Definitely not ice.


Long Story Short is an opinion column by artist and educator Bruce Adams, a longtime contributor to Buffalo Spree.


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