Why Does Buffalo Suck?

Letís face it, Buffalo sucks. Big Time!

We're at the far Western edge of the state, far from Albany and the state lawmakers, far from New York City and the Big Apple's tourists and business. To the North is Canada and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, where tourism is booming, due in part to careful planning and two large casinos. Also in Canada is a booming wine industry with Ontario home to some of Canada's most famous and respected wineries. To the South is a vast rural area, home to skiing, hunting, excellent mountain biking, snowmobiling and camping. To our immediate east are New York's Finger Lakes, carved by the glaciers of the Ice Age. To our North and West lie two of the Great Lakes; Ontario and Erie. Toronto lays an hour and a half away, providing you can keep up with the Canadians on the QEW. New York City is seven hours away, Boston eight, Pittsburgh four and Cleveland three.

Letís repeat something so that it sinks in...Canada, a foreign country, is literally a mile away from Buffalo. What has Buffalo done to capitalize on the trade possibilities with our neighbor? Erected bridge and highway tolls! Nice way to spur trade.

Erie County, NY, home to Buffalo now has a 9.25% sales tax. While I can not provide the exact source, it has been said and become accepted fact that Erie County, NY is the single-highest-taxed area of our great country (combine property, sales, gas, NYS income, US income, school and all the other taxes).

Despite the fact that the New York State Constitution forbids gambling of any type, the natives have been permitted to place three casinos in Western New York. And now, even the Indians do not want to have a casino in downtown Buffalo.

The mayor, who many people insist is not mentally disabled, is more concerned with keeping bars open than restoring a tax base (i.e. Business, industry and non-welfare receiving residents). The city's finances are so poor that a Control Board now oversees everything that the mayor does. And yes, the public employees' unions have a firm grip on the city. Despite the rapid decline in residents within the city, the public employee payroll continues to blossom.

One newspaper (I'm told it's the most profitable paper in the country) is all we have and it slants so far to the left that even their news boxes lean. The paper perpetuates the idea that we're doomed by those who wish to free us from the burden of over-government.

Ahh government. Our government sucks. My brother (father of the beautiful little girl seen down below), says it's because most of our political figures are home-grown. They've never gone beyond the area to see what success is really like. This area has been in decline since the steel plants shut down (lest we forget those lovely buildings lining our waterfront just south of the city - now there's some real urban planning).

Local government, recognizing that we need to summons business has been doling-out some big time tax incentives to some business, but there has not been relief for any established businesses or residents. The latest is Bass Pro is going to inhabit the old hockey building downtown. Wait until the customers "flock in from out of state" as the pols say, and see that the canoe they bought really costs 9.25% more! And a 9.25% sales tax will likely not incent Canadians (who pay 15% GST and PST in Ontario) enough. Buffalo's legislature, dubbed Common Council, where the only thing not common is sense, reminds me of my Kindergarten days. Put these people in the real world and see what happens! Erie County's legislature is a band of pols who change party affiliations and opinions more than they change their underwear. A few years ago, the county legislature mortgaged our future giving the Buffalo Bills all they wanted - and more - to keep them in town. We should have let them go to Toronto; they'd be begging to come back. It seems you can rely on a few things from our local governments; taxes, more taxes and inactivity (Perot yakked about "gridlock" all the time, but what we have here is not gridlock, just stupidity).

In Western New York, the most popular sign is 886-0211, this is the phone number for Benderson, the leading commercial developer in town (they have just recently sold a number of their properties to an Ohio-based company, DDR, and have begun new construction usually right next door). This sign is so prevalent because there is an inordinate amount of commercial property with a bevy of vacancies. Yet our towns, so desperate for the property taxes, keep allowing for further development. In the suburbs, you used to enjoy your drive, viewing the wildlife, trees and fields, now it's a hodge-podge of commercial architecture. Real attractive.

"Buffalo is a football town." We hear that all the time. Maybe it's because we're not a prosperous town, a healthy town (disproportionate cancer and leukemia rates), a fun town, an employment town, a proud town, an innovative town, a friendly town (the city of good neighbors - yeah right), an equal town (ask former Sabres goaltender Grant Fuhr about his experience joining a local country club), a town of economic opportunities, a town of economic growth, a town of visionaries nor a town of opportunity. Football is something we have in common. All the drunks hang out in the stadium on Sunday afternoons and fight - it's great for the area economy. Our multi-million dollar stars spend their off-seasons out of town, spending their tax-abated incomes somewhere else.

Buffalo has a Napoleonic complex. We're only four-foot-nine, but we want everyone else to think we're six-foot-six. So, we built a subway that goes nowhere, not to spur economic growth, not to help city residents get to work, not to promote the city's benefits to suburban residents, they built it because all the other big cities have a subway. We tried to bring Major League Baseball and the residual drug and steroid business that goes along with it to town. Built a huge, new downtown ballpark and filled it to capacity for our AAA Buffalo Bisons so we could impress the Major League. In the end, we didn't get the Major League team. Our failure to do so is actually our success, as we may have learned a lesson: That bigger is not necessarily better. Check that, I doubt that we learned a lesson. Face it Buffalo, we're not Major League. Not for baseball, not for business, not for much of anything.

Possible solutions: President Bush should designate Buffalo a Homeland-Security-Void-Zone, meaning that no precautions are taken for safety. A sort of "free shot" for those sick bastards. I like the idea of letting the Sabres win the Stanley Cup (a sort-of mercy championship) and allowing us to riot and flatten the city. Or how about letting the Canadians march into the city and burn it as they did in 1812. At least Irv would be back on the air for that one. I also propose a foreign-exchange program. In this program, we send our political leaders to another city in exchange for theirs. It needn't be a domestic city either. At this point, I think the political leaders of Uzbekistan can do a better job than Masiello and Giambra