Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Medicaid

I think Esmonde overstates, to some degree, the affect of Medicaid on the county budget crisis and minimizes Giambra's own mismanagement.

Doesn't matter. He makes a valid point.
"The county made the payroll-and-perk cuts that come every day in corporate America. But there's more to this disease than pink-slipping Victor M. Getz can cure. The local price of Medicaid siphoned an extra $81 million from taxpayer pockets the past five years. It will suction another $40 million over the next two. Where is that money coming from?

I'm ecstatic to see bloated political staffs jettisoned, keys to take-home cars turned in and 'free' cell phones turned off. We're upending a primitive political culture that sees government mainly as a jobs program.

I love that last sentence. It's right on the money.
But don't kid yourself that it will get better, that the cuts we've made loosen the high-tax stranglehold. To twist a line from the Bill Clinton era: It's the Medicaid, stupid. And it's not going away.

State lawmakers blasted County Executive Joel Giambra for his budget bungling. No argument. But Albany lawmakers put us against the financial wall by making Medicaid a collection bin for every health program and perk. From drug treatment to mental health care, what other states leave to managed care we dump into Medicaid.

We looked our fat self in the mirror, now Albany has to do the same. It has to stand up to special-interest muscle: The hospitals, health care worker unions, drug companies and everybody else overfed by the Medicaid beast.
If it doesn't happen, we will keep paying more taxes for less. With parks already gone, medical clinics shut and snowplows sidelined, I'd hate to see what less looks like. "


Schumer apparently is trying to cajole Albany into slowly lessening the county share of Medicaid throughout NYS. I'm proud to have a Senator really paying attention to such basic issues.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Thursday 2-24-05 Forum on City-County Merger

On Thursday February 24th our friends from the Frontier Democrats Club will be holding a forum on the proposed merger of the City of Buffalo and Erie County. The following local officials will be on the panel:

State Senator and Mayoral candidate Byron Brown
City of Buffalo Council President David Franczyk
Regionalism advocate and Mayoral candidate Kevin Gaughan


The event is free and open to the public, and anyone interested in this important issue should attend. The Frontier Democrats meeting and forum will be held at

JP Bullfeathers Restaurant
1010 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo

and is slated to start at 8:00 pm. Hope to see everyone there!!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Things to remember

When the now-vactioning King of Erie County tells you that it's "tragic" that the penny didn't get passed; remember - it was he who first introduced the red budget.

Donn Esmonde gets it exactly right today. Giambra wouldn't compromise. He refused to. He had to have it his way - his way meaning keep as much patronage cronies around as humanly possible.

When the legislature was working hard at City Court with Judge Makowski's mediators, Joel and his new best bud Al hatched their own plan - which still needed nine votes.

Make no mistake: Giambra started this. He let it escalate. His stubbornness and arrogance made it worsen. His short-sightedness and blind loyalty made it stick.

To top it off, on the day that 2,000 County Workers are getting axed, HRH jets off on vacation. Not that he's not allowed to, but a lot of politics is about perception.

Joel Giambra is to blame. Let's recall him.

Forum is Acting Funny - Please Comment If You Are Having any Problems

Folks,

The forum (http://www.wnyprogress.org/phpBB) has been acting a little funny in the last 12 hours. Yesterday our hosting site was working on its servers and was shut down for a few hours late last night. I think it impacted the forum as some data has been lost, including 1 person who registered today and a couple of posts. I am not certain if the problems are permanent or not.

I am trying to clear this up - I think there may be a problem with the Board. If it does not work I may switch forums to a more stable version. Unfortunately that will require everyone to re-register and we will loose all of the posts because it is a different program and require you to go to a different site. So that is a last ditch scenario.

Please add a comment if you have had any problems as I need to know if there are problems.

Mark

Monday, February 14, 2005

Upcoming CoPro Working Group Meetings

UPCOMING EVENTS:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Foreign Affairs Working Group Meeting
February 15, 2005, 7:00 PM
Cafe Allegro
1374 Hertel Avenue @ corner of Saranac Ave.
Buffalo, NY

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Healthcare & Social Security Working Group Meeting
February 15, 2005, 7:00 PM
Contact Dean Carroll for location and directions to the meeting

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Media & Communications Working Groups Meeting
Thursday February 17, 2005 at 6:30
Talking Leaves Bookstore
3158 Main Street, Buffalo N.Y.

Working group will meet and then attend the performance and book signing of Barry Crimmins, author of "Never Shake Hands With a War Criminal." We will then network with the Buffalo Coalition for Progressive Media to see what local progressive media groups are doing.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Education Working Group Meeting
Thursday February 17, 2005 at 7:00
Medaille College Library
18 Agassiz Circle
Buffalo, New York 14214

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Statement of the WNY Coalition for Progress on the Erie Co. Fiscal Crisis

The Western New York Coalition for Progress is a nonpartisan organization of hundreds of western New Yorkers dedicated to making our community and America a better place to live, work and raise a family. We are bound together by a common commitment to progressive values and we aspire to ensure that our national and local policies reflect these values.

As such, the members of the Coalition are extremely concerned about the present fiscal crisis facing Erie County and its impact on all of Western New York. While there are many factors for Erie County’s current financial deterioration, we believe the time has come for our elected officials to stop working behind the scenes in separate factions and instead come together to finalize a budget for 2005 that is responsive to the needs of the community. It is also incumbent upon our government to immediately address what will allegedly be a worse situation for 2006.

We choose to live in WNY because it is a culturally diverse, yet interconnected, community. To live here is to appreciate an unparalleled quality of life that is both the bedrock and allure of WNY. While we support the creation of a more efficient county workforce, we call for shared sacrifice among county departments through responsible leadership. We cannot support the county executive’s proposed slash and burn budget that cuts at the heart of the cultural and civic institutions that are the lifeblood of our community.

We call for an open process to resolve this dilemma – an open-minded approach based on open-door discussions between the county executive, legislature, labor unions and the citizens of Erie County. Let’s abandon color-coded budgets and put all services and issues on the table. It is crucial that all parties candidly work together to fashion a budget that controls unnecessary spending and waste, but does not resolve this crisis solely on the backs of the county’s citizens and workers.

As a first course of action towards creating a better county we urge our elected leaders from both sides of the political aisle to ask the New York State Comptroller’s Office to perform an audit of Erie County’s finances to reveal the true picture of the County’s financial status. Only through an examination by an independent source can we genuinely know the difficult fiscal path that we face for the coming years.

The WNY Coalition for Progress intends to be a part of this process. Members of our Healthcare and Social Security Working Group are examining New York’s Medicaid mandates, and intends to offer viable solutions or alternatives to this key program that impacts all local counties. While we work to address the issues that face western New York, we will not stand idly by and permit our legislators to shut Erie County down solely because they refuse to consider any new means of raising capital, just as we reject those who believe the only way out of this predicament is to raise taxes. Likewise, we will not tolerate our county executive’s cynical, punitive, and arbitrary shutdown of county parks and services. We will hold our local elected representatives accountable for their actions, or inactions, if they fail to fulfill the task we sent them to office to accomplish – to lead.

We know that no silver bullet or magic elixir exists to resolve Erie County’s fiscal condition. But only by working together, with open minds and towards a united goal of retaining our quality of life in western New York, will our community move forward. That is why we call on all parties, including the citizens of this community, to complete the budgetary process in an expedited, yet fiscally sound, manner by working together to make Erie County and Western New York a better place to call home.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Website & Forum Are Back Up/We are still finalizing County Fiscal Crisis Statement

Last night the Website and Forum were down. They are back up now, so post away at the forum.

On another matter, the Board is still taking comment on the Erie County Fiscal Crisis as we finalize our statement. We should have this complete by Friday afternoon. So if you have any comment please send it now!!

Mark Poloncarz

Coalition to Address Erie Co. Fiscal Crisis

Members of the WNY Coalition for Progress' Board of Directors met Wednesday evening in an attempt to draft a statement in response to Erie County's fiscal crisis. That statement is now being circulated to the full board, and we hope to have it ready for distribution by Friday.

As always, your comments are appreciated and will be incorporated into the statement. Therefore please comment below or on our new forum at http://www.wnyprogress.org/phpBB.

Thank you

Mark Poloncarz, President
WNY Coalition for Progress

Monday, February 07, 2005

New WNY Coalition for Progress Internet Town Forum is Online!!

The New Internet Town Forum for the WNY Coalition for Progress is now online!! Anyone can view posts, but only Registered Members can post topics or comments to existing topics. Everyone should join this new site which will replace the Yahoo Forum.

http://www.wnyprogress.org/phpBB/

Hope to see everyone there!!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Erie Co. Budget Fiasco

Yesterday, February 4, 2005, will be known as "Black Friday" for Erie County residents. The Erie Co. legislature failed to pass the additional one percent sales tax increase by the required 10 votes. Al DeBenedetti (D - West & Riverside) pulled his yes vote after Joel Giambra refused to discuss reductions in patronage jobs. As a result DeBenedetti refused to vote yes. Many will question the rationale behind each legislator's vote, but for now it is quite clear the people of Erie Co. are the losers.

In the next few weeks we will hear stories of the impact of vote, but the root cause of this debacle can be blamed on Erie Co. Executive Joel Giambra's failure to offer a realistic budget last November. He gambled that the voters of Erie Co. would rally behind his claim that NYS mandated Medicaid costs could only be addressed by proposing the red or green budget choice; a choice that put livelihoods, businesses and life in Erie Co. as we know it at risk. This gambled failed and what we are left with is even worse than the Red Budget, it might as well be called the "Dead Budget."

The WNY Coalition for Progress will be announcing its official position on this budgetary disaster soon, and all members are asked to offer their comments which will be taken into account in the formulation of our statement. Therefore, we are asking all to comment below,

Mark Poloncarz, President
WNY Coalition for Progress

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Discuss Panel Discussion Here

Tonight's panel discussion on the the 2004 Election and the Future Course for the Democratic Party sponsored by the WNY Coalition for Progress seems to have been a rousing success, but then again I am biased as I was the moderator. Please post your comments on the event and suggestions for future events. More information will be posted here and on the website at http://www.wnyprogress.org.

Thanks,
Mark Poloncarz

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Permanent Website is Up and Running!!

The WNY Coalition for Progress is pleased to announce that its permanent website is up and running by clicking either of the following 2 links:

http://www.wnyprogress.org or

http://wnyprogress.org.

Please change your bookmarks/preferences from the old beta site as I will be redirecting that link to the permanent site for now, and eventually taking it down.

Mark Poloncarz, President
WNY Coalition for Progress

Reminder - Panel Discussion this Thursday 2-3-05 on 2004 Election and Future Course of the Democratic Party

Just a reminder that the WNY Coalition for Progress will be holding a panel discussion on the 2004 Election and the Future Course of the Democratic Party this Thursday, February 3, 2005 at 6:00 pm at the Richard Winter Student Center on the campus of Canisius College.

A campus map with directions to the Student Center is available on our website here: http://wnyprogress.org/coproevents.htm.

If you plan on attending I ask that you drop me an e-mail at mpoloncarz@yahoo.com with the number of attendees so we have an idea on the number attending.

Also, because parking at Canisius can be a little tight, I suggest that everyone try to arrive no later than 5:45 pm to make the beginning of the program.

More information on the event is below and hope to see everyone there,

Mark Poloncarz

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Panel Discussion on 2004 Election and Future Course of Democratic Party
February 3, 2005, 6:00 PM
Richard Winter Student Center, Regis Room
Canisius College
Buffalo, New York 14214

A discussion about what Happened in 2004 elections and whatProgressives and Democrats need to do to take back the Congress andthe White House in 2006 and 2008.

Panelists:
Simon Peter Gomez, Asst. Professor of Political Science, BuffaloState College
William Graebner, Professor of History Emeritus, SUNY-Fredonia
Kevin Hardwick, Professor of Political Science, Canisius College
Len Lenihan, Chairman, Erie County Democratic Committee
Mark Thomas, County Executive, Chautauqua County
Antoine Thompson, City of Buffalo Councilman and Fmr. WNY Coordinator John Edwards for President

Moderator:
Mark Poloncarz, Fmr. WNY Coordinator, Kerry-Edwards 2004

Discussion will be free and open to public (or at least first 100 attendees as room holds at least 100).

For more information check out CoPro's beta website at http://www.poloncarz.com/wnycoalition.htm.