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Acting Without Thinking

Tim Howard

Doubting the government isn’t yet cool again. An outrageous overreach is only a big deal if you think Republicans did it, so pipe down while professional bureaucratic planners baby-proof your surroundings.

Making the trivial criminal is a big deal, as nothing’s as dangerous as the state inhibiting your right to self-defense for your safety. But at least one sheriff won’t arrest people who have only been deemed to be in the wrong in terms of a reflexively histrionic, shamelessly misdirected exploitation of atrocity. He’s daring to respect the right to own a firearm instead of punishing those who aren’t harming anything except Andrew Cuomo’s feelings:

One state lawmaker is calling out Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard for his comments on the SAFE Act, after Howard voiced concerns about the state’s gun control laws this week. Howard said he has no plans to dedicate Sheriff’s Office resources to enforce the new law.

There are about 75,000 pistol permit holders in Erie County. More than any other county in Western New York. Plus, there are thousands of other guns here without permits. So, when the sheriff says he’s not going to enforce the SAFE Act – the toughest gun control law in the nation – that’s a serious decision.

Gun control hasn’t stopped crime, so we need more of it, duh. People who are doing nothing wrong wait to see if they’re in trouble:

There’s a showdown unfolding between Howard, a Republican, and (Assemblyman Sean) Ryan, a Democrat. It’s all about the SAFE Act. Even though Sheriff Howard says he won’t enforce Gov. Cuomo’s signature gun law, sheriff deputies haven’t received any word from Sheriff Howard not to follow the law.

Ryan is countering and demanding that Howard enforce the SAFE Act, which opponents say violates the constitutional right to bear arms.

Ryan presumably voted for a governor who has placed unbearable restrictions on guns while redefining marriage and continuing to spend a huge percentage of money residents earn. But no, Andrew Cuomo isn’t the one whom he thinks is acting like His Majesty:

“As a top law enforcement official in Erie County, you’re job is to enforce the laws, you don’t have the liberty to pick and choose,” Ryan said. “We elect a sheriff, we don’t elect a king. Kings get to make their own laws, sheriffs get to follow laws as written.”

Yes, and sheriffs should follow the bit of law that begins “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” Thankfully, at least one county guardian doesn’t view the sort of people who attempt to comply with onerous gun laws as real criminals. The only thing worse is pretending that shields against abusers are new as of this year:

Specifically, Ryan raises concerns about a key part of the law, which enhances protections for victims or survivors of domestic violence.

The law says that if a judge feels someone is in danger when an order of protection has been issued then the weapon needs to be turned in. If the weapon is not turned in, law enforcement officials would need to take the gun away.

Take away their steak knives and baseball bats, too. Or, the state could make it easier for potential victims to arm themselves instead of assuming someone who would violate an order of protection will also have nefarious intentions halted by gun laws. Unlike the governor, the sheriff admits he thinks ESP is a crock:

But Sheriff Howard says he would not do this, or follow any part of the law in Erie County. He has joined four other county sheriffs in signing his name to a friend-of-the-court brief seeking to overturn the Safe Act.

“If you know this is wrong, you can’t enforce it, which is why I signed on, because the law should be as it’s stated by anyone that did sign on did recognize it as being unconstitutional,” said Howard.

The county has a Domestic Violence unit and Howard says that his commitment to the squad and the issue of domestic violence remains strong.

It’s amazing that there were no laws against domestic violence before this, or rather that some apparently think there were none. But at least the law is being used to capture the most diabolical threats to our safety, namely law-abiding people who possess guns that are close to full:

A man has been charged under the New York State SAFE Act after troopers found he had a handgun in his car with the loaded magazine containing nine rounds of ammunition, rather than the limit of seven rounds.

New York plans to pursue order and justice by charging violators of a pathetically counterproductive law with felonies in order to get them to plea to misdemeanors. No matter the result, the defendants are being charged with knowing more about firearms than the governor.

A gun owner arrested for having the nerve to load a magazine almost to capacity could deny an unfair deal while junking the law through a righteous legal challenge. Albany won’t even realize that they’re the ones being taken to court.

The SAFE Act is action without safety. And it criminalized people who aren’t criminals. Other than that, there’s nothing to fear. The practical effect is making the decent as scared of the government as they are of criminals.

Every law enforcement agency makes decisions about what areas and offenses to prioritize. When the state classifies those who have done nothing wrong as miscreants, the reasonable course is to disregard those not-quite-hardened criminals in violation of baffling policies and instead attack real problems. When laws themselves are the violations, sheriffs who refuse to indulge in capricious authority are offering real protection.

Democratic Democracy

Buffalo City Hall

Byron Brown doesn’t like competition, as seen by what can only be seen as efforts to have as few retailers as possible vie for customers in the city where he’s mayor. Buffalonians aren’t supposed to discover the ability to take one’s business elsewhere, as limiting choices to take it or leave it is to the ruling party’s advantage.

But the erstwhile Johnny Law signed up for intramural competition before the varsity season begins. How dare he! Another Democrat has some nerve helping turn an election into a marketplace of ideas. It will be good for everyone who is not presently the mayor. Brown only offers one thought, namely that winning again would be good for him:

A Mayoral candidate has stepped up to the plate, giving Byron Brown some competition from his own party this Fall.

Former FBI Special Agent in charge, Bernard Tolbert announced his candidacy for Mayor of the City of Buffalo on Saturday.

He said, “I see a Buffalo that is appealing. It’s an appealing place to live, work and raise a family. I see a Buffalo that builds upon its assets, rather than looking for silver bullet projects.”

But who’s to say taking the Metro Rail past the Central Terminal to Bass Pro or the medical campus won’t turn Buffalo into an urban utopia? The city needs to create the circumstances that permit people to thrive, not assume thriving will be caused by a wand wave. The challenger additionally thinks having good things would be good:

Tolbert told a crowd of about 150 supporters his priorities include improving schools, job growth and neighborhood development — both economically, and in terms of safety. “We must make our streets a safe place where seniors and all others are not fearful of leaving their homes,” he said.

Regarding the improvement of schools, Tolbert said, “It is heart wrenching for me now, to see the school system that helped me become who I am, failing our children. We must see every child in this city as if he or she were our own, and fight for real results.”

In reply, the mayor hopes people read his words instead of looking around:

In a statement, Brown says he’s “proud” of his administration’s accomplishments and “great progress.”

Another hopeful who’s greatest strength is not being either the present mayor or a member of his party thinks the other side isn’t doing anything worthwhile no matter who he faces in the general:

Republican challenger, Sergio Rodriguez, agrees the people of Buffalo want change, and said he’s the man to deliver it.

Mayoral candidate Rodriguez said, “We’re focused on the issues that matter most to people. I don’t see much of a sharp contrast between the other two candidates, as opposed to my candidacy. So I think we bring something very different to the table.”

There certainly hasn’t been much difference between mayors who’ve all held the same affiliation. But Tolbert might be a less worse option than perversely rewarding Brown again with another four years out of the private sector. At the least, he could offer a law and order background to a city that could use some of both.

For now, Buffalo is both poor and dangerous, which is odd, as one might think thieves would have run out of things to steal by now. He needs to ditch the heart of gold and be the tough mayor who’s always yelling at detectives:

A true humanitarian, Tolbert says he never arrested someone without feeling bad about it.

Well, at least he arrested people, although he should feel bad about the victims. Voters may enjoy the real alternative of considering Rodriguez, as trying a mayor with an (R) after his name would be fun just for the novelty of it. At the worst, Tolbert will make the woeful incumbent sweat doubly. It’d be the most productive thing Brown has done since gaining office.

Capped Success

Sabres press conference

The best way for a small-market team to compete is to make its market large. Every plea for corporate socialism by billionaire sports owners is made with the implication that success means dragging down those who are already successful. Take Buffalo, which was once a rather economically robust city with a population to match. Permanent decline isn’t inevitable, except for any team whose roster is amassed by increasingly middling general manager Darcy Regier.

But there will be no upswings as long as they choose to carry sandbags. Just like New York State’s attempt to tax citizens into prosperity has somehow not paid off, the Sabres seem intent on rewarding failure. If Terry Pegula ran his hockey team like he did his energy acquisition concern, he’d have generated as much as much energy as a solar-powered watch. The outage was most obviously seen in the wake-like atmosphere in the arena this season in a building that should be overwhelmingly electric.

The ruling billionaire and skating millionaires he employs should all be ashamed that the postseason press conference was the most entertaining portion of the season. Thank juvenile reporters who can’t differentiate between being critical and confrontational. Buffalo News staffers acting like indignant jerks was the most unsurprising development since Drew Stafford’s unwillingness to sweat. The news and opinion sections at the legendarily unfortunate rag are just as awful as the sports page in journalism’s worst drive for consistency.

But the childish jousting distracted from the real issue, namely an exasperating hockey side asking fans to pay more to reward failure. Count on local print media to make the city’s professional hockey executives look less like putzes by comparison.

The only thing that has gotten less satisfying results than the Sabres has been the league in which it plays. The salary cap was supposed to make teams with small natural fan bases competitive in an affordable manner; instead, it’s helped made the team in question uncompetitive at great expense, which is especially cruel to fans who wish they could cash in promises.

Most outrageously, Sabres management claims they have to milk fans for even more in order to qualify for the benefits of revenue sharing. They just don’t get enough of a share of income from attendees: the league mandates teams like the Rangers share what they’ve earned in what doesn’t quite reflect the true spirit of sports.

Perhaps a penalty for managing to be financially successful is the Manhattan franchise’s penance for actually benefiting from salary limitations that keep it from issuing ridiculous contracts to relatively underachieving players who then became impossible to trade. The Rangers horrifyingly benefit from the cap, unlike the team at the state’s other corner.

But at least the Sabres will rack up Cups once the salary cap kicks in one of these seasons. In fact, the team has declined under conditions that allegedly level the playing field.

The club’s most infamously memorable moment of the ceiling era was losing co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere on the same day to the small markets of, respectively, um, New York City and Philadelphia. The team somehow forgot to replace the duo, although in their defense it’s only been six years. Rebuilds don’t happen overnight, ingrates.

The Sabres are seemingly attempting to provide a comparison for Buffalonians who want an obvious metaphor for the area’s unfulfilled promise. Residents who are also hockey fans must be doubly punished for their optimism.

The only thing more depressing than missing the playoffs seven of the last 11 seasons is how many times GM-for-life Regier used the word “suffering” to classify the immediate future. Rebuilding implies that there’s a worthwhile structure being replaced. Instead of reassembling the debris of a ruined castle, the Sabres have grand plans for reconstituting the dirt pile.

Everyone cheering for the Sabres long asked for an owner who was a billionaire fan willing to spend, and we don’t know how else to phrase the wish. Costs are up while results are down in what’s as perverse as Tyler Myers suddenly playing as gawkily as one would assume he would upon first glance.

Parity is only an admirable result if it’s earned, not handed to lowly teams through Harrison Bergeroning the game. With the cap in place, the franchise has no excuse for shamelessly demanding more from fans who only deserve to be ripped off by owning shirts whose lists of championships is obsolete. The league dragged down the affluent without benefiting the indigent. It’s almost as a neatly perverse trick as Darcy keeping his job.

Waterfront Fronted

Bills stadium

Buffalo’s outer harbor is like the Bills: most people struggle to remember if either was ever enjoyable. But there’s hope for increased activity at Lake Erie’s edge. Best of all for fans of both, the potential to thrive involves a franchise that is similarly renowned for evaporated promise. The future could be fun even if management just reached on a raw quarterback.

The Bills could use a stadium as much as Buffalo could, especially if people who actually wanted it found a way to pay for it without demanding contributions from all. As usual, count on the public sector to stand in the way of a private attempt to improve the area, even if just for symbolism’s sake. It’s not the Patriots but the unpatriotic football-hating government that stands in the way of progress:

A proposed plan to build a $1.4-billion dollar waterfront stadium in downtown Buffalo is now getting more interest.

“I think we should give it a chance,” said Buffalo Common Council Member David Franczyk

“It may have possibilities,” added Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick.

The land use would be upgraded from its current status as unused land:

A group called Greater Buffalo Sports & Entertainment Complex LLC (GBSEC) is hoping to get a land option on over 100-acres of outer harbor land so studies can be conducted to see if the project is viable.

The land is currently owned by the NFTA and the developers are willing to pay for a 9-to-12 month land option.

But the government has other plans for it, namely to keep it empty in case a better idea for use comes along. Also, you should stay single forever because you might meet a person you like more than your partner:

However, the NFTA is not currently interested in the idea because the land in question is already being looked at for other purposes.

The government is carefully planning to let the desolate parcel rot for a few more decades. Why should they care? They own it without having worked to acquire it, so they naturally see no need for fill the space above with something useful.

Unlike the Authority, a business is actually interested in bringing foot traffic to the city’s water boundary. Their plan to have the Bills actually play in Buffalo is particularly admirable if they’re sincere about not taking tax money to build an athletics ground. Companies only benefit everyone when everyone is not required to bankroll same companies.

Such a proposal is practical in that it doesn’t subtract in the name of addition. The alleged benefits of publicly-funded stadiums never factor in the virtually unrecoverable initial capital frittering.

It’s fitting that Ralph Wilson Stadium’s playing service is below ground, as taxpayers who fund its upkeep never get out of the hole. Orchard Park hasn’t quite gone from pleasant residential area to economic engine thanks to hosting seven regular-season games per year.

More pressing is the moral case against making regular folks subsidize a billionaire’s business. Liberals can’t decide between loathing the rich and feeling the economy will collapse without funneling direct cash payments to them.

If people really like football that much, they can support it voluntarily and directly through ticket purchases. Seats will be easier to afford once taxes are lowered as a result of the county not handing money to, say, sports tycoons.

A new building would be worth it just so Mister Wilson can no longer be the sort of egomaniac who slaps his own name on a venue owned by the county. The Bills bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Mighty Taco Field will be the pinnacle of glory, as maximizing revenue through advertising is just another smart tactic used by any team really interested in winning.

The NFTA should be pleased someone wants to take the land off their hands, especially if the new party will have an incentive to care for it and thus draw visitors as a byproduct of pursuing a profitable venture. Plus, the developers can save money by not building the roof so Buffalo can maintain its hardy home-field advantage. It’ll be hard otherwise to pile snow on Miami’s sideline when they visit.

Gunning for Your Guns

New York gun control

New York knows what it’s doing, except for how it used its impossibly restrictive and senseless laws to take the wrong person’s guns. With the new standard for proficiency, it’s a wonder the state’s economy is still on blocks in the yard. Albany is trying to eliminate good reasons to have protective firearms by ensuring there’s nothing worth stealing.

The new era of preventing violence by harassing people who don’t do anything wrong is off to a great start. A handwritten apology accompanied by a Tim Hortons gift card might not be enough to make up for one heck of a whoopsie by a state that’s projecting when it acts like its citizens aren’t to be trusted:

An Amherst man who had his guns taken away by the state is speaking out after the state admitted it made a mistake by suspending his pistol permit.

David Lewis is the man State Police deemed so mentally ill he was unfit to own a gun. They recommended to a state judge that the 34-year-old librarian’s pistol permit be suspended and the judge signed the order.

New York has some nerve deciding who’s fit with its legacy of buffoonery in mind. As usual, they’re taking their time to respond to their own cloddish actions: the Dewey Decimal System specialist still hasn’t been reunited with his .22s and .45s. The rightful owner provided an example of how the only people who obey laws are non-criminals:

Lewis turned his seven handguns in to Amherst Police. Lewis even got calls from State Police to make sure he gave up his guns that he uses for target practice.

Then State Police determined they had the wrong man. They were looking for a different David Lewis and now the judge has rescinded David’s suspension, but he still doesn’t have his guns.

Well, it’s better for the government to confiscate them just in case. Sure, the incorrect target has no criminal history or inclinations, but he can’t participate in felonies if Albany is holding his arsenal. In fact, they could end violence if they built a gun safe big enough for everyone, unless people used different weapons or acquired firearms illicitly. We better violate the right to keep medical histories confidential if we really care about our own good:

In our conversation with lawyer Jim Tresmond, we learned that this client, who has never had a problem with the law — no criminal record and or violent incidents on record — did have a temporary, short term health issue that required medication. But how were his client’s private medical information accessed by the government? This appears to be a violation of HIPAA and Health Information Privacy policies at HHS.gov. If it is declared a violation, this becomes a civil rights issue.

So, which party is out of its mind? Trust the same state to keep you safe once they get their David Lewises straight and begin imposing arbitrarily counterproductive restrictions accurately.

They want to put this embarrassing violation behind them so they can get back to fighting crime by arresting people who load magazines a little too close to full. Sure, New York remains violent despite excessive gun control, if “despite” means “because of.”

But at least someone who was never a threat was kept as such, because how could we be sure he wouldn’t snapped by chance? We should all be seen as budding evildoers. Just assume the rulers are screwing up for your safety.

Locked in Place

Buffalo 66 jail

New York might not offer much in areas like jobs or hope. But you’re in luck if you seek to reenact scenes from The Walking Dead or wish for a fenced-in place to escape and play foosball in peace. In that case, the state has what you want, although they’ll stop pretending to care about you when it’s property tax time.

Our government is auctioning correctional facilities at below-market price in a new contender for the most New York thing ever. More noteworthy is that they think there’s a market at all. Selling some of its useful assets is shortsighted, but at least it won’t help much in the present:

In May, New York state will try — for the second time — to sell 31 acres with 38 buildings including a gymnasium and a chapel, as well as on-site water and sewage-treatment systems.

Starting bid: $90,000, a relative steal compared to the previous price of $390,000.

The facilities sound like a camp’s, and you could institute a no-wedgie rule if you want. You could own a place that’s by definition remote for a bargain price. I just wonder if there’s a catch:

The catch: It’s a former prison, surrounded by rural land.

At 11 locations across the state, New York is trying to sell vacant prisons and juvenile-justice facilities that have closed over the past two years as part of budget cutbacks and consolidations.

The empty properties contain hundreds of vacant structures built upon thousands of vacant acres of land with sought-after amenities like central water and sewer systems and natural gas lines. But they also carry something of a stigma because of their former use.

Selling the compounds set aside for our wayward neighbors may be as myopic as trading insulin for candy money. Still, the fire jail sale is a way to get funds for the state, as they just don’t get enough in massive taxes and petty fees:

Is anyone in the market for an old prison? The state is trying, but so far, there aren’t many takers.

“(Empire State Development) is working with a number of other state agencies to find ways to save taxpayers money and transform costly, underutilized facilities into opportunities that will create jobs or better serve the community,” said Cassie Harvey, a spokeswoman for Empire State Development, the state’s economic-development arm. “Our efforts to redevelop these facilities are moving forward positively, with many in the process of sale or transfer.”

The state finally cares about efficiency when it comes to having as few people pay for their crimes as possible. The real cost of shuttering what have become otherwise useless facilities comes in the unwillingness to hold people accountable for their transgressions:

At the same time, the prison population has declined precipitously over the past decade as the state has clawed back its tough drug laws and emphasized programs that transition low-risk prisoners to the streets sooner. Since 1999, the state’s prison population has dropped from 71,600 to its current level of about 55,000 inmates.

Fewer people incarcerated is great unless it means more naughty people are on the street. New York’s leaders know how to fight crime as well as they know how to get the economy humming. Their success at selling prisons gives them a chance to flaunt both skills. Albany could at least begin selling things it shouldn’t own.

Letting resources go unused may make us broke, but nonchalance about criminals will cause greater damage than mere poverty. One of the state’s legitimate roles is keeping those who have been convicted of being bad behind a vast fence. The desperation to sell pens is a sign that the state’s leaders remain soft on crime. Meanwhile, they strive to punish people who have committed no other violation than owning a 10-round magazine just in case you thought they might know who the real villains are.

The best way to reduce the need for incarceration is to create a better economic situation where the effort involved in stealing isn’t worth it. For now, the rest of the state feels like the inside of a prison. As they wonder why there’s little demand for fortified enclosures, New York again shows that it doesn’t behave well enough to deserve parole.

State of the Unfree

Cuomo and Bloomberg

New York is in first place for protecting its citizens from the burdens of making too much money or having too many decisions to make. Having to think about ways to get ahead is the sad fate of those poor souls who face the horror of excessive freedom. It’s a relief to sit home waiting for a pittance instead of going out into that spooky world seeking the vagaries connected to opportunity.

The country is using New York’s restrictions on life itself as an example. Sadly, the erstwhile Empire State’s ample restrictions may represent the nation’s bleak future. The feds are working hard to keep pace with battling crazy notions about people keeping the money they earn and doing what they want with it. A new study shows why federalism only works when governments follow good examples (h/t Jon Gabriel):

And the lowest branch on the liberty tree?

“New York is by far the least free state in the Union. It is therefore no surprise that New York residents have been heading for the exits: 9.0 percent of the state’s 2000 population, on net, left the state for another state between 2000 and 2011, the highest such figure in the nation. New York has, by a wide margin, the highest taxes in the country…[and] is also the most indebted state.”

But even the home of Cuomo and Bloomberg can unchain their citizens by reducing spending, paying down debt, abolishing rent control, and… well the list is too long to reprint here.

The depressing stagnation is the price of living in a most miserable utopia, which sort of defeats the point. But we’re trying to invent a workers’ paradise here, so taxpayers are just going to have to suck it up and start covering the costs. Hopefully, they won’t realize that they can stop trying or just move:

New York’s legislature approved a budget that hikes the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour. But taxpayers, not businesses, could actually be the responsible party for paying those extra wage costs, if a closed-door tax credit agreement among politicos made the final budget cut.

At least there’s a reminder of which side hurts the poor no matter the swell intentions. Blame not maliciousness but rather tremendous delusion: minimum wage hikes designed to give instant raises actually price out entry-level workers, which is the inadvertently meanest thing a government can do to the poor.

But don’t worry if you think employers will be unable to afford workers making more than the value they generate, as everyone else will be paying the salaries. Addition by subtraction doesn’t always work:

Once the minimum wage rises by $1.75- to its full $9-per-hour mandate, employers will only be paying 40 cents of that difference, AP reports. The remaining $1.35 will be paid by taxpayers, in the form of a reimbursement credit that goes back to employers.

Money belongs to the state, anyway, so just consider this a more equitable way of sharing communal property. Your bourgeoisie notions about keeping what’s earned hold us back! Still, there are lingering notions that the only thing worse than trying to confiscate more from earners is failing to recognize that such mandatory sharing won’t work. It’s too bad we can’t monetize killing motivation.

If you think New York will find financial redemption through yet another welfare payment, then the Democrats would like to thank you ahead of time for your vote. The alternative, which would involve letting people earn, might teach the public to learn to rely on themselves and not Albany. There’s nothing your rulers fear more.

Or maybe the restrictions and taxes will pay off, provided you have evidence that Andrew Cuomo is smarter than you. Bearing in mind the endless hassles and levies as a reward for being a New Yorker, it’s almost as if there’s a reason the state’s economy has indefinitely sucked.

But we must preserve what we have. The way to get more people from leaving is to make the minimum wage 50 dollars per hour, as it will finally make everyone rich. New York’s politicians just need to keep up the restrictions.

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