WASHINGTON – CIA Director John Brennan said today he was “deeply concerned” that it took the United States Senate so long to figure out that the CIA was spying on them. “The Senate knows full well that the CIA has an annual budget of $15 billion and acts with little or no oversight,” he said. “The fact that the Senate had no clue we were spying on them makes me deeply concerned about the intelligence and quality of our lawmakers.”
by Andy Borowitz
Home Energy Assistance Program to Stop Accepting Applicants for Regular Benefits this Friday
ERIE COUNTY, NY—The Erie County Home Energy Assistance Program’s (“HEAP”) Regular Benefits component will close effective Friday, March 14, while the Emergency Benefits portion will close effective Monday, March 17. All applications received and filed by these dates will be honored.
“I encourage qualified residents to apply for this important program while it is available,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This winter has been extraordinarily cold and many residents are now facing costly heating bills. As I said in my State of the County address, participation in these federally-funded programs does not add to the local tax burden and brings dollars into our local economy.”
Regular HEAP eligibility and benefits are based on income, household size, the primary heating source and the presence of a household member who is under age 6, age 60 or older or permanently disabled. An eligible household may receive one regular HEAP benefit per program year. Regular benefits for households that pay directly for heat based on actual usage are paid directly to the vendor that supplies the household’s primary source of heat.
If a resident needs heating assistance, he or she can report in person to the HEAP office for a walk-in application. The HEAP office is located at 478 Main Street, Buffalo, and is open from 8 AM–4 PM. Residents also can submit an application online at www.mybenefits.ny.gov. The HEAP Hotline number is 858-7644.
The HEAP emergency benefit component assists low-income New Yorkers who are facing a heat or heat related energy emergency and who do not have available liquid resources that exceed the established limits.
Last winter, more than 1.4 million households in New York State, including 95,000 households in Erie County, received HEAP benefits.
Use of County Seal by Poloncarz for Political Purposes Questioned
Is County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz misusing the county seal by utilizing it on his campaign website? That is essentially the question being posed by local attorney Peter A. Reese to County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw. Reese sent a letter to the Comptroller last week after discovering the seal positioned on top of the “Poloncarz for Erie County” website (http://markpoloncarz.com/).
The political website features photos of Poloncarz acting in his official capacity as county executive and serves as a gateway to contact and contribute money to the campaign. In the letter, Reese states, “The County Seal is clearly the property for the County of Erie and is to be used for official purposes only.” Citing the County Code as back-up, he claims, “The use of this seal for personal gain by the County Executive is unauthorized, improper, inappropriate and outrageous.”
This week the two Erie County elecditons coommissionsers will submit the results of their probe into a fundraising committee to the state Board of Elections. It involves political operataive G. Steven Pigeon. Any further probe on Pigeon’s WNY Progressive Caucus, which raised $267,000 for opponents of several candidates backed by Democratic Party Headquarters, will depend on the state panel.
Any further investigation would be expected to also include Kristy L. Mazurek. She is a Pigeon associate and treasurer of the political committee under review.
The election is coming up fast Cuomo doesn’t need any negative publicity. This real battle is between Dennis Ward and Governor Cuomo. Dennis Ward doesn’t care about the Governor and the Governor doesn’t care for him.
Sweet Home Central High School Hockey Team Scores With AT&T, Buffalo Sabres “It Can Wait” Pledge Drive
Sabres and AT&T to host School Assembly, Practice Session with Center Cody Hodgson
BUFFALO, N.Y., MAR., 7, 2014 – AT&T* today announced that Sweet Home Central High School in Amherst is the winner of a Sabres experience of a lifetime for their efforts in raising awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. AT&T’s It Can Wait®” campaign, and the Buffalo Sabres came together to challenge 30 area high schools to encourage students, parents and teachers alike to “take the pledge” not to text and drive. As the winning school with the most pledges collected, the school’s hockey team will lace up with Sabres Center Cody Hodgson for a practice session on Monday, March 10. In addition, the Sabres and AT&T will visit the school for a special “It Can Wait” assembly scheduled for Monday, March 31.
AT&T first launched the It Can Wait® program in 2009 to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving and encourage consumers to take the pledge to never text and drive at www.ItCanWait.com. The campaign has inspired more than 4 million pledges.
“We’re challenging all drivers, especially teens; to take the pledge to never text and drive and make it a lifelong commitment,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York President, AT&T. “Studies show those who send text messages while driving are much more likely to be in a crash.”
Texting while driving causes more than 200,000 car crashes on American roadways each year, according to the National Safety Council1. Research shows that speaking up against texting while driving works. A ConnectSafely.org survey sponsored by AT&T2 found that:
- · Ninety-seven percent of teens surveyed say texting while driving is dangerous – but 75 percent say it’s “common among their friends.”
- · Adults tell kids not to text while driving, yet according to 77 percent of teens; adults do it “all the time”.
For more information on the It Can Wait® campaign, please visit: ItCanWait.com.
Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Philharmonic announced today that it has surpassed its subscription sales record, in both dollars and in the number of subscribers.
Subscription sales for the 2013-14 season currently stand at $1.85 million, up 4 percent from the previous season’s figure of $1.78 million. The number of individual subscribers now totals 6,700.
The new records represent a benchmark in a multi-year effort to expand the orchestra’s subscriber base, an effort that not only takes into account the strong and diverse musical programming the BPO offers, but also includes flexible subscription options, sales promotions, personalized service, and subscriber benefits ranging from a flexible ticket exchange program to the opportunity to attend open rehearsals and private post-concert parties. Each season ends with a free subscriber and donor-only concert in celebration of the orchestra’s dedicated patrons.
The subscription campaign was bolstered by several milestone events in the past year. The orchestra’s recent performances for Spring For Music at Carnegie Hall and on tour in Florida have generated a lot of national interest in the BPO. The orchestra released two recordings on the Naxos label in the past year, both of which received excellent reviews in the international media, strong sales from the classical music public, and radio play on classical stations throughout the country.
“The synergy that exists among the board, the musicians, the artistic leadership and the staff has allowed us to not only present great programs to our own community, but to step onto the national and international stages,” said BPO executive director Daniel Hart. “The orchestra is playing at a very high level. Music director JoAnn Falletta is an excellent ambassador to the community and continues to program outstanding seasons. It’s gratifying to see the public respond to our efforts.”
“We are very pleased that the number of subscribers and season ticket revenue continue to grow. We love our patrons and work to give them the best experience possible. With a triumphant return to Carnegie Hall and a very successful Florida tour last month, Western New Yorkers recognize what an asset our community has in the BPO and we are grateful for the support,” said sales director Michael Giambra.
Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) in Dutchess, Greene and Putnam counties granted questionable tax incentives and failed to enforce job creation goals, according to audits released Tuesday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli renewed his call for better accountability for IDAs and urged the State Legislature to consider his proposed IDA reform legislation.
This sounds great but it’s already been tried and failed. Our Legislature has no guts.
IDA’s are incapable of self reform. The only answer is abolition.
Hiring of Deputy Commissioner Cannon Completes Overhaul of Department into Three Divisions
Budget-Neutral Plan creates more Flexible, Proactive Organization
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced the completion of his reorganization plan for the Erie County Department of Social Services (“DSS”) with the hiring of Marie Cannon as First Deputy Commissioner for the Department. An experienced administrator with extensive qualifications in human resources, Cannon joins Second Deputy Commissioner Sharon Rochelle and Deputy Commissioner of Youth Services Gary Damon Jr. as recent executive management hires. The reorganization also created a new seven-member Child Protective Service team.
“As I said in my recent State of the County address, Erie County remains challenged by a high level of poverty and the attendant strains that poverty places on families and children. The reorganization of the Department of Social Services will better position it to address these issues and deal with them more proactively,” said Poloncarz. “This budget-neutral reengineering of DSS will greatly help our staff to better engage with residents, identify what their needs are along with the resources available to address them, and work with them to achieve independence.”
The Department of Social Services is the largest in Erie County, with an annual budget of $578 million. DSS includes units such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”), the Home Energy Assistance Program (“HEAP”), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), Child and Adult Protective Services, and Juvenile Justice Services. The reorganization plan realigns DSS into three broad divisions: Public Assistance, Individual Protection, and Administrative Support.
Commissioner of Social Services Carol Dankert-Maurer added, “Erie County has experienced a dramatic increase in its caseloads over the past several years, and this plan gives the Department of Social Services the needed capacity to address the sources of these increases. In addition, the reorganization builds a more flexible and resilient Department that can act more quickly to address residents’ needs in a timely manner.”
Poloncarz initially proposed the reorganization plan, which was approved by the Erie County Legislature, in September 2013.
For more information:
On the Erie County Department of Social Services, visit http://www2.erie.gov/