Boston Town Board is alienating fire companies
While most have enjoyed a warm summer, relations between the fire companies and the Town of Boston seem to have gotten extremely hot.
Since the first of the year, with the settlement of the contract, it appears that the town's main mission is to make life as miserable as possible for two of the three fire companies.
The town was delinquent almost 60 days in paying the contractual payment due Boston Fire Company (due June 30), despite repeated requests for payments. The fire company took no action against the town and continued to provide fire protection to the residents.
It appears that members of the Town Board want to initiate a program of consolidation of their fire protection service. This is an idea that may merit future consideration. However, I am not aware that the board has garnered any data or contracted for any research on the subject. In consolidation, there are many factors that must be considered and weighed as to their effect on the residents.
If, as I suspect, consolidation is a future goal, I feel the board must accomplish two things to achieve its goal:
1.) Allocate funds to conduct outside, independent research on the effects and the structure of an orderly consolidation.
2.) Gain the trust and accept the input of the three fire companies on the subject of consolidation. I don't envision consolidation going very far in Boston without the fire companies being on board.
If Town Board members continue on their present course, I would suggest they also research the cost of paid fire protection, because they appear to be destroying volunteerism in the town. As a volunteer who gives hundreds of hours every year to the town, I am beginning to question why I do it, only to get harassed by town officials.
I have been looking for the proverbial olive branch for several months. How silly of me -- olives don't grow in Boston.
Another great business leaves Western New York
Not too long ago, The News ran an article about a new business called the English Pork Pie Co. It told of a young couple who left promising law careers in England to follow their dream of opening an English foods shop in the states. Their hope was to bring a taste of home to the large English population that has settled in this area and to introduce others to authentic English fare. Their plan was solid and successful.
The first shop opened in West Seneca and as they outgrew that building, they expanded in Cheektowaga. The business thrived as word spread about how good the food was. There truly is no place better, other than mum's kitchen, to get authentic English pork pies, sausage rolls, English bacon and pasties. I was introduced to this company by a friend who is from Ireland. He raved about the shop and insisted I try it since I am a native of England. I became a regular.
As I visited the shop, I got to know the wonderful owners, Vicki and Damian. They talked of their plan to open an English-style pub as well as a fish-and-chips shop. The other day, I found out that they are moving the business to Ohio. It isn't because they weren't doing well here. Their shop was thriving, their Internet business is huge, there are a number of supermarkets contracted to carry their items and they are a supplier for Disney Cruises. This is a strong and viable enterprise. So why are they leaving? Simple. They found a bigger building at one-third of the cost they are paying here; local banks refused to give them a mortgage, yet a small Ohio bank quickly financed them; the utilities are cheaper; and let's not even talk about the taxes.
How many times have we seen good businesses leave for similar reasons? Does anyone in state government realize how this hurts everyone in this area? This isn't only about the loss of a wonderful specialty shop, but the loss of jobs, potential income and a drawing card to Western New York. As disappointing as it is, one can't fault this couple for good business decisions. It's just a shame it keeps happening over and over. Is anyone paying attention?
Taxing the wealthiest encourages investment
The Republicans point out that even when the United States taxed the super rich in the past at 70 percent and 90 percent in the highest brackets, no one actually paid those rates. The Republicans are, for once, correct. The very wealthy did successfully and legally evade those taxes. Rather than pay those confiscatory rates on their excess income, they opted instead to grow their businesses.
They devoted more funds to research and development, built new plants, updated old ones and hired new employees. They invested in insurance and pension plans for the mutual benefit of themselves and their employees. They did all of this, to the benefit of our entire nation, primarily to avoid that higher tax bracket while continuing to build their individual wealth.
The prevailing arguments for tax relief for the super rich, those presumed "job creators," are exactly wrong. If you want to expand the economy, you first need to tax the high end of those multimillion-dollar incomes at a substantially higher rate to generate incentives to invest that excess capital back into the economy rather than hoard it or, worse, earmark it to some hedge fund manager to manipulate the markets to the extreme detriment of all but a very few of us.
It's wrong to exclude prayer at 9/1 1 memorial ceremony
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is receiving harsh criticism, as well he should, for his decision to exclude clergy from the 9/1 1 memorial ceremony. I agree with the comment by Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor in Rudolph Giuliani's administration: "This is America, and to have a memorial service where there's no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me."
I understand "the undeniable fact that the 9/1 1 attacks were planned and carried out by fanatics of an extreme form of Islam," but anyone with an ounce of sense knows there are "fanatics" in all types of religions, but not all are extremists.
Bloomberg's proposal seems to me to be narcissistic in nature. He should be concerned with the families and friends of the victims who may need the consolation of prayer and the support of their religious leaders, rather than the decision of a person looking to advance his political agenda.
I must ask, did Bloomberg use the phrase "God bless America" on July Fourth? If he did, what is he asking God to bless? Does he remember the fact that immediately after the attack, churches and places of worship were packed?
Seeing as God will not be mocked, does he wonder if it is a coincidence that Irene hit the East Coast shortly after his decision? Perhaps we should celebrate the memorial of 9/1 1 in Texas.