Kevin Walter - The Buffalo News

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Kevin Walter


Pop-quiz time, class; multiple choice. Ready? The Buffalo School District's terrible performance is the fault of:A. StudentsB. ParentsC. TeachersD. PrincipalsE. District administratorsF. School Board membersG. The teachers unionH. The Board of RegentsI. The State Education DepartmentJ. All of the aboveK. No one; in Buffalo we're persistent victims, pathetically unable to i…

Dear Boss,We need to talk about your plans for my company car. I realize, of course, that I don't actually have a company car; that is part of the problem. But I need one, since I've chosen to live so far from where you require me to work, and I am sure you will agree that common sense (as I define it) and the law (as I will explain it) make clear that I should get to keep…

"You don't have to be involved in anything wrong to have this happen to you. I had never been arrested for so much as a violation. . . . If it happened to me, it can happen to any of you. It can happen to your son or daughter. It can happen to your best friend, or it can happen to your spouse."- Jeffrey Deskovic, speaking to a Buffalo audience last year about his wrongful …

Anyone who's lost control of a speeding car knows the feeling: The world in front of the windshield suddenly looks like a movie running in slow motion -- the disorientation, the loss of control, the seeming eternity until it all stops.Such is the condition of the American system of health insurance. The vehicle began skidding out of control sometime in the past decade, but…

The decision to move from New York could hardly have been more agonizing for Connie and Tony Toledo, but they felt they had no choice. Tony had been laid off, and the state's hostile business policies undermined the towing business he subsequently started. So the family left Buffalo for North Carolina.It was 2001 when Tony said goodbye to his lifelong hometown and Connie's…

Matthew L. Schwartz looks for all the world like any other college student, albeit one who is crackling with barely contained energy.Whole paragraphs spool out of him in unbroken torrents: cogent observations, ambitious goals, cocky self-assurance. A trained observer might recognize the outlines of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and might even guess that special…

GOING UPRIVER: THE LONG WAR OF JOHN KERRY ***FEATURING: John Kerry and assorted veterans, journalists and congressmen.DIRECTOR: George ButlerRUNNING TIME: 92 minutesRATING: PG-13 for disturbing images of war and some dialogueTHE LOWDOWN: John Kerry's antiwar activism, as told by a friend. The human brain is kind enough -- or wily enough -- to scrub away the worst memori…

Ready for a quiz? Get out your No. 2 pencils and see if you can identify the common denominator:Brewing a pot of coffee.Buying a house.Going to prison.Parking your car.Driving to Toronto.Undergoing cancer treatment.Flying to New York.Taking a college class.Mourning the Sept. 11 terror attacks.Those of you who read the headline, go to the front of the class. For everyone el…

The tricks of the authority trade have become legion, but they trace back to an unlikely suspect: John Mitchell, the Wall Street bond counsel who later became President Nixon's attorney general and was neck deep in another far-reaching deceit, the Watergate scandal.Stymied by voters who wanted certain services but who repeatedly shot down bond proposals to fund them, Gov. …

Here comes that R-word again.With Buffalo facing insolvency and with a state-created financial control board about to flex its muscle on the city's fiscal decision making, Erie County's smoldering debate about regionalism is all but certain to spark anew.Should Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs form a regional, metropolitan government? Should the city and Erie County mer…

At First Light: Strengthening Buffalo Niagara in the New Century Kevin P. Gaughan Canisius College Press173 pages, $15 From the book: At the Music Hall, an enormous oil portrait of now Colonel Roosevelt peered down on the frenzied crowd and official City of Buffalo welcoming committee. A troop of surviving Buffalo Civil War veterans, at TR's invitation, occup…

Buying a new house? Get ready to shell out more money. Because of New York's laws on injury lawsuits, it'll cost you at least $5,000 more than it would have otherwise. That additional expense will also drive up your closing costs, property taxes, insurance premiums and mortgage interest. If you're a first-time home buyer, you may now be priced out of the market.Having a ba…

Here's a true-false test about city government in Buffalo. See how well you do.1. Elevating Buffalo's economic prospects requires a dramatic improvement in the quality of its governance.2. Making that improvement necessitates a transformation in the culture of the Common Council.3. Such a goal can best be achieved by changing the position of Council member to part-time.Rea…

Welcome to the world of Buffalo's municipal unions. It's a strange but familiar domain that exists in black and white; a time-warp world where it's always 1952, Harry Truman is president and the only sure thing is that whatever management says, it's a lie.It's a topsy-turvy world where dollars are as plentiful as Pez, promises have no meaning and distrust is a strategy. It…

Would it work?If Buffalo cannot get its financial act together, and the state decides to impose a financial control board to save the city from itself, would it make a difference?The answer is, it depends. If "work" means bringing the city's budget into balance for as long as a control board is in power, the answer is yes, almost certainly. This year's $15 million deficit …