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IN HONOR OF TURKEYS
WE'RE THANKFUL FOR MANY THINGS THIS WEEK, BUT THESE PRIZE-WINNERS AREN'T AMONG THEM

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and one thing we've noticed in abundance this year is turkeys. This seems a fitting week to honor them. And so we give you the Turkey Awards.

To the New York State Legislature, full four-gobbler honors. For 20 years of late state budgets, some with breathtaking tardiness, and for the slowly simmering creation of a half-baked legislative system ranked among the worst in the nation. Representational democracy has been cooked in New York.

To the City of Buffalo, three gobblers. It would have been four, but the control board froze the extra one. If the state is the full bird, the city is a side order of toast. One thing about Buffalo's long slide into insolvency over a couple of administrations -- there won't be any leftovers.

To the County of Erie, three gobblers. While unfunded state mandates cooked this goose, to mix a metaphor, County Executive Joel Giambra found himself too often accused of distributing the gravy to friends and political allies. So the county gets a seat at the table -- and who sold us this dining room furniture, anyway?

To the Peace Bridge Authority, two gobblers. It has to be two, because Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October so these folks get to be turkeys twice. The honor is for a transportation agency that too often couldn't get out of its own way. It finally saw the value of public input, but it's still having trouble crossing the river. So, two turkeys -- which looks, for now, like one for each bridge.

To the Democratic and Republican parties, a couple of gobblers each. We're passing them the birds because of two major flaws -- the way they pick judges, with rubber-stamp judicial conventions and cross-endorsements that basically take most of those decisions out of the hands of the voters, and for the way they send only sacrificial lambs (there's another metaphor maimed) to run against politically entrenched incumbents in the State Legislature. Of course, nobody of any stature wants to run in districts manufactured to ensure that incumbents win, but the voters deserve more than crumbs.

To the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association, one big gobbler. Unseasoned. Because that's how they left hockey fans -- unseasoned. If that's not enough bird to go around, they can always argue over the stuffing.

To the Empire State Development Corp., a wishbone. The state agency charged with developing Buffalo's inner harbor and enhancing downtown Niagara Falls has been long on plans but short on delivery so far. We're still waiting, but a little less patiently. Here's hoping the locals don't get the short end of the stick.