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IT SEEMS TO US . . .
A MISREADING OF WESTERN NEW YORK VALUES, AND COUNCIL TURNS ATTENTION TO FANTASY

WE THINK WE'VE BEEN INSULTED: In the land where election campaigns never end, a group calling itself Campaign for America's Future has already run television ads here calling on Rep. Tom Reynolds to repudiate the ethically challenged House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay. As you might expect, Reynolds' chief of staff, Michael Brady, dismissed the ads as partisan sniping.

Fair enough. That's part of Brady's job, and he has every right to note the advertisement was financed in part by George Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes. But we wish Brady would have quit while he was ahead. Instead, he added, "When they realize who is paying for the ad, I think people will see that it doesn't stand for Western New York values."

Well, we know a little about Western New York values, and they don't include offering campaign support to the son of a legislator in exchange for a vote, or using a federal agency to track down Texas state lawmakers as part of a political fight or holding a fund-raiser at a golf tournament sponsored by an energy company that was seeking special consideration in an energy bill. That's DeLay's ethical trifecta, and it's not beyond the pale to suggest that Reynolds question that record.

In any event, we'd appreciate it if Brady didn't associate Western New York values with a congressman who's been admonished three times by the House Ethics Committee.

TAXES WITH A LITTLE SALT: On Monday, you'll no doubt be reading and hearing reports about Tax Freedom Day, the day when Americans will finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill -- state, local and federal -- for the current year. The report, put out by the Tax Foundation, also will show the organization's estimate of state and local taxes paid by residents of each state as a share of residents' total incomes, or what it calls the "tax burden."

We expect New York's tax burden to be up there among the leaders (this just in), but you may need to be a bit skeptical about the numbers. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that the foundation's figures are based on estimates and projections that are largely derived from years-old data and from national samples that were never intended to be used for state-by-state estimates.

The center also points out that the foundation's 2002 report claimed that tax burdens had risen since 2000 in 38 states. Two years later, it issued a little-publicized revision that showed only nine states had higher tax burdens in 2002 than in 2000. In addition, subsequent data from the Census Bureau showed that the tax burden had risen in only four states.

TOO MUCH TIME ON HIS HANDS: At first we thought Masten Council Member Antoine Thompson got his dates wrong. We figured his resolution, which the Council supported, to begin discussions about a new downtown football stadium for the Bills was an April Fools' joke. Turns out, instead of playing an April Fools' joke, Thompson and his colleagues were just being foolish in April.

First, a stadium would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-billion dollars. Second, a city that has no money for anything but basic services -- some would say it is not even providing all of those -- has more pressing things to worry about. Of course, if Council members were better at municipal finance, Buffalo wouldn't need a control board.