TOLLS TAKE TOLL: A downtown visitor marveled the other day how deeply New York State has its hand in Western New Yorkers' pockets. He drove from Rochester, paid the Thruway toll in Williamsville. Then he drove downtown on the 190, paid the toll at Ogden Street. Then he had to drive to Angola, paying a third toll. Total separation, about 15 miles.
WBEN SELLING NEWS?: The highest-rated radio station in town, WBEN, presents a strong flow of factual information each morning, including traffic, weather, sports, interviews and news. Its morning newscasters, Susan Rose and John Zach, run seamlessly through the litany of overnight news helping thousands of listeners start their day. So they must cringe right along with those listeners when station management decides they should also deliver advertising pitches for various products, including a breakfast drink. Caged to fit seamlessly and sound almost like a factual news report, the ad both newscasters delivered this week sounds like news to the sleepy listener. Shame on WBEN and its owners, Entercom Communications. That's the same company, you might have read, state Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer sued for payola.
QUIET ADVOCATE: David Kaczynski stopped in the other day. He's executive director of the Albany-based New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty. He took the job a few years back, he noted, after being told he'd have to raise his own salary. He's built the group's budget to $400,000 a year and speaks around the state in a relentless effort to thwart the death penalty, a noble cause. He believes that life without parole has a real chance of passing the State Legislature in the next couple of years. He's of course not just some pie-in-the-sky idealist. He was responsible for the 1996 arrest of his brother, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, who's serving a life sentence for killing three people. David Kaczynski possesses quiet dignity, advocating out of personal experience rather than political zeal.