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It seems to us … Something for nothing, NYC’s latest and the wrong answer for outer harbor

There’s a lot of nothing going on in thousands of the federal government’s bank accounts, and taxpayers are footing a sizable bill for that nothing.

According to an article in the Washington Post, this year the government will spend at least $890,000 on service fees for bank accounts that are actually empty. There are 13,712 such accounts with a balance of zero. That’s right: zero.

All that nothin’ adds up. The government is required to pay $65 per year, per account, to keep them on the books. Thomas A. Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste points out that any citizen getting charged for the privilege of maintaining an empty bank account would do everything possible to close it.

The Obama administration says it’s working on the problem. Back in 2011, the number of empty accounts was 28,000. And last year, the Government Accountability Office put the cost of maintaining empty bank accounts at $2.1 million a year.

So, that’s improvement. Government-style.

Quick! Stockpile those smokes, kids.

A new proposal in New York City would increase the age to legally buy cigarettes from 18 to 21. If enacted, the Big Apple would have the strictest limits of any major American city. The outcry is what anyone would expect – old enough to fight for their country but not old enough to buy cigarettes? Those who object to the proposal can point to the Surgeon General’s report that says 90 percent of smokers admit they had already started smoking by age 18.

By that reckoning, raising the smoking age may not do much to curb smoking. It will just force young people who have been obtaining their smokes illegally to keep doing that a few years longer.

There are a lot of things that young people are not supposed to be doing, smoking and drinking among them. Certainly the restrictions are frustrating when you’re in that age group. It isn’t until adulthood that most of us realized the grown-ups trying to protect us were right in the first place.

Let’s play “Jeopardy!” What is the correct question to the following answer:


There are, of course, plenty of valid questions to that succinct response, including such notables as “Should you ever lick a lamppost in freezing temperatures?” or “Can I use the mobile home for my date tonight?” But they are not today’s correct question, which is “Should a development group be granted a nine- to 12-month option to build a football stadium and entertainment complex on the outer harbor?”


Buffalo needs to retain the outer harbor for public access, as the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has promised as it seeks to sell the land. While eight of nine members of the Buffalo Common Council think a stadium is a swell idea, Rep. Brian Higgins and County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz are opposed. There is no inkling of how such a project would be financed and there is no indication that the Buffalo Bills are interested in a new stadium.

And it’s a poor use of the land.