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    ************************************************** ******************
    This Message Is Reprinted Under The FAIR USE
    Doctrine Of International Copyright Law:
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    by Bruce Jackson
    (photo: Bruce Jackson)

    Barry Snyder and his Seneca gambling operation made two huge PR moves in
    Buffalo last week, both of them designed to shore up the Seneca Gaming
    Corporation’s claim that a Buffalo casino is a done deal and that all opposition is,
    therefore, pointless.
    One of the moves, aided and abetted by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, was based
    on in-your-face bullying; the other, aided and abetted by the Buffalo News,
    on not-very-subtle extortion.
    1. The scene at the site.
    Drive south out of downtown Buffalo along the I-190. Near the Louisiana
    Street exit, you will see on the right the mutilated cadaver of the H-O Oats
    grain elevator, which is being knocked down by a huge wrecking crane wielding a
    1,500-pound, U-shaped chunk of cast iron.
    If you are driving northward along that same section of I-190, all you will
    see right now is the elevator with its familiar block letters saying “H-O OAT
    ”—the silo with the final “S” is gone—and the tall crane rising above and
    beyond it. That is because all the destroyed silos are on the north side of
    the elevator. In a week or so, the letters you see from the northbound lanes of
    the I-190 will be gone and everyone will be able to see wrecked silos from
    either direction, and a few weeks further on you’ll see nothing at all, unless
    the Senecas decide for some reason to abandon the destruction project.
    Only a few workers are on the site. A medium-sized bulldozer moves rubble
    near where Fulton Street reaches the Michigan Avenue side. A Seneca police car
    sits just inside where Fulton Street is blocked off on the Marvin Street
    side. Every time I’ve gone there there have been more signs saying
    Except for cleaning up rubble that falls into Perry Street, all the
    demolition work is done by one man. He sits in the crane’s cab and raises the iron U
    maybe 20 feet above the rim of one of the silos. He lets it drop. Concrete
    and asbestos dust bursts into the air and chunks of rubble fall to the ground
    below. He raises the iron U again and again lets it drop, and again there is a
    burst of concrete and asbestos dust and a shower of rubble.
    After a while, he has cut a deep notch into the side of the silo maybe 30
    feet long. He moves the iron U away, raises it a bit, then begins moving the
    crane back and forth. Almost in slow-motion, the iron U at the end of the long
    steel cable swings in a wider and wider arc until it smashes into the column
    it had, by the repeated chopping, isolated from the silo wall.
    Sometimes it takes two hits to collapse the section, sometimes just one. The
    isolated section tilts, breaks up and falls, sending huge billows of
    concrete and asbestos straight up and off to the sides. Where the section had been
    is now just air, save for the curling and bent strands of one-inch steel
    reinforcement bars, sheared by the U-shaped device as if they had been tired
    strands of frayed cotton on an old shirt, and the high dust, glowing and
    dissipating in the afternoon light.
    The wrecking crane was at work all through the Memorial Day weekend and all
    through this past weekend. Each time I was there, within minutes, my car, my
    camera, my lenses and I were covered with that dust that drifted over the
    neighborhood all day, every day, while the destruction workers did their work,
    probably being paid double- or triple-time for the Sundays and Memorial Day
    holiday. Money to pay people to work on holidays or do work they might
    otherwise not wish to do is not a problem for the Seneca Gaming Corporation.
    Whenever the wrecking crane is working a single water-misting device sprays
    the air between the crane and the silos. At first I thought the misting
    device was there to keep the dust off the Perry Street projects just a block away,
    but then I realized it was there to clear the air in front of the crane
    operator so he could see where he was dropping and swinging the huge iron U.
    Nothing kept the dust from the street and the streets beyond.
    When I visited the site last Sunday there was something new: signs warning
    of asbestos in the air. I don’t know what prompted the Seneca Gaming
    Corporation to post the signs so late in the process. The signs are only on the fence
    of the site itself. There are no signs to the east, where even the slightest
    breeze constantly blows the fine concrete and asbestos dust. There are no
    signs anywhere downwind, where the Perry Street projects are, where there are
    streets on which people walk and children play.

    A view of the demolition site from the west.
    (photo: Rose Mattrey)

    2. Why is Barry Snyder taking down the H-O Oats elevator and why is Byron
    Brown helping him do it?
    There’s no pressing need for the Seneca Gaming Corporation to be tearing
    down the H-O Oats grain elevators right now. If they get to build a casino on
    that site they may have to, but that would depend on the design, and at this
    point they don’t have a design. All they’ve got is a preliminary design
    concept, which is just a piece of paper.
    So far as I can tell, the single reason for this destruction project that is
    it is a dramatic way of telling anyone traveling into or out of Buffalo on
    I-190, “This is a done deal. You can’t stop us. The county executive tried to
    stop us and he couldn’t do it. There are environmental laws that apply to
    anyone doing this sort of thing, but they don’t apply to us. It’s a done deal.
    You can’t do anything about the toxic dust coming off our property and
    blowing into a densely populated area. It’s a done deal. You can’t do anything
    here we don’t want you to do, and all we want you to do is come and gamble and
    give us your money. You got a problem with that, you can kiss our ***. It’s a
    done deal. **** you.”
    None of that is true, but that’s what they’re saying with that wrecking
    crane and the 1,500-pound, U-shaped slab of cast iron.
    Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who has pretended to be giving thought to all
    this foolishness, turns out to be complicit in it: Without any public hearings,
    he had two city streets blocked off and wired in so the Seneca Gaming
    Corporation could carry on this demolition work and he has helped the Senecas avoid
    the kind of environmental impact studies any other organization would have to
    do before engaging in huge demolition projects and releasing all kinds of
    garbage into the air adjacent to populated areas. I asked Brown’s staff if they
    knew of any environmental studies that had been done prior to this
    demolition and thus far they have come up with nothing at all.
    It may very well true be that nobody can do anything about anything done on
    Indian land. But nobody argues Byron Brown’s authority to interdict an action
    pouring vile stuff into the city’s air supply. He can have those trucks
    coming into and leaving the Seneca property blocked; he can block off the city
    streets one block away from the Seneca land; he can ask the new Secretary of
    the Interior to force the Seneca Gaming Corporation to obey the law.
    But he has done and is doing none of that. The question is why. Why would he
    betray his trust as mayor? Why would he betray the East Side community that
    was for so long his political base?
    For one thing, Byron Brown needs the casino, not just for what the casino
    developers may be handing him or his campaign in the way of support funds, or
    promising him for a possible future run for Louise Slaughter’s seat in
    Congress, but also for the budget with which he hopes to get the city’s control
    board off his back. He’s projected $5 million a year in city income from the
    casino to offset other losses in city income in his budgets three and four years

    to be cont....
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

  • #2
    That means that the Brown administration isn’t a government agency dealing
    with a group that wants to put a gambling joint in the heart of town. It means
    the Brown administration is partnering with a group they hope will help them
    deal with an intractable problem, only they haven’t yet had the decency to
    tell the rest of us about the intimate relationship.
    How many members of the Byron Brown administration and the Buffalo Common
    Council live downwind from that wrecking operation? Do you think Brown and the
    Council would have turned a blind eye while the Senecas dumped all that
    noxious dust into the air without any serious environmental studies if it were
    their children living in those projects, playing on those streets?

    A sign on the south side of the H-O Oats elevator warns that the dust
    pouring into the sidewalk and street contains asbestos: "CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE
    (photo: Bruce Jackson)

    3. Fantasy futures.
    The destruction of the H-O Oats silos was an in-your-face gambit by Seneca
    Gaming Corporation: It wasn’t necessary, it was outside the law, they got away
    with it, nobody said boo and it continues in full view day after day. Barry
    Snyder doesn’t want you to forget that he owns City Hall.
    Bold stuff. The second part of the PR assault is more subtle and it took the
    full collaboration of the Buffalo News, which ran over six days three
    articles and an editorial which, if they weren’t planted by SGC’s flacks, may just
    as well have been.
    Each of the articles was grounded in things that were not true or in which
    key true things were left out; each of them was one-sided; each of them made
    the Seneca Gaming Corporation’s case and not one of them made even a Fox News
    level “fair-and-balanced” bow to the other side.
    And worst of all: The articles weren’t written by the News’s editorial
    writers, who frequently perform at some other person’s or agency’s bidding, but
    were rather done by two of the News’s good reporters, Sharon Linstedt and
    Michael Beebe.
    It began with Linstedt’s page-one article on June 1 headlined “Cutting-edge
    design for casino: Senecas’ vision proposes creek, parklike setting.”
    Reporters don’t write headlines, editors do that, but nothing in that head or
    subhead was dissonant with Linstedt’s sales-pitch prose. Her lead goes, “The
    Seneca Nation of Indians’ vision for its Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino will take
    the form of contemporary glass and steel on a parklike setting with a symbolic
    creek running through it.”
    Cutting-edge…vision…parklike…contemporary…symbolic creek…
    Keep in mind what this is really about: not a park, not an urban habitat,
    but a gambling joint designed solely to suck money out of the city of Buffalo
    and its environs—one that, because of a quirk in the law, will have
    restaurants, bars, shows and shops operating at a huge economic advantage over any
    other operator in Buffalo.
    “The site plan,” writes Linstedt, “turns what is now a mishmash of
    industrial properties along Michigan Avenue in Buffalo’s Cobblestone District into a
    nine-acre gambling campus.”
    Campus? Like a college or a research institution? Like the medical campus on
    High Street? Mishmash? That’s a word for a front-page newspaper article? Are
    the recently restored lofts across the street from the H-O Oats silos
    mishmash? Are the Perry Street projects one block away? Is the developing
    waterfront in the other direction?
    “Plans,” Linstedt writes, “call for substantial landscaping, lagoons and a
    creek to form parkland along Michigan Avenue from Perry Street to South Park
    Avenue. The swath of green also would run along the Perry Street boundary of
    the site. ‘We want this to be a neighborhood park, a place where people who
    live or work in the Cobblestone District could take a walk and enjoy the green
    space,’ [the Seneca spokesman] said. ‘We want to be part of the
    neighborhood. We don’t want to put up barriers.’ The green space also would be home to
    historical elements marking Seneca history in the former Buffalo Creek
    This is like saying the prison will have well-manicured grounds and sweet
    music to play while the convicts work like dogs and the guards whip for
    pleasure. The amenities are irrelevant. It’s function that matters. This is still a
    gambling joint, designed to suck the life out of Buffalo’s economy. Who cares
    if a symbolic creek runs through it?
    Next, Linstedt and the Buffalo News become instruments in the Seneca Gaming
    Corporation’s extortion.
    “The design,” Linstedt writes, “assumes the city will abandon the two-block
    stretch of Fulton Street, which runs through the Seneca territory and dead
    ends at Marvin Street. Talks with the city to permanently close the street are
    under way.”
    “The design assumes…” What’s with the intransitive? Who assumes? Designs
    don’t “assume”; designs just are. People assume. Who is assuming that the
    city of Buffalo will just give up two blocks of public land that do not, as
    Linstedt has it, run “through the Seneca territory.” The Senecas bought small
    parcels of land bounded by city streets, and they’re acting as if the city
    should therefore give them one of the streets in the middle of their parcels. And
    the Buffalo News is acting as if the street were on their territory.
    This is nuts. This is the world upside down. And then it gets worse.
    What happens if the city doesn’t give up the land? Then, says the Seneca
    spokesman, no lagoon, no park, no creek. We’ll just build ugly because the
    gamblers don’t care what’s outside, right? You give us what we want or we’ll
    build an eyesore.
    Where were the city representatives responding in anger to the way the city
    was being extorted into complicity? Where were the citizens’ representatives
    commenting on the cynical ploy?
    Not in Linstedt’s article. No voice of contradiction or even interrogation
    appears anywhere in Linstedt’s page one article about the Seneca Gaming
    Corporation’s preliminary proposal for what it might do in downtown Buffalo if
    everything doesn’t go exactly as it wants.
    4. Playing hooky.
    The following day, Linstedt had a second article on the presentation of the
    preliminary site plan, this one on the front page of the City & Region
    section. The headline was “Brown skips ceremony for unveiling of casino plan,” and
    had a subhead reading, “Unresolved site issues with Senecas blamed.” The
    gist of this was that former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello had always appeared
    at Seneca Gaming Corporation PR events but Byron Brown and the Buffalo
    Common Council hadn’t appeared at the presentation of the preliminary design plan.
    In Linstedt’s words, “Conspicuously absent was Mayor Byron W. Brown.”
    But why should he have been there? This was, save for the Buffalo News
    giving it page one status, a non-event. It was a PR, nothing more. At most it
    should have been back in the Business section in the area reserved for “things
    people are talking about doing sometime.”
    Brown’s own PR man, Peter Cutler, told Linstedt that the mayor’s absence
    wasn’t a snub but it was rather because the city and the Senecas still had
    issues to work out. Linstedt said that one of the issues was whether or not the
    city would shut down a two-block section of Fulton Street. In fact, Fulton
    Street had been shut down long before the Seneca’s presentation of their
    Common Council President David A. Franczyk told Linstedt that he had been
    invited, but “Probably the main reason I didn’t go was I met with Seneca
    representatives on Wednesday and got a preview of the designs. I didn’t need to
    show up to find out what it will look like.” He also told her that he didn’t
    want to “seem too easy” because “we’re in the middle of discussions with
    them on some key items and have to maintain a tough stance.”
    Franczyk offered to go to Albany with Brown to meet with the governor about
    economic development funds that might be available to pay for the work the
    Senecas want done. He said he would like to see the Senecas “buy” Fulton
    Street if it is necessary to their project. “If this casino is a fait accompli and
    they are counting on us to give up Fulton Street, then that land has some
    value,” Franczyk said. “It’s the Yellow Brick Road to their casino. It might
    be worth millions, maybe thousands, I don’t know, but I intend to get a

    to be cont....
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


    • #3
      What’s with the “probably”? Doesn’t he remember? Does he think he’s a
      character in a novel about someone else? What’s with not wanting to “seem to easy
      ”? You say that, it means you’ve decided you’re going to do it, you just
      haven’t gotten your price yet.
      So Common Council President David Franczyk, generally regarded as developer
      Carl Paladino’s man-in-city-hall, ponders not whether the city’s virtue is
      for sale, but only how much he can get for it.

      A Seneca Nation flag flies from the demolition crane.
      (photo: Rose Mattrey)

      5. Chutzpah.
      There remains, writes Linstedt, the matter of infrastructure improvements
      that will cost a good bit of money. The city is balking at paying for street
      construction the only function of which would be to make it easier for gamblers
      to drop money at the proposed casino. Snyder said that the Seneca Nation
      could lend the city of Buffalo “a couple million” so the city could undertake
      the infrastructure improvements the Senecas want. “I know they don’t have any
      extra money, so we could help them out by fronting the money and they could
      pay us back later,” Snyder said.
      I take that to mean that the city would pay for the improvements that wouldn’
      t be necessary without the Seneca gambling joint. The Seneca gambling joint
      will lend the city the money to make the improvements with funds area
      residents have lost in the Niagara Falls casino so city residents can lose a great
      deal more in the Buffalo casino.
      Which proves you don’t have to be Jewish to have chutzpah.
      6. Fantasy pasts.
      There would be one more article in this week’s Buffalo News casino triptych:
      Michael Beebe’s June 4, “For Senecas, return to Buffalo Creek helps right
      an old wrong,” the point of which seemed to be that since the Buffalo Creek
      area of Buffalo was Seneca ancestral land, it was only appropriate that they
      should come here and put up a casino with which they could screw the
      non-Indians who had screwed them and so many other Indian tribes in so many places over
      so many years.
      But the article is grounded in a fallacy. Buffalo Creek land wasn’t
      originally Seneca territory. It belonged to two other tribes, the Erielhonans and the
      Neutrals, which the Iroquois wiped out. Buffalo Creek was never Seneca
      territory until they got it from General George Washington as part of their payoff
      for having sided with the settlers against other Indians who had sided with
      the British. Whatever the rights or wrongs of that, aboriginal ownership has
      no part in it. Beebe starts his discussion of Seneca Creek history as if it
      began after George Washington became president. That subtracts too much from
      the real story. (All of that is summarized in Judge Richard Arcara’s decision
      denying the Senecas’ claim to Grand Island, which was upheld by the US Court
      of Appeals in 2003 and by the US Supreme Court on Monday of this week.)
      And, more important, why do wrongs that may or may not have happened 200
      years ago justify wrongs about to happen here now? I’d think the goal would be
      to stop wronging anybody, not to perpetuate the cycle.
      At issue here are not historical rights to run a gambling joint in land that
      various Indian tribes may or may not have owned at various times in the
      past. Rather, at issue is a gambling operation set up in three New York locations
      by a governor on the ropes after New York’s economy took a huge hit on
      September 11. George Pataki’s solution wasn’t to create new wealth or to import
      wealth from elsewhere, but to shift wealth from one place in New York (the
      general economy) to another place in New York (the casino economy) from which
      the state government could skim a few bucks to help balance its troubled books.
      It was totally cynical then and remains so now.
      The question is, why is the Buffalo News doing this PR work for the Seneca
      Gaming Corporation? Its editorial page has long been doing questionable
      service for questionable masters, but the news department has been, on this issue,
      mostly reliable. Why did it now run a page-one story about a non-event
      grounded in a Disneyland-wannabe fairytale, with a backup the next day? Why did it
      run a history story that favored one side and ignored the others? Why, after
      so much good journalism on these issues by Jerry Zremski, Mike Beebe and
      others, are the Buffalo News reporters now doing stenography for the Seneca
      Gaming Corporation?
      6. Dust.
      Finally, on June 6, the 52nd anniversary of the allied invasion of Europe,
      it all came back to the Buffalo News editorial page. An editorial titled “
      Energetic Seneca casino design” that featured a photo of Barry Snyder and former
      mayor Anthony Masiello at last year’s groundbreaking, said the design was
      wonderful, just wonderful. The News, said the editorial four paragraphs in, “
      still believes that a casino is not good for Buffalo,” but as long as it seems
      to be coming, well, the design is wonderful, just wonderful.
      This is like the person who is in the hotel room with somebody else’s spouse
      who says, “Oh, what a lovely, lovely room. I really shouldn’t be here at
      all, but as long as I am I might as well get ****ed.” Which is exactly what
      happens next.
      And on it goes. The 1,500-pound, U-shaped chunk of cast iron keeps chopping
      at the silos, smashing long irregular slits in the cylinders and thereby
      creating isolated columns which it then knocks down, leaving wiry pieces of steel
      reinforcing rods bent in the dust like horizontal strands of pubic hair.
      Every day, the huge chunks plunge to join the debris below. They hit bottom and
      send up plumes of fine concrete and asbestos dust that drifts eastward,
      coating cars, streets, trees and houses, coating walkers in the city and children
      playing outside in the fine early summer afternoon.

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