He got his five hundred and twenty-four miles on the Erie Canal for $30,000... but where's his mule?

The closed bid deal that gave good ol' boy Michael A. Hutchens of Buffalo property development rights on the ENTIRE Erie Canal was brokered by former New York State Senator H. Douglas Barclay, who is now George W. Bush's appointee for U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.

It is hoped that Barclay will do his part to help save El Salvador from the political corruption that has made it so unstable in the past. (Remember, ignorance and incompetence have nothing to do with political corruption.)

Meanwhile, Michael Bragman, a former rival to Democratic State Assembly Majority leader Shel Silver, has teamed up with Hutchens on a $95 million real estate project outside of Syracuse.

Now that Hutchens has his Erie Canal and his mule, will he be able to have his HUD homes and eat his frozen dandelions too? Stay tuned, we're trying to determine if his business empire is properly insulated.

According to a report in the Syracuse Post Standard, which initially broke the story, Hutchens denied making contributions to any political campaign and claimed that the deal was not pushed through because of political connections. Subsequent investigations, including a report in The Buffalo News, however, have shown that Hutchens did indeed contribute a mere $9,000 to Governor George Pataki.

Again, ignorance and incompetence having nothing to do whatsoever with what CIA types refer to as the Political-Business-Criminal Nexus. That's pure conspiracy theory, buddy.

Is California Dreamin' of Being More Like Buffalo?!

Now that the “California Coup” has been executed with Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger dispatching Governor Gray Davis, it's time to start asking the important questions, such as, what's in it for Warren? No, not the Warren Commission! Warren Buffett, dummies!

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and The Buffalo News, created quite a stir as a campaign advisor for Arnie by suggesting that California's real estate taxes are way too low. Such apostasy calls into question the California Republicans' tax revolution embodied in the famous Proposition 13. It was interpreted as a sign by some observers that Schwarzenegger may actually be a Democrat in Republican body armor.

While some right wingers are uneasy about Schwarzenegger's victory, they should cheer up and contemplate why Warren and Arnie became political bedfellows in the first place. Buffett has decried the excesses of corporate greed and the creative accounting that were the hallmarks of the Enron era. It's important to remember, however, that his business model of privately held monopolies is even more opaque.

Berkshire owns the second-largest residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States, HomeServices of America, Inc. He also owns MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., parent of CalEnergy. Both HomeServices and CalEnergy have been aggressively pursuing opportunities in the California market. Having a fresh set of ears in the governor's mansion in Sacramento certainly won't hurt.

California's deficits were undoubtedly exacerbated by the deregulation of the power industry. While higher property taxes might represent a solution to its current financial crisis, one can't help but wonder whether the situation might, at the same time, apply pressure on smaller realtors and thereby help HomeServices increase its market share in the Golden State.

Before we dismiss such a cynical assessment, let's not forget how Buffett continues to operate in our neck of the woods. The Buffalo News has been used as a siege engine for Buffett's interests.

The attack on the Peace Bridge Authority's plans to expand capacity directly benefited the Detroit International Bridge Company (which owns the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor) by increasing traffic at the privately held crossing.

According to his authorized biography and Roger Lowenstein of The Wall Street Journal, Buffett owned roughly a quarter of that company. The Detroit International Bridge Company has remained steadfast in its refusal to take no for an answer in its efforts to set up a privately held truck bridge between Buffalo and Fort Erie. Recently, the company announced that its clandestine real estate purchases on both sides of the border will enable it to unveil a master plan for a new bridge by the end of this year.

Wow, we can't wait! Will the tolls be double what trucks currently pay at the Peace Bridge, or triple? It looks like another plan to screw the little guy is under way. So don't say we're not getting things done around here!

So what else may be in California's stars?

Well, the collapse of Buffalo's housing market and the massive fraud perpetrated by the Masiello administration in its misuse of HUD money is a tough act to follow, but it did benefit lenders, such as M&T, another Berkshire-controlled company, and, of course, the inner circle of the Buffalo Club. He got his five hundred and twenty-four miles on the Erie Canal for $30,000... but where's his mule?

The closed bid deal that gave good ol' boy Michael A. Hutchens of Buffalo property development rights on the ENTIRE Erie Canal was brokered by former New York State Senator H. Douglas Barclay, who is now George W. Bush's appointee for U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.

It is hoped that Barclay will do his part to help save El Salvador from the political corruption that has made it so unstable in the past. (Remember, ignorance and incompetence have nothing to do with political corruption.)

Meanwhile, Michael Bragman, a former rival to Democratic State Assembly Majority leader Shel Silver, has teamed up with Hutchens on a $95 million real estate project outside of Syracuse.

Now that Hutchens has his Erie Canal and his mule, will he be able to have his HUD homes and eat his frozen dandelions too? Stay tuned, we're trying to determine if his business empire is properly insulated.

According to a report in the Syracuse Post Standard, which initially broke the story, Hutchens denied making contributions to any political campaign and claimed that the deal was not pushed through because of political connections. Subsequent investigations, including a report in The Buffalo News, however, have shown that Hutchens did indeed contribute a mere $9,000 to Governor George Pataki.

Again, ignorance and incompetence having nothing to do whatsoever with what CIA types refer to as the Political-Business-Criminal Nexus. That's pure conspiracy theory, buddy.

Is California Dreamin' of Being More Like Buffalo?!

Now that the “California Coup” has been executed with Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger dispatching Governor Gray Davis, it's time to start asking the important questions, such as, what's in it for Warren?

No, not the Warren Commission! Warren Buffett, dummies! Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and The Buffalo News, created quite a stir as a campaign advisor for Arnie by suggesting that California's real estate taxes are way too low. Such apostasy calls into question the California Republicans' tax revolution embodied in the famous Proposition 13. It was interpreted as a sign by some observers that Schwarzenegger may actually be a Democrat in Republican body armor.

While some right wingers are uneasy about Schwarzenegger's victory, they should cheer up and contemplate why Warren and Arnie became political bedfellows in the first place. Buffett has decried the excesses of corporate greed and the creative accounting that were the hallmarks of the Enron era. It's important to remember, however, that his business model of privately held monopolies is even more opaque.

Berkshire owns the second-largest residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States, HomeServices of America, Inc. He also owns MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., parent of CalEnergy. Both HomeServices and CalEnergy have been aggressively pursuing opportunities in the California market. Having a fresh set of ears in the governor's mansion in Sacramento certainly won't hurt.

California's deficits were undoubtedly exacerbated by the deregulation of the power industry. While higher property taxes might represent a solution to its current financial crisis, one can't help but wonder whether the situation might, at the same time, apply pressure on smaller realtors and thereby help HomeServices increase its market share in the Golden State.

Before we dismiss such a cynical assessment, let's not forget how Buffett continues to operate in our neck of the woods. The Buffalo News has been used as a siege engine for Buffett's interests.

The attack on the Peace Bridge Authority's plans to expand capacity directly benefited the Detroit International Bridge Company (which owns the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor) by increasing traffic at the privately held crossing.

According to his authorized biography and Roger Lowenstein of The Wall Street Journal, Buffett owned roughly a quarter of that company. The Detroit International Bridge Company has remained steadfast in its refusal to take no for an answer in its efforts to set up a privately held truck bridge between Buffalo and Fort Erie. Recently, the company announced that its clandestine real estate purchases on both sides of the border will enable it to unveil a master plan for a new bridge by the end of this year.

Wow, we can't wait! Will the tolls be double what trucks currently pay at the Peace Bridge, or triple? It looks like another plan to screw the little guy is under way. So don't say we're not getting things done around here!

So what else may be in California's stars?

Well, the collapse of Buffalo's housing market and the massive fraud perpetrated by the Masiello administration in its misuse of HUD money is a tough act to follow, but it did benefit lenders, such as M&T, another Berkshire-controlled company, and, of course, the inner circle of the Buffalo Club.

Finally, the recent imposition of a Republican-run control board has shut down the city's democratic process, thus guaranteeing that the current, closed market conditions which benefit Warren Buffett and his local vassals will prevail.

So, if some Californian asks you whether democracy can survive in secrecy, just say, “Hast la vista, baby.”

Mere conspiracy theory? Perhaps, but we think not.

We'll be back.

Finally, the recent imposition of a Republican-run control board has shut down the city's democratic process, thus guaranteeing that the current, closed market conditions which benefit Warren Buffett and his local vassals will prevail.

So, if some Californian asks you whether democracy can survive in secrecy, just say, “Hast la vista, baby.”

Mere conspiracy theory? Perhaps, but we think not. We'll be back. By Jack Trudeau

Corruption doesn't exist in Buffalo. That's because, no matter how heinous the malfeasance our local leaders oversee, nothing happens. To paraphrase Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark, there's just a world of difference between the widespread ignorance and incompetence that voters accept as political leadership and what others might refer to as criminal conspiracy. Apples and oranges, really.

Corruption? It's a horse of another color. If corruption did exist here, however, there might be a whole lot of folks going to jail, such as the Rigases or Tony Masiello, for example. So it's good thing that it doesn't exist here.

So we can expect The Buffalo News to continue to promote the migration of the highly successful political culture of Buffalo's City Hall into the corridors of county government, beginning with a ringing endorsement of Joel Giambra for county executive.

Giambra's responsibility for the scandal at the Erie County Aurora garage? “I dunno.”

End of scandal. Corruption doesn't exist.