The intelligence committee could not have picked a better scapegoat. Its reputation suspect at any time, the CIA will be hard pressed to stop scrambling politicians from dragging out into the open the “company’s” history of assassinations, coup d'etats, drug running, and arms dealings for all to relive. And how can the agency possibly defend itself without compromising its security, operating methods, and perhaps even its field agents? It can’t. All that it can do is sit back and take the smear from the latest inside-the-beltway witch hunt.

Former Director George Tenant will soon begin to reap the whirlwind. At the same time, sniveling, groveling-for-the-publicity future members of the latest committee drag him through yet another crucible-type Salem witch trial. Of course, the administration's chorus of sick children will be there, pointing fingers and screaming them on.

Acting Director John McLaughlin held a press conference at CIA headquarters and declared that corrective measures have been taken. He lamely commented, “We could have done better.” He did not elaborate. The CIA’s budget is a secret, of course, although we know that the U.S. intelligence community spends about $40 billion a year. One would like to know at what, how, when, and where. But it’s a secret, of course.

And, of course, those in the administration who lied us into the war in Iraq, most notably President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and "I-had-my-own-super-tanker" Condi Rice, can follow suit. The collective bleating can now begin in earnest: The CIA lied to us; it’s not our responsibility; we acted on the information supplied to us; everything we said before the war is “INOPERABLE." (Richard Nixon and Ron Ziegler are smiling from wherever!) Joliet Jake Blues sums it up for all concerned: "IT WASN”T MY FAULT!!!"

And they are not to be outdone, expect perhaps, by the mainstream media, who led the cheers and fed us the lied to pile on the now hapless agency. I expect that The New York Times and Judith Miller will now begin editorials of their own disavowing this Mission Impossible joke.

The NeoCons and their right-wing fascist think tanks can breathe a sigh of relief as well. The collective outcry will cover their call to empire as well.

And of course, the American public will demand action. All of those pious, patriotic citizens who waved the flags, screamed for buckets of blood, called anyone who stopped to think this all might be a mistake traitors, appeasers, collaborators, and Frenchmen can now wipe out any guilt from their conscience. How could our own red, white, and blue spies have gotten it so wrong? At breakfast tables across the land, I can hear them now. The e-mails and "letters to the editor" (The New York Times!!} will now begin to pour in.

I imagine Ahmed Chalabi, now resting comfortably in his U. S.-taxpayer-supplied villa in downtown Baghdad, is laughing himself silly. He played a bunch of Jackass Americans Neocons for 38 million bucks or so. So the CIA trashed his office and took some stuff. So what? He’s waiting for the occupation to turn even worse so he can step in and collect the power that he feels is his due.

Next in line will no doubt be our own Tony Masiello. What better way to re-election than blaming all of Buffalo’s problems on poor information? He just might show up at the next intelligence committee meeting demanding action. Why not? Everyone else will.

There was no claim in the Senate’s report that any intelligence analyst was pressured into anything. The ten visits to Langley by Cheney were ignored or glossed over. The role of the Office of Special Plans was disavowed and overlooked. The stove piping of information directly into the White House was ignored. The nonsense of Ahmed Chalabi and his exile group setting up the administration has been forgotten as well.

Bush, true to form, said that he had not read the report. Perhaps Condi will read it to him later at Camp David.

But in the long run, the intelligence community just might have the last laugh. Its job is to collect information. Think what you might, the folks in the CIA are very good at it. They know where all of the bodies are buried, inside and outside of the beltway. Can anyone say ‘October Surprise?”

Alt: In terms of this new formula, when will they resolve this and will that impact the Buffalo schools? Because, essentially, even though they’re talking about New York City, isn’t this going to be expanded to cover all of the inner city areas in New York State?

Byron Brown: That’s a good question. It may, it may not. The Court of Appeals of New York State has imposed a July 30 deadline for the state through the legislature and the governor to take action. Now, if we don’t act by that July 30th deadline, the court could appoint a special master whose job it would be to determine how the under funding of the New York City schools would be addressed. It would be only the New York City schools that would be addressed. That is because those parents and those educational advocates in that community were the only ones who filed the lawsuit. What many of us in the State Legislature would like to see happen is that we address the under funding of school districts all across the state. If we do that and if we take action before July 30, then we could see millions more dollars for the Buffalo public schools. We could see more money for the public school systems in Niagara Falls, Grand Island, the City of Tonawanda, and many other districts across the state that are under funded.

Alt: Is the Legislature going to reconvene before July 31?

Byron Brown: Well, that’s the big question. That’s one of the reasons why all of your listeners should call the governor, the Senate leader, and the Assembly leader, to say that the legislature needs to be reconvened. Prior to the legislators' leaving Albany last week, a six-week budget extender was passed. That essentially means that the legislature does not have to return to Albany until after six weeks. I voted against that six-week budget extender because I thought it was improper. I thought that it was a further sign that we weren’t getting our job done, that we weren’t doing the work that we were supposed to do, and I thought it sent absolutely the wrong message to the citizens and residents and taxpayers of New York State.

Alt: Is this breaking down along partisan issues? The Republicans pushing one agenda and the Democrats pushing another?

Byron Brown: It’s somewhat partisan. Democrats, by and large, often push for more money for education. The Republicans generally don’t feel as much money is needed for education. There are some Republican who, like Democrats, are champions of education, though. So I don’t want to lump every single Republican into that category, but, by and large the leadership, the governor and the Senate leader, don’t seem to think that there’s as much money as required to address the under funding of school districts across the State. Now the interesting thing is that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Adequacy study, which was a study done by the top educational experts in the country, determined that 580 of the nearly 700 districts in New York State are not properly funded.

Alt: So it’s widespread and it’s not just focusing on urban school districts.

Byron Brown: No, it is very widespread. It’s rural and some suburban school districts for that matter that are under funded.

Alt: So if this master is appointed, and rumor has it that it could very well be Mario Cuomo, can't he create a global formula? Would he be limited to just New York City?

Byron Brown: He would be limited to focusing on the court decision, which is based solely on the needs of New York City schools. That would be absolutely disastrous for Buffalo and other school districts across the state that have proven to be under funded as well.

Alt: Wouldn’t that open up a whole plethora of lawsuits from Buffalo, from Rochester?

Byron Brown: That’s the belief. If this went forward with a special master only addressing the NYC funding issues, school districts that are under funded all across the state would probably bring their own suits. The effect of doing that would probably delay action, not only in New York City, but also for school districts across the state. It would be absolutely disastrous for the children of New York.

So, unless they resolve this in a global way, the result will be a long delay in getting any serious fiscal reform in the educational system. That’s what most people believe.

Following the cover scandal, the paper received what seemed like a gazillion phone calls. Ahmad apparently has received dozens of emails about writing for the paper. If anything good came from this, the response to the scandal made up for all the attention that we never got for the past thirteen and a half years. Many of the folks who called expressed support for Alt and its work but many others agreed with Ahmad. The recurring question is “what next?”

Many people want to know “what’s next” for Ahmad? Has he been fired or shot? Well, how do you fire free help? It was even more difficult to track him down after the infamous cover. But when press time came, Ahmad appeared, knowing that we didn’t have anyone else to do the covers. I surprised him when I asked him what he wanted on the cover. He almost surprised us when he replied, “Nothing.” I said almost because you can’t really be shocked after his last stunt. “Leave the cover blank,” he said. “If we have nothing to write and nobody reads what we write, then we should have nothing on the cover.”

I got his point; I agreed and, so there, you have it. The truth. Nothing, a perfect symbol for our paper and for dying journalism in Buffalo. After thirteen and half years of publishing, what’s next? I just wrote: Nothing.

To be honest, there’s nothing we can do. We could try being like Art Voice, but in my humble opinion, the AAN alternative press formula of faux-journalism sucks. For that matter, the whole group of AAN bubblegum alternative weeklies sucks (botox for everyone)! They are commercial self-censoring and corporate and do very little real investigate journalism. They never offered a real journalistic alternative to the mainstream. The real joke is that the few independently owned weeklies are either being eaten up by the very same media conglomerates that dominate the mainstream media or that are competing against them. An example of this is the duel in Rochester between The City Paper and the Gannett weekly The Insider.

Everyone we’ve spoken with tells us that they all read the same sections in Art Voice: Street Voice, News of the Weird, and What Has Happened (do they still have that section?). Art Voice doesn’t have a real readership. They have a viewer-ship. And while we’re not exactly sure what the statistics are on reading habits in this city, we do know that looking at pretty pictures is still fashionable and qualifies as a winning formula for expensive advertising. (Can you hear the jealousy in my voice?)

And then there is The Beast formula of puberty and bad politics. It offers the worst of all possible worlds: neither a readership nor a viewer-ship but just white-noise suburban pimply urban wanna-bees. But both The Beast and Art Voice have something we also don’t have: A Target Audience.

From the beginning, we thought that we were writing for readers, not viewers. We thought that certain pockets of the city would appreciate a paper that took the same stories as The Buffalo News and offered an alternative opinion. People have complained about Buffalo being a town with only one voice, and we set out to fix that. For instance, The Buffalo News did not do a good job in telling its readers about the millions of dollars that the federal government pumped into Buffalo to fight poverty and to rebuild the inner city, and how millions of those dollars are still unaccounted for. In any other country, Mayor Anthony Masiello would have been shot. But fortunately for him, The Buffalo News covers for him. The rest of the city fell asleep on the issue, and the few people who read our articles do not care. That is why journalism is dying; who cares? Just look into the stalls in the johns in city hall, and you will find Alt. It is all Political Porn. Alt is too dangerous to read at lunch. You could lose your political patronage job in city or county hall if you’re caught reading it. So what if America or Buffalo is becoming a media desert?

But we’ll take part of the blame and admit that we, in the past, did a poor job. As The Beast pointed out during its pre-emptive war against us, our paper was and is dense, difficult to read, and designed around text (bad design for the modern mind). That’s not a winning formula when you’re competing against bubble gum, beer, and ass.

All of our writers are local volunteers. So we’re going to do the best that we can from here on. And to prove that we can learn from our mistakes, we’re going to wipe the slate clean and start Alt Press all over again. Ahmad’s blank cover design is the appropriate statement.

ALT IS BORN AGAIN AND SEES THE LIGHT OF THE NEW JOURNALISM!

We understand that sex and Mexican puppies sell. If a call for writers worked for Ahmad, then maybe a call for nude models will work for us. We’re looking for some women to show it all in front of the camera. To be fair, and since we’re an alternative paper, we should probably invite a few men to come and pose, too. Let it hang, boys. And as a note to Paul Fallon, Buffalo’s only political nudist, you’re welcome, too, big boy. Masiello, we’ve already exposed you concerning the HUD scandal. We may as well expose the rest of you. Come on down.

Fear and violence seem to do the trick, too. We’d like a few African-American volunteers to arm themselves with pads, pencils, cameras, and an AK-47 and head over to Buffalo’s east side. Adventure is guaranteed. Safety isn’t.

Speaking of all that, racism is always a hot spot. You can’t get more racist than Buffalo. Well, you can if you work at it. So here’s our promise: When the next black man gets a beat down by the police, we’ll be there with video cam and everything. That should satisfy the racist appetite. But the next time that city hall hustles the inner city for a cool million, we’ll leave that one alone. Nobody reads that. Well, how about the time that the Buffalo fire department leaves the city unprotected. Who cares? Just burn, baby, burn.

Hmmmm... what else? General local media crap? Well, hell, we gave you the issue on the Sewer Authority, didn’t we?

Oh, I know I’m whining! I know I’m leaving the door wide open for even more criticism.

Well, we said all that to say absolutely nothing. But we don’t regret it. And while we’re at it, thanks to all of the people who wished us to go away (wish granted?). Thanks to The Beast for opening our eyes to the truth. Thanks to Art Voice for... um... the street festivals. Thanks to the political bozo twins, Joel Giambra and Too Tall Tony Masiello, for giving us a warranted source for our rage. Thanks to Buffalo for being so economically depressed. Continous failure is guaranteed, and gray is not just another color; it is a way of life. We couldn’t have done this alone. (Sniffle. Sniffle.)

P.S. No doubt after this, The Beast will retaliate. They love attention. They’ll probably even move some of those boobie ads to the front cover. If they do, we’ll sue!!! That was our idea!!!! We don’t expect a response from Art Voice. After all of these years, Jamie doesn’t even read Alt. (Boo Hoo.)

P.P.S. For free pot, call

Robert Moses, the creator of the great public authority tax loophole, made sure that one of the authorities that he controlled had a luxurious yacht to be at his beck and call, 24/7. What perks might the control board create with borrowed money for Buffalo's savior, Andy Rudnick, we wonder? Erie County Budget Imitates State Budget: Manana

It all started with Erie County Legislator Al DeBenedetti's interview featured in the last edition of Alt, so perhaps we're partly to blame for Erie County's failure to produce a budget.

Al accused the Giambra administration of presenting a phony budget. He said that the budget that the Erie County Legislature was permitted to see depends on hundreds of early retirements that we know will not happen. Therefore the county executive is knowingly presenting a false picture of the county's finances.

After that story aired, a special hearing on the budget was convened. Representatives of the Giambra administration appeared before the legislature with a secret weapon: PowerPoint.

The Democrats, however, had their deflector shields up. They refused to be mesmerized by the horror story of runaway Medicaid costs. So the County Exec's team took its fine Microsoft product elsewhere. The false information on early retirements never came up. The failure to respect the power of PowerPoint made it personal, so personal that the budget thingy has been postponed until September, so that everyone can just chill out. Maybe by that time, both branches can agree to watch some Macromedia Flash presentations. God forbid government provides a plain old spreadsheet to anybody.

Artvoice Ignores Bass Pro Gambling Link Artvoice recently featured a cover article about Seneca opposition leader, Bobby Jones. Jones and his political party, Senecas for Justice and Preservation, have been given short shrift by The Buffalo News, which managed to run a six-part series on issues confronting the Seneca Nation without so much as mentioning Jones or his many criticisms of the Seneca Tribal Council.

The Council has pursued casino gambling at the expense of core issues of sovereignty, most notably tribal land claims cases. Additionally, New York State's attempt to tax sales to non-Native Americans could shape up to be the main issue in this fall's tribal elections. And, while many consider Mr. Jones to be an outsider, he has been successful in putting pressure on the Tribal Council to be held accountable for its cozy relationship with Gov. George Pataki and the Niagara Falls Seneca Casino kingpin, Mickey Brown.

While the Artvoice article did a good job of describing the numerous legal options available to the Seneca Nation and outlining general strategies of the SJP, it failed to mention an important issue of some concern to the City of Buffalo, namely, the very real possibility that the city's pending sweetheart deal with Bass Pro shops may represent a Trojan horse for bringing a Native American casino into the Aud. You don't have to believe allegations made to this effect coming from people such as Jones; all you have to do is go to the company's website to discover the fact that Bass Pro does indeed have close ties to the gaming industry and is currently constructing a Las Vegas Pro shop/casino/hotel. According to www.basspro.com, “The hotel and casino will also be themed around hunting and fishing traditions and all will be connected by a common entry.”

How's that for seamless?

Is it possible that Bass Pro would consider a similar arrangement in the Aud? Certainly, with people such as Masiello so enthusiastic about providing Bass Pro with millions of dollars of taxpayer support, one can be excused for expecting another shoe to drop.

What's so disconcerting about this is that Buffalo Sabres managing partner and Artvoice supporter Larry Quinn is a big proponent of Bass Pro coming to Buffalo. What's the thought process here? Are we making Delaware North happy? Do Sabre fans really want to share a parking lot with a casino? Will Sabre fans lose money at the casino, only to wind up listening to the hockey game on the radio while driving home?

In terms of economics, at what point do all of these new gambling “opportunities” in Western New York begin to make a real dent in discretionary income? It's a social experiment, and, if it turns out to have a negative impact, there won't be anything that residents can do about it.

If Bass Pro isn't interested in developing a casino in the Aud, why are they being fed so much government money? When Bass Pro competitor Gander Mountain opened its doors, it did so on its own dime. Is it government's job now to punish them by subsidizing a competitor? Regular Alt readers should know the answer to that question.

The term “goo goo” is ordinarily paired with “gaa gaa” as onomatopoetic baby talk. That’s how the powers be treat us, like the ignorant crybabies that we are. The term “goo goo,” however, was also a term of derision for New York State reformers who naively tried to free the state from the corruption of Tammany Hall and the freewheeling business community, which created what was known as the shame of the cities.

The Goo Goo Dolls are very adept at expressing the infantile impulses of corporate rock culture. They can hardly be accused of being advocates of good government, however.

Its corporate overseers keep the band, like any other MTV generation group, on a tight leash. Its longtime manager, Artie Kwitchoff, is now a regional player in the Clear Channel Corporation’s bid to control bookings at local clubs, such as Nietzsche’s and the Mohawk Place.

While bassist Robbie Takac ruffled some feathers by holding concert performances at his recording studio during the Allentown Art Festival, that’s about as deep into local political issues as the band has been willing to go. In terms of the national scene we haven’t really heard a peep out of the Goo’s since they appeared in a 9-11 tribute concert. The grieving process has been cynically manipulated by the Bush administration to great effect. Thank you, Goo Goo Dolls, love Dick Cheney.

Who really cares what a bunch of musicians think about politics, anyway? Of course, the Dixie Chicks had to run a gauntlet of right-wing talking heads asking this very same question after singer Natalie Manes criticized President George W. Bush and his war on Iraq. But we can’t expect that kind of feistiness from Johnny Goo with his store-bought muscles. Perhaps a better question to ask is, which musicians would risk their careers by speaking out against the emerging authoritarian hegemony in this country?

Certainly not the Goo Goo Dolls. Not on a national scale and not on a local level, Allentown Association aside. Their July 4 free concert in front of Buffalo’s City Hall was a good representation of their disengagement from pressing political issues. Instead of addressing the complete takeover of the city’s democratically elected government by the Control Board, the band lived up to their “doll” moniker by jumping around onstage like a couple of windup dolls on speed.

The growing number of free summer concert series may bring residents together in a local public space but they certainly have not had the effect of raising political consciousness. In fact, events such as the Goo Goo Dolls concert/Warner Brothers DVD filming have more in common with the bread and circuses of Rome than with, say, Paul Robeson’s 1949 concert in Peekskill, N.Y., where concertgoers faced down the Ku Klux Klan.

Jeff Meirs! Where Are You? We Need You Now! The unexpected deluge of hard rain that threatened to spoil the Goos’ homecoming is now being repackaged as local myth. Building on the mythology of hearty Bills fans supporting their club in all sorts of weather, the ill-advised decision to “go on with the show” is being hailed as a “watershed” concert experience.

Enter Buffalo News rock critic Jeff Meirs. Jeff, a local musician of some note himself, penned a couple of articles documenting the heroism of the day in a bas-relief of our boys in the band. He didn’t really mention that fellow Buffalonian musician Ani DiFranco, her band, and their fans braved the same conditions. This was the Goo’s hour to shine. We wouldn’t want to put the spotlight on yet another female who is highly outspoken in her criticism of the Bush administration and is a rebel against the “Hit Men” of the music industry.

For some people, the spectacle of Mother Nature in Buffalo blowing apart the carefully staged event wasn’t a tribute to our heartiness, as folks such as Jeff would have fans believe. For these people it was karma. Karma for the suburban white noise that comes into the city for sinnin’ and then leaves. Karma for the political caste system that had hoped to create a postcard image of major city at play, when, in reality, it should have pushed Tony Masiello out there to give a violin performance as our democratic form of government goes down in flames. And, of course, karma for the quasi-governmental Buffalo Place, which saw its vendors take a bath (or a shower, in this case) while the GOP-friendly Park Lane siphoned most their customers off into the golden ballroom of the Statler Towers.

In all likelihood, the Goo Goo Dolls will end up packaging a product that relies on the Jeff Meirs myth, with plenty of Murphy’s Law moments thrown in for good measure. Speaking from experience, losers can relate to the idea that anything that can go wrong will. They can idolize those who find a silver (or better yet, golden) lining in a monsoon. They can trade stories about their brush with greatness as their city is engulfed in red ink.

Why give a voice to our desire to fight back, when you can fill their heads with dreams of stardom? Repeat after me: goo goo, gaa, gaa, NOT gabba, gabba, hey!

Today’s Menu

Soups and Sides: * New England Clam Chowder Onion Rings

Specialty Sandwiches and Salads: Cheddar Bacon BBQ Burger * Chicken Souvlaki

Beverages: # Root Beer Milk Shake Stewart’s Root Beer

* - Best of Category # - Best of Show

ABOUT BILL BROWN:
Bill Brown is an award-winning filmmaker who has been described by Brian Frye in Cashiers
du Cinémart as "a punk-rock version of Ross McElwee." His films have screened on the Sundance Channel and at nearly every festival on the planet. He has received both Rockefeller and Creative Capital grants, and in November 2003 the Museum of Modern Art presented a retrospective of his work. He's
also the creator and author of the 'zine Dream Whip.

ABOUT ROGER BEEBE:
Roger Beebe is a professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Florida. Film Threat calls him "an artist with a strong visual and musical sensibility" and the Wilmington Encore raves that "Beebe's work is goofy, startling, and important." He has screened his films around the globe at such venues as McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square and at numerous festivals including NY Underground and the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

TOUR DATES:
Aug. 1, Minneapolis, MN
Aug. 2, Madison, WI
Aug. 3, Milwaukee, WI
Aug. 4, Chicago, IL
Aug. 6, Cleveland, OH
Aug. 8, Windsor, ON
Aug. 9, Buffalo, NY
Aug. 10, Pittsburgh, PA
Aug. 11, Columbus, OH
Aug. 12, Bloomington, IN
Aug. 13, Chicago, IL
At 4:00 AM on Saturday morning I called 911 to report a very loud and violent domestic argument between 5 individuals occurring on Grant Street near Delevan. I waited about 10 minutes before making the call, hoping they would just decide to move inside or quiet down, neither of which occurred. During this argument I heard several threats of stabbing, shooting, and even killing each other which I relayed to the 911 operator. The 911 operator indicated that they had already received several other calls about it and were "on there way". The argument continued until 4:45 AM when one of the groups drove away. No police officer ever arrived.

When the city of Buffalo announced that they were changing to 1 Officer patrol cars, they gave better response time and visibility as one of the major advantages. How can there be any justification for taking more than 1 hour to respond to a call, or never responding at all, when there are threats of physical violence. Why are there so many murders, shooting and stabbings in the city? When people are given that long for tempers to escalate and opportunity to obtain a weapon, how could it not happen! Where could all of the police officers possibly have been for that long that no one could respond and calm this situation?

We got lucky this time that cooler heads prevailed and this group of individuals separated before violence did occur. This could have been a lot worse. Response time to any 911 call of threats and violence needs to be minutes not hours. It should not matter where the call is coming from, who makes the call, or who may be involved. There is no time to wait for several other police cars to be available or in the area. The only way to stop violence is to respond quickly before it gets out of control.


Mr. Bailey
When it was just “bidness”, whether a sports team or an oil company, few suffered for his ineptness and ignorance but those who chose to do so. Now that he’s the President we are ALL paying for his lack of ability and intellect. In fact, the entire world is suffering irreparable damage from his appointment as head puppet of the neo-con fascists running the government from behind his smirk and VP Cheney’s grimace. Our children are being killed on a daily basis and we are spending upwards of FIVE BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH for his Iraqi fiasco alone, and the sad thing is we let it happen.
When a country with access to information at the level Americans have at their disposal from cable TV and the internet to the multitude of independent and alternative press sources, allows the policies of this administration to ravage the environment, rescind rights and alienate the rest of the civil (and un-) world to continue unchallenged, it shows a distinct disregard for the responsibilities of a democratic society too involved in the latest “Friends” episode or what the next “must have” media-induced fad item is going to be and how they’re going to pay for it. To put it bluntly: YOU DESERVE THIS.
As abhorrent as this administration is, you obesely overweight, slovenly, selfish, lazy, self-indulgent, materialistic, brain-dead, responsibility shirking, little consumermaggots are the real problem with America because you sit back on your well-padded butts in your gas-guzzling Selfishly Useless Vehicles and allow this to happen even though you know better. And until you get up off your fat asses and bring this administration to justice for the crimes it’s committing in your name with your tax dollars, YOU DESERVE EVERY 9/11 THE WORLD THROWS AT YOU. And none of us who saw this coming will shed a single tear for your loss. It’s time for you to take responsibility for what America, YOUR AMERICA has become. Whether you do or not will determine both the course of history and your personal worth from this November on. WAKE-UP. REGISTER. VOTE.