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Old July 26th, 2008, 01:28 AM   #1121
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From the Boston Globe

States' 2d fiddles swap policy notes in humble Buffalo
By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff | July 25, 2008

BUFFALO - Rain from a violent storm leaked through a glass atrium at the Hyatt Regency Hotel yesterday as a couple of dozen supremely unheralded politicians - lieutenant governors from across America - gathered in a windowless ballroom.

Lieutenant Governor Brian K. Krolicki of Nevada looked across a table filled with cold cuts and potato chips and asked Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton of Wisconsin, the incoming chairwoman of the group, "Do you get to wear a crown?"

Lawton laughed, until she noticed one of the very few reporters covering the conference of the National Lieutenant Governors Association standing nearby.

"It was either Buffalo with the lieutenant governors or Berlin with Obama, and you chose us?" she asked. "I'm honored."

Pity a poor lieutenant governor, the very embodiment of second fiddle. The job gets no respect. And so perhaps it is fitting that for their annual confab they have come not to a fair-weather destination, not even to a particularly celebrated metropolis, but to this gritty city on Lake Erie, a place that represents the underdog spirit of the group.

The three-day conference offers no lessons about how to properly use scissors during a ribbon cutting, no tutorials on how to decipher the governor's personal medical records, no panels on how to discreetly hold the boss's coat.

Rather, there were informal policy discussions, considerable empathy, and rapt attention for the keynote speech given by lieutenant governor-turned-real Governor David A. Paterson of New York, the rock star of the group. He ascended to the job when Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign the governor's seat in March.

Nobody understands a lieutenant governor like another lieutenant governor. That contributed to an unusual camaraderie within the group, making Buffalo a treat for these humble public servants.

"The conference has given us a wonderful opportunity to see and experience Buffalo," said Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins of Oklahoma. Not to be outdone, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter of Arkansas proclaimed he was having a "spectacular time."

Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray of Massachusetts was among a contingent of lieutenant governors who went to Niagara Falls on Wednesday night for a tour and dinner. Returning to Buffalo, Murray said, he and a few LGs, as they call themselves, stopped on Chippewa Street, a stretch of town filled with bars and clubs, for a beer and a bite to eat. The former Worcester mayor said he felt right at home.

"It's a nice city," he said yesterday, surveying the 19th-century brick buildings outside the Hyatt. "It's not unlike Worcester, New Bedford, Fall River. It's a blue-collar city with nice architecture."

Lieutenant governors are an unassuming and self-deprecating bunch used to being slighted, misunderstood, and greeted with blank stares. Their chief responsibility is to succeed the governor. Some are part-time. Some do little beyond ceremonial appearances.

"There's always humor associated with being number two, but people understand that's the nature of the job," Lieutenant Governor John D. Cherry of Michigan said.

In Nebraska, the job entails overseeing homeland security policy. In Georgia, the duties include organizing a bicycle race, said Julia Hurst, executive director of the association. In Massachusetts, Murray chairs the Governor's Council, which approves judicial nominations, and panels related to domestic violence, the seaports, homelessness, and other issues.

"I'm very lucky," Murray said. "I have a seat at the table, which I know is not the case with all my colleagues."

The lieutenant governors convention is a decidedly informal affair, reflecting the humility of its attendees. Security personnel, accustomed to standing at attention when guarding governors, instead sat and chatted at a table while the lieutenant governors attended policy-related sessions. During breaks, the lieutenant governors talked about interesting governor's races and savored the ease of being with others who know just what it's like to wait in the wings.

"We enjoy one another's company," said Lieutenant Governor Gregory R. Francis of the US Virgin Islands. "We come from . . . all over the country. This group is more bipartisan and nonpartisan than any I've been a part of."

Some lieutenant governors brought their spouses and children for outings that included a Lake Erie cruise aboard the Miss Buffalo and a tour of Lockport Cave at the Erie Canal. Murray said his wife and two daughters were content to stay in Dartmouth, Mass., where they are vacationing this month. He spent most of his time in discussion sessions on healthcare, the economy, and domestic violence.

The only thing remaining on yesterday's convention agenda? "Free night! Enjoy Buffalo!" according to the official schedule.



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Old July 26th, 2008, 06:21 PM   #1122
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Too bad we can't participate in the chain madness:

Quote:
Where the Jobs Are:

1. Tooele County, UT

Towns include: Tooele
Job growth (2000-2007): 123.35%

Historically a mining area, Tooele County has recently struck gold with scientific and technical businesses as well. Increased development has also meant an influx of service jobs.

This year, the county will see the opening of several national chains, including a Gold's Gym, a La Quinta Inn and a Radio Shack. Manufacturer Syracuse Castings opened a Tooele location last year. Top employers include the Department of Defense, the Tooele County School District and EG&G Defense Materials. --B.B.
Pretty good considering they're closing everywhere else. Guess people in Tooele County don't think they pay enough for cheap audio/video connectors and the like.

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Old July 27th, 2008, 03:39 AM   #1123
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I was just reading my "NY Upstate Planner" newsletter from the American Planning Association...found a couple interesting articles that are relevant to discussion that often takes place in this thread. 1) surface parking and 2) vacant shopping plazas. Turns out, while of course problems in upstate NY, are actually much worse around the nation.

Here are some highlights from "Sharp rise in shopping center vacancies"

- "The number of shuttered box stores and empty strip malls has expanded dramatically over the last six months...and the situation is likely to get worse"
- "Chain retailers have announced plans to close more than 6,500 outlets by year's end, even as construction continues at a furious pace."
- "Already, vacancy rates at strip malls have reached a twelve-year high..."
- "Suzanne Mulvee [economist]...estimates that the overall retail vacancy rate will reach 12.5% later this year. That's roughly 1.2 billion square feet, or around 40 square miles of empty shopping space (plus perhaps another 100 square miles of unused parking lot.) To put that in perspective the total land area of the city of Miami is 36 square miles."
- "Last year, developers built 143 million square feet of new shopping centers and big-box stores. Another 137 million square feet is expected to be completed this year."
- "Between 1990 and 2005, the amount of retail space per capita in the US doubled, from 19 to 38 square feet. In comparison, European cities generally have less than 10 square feet per person. This level of expansion has not been supported by population and income growth. Since the early 1990s, per capital retail spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased by only about 14%."
- the highest vacancy rates were in San Antonio at 20% and Kansas City at 17%
- the lowest vacancy rates were in Vermont and Oregon (no % given), due to relatively strong land use laws that place some constraints on development
- in Portland, Maine metro area, vacancy rate tripled in the last year even while there is 1 million SF of retail in the pipeline for next year
- Tulsa has 13% vacancy rate (highest in 14 years) with 2 million SF under construction
- "Getting to the rootproblem requires enacting more prudent planning policies that set appropriate limits on retail development. These may include limiting the land zoned for rtail to areas in and around established business districts, adopting a store size cap, and requiring an economic impact review before approving new development. Cities also need to eliminate subsidies and tax breaks for retail development."


Here are some highlights from "The High Cost of Free Parking"

- drivers reported parking for free 99% of the their trips
- "Of course, the cost of parking doesn't go away just because the drivers don't pay for it. So if drivers don't pay for parking, who does? Everybody pays, even if they don't drive."
- cost of parking is built into the price when we see a movie or eat at a restaurant
- "...how much does it cost?" between one and four % of the nation's economic output
- "In 2002, when this estimate was done, the federal government spent $231 billion for Medicare and $349 billion for defense. The parking subsidy fell somewhere between those numbers."
- "People think they should park for free mainly because cities are planned to give everyone free parking. Nothing can be built that doesn't have ample off-street parking and by ample usually mean enough for the peak demand."
- "Every city requires off-street parking for every possible land-use - from hot tubs to monasteries. But nobody can explain where these parking requirments came from. Nobody learns anything about these parking requirements in planning school, because professors know nothing to teach them. All of the academic research condemns off-street parking requirements as dangerous nonsense. Yet the profession blunders on as if nobody had questioned the idea of off-street parking requirements."
- "What can cities do to change?" some cities have begun to charge the right price for curb parking and eliminating off-street requirments
- Redwood City, CA has a city code that does this...they raise or lower the price of on-street parking to achieve an occupancy rate of roughtly 85% thus leaving 15% of spaces available...prices change by time of day
- Passadena, CA has a policy of returning metered parking money to the neighborhood where the meters are located...money is then used to clean streets and graffitti...good way to get neighborhoods on-board with metered parking on their streets
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Old July 30th, 2008, 05:27 PM   #1124
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I see that gas prices haven't fall at all in New York.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 06:16 PM   #1125
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I've noticed that they've dropped maybe 8-10 cents.

Something I've wondered about gas prices - when gas was $1.30/gallon, the difference between grades was always roughly 10 cents. Now that gas is $4.00+/gallon, the difference between grades is still 10 cents. Wouldn't it seem logical that that gap would've widened to 30 cents or so by now? There must be some sort of non-constant relationship, otherwise it would be possible to pay $0.20 for premium and low would be free. Instead it would seem the low- and mid-grade blends are being tied to the price of premium (certainly they wouldn't be tying mid- and premium to low, they'd be throwing money away and we know that don't do that)? Plus I would tend to think that more expensive refinery processes would logically make the higher grades more expensive moreso than the lower grades. Essentially I don't think the cost of producing 87 octane should have gone up disproportionately to that of 93 octane, but it quite plainly has.

That being the case, instead of the $4.17 I saw this morning, perhaps that should only be about $3.77; drivers in SC and OK and other cheap states only being around $3.40.

I'm not really into complaining about gas prices though, my commute is drastically shorter than it used to be (I'm essentially paying the same per month now that I was 3 years ago) and it's changing alot of bad habits. I enjoy hearing stories of dealers choked with SUVs they can't sell and owners stuck with them because it's not worth it to sell them because the dealers don't want them. I just don't like being ripped off is all, and I think this is a major ripoff that absolutely nobody (to my knowledge) has yet brought up. (Wait until if somebody does, how quick Congress will jump on it as if they thought of it; they're so devoid of their own ideas.)
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Old July 30th, 2008, 06:29 PM   #1126
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They've gone down and they're still that high? I can fill up for $3.70 here, and that price has fallen 22 cents in the past 2 weeks. Prices have fallen even more in some parts of Pennsylvania in the same time span.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #1127
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According to gasbuddy, the Irving Reservation is around $3.65, the northern ones are high $3.90s (what's that all about?), and the high end is in the high $4.20s and most of those are in Niagara Falls. The real interesting part is the high list is populated by surprisingly few Mobils, usually they're the only ones on that list. I paid $4.19 last week which must've been among if not the lowest in the immediate metro. Now some other stations are at $4.15 and $4.17, so I'm assuming that one is around $4.11 or so.

Look at the price graphs on that site and compare it to just about any other city, and you'll find that we significantly lag the trends for some reason. When prices go up nationally, we'll still be slowly going down sometimes for weeks, and then they'll shoot up just as the nation peaks and starts dropping, and then we'll coast down again longer and slower than anywhere else. There have been a few short-term spikes in the past few years that I don't even remember seeing here.

I don't care for the Buffalo site counting the reservations in with the city, because it fills up the whole "lowest prices" list and artificially deflates the regional average.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 06:56 PM   #1128
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I've been going to the Tuscarora Reservation for gas ever since I started looking at the maps a couple years ago. It looks like I'll be doing the same this time.

I found $3.91 south of Rochester. I was planning on taking pictures in Rochester, it looks like I have a much bigger incentive to go there now.

I should buy a gas can and fill that up along with my car, then I can avoid all Buffalo gas stations while I'm up there. I almost did that last year, but figured that having a gas can just for trip to Buffalo and avoiding New York gas prices might not be worth the cost of the container. But, if I used that last Summer, this past April, and now this Summer, maybe I would've paid it off by now. Then again, driving out of my way to the Indian Reseervation is probably just as efficient.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 07:08 PM   #1129
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By the way, if these Indian Casinos were smart, they would open up gas stations on their properties. Can you imageine if they offered their $3.94 prices on their land in the city of Buffalo? They would have lines forming down the street. As it is, I will drive from Tonawanda or Buffalo to save 25 or 30 cents a gallon. It would be so much better if I could get that deal near the Peace Bridge or in Niagara Falls.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 07:12 PM   #1130
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Funny thing is quite often when you compare metros, Buffalo's is the cheapest among upstate. Some of that is due to the reservations added in (assuming none of the others do) so maybe if you take that out it's probably right in the middle of the pack. They do lower the average, but account for maybe only 5% of the listed stations (5% at 80% of the other 95% doesn't make a huge difference).

Otherwise I don't know what it is. I've only been buying every two weeks so I haven't been paying too much attention to it here or elsewhere. But you are right:
http://www.buffalogasprices.com/Prices_nationally.aspx

I've toyed with the idea of bringing a gas can on one of my road trips just to find out exactly how far the car can go after the "low fuel" warning...

http://www.buffalogasprices.com/retail_price_chart.aspx
Play around with those charts, it's interesting:

Since recent peaks (usually ~7/12):
Buffalo, NY $4.27 to $4.17
Delaware $4.02 to $3.83
Columbus, OH $4.07 to $3.62
Birmingham, AL $3.98 to $3.86
New Hampshire $4.04 to $3.92
Rochester, NY $4.24 to $4.12

Seems the Midwest has experienced the biggest decline.

The maps are neat, too:
http://www.buffalogasprices.com/price_by_county.aspx

Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
By the way, if these Indian Casinos were smart, they would open up gas stations on their properties. Can you imageine if they offered their $3.94 prices on their land in the city of Buffalo?
I've heard bad things about their quality, though. If there was one local I might try it out for the heck of it, but I've heard many people and repair shops mention engine knocking and stuff like that. I also don't because it would be break-even at best for me to drive down to Irving, assuming equal quality.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 01:19 AM   #1131
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I remember getting all excited when seeing $3.86 gas at a gas station in Vermont.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 03:10 AM   #1132
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It was $3.93 in NH when I bought my new[er] car. Then a few weeks later I got it at Tops for $3.92 with my gas points. I'm averaging $4.113 with this car, $2.430 with my previous, and $1.328 with my first.

Cheapest I've ever filled up for was $1.019 on 12/22/01 (normal) and $0.899 on 8/25/06 (gas points). Most has been $4.219 on 07/07 (happy birthday!) and 07/14/08.

Yes, I keep track of that stuff. I actually have graphs in Excel of fill-up price over time, gas mileage vs. miles per day, all sorts of stuff. I love numbers. It's half the reason I ever watched baseball.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 03:21 AM   #1133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth View Post
Since recent peaks (usually ~7/12):
Buffalo, NY $4.27 to $4.17
Delaware $4.02 to $3.83
Columbus, OH $4.07 to $3.62
Birmingham, AL $3.98 to $3.86
New Hampshire $4.04 to $3.92
Rochester, NY $4.24 to $4.12
I'm assuming those are averages? $3.83 is pretty high here, but I work in Newark and live as close to Newark as I do Wilmington, so I see Newark gas stations more than anything in Brandywine Hundred or Bear or New Castle. I think on those maps, the Newark area is a little greener than the rest of New Castle County.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth View Post
I've heard bad things about their quality, though. If there was one local I might try it out for the heck of it, but I've heard many people and repair shops mention engine knocking and stuff like that. I also don't because it would be break-even at best for me to drive down to Irving, assuming equal quality.
I've heard the same as well, but I have also heard that that is a myth. People who say that it's true say that these stations get "last dibs", which means inferior quality. People that say that it's false say that name brand and cheap-o brand all come from the same refinery, so it's all the same gas.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 03:25 AM   #1134
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
I'm assuming those are averages? $3.83 is pretty high here, but I work in Newark and live as close to Newark as I do Wilmington, so I see Newark gas stations more than anything in Brandywine Hundred or Bear or New Castle. I think on those maps, the Newark area is a little greener than the rest of New Castle County.
Just picking numbers off the graph, which is theoretically derived from the daily prices posted by the spotters. Seeing some stations can sit up to 3 days on there without getting updated, it would be logical to assume it lags both on rises and falls. It's by no means scientific, but I'm sure it's more comprehensive than the AAA/Lundberg surveys.

I don't think I've ever paid as high as the average reported on there, either. It's funny how prices can vary in a small area, and around Buffalo it seems the South Buffalo/Lackawanna area has a cluster which tend to be among the cheaper non-res gas in the area. Hitting stations on their 5 cent off days also helps, although I haven't done that lately because the one I preferred seemed to instead of lowering prices on Mondays, just jacked it up 5 cents every other day - and why shouldn't they, there's a Mobil across the street which is never less than 10 cents higher anyways. Or so I assumed based on the relationship between their price and other local stations, which tend to stay about the same.

Delta Sonics are usually pretty reasonable as well (what with their 1 mile radius guarantee and such) but I don't usually go there because everyone else has the same idea (sometimes cheapest isn't worth it if you're going to sit there 5 minutes while the guy in front of you puts 40 gallons into his hulking POS - and the pumps are slow because they're all running).

Another one I almost always hit on my way east is Flying J off I-90 exit 48A (Pembroke). I'll usually take route 33 there and then pick up the Thruway (saves a little in toll, too). They put their prices right on the website, which is nice. Typically speaking, when I do that, that's the cheapest gas until I hit New England, especially without getting off the Thruway, and then everything between Albany and the NY line tends to be 5-10 cents higher than Buffalo. Though I do like to stop at my favorite convenience store chain, Stewarts, which actually had egg nog in June. Damn it why can't we have one of those. Damn good ice cream, too. They may be the only thing in the Albany area I like.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 04:12 PM   #1135
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How's the exchange rate up there? Is it better for me to use Canadian money or American money in Canada right now? Or is Canadian money always better, regardless of the exchange rate?
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Old July 31st, 2008, 06:54 PM   #1136
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Ex-Sabre officially an ex-resident
by James Fink Business First

One year after leaving the Buffalo Sabres via free agency, former team co-captain Daniel Briere has finally found a buyer for his Amherst home.

Briere sold his house on Covent Garden Lane for $325,000 -- roughly $14,000 less than what he paid for it five years ago. The deal closed on July 29, according to documents filed in the Erie County Clerk's office.

Briere left the Sabres last summer, signing an eight-year, $56 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile, another Sabre co-captain, who also left the team last summer -- Chris Drury -- has yet to sell his house in Clarence's Spaulding Lake subdivision. Drury paid $550,000 for the house in 2005.

Drury signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the New York Rangers.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 07:50 PM   #1137
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I didn't know I live near Chris Drury's house.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 07:58 PM   #1138
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I lived by Chris Drury's other house when I lived in Huntington Beach, CA

Briere's house was only $325,000? lol that's pretty cheap for an NHL player, it's like 1/20th his annual salary. Kinda funny how all of WNY's recent "peace and prosperity" didn't hit his street since he sold the house for a 4% loss after 5 years.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 09:20 PM   #1139
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The hygenist I usually see at my dentist is related to Chris Drury's wife.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 09:21 PM   #1140
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And I had family that helped settle our country.

Its a small world when you think about it.

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