Donald Trump apparently spent much of the weekend watching TV in his room at his Florida resort, advised by staff that playing golf a few days after 17 people were fatally shot at a nearby high school would not convey compassion. Not that his smiling thumbs-up at the hospital where he visited with survivors did that either.
Confined to his room, Trump took to Twitter to do what he usually does: a) defend himself against allegations or insinuations of wrongdoing; b) attack those who do not rise to his defense.
The craw stuck in his Twitter throat was — is — Russia. Specifically, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's stunning and strategically shrewd indictment last week of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for interfering on Trump's behalf in the 2016 presidential election. The detailed account of well-funded Russian efforts to spread phony news on social media, intended to bolster Trump, hurt his opponents and divide Americans, effectively put to rest Trump's mantra of "fake news" with regard to charges of Russian interference.
Indeed, even Trump's national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, said that the indictments provided "incontrovertible" evidence that Russia had interfered in the election. In other words, the United States has faced a serious national security threat for several years. Still does. Trump has steadfastly referred to the charges as a "hoax" and denied any suggestions of collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives.
When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said that they do not say the Russian efforts influenced the outcome of the election or that any Americans were aware of them — and when it was noted that low-level Trump campaign aides were "unwitting" participants — Trump jumped to claim: "NO COLLUSION."
Actually, as it was later pointed out to him, the indictment says no such thing. As Rosenstein said, this is simply another step in an ongoing investigation of a foreign power's efforts to sway an election. More to come. It's the kind of thing presidents - especially presidents who are innocent of any wrongdoing and serious about their duty to protect the very foundation of the republic — are expected to respond to with leadership.
Instead, what emanated from Mar-a-Lago was typical Trump: angry, vindictive, defensive, misleading. It's always all about him. With regard to leadership, he's fake news.
— The Times-Herald Record
Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle pretty much anywhere in Niagara County these days runs the risk of running into a gaping hole in the road.
"'Tis the season," so they say.
After weeks of battling one of the region's steadier winters in terms of frigid temperatures and snowfalls, motorists in places like Niagara Falls, Lockport and North Tonawanda have once again been forced to master the art of the pothole dodge.
There are several factors that contribute to the sad conditions of our roadways. Weather is certainly one. The freeze-thaw cycles our area has seen this winter have obviously taken a toll.
"Hot patch," the preferred, longer-lasting material used by crews in the spring and summer, is not available this time of year because asphalt plants are not open. As a result, road maintenance crews in places like Niagara Falls, Lockport and North Tonawanda rely on "cold patch," an asphalt mixture that is placed in holes and tamped down, as their primary tool for pothole repair. It is a fix, although it is also considered more of a temporary one.
Staffing also comes into play where patch crews are concerned. The more people on the job, the more holes maintenance departments can fix. Of course, personnel costs money and, in the case of municipal governments, the cost is covered by you, the local taxpayer.
As is the case in any department, public works and road maintenance supervisors should do their best to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their resources.
Pothole repair is truly a never-ending job, and often a thankless one.
Let's remember: The people who patch the roads have to drive on them too.
— The Niagara Gazette
In December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation, promoted by the Women's Caucus, to create a task force charged with getting a handle on the need for child care statewide, the availability of child care and what it will take to improve New York's sorry, fractured "system" for assisting working-poor families.
Finding and paying for decent child care is a challenge for many middle-class New Yorkers, but can be the make-it-or-break-it factor for working-poor parents trying to hold onto jobs and keep their families together.
The state provides child-care subsidies for more than 200,000 children a year. But only the poorest working families are eligible — and fewer than 20 percent of eligible families actually get the subsidies. The subsidies are administered by counties on what is essentially a first-come, first-served basis. "There is no culture in New York of making sure that families that need child care the most will get it," said Ruth Goodman, a social worker at the Mount Kisco Child Care Center..
Young children in poverty often develop academic, social and medical challenges that (low paid) child-care workers are trained to identify. Children up to 3 years of age are eligible for a range of federally funded interventions and therapies that can greatly reduce the likelihood of children winding up in expensive special-education programs in public school. And greater social and academic success in school will lead to better outcomes, and less government intervention, through the stages of life.
So there's a lot at stake. And yet, New York State spends a ton on K-12 education and higher education, but a comparative pittance on child care and early education.
Cuomo proposed a $7 million increase in funding for next year to make up for this year's cuts. But advocates are asking for a $100 million bump to make child-care a reality for many more. New York needs a real handle on the child-care need statewide in order to determine appropriate spending. That's why the task force is so important.
— The Journal News