The Friday Five March Madness Edition By Peter Herr














Sixy-four teams begin; only one will win. So, all you have to do to have a perfect bracket is to pick 63 winners. Piece of cake, right? Well, not exactly. The chances of actually doing that? One in 9.2 quintillion. Not bad odds. Here's some other things that fire up the madness quotient in March.

1. Mugshot Madness

Some people collect baseball cards, some people collect classic vinyl Bee Gees albums. Lindsay Lohan, on the other hand, apparently collects mugshots. She just got her sixth this week, this one related to a summer 2012 driving offense. Too bad she's blown her financial wad on defense attorneys. Maybe she could buy a car that drives itself. Or she could design and sell her own line of fashionable electronic ankle bracelets to pay for, you know, a cab.

2. Money Madness

Apparently, the three men in a room budget club that is Albany has reached some agreements and a budget document is on the way to the printer. A few tidbits from the current agreement include a raise of the minimum wage to $9 an hour over three years. More curious is the $350 tax rebate checks for middle class folks, those making $40k-$300K, but the kicker is, you have to have kids. Clearly a hairbrained scheme to buy votes from someone. I'm always amused at the thresholds politicians set to define the middle class. $300,000? Give me a break. A.) We can't afford it. Put the $350 million towards fixing our state's fiscal woes or our underfunded pension program. B.) Only if you have kids? I have a kid, but seriously? Each time I say I can't be further surprised by politicians, it really doesn't take long.

3. Meeting Madness

A return to civility? Booooo. The Town Board in Riverhead, NY has decided to strike down an anti-booing law that they instituted earlier in the month. They have decided that it's OK to boo, as long as it is done politely. Is that even possible? I am pretty sure that the Buffalo Bills and Sabres would like the polite booing statute, as well.

4. Meteor Madness

In the wake of the Russian version of "Deep Impact" last month, NASA administrators were called before Congress to give them the skinny on where we stand in the event of a BAAE (Big Ass Asteroid Event). There was good news and bad news. The good news? MOST of the "near-Earth objects" are being tracked. The bad news? The number that we don't know about could be around 10,000. What could possibly go wrong? NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, when asked what our short term plan is, said: "Pray." Maybe we need to rethink that Death Star petition the White House responded to last year.

5. Mark Madness

I was amused to read a recent Buffalo News article reporting that local leaders don't think County Executive Mark Poloncarz is leadery enough for them. I read between the lines and realized that it probably meant that he doesn't kiss their asses enough. Know what? I am OK with that. Is Poloncarz perfect? Nope. He's wonky. He's tech savvy. He's passionate about this region, and he's smart as hell. He's just the type of guy we need running the show, because he does have a vision for the area. It includes much needed IDA reform. It includes some awesome technology to help root out fraud, waste and abuse in our social services. (More on that in a later article.) It includes maintaining the quality of life in Erie County without cutting the services that people want. If you missed that, you aren't paying attention. Another thing about Mark Poloncarz? He's got stones. He proved it in his recent handling of a FEMA audit that says Erie County owes $48 million bucks. And he handled it without creating a panic. He also proved it by filing a lawsuit against mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to collect real estate transfer fees that haven't been paid in years. In both the FEMA and the Fannie/Freddie cases, it's David versus Goliath, but Poloncarz does his homework, and he wouldn't file this unless he was pretty sure of a win. If you don't think Poloncarz is likable enough, get to know him better or get over it and look at the good he is doing.

The next time we're together in Friday Five land, we'll be down to the Sweet 16 in basketball. Half the teams, double the excitement. I'll try to live up to that too. Enjoy!




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