Niagara Gazette

January 30, 2013

GLYNN: Minimum wage proposal stirring some sharp debate

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It’s not a done deal by any means but there’s reason to think the state lawmakers are seriously weighing the possibility of passing Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to raise the minimum wage. 

The governor did not appear to push for raising the minimum wage until almost the end of the 2012 legislative session. At the time, the Republican-controlled state Senate opposed the measure, citing an adverse impact on small business owners. It would, in effect, “kill” jobs as some lawmakers contended. 

That’s precisely how Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island viewed the proposal to raise the wage to $8.75 per hour from $7.25. By advancing that plan as early as the past month, the governor is basically allowing the Republicans to either accept the idea or — in the worst case scenario — turn down the entire state spending plan. Still, Skelos is concerned that small business owners not be hurt by the wage hike.

Ken Pokalsky, who heads the New York State Business Council, notes that if the minimum wage proposal comes to fruition, it probably will result in some people losing their jobs. Others could find their weekly hours reduced. The council has estimated that new wage scale could cost the average business some $3,000 a year per worker.

•••

ADDED ATTRACTION: While the prime tourist season is still about four months away, the Western New York hospitality industry is excited over the prospects for the major addition to the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum.

At present the museum in downtown Buffalo is closed for general admission during the construction of the Frank Lloyd Wright Filling Station on Michigan Avenue. Museum officials said the public should have full access to the facility in April, when the project is completed. A major event set for 2013 is the collection of pre-1969 Pierce-Arrow cars that are expected to be displayed adjacent to the museum on June 28 as part of the Great Race that will start June 22 in St. Paul, Minn., and continue across 10 states, finishing June 30 in Mobile, Ala.

•••

FOR THE RECORD: To date, more than 100,000 persons have signed online petitions taking strong issue with New York’s new gun laws. It is widely believed that some of the militant gun owners are weighing the possibility of civil disobedience. It should come as no surprise that a number of those protesting Cuomo’s initiative to enact the legislation are now calling for his impeachment.

Meanwhile, the governor insists that more than seven in 10 voters across the Empire State have strongly supported an expanded ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. That’s according to a recent Siena College poll.

By the way, maybe it escaped your attention, but it seems strange that the governor in his recent State of the State message made no mention of hydrofracking. If you have been following the happenings on Capitol Hill, you know Cuomo said earlier that a decision would be reached by February whether to allow the gas drilling process in certain upstate areas. 

•••

MILESTONE: The New York Power Authority will display historic photos and projects as part of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document President Abraham Lincoln signed in 1862 to free the slaves. The local exhibit focusing on Black History Month opens Saturday at the admission-free visitors center on the grounds of the Niagara Power Project, 5777 Lewiston Road. In addition, projects by students from Lewiston-Porter Primary Education Center and Niagara Falls High School will be unveiled.

•••

OFF THE PRESS: “A War of 1812 Death Register,” by Jack Bilow of Plattsburgh, N.Y., includes thousands of soldiers who died on the Niagara Frontier during the fighting. The author spent seven years on the project, about six months alone at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

•••

THE PERFECT FIT: Overheard in Ashker’s Cafe, Main Street, Youngstown: “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper” — a regular customer who watches only Fox News.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.