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The Empty Hearse - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
The Empty Hearse

Nope, still not reviewing any of Sherlock, even though most of the country has now seen this one.  Rather, that reference is to an odd frozen moment this morning, coming back from the gym.

There wasn't a snowstorm of any significance in the forecast today, but it's still very cold and windy and the roads are slippery. As I got to where Sheridan Drive overpasses Transit Road, I wound up behind a slow-moving car with its flashers on. Then, I noticed another one behind me, and cop-style flashing lights way ahead. Ahhhh, I thought- I'm in a funeral cortege. So I pulled around and eventually past it; at the front were three stretch limos- black, private limo company, not Amigone or any of the local funeral homes- preceded by a pickup truck with a Christmas tree roof rack. No hearse. I could only wonder if someone made a mistake and they were heading to Forest Lawn to dig somebody back up.


By later in the morning into the afternoon, the roads had not improved- with one remarkable exception.  New York DOT plows the state highways here; Erie County, most of the other major routes that don't carry state highway numbers; and the town does the subdivisions and smaller cross-streets.  All day, I saw perhaps four plows, and bare pavement in only one place: Brompton Road.

As the name implies, it's pretty hoity-toity. I use it daily to get to my office, as it's less crowded than the county highway a half mile west that has more traffic and two extra traffic lights after the turn. But there must be some Very Important People along it; it has a 30 mph speed limit that's gleefully enforced by Amherst po-po's lying in wait, and today? That entire street looked like it had been groomed by a Zamboni.


Speaking of hockey: with no football (other than a stupid exhibition game) until late next weekend, the NHL is cashing in with more of its seemingly never-ending series of outdoor games. The first of them's at Dodger Stadium, of all places, but the two of greater interest are the ones that will be held at the Death Star in the Bronx during the coming week: the New York Rangers, with all their tradition and Original Sixiness, will be playing both of their neighborish rivals, the Devils and Islanders, in old-time outdoor games.

Yet in both cases, the Blueshirts will be the Whiteshirts, for the Rangers have been designated in both cases as the road team.  Some think it's a sop to the media moguls who own them, as this gives the Rangers, essentially, two extra home games out of 82; also, the compensation to each "home team" for  the lost "home date" will be based on average home attendance, and the NHL will likely have to pay the Islanders only a couple hundred bucks for the 20 fans who would normally show up at the Mausoleum for a midweek game.  But that's not all; the Times discovered that there's some chicanery behind this designation:

The reason seems to lie in the special exemption that has freed Madison Square Garden from paying property taxes since 1982.

A provision of that 1982 agreement stipulates that if the Rangers or the Knicks play a home game outside the Garden, the exemption is forfeited. The city’s Independent Budget Office said last fall that the exemption was worth $17.3 million in fiscal 2014. The 1982 state law granting the Garden a pass on paying taxes stated it “shall continue with respect to such property as long as both of said teams play their home games therein and no longer.”

The law went on to say, “If one or both of said teams shall cease to play their home games in said property at any time, the tax exemption provided herein shall cease immediately and said property shall immediately be restored to the tax rolls.”

Since the owners of the team now also own the building, the team's sports broadcasting network (they produce and carry the Sabres games, as well) and one of the biggest local cable systems in the Noo Yawk area, there's little chance either team will now up and leave if they lose this multi-million dollar annual tax break. But efforts in Albany to do that have always failed because, you know, lobbyists.  So one of the wealthiest families in the country gets a major tax break because lawyers were stupid.

Yet this is New York, where such things make perfect sense; after all, Madison Square Garden is nowhere near Madison Avenue; it's round; and the only thing it has in common with a garden is the smell of fertilizer.

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