Tonawanda News

October 6, 2013

DUVALL: Rough week all around for news, sports

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A week of fits and starts, so you get the good, the bad and the ugly:

We’ll start in Washington where the political madness inside the Capitol has been matched only by the literal madness outside of it.

This shutdown has gone several days now without much of an end in sight. And all the while our congressmen are collecting paychecks while keeping 800,000 employees from collecting paychecks — or, you know, actually running the government.

A couple contrarian points you probably won’t want to hear but that are worth considering.

The reason legislators are still being paid despite the rather obvious lack of legislation is a law that was intended to have good-government effects and keep lawmakers more honest about what they’re paid.

Like most elected government positions, lawmakers aren’t permitted to alter their pay during their present term. The reason is obvious: If they’re going to give themselves a raise, voters should have their say on whether they deserve it. If voters give a lawmaker who supported a raise the boot, it goes to the next person.

The law, unfortunately, makes it illegal for representatives to alter their pay in any respect, meaning they can’t raise it or cut it.

Though I find it just as odious as everyone that they’re being paid to ruin everything, I would humbly submit I’d rather keep the law the way it is. Could you imagine them giving themselves a raise later this year and actually getting to keep the money for themselves without your getting to vote on their job performance? That might be the only thing worse than being paid while the government is shut down.

And, while we’re at it, voters share some culpability for this morass, too.

Everyone dislikes Congress — literally everyone, I saw an opinion poll with congressional approval at 3 percent, which was within the 4 percent margin of error making it statistically plausible no one approves of Congress. But most Americans still like their individual congressman.

Bring that back to Western New York and you see it’s true. Besides open seat races, an incumbent — Republican or Democrat — hasn’t had a tough race in decades. Sure, maybe you think Brian Higgins, Louise Slaughter or the newly elected Chris Collins aren’t the reason the government is shut down but it’s tough to argue there isn’t a plague on all their houses now.

Will voters who have happily pulled the lever for these pols for years feel any differently in 2014? Fat chance. 

Multiply that across the country and this is what you get.

•••

When Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel took a sidelines hit to the knee in Thursday’s Browns game I, like everyone, held my breath. It could have been much worse than the sprain he suffered.

Still, what enthusiasm I’d gained for this young Bills team has all but gone out the window if Manuel isn’t on the field.

It’s a pretty simple formula: If Manuel is good, the Bills will be good. If he’s not — or if he’s hurt — we’re right back to square one.

Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. In the meantime, it feels like the air went out of the balloon for Bills fans as long as he’s on the shelf.

•••

To round out the sports news, the Sabres have started their season.

Someone might want to tell them that. Their performance through three games has me wondering whether they’ll win more than a dozen games this entire season.

They look just that bad.

The rookies are lost. The veterans are coasting (excepting a handful of guys). The coach is already giving testy post-game press conferences. And there are 79 games to go.

Darcy was right about the suffering — except maybe just how much Sabres fans are willing to endure it. Especially while he still has a job.

•••

I promised the good, the bad and the ugly. In hindsight, I was wrong. We’ll get to the good part next week, I guess.