Friday, December 29, 2017

Who is this Bob Confer guy?

In the coming days, readers of this fine newspaper will have a new weekly columnist on the opinion page. Many of you might be familiar with my work. Most won’t be. Please allow me to introduce myself and the column.

For more than twelve-and-a-half years I’ve written an opinion column for the Greater Niagara Newspapers which are the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union-Sun and Journal. That collection of dailies once included the now defunct Tonawanda News and Medina Journal-Register.

Over those dozen years I’ve tackled a variety of topics but most of my pieces have centered on public policy. I try to stay away from politics, focusing more on the things that matter. The he-said-she-said machinations of politics don’t really impact your day-to-day life, but laws, regulations, and taxes certainly do and those are the sorts of things I like to get my readers educated, engaged, and even enraged about.

This past week, the Daily News’ editor, John Anderson – someone whose work with the Wellsville Daily Reporter I always admired – reached out to me to see if my column could also run here for the benefit of Genesee County residents. I got the OK from my Niagara County editor, so here I am.

You might wonder, what bent do I write from? Based on the aforementioned basis of my columns (analyzing what government does to you) you might think I’m a conservative. I’ve been called that. But, I’ve also been called an Americanist. More so, I’ve been labeled a libertarian.

No one’s really been able to peg me, which is good. I try not to work under labels and stereotypes and my columns have proven that. I’ve been equal opportunity -- Republican and Democrat policies alike have been fair game.

My always-evolving worldview has been forged from a rural upbringing (I have always lived in Gasport), my career (I am the President of Confer Plastics in North Tonawanda) and my volunteerism (I am the President of the board of the Batavia-based Iroquois Trail Council). I like to think that running a business of decent size (250 employees) and a social service non-profit affords me an in-depth exposure to issues that affect businesses and people and, in turn, the economy and society. So, you will notice that my columns are based in real world experiences and not just theory.

Over the years, that diversity of thought has allowed the column to act in impactful ways. For example, it led to a couple of massive activist campaigns which turned back some regulations that would have killed family farms; and it has helped local businesses understand the capitalistic and moral benefit to employing forgotten Americans like refugees and former convicts.

What? A fellow who blasts government yet sticks up for the oppressed? See what I mean about labels!

I hope that you enjoy what’s to come. You might not always agree with what I write, but sometimes you will. That mix of difference of opinion and shared beliefs is to be expected and it’s what makes newspapers like the Daily News so useful to discourse and activism in America. Otherwise, we’re left to the mercy of social media, larger media conglomerates, and political parties, all of which have created a one-side-versus-the-other routine that’s really bad for this country. We can rise above that. I hope my column shows you that. I look forward to being a part of your newspaper experience.    

From the 29 December 2017 Batavia Daily News

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