Erie County Democrats

21 Sep

Len Lenihan was re-elected chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party yesterday. Unanimously. By about 1,000 committeepeople.

There was no floor fight. There was no challenge. There was no opposition. There was no impassioned speech by Lenihan opponents. There was no alternative candidate proposed. There was nothing. For all of Steve Casey and Steve Pigeon’s bleating about Lenihan and Dennis Ward, nothing happened. Despite all their whispering to Bob McCarthy, nothing happened.

Again – let’s be completely clear on the issue.

1. City Hall is at war with Lenihan for absolutely no known reason other than, apparently, the fact that Lenihan is party chairman and Steve Casey is not. Of course, Casey isn’t even a committeeman anymore. He’s just the Deputy Mayor. He’s also no longer a vice-chairman of the party.

2. ECDC’s doors are open to any Democrat – not just the members of any faction. The supposed “war” is not only unprovoked, but farcical.

3. Despite the supposed rift and war, the party is as unified as one might expect it to be. So what if a small percentage of people wants to settle old scores or wage a war?

I personally think that what elected political folk should be most concerned with is reversing decades of decline and economic stagnation rather than petty, unnecessary political warfare. Byron Brown and Steve Casey run a city with a lot of problems. Crime, abandonment, housing, poverty – where’s the big picture plan to deal with that? Development, smart code, zoning, regionalism, land banking – what’s up with that?

Like I said earlier this week, the city of Buffalo has more than its share of problems, and is in desperate need of strong, forward-thinking, inclusive leadership. Instead, it’s run by an insular, paranoid, secretive, power-obsessed clique. How’s that working out?

Photo by Flickr Member Chris Creamer

23 Responses to “Erie County Democrats”

  1. Facts Plz September 21, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    BP, you use an interesting phrase which I think, perfectly casts the crux of the problem: “elected political folk”…

    With that phrase you are clearly referring to the mayor, and maybe this is nitpicking, but in my view the mayor and all other elected public servants are supposed to be “elected GOVERNMENT folk.” Lenihan and Domolgolski are the elected POLITICAL folk, but the fact that the mayor and hoyt and all the other power addicts continue to spend more time manuevering than they do legislating and governing, WNY will forever be doomed to its backwater rapids ride to insignificance.

  2. Jim Ostrowski September 21, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    That’s good news because the guys and gals he placed in office are doing such a great job to halt the decline of Greater Buffalo. For example………………………………well, when I think of anything, I’ll let you know.

    It’s all about job and contract preservation, the community be damned.

  3. indabuff September 21, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Party and power first…community second

    Isn’t the ECDC a “power-obsessed clique?”

  4. Jim H September 21, 2008 at 11:43 am #

    Looks to me like the city is lining up against the suburbs for control of the poliburo. This group is far more concerned with power than with governing, it’s no freakin wonder this city remains locked in the 1950’s.

    All hail, Byron and Lenny!

  5. Ralph Wiggum September 21, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    You know, I for one, am sick and tired of Jim Ostrowski’s rantings. This is a guy whose family has been completely immersed in the Democratic political structure for decades. His family has done very well by the political system, both in jobs and money. And Jim has done well too, including his legal-political endeavors. He is now flacking himself on his blog as a political consultant. That’s fine. More power to him. But to sit here and listen to him whine and bitch about “the machine” is too much. He’s pretty disingenuous – him and his fellow whiners like Peter Reese who is quite similar and has done well operating in the legal-political system too.

    These guys get a lot of attention and money out of being professional anti-“machine” lawyers. They benefit financially by whining about the big bad party machine. It is about time someone called them out on it.

    Where was Reese, Ostrowski et al when Pigeon was destroying the party and not moving the community forward in 2002? I didn’t see them stepping up then.

    The fact is, the role of the political party – the committee – is to help get elected people who will help make the community and government better. Pigeon didn’t do that. He was divisive, petty, and uninclusive. Len Lenihan has been the opposite of that. Now, Casey-Parenti-Pigeon-Brown-Golisano and their surrogates want to retake control of the party from grassroots Democrats, represented by Lenihan. Yesterday’s vote showed ordinary people – committeeman, the vast, overwhelming majority of which are NOT in government or political jobs – understood what is happening and re-elected Lenihan.

    Len Lenihan has made some great decisions and some poor ones. So did Bob Davis and so did and will Jim Domagalski. No party chair can win every time or make a “correct” decision all the time.

    And to hear Chris Byrd comment on the so-called power-obsessed clique that is ECDC is laughable on its face. Has Mr. Byrd ever gone over there and spoken with Len or the staff? Has he ever interacted with them in a campaign or event? Power-obsessed? That’s Brown-Casey-Pigeon. If anything, many Democratic insiders think Len Lenihan is not tough enough and too inclusive and attempting to broker compromises and solutions short of fighting.

    I always get a kick out of hearing people who have no first-hand knowledge refer to ECDC as a “machine.” The ECDC office is full of young people, all of whom got their starts in politics from Len Lenihan since 2002, and who are most definitely not career political apparatchiks who have spent their entire lives in government or politics. None of them have ever had a government job – ever – and all started in politics as part of Len Lenihan’s efforts to get young people involved.

  6. Jim Ostrowski September 21, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    Thanks “Ralph” for confirming my prediction that the response to my post would not be a response to my question but an attack on me and my family. You have a lot of class. Did I attack your family?

    I won’t answer all your rantings and ravings but I would love to see all that money I’ve made by pissing off every powerful person in town. My wife would love to see it too.

    As for the Pigeon era, I was filed several successful lawsuits in that era that upheld the constitutional rights of persons who were fired for improper reasons.

  7. indabuff September 21, 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    @Ralph Wiggum

    Nice…you don’t know me…you donut know what I have or haven’t done…you remind me of Cletus Spuckler…but thanks for chiming in.

    Controlling the ECDC isn’t about power? Hmmm…interesting.

    🙂

  8. RaChaCha September 21, 2008 at 8:18 pm #

    If I’m not mistaken, the next mayoral election is next year. After all that’s happened in the last year, doesn’t this unanimous re-election of Lenihan (and subsequent love fest, from reports) pretty much seal the deal that there will be a well-organized and well-funded primary against Mayor Brown next year – assuming that he chooses to run again, and isn’t offered a position–? Or am I guilty of stating the obvious–?

  9. Val September 21, 2008 at 8:27 pm #

    For the most part, I have to agree with Ralph Wiggum. I am one of the everyday people, without a political job, who has been a committeeman for the past 5 1/2 years. I did not win my seat at first, but when Pigeon didn’t win as the chairman in 2002, many of his minions vacated their committee seats. I was appointed then, and have been re-elected since then. Lenny has been a really fair and helpful man as the chairman. All of this talk about power hungry democrats is the world of Pigeon and Casey. The ECDC of 2008 is about everyday people who give a shit about the community we live in. I’ll work my butt off with the Erie County Democrats that I know!

  10. hank September 21, 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    Val wrote

    All of this talk about power hungry democrats is the world of Pigeon and Casey. The ECDC of 2008 is about everyday people who give a shit about the community we live in.

    I sure would like to believe Val. I wouldn’t care which party was in control, if they would do what Val says the ECDC is about.

    Val, the ECDC has controlled the Mayor’s Office for 47 of the last 51 years. And the city is not experiencing anything remotely resembling a period of prosperity.

    And this year the ECDC is something new?

    Just where is the “shining city on the Lake” that you see the ECDC
    building?

    Could you elaborate?

  11. BH Liddell Hart September 21, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    You don’t understand the conversation hank.You are conflating the leadership of the county committee with Democrats in general. And further confusing all local Democrats with what is typically considered a Democrat on the national stage.

    To say that “ECDC” has controlled/does control they mayor’s office is flat out ignorant.

  12. George Fontana September 22, 2008 at 8:42 am #

    BH Liddell Hart is spot-on correct (as is Ralph). BH is correct in noting that ECDC does NOT control City Hall, and never really has. Buffalo mayors, as exemplified by Jimmy Griffin, are notoriously separate from Dem HQ and the County Chairman and take pains to try and exert their own rival HQ. Byron is no different, just far more controlling and maniacal about it. To blame the city’s problems over the past 50 years on ECDC – rather than the city’s mayor of the day and his economic development team, as well as the council and their actions, is specious reasoning.

  13. buffalomom September 22, 2008 at 10:22 am #

    Let’s start the draft. Who do we run for Mayor against Byron?

    I live in Buffalo because I care and believe it can be a wonderful city. Byron Brown shoots all that hope and dedication to this city straight to hell.

    Sam Hoyt? I mean, we’re over the nonsense, aren’t we?

    Who? Let’s do it.

  14. steve September 22, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    I’m not a city resident, just an interested observer who continues to believe that a healthy, vibrant city is good for the entire region.

    But, buffalomom, Sam Hoyt for mayor? Really? Out with the old and in with the, um, old? Hardly a recipe for success.

    I realize that icicles would have to be hanging from Satan’s nose before someone other than a Dem can win the top spot in city hall, but isn’t there someone…anyone…who is not so firmly entrenched who might make a viable alternative to same-old, same-old?

  15. HEY September 22, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    yeah right people know what it riff is about , quit acting like no one knows, and the problem was doubled whe lenihan didn’t endorse certain canidates, plus nobody can stand Kathy Callan and her Husband and some of that staff, i bet that the reason the volunteer numbers are down your right the city is in turmoil and people need to focus on that but as Chairman, you suppose to take the high role not bragging in the paper that you won, eventhough it wasn’t a floor fight, Lenihan is not loved by everyone especailly when he makes endorsements,

  16. John Swanson September 22, 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    @HEY
    Where do I begin?
    The rift is over 3 people=Pigeon, Byron, Casey. I guess you could throw in anyone who owes their job to these people and were FORCED and I mean FORCED to do the following:
    Run for committee
    Circulate petitions
    Give money to certain candidates
    Take off work on Election day
    The reason so many of these people got their ASSES handed to them in committee races was because THEY DIDNT CARE ABOUT BEING COMMITTEEMEN! The reason Kavanaugh lost was because she was a horrible candidate AND these people wanted to work for her like they wanted another hole in the head.
    I don’t know what you mean about volunteer numbers being down? Do you have proof or are you just playing the Casey/Pigeon/O’Donnell/Horner game of simply making things up and running with it? Because that has been par for the course for the last 6-10 years that these people have been around!
    So again, maybe City Hall should stick to governing and keep the politics to the people who actually know how to do what is all that matters= ELECT GOOD DEMOCRATS WHO WORK FOR THE COMMUNITY!

  17. New Committee Member September 22, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    @HEY
    A few months ago, I called ECD office looking for answers and help with a political problem. The staff, especially Kathleen Callan, went above and beyond. She continued to offer critical support, before – during – and post primary. She was prompt and professional, in the middle of a very busy time. I was speachless when I attended the re-org meeting and gained perspective of her job. Every time I spoke to her, she treated me as if I were the only person who needed her attention.

    If you have a problem with her, and strangely enough with her husband, I suggest the issue may lie with you.

  18. Jim Ostrowski September 22, 2008 at 3:16 pm #

    If anyone has thought of what these new public officials have done “to halt the decline of Greater Buffalo,” feel free to make news here.

    Government spending on all levels increases. Government regulation, a hidden form of taxation, increases on all levels. Civil liberties decline, inflation runs wild and we are in two unwinnable land wars in Asia. I think that about sums it up.

  19. buffaloobserver September 23, 2008 at 8:46 am #

    Just a few comments concerning the state of the local ECDC. I’ve been a committeman in Buffalo since 1978 and served under four different chairmen: Crangle– ruled with an iron fist but was generally accessible
    and was a strong believer in party discipline. His downfall was the Mayoral primary of ’77. Sorrentino–opened up the party to new ideas and
    diverse opinions. Was responsible for many changes in party rules that benefited outsiders to the party system. Retired the ECDC debt. Downfall was the ’95 County Executive primary.Pigeon–Egotistical reincarnation of Josef Stalin. Downfall was his inability to work with people who disagreed with him. Personality of a doorknob. Lenihan–came in as a compromise candidate(everyone’s second choice) but soon proved to be an effective and compassionate leader. Door always open. Hired efficient, competent staff. The knock on him from some sectors is that he is not “forcefull enough”. Inability to prevent County Executive primary last year for example. The fact is, the man listens to all sides and formulates opinion after weighing all the pros and cons. A breath of fresh air.
    Thanks pundit for letting me put my two cents worth. The bottom line is that the ECDC will continue to be in good hands for the next two years.
    Anyone who thinks differently hasn’t been around long enough to know better.

  20. Jim Ostrowski September 23, 2008 at 9:20 am #

    Lenihan deserves credit for opening up yesterday’s judicial convention—in response to a request from Free NY–while the Republicans closed theirs.

    The convention was still a sham and a fraud but at least the public was allowed to observe the proceedings in the lobby of the Ellicott Square.

  21. George Fontana September 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm #

    I know that last year’s Democratic judicial convention was also open, and anyone from the public who was not a delegate or alternate could watch the event. I know because I was in the lobby of Ellicott Square last September and observed the proceedings. Contrary to Mr. Ostrowski’s claims about Free NY “forcing” the ECDC to open it up, it was already open, as was last year’s. Kudos to Mr. Lenihan for opening up the process in 2007 and 2008.

  22. Matt Bova September 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    I agree that the ECDC’s doors are always open, they’re just extremely rude and spiteful to you when you get in there.

  23. Ralph Wiggum September 23, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    Ahh, sage words from Matt “I managed to get convicted of election law violations” Bova. Always great to hear from the youngster… Under NY’s elections laws, it is notoriously difficult to convict someone of election law violations – and yet, the former Niagara County DA charged and Bova pled guilty. If Bova is being denied treated badly at ECDC, its probably because he is a crook and a pretty bad political operative (and I use that phrase loosely). Details on Mr. Bova’s many unsuccessful campaigns and conviction are here: http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_178005659.html What a loser.

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