Archive | October, 2009

Sedentary Lit

26 Oct

This is how you win an election!

If by “win” you mean “lose”, and by “election” you mean “credibility”.

Chris "Hymietown" Collins

26 Oct

It was via Twitter that I found out that County Executive Chris Collins made a tragically inappropriate “joke” at a Republican function last night. I think that this epic gaffe may very well forever cloud any chance that Collins may have had for securing a statewide office of any sort.

To this day, Rev. Jesse Jackson is answering for his “Hymietown” remark – a dumb thing he said in 1984.

It’s probably a bad idea for any politician to discuss the prophecies of Nostradamus at any political event, if the politician intends to be taken seriously. Even if it’s a joke. It’s an even worse idea to suggest that a contemporary political figure is the third in the trilogy of anti-Christs prophesied by Nostradamus; Napoleon and Hitler widely regarded as the first two. To suggest that an Orthodox Jewish New York State politician is the anti-Christ is a failure of massive proportions.

As promised and predicted, here’s the link to the post you link to when someone compares someone to Hitler. Just substitute “Obama” with “Silver”.

The joke wasn’t funny, and it was massively offensive and inappropriate. It’s cringe-worthy, like something written into a Ricky Gervais comedy. Like when the Office’s Michael Scott quotes a Chris Rock routine. Collins was right to apologize, and it’s good that he’s being called out on this not just locally, but statewide.

Now, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a lot of things, mostly not good. He’s an entrenched machine politician who is no friend to Western New York. He is a big part of the problem that is Albany. He is not a good government guy; he’s a power guy. He is a person I’d very much like to see electorally removed from his position of power in Albany. But he’s not Hitler. He’s not the anti-Christ. Silver is, apparently, rightfully incensed at Collins’ insult.

And this gets back to Collins’ shtick, which was worn thin on day one. He may be a brilliant businessman, and a savvy political tactician. But he has yet to learn that the kinds of things he evidently likes joking about in the clubhouse or with his teabagging pals have no business seeing the light of day.

If this is what he says in public, imagine where his mind goes in private.

Collins’ shtick plays well up here because people are so desperate for anything that sounds reasonably like “WNY isn’t going to suck so bad anymore” that they’ll buy into it. “Running government like a business” is like that. It was always going to be an uphill battle for a wealthy, unlikeable, obscure technocrat from upstate New York to make any waves in statewide politics. Now, it’s next to impossible. He’s damaged goods. How will a Rick Lazio or a Rudy Giuliani explain to the huge downstate Jewish population that he’s picking a lieutenant governor who compares a contemporary Jewish politician to Hitler? Collins explains,

While we may disagree strongly on policy matters, my statement had no place in our political discourse and I am truly sorry to both the speaker and to anyone else who I may have offended.

You’re right, Mr. Collins. Your statement had/s no place in political discourse, and you should be sorry. You should have also have had the foresight, intelligence, and decency to, I dunno, avoid saying it in the first place.

What’you want? A cookie?

One of those attending Saturday’s dinner called the statement “unbelievable.”

“It was staggering,” said the Republican, who asked not to be identified. “It took my breath away. You just don’t say something like that.”

Collins’ inner circle also was acknowledging the seriousness of the gaffe today, especially in view of the importance of New York City’s Jewish vote in any statewide election. They pointed out that his juxtaposition of Hitler and the concept of the anti-Christ with the orthodox Silver was not seen as any help to Collins’ statewide ambitions.

This kind of crap plays nicely on the Tom Bauerle Paranoid Dummy Hour™, but in the real world – among normal people – it is frankly unheard-of.

Perhaps finally, at least locally, that new chic thing of comparing everything one disagrees with to Hitler (or worse) has just jumped the shark. It’s a facile and ignorant thing that people with small minds like to do. It’s lazy. It’s beyond stupid. I hope this is the end of this ridiculousness.

Legislative District 12: Incumbent Bob Reynolds

26 Oct

Bob Reynolds was elected to the Erie County Legislature in 2006, in the wake of the budget crisis. He worked for Ford Motor Company for 30 years. He is running for a third 2-year term.

Regionalism has turned into a four-letter word, but independent studies show it as the best way to save costs, encourage growth and plan smartly. Do you favor a regional metro government, and what areas would it cover?

We have a regional government already established but very few people realize this. The Association of County Governments meets monthly and passes resolutions and forms active committees. They send representatives to state level organizations as well. I believe this organization needs to take a much more active role on the regionalism issue if it is going to take hold here in Erie County. I currently am working through this organization to look at “Watershed Districts” being established in Erie County – this would be a great first step to towns working together across town lines…

What about a unified school district for Erie County, but preserving/returning to neighborhood schools?

School districts should be forced to use a more BOCES-type organization structure in New York State. We could use them (BOCES) for administrative and backroom office matters as a good starting point. I like neighborhood schools as the norm.

What is your opinion on downsizing the county legislature? Would you include term limits? Would you support extending terms from 2 to 4 years?

I voted for the downsizing and the four year term – so I am supporting it. As for term limits, we need more discussion on this matter since the commission set up to review us did not support term limits…

What is your opinion of Kevin Gaughan’s push to downsize other town and village legislative bodies?

We have taken an initiative in the village of N. Collins and the Farnham to downsize the village into the town – it will take a public vote to see if it happens. We need to be careful on how far we go to three people running government, if it happens in the Town of Hamburg – the council people will be representing 56,000 – even divided that is 28,000 residents each for a part-time representation.

It’s not the money that mandated, but the services. How would you go about reducing the cost of providing county services that are mandated by the state?

I would like to see what is the total cost to run the program and find out what New York State and federal aid are brought into the program and its breakdown for the public to see. We can use the SIX SIGMA approach but it must be done properly. Reduction can only be achieved where the County share can be eliminated in each program where there is no matching funds or as County Executive is doing now stop offering the program.

In 2007, Erie County residents voted in favor of charter reforms that included implementation of performance-based budgeting. Would you push for that?

We are always pushing this item; we have many reports that are required to be given to the Erie County Legislature from our ECRAB organization and other organization that we fund through the budget.

Looking forward, should redistricting be done in a nonpartisan way, avoiding gerrymandering?

To stop gerrymandering we need to set up stronger rules on the breakup of large towns and Election Districts, that is where it occurs.

Give me two big ideas you’d like to promote while in office. Ideas that have the potential to fundamentally change WNY.

I am already working on change; the foreclosure process, county-wide housing court and third is watershed districts

Democrats: Two things about Chris Collins administration that you like. Republicans: Two things about Chris Collins administration that you don’t like.

The Budget director and support of the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors’ Bureau.

Quick questions:

a. Consolidate IDAs? Not sure it solves the problem

b. Creation of a professional regional planning entity with the authority to enforce its decisions? Have to change home rule law first – state issue…

c. Expansion of rail service to the airport/suburbs? To the Ralph? All ready have the rail road tracks, need a bridge over the buffalo river to get to the southtowns – about 25 – 40 million dollars.

d. High speed rail: to Albany, or to Toronto? Which is more important and why?
Toronto – it would be the first step to regional high speed rail between our countries and would be a better economic engine for the area…

Election 2009: The Interviews

26 Oct
Photo by skyliner2008 at Flickr.com

Photo by skyliner2008 at Flickr.com

In many of the contested legislative races, I have sent out a series of questions to the candidates. So far, I have heard back from Brian Wirth, Christina Bove, Bob Reynolds, and Michele Iannello. I have not yet heard from Lynne Dixon, Dino Fudoli, Kevin Hardwick, Shelly Schratz or Tom Loughran.

I had done a post last week soliciting your questions, but literally no one spoke up. A few of the questions used were suggested by my WNYMedia.net colleague, Brian Castner.

I don’t think that the legislature races ever get the attention they deserve. People treat these races like an afterthought, and candidates frequently get away with repeating platitudes and sound bites. I don’t want to hear “run government like a business” or “we only get to decide how to spend 12% of the budget”.

I’ll roll these out as they come in.

Terranova vs. Fudoli

25 Oct

On Friday, a Supreme Court Judge ordered that Kathy Konst’s name be removed from the ballot for Erie County Legislator for the 5th District and that the name of the legislator who was appointed to replace her, Diane Terranova, be added. This means that Dino Fudoli, a conservative Republican who received the endorsement of the Glenn Beck Appreciation Club will have a race on November 3d.

But let me turn to the issue of the Konst-Collins conspiracy to all but guarantee Fudoli’s election.

Currently, the legislature operates on a 10 – 3 Democratic majority. By manufacturing a Fudoli win, that brings the number to 9 – 4, and Collins has to rely on one fewer race to get to that magical switch of 7 Reps, 6 Dems.

I don’t really know whether Collins and Konst conspired to help force a Fudoli win, but it sure looks that way from the outside. Collins appointed Konst to a 6-figure job in charge of environment and planning matters after the deadline to name a replacement had passed. Let’s just say that was no accident.

So, Terranova wanted to get on the ballot and have the privilege of running for re-election to a job she’s held for about two months. Everyone except the Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner and Party worked tirelessly to prevent Terranova’s name from replacing the happily ensconced Konst on November’s ballot.

There was an Independence Party lawyer from Albany, Ralph Lorigo representing the Conservative Party, Ralph Mohr as Republican BOE Commissioner, and Dino Fudoli’s campaign all came to court to keep Kathy Konst’s name on the ballot, even though she isn’t running. They all wanted Dino Fudoli to get a free ride into office. And they’re not satisfied with the Judge’s ruling.

John R. Drexelius, Fudoli’s attorney, said he and his client, the owner of a property development company, also are considering an appeal.

Drexelius? You mean Dale Volker’s counsel at the State Senate? The guy who went ballistic after Channel 2’s Scott Brown had the nerve to ask Dale Volker a tough question? Wow, that just screams “reform” and “transparency”, doesn’t it? What a joke.

Now, the law is the law, but the laws in this state are so heavily weighed in favor of the political bosses getting their way. Getting one’s name on a ballot is notoriously difficult and fraught with peril. When Konst left the race, replacing her with a Democrat who was ready, willing, and able to run that race should have been a no-brainer. It should have been a ministerial afterthought. Instead, it’s become a last-minute battle in court. That’s unacceptable.

I don’t really care enough about minor fusion parties to give a crap about their problems. The Fudoli campaign is all about reform and “tak[ing] your county back”. Reducing the size of the legislature, cutting legislative pay, eliminating the district offices are all low-hanging fruit of Republican candidates for county leg. Other than that, he’s in favor of great results (isn’t everybody?) and Chris Collins.

But going to court to prevent the voters of the 5th district from having a choice in November is, to me, fundamentally undemocratic and doesn’t at all jibe with the happy reform that Fudoli is selling. To anyone parroting the line that Chris Collins hasn’t set up his own political machine – a rather powerful one that talks a good game about reform but hardly delivers, and actively takes away people’s electoral choice wherever possible – is either ignorant or stupid.

Congratulations to Diane Terranova for getting her name on the ballot, and giving the people of the 5th from Lancaster to Sardinia a choice on November 3rd. And a big middle finger to everyone who actively tried to prevent that choice from happening.

Bad Sales Job on Climate Change

24 Oct

Today is the International Day of Climate Action. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either.

Thousands of Canadians burn tons of fossil fuels to travel to Ottawa to protest climate change . . . only to tragically freeze to death in this pose.

Thousands of Canadians burn tons of fossil fuels to travel to Ottawa to protest climate change . . . only to tragically freeze to death in this pose.

Buffalo had a protest/teach-in today at D’Youville College to spread the word that, like, climate change is totally bad. 

I poke fun not because climate change isn’t a problem, but because the local representatives unfortunately did nothing to break any stereotypes. The Western New York Climate Action Coalition (didn’t know we had one of those either) sponsored the event, titled Buffalo 350, meaning 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Never mind for a second that the 350 number is completely arbitrary, with nary a shred of scientific evidence that 350 is “better” than 300, or 400, or any other number (this is what passes for proof -“science” and Desmond Tutu say 350!). Also ignore for a second that our current CO2 count is 385, that we passed 350 in 1998, and none of us alive will see 350 again.

The problem to focus on right now is the awful, terrible job climate change protestors or environmental activists do selling climate change. Or more specifically, getting the public excited enough, or scared enough, or both, about climate change that they stop throwing out cereal boxes and start recycling them.

The protestors today made the classic mistake: explaining that hurricanes, droughts and blizzards are the product of current levels of CO2, and just you wait, things will get worse. Call it the Inconvenient Truth mistake. I wish I could prove this to you, but unfortunately YNN Buffalo (where I saw the WNYCAC rep on the teevee) does not yet have a website 6 months after creation. But that’s another story.

Everyone repeat after me. “Weather is not climate!” Weather is today. Climate is long term. Climate change did not cause the droughts in the south east last year. Global warming did not cause Katrina. Climate change may be causing massive snowpack melt and the melting of the ice caps, but even that is tricky – pack ice has been increasing lately. The point is, you can’t look at any specific thing today to see proof of climate change. We need to look long term.

Climate change may well be bad, and has some man-made component, but when Al Gore said the earth would heat up, massive hurricanes would hit, and the seas would rise, people checked the thermometer. This summer, they discovered it was 1) cold, and 2) we had no hurricanes. The lack of hurricanes was the biggest non-story story this year.

This all comes on the heels of a new poll that show fewer and fewer Americans believe there is evidence of global warming. Said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:

“It’s a combination of poor communication by scientists, a lousy summer in the Eastern United States, people mixing up weather and climate and a full-court press by public relations firms and lobby groups trying to instill a sense of uncertainty and confusion in the public.”

Yeah, I think its more the former. And the people mixing up weather and climate include the advocates. The problem with selling climate change with hurricanes is that when there are no hurricanes, then there must not be climate change.

The cause is not hopeless. Think how easily the frame “climate change” has been substituted for “global warming.” Because, of course, not everywhere will get warmer. Some places will get colder. Glaciers on Iceland today grow while glaciers in Glacier National Park shrink. But while we are still fighting the change, rather than preparing for its coming, the sales job has to get better.

A Note to A.J. Baynes

24 Oct

The anti-Howard videos that appear on WNYMedia.net were created by WNYMedia.net on our own dime, on our own time. At no time did anyone from the Glascott campaign have anything to do with them, or pay for them.

Pointing out Sheriff Howard’s patent failure is fun, easy, and effective – we don’t have to be paid to do it.

But thanks for the opportunity to re-post these:

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From the Buffalo News:

The sheriff’s department came under fire when a volunteer search party discovered the body of the Clarence mother of four the day after the department scaled back its own round-the-clock search.

“He could have called in other law enforcement agencies,” Glascott said of Howard. “You never should stop a search and let friends and family find the body.”

At the time, Howard’s right-hand man took responsibility for scaling back the search and acknowledged the bike path area where Diver was found had been searched at least twice.

“We may have missed it,” Undersheriff Richard T. Donovan told a packed news conference three years ago.

Howard, who often points to Sanchez’s arrest as one of his proudest achievements, took issue with Glascott’s criticism of his department’s handling of the search.

“The investigation never ceased,” Howard said. “It was never stopped.”

The sheriff’s role in the Bike Path case has emerged as a campaign issue in part because of radio and Internet political ads praising and criticizing him.

A new Internet video by Marc J. Odien, founder and editor of WNYMedia.net, an online source for local news and information, lambastes Howard for his handling of the Diver search.

The ad, now widely available on YouTube and other online services, claims Howard called off the search, “less than 24 hours after Joan Diver went missing.”

Odien, who was paid to build Glascott’s campaign Web site, said the candidate had no role in the video.

“This is all mine,” he said. “I just think the whole Diver thing was mishandled.”

A.J. Baynes, Howard’s campaign manager, called the ad a “blatant, desperate attempt by a losing campaign to garner votes.”

The Debo Debates

24 Oct

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On Hardline this Sunday, Dave Debo will host more debates between candidates running for office in Erie County.

At 10, 2 newcomers who want to represent West Seneca in the Erie County Legislature: Christine Bove (D) and Brian Wirth (R).

At 10:30, Incumbent Tonawanda Legislator Michelle Iannello (D) and challenger Kevin Hardwick (R) will be in studio

From 11-12 noon: Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard and challenger Capt. John Glascott

That’s Hardline, The WBEN politics program, this Sunday from 10 to noon on Newsradio 930 WBEN.

Gory, Profane Halloween Fun from Revere, Massachusetts

23 Oct

The gore is Peckinpahesque, and the language is NSFW, but this “Jack Chop” parody cracked me up.

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I’m f*ckin serious, dude. Watch this sh*t, alright?

For Me, But Not for Thee

23 Oct

This is the very pinnacle of hypocrisy. Representative Anthony Weiner (NY-9) has identified 55 Republican members of Congress who currently receive single-payer Medicare, but oppose the comparatively tame public option. The list includes such anticommunist luminaries as Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss.

Also, here are a couple of great clips:

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The full list is after the jump. Continue reading