Archive | April, 2010

Dale Volker (SD-59) – Out. Finally.

30 Apr

In honor of Dale Volker’s decision to free western New Yorkers of his 40-year tenure of failure and stasis, here are excerpts from a few posts I did about him during the PolitiFAIL tournament a few months ago. Enjoy and rejoice.

Dale Volker

In 1973, the UK joined the EEC, George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, Roe v. Wade was decided, Nixon was inaugurated for his second term, construction began on the CN Tower, the first oil shock shook, the Watergate scandal began to unravel, and the music charts are topped by “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree”, “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”, and “Crocodile Rock”.

1973 was, in other words, 37 years ago. It was also the year Dale Volker first went to Albany as an Assemblyman. He was then appointed to the state Senate in 1975. The amazing thing about people born in 1940 is that some became prematurely elderly reactionaries, and one became John Lennon. Volker obviously chose the former.

A former Depew cop, Volker’s stock in trade is fear – it’s what he continually runs and wins on. Volker is a strong proponent of the antiquated, unnecessarily brutal Rockefeller drug laws, signed, coincidentally enough, in 1973. The state made the decision that it was as bad to possess four ounces of marijuana as it was to commit second degree murder, resulting in 15 years to life in a state penitentiary. As you might expect, Rocky’s drug laws did nothing to stem drug use. Volker isn’t so much anti-drug, as he is pro-penitentiary and pro-fear:

State Sen. Dale M. Volker defends the Rockefeller Drug Laws by raising the specter of neighborhoods “under siege from drug dealers.” The drug war’s collateral damage hardly justifies New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws.

Volker probably doesn’t hang around on the corners of the east and west sides of Buffalo – neighborhoods, y’know, under siege from drug dealers. The draconian Rockefeller law failure stayed on the books until last year, over Volker’s objection.

Why is he so in favor of imprisoning casual pot users for 15 years to life? Even though the prisoners in Attica can’t vote, they’re counted as Volker’s constituents. Without the prison population in the 59th State Senate district, it would be underpopulated and cease to exist. To put it differently,

Of Volker’s constituents, 3% are incarcerated (4% of his adult population is in prison). Of his “constituents” who are Black adults, over 75% are disenfranchised. Thanks to the traditional gerrymandering in New York, Volker’s district is smaller than it should be, but with 8,951 prisoners he can safely ignore, Senator Volker can devote himself to the needs of his real constituents with a kind of individual attention that his urban colleagues cannot.

Volker is also known as a thug and a bully. Most recently, when David DiPietro was running in a Republican primary against him, one of his myriad staffers, Harry Wahl, harassed a family supporting DiPietro, making vicious, borderline criminal threats against them. When Volker won the Republican nod, his goons went after Kathy Konst and her family in an equally vicious and pointless way.

As far as being in Albany is concerned, one gets the impression that Volker is in Albany for its own sake. After all, how else do you explain the fact that his staff – even as a minority legislator – costs the state almost $1.1 million per year. And for what, precisely?

Remember when Volker and Esmonde fought when Volker tried to take credit for the removal of the 190 tolls, which happened thanks to Mike Powers and Carl Paladino?

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When he’s not taking credit for stuff he hasn’t done, his entire schtick seems to be demonization of New York City pols – repeatedly, over and over, even if it makes no damn sense. Hint: It’s no excuse for having no record of your own whatsoever, especially given the fact that you’ve been in the majority for most of your career.

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It’s safe to say Dale Volker is fecklessly useless in direct proportion to the length of his tenure in state government.

Yet people continue to re-elect this malignant, despicable failure. That’s the real crime.

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And then there’s Dale.  An Archie Bunker type who was heard this week on the radio bitching and moaning about the “downstate people”.

Dale, here’s a clue:  we’re not stupid.  We know that when you berate and blame “downstate people”, you’re talking about New York City Jews and minorities.  You might as well just man up and admit it; just call it what it is.

And this divisive, ignorant little toad, he of massive ego and sense of entitlement, continues to get re-elected thanks more to sharp elbows than merit.  Unlike Byron Brown, no one expects – or gets – great things from Dale Volker.  He is not a transformative figure.  He is not a guy who appeals to anybody except the beneficiaries of his member item largesse, and angry, threatened octogenarians.

So, with Dale we expect devastating mediocrity, and get exactly that.  For 40 bloody years.  Volker costs the taxpayers over a million dollars per year to do absolutely nothing.  Seriously, name one thing Dale Volker does that can’t be done some other way by some other government actor.  You can’t.  I can’t.   At least the Mayor goes out there and promotes Buffalo.

Dale Volker goes out there and promotes the antediluvian status quo.  There isn’t a new idea about anything rattling around in that empty head, nor has there been in two generations.

…40 years’ worth of a D-minus.

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Dale Volker – a malignant cancer; a polyp in the colon that is Western New York.

Volker is a veritable piece of shit who has been in office probably since before you were born. He’s that old fart going 30 in the left lane, driving the tan Buick of our politics. His tough-guy pandering to cops and corrections officers stems from the fact that without Attica and other correctional facilities, his district would cease to exist.

His political survival is dependent on murderers and rapists.

A renowned asshole, Volker dispatches sycophants and surrogates to bully and threaten political opponents on a regular basis. He is so bad that even the Republicans and teabaggers hate him.

He is so odious, in fact, that even Jim Domagalski – the chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee is considering a primary run against him.  Primaries are like kryptonite to Republicans.

That’s as if Len Lenihan decided to run against Bill Stachowski.

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Dale Volker Retiring

29 Apr

About three hours ago, my phone exploded with text messages from everyone sending me tips on a “major announcement by State Senator Dale Volker” tomorrow.  In one of the worst kept local secrets, Volker is set to announce that he will not be seeking re-election in the 59th Senate District. In one of the other worst kept local secrets, Erie County Republican Chairman Jim Domagalski is scheduled to announce his candidacy for the seat within a week, perhaps as early as Saturday.  Volker and his million dollar staff will be heading for greener pastures.

The polling numbers I’ve seen for Dale have not been good as the anti-incumbency fervor seems to finally be overwhelming his name recognition advantage and ability to curry votes in the rural parts of his gerrymandered district.  In recent elections, Dale has had more trouble than expected holding on to the seat.

In the 2006 Republican Primary, Volker barely beat perennial candidate and general crazy person Len Roberto in Erie County, winning by a meager 400 votes.  Roberto lacked the resources or organization to compete with Dale in the far flung district and lost by a significant margin district wide.

In the 2006 General Election, Volker (with the advantage of two minor party lines) faced Democrat Tom Casey.  Casey, who ran a limited campaign, lost by a mere thousand votes to Volker in Erie County and was overwhelmed by the minor party lines and Volker’s superior resources in the rural counties.

In 2008, Volker lost the Erie County Republican Primary to Dave DiPietro but was able to take a demonstrable victory in Wyoming, Livingston and Orleans Counties to win the race.  Again, Volker just had more resources and a better organization than DiPietro had in this sizable district.

In the 2008 General Election against Kathy Konst, Volker again lost Erie County but he won the district by 11,000 votes, due to the the Conservative and IP lines.  Konst ran what amounted to a tire fire of a campaign and she did little outreach in the outer areas of SD-59, but she did beat Dale by 2,000 votes total in Erie County, even with the votes from his two minor party lines added into the final results.

With Dale’s recent weakness in Erie County and anti-incumbency fervor spreading in the rural districts, the writing was on the wall for Volker in 2010.  Along with the looming shadow of Domagalski, he already had an announced primary candidate as Dave DiPietro is back with tea party support and Carl Paladino’s money in his pocket.

With Domagalski and DiPietro fighting it out for three lines, a split ticket is a distinct possibility.  Dale Volker’s minor party line, name recognition and fundraising advantages are now split between two Republicans.  Will a legitimate Democrat get involved in the race?

A Democrat can win in this district, specifically a Democrat with an entrepreneurial background, military experience and an organization structured for outreach into the rural counties.

Who might that Democrat be?  Stay tuned…

Debunking The Myths

29 Apr

This isn’t turning into a sports blog, but I want to leave you with a couple ideas as we wrap up the Sabres season. You will hear a lot of opinions in the next several months about what the Sabres need to do for next year. Those opinions tend to perpetuate a number of myths that need to be exposed, so we can finally move on:

1) The Sabres aren’t big enough and tough enough. This was probably true three years ago. Its not anymore, and if you still think so, then you are paying more attention to hits and penalty minutes than goals. Goals are what actually win the games, remember. Hits are just a means to an end. The Sabres led the 16 teams in the first round of this year’s playoffs in hits. And it went 0fer on the power play. Which do you think was a bigger factor? During the President’s Trophy winning year, we had no fourth line. We bulked up so much we have about two and a half fourth lines now (Gaustad, Grier, Mair, Kaleta, McCormick, Ellis, Mancari, Kennedy sometimes?, Stafford sometimes?). You can wish our Top 6 forwards were bigger, but that’s a different problem, and we’ll get to that in a second.

2) Lindy doesn’t get enough from his players. The supposed proof of this is that players that leave Buffalo have great success elsewhere. Or, the players that come in flame out. Looking at the numbers proves otherwise. Briere and Drury have been famous over priced busts in Philly and NY. Briere can’t stay healthy, and when he is (75 games this year), his 26 goals/27 assists don’t compare to his 95 points in his last year with the Sabres. Drury is worse – he had fewer points this year with the Rangers (32) than he had goals (37) his last year in Buffalo.

But what of the other names? Campbell’s production has slipped, though less than Briere and Drury. But it should be telling that despite his Olympic sized salary, he couldn’t make the Canadian team this year. Satan may be a Sabre killer this past playoff round, but he was never as productive again as he was with the Sabres, and his 9 goals in 38 games this year is hardly noteworthy. Zubrus was a half a point a game player with the Sabres and has stayed that way with the Devils. MacArthur managed 35 points with his minus 16 this year, and while he scored for Atlanta more than Torres scored for us, that’s not saying much. Paille had 19 points with the Bruins this year, and 27 and 35 points the last two years with Buffalo. Hardly tearing things up in his new digs, though in the playoff series, he stayed true to form – moments of brilliance and long stretches of silence. I could relate all the numbers, but believe me the same holds true for Kotalik, Bernier, Moore and Paetsch. And Thibault and Tellqvist aren’t in the league anymore. Afinogenov is the exception that proves the rule (though he was still a minus 17).

 I know as Sabres fans we think that The New Guy will be better than our Old Guys we’re sick of. But not necessarily. Most guys are what they are, and if anything, Lindy gets more out of them.

3. The Sabres need to prove they are serious about winning the Stanley Cup. You hear this one on the radio all the time: “If my team cared, they’d make a big trade!” The Devils traded away the future for Kovalchuk, and the Caps picked up four depth players at the trade deadline. How well did it work for them? I don’t need Darcy to make a trade to prove he cares. I just need him to make the team better. My fault of Dracy is he learns lessons too late, and learns them too well. We were too small in 2006-2007, so we got bigger (Montador, Grier, etc). Now we’re big, but can’t score. This off season he’ll fix the scoring, but ignore the fact our defensive corps (taken for granted this season) is getting blown up, and we’ll need major help on the back end. I need Darcy to think ahead, not prove anything to me.

On a side note, that President’s Trophy team looks pretty good now that the Sharks and Caps got booted in the first round when they won it, huh? Conference finals suddenly seems respectable when you are cursed with that shiny albatross.

4. The problem with this team is our Top 6 Forwards. This is the most important one, and the most constant. But it misses the point. Want me to prove it? Name our Top 6 Forwards: Roy, Connolly, Pominville, Vanek. That’s only 4. Do you count Hecht and Stafford? You shouldn’t. Hecht is a 3rd line guy, and Stafford would rather be playing Guitar Hero. My problem with my Top 6 is not that they are too small, or too finesse, or too scared of the playoffs. My problem is we only have 4 of them.

Name our lines for next year. Here is what I come up with:

Top Line:                               Vanek          (blank)              (blank)

Second Line:                      Pominville       Roy                Ennis

Third (Checking ) Line:      Grier            Gaustad            Hecht

Fourth (Fighting) Line:    Kaleta             Mair                McCormick

Waiting for someone to get hurt: Kennedy, Gerbe

Let’s do the Kotalik/Afinogenov thing: addition by subtraction. Connolly and Stafford need to be off this team, and I have two empty roster spots. I need a top center and a top right winger. Maybe if we had six Top 6 guys we’d have a shot at scoring some timely goals.

Last note: this is not a myth to be debunked, just a statement of fact. Marty Biron needs to be on this team next year. Making a Cup run will feel a whole lot more right with ole Pale Eyes onboard. Srsly.

Pedro Espada, Jr

29 Apr

When they make the biopic of Pedro Espada, Jr. – the most unapologetically, blatantly corrupt and petulant politician this side of Louisiana – they will quite obviously have to retain the services of Joe Pesci to play Mr. Espada.

Just watch this report from YNN and look at Espada’s body habitus and choice of suits.  If that’s not Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas), I don’t know who is.

Clearing it Up

29 Apr

When health care reform is enacted to help insure almost all Americans, and initiate dramatically needed consumer protection into the health insurance industry, there was an outcry against it from the right, blathering about unconstitutionality.

When GM and Chrysler got massive loans from the government collateralized by stock, the right whinged about socialism, as if that somehow represented workers’ control of production.

When the banks got too clever for their own good and found themselves almost insolvent, when the entire economy collapsed and was on the brink of a once-in-a-century downward spiral, the right bitched and moaned that bailouts – many of which have since been repaid, with interest – were the worst thing since Hitler murdered 6,000,000 innocents and Stalin collectivized farms.

When Arizona passes a law that has the effect of requiring natural born United States citizens of Latino origin to carry citizenship papers with them at all times for wholly domestic travel, the right shrugs and tells the brown people, tough shit.

Just wanted to clear up what they do and don’t consider an unconstitutional outrage.  Social programs = bad, unconstitutional police-state-junior = dandy.

Maybe we need to institute the same policy in Florida and direct it at illegal Cuban immigrants. Let’s see how that goes over.  How about it, Mr. Rubio?

Changs and Engs

28 Apr

I wonder how many of the “mad as hell”, mostly local, Paladino supporters are the same people who usually moan about negative campaigning? Because the Paladino campaign sort of inexplicably released this weird Eng-and-Chang photo parody of Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Levy and Assembly Speaker and all-around-bad-guy Sheldon Silver:

The text accompanying the picture reads like this:

Democrat Steve Levy voted with Democratic Assembly Boss Sheldon Silver 98 percent of the time when he was in the New York State Assembly. He even contributed annually to Silver’s political slush fund. Democrat Steve Levy was endorsed for Suffolk County Executive four times by ACORN’s left wing Working Families Party. Levy actively supported Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election. Levy solicited millions in campaign contributions from special interests, even though he was unopposed in his recent re-election. Now, Democrat Steve Levy tells us he wants to be the Republican candidate for Governor.

CAREER POLITICIAN STEVE LEVY – PART OF THE PROBLEM,
NOT THE SOLUTION

Do we really need to re-hash Paladino’s own embrace of Democratic politicians? At least Levy can argue that when he voted with the Democrats he was a Democrat and did so either based on principle or party discipline.

When Paladino donated thousands to Hillary Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, and the exact same Sheldon Silver “slush fund”, he did so out of political expediency.

Remember – Steve Levy donated a mere $650 to Silver’s political slush fund the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. Carl Paladino and entities under his control donated about $450.

So under Paladino’s argument, maybe he’s just Sheldon Silver’s fraternal twin, rather than an identical or siamese.

Or maybe Levy’s campaign decides to be too cute for its own good and sends this out:

I’m also struck by the linkage between ACORN and the WFP. That is pure Glenn Beck retarded chalkboard paranoia. Attaboy, Carl. You go ahead and read Breitbart and regurgitate that as some sort of campaign strategy to move New York forward.

New York State Gubernatorial race 2010: an embarrassment all around. Seriously.

Pedro Espada: All About the Public Service

28 Apr

The thing about embattled State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. is that he’s not so much a political leader as he is a petty mafia kingpin. I would have made a comparison to some small potatoes dictator, but really – petty dictator and mafia don? Six of one, half dozen of the other. He’s got the sense of self-importance, he’s got the personal empire, he’s got the third person self-referral, he’s got the self-entitlement, and he’s excellent at portraying himself as the victim.

He has no business anywhere near elected office, and when the hoped-for indictments come down, it would be quite handy if he’d be Monserrated right out of the state senate.

Here he is on WCBS’ “Eye on New York” enjoying what might reasonably described as a “bad interview“, culminating in his premature departure when asked one too many unfriendly questions, including about his real home in Mamaroneck which is nowhere near his senate district.

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Excelsior!

Fracking Hydro

28 Apr

Coming Soon To Albany

27 Apr

As the long slog of budget negotiations drones on and legislators get feistier by the day, how long is it until the Albany Senate or Assembly chambers devolves into this?

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In the Ukrainian legislature, this tomato, egg, and smoke bomb tossing incident ultimately escalated to physical confrontations.  All over a proposed agreement to let Russia use a shipping port on the Black Sea.  It’s not like they had a $9,000,000,000 budget deficit to fix…

Carl Paladino is sitting somewhere, stroking a teabag and thinking this is the way it ought to be.

The lesson, as always is IN UKRAINE, GOVERNMENT PROTESTS YOU!

What’s Spanish for “Gastarbeiter”?

27 Apr

There are books’ worth of statutes, regulations, procedural rules, and background information on the issues of police stops. Generally, a cop can briefly detain you and ask you questions if he has a reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime. Definitions like “reasonable suspicion” get litigated because they’re open to so much interpretation.

The legalities and constitutional issues surrounding these types of police interactions are what separate us from police states. Nothing can be done arbitrarily or with impunity.

But Arizona recently passed a law allowing state law enforcement to detain and demand proof of citizenship from people who they reasonably suspect may be in the country illegally.

In other words, it’s a license for police officers to stop, detain, and investigate someone who “looks” or “acts” like an undocumented immigrant. There’s no question that it’s directed towards illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America, so it will exclusively be affecting the day to day lives of Arizona Latinos.

I guess this law is a whole lot easier than cracking down on people who illegally employ undocumented immigrants. It’s the lazy, unconstitutional way out. Unconstitutional because at its essence it requires Hispanic people present in Arizona to keep proof of citizenship on their person at all times and subjects them – and only them – to a “papers, please” police state reality. This law makes it a crime for a Latino person in Arizona to not always carry their immigration documents – Green Card, Passport. It’s not just a 4th and 5th Amendment problem, it’s also a massive equal protection issue. Irish immigrants, I suspect, won’t be subjected to these rules because…well, you know.

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What other ethnic group will we single out for especial treatment? The Republican Party makes occasional progress with Latino voters because they tend to be more socially conservative, but then they pass and support laws like this ones and drive them into the waiting Democrats’ arms.

Megan McCain leaves this thought in her piece:

Arizona is ground zero for the wingnuts. There’s a problem with illegal immigration and no one wants to do anything constructive about it so you get crap like this.

It’s no surprise whatsoever that the teabaggers, given a direct and palpable example of what an unconstitutional police state looks like, remain silent. Because it’s only bad when Democrats do it. Especially Democrats from Africa or Chicago or California who “pal around with terrorists”. Even George W. Bush recognized the need for comprehensive immigration policy reform, but was thwarted by those in his own party who are more narrow-minded (!) and refused to go along with anything that could be called “amnesty”. Because “amnesty” is an epithet, I guess.

First American Latino who gets detained will sue, and this law is not long for this world. It’s a shame that the United States’ immigration policy is mired in the 1960s, but God forbid we make tough decisions and change things to stem the illegality. A reasonable guest worker program would be completely acceptable, document the undocumented, permit these immigrants doing menial work you won’t do to do the work, send money home to Mexico, and be taxed on all of it.

Just over 30% of Arizona’s population is of Hispanic origin – twice the national average. 1/3 of the state’s population now has to carry citizenship papers on their person in their own country. Because some people of Hispanic origin are doing something bad, the lazy and stupid solution is to criminalize the entire population.

It beats thinking. Or problem-solving.

Sometimes, it’s not unlike the Buffalo mentality – see how everyone else does it relatively effectively, and then do the exact opposite.

There will be a march in Buffalo for immigration reform on May 1st, starting at Goodell and Main at 2pm, ending up at MLK, Jr. Park. Immigration is an important issue, and we’re hurting our own economic growth by keeping skilled people out. We’re also hurting ourselves and turning our backs on the Constitution when we single out particular ethnic groups for special police scrutiny.