Archive | April, 2010

WNYMedia Film Series

20 Apr

In the past we’ve hosted screenings and panel discussions about documentaries we’ve felt were important to include in the public discourse.  We’ve shown our own films as well as documentaries on the environment, war profiteers, media companies and retailers.

It’s been a while since our last event, but we’re planning a summer film series and we’d like your input on the film choices.  They will be documentaries, it’s kind of our thing.  We’ll be announcing the details on showings in the coming weeks, we just want to get the film choices in order so we can purchase the distribution/display licenses.

Here are the choices, please vote and let us know which film you’d like to attend and discuss with a panel of experts.  You can select more than one film.

The Corporation

[HTML1]

Food, Inc.

[HTML2]

Why We Fight

[HTML3]

Crude

[HTML4]

Rethink Afghanistan

[HTML5]

Wal-Mart, The High Cost of Low Price

[HTML6]

Consuming Kids

[HTML7]

[HTML8]

You’d Have to Really Hate the Romans

20 Apr

Evidently, the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea aren’t getting along due to personality conflicts.

Here’s how it goes:

[HTML1]

Splitters!

Also, the so-called “Tea Party” so-called “movement” can’t decide whether it’s Palinist or Paulist.

Unapologetic

20 Apr

Courtesy of Paladino for the People campaign manager Michael Caputo and the strategic political marketing & messaging shop they’ve retained, “Grasstop Concepts“, comes this:

[HTML1]

The fact that Caputo has inserted himself into the campaign as a personality is hilarious in its narcissism.

It also reminds me of this. A lot:

[HTML2]

Out with the Old

20 Apr

[HTML5]

Time-lapse video of the demolition of Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium, compiled by Chris Byrd.

An Open Letter to Carl

19 Apr

Dear Carl,

I’m your natural constituency. I’m white, middle class, have a couple kids and live in an upstate suburb. I own my home, and as half of my monthly mortgage payment goes to escrow for taxes, I understand the high tax burden of this state. I am a small business owner, and understand the need to have a lawyer and account constantly keeping me out of trouble, such is the array of licenses, fees, filing requirements, tax changes, and liabilities associated with the privilege of working in this state that I constantly feel like I am somehow breaking the law but just don’t know it yet.

There are plenty more like me, and we are mad, though I would eschew any label using the term “Moral”, “Silent,” and “Majority.”  We cheered when you took on the Thruway Authority and won, pulling tolls from the 190. We cheered when you invested in downtown, saving some structures and building others. We cheered when you took on the feckless and ineffective Buffalo Niagara Partnership and its overpaid self-promoting chief. We cheered when you took on the Buffalo Public Schools, stood up for charter alternatives, and blasted the union. We even cheered when you called out Superintendent Williams, and the process that hired him, as racially biased – we see affirmative action as an anachronistic reverse discriminator as well.

And when you announced you were running for governor, we cheered too, because we believed you’d take the same tack against Albany. I’m not sure how many of us thought you were going to win, but we looked forward to spades being called so, and announcing that Silver, Paterson, et al had no clothes.

Unfortunately, the only lack of clothes we’ve seen involves horses and email porn. When you started your run, we expected you to take the same fire we saw in Buffalo against legitimate statewide targets – not double down on the rhetoric and stir up the fringe. Are there not enough targets in Albany and NYC that you had to wade into the national healthcare mess? Why the 9/11 references? And the sudden Tea Party courtship?

And why oh why do you not have the filter to keep from forwarding those emails? We’ve all gotten those emails before. And maybe we even chuckled a time or two. But I never got the horse email, and you never, ever, never reforward them. And the guy who sends them to you is THAT GUY. I never realized you were THAT GUY, Carl. And in case you don’t understand, THAT GUY is the one who thinks those emails are funny enough to send to all his friends, clogging your inbox until he gets blocked. THAT GUY is the one you go out to dinner with, all the time hoping he doesn’t tell his jokes too loud, or insult the poor waitress to her face. THAT GUY is the one you aren’t sure you should introduce your wife to. And THAT GUY is the one you certainly don’t vote for, in a race for school board, much less governor.

But here you are now – long shot before, and pure Quixotic fantasy now. I would ask you to please drop out of the race, and take that $10M you were going to spend, and instead invest it in some of your properties awaiting development. Of course, the part I liked about you before will keep you from doing that now. So, instead, can you please forget the national politics, forget the Tea Party, forget Attica, forget 9/11, and forget the emails. Instead, just call out the legitimate unclothed emperors for the next 5 months on your Conservative line. You can still be a constructive part of this debate. But now you need to be Ross Perot, and not Larry Flynt.

Sincerely,

Brian Castner, on behalf of White Republican Suburbanite Business Owners in NY

The Angry Id

19 Apr

New York State is fundamentally broken.

I believe this is a statement with which the overwhelming majority of people would agree.  The bloggers at WNYMedia.net have written several hundred thousand words about the state of government in New York, linked to hundreds of others who have done the same and we’ve attempted to propose serious solutions to those problems.

This election year, we’re coming off a series of political scandals featuring prostitutes, abuse of power, felonious woman-beating, a backroom coup in one of our legislative houses, a governor covering up domestic abuse, and a litany of other violations of the public trust.  We also face a trifecta of failure with an incredibly large state budget deficit, a scandal-ridden lame-duck Governor and an intransigent legislature which lacks the political will to make hard choices.

In short, the problems in this state are serious, and they need to be addressed by serious people with serious ideas.

We’re also dealing with a national economic recession, and a thirty year trend in the exacerbation of wealth inequality as well as stagnant middle class wages.  Many people feel powerless, economically hopeless and disconnected from power.  They blame government.

Into that void of hopelessness steps Carl Paladino and the tea party.  They are selling a remedy to the problems facing this state which amount to a promise that he will “shake things up” and “tell it like it is”.  With Carl at the front of the line, his supporters will essentially shake their fists and yell at the problem like monkeys screeching at the monolith.  This sounds a lot like the reasons so many people find Sarah Palin appealing, don’t you think?

Carl represents the collective angry id of Upstate New York and Palin serves the same purpose on a national level.  An empty vessel into which people left behind by culture and a new economy are pouring their frustrations, fear, anger and failures.  Carl has the money and resources to do what they can’t, run for Governor and fight those downstate people.   Carl will do what the powerless can’t…go to Albany, shake his fist in the face of entrenched interests and tell them “what for”.  He’ll strip the reigns of power from the three men in a room and he’ll become one man in a room and get things straightened out.

His proposals for reform?  Pablum and empty.  They read like a cribbed version of a half-assed Andrew Rudnick/Unshackle Upstate proposal.  He doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally enact Proposals 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 nor does he have the political skill to negotiate for any of them.  Not that any of this matters as I have a better shot of walking on the moon in 2010 than Carl has of being elected Governor of New York.

In comments left here, on Carl’s Facebook page and in media interviews, there is no discussion of his reform proposals or his ideas for changing the structural problems in state government (not that there are any), it’s all anger.  We’re fed up, we’ve had enough, we’re gonna drag Shelly Silver to Attica, etc.  It’s all rabble, none of it backed up with substantive discussion about proposed reforms.

I think it says a lot about the state of affairs in New York that any appreciable percentage of the voting populace sees this as a viable option.

It’s been proven in the past that anger is not a sustainable campaign strategy.  A candidate needs compelling ideas and substantive proposals while leading the citizens to achieve aspirational goals.  Especially if the candidate intends to run for statewide office in New York, where Democrats carry a 25% party affiliation advantage in recent polling and an even larger number when measuring registrations.

Anger will not carry the day on a minor party line (since the GOP Chairman has told Paladino to get lost) and he’ll be running on the Conservative line (if he’s lucky) and the yet to be formed Tea Party line (if he’s crazy).

It’s going to be a wild and crazy summer in New York State and I will enjoy watching the monkeys yell at the monolith.

Thick Skin

18 Apr

Carl Paladino’s going to go to Albany and shake things up. He’s the man to do it because:

Well, “values” have been covered. Literally ad nauseum.

But according to this report from Jim Heaney, which reveals that Paladino earns $10.1 million per year from at least 37 state leases and contracts, and has received at least $12 million in tax breaks since 2003, and this associated blog post, he’s no populist, and his skin is thinner than that of any other contemporary politician, ever.

The report is, to me, most significant in showing that the influence Mr. Paladino had with the Masiello Administration to shape Empire Zone boundaries downtown to his great benefit. Influence like that comes at a price.

“Mad as hell” populist, my ass.

Also, as for “thick skin”, just check out this email string that Heaney posted (.doc). Can you imagine Cuomo, Levy, or Lazio completely shutting out a major newspaper’s reporter because they were butthurt about his factual reporting? I can’t. Usually, campaigns roll with the good stories and bad, and maintain contacts with big media because they recognize that the press and the candidate need each other. I suspect that Mr. Caputo doesn’t have control of his client.

Excelsior!

18 Apr

Money laundering, tax fraud, and an investigation by the FBI? Should make for an interesting few months for state government luminaries Pedro Espada, his son, Steve Pigeon, and Gary Parenti.

Reader Questions on Paladino

17 Apr

I don’t want to beat a dead horse (pun intended), but I’ve received dozens of comments and questions from readers about the Carl Paladino situation and I wanted to address a few of them.  Each question has been edited for profanity, grammar and/or spelling.  I can’t stand reading angry rants from 8th graders, so I edited the questions to make them readable.

Question 1: “Why did you feel the public needed to know this information?”

Answer: In a gubernatorial election, the judgment and actions of a candidate are important. This was not “ribaldry” shared over a barstool or racy emails sent between friends.

These emails contain highly racist words and imagery as well as bestiality videos. I don’t know what email lists you’re on, but if you received a graphic video of a horse performing anal sex to completion on a woman, would you send it along to a hundred of your acquaintances with an encouragement to check it out? If so, keep me off your list.

If Carl had simply been a recipient of these emails, we would have protected his identity much like we did with those to whom he sent them. However, Carl put his imprimatur on those messages and the contents therein by forwarding them along to hundreds of people. He even added comments sharing his pleasure with viewing them. When confronted by friends via email about the graphic nature of the emails, Carl responded dismissively to their concerns.  This demonstrates bad judgment and is certainly newsworthy now that Carl is a candidate for public office.

In the office he seeks, he’ll be entrusted with the safety, well-being and fiscal stewardship of one of our country’s largest states.  So, yes, it’s newsworthy.

Question 2: “Why did you decide to launch this smear campaign against Carl on the day of the tea party express?  How long did you sit on those emails before publishing?

Answer: We didn’t decide to “launch” anything.  A recipient of Carl’s emails forwarded them to us and we then took our time verifying their origin, researching the recipients, checking out the sender and performed necessary due diligence prior to publication.  We don’t take matters like this lightly.  When we satisfied our internal standards with a final corroboration on Saturday, we agreed amongst ourselves to publish the article.  We published it on a Monday that’s our busiest day for web traffic.

Also, posting facts germane to current events is not a “smear campaign”.  We did not allege that Mr. Paladino is a racist or a pornographer, we said he had sent racist and pornographic emails.  Nuance, catch the fever.

Question 3: “Why didn’t you call Carl Paladino for a comment prior to publication?”

Answer: Because I don’t like to juxtapose my facts with his opinion.  I have a pile of facts, why do I need Carl to provide spin for my audience?  He has his own outlets, a web site, facebook, twitter, a press team and messaging consultants.  His response would be forthcoming, that’s how the world works.

Question 4: “Do you think Carl is a bad person?”

Answer: I don’t know the answer to that question as I don’t know Carl well enough to make a judgment on his personal character.

However, the facts indicate the following:

  • Carl Paladino is making an effort to downplay/hide his lifelong registration as a Democratic voter while excoriating a fellow Republican candidate for making a party switch.
  • He has established two dozen shell corporations to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates.  He established those companies to work around those pesky limits on corporate campaign donations.
  • As one of the biggest landlords to government agencies in New York State, Paladino has made tens of millions of dollars suckling from the teat of government largess (while violently opposing the largess in his frequent public pronouncements).  I guess he means the largess which doesn’t benefit him directly.
  • He has cheated on his wife (an issue which he publicly stated disqualified Paterson and Spitzer from public service) and fathered a child out of wedlock.
  • He has forwarded hundreds of patently offensive videos, photos, slideshows and links to people which violate state obscenity laws and demonstrate poor judgment.

I leave it to you to judge his character.

Question 5: “Does Carl have a chance to win and if you don’t think so, why spend this much time tearing him down?”

Answer: No, he doesn’t have a chance to win.  I’ll delve into why that is over the weekend.  However, WNYMedia.net is not tearing Carl Paladino down.  The big, bad media and the liberal elites are not out to get him.  This is part of the public vetting process any candidate goes through when they enter the public arena.  That this process has turned into a public relations tire fire for the Paladino campaign is not our problem, it’s of his own making.

In a campaign, there is an examination of a candidate’s personal history, their corporate dealings, their voting history and their political contributions.  An evaluation of their leadership style is also undertaken through interviews and background stories with the candidate as well as his acquaintances, friends, employees, allies and enemies.  The public has a right to know what a candidate’s past says about him.   We don’t have to swallow the narrative written by his campaign team, he has a history and voters need to make educated choices.  This is who Carl is.

Everything that has been published here or in other outlets are public facts or information which have been made available to us by the candidate or sources close to the candidate during the first week of the campaign.

A Campaign Ad to End All Campaign Ads

16 Apr

[HTML1]