Grassroots vs. ECDC in Thunderdome

28 May

This Buffalo News article is exactly right.  Especially this line:

The gamesmanship and speculation leading up to the final vote is transparently self-serving and hard to take. Indeed, Perry’s commission cut off public input by disbanding before holding its final three hearings.

Frankly, since the de facto legislature “majority” is already doing his work for him, it might be better to just amend the Charter to have the County Executive submit a map, run it by the lawyers, and throw it to a vote. As an alternative, maybe it would be better to excrete four or five different maps out of the redistricting commission, bypass the legislature and executive altogether, and just let people vote on them.

This episode should shame the shameless Barbara Miller-Williams, and the redistricting commission should have been disbanded before it was ever put together. What a glaring example it is of dysfunctional politics and government. And I’m not just blaming the people on it who were aligned with Collins and Miller-Williams.  I’m also talking about the people on the Democratic side. There was so much ridiculous and embarrassing rancor and resentment.  All over maps!  It never should have been handled this way.  By comparison, the Charter Revision Commission from 2006-7 was downright professional and thoughtful.

In the meantime, the Democrats should be energized and unified given the incredible Hochul win and the momentum it brings. What a great opportunity to set aside personal and factional bickering and celebrate the fact that our party has its shit together and the Republicans are in disarray.  Instead, short-sighted and power-hungry politicians like Barbara Miller-Williams are busily scuttling that momentum – in an election year, no less. She is handing cushy districts to her Republican allies while throwing fellow Democrats Mazur and Loughran under the bus. (I wouldn’t mind if that happened due to some objective reality, or as a result of a truly independent commission, but this entire process has been hyper-politicized, and those running it are to blame).

So, again, the Republicans in the legislature have dummied up because BMW is doing their work for them, stabbing the Democrats in the back.  I, for one, am sick and tired of the factionalism in the Democratic Party and wish a wand could be waved to just re-assign an (R) after these turncoats’ names.

I’m not talking about cutting deals with Collins and the Republicans, as long as it benefits one’s constituents. I’m not talking about one Democrat primarying another – that’s part of the process. What I’m talking about is the systematic and constant kneecapping between ECDC Democrats and Grassroots Democrats.  Under normal circumstances, Grassroots would try and take control of the party apparatus by convincing people it could do a better job.  It would run candidates for county chair who would win. But they don’t do either. Instead, they just sabotage headquarters day in and day out, and then whine like babies when headquarters tries to undo or counter the damage. Just. stop. it. You couldn’t get the incumbent Antoine elected in a heavily Democratic district last year, but downtown just got Kathy elected in an (R)+6 district against two multi-millionaires and Karl Rove. ‘Nuff said.

Yes. This is undoubtedly small potatoes shit. This is definitely engaging in an Albanian blood feud over scraps. This underscores the political impotence of a legislature that only controls about 10% of the money it handles, and the rancor that comes with anything that affects political influence. It would be better if the county was run by a nonpartisan professional manager who didn’t hyperpoliticize everything. It would be better if we had no legislature, since its functions are mostly ministerial anyway. It would be better if elections were held and funded in a way that didn’t so strongly benefit incumbents. It would be better if state law was amended to make it easier for candidates to access the ballot and run for office.

But in the meantime, under the system we have – not the system we want – people who call themselves Democrats should start acting like it.

8 Responses to “Grassroots vs. ECDC in Thunderdome”

  1. Mike In WNY May 28, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    This would be so much easier with a Board of Supervisors with each town/village/city receiving a weighted vote based on population.

  2. Newsguy May 28, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Your analysis is spot on, Pundit, especially your reference to Grassroots and Thompson’s failed re-election bid and the Democratic Party’s leadership in helping Kathy Hochul win. I’ve always felt county government is the most useless form of government we have. Has anyone ever contacted their county legislator about anything? I’ve written my state legislators and House members. But I’ve never found the need to contact my county representative. In fact, I had to laugh when I read about people in that sprawling outlying district that’s being proposed who claim it would be too difficult for one person to represent such a wide area. Yeah, it might be tough to reach the legislator in that district to give him your opinion of how he/she should vote on a memorializing resolution protesting high gas prices. So, I’m not really bothered by this whole redistricting hub-bub. Because it simply doesn’t matter! Now, getting Mark Poloncarz elected county executive — that matters!

  3. RaChaCha May 28, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Am trying to figure out who’s Master and who’s Blaster in this apt analogy…if they allowed chainsaws on the 4th floor, I’m not sure the analogy wouldn’t become reality.

    “Grassroots” is an easy shorthand to apply to East Side-centric politics in general, but I’m starting to wonder how much the “grassroots” Grassroots folks really support this small band of utterly sold out Brown-aligned players who have enabled Collins and the Erie GOP to utterly MF the city while tossing them some scraps of power to grant some favors and mete out some punishments to their enemies. About 30 pieces of silver worth of scraps, I’d say.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see some significant changes in alignments and alliances play out very soon.

  4. Kevin J. May 28, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    I’ve actually spoken to a couple of former Erie County town supervisors (larger towns in the last 20-25 years), and none of them want to be a part of a County Board of Supervisors.

  5. Betty Jean Grant May 28, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    The irony of this whole situation is that Tom Loughran was the Democrat that wrote the Resolution to downsize to eleven legislators. He was the Republicans’ favorite guy when he not only wrote the Resolution to downsize but voted for it as well. The resolution passed 9-6 with Democrats Tim Kennedy (last year), Christina Bove and Tom Loughran voting to approve it. Now, the Republicans have totally thrown Loughran under the bus by drafting a Local Law that puts his small Amherst base in a district with Tom Mazur and largely 65% of the voters living in Cheektowaga. I don’t think that Loughran (in a million years) would have believed the Republicans/Miller-Williams would have ‘screwed’ him like they did.

  6. Warrey May 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Just like Betty Jean’s resolution is “screwing” Miller Williams, Rath, Walter and Mills. Good job Betty Jean. Maybe you can write a poem about the “screwing.”

    Your plan is just as bad. Don’t you have any decency?

  7. RaChaCha May 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Legislator Grant, it’s one of humankind’s oldest fables playing out — Loughran playing frog to scorpion Miller-Williams. Loughran/frog offered to help Miller-Williams/scorpion across the river, totally blind to the fact that when you get that entangled with a scorpion you’re going to get stung. But stung he was — and it looks like both frog and scorpion may be going under in this fiasco.


  1. Collins Finds New Enemies « - May 31, 2011

    […] isn’t it, that some of the people Collins can count among his most loyal supporters are a couple of Democrats in the legislature. Alan Bedenko posted this on May 31, 2011 at 7:10 […]

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