Collins & Fudoli: Rewind & Remix

25 Oct

Shocking  revelations in today’s Buffalo News that Erie County Legislator Dino Fudoli is accused of being a former ecstasy dealer who allegedly provided the drugs to one girl who subsequently died, and another who ended up in the hospital. Fudoli is now running for election as Town of Lancaster supervisor. So, let’s revisit the events of 2009 whereby Chris Collins conspired with turncoat Democrat Kathy Konst to put the fix in Konst’s former legislative seat to essentially guarantee Dino Fudoli a Collins-friendly slot on the legislature, elbowing out Konst’s replacement, Diane Terranova.

Let’s also recall the fact that Konst had no relevant experience in environment and planning, where she now works, and that supposed libertarian Fudoli pulled out every legal stop – right up to the Appellate Division of the 4th Department – to try and guarantee that the fix was in and prevent Terranova from appearing on the ballot.  You see, Konst’s defection was timed perfectly to try and ensure that no one could replace her on the Democratic Ballot.

So, what follows are two rewinds. First, a rewind of this post from 2009, detailing the legal shenanigans that led to an alleged former ecstasy dealer ascending to the county legislature seemingly out of nowhere. After that, a rewind of my obligatory endorsement post from 2009, where I asked voters not to elect a Collins-friendly slate, and I detail why Collins has been such a disappointment. I think it dovetails nicely into current events.

Terranova v. Fudoli

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.

Endorsements 2009

Much like his chief executive counterpart in Buffalo City Hall, Chris Collins brings to that office charisma and remarkable sum of banked political capital.  Tony Masiello or Joel Giambra were middling apparatchiks who talked a good game but left the office having done more bad than good.  To his credit, Giambra pushed for, but failed to bring about, any sort of regionalism.  Byron Brown and Chris Collins won in recent landslides and have the power, but lack the will, to do very much with it.

Regional metropolitan government could save this region.  We discard it like the morning’s Charmin.

Collins in particular won on a platform of “running government like a business”, being apolitical, reining in costs, lowering taxes, and asking tough questions through, among other things, Six Sigma initiatives.  In practice, however, he has failed at all of those things.

It’s as popular as it is facile to blame his failings on the Democrats, on the unions, on the legislature.  Politics is not a one-person sport.  Part of what makes a good politician is the ability to build consensus – to make the assumption that everyone in government is there to do good by those who sent them there.  Collins bypassed that, and behaved like a bull in a china shop from jump street.  His efforts, like Brown’s, amount to tinpot Machiavellianism – exploiting, for instance, a rift between Lynn Marinelli and Len Lenihan to his advantage, rather than genuinely reaching out to to a stark Democratic legislative majority to enlist their help to develop a strategy for betterment of the region.

The notion that Collins is apolitical is a falsity.

“Running government like a business” is a happy-sounding mantra that makes the electorate believe that he’s going to go after waste and fraud, and really streamline government.  That’s happened only on the fringes, and has been almost exclusively directed at the poor, the sick, the single parents – people who need help, but people on whom Collins could never count to support him.  He gave them even less reason to, arguing that 100% federal reimbursement of certain programs that assist the poor was irrelevant, and shunted these responsibilities off to charities.  He’s saving money on legacy costs, he argues.  Yet he has made no moves to, e.g., close golf courses that also employ county workers who also represent legacy costs.  That choice is neither political nor businesslike.

In other words, whatever little streamlining there’s been, it’s been decided politically.

Cutting waste and spending?  Like his predecessor, Collins hired people whom he knew (nothing wrong with that) and asked the legislature (which, for the most part, granted his requests) to give raises and variable minimums to his appointees.  This way, a new hire could have, say, 5 years’ worth of seniority on day one.  That’s not how businesses are run, is it?  That’s not a reduction in spending, is it?  And Collins blames Albany on 88% of the county budget problems, ignoring the fact that there are opportunities available to maximize savings even on that end of the budgetary spectrum.

It’s not the pablum you should pay attention to – it’s the deeds.

So, Chris Collins has allegedly struck a deal with Byron Brown where the Republicans run no one in city-based races for Mayor or County Legislature.  This guarantees Brown’s re-election unopposed tomorrow, and artifically depresses turnout in the city for the comptroller’s and sheriff’s races, thus helping Kadet and Howard.

And for the suburban races, Collins has deliberately done exactly what Byron Brown did back in 2007 – hand-picked or otherwise supported candidates to challenge elected officials whom Collins has deemed are obstructing his plan for oddly selected spending cuts, tax hikes, and union demonization. Collins’ complained-of inability to get his agenda through the legislature is as much his fault as anyone else’s.  When you treat the legislature like some meddlesome hoop through which you need to jump, rather than a co-equal branch of government, you’re going to run into some problems.

There has been practically zero substance to any of the county legislature races this year.  All anyone wants to talk about is minutiae – how many legislators; how much do they get paid; are they full- or part-time; are there extended terms; are there term limits; do they keep district offices.  There’s no referendum on Collins’ initiatives versus anyone else’s.  There’s been no analysis of Six Sigma or taxes or spending or practically any policies whatsoever.  Collins is just trying to stack the leg in his favor so there’s a better chance he’ll get done what he wants done.  I’m not saying that’s abnormal or wrong, per se.  Just true.

One thing’s for sure, if he’s successful, then being a legislator really won’t be full-time.  Introducing and rubber-stamping the executive’s initiatives takes little time or thought.

The sheriff’s race shouldn’t even be close.

The race for comptroller is laughable.  Collins is somehow trying to sell the public on the notion that it’s better that his guy is in that office, rather than someone independent from him.  That way, I guess, we can get the hard-hitting fiscal reporting and analysis we got when Nancy Naples kept an eye on Joel Giambra. Win!

And all of this, remember, is over what everyone will tell you is 12-ish% of the overall county budget.  $1.1 billion altogether, and they’re engaging in blood feuds over $130,000,000.

Since only 12% of the budget is allegedly subject to the political whims and desires of our elected officials, it would appear to me that most of their tasks are ministerial in nature.  In other words, we have no use for county government at all, as currently structured.  We could just as easily just have counties be geographical municipal divisions made up of a handful of elected overseers and a competent bureaucracy.  Make sure the parks are open.  Make sure you can reserve a shelter easily.  Pave the roads.  Fix the bridges.  Plow the streets.  You don’t need 15 elected legislators and a bunch of pointless fighting for that.

But since it’s more fun to bicker over WIC and golf courses, let’s not really get to the heart of the problem, but just skim the surface to please everyone’s constituencies.

Vote however you want on Tuesday.  But for as long as we remain saddled with that pointless anachronism we call county government, let’s maintain a check on the arrogant and misguided county executive until such time as he learns that politics is a game of give and take – not take and shiv.

And let’s start talking about abolishing county government.  Srsly.

Anyhow,

We all remember what came of that. Remember in November: Chris Collins and his team of turncoats and alleged former dealers in illegal narcotics brought this to you.

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15 Responses to “Collins & Fudoli: Rewind & Remix”

  1. Ward October 25, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    WAY shorter Euclidean Pundit:
    Fudoli = R = evil.
    Collins = R = evil. Therefore, Collins = Fudoli = evil.
    (Did the News say Fudoli gave Ecstacy to a girl who died? Or name a source who claims that?)

    • Alan Bedenko October 25, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      “I can confirm that we interviewed several witnesses who were with Christina that night, and we were told that Christina had obtained some Ecstasy from Dino Fudoli, her boss,” Hoffman said. “Witnesses also told us that Fudoli for months had been distributing drugs to employees at his restaurant.

      “I investigated that information for more than a week when the case and the case file were abruptly taken away from us by my superiors in the department, Capt. Thomas Domino and Chief James Brennan,” Hoffman said. “I was ordered not to investigate this matter any further. This was the only time that ever happened to me in 28 years of police work.”

      From police, The News obtained the names of two young women who allegedly partied with Burgio that night during a rave party in a downtown Buffalo nightclub. One of the witnesses declined, through her father, to talk with a reporter.

      “She was too close to Christina, and it’s too much for her to talk about it,” the father said.

      The other witness, a woman now in her 30s, did speak with a reporter, but only on the condition that her name would not be published. She contended that Burgio told her that Fudoli gave her Ecstasy pills several hours before Burgio’s death.

      The woman, who also worked at the restaurant, said Fudoli gave her and other employees cocaine and pills “many times” in his basement office at the Transit Road restaurant, which was then known as Cambria’s.

      “I used drugs with Dino, and I got drugs from Dino — many times,” the woman said. “On one occasion, he gave pills to me and Christina [Burgio] together. … at a rave party.”

  2. hiding October 25, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    This is so traditional in our region and state that it’s almost laughable to read about it. I watched a drug-dealing junkie that lived next door to me being visited by a local boxing family’s enforcer, and the next day a guy who later won elective office was wearing that junkie’s diamond pinkie ring. I remember the black cadillacs lined up near a local bakery while mobsters were gambling businesses, homes and limbs away in card games at the home of someone who later won elective office. I remember someone running for state comptroller while being investifated for fraud and abuse of public funds being elected to office.

    Let’s face it: as cultures of corruption go, WNY and NYS have one that’s ingrained, accepted and will win elections.

  3. Jeff October 25, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    What? No love for Diane Terranova’s attorney? This one still hurts for me.

  4. DJ October 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    I blame Konst. FoolDoli should hold no public office.

  5. tj October 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

     i’ve known Dino my entire life we grew up on the same block.  Both Dino & his brother were the neighborhood bullies.  The drug problems are just the tip of the iceburg.  i know Dino’s true self, no way does he deserve any eclected office even if he is clean now………. I dont buy it!

  6. Charles October 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    People can change and some do. Whether Mr. Fuldoli has or has not truly changed, I’m not sure anyone here can answer. The voters will decide if that personal weakness is disqualifying. 

    What is more disturbing is the allegation by a former police officer that there is a potential conspiracy to cover-up a serious criminal allegation by a Lancaster Police Chief. Perhaps even the current occupant of that office. This the most serious implication of the News article.  Is the US Attorney listening?

  7. Ann Schumacher October 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    This story is disturbing but I am not surprised as these sort of folks surround Chris Collins. Cheap. Simply cheap. People like Konst, traitor. People like Byron, sneaky and crooked. Even Collins in private says he’s dumb. People like Barbara Miller Williams, too dumb to call, but likes the “high life”…she thinks Chris and Bryon give her some sort of power…just another spineless, dumb politico….isn’t it weird Chris Collins associates with these folks? Ugh, tells the real truth about the guy. Down with Fudoli! Down with Collins.

  8. mark October 26, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    I graduated with Dino from Lancaster High in 1989…..a group of us used to hang out on the weekends all through high school…I moved away right after high school and so have NO affiliation with Dino since then BUT I can say that he was no more a bully than the average 18 year old… rather, he was in general a good guy who was true to his girlfriend as well as honest and good natured…I could care less about politics….while the allegations against him might prove true, I find it bush league for people to leave comments on this site slandering his character some 25 years ago when he was an adolescent.

  9. Brian F. Wood October 26, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    To support Collins, it probably helps to be somewhat drug addled and out of it. After all, “Screw the workers; screw the poor” is probably difficult to think 24 hours a day, as Collins does.

  10. Julia October 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Chris Collins “to run government like a business” is a disaster and just a slick marketing gimmick.. He’s brought ZERO companies/jobs to Erie County and allows the most promising to leave. He raised our taxes and cut services that saved the county money (the health clinics) but now instead the profits go to his rich friends, the top 1%. Collins hasn’t a clue about municipal finance and he doesn’t deserve another 4 years. Vote for Poloncarz.

  11. Ward October 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    WAY shorter post # 2: No.

    “The News obtained the names of two young women who allegedly partied with Burgio that night during a rave party in a downtown Buffalo nightclub. One of the witnesses declined, through her father, to talk with a reporter. … The other witness … did speak with a reporter, but only on the condition that her name would not be published.”

  12. DJ October 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    I guess since the girl didn’t want her name published… it never happened. Move along, there’s nothing to see here…

  13. Leo Wilson October 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    This is a problem?. Drug test everyone that gets a county payroll check, twice a week, and fire them if they fail the drug test. Easy peasy.

    See if you can stick them with the drug-testing bill on the way out the door, too.

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  1. Dino Fudoli: Redskin 4Evah! | Buffalopundit - April 5, 2015

    […] nonsense about the government being your “enemy“, an accused former drug pusher, an anti-democratic Collins stooge, and a former county legislator who is apparently ignorant about procedures for town requests for […]

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