Endorsements 2011

7 Nov

These are not predictions. These are preferences. Please be sure to join WNYMedia.net Tuesday for election night coverage starting around 9pm. Your mileage may vary. Offer void where prohibited.

1. Erie County Executive: Mark Poloncarz

No surprise here. Mark is a personal friend and I believe in the work that he’s accomplished on behalf of all the taxpayers of Erie County. His office has been run with excellence in mind, and with the taxpayers’ best interests at heart. He is a middle-class kid who hasn’t forgotten from whence he came, and wants to go up 5 floors in the Rath Building in order to represent all the people of Erie County – city, suburb, rich, poor, black, white – everybody. I won’t repeat four years’ worth of posts exposing Chris Collins for being the tax-hiking, elitist hyperpolitical tinpot Machiavelli he is – just do a search for “Chris Collins” on our site.  What I will say is that Poloncarz is going to bring not just competence, but excellence to the County Executive’s office. Despite lots of pressure to do otherwise, Mark is a believer in maintaining a meritocracy in his office. He hires and retains people who do the best and most thorough work for their county pay. He’s a hard worker who doesn’t back down from a challenge or a fight. When it comes to dealing with a dysfunctional legislature, a county control board, and his enemies’ slings and arrows, Poloncarz has proven that he’s up to it, time and time again. He fought to make sure his office did county borrowing because he got the better financing deals. He’s exposed waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money large and small. He doesn’t think you need to substitute creative thinking and common sense with some expensive cluster of management-speak to get the best and most efficient results for your tax dollar.

But on top of that, Mark has his priorities straight. He doesn’t think you should privatize WIC or shutter clinics to score political points with a certain population of voter. On the contrary, he thinks that the county should save money wherever possible; clinics are cheaper than emergency room visits. WIC is now less convenient for its users. It wasn’t Six Sigma that found how DSS was using 19th century technology to maintain its files – it was a vigilant comptroller’s office. It’s not simply about frugality for its own sake – it’s about being smart with money.

All of the fights that take place in our largely redundant and pointless county government center around the very small (8 – 12%) of the budget that’s discretionary. That’s what most of our anger and derision flows from.  Given that this percentage is so small, it’s best for everyone – politicians and the community-at-large – if it’s spent thoughtfully, if at all. Instead, the incumbent County Executive has hyper-politicized the funding of libraries and cultural organizations rather than used real merit or apolitical considerations. Collins needlessly created a funding crisis for the county libraries out of whole cloth, which he’d prefer to resolve through a brand-new tax and special taxing district; just the sort of authority-creation that New York State is trying to abolish. That’s old-style spendthrift liberal thinking. It lazily shunts responsibility off of the county and on to some other entity, whether it be a new tax and bureaucracy, or the towns.

Remember – when it comes down to brass tacks, we like these services that we get with our taxes. It’s only in the abstract that we yell about taxes, until we’re reminded what they pay for.

Likewise, the process to fund cultural organizations shouldn’t be at the County Executive’s whim; it shouldn’t be, as it is now, just a newer version of old-style spendthrift liberal thinking like the member items of yore. Instead, Poloncarz would return that duty to the apolitical, non-partisan Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board, or ECCRAB. It was a system with which everyone was on board, and it took politics out of the equation. We didn’t have the huge fights then that we have now, as Collins artificially picks winners and losers with zero input from public stakeholders.

Finally, Collins is nothing more than an old-fashioned tax & spend liberal. Although Collins likes to say he’s looking out for the taxpayers, he’s raised taxes on us, and gone to court to prevent the legislature from keeping those hikes lower. Although he says he’s careful with our money, he’s spent millions on his friends and cronies, without regard to results or merit. Although Collins likes to seem as if he’s a good government type, he’s in ongoing violation of the county charter in terms of providing monthly budget monitoring reports. Although Collins says he’s trying to create a brighter future, he maintains the tired, failed status-quo when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in western New York; he eschews the notion of IDA consolidation, and hasn’t set up a one-stop-shop for businesses to use when considering a move to our region.

For someone who promised to run the county like a business, why has he behaved like that?

So, on Tuesday, I’ll join Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Representatives Higgins and Hochul, and Mayor Byron Brown to vote for Mark Poloncarz for County Executive.

2. County Clerk: Maria Whyte

As a county legislator and community activist, Maria’s been a tireless advocate for the poor and underprivileged on Buffalo’s west side.  It will be a huge loss to lose her to the quiet administrative work of the clerk’s office, but she has pledged to improve the public’s access to county information, to improve efficiency and wait times, to build upon the DMV improvements already built-in to the system under Dave Swarts and Kathy Hochul, and to modernize recordkeeping to reflect a 21st century where people look stuff up on computers and read PDF files.  Although I have nothing against Chris Jacobs, he has run from his tenure on the Buffalo Board of Education when he’s mentioned it at all, and he has illegally played politics with the 501(c)(3) foundation he created to help underprivileged, bright kids escape the crushing hopelessness of the very public school system he helped run. These, I think, disqualify him from running the largely ministerial clerk’s office – if you can’t follow simple rules and you’re embarrassed by your own record, maybe go back and fix those before asking for a promotion.

3. Assembly 148: Ray Walter

I like Craig Bucki, and I think he’d make a fine Assemblyman.  I also like Ray Walter, and I find that he’s as thoughtful as he is brash; as willing to debate the finer points of policy and the law as he is to roll his eyes when Betty Jean Grant is speaking. Let’s face it, being an Assembly Republican is a thankless job – just ask Jane Corwin. It’s replete with big smiles and bigger checks, and yelling about Shelly Silver and the evil downstate Democrats. All of this comes back to my thought that we need a unicameral legislature. Because I think that Ray is a smart guy and an independent thinker, and because I know that he has big ideas on how to reform government and includes people who don’t always agree with him into the conversation, I’m going to give Ray the edge. I’m not convinced that Bucki would do better or worse – I just don’t know him well enough to make that determination. I am confident, however, that Ray is the kind of legislator who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and is willing to take the time to research and examine ways for government to do its job better. I know his nickname in the county legislature is “Rush”, as in Limbaugh, but maybe the Assembly needs that.

4. Erie County Legislature

As a side note, I’m appalled by the number of uncontested races this year.

District 1: Tim Hogues over Barbara Miller-Williams and Joe Mascia: Hogues will replace the Democrat-in-Name-Only who currently occupies this seat and chairs the legislature. Miller-Williams’ tenure has been replete with her doing her BFF Chris Collins’ bidding, oftentimes to her own benefit and her constituents’ detriment. She doesn’t belong anywhere near county hall.

District 2: Betty Jean Grant is unopposed. 

District 3: Lynn Marinelli is unopposed. 

District 4: Jeremy Zellner over Kevin Hardwick: I like the professor personally, but he had an opportunity to establish his bona fides as an independent thinker rather than a Collins rubber-stamp when it came time to over-ride many of Collins’ 2010 cuts. He didn’t take it, even going so far as to acquiescing to Collins’ continual petty attempts to decimate the personnel and effectiveness of the Comptroller’s office.

District 5: Tom Loughran over Shelly Schratz: Unlike Hardwick, Loughran has shown himself to be an independent legislative thinker from time to time. Schratz is a perennial candidate who is aligned with the noxious tea party movement. We need fewer Collins acolytes in the legislature, not more.

District 6: Ed Rath over Toni Vazquez: Vazquez didn’t seem to really have a firm grasp on county issues in general, or district issues in particular. Rath is poised to do something with the office he’s in, but I’d like to see some more independence and aggressiveness from him in the future.

District 7: Tom Mazur is unopposed. 

District 8: Terry McCracken over Mike Cole: I have no idea about anything having to do with McCracken, except that he’s not Mike Cole. Cole, you’ll remember, was, in effect, an Assemblyman-for-life until his drunken Albany shenanigans with interns got him in trouble with oft-hypocritical conservative family values types. Hey, Mike: it’s too soon.

District 9: Jon Gorman over Lynne Dixon: Gorman’s is a brilliant mind, and he’s a hard worker. Dedicated to the people’s business, he’d be one less Collins follower in the legislature, and would bring a legal eye to the proceedings to help minimize any recurrences of “null and void” declarations, should Collins win.

District 10: No Endorsement: I will not endorse Christina Bove, as she helped create the de facto Collins majority in the legislature as a consummate follower and “what’s in it for me” type politician. On the other hand, the Lorigo name should be drummed out of our collective body politic, firstly by abolishing the family nest egg that’s built upon the hyper-corrupt electoral fusion system. Lorigo’s efforts to bully Bove by having daddy file a $3MM defamation suit over an ad in – of all things – the f’king PENNYSAVER, takes pettiness to a whole new level – the fact that this prominent law firm can’t even be bothered to actually file and serve a Summons and Complaint, with the alleged libel plead with the requisite particularity, instead relying on the lazy lawyers’ “Summons with Notice”, which gives them indignant headlines and nothing else.

District 11: John Mills in unopposed. 

Town of Clarence: Scott Bylewski

The town race has been exquisitely ugly this year, thanks in no small part to the execrable Joe Weiss and his puppet, Dave Hartzell. Bylewski enjoys bipartisan support from people who truly care about the town and the direction in which it’s going. His opponents have proven themselves to be a dirty, hypocritical collection of fetid assholes whose idea of good government is to lie to town residents when they’re not berating them. Don’t be fooled by the lies and deception – Bylewski is working hard to keep the town on the right track, despite myriad pressures from many sides to go against the town’s land use constitution.

9 Responses to “Endorsements 2011”

  1. This Guy November 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Assembly Republican a “thankless job”? I can’t imagine a better elected office to hold. You get $87,000 a year salary, plus since their are so few Republicans in the Assembly you are a Committee ranking member giving that salary a $10,000 boost. You don’t have to worry about passing any legislation, so you sponsor a few bills to cut taxes in a ridiculous way and then send out newsletters at taxpayer expense about how you are fighting hard to lower taxes while those damn New York City Democrats are ruining everything. And every two years talk about how you fought hard and your opponent will just be a tool of the tax raising NYC Dems.

    Talk about living easy… Jim Hayes was collecting $100k plus had a take home and never did a single thing of note in the Assembly.

  2. Jaquandor November 7, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    I have to say that I like any endorsement article that praises one candidate over another on the basis that the latter is part of a band of “fetid assholes”. Pundit FTW!

    One question that keeps coming to mind every year around election time, in my mind, is this: when did “running government like a business” become a desirable idea, and on what basis did it become so? When did “running a business” become synonymous with notions of competence, fair play, rewarding merit, and a general notion of a streamlined operation as opposed to a bureaucracy? I’ve seen lots of businesses — successful ones, even, if a business is to be judged successful by the only metric that seems to make sense to Americans anymore, i.e., whether it makes money — that are run in PRECISELY the way that Collins has run his state government. Businesses run by dictatorial fiat, businesses run by favoritism, businesses that are as listlessly bureaucratic in their customer interactions as any DMV office in the country — they’re out there. Chris Collins HAS run the government like a business, and that’s the problem.

  3. Mike In WNY November 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    This is one of the suckiest (I think that’s a word) county election ever. The number of unopposed legislative candidates illustrate that people blindly support the worst of the worst. With possibly one or two exceptions, there is no candidate running looking out of the best interest of taxpayers. The two party system is a sham that increasingly robs people of their money and dignity.

    Perhaps if Greece falls, leading to Italy and France next, the economic meltdown will totally engulf our country, setting up the conditions that appear to be necessary for people to regain their sanity regarding the proper role of government. Yes, that will lead to extreme hardship and pain for many people, but that seems to be the only way we are ever going to set up a decent future for the younger generation.

  4. Hamburg Voter November 7, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    I agree with thed majority of your endorsements. Howeve,r I disagree with the County Clerk. Alan you must realize by now, Maria is a nice gal but she is not County Clerk material, She is just not focused enough on the issues of the clerks office, The county clerk is an important position and not time for someone without experience. Also, how can you recommend Jon Gorman. I would be fine with Jon as a legislaor if he wasn’t already a full-time employee of New York State, It is a tragedy if he is elected. Lynn is a full-time thoughtful legislator and we are lucky to have her in this race,

  5. Fat Tony November 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    The fact that so many of these races are unopposed just proves we should go back to a Board of Supervisors with weighted voting for the city. There isn’t a more useless position than County Legislator. If the Legislature disappeared tomorrow no one would care.

    I disagree with the most of your endorsements, but picking Maria Whyte over Chris Jacobs is an absolute crime. Maria has a record of zero accomplishment. Chris’ work on the school board, which is thankless and only makes enemies, is to be applauded. He has actually tried to make a difference, not make a career. Because the voters in Erie County are generally blind adherents to the left more often than not, Maria will probably win for no good reason and someone who could have made a difference not only in the Clerk’s office but potentially down the road will give up and probably move away to the detriment of our region.

  6. Andrew Kulyk November 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    The Bove bashing is really getting tiresome. She could have easily cast her ballot for the Perry backed reapportionment plan, thus giving herself a bulletproof Dem district. Instead, she rebuilt her bridge to the Democratic Caucus, and has pledged to work with the Caucus if she survives. She is now in a dogfight, campaigning in a slew of red state towns.

    I work with, and for, all the Legislators. Putting political considerations aside, Bove is one of our best and brightest and hardest working. I bestowed that same title on Bob Reynolds back in ’09. His loss was a huge hole to fill on the Legisature back then. Bove’s loss and departure would be a similar blow.

  7. Peggy November 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Maybe we do not get good quality candidates to choose from because they don’t want to put up with the pettiness and B.S. opponents like Weiss and Hartzell use to deride rather than just run on their own merits and ideas. I have watched the Town of Clarence elections spiral down into the biggest pile of dung ever. Here you have a great Town Supervisor Scott Bylewski doing a remarkable job up against an empty suit. Hartzell has no ideas other than to open the doors to over development and have Clarence replicate the mistakes of Amherst. The vile nastiness of the Weiss – Hartzell team has set a new benchmark for how low they are willing to go to denigrate a candidate and a Town’s character. Anyone who would vote for Hartzell and/or Weiss is not interested in having good stewardship of a fine town. They are both BAD FOR CLARENCE and Western New York as well.

  8. Hamburg Voter November 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    While I agree with several of your endorsements, I have to strongly disagree with your choosing Jon Gorman over Lynne Dixon and question if you have done much homework on this one. To suggest that Jon is a great mind is forgetting his general lack of knowledge regarding municipal budgets. His proposals for 2010 and 2011 both involved cuts in areas that are legally mandated by the state. He even proposed cutting all of the operating costs to a town park, thus shutting it down, but still counted estimated revenue from the same park. Not so smart to me. As for being a hard worker, Jon has drafted a grand total of 2 proposals in his 23 months in office as Town Councilman. In between the months he spent drafting those, he has appeared at zero town department head meetings, zero town functions, and zero resident volunteer organization meetings. Now he wants to try his hand at the Erie County Legislature? There is no way you can convince anyone that he would be a better legislator than Lynne Dixon, but I guess since he paid for advertising on your site you have to pretend that he would.

  9. RaChaCha November 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    @AndrewK Interesting perspective and appreciate you offering it.

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