The Morning Grumpy – 10/18/12

18 Oct

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. The first television ads from the candidates for Erie County Comptroller debuted yesterday. Both candidates have limited financial resources, so they each took the high road and introduced themselves with biography ads. Dave Shenk informing the general populace that contrary to popular belief, he is in fact a real person. Seriously, this is the first time I’ve seen him. Until today, someone could have told me he was a centaur and I would have no evidence to counter the claim.

He walks, talks, and “comptrols”…he’s Dave Shenk! A straight forward ad from someone who seems to be a well-intentioned and intelligent guy.

Next up, Stefan Mychajliw’s ad. Stefan is a friend, I like him and think he’s a really nice guy. However, I find the argument that his skills as a TV reporter somehow qualify him to manage a billion dollar organization to be specious, at best.

The comptroller job is a complex one and in my humble opinion, should not be filled by an elected official. It should be filled by an accomplished financial or legal professional with experience in finance, economics, or tax law. Someone with experience in the bond markets, public finance, or labor law who is hired and vetted by the legislature and executive and given a professional position.

Running stories on Joel Giambra’s limo driver are good for the ratings and for news entertainment, but I fail to see how it qualifies Stefan to manage the payroll for the county (amongst dozens of other finance related responsibilities). Also, positing that the unhappiness of other elected officials is proof that you’re doing your job well is a bit silly. Lynn Marinelli might not be happy with Stefan, but it might be because he’s unqualified for the position and is performing poorly.

Let’s cut to the chase, Stefan doesn’t really want to be Erie County Comptroller. He’s not shooting to be a modern-day Alfreda Slominski, comptrollin’ shit for the next three decades. The office will serve as his public perch from which he’ll launch a campaign against Mark Poloncarz for Erie County Executive or pursue other higher office. This race is easy pickings, so this is the one he chose. Dave Shenk was appointed to the job, has virtually zero name recognition, no tangible political base, no cash to spend on the race, and doesn’t appear to be highly skilled or interested in retail politics. Stefan’s name recognition is off the charts, he’s Polish, plays up his backstory, drives a crappy car, and people really like him. Shenk’s hope must be that high Democrat turnout to vote for Obama will help him carry the election. I think Stefan’s name recognition, likability, and ethnic background help him win this.

Stef is salt of the earth, man. Just a humble guy being humble while being humbled by your support. If you didn’t know that, wait 30 seconds and he’ll tell you. I suspect Stefan wins this in a romp and sets up the battle of the well-coiffed blue collar-rooted Polish Eastern European fellas in 2015. As an aside, I wonder if his ad was inspired by 70’s era family photos like this one.

2. If you’re a Christian fundamentalist who thinks the Earth is 6000 years old, you can skip ahead, this doesn’t concern you. Where did the moon come from? Scientists think they have it figured out.

A team at Washington University in St. Louis has uncovered evidence, to be published in the journal Nature, that our little moon is indeed the result of a long-ago galactic cataclysm. Their findings solve mysteries that scientists have been puzzling over for more than 30 years. The key to those findings? Zinc. Or, more specifically, a heavier variant of zinc found in moon rocks. And key to that finding were samples taken from the moon — basalts collected during the Apollo lunar landing missions — as well as a lunar meteorite.

Science! Bill O’Reilly still can’t explain it.

3. Which Fortune 500 companies are sheltering income in overseas tax havens?

A new CTJ analysis of the financial reports of the Fortune 500 companies shows that 285 of these corporations had accumulated more than $1.5 trillion in overseas profits by the end of 2011, and there is evidence that a significant portion of these profits are located in tax havens.


In particular, our analysis shows that ten corporations, representing over a sixth of the $1.5trillion in unrepatriated profits, have paid little or no tax on these profits to any government. That implies that these profits have been artificially shifted out of the United States and other countries where the companies actually do business, and into foreign tax havens.

President Obama has proposed minimum tax on overseas profits. The proposed tax tax would limit corporations’ ability to stash profits overseas, and combined with other corporate tax reforms he has proposed, it would raise between $200 billion and $300 billion.

4. Keep talking politics on your social networks, it might do some good. Well, except for you libertarians, ain’t nobody got time for that.

  • 25% of social network site users say they have become more active in a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites.
  • 16% of social network site users say they have changed their views about a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites.

It’s a small number, but it’s progress.

5. Great longform piece on the political future of the Clintons.

No one close to Obama or Clinton even bothers with the pretense that there is any real affection between them. But most concur with the assessment of a Democratic operative with tentacles deep in both worlds: that “the relationship today is totally transactional—and highly functional.”

What Obama stands to gain from the transaction is plain enough to see. The support of the political figure with the highest approval rating, 69 percent, of any in America. The suasive services of a surrogate who can talk the owls down from the trees. The imprimatur of a former president associated with a period of broad and deep prosperity, imbued with unparalleled credibility on matters economic, and possessing special traction with the white working- and ­middle-class voters whom Obama has always had a hard time reaching. What Obama stands to gain, in other words, is a healthy boost in his quest for reelection—one all the more invaluable in the wake of his dismal performance in the first debate.

The potential payoff for Clinton is more ineffable but no less substantial. Last time around, recall, Obama’s candidacy was based in part on the consignment of Clintonism to the dustbin of history. But now, with Obama running unabashedly as the inheritor of that creed, Clinton is reveling in seeing his legacy restored to what he regards as its rightful status: a restoration that will mightily benefit his wife if she hurls herself at the White House again in 2016.

A damn good read.


Fact Of The Day: Jose M. Hernandez went from migrant worker to astronaut. He’s currently running for congress in California at the urging of the president.

Quote Of The Day:  “40% of people in the United States are stupid enough to believe the world is only 6000 years old. They’ll vote for a man stupid enough to be fooled by Joseph Smith” – Richard Dawkins

Video Of The Day: “Americans” – Sean Penn & Kid Rock.

Song Of The Day: “Some Girls” – The Rolling Stones

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15 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 10/18/12”

  1. Incloshjier October 18, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Dont forget, Shenk doesnt have the qualifications or background for comptroller either, certainly no more than Stef.  While Shenk has a military background, which he should be proud of and we should all admire, that doesnt give him the credits to be the county’s top auditor.  And remember, Shenk was appointed by a dem legislature to watch over the dem county executive who had to basically train him to do the job…my point is: how independent can he be?  They’re both intelligent, but independence should be the first qualification, and Stef has that. 

    • Christopher Smith October 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      I disagree. Mr. Shenk has worked in public government for quite some time and has significant experience in budgeting, accounting, tax law, bond financing, and payroll.

  2. fhjfdhjkd October 18, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Stefan is a blowhard and he is not even remotely qualified to be Comptroller in any way, shape, or form.  Does anyone remember that he can’t keep a job?  He was fired from Channel 2, Channel 7 and the Buffalo Public Schools and he’s defended some of Buffalo’s worst: James Williams and Chris Collins.  These are choices that don’t seem prudent or in the best interest of the taxpayers of Erie County.

  3. NorthernIcequeen October 18, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    And let’s not forget that Dave has actually been doing the job…..he may be a little busy with that plus campaigning  to be seen everywhere by everyone.   As Town Clerk in Boston he has experience and as a military guy he has the honesty, integrity and loyalty we, as taxpayers, deserve in this very important position. 

    • Christopher Smith October 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      I’m commenting on the politics of the race. Mark didn’t seem to have trouble campaigning and canvassing when he held the position. The point is that Stefan enjoys countywide name recognition and that gives him a tremendous advantage in the race. He’s a fantastic retail candidate and people like him. Dave has done very little to establish himself politically and to most other reporters and party folks I’ve talked to, seems to have very little regard for the political side of the job. He is qualified for the position, without a doubt, but he’s running for office and that takes charisma, personality, energy, and money.

  4. catherinew88 October 18, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Personally I look forward to voting for David Shenk in November. He has been serving the community in various capacities as well as serving our country in the Army reserves for almost 25 years. Anyone who is willing to dedicate that much of their time to better the community as well as the country will certainly have the best interests of the people of Erie County at heart regardless of which party interests it serves.

  5. TomGleed October 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Aw, c’mon, guys- all of you! Let me say at the onset that I am a long time acquaintance and friend of Stefan and I admire him. Do I think he’s quailified? He could learn the job. That said, Dave is a not an entirely new acqauintance, but someone I’ve worked along side of over the past 4 or 5 years in Democratic affairs and I’ve found him to be dedicated, hardwaorking, knowledgable, and like his ARMY background- trained and prepared! I thank him, and all the men and women of the Armed Forces for their servive to this great country. As a Town of Boston Clerk and Tax Receiver he certainly has government experience and I think he’s processed enough town budgets over the past 20 or so years to be very familiar with them! Not by osmosis, but actually hands on. Don’t pigeon hole his abilities- I believe them to be diverse and extensive! In fact, he was chosen for the Comptrollers vacancy because of his working knowledge and his ability to hit the ground running. And don’t tell me  that his predecessors direction is anything but obove board- they are both fiercly independent men, and men of great integrity. Neith men, BTW act within a vacumn- they have “partners” and knowledgeable advisors in their solid staffs! So that argument does not fly. So, I ask you to give Dave Shenk a fair chance ans your support. I do!

    PS: Alan- I think if you ask Stefan you’ll find he’s Ukrainian, not polish. They are both great folk, in any case!

  6. Dan McParlane October 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    I have friends who are supporting both candidates, but
    personally I am supporting David Shenk; and I recommend members of my Committee
    do as well. Shenk has the experience needed to deal with Erie County government.
    Steph (although nice) is a news man he doesn’t have any financial experience.
    It would be like going to the Doctors office and instead of seeing a Doctor you
    meet with a Police Officer. It just doesn’t make sense.

  7. Gabe C Strongarm October 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Chris, you’re right. There’s no logical reason County Comptroller should be an elected position. It should be an executive-level staff position.

    I’m kind of weird though, I also think local bodies of government should be presided over by a non-elected, (well not by the general demos) unpaid oversight council where specific seats are reserved for people of designated areas of expertise.

  8. HawleyG October 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Shenk spent 20 years working in municipal finance, balancing millions
    of dollars in public accounts, and dealing with bond counsel. No offense
    to Stef, but should he succeed, he will need a great deal of “on the
    job training.” As far as Stef’s independence, he is coming in to grind
    Chris Collins’ axes. He might be “independent” from the current CE, but
    he will be doing the bidding of the former CE and we will be looking at a
    repeat of the same brawls that we dealt with under Collins and
    Poloncarz. Shenk has demonstrated his independence on numerous
    occasions:opposing the “Budget Modernization Act” that was supported by
    the entire legislature and Poloncarz and allowed the floor on the
    county’s rainy day fund to plummet. Not mention his audit of the Water
    Authority. Does anyone believe that was greeted with hosannas from the
    16th floor or Dem HQ? Stef seems like a decent fellow and a good father,
    but we need someone who is interested in doing the the job, not
    posturing for the cameras.

  9. Jesse Griffis October 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Oh Chris, you crazy left-libertarian, you. 🙂

    • Christopher Smith October 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      You know I only put the libertarian digs in for your benefit. As always, thanks for reading, keeping me honest, and for being a fun commenter. I appreciate it!

  10. GoNavybeatArmy October 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    “Next up, Stefan Mychajliw’s ad. Stefan is a friend, I like him and think he’s a really nice guy. However, I find the argument that his skills as a TV reporter somehow qualify him to manage a billion dollar organization to be specious, at best.”  Two things,
    1) he’s you’re friend, so as a ‘jounalist’ you should never written this yellow-journalism
    2) #1 + your own argument that he has zero interest, knowledge, or credentials to balance a $1.2 billion dollar budget tells everyone that you are not a journalist but rather a cheerleader.  That because he’s Polish and your friend, along with the fact that you didn’t know what David Shenk looked like, is the reason you’re voting for an unqualified red-jacket?  And you still have a job?  wow   Maybe the Buffalo News is hiring, they need more tremendous ‘journalist’ such as yourself

    • Christopher Smith October 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

       1.) Yes, Stefan is my friend. Oddly enough, I count more Republicans as friends than Democrats in local politics. With few exceptions, local democratic committee people and electeds are a humorless and vindictive bunch, obsessed with perceived sleights and internecine warfare. Republicans are more relaxed, enjoy a good debate with a liberal friend and rarely seem to hold grudges for the awful things I write about them.

      I did not endorse Stefan, nor did I say I would vote for him. I know him as a person and I value his friendship, but you may have missed where I said that I felt he was unqualified for the position and poked fun at his hair, video, and campaign “humility”. I suspect Stefan won’t hold a grudge and will give me a little shit next time I see him, but that’s the game, pal.

      I also thought it important to disclose before writing anything about Stefan that I know him personally, so as to avoid people popping up to say that I’ve played poker with him and had drinks with him and that I’m biased. Fucking relax.

      2.) That your takeaway about what I wrote above is that I’m “cheerleading” for Stefan demonstrates your lack of comprehension skills.

  11. NorthernIcequeen October 19, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    So after reading all these posts, it’s unanimous that we agree that Shenk is qualified to do the job and Mychajliw is not (he can learn it, I’m sure) but we already have someone qualifed doing it….enough said.  Shenk should be our next County Comptroller if we care about experience and who can actually do the job.   There are enough unqualified people employed by us taxpayers…let’s not employ another one. 

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