Up in Niagara Falls, a deal with businessman Mark Hamister to build an admittedly boring and dull hotel in the beleaguered city is in danger of being killed by the city’s own council. One of the most vocal critics of a deal that has zero downside for the city is Sam Fruscione. Recently, an ugly mailer accusing Hamister of being a criminal has been hitting mailboxes. Who’s behind it? The usual suspects. What’s Fruscione got to say about it? Nothing; defamation is apparently his thing.
A $25-ish million development in a city with little of it, and it would bring not just a hotel but retail and residential space, as well – it’s just this side of being aborted altogether. The state would be kicking in $3 million in incentives, and the city gets $100,000 for the derelict property, a new taxpaying entity, and a less horrible area around the state park. The city council, however, is holding out for a $2 million figure for the land parcel – pretty much the opposite of the NFTA selling the state most of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor for $2.00. The city, meanwhile, only owns the land because developer David Cordish gifted it on his way out of town. The development is so important to the the state that Governor Cuomo personally intervened to save it from what appeared yesterday to be imminent death. It should be noted that Hamister’s bid was selected pursuant to a request for proposals that USA Niagara put out.
The mailer above shills for councilman Sam Fruscione and calls a would-be Falls hotelier a “con man” – a criminal.
Pretty mild and simple questions from Mary Alice Demler sent Fruscione into a fit.
As you might have learned over the past week, when it comes to inflammatory and false, libelous mailers, the Mazurek/Pigeon/Kennedy “WNY Progressive Caucus” is likely behind it. A PAC created a week ago and miraculously generated over $100,000 in funding, forced by the media to disclose itself. Its spokesman is a failed candidate for Batavia city council who has been a protege of Steve Pigeon’s since then, where he parlayed a stint as an intern with then-Assemblyman Mark Schroeder into working a patronage job at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.
The Fruscione mailer Mazurek’s group produced, seen above, has a glaring typographical error, and as it accuses Hamister of being a criminal, one has to wonder whether they think Fruscione is running against Hamister? What the hell makes Hamister a “con man”? His company’s track record of developing and operating hotels? The fact that his company will be ponying up $25 million or so for this project, and that it’s probably none of the city’s business how Hamister raises those funds? In what way is it a good idea for a PAC supporting a councilman – a councilman who would not denounce the likely defamatory mailer sent to support his re-election – to accuse a prospective developer of committing fraud in a city well-known for being a corrupt hellhole?
Also, one should make the connection that state Senator Tim Kennedy personally endorses calling Mark Hamister a “con man”, since his campaign account is one of the largest donors to the WNY Progressive Caucus. I wonder what Senator George Maziarz, who represents Niagara Falls, thinks of that.
Long ago, when Steve Pigeon went to war against then-Assemblyman Sam Hoyt during his primary battle against Barbra Kavanaugh, the advertisements against Hoyt were so outrageous and inflammatory that the entire attempt backfired. Instead of being angry at Hoyt’s dalliances with Albany interns, voters took pity on him and his family and he cruised to victory. I called it the “Kavanaugh Flip” – that moment when negative ads actually generate sympathy for their intended victim.
In 2008, Pigeon teamed up with billionaire Tom Golisano to form “Responsible New York”, and ask Kathy Konst, Joe Mesi, and Barbra Kavanaugh how effective it was. You could also ask convicted felon Pedro Espada and convicted girlfriend batterer Hiram Monseratte.
It’s the same as it ever was with Pigeon, though. Consider this exchange Jim Heaney published in 2008:
The attack flyer from Mothers and Fathers [Demanding Answers] uses the same bulk mail permit as … Responsible New York.
Pigeon did a lot of ducking and weaving when I called to inquire.
I asked him what he knows about Mothers and Fathers Demanding Answers.
“I’m not going to comment,” Pigeon said. “I’m sure they will file their independent committee status, if it’s not filed already.”
Gee, Steve, how do you know they’re required to do so?
“I would assume, I don’t know that they do.”
Pigeon then resorted to the mantra he repeated throughout the balance of the interview.
“Everything we’re doing is within the law.”
“We’re not coordinating with the [Barbra] Kavanaugh campaign.”
How does he explain Mothers and Fathers using the same bulk mail permit as Responsible New York?
“Independent committees can work together under the law.”
So, you’re working with them, right?
“I think it will all come out in the reports.”
Is this the dirtiest campaign he’s been involved in?
“I don’t think this one is dirty.”
Pigeon went to lengths to vent his outrage over reports that Hoyt had sex with a member of the Assembly staff. This is the same Steve Pigeon who has been an unwavering loyalist to Bill and Hillary Clinton through thick and thin, including the Big Dog’s sexual escapades with intern Monica Lewinski.
I guess you could say Pigeon is practicing situational ethics. Among other things.
There’s con going on in Niagara Falls, alright. But it’s not coming from the guy who is trying to develop a parking lot near a natural wonder.