Search results for '"water authority"'

Managing the Water Authority

11 Feb

When it comes to attorney Chris O’Brien’s application to join the board of the Erie County Water Authority, one has to remember that Mr. O’Brien stands to gain absolutely naught from this appointment. He won’t get new clients or cases through his association with the ECWA, he won’t gain or lose any political clout – he’s a generous contributor, and asks nothing in return, and the position isn’t one with a high enough profile that it might enable him to market his personal political brand in some way. 

Staffing a public authority involves political considerations? Fetch me my fainting couch. I guess the installation of Jack O’Donnell in 2010 and the pending application of Chris O’Brien reveal that, in the end, elections matter. 

By way of full disclosure, Chris is a personal friend of mine, and there’s no upside here for him. All he’s doing is applying to someday appear on an Al Vaughters expose of the way the Water Authority conducts its business; he’s applying for a headache. It’s an administrative board, and he’s been the principal of a law firm for decades. Sometimes, people just want to commit public service in the first degree. That this application is remotely controversial is just dumb. 

General Election Endorsements 2013

3 Nov

Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as suchThey have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. All endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions.

This has been an exhaustingly ugly campaign season. It is ever thus, when Pedro Espada’s patronage hire, Steve Pigeon, decides to interject himself, his friends, and their dirty money into an election cycle. As always, these efforts are replete with personal destruction, negative campaigns, lies, deceit, and widespread allegations of brazen election law violations.

This happens more often than not, and it underscores the need for Governor’s Moreland Commission on public corruption, as much as it does the commission’s typical, politically motivetaed reluctance to carry out its stated mission.

New York politics are dirty by design, and the people who benefit therefrom have zero incentive to change that; Cuomo included. Tea Party nudniks and good government hippies can whine and cry about whatever outrage – SAFE ACT! IDA ABUSE! – but all of it stems from a common denominator of a horribly broken political system. In 2014, you and I should be more strident in demanding that the Moreland Commission on public corruption do its job. Abuse of the fusion system should be ended. Election law violations should be punished. Campaign finance rules must be followed, and complaints ought be acted upon. 

COUNTYWIDE

Erie County Sheriff (DICK DOBSON)

During primary season, Bert Dunn and Dick Dobson squared off in a Democratic primary. Steve Pigeon’s WNY Progressive Caucus threw a hundred thousand dollars into Dobson’s defeat of the self-funded Dunn. Since then? Nothing. One could credibly argue that Pigeon doesn’t care about Democrats being elected, but only that the Democratic county committee being embarrassed.

Dick Dobson, as it turns out, is a thoughtful and credible professional. Incumbent Tim Howard is running for a third term, and has been nothing but a bitter embarrassment and disappointment. When he wasn’t screwing up the Joan Diver search or letting Ralph “Bucky” Philips escape from custody, he was catching the attention of the federal Department of Justice due to conditions at the county holding centers. Howard needs to go.

Dobson sure could have used another influx of cash in October from whoever bankrolled Pigeon in September, but it didn’t happen. That’s a shame, so let’s just call the Pigeonistas “Democrats for Tim Howard”. I saw Dobson speak at a candidate forum a few weeks ago, and came away impressed. Neither Dunn nor Howard deigned to show up, and Dobson spoke compellingly about his time setting up a professional police force in a third world nation, and how it’s imperative that the holding center be safe because of its duty to hold inmates and deliver them safely to court.  

Dunn got himself a minor party line, and appears on the ballot (way down on the ballot) on Tuesday. Don’t look for him. He should have abandoned the race when he lost the September primary, but didn’t. Call it hubris or cash-fueled ignorance, but when Dunn should have rallied his support and money around Dobson, he was just as absent as Pigeon. 

Dobson deserves your support and your vote. 

COUNTY COMPTROLLER (KEVIN GAUGHAN)

This is a tough one. On the one hand, Gaughan had his personal tax issue. On the other hand, incumbent Stefan Mychajliw has no idea what he’s doing. The edge goes to Gaughan, who has a legal and financial background and has worked for a generation to help make western New York run better and more efficiently. He spent years promoting regional cooperation, to eliminate governmental layers of taxation, and to bring about economies of scale. He then spent time urging smaller governments to downsize, saving taxpayer money while underscoring the fact that a 3-person village board is just as competent as a 5-person board. 

Mychajliw’s tenure has been little more than a year-long campaign, chasing headlines rather than results. Audits take about three months to complete, and in his 10 months in office he’s released one flawed audit of a county gas card system, which uncovered no monetary waste and saved taxpayers nothing. Promised audits of the water authority never came about. A DSS audit was effectively rendered incredible thanks to his deputy comptroller’s made-up claims that confidential records were left out in unsecured totes for anyone to access – they were behind locked doors in a Rath Building sub-basement, and the county had the testimony and video to prove it. 

Mindful of his lack of experience and education, Mychajliw promised to hire the best and the brightest. His deputy comptroller for audit – a CPA – left the job after the DSS tote scandal, and hasn’t been replaced. To top it off, Mychajliw hasn’t reached out to the rating agencies to hustle for an improved credit rating for Erie County – something that the Comptroller routinely does to help show that the county’s finances are in good order, and to help bring about cheaper borrowing rates. This hasn’t happened, and is a dereliction of duty. 

And don’t kid yourself about Mychajliw’s inevitability – if he was so secure in his re-election, he wouldn’t be spending all his TV money on negative ads against Gaughan. To his credit, Gaughan hasn’t done the same. 

Don’t send amateurs back in to do the work of professionals – vote Gaughan. 

MAYOR OF BUFFALO (SERGIO RODRIGUEZ)

Incumbent Byron Brown is running for his third term as mayor of a struggling, poor rust belt city who runs a hyper-politicized, allegedly corrupt petty fiefdom. With a million in the bank, he can steamroll over most challengers and has built an interdependent political machine, cavalierly flaunting the laws that ostensibly limit municipal employees’ electioneering, and his ability to compel it.

Byron Brown is a nice enough guy and people like him, but I don’t think he’s the mayor Buffalo needs. Sergio Rodriguez has run a strong, issues-based race against Mayor Brown, and he’s done so despite being forced to navigate a figurative minefield to do it. He has no support from the county Republican committee, and doesn’t have enough money to do much of anything. He’s bought some lawn signs, but doesn’t have the scratch to do a set of mailings, much less to get on radio or TV.  Instead, he’s been wearing out his shoes, going directly to voters, and he’s been using social media in a town where promotion on Instagram or Foursquare isn’t going to go far. 

Because of the feudal system that Byron Brown has inherited and enhanced, big donors know that helping Sergio is the kiss of death – Brown and his consiglieri would shun you, and no one wants to get sidetracked to discuss what’s happening. Being a Brown outlaw and attempting to do business in the City of Buffalo – any business requiring a permit or license – is untenable. The political class in Buffalo, which is dependent on Brown for its livelihood, knows better than to back Rodriguez. 

Almost all of the major projects taking place in the showy Buffalo we consider being “real” and having a “sense of place”, exist in spite of Brown, rather than because of him. More often than not, they come about when he gets out of the way. He gets to show up at the ribbon-cutting and make a proclamation, and then skulks back to the 2nd floor, behind armed guards, to oversee fiefdom. 

The boom is, after all, illusory. For every new restaurant, medical building, and waterfront announcement, the city’s problems with poverty, crime, joblessness, hopelessness, and failing schools all continue unabated. The big-ticket items are good, but if a city can’t get the fundamentals right, what point is there? People point to positive changes along Grant Street, but gentrification without population or income growth is as unsustainable as sprawl without growth. What the city needs is a leader, not a caretaker. 

Brown hasn’t even deigned to compete against Rodriguez, which is the ultimate insult – denying voters a race they deserve. But whether or not you think Sergio is the leader Buffalo needs, he has spent months talking about thefundamentals – talking to residents and business owners (small ones, the ones who serve the community rather than big-money interests) about the problems that they face on a daily basis. It’s not pretty – Brown is busy on the radio promoting jobs at Geico way the hell up in north Amherst, so you’re all set if you have a reliable car. Buffalo needs jobs for Buffalonians in Buffalo. There’s no regional plan for much of anything, and one would expect a Buffalo mayor to focus on the quality of life basics, not to ensure his re-election, but to make sure his constituents are better-off.

If you’re one of the preservationist elites, Mayor Brown has had almost 10 years to develop a strategic plan to market and help people finance the purchase and renovation of dilapidated and vacant city-owned foreclosed homes. Just recently, a vacant city-owned house near Grant Street was demolished, and no one knew it was for sale because the city doesn’t put up signs or list them properly.

Sergio Rodriguez deserves your vote. He’s identified and is discussing the bigger picture, and recognizes that a leader requires a vision. In a town where the mayor has touted the number of demolitions he’s overseen, Sergio has instead addressed the issues of joblessness, crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, vacancies, and crime – things that don’t particularly matter to big developers with Rolls-Royces. But Sergio is also the guy who says City Hall will be open and inviting to all, and where good ideas will find a home. It will be inclusive and transparent, rather than an impenetrable fortress. It is Sergio’s time. I think he’s talking about the important things no one wants meaningfully to discuss. Get out on Tuesday and vote Sergio.  At the very least, make it close enough to send Brown a message about complacency.

COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Certain races will be closely watched because it takes one seat to flip the Democratic majority into a Republican one.  Therefore, I urge you to vote for the Democrat rather than the Republican whenever that choice exists, and frankly, only one race is competitive – I highlight it for that reason, and also because it represents the worst and most egregious form of personal destruction. 

I’ll also note that in LD-4 and LD-6, incumbents Kevin Hardwick and Ed Rath went as far as the appellate division to try and kick their opponents off the ballot and sail to re-election unopposed. For that reason alone, please vote for their challengers. 

District 8 (WYNNIE FISHER)

Democrat Wynnie Fisher is running a competitive race against Republican Ted Morton, who breached ethical rules and was fired from his job as a result. The Buffalo News says he wasn’t fit to be elected to office. So, last week, the Republicans retaliated. 

To be more precise, information that was sent to known Pigeon associate Kristy Mazurek was funneled to the Republicans, who used it to assault Fisher’s character over a dispute with a neighbor and to label her as “crazy”.  So, in case it wasn’t yet clear, so-called “progressives” affiliated with Pigeon are not above being Republican stooges and destroying Democrats. 

Let’s be clear – the attempts to destroy Fisher’s character are defamatory and false, brought up by people who hold a personal animus towards her. The people promoting these distortions and lies about Fisher being a crazy person with a criminal record have established in just one week why it is that good people don’t want to get involved in politics. 

So, here is what one of Fisher’s friends and colleagues has to say about Wynnie Fisher: 

I wanted to reach out regarding the negative mailers you probably received regarding Wynnie Fisher, candidate for Erie County Legislature. For what it’s worth, I’m not involved in any way in Wynnie’s campaign. I work with her at Buffalo State, and wanted to share my perspective.

I have worked with Wynnie for eight years, perhaps as closely as two people can work together. She is a phenomenal colleague. Her work at Buffalo State has been superb. As Field Experience coordinator, she works with teachers and administrators across Western New York and has built partnerships with schools from the ground up through years of hard work and nurturing relationships. Prior to working at BSC, she was a secondary English teacher for a number of years, and was entirely successful in that position. She recently defended her dissertation in higher education administration, which was a rigorous statistical research report on the impact of service learning; she now holds a Ph.D. On top of all that, she rescues and rehabilitates animals, volunteers endlessly with community organizations like Project FLIGHT (a family literacy initiative) and Lions club, and has chaired the democratic committee in Alden for several years. Professionally and personally speaking, I have only known Wynnie to be one of the most productive and positive people I’ve ever worked with, capable of dealing with myriad challenges.

Wynnie’s family has had an ongoing dispute for many years with some neighbors, which has sometimes erupted into public disagreements. Wynnie explains that a misunderstanding in 2004 resulted in an arrest for disorderly conduct. The charges were dismissed, and she has NO criminal record. She has shared with me in the past that she has had many challenges with her neighbors, and I take her at her word regarding the nature of the 2004 arrest. I was not aware of it prior to it coming to light this week. I feel badly for her, knowing how embarrassing this must be.

Ultimately, though, I respect any voter’s prerogative, and realize that there will be some who will choose not to support Wynnie because of these revelations. Is it reasonable to expect a public servant to never have had any disputes with neighbors or run-ins with the police? Perhaps. I think some folks would say, “Absolutely.” I don’t know. But I do know this: She’s not “crazy.” She is a good, hard-working, highly educated woman who is a dedicated professional and warm-hearted person.

I hope this helps answer any questions you may have about Wynnie. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Kind-hearted educator with a Ph.D.? We could use more of that kind of person in county hall. 

TOWN OF CLARENCE

In this coming election, you can choose to vote for two people. If you think “checks and balances” is a good concept, let’s maybe add a Democratic woman (shock! horror!) to what’s now a one-party, all-male dictatorship. I endorse Pat Casilio and Tracy Francisco. 

PROPOSITIONS

1:  Authorizing Casino Gaming 

Vote yes. I don’t gamble, but some people do. I’d rather see the state tax all gambling, including table games, which doesn’t happen with respect to the Indian casinos, which only pay the state part of the take from slots. This proposition would permit seven casinos to be built in the state. 

2: Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post-Appointment

Vote yes. This lets disabled veterans get an extra credit on civil service appointments due to their disability. 

3. Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities

Vote yes. The law on this is on a 10-year cycle, which is up this year. 

4. Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve

Vote yes. This is interconnected with #5, and settles a century-old land dispute in the Adirondacks. It involves an exchange of land between private owners and expands the Adirondack preserve. 

5. In Relation to a Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals, Inc.

From the League of Women Voters

NYCO Minerals is a producer and supplier of wollastonite (calcium metasilicate), which is a  rare, white mineral having commercial application as a reinforcement or additive in ceramics, paints, plastics, friction products and various building products. The Lewis mine produces 60,000 tons of wollastonite annually. NYCO Minerals has indicated that its mine is approaching the end of its pit life because the remainder of the wollastonite vein extends onto adjacent forest
preserve land.

Proponents of the amendment argue that the land swap would (1) preserve jobs and ensure one of the largest employers in Essex County remains viable; (2) provide new access to mountain peaks and trout streams for outdoor recreation; and (3) result in the state preserve acquiring a greater quantity of land and higher-quality land than the land it is trading to NYCO Minerals.

Opponents of the amendment argue that the land swap is not vital to NYCO’s survival and that it would diminish the strength of the “Forever Wild” clause. They say that (1) the land swap would set a dangerous and historic precedent because it would be the first forest preserve constitutional amendment to be undertaken for private commercial gain rather than for a clear public municipal purpose and public benefit and; (2) there are viable alternatives to the land swap, given that there are considerable permitted reserves of wollastonite available on NYCO’s current land and that such reserves are expected to last for 15-20 years.

Vote yes. 

6. Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can Serve 

Vote yes. It gives judges the ability to work until age 80, if they want. Some of them do, and mandatory retirement is sucky. 

Erie County: No Deputy Comptroller for Audit since September 9

30 Oct

Former Deputy Comptroller for Audit Teresa Fraas resigned on September 8th, after just about 8 months on the job. The Comptroller retained her services based on her qualifications as a CPA and internal auditor, having worked most of her career in the health care industry. She left shortly after a manufactured fiasco she was part of with respect to an audit of DSS record disposal. No one has been hired to replace her. 

From an article about the Mychajliw comptrollership, dated January 22, 2013

By many accounts, outgoing Comptroller David Shenk left the place a mess.

A Certified Public Accountant has not been in charge as Deputy Comptroller for Audit since 2006. Nobody could find an annual Audit Plan that mapped out the year for auditors and set specific benchmarks on when work needed to be done. The office’s audit manual was from the Ice Age, annual reviews and evaluations were not done for workers and the number of staff was gutted over the years.

“Our current staff did their best under tough circumstances,” Mychajliw said. “Keep in mind, there was no Erie County Comptroller for two months last year and no Deputy Comptroller for Audit for four months. I’m sure that had a very negative impact.”

Without an organized Annual Audit Plan or benchmarks for performance, Comptroller staff told Mychajliw they were marched into the office, handed an assignment to audit, and that was it. To improve that process, the new Comptroller hired a private sector CPA, Terry Fraas – the first CPA to lead the Audit Division since 2006.

Shenk is now serving a tour of duty in the Middle East.  The deputy comptroller for audit under Mark Poloncarz (and part of the time under David Shenk) was Michael Szukala. Although not a CPA, Szukala is an award-winning  Certified Internal Auditor with over 20 years of experience with municipal auditing. Szukala holds an MBA from UB and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from the University of Dayton. He was the City of Buffalo’s supervising auditor from 1988 – 2006

Mychajliw blames the “mess” he found in the Comptroller’s office on the absence of a deputy comptroller for audit. Erie County has now been without a person in that position for almost 2 months. One would think that this would be setting us up for another “mess” or “tough circumstances” or “negative impact”, according to Mychajliw’s own words

Mychajliw has been in office since January and produced only a single arguably legitimate audit – oh, he calls things “audits”, but that doesn’t magically make them so. The big reveal?  30 former employees were still named as authorized users of an internal county fuel system. They didn’t hold “Gasbuddy” cards, nor had anyone obtained fuel who shouldn’t have – their names were just on the list. These names were purged. Total savings to the taxpayer: arglebargle. 

– Whatever happened to the Medicaid audit, press-released in January? Why did the comptroller’s office refer to a simple review of internal procedures as an “audit“? When will the “audit” of the county’s welfare programs be complete? How are these alleged audits affected by the departure of the deputy comptroller for audit? What will today’s media alert be about?

UPDATE: Hey, remember the audits of the Erie County Water Authority? 

In September 2012, while running for Comptroller, Mychajliw made a point of criticizing ECWA hiring practices. Then-comptroller David Shenk had just warned ECWA of an upcoming audit, but Mychajliw pounced: 

“It’s too little too late,” Mychajliw said of Shenk’s proposed audit. “This should have been done months ago. Had this been done months ago, the friends and family plan wouldn’t be back in county government. And from my perspective, if I anger politicians and party bosses, good. That means I’m doing my job protecting taxpayers.”

Shenk released his ECWA audit in January 2013. Mychajliw reacted

New Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said although he’s happy Shenk completed his audit before he left office, Mychajliw says that won’t stop him from doing his own audit of the Water Authority.

Scott Brown: “Are you willing to look at salaries over there and the number of employees they have?”

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw: “Absolutely Scott, the same way that 2 On Your Side did, I plan on using our audit team to do exactly that. I think it’s really important to see how those salaries compare to other water authorities across the state and also to the private sector. We plan on going a lot deeper.”

Mychajliw says he plans on starting his audit of the Water Authority within the next six months. He says he’s also going to take a look at hiring practices at the Board of Elections and the Erie County Clerk’s office.

“Within the next six months” is June 2013. Has it begun? If it takes three months to complete, shouldn’t it have been completed by September 2013? Where’s Mychajliw’s ECWA audit?! Connected people were still being hired for plum jobs well into 2013

Maybe it has to do with not rocking the boat for Langworthy relative Amy Garcia

 

The ECWA and Patronage

31 Aug

County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s brother, Robb, got a job with the Erie County Water Authority. Robb is a trained chef – I actually ate his food once when he worked at Epcot a few years ago. At the Norwegian restaurant, where my girls got to meet various and sundry Disney Princesses. 

Is Robb qualified to help run the ECWA? Well, compared to whom? He hasn’t yet passed a civil service exam for the position. It’s pretty obvious that Robb’s hiring has a great deal to do with his last name, and that’s not how a meritocracy works. 

But the ECWA is no meritocracy. 

If we’re going to have civic outrage over a countywide department hiring the County Executive’s brother – and the ECWA has a long, well-documented history of being a pit of patronage; a place where elected officials can find cush jobs as a “thank you” for loyal supporters, then isn’t it time to demand legislation to change it? 

It’s run by Lackawanna Democratic Chair, property  manager, and jeweler Fran Warthling. Pigeon loyalist Jack O’Donnell is Treasurer. The Vice Chair was Marilla supervisor. The executive director, at least, has an engineering background, and has had a series of patronage jobs, including the Lackawanna housing authority. The deputy director has a background in finance and was the Administrator of the Village of Bergen. 

If you don’t want these positions to be filed through political favoritism, then demand that changes be implemented. But ask yourself this: does the ECWA’s existence as a patronage destination harm your water cost or delivery in any palpable way? If so, how? Or is this just being angry that people are getting jobs because of whom they know? Because lots of people – private and public sector alike – get jobs that way. 

Legislature Selects Jack O’Donnell as Erie County Water Commissioner

27 May

It is emblematic of a horrifically broken political system that an hours’ worth of political fighting and hatred stems from giving a do-nothing Erie County Water Authority patronage position paying about $20k as payback to political figures. John Elmore may be a phenomenal lawyer, but has no experience running – or qualifications to run – a water authority. Jack O’Donnell may be the best political consultant in the free world, but has no experience running – or qualifications to run -a water authority.

So, the Republicans, Lynne Dixon (IP) and “reform coalition” Democrats (Kennedy, Bove, Miller-Williams) promoted the name of O’Donnell, a Steve Pigeon associate, for the ECWA position at issue. John Elmore had been the choice of Grassroots, which is somewhat allied with Pigeon at this time. (The Democratic legislators who remain loyal to the county committee run by Len Lenihan had supported Frank Swiatek).

(Yes, in Erie County the Democrats have now split into three separate and distinct cliques. That’s a recipe for disaster not just for the party, but for the region as a whole.)

So, when the Republicans cut a deal with the three rogue Democrats to promote Jack O’Donnell to the water authority, the ECDC Democrats played a shrewd hand – nominating attorney John Elmore, the Grassroots candidate, at the last minute – after it was clear that Miller-Williams had jettisoned him to make a deal with Pigeon’s folks to ensure Independence Party endorsements for everybody in important races (Collins wins, Kennedy wins).

As Lynn Marinelli noted, not for nothing the County Executive’s chief of staff attended this particular legislative session. Deals had been made. Deals were being executed today. Political expediency, as usual in WNY, vanquished merit.

Betty Jean Grant entered Elmore’s name into consideration, and when Miller-Williams indicated that she would be supporting O’Donnell, Grant called Miller-Williams a “hypocrite” and indicated that the chairwoman was either lying before, (when she expressed support for Elmore in the paper), or was lying now.

With the clever outmaneuvering of Miller-Williams, I can’t think of a WNY politician being so quickly out-witted, or looking more foolish in recent memory. In the video below, Grant goes after Miller-Williams like I’ve seldom seen anyone go after a local politician before in an open forum.

Given the sudden … confusion … Maria Whyte recommended the matter be returned to committee to suss out who was for Elmore and who was for O’Donnell. This was defeated. The vote was taken, and the Republican minority voted for purely political reasons to support a Democratic associate of Steve Pigeon.

This is fantastic political theater.

This is depressing to anyone who cares about good government and smart policy.

The fun starts at 19:11

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Going on 1911

25 May

Populating the Erie County Water Authority based solely on political considerations is emblematic of everything that is wrong with Western New York politics.  That a public utility is governed by a grouping of political patronage hacks paid by ratepayers is a concentrated example of how far we have to go to enter the 21st century.

Here’s an idea – retain people to run the water authority who have experience running an authority.  Or a water district.

Fings…Break, Dunn-ay?

7 May

The following video, starting at around 1:32, is how I might imagine a re-enactment of the story recounted here wherein two political operatives tried to get all…transactional…on Democratic state senate candidate Sean Cooney (SD-58).

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And it’s not just about the “offer” to Cooney. That entire paragraph about dealmaking between the Republicans and Pigeon types regarding manipulation of minor party lines and the water authority?

I challenge you to find a single, solitary teabagger who’ll decry that – the real down and dirty shit that ensures that the politically connected get the bennies while the taxpayers get screwed.

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Pigeon

3 May

The truth, they say, is subjective. One can promise to tell what they think to be the truth, but seldom is there only one, correct version of any story of any event.

Now watch this:

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I’m so used to being insulted by this person’s surrogates that it’s fascinating to watch the words come directly from his mouth. G. Steve Pigeon defends himself and takes a swipe at yours truly:

…whatever the bald guy is who likes calling people names and is just a rude and unsuccessful, jealous politician himself who ran for office and was completely, um, uh, no one would elect him to be a dog-catcher, you know he loves to call other people names.

Generally, it would be a privilege to be insulted by Pedro Espada’s patronage hire. Certainly I dish it out, and definitely I can take it. But Mr. Pigeon, you have it all wrong, sir.

Just like the “truth” isn’t defined by how you rebut what Sam Hoyt or Dennis Ward say, my life isn’t defined by any of the personal insults you hurl at me. On the other hand, when I call you a tinpot Machiavelli or a douche, these are categorically and objectively true tidbits of information. When we point out that some recent “reforms” you’ve championed have actually cost the taxpayers more, I am writing things that are objectively true and verifiable.

But back to the insults.

I won’t say never, because I’ve probably slipped here and there, but I cannot recall a single instance where I’ve ever attacked or criticized a political figure for their personal appearance. Not even Domagalski. In Steve Pigeon’s case, I can say I have never launched an attack on his person. This is because I don’t give a shit what he looks like – he could look like Adonis and still be a detestable political figure.

Like most adults, I’m concerned with merit (or lack thereof) – not a politician’s body habitus or characteristics. My distaste for Steve Pigeon stems from his actions – not his looks, so it’s quite telling that the first thing he goes for is to call me “bald”. There is no seriousness there, no substance there, no merit there – just a schoolyard bully who grew up to be an asshole of a political albatross. Unsubstantive, meritless non-seriousness is also how he conducts his politics.

Now, certainly I may be rude, as Mr. Pigeon suggests, especially towards political figures who have little or no objective merit as such. He is correct that I was an unsuccessful politician. Dreadfully so, in fact. So? I tried. I made Mike Ranzenhofer think and defend what amounted to an 18-year record of failure, stasis, and hypocrisy. I didn’t have the money, time, or resources to do it right, but I gave it a shot. But it’s also true that I have no aspirations to political office. So, no – I’m not “jealous” of anyone – especially not MIke Ranzenhofer or his successor, Ray Walter, and my failure as a politician is that, only.

And what would you say I’m jealous of? I’m jealous of people pulling down less than $50 large per year to keep Chris Collins in check and administer only 10% of the budget of the political unit for which they legislate? Maybe that’s how his mind works.

Dog-catcher? I would hope that no one would elect me dog-catcher, mostly because (1) I don’t like dogs; and (2) I am not qualified to be dog-catcher.

Just like Hormoz Mansouri and Jack O’Donnell aren’t qualified to help run the water authority.

So, I’d love the opportunity to interview Pigeon someday and invite him to make these charges to my face and we can have a back-and-forth about what really matters – not my hairline, but stuff like, for instance, “reforms” in the State Senate notwithstanding, we still have a three-men-in-a-room troika dictatorship. I’d like to hear Mr. Pigeon explain why he thinks we need a State Senate at all, if the aim is good government rather than personal political power. I’d like him to defend the growth of the Erie County legislative staff in the name of so-called “reform”.

I don’t care if Pigeon likes what I write about him or his political allies. What matters is that he – and they – read it and thinks it important and influential enough to discuss, and comment on so hatefully.

Erie County Patronage Authority

21 Apr

Except for the fact that it’s always been thus – which seems to be the chief justification for just about anything in WNY – why is it that the Erie County Water Authority Board continues its existence as a patronage pit?

Aaron Saykin embarrasses everyone except Jack O’Donnell:

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Erie County Control Board: The Empire Strikes Back

8 Feb

Isn’t it ironic that we’d save about a million bucks per year in county taxpayer dollars if we got rid of the ECFSA? How fiscally “adult”.

On Friday, the control board’s finance committee voted to recommend going back to a “hard” control period, because it says the administration’s four-year plan is defective and because it says it can do county short-term borrowing more cheaply than the county can. They gave the administration until tomorrow to fix it.

The latter claim is dubious, at best, and the former is nothing more than substituting one guess (the four-year plan) with another (the control board’s interpretation of it).

The full control board meets on Thursday in a an auditorium that can fit 300 people, but 3 will attend, and all of them will be county staffers and press.

I guess they have to justify their existence and expense every once in a while. Sort of like the patronage-laden, expensive board of the Erie County Water Authority.