Search results for 'lorigo'

Lorigo Cracks Knuckles in Rodriguez’s Direction

8 Jul

Pity poor Republican candidate for Buffalo Mayor Sergio Rodriguez. The Erie County Republican Committee won’t back him, and the impotent city committee was slow to endorse. He’s even supposedly getting a challenge for the Republican nod from professional Grisanti hater and perennial candidate Matt Ricchiazzi

Because of electoral fusion, Rodriguez has the option to run on a minor party line. The established minor parties have, naturally, endorsed the incumbent. They scratch each other’s backs. So, Rodriguez has to mount a write-in campaign for the Conservative line, and may opt to pursue an independent nominating petition, which enables Rodriguez to create a one-off party line (think Jack Davis’ “Save Jobs Party” and Chris Collins’ “Taxpayers First Party”). 

The independent party line is to be called the “Progressive Party”, according to this blog post, and would enable Rodriguez to reach out to Democrats (who outnumber Republicans 7:1 in Buffalo) without requiring them to fill in a GOP box on their ballot. 

But notice this passage: 

None of this, however, is sitting well with Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo, a strong Brown backer. The chairman said he likes Rodriguez, but the effort will not help his relationship with the often influential minor party.

 “That could potentially destroy a relationship that can be built in the future,” he said. “It would be difficult to fight, but we would.”

Nothing like a minor party boss trying to intimidate and bully a hard-working, young Republican candidate for Mayor 0f Buffalo. That people like Ralph Lorigo have any political power whatsoever is the root of New York corruption and dysfunction. Ask yourself why the so-called “Conservative Party” might be backing the Democratic mayor instead of a Republican challenger. Ask yourself whether that’s based on principle or something completely not principle at all. 

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McCarthyisms: Lorigoist Stenography

13 Feb

Buffalo’s sleepiest political columnist™ strikes again!

Speaking of the Grisanti district, much has been made in some quarters about the efforts of Kitty Lambert — a same-sex marriage advocate and head of a group called Grisanti Grassroots – to register about 300 sympathizers in the Conservative Party. The idea would be to build support for Grisanti in the minor party should he face a primary over his 2011 vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

But Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo says about one-third of those new Conservatives hail from Niagara County, which is not expected to be part of the new district. And he points out that Conservative honcho Billy Delmont signed up another 200 Conservatives himself over the past few months. Those new Conservatives may not be as enthusiastic about the Grisanti vote.

His mustachioed somnolence also stuffed Sunday’s column with the third or fourth mention of Barry Weinstein and Chris Collins stalking NY-26, and how Collins in particular loves that he won all the Erie County towns in the district when he ran. 

This is because much the suburbanite electorate is comprised of low-information WBEN voters. 

But that Grisanti thing – “much has been made in some quarters”. Passive voice + strawman, paired with supposed information from what amounts to the boss of a political gang, just shouldn’t be in the paper. 

Same-sex marriage and civil rights advocate Kitty Lambert set Stenographer Bob right.  She runs a group called “Grisanti Grassroots” which has been working to register same-sex marriage proponents as Conservative Party members to help Grisanti should there be any primary. 

Dear Bob:

I was pleasantly surprised to see my name in your column today, especially since I had not spoken to you. I was more surprised to see that you relied solely upon the Conservative Party to provide you with information about our registration drive. Of course, they know none of the details; we didn’t provide them with courtesy copies of our work…

… only 12.5% of the 304 Conservative Party members we registered are from outside Erie County – and nowhere near one-third are from Niagara County.

They lied to you.

Also, my election attorney advised me that, according to NYS Election Law Section 5-304.3, only voters whose registrations were collected and submitted before October 15, 2011 can legally vote in the 2012 Erie County Conservative Party Primary. That’s why we hurried to get it done. That’s also why we did it quietly: so the homophobes in the National Organization for Marriage wouldn’t do the same thing and negate our efforts. We caught them by surprise and they aren’t happy about it.

If our group could have been registering new Conservatives legally qualified to vote in the 2012 primary AFTER October 15, 2011, we would have certainly registered four or five times the voters we did. Therefore, not even one of the voters Billy Delmont allegedly registered “in the past few months” will be legally permitted to vote in the 2012 primary. The only exception to this rule are voters who just turned 18 years old after October 15, 2001 – and I doubt crusty old Billy Delmont knows two 18 year olds, let alone 200.

They lied to you again.

Perhaps we can talk on the telephone or over coffee the next time you write about a project I’m coordinating. My number is 716-xxx-xxxx. I would be delighted to talk or meet with you, as I am an avid reader of your column. And I won’t lie to you.

Sincerely,

Kitty Lambert-Rudd

Coordinator

www.GrisantiGrassroots.com

This is probably illustrative of why buyers of the paper version of the Buffalo News prefer its coupons over anything else.

Ralph Lorigo and the Conservative Party Endorsement (UPDATED)

16 Sep

It’s no secret that I detest New York’s archaic electoral fusion system, which enables platform-free, principle-free minor parties to exert undue influence on the political system.

In one of my recent posts about Clarence politics, I wrote this:

Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo was personally, directly involved in the now-abandoned plan to build a large Wegmans’ on Transit Road in Clarence, just north of Transit Road. Lorigo represents local developers like Benderson, but in this case Lorigo owned the real estate proposed to be used for the Wegmans project, half of which was zoned residential. The process was followed, the people (directly, and by & through their elected representatives) spoke, and Wegmans won’t be building there – that’s democracy how it should work. In less ethical places, the wishes of the politically-well-connected owner or developer might have taken precedence over the wishes of the public. Apparently, because Clarence went against Mr. Lorigo’s personal pecuniary interests, he retaliated against Mr. Bylewski by refusing him the Conservative Party endorsement; ironic, since following the law and democratic process is what one might expect a doctrinaire conservative to support.

This goes back to my entreaties to abolish electoral fusion because it’s rife with corruption from corruptables, and has very little – if anything – to do with political ideology.

I wasn’t talking out of turn there, either. I’ve heard from several sources whom I consider to be beyond reproach that Lorigo was proudly proclaiming that he’d withhold the Conservative endorsement from Bylewski because Wegmans didn’t go through. Beyond. Reproach.

Color me intrigued when Mr. Lorigo sent me this email yesterday:

I know you and I are politically on opposite ends of the spectrum but you have your fact wrong about Clarence . First it was the town committee that made the recommendations for endorsements and it was Wegmans that withdrew in the face of neighborhood opposition .

What I’ve learned is that, in politics, there’s the reason something happens, and then there’s the real reason.  Lorigo has just lost his best friend on the Clarence Town Board – Joe Weiss, who was trounced at the polls on Tuesday and abruptly resigned on Thursday (effective the 28th).  The local committee’s recommendation is often, and routinely, overruled by the county committee.

I asked Bylewski for his reaction to Lorigo’s email, and he sent this along:

I did not receive the local endorsement.  However, the County Conservative Party has stepped in the past in our Town’s local elections to either give the endorsement to someone else or open the line for a Primary.  This was recently done in a local judicial contest where the local committee endorsed one candidate and the County endorsed another.  This year, the Town Board race was opened up for all three candidates.

I had called the Chairman multiple times to talk with him.  However, he never returned the courtesy of the call.  When I saw the Chairman at a Conservative fundraiser, I reminded him of my calls and that I thought it would be best to meet and clear the air.  He agreed that it was a good idea and would call me.  At that same fundraiser, other high level Conservatives indicated they were working on my behalf.  Well, unfortunately, I am still waiting for that call.

As to the Wegmans’ project, we, as a Town, on multiple occasions wanted to and expressed a desire to work with the applicants.  However, it appeared that the applicants were unwilling to reconfigure their project more than a few feet.  This inability presented us with a project that would not work based on our Master Plan and extensive efforts internally to amend the Master Plan.  We provided detail developed by a UB Planning professor as to how the project could work on the existing site.  The applicants still refused.

I would receive calls from the applicant an hour or two in advance of a Town Board meeting.  Even though I was busy preparing for other matters, I took those calls because I wanted the process to work.

Ultimately, the process did work and the Master Plan has been adhered to.

If the Conservative Party was about conservative values, it wouldn’t hesitate to endorse Bylewski – a hard-working consensus-builder who has kept spending and taxes down, worked hard to promote the town’s best interests, and has expertly, calmly navigated some of Clarence’s biggest crises and development issues. A competent, meritorious Democrat in a Republican town is jarring to people who can’t see beyond labels. His opponent, meanwhile, is busy lying to the voters, treating them like uneducated, illiterate morons.

That the “Conservative Party”, which in the same breath endorses same-sex marriage proponent Tim Kennedy, and then heaps scorn and derision on same-sex marriage proponent Mark Grisanti, exerts any control or influence over our electoral politics in WNY is truly one of the reasons why this region (and state) is so rife with pay-to-play petty corruption and patronage. The electoral fusion system is perpetuated by the dealmaking that leaves both parties happy – the minor party gets favors and jobs, and the elected officials get re-re-re-elected with their help. It breeds cronyism and a dirty system in which the interests of the populace-at-large is left by the wayside.

Frankly, I won’t be fully convinced of Governor Cuomo’s reformist bona fides until he takes this dirty system on.

Ralph Lorigo may think he’s on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, but it’s not because I’m a liberal and he fancies himself a conservative.  Instead, it’s because I’m for competent, good, meritorious government and he (and his party) is (are) looking out for number one.

It’s. Enough. Already.

UPDATE: Wegmans statement

When Wegmans was interested in building a new store in Clarence, there were obstacles to us moving forward; while we worked to make progress towards that end, we discovered that a better option for us and our customers was to stay right where we were and expand the Wegmans at 8270 Transit Road instead.  We are still in the early phases of making that happen, but this is the direction that we are taking toward our goal of offering expanded service and products to our customers in that area.

Theresa Jackson, Consumer Affairs Manager, Wegmans Food Markets

The Western New York Tea Party: Rebuked

5 Nov

Western New York’s Tea Party is as horrible electorally as it is with respect to policy. They lost yesterday, and they lost big. 

Carl and the Conservative Fusion Party

This tea party crowd, which accuses everyone who doesn’t think like they of being “sheeple”, circulated a list of Conservative Fusion Party candidates for whom to vote, without explanation or argument. Just a straight “C” ticket. There is no thought there, just blind following and demands of ideological purity. Politics is, at its heart, a game of compromise. When you foreclose that possibility, you’re bad for America, and you’re going to lose, sooner or later.

Astorino’s WBEN-Mentum 

Local delusional hate radio, which was so deep in the tank for Astorino that it became self-parody, spent all afternoon yesterday using callers to its own radio shows as a representative sample of the electorate. It claimed that Cuomo suffered from an enthusiasm gap, and predicted a wild and unexpected win for its chosen candidate. Last week, during what’s supposed to be the straight morning news program, Astorino’s daily schedule was a news item. Cuomo’s schedule was not given equal time.

WBEN is not “NewsTalk” or “News Radio” or, God help us, the “Voice of Buffalo”. It is a right-wing talk radio station; Limbaugh & his clones, all day. It’s not even the official organ – the Komsomolskaya Pravda – of the Republican Party anymore, having firmly aligned itself with Lorigo’s Conservative Fusion Party and the tea party. Everything that this crew falsely accuses the Buffalo News of being, it is

Not only did Cuomo win with ease, Erie County went for Andrew Cuomo for the first time. It was never even close, and people should think about where they get their information. 

Str8t Talk About Weppner

For a year that brought about a nationwide Republican wave, Brian Higgins did quite well, thankyouverymuch. Higgins will return to Congress with yet another mandate – 69% versus 31% for the tea party.

In a what, now?

Kathy Weppner lost, and so far none of her (or her shills’) social media accounts contain anything except venom, vitriol, and victimhood. Don’t be surprised – this is a woman so self-absorbed and obsessed with portraying herself as a victim, she couldn’t even muster a “thank you”, instead denigrating and insulting the students who asked her relevant questions at the St. Joe’s debate.  

The loss left her somewhat speechless, 

Some tea partiers thought that hers was a “brilliant” campaign. I guess, insofar as it was the most popular WNY comedy act in recent memory. But she only just outperformed the last two tea party activists who ran against Higgins, and she ran a campaign based on resentments and urban legends. 

Weppner is the very embodiment of the low-information talk-radio caller / Buffalo News commenter who regurgitates Twitchy and Fox News talking points. Her wealth and shamelessness enabled her to mount what was, in the end, a nasty and whiny vanity campaign. Maybe at least she can now return all of her radio and blog archives back online for everyone to read. 

Panepinto & The Law of Unintended Consequences

Did you need more evidence of how – despite their deep gun fetish – the tea party can’t shoot straight?

It rejected Republican Mark Grisanti and instead backed Kevin Stocker. Stocker rejected the tea party – its titular head Rus Thompson especially. So, the tea party’s own candidate rejected them, they had burned all their bridges with the establishment’s Grisanti, and all of this led to a Panepinto win and a Democratic pickup in the state Senate

Great job, guys!  Congratulations, Marc Panepinto!

Republican Pickup in Cheektowaga

Hah

Paladinocrats Lose

You don’t go from being a Paladino stooge one day to being a Democrat the next. Johnny Destino was a homophobic Paladino stooge a couple of years ago, and ran this year as an endorsed Democrat. The voters rejected him.

In NY-27, Jim O’Donnell was MIA. He complained that he couldn’t raise money, but that didn’t stop others from doing it for him, but he refused. What really irked me was that he was rude or dismissive to people who offered to help him out. He was prone to outbursts of anger, and simply didn’t bother to do even the free, little things that could have earned him some free media – or at least a Facebook share. 

We also learned on Sunday that O’Donnell was an aide for the 2010 Paladino campaign. If you’re going to strike out in politics, and you scan all the races available to help out, and you land on the homophobic promoter of racism and pornography, don’t come asking Democrats for support without disclosure and vocal rejection. I wrote my own name in for NY-27, but perhaps for the first – likely last –  time, I wished Team Collins good luck. At least Collins is honest and consistent about where his loyalties lie. 

Anyhow, thanks for reading. 

Carl Being Carl

24 Sep

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

It was a cool evening; cool in the sense of temperature as much as atmosphere. The sun had just set and the cloudless sky was turning a lovely shade of dark blue, with a disappearing tinge of orange on the horizon. 

I pulled my car into a spot about a block down from the Dinosaur BBQ on Franklin Street to attend the City & State “welcome to Buffalo” party. The New York-based paper had just hired a Buffalo reporter, and it was hosting a celebration. 

As I walked up Franklin, I ran into County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who was rushing to get to a dinner at Bacchus with bigwigs from a local utility company. I saw Buffalo Rising’s Newell Nussbaumer and said hello. As I approached the Dinosaur, I saw Mike Desmond from WBFO speaking with City & State Editor-in-Chief Morgan Pehme and Chris Thompson – Pehme’s new Buffalo hire. 

After a while, a very slim, dapper gentleman from the statewide office of AARP came by to chat with Pehme and Desmond. He mentioned that Erie County had the 9th oldest population in the country. 

Right around that time, I caught a glimpse of a black BMW X5 across Franklin. It stopped to let out City & State President & CEO Tom Allon and G. Stephen Pigeon. Allon is a tall, bespectacled man who looks like he stepped right out of a Brooks Brothers catalogue. I introduced myself to both men. Pigeon shook my hand. Understandably, he wasn’t especially warm and friendly to me, but behaved like a gracious adult. They went inside. 

At this moment, the BMW had made a u-turn and parked, halfway in a spot, in front of the Dinosaur BBQ. Out comes Carl Paladino, and he is smiling and gesturing at me as if I was someone he was happy to see. He came around the car and was being gregarious and friendly with everyone. As we both extended hands to shake in greeting, I hesitated and said, “you don’t like me. I’m Alan Bedenko”.

At this he recoiled and inquired whether I was fucking serious. When I answered in the affirmative, he took a step or two back to tell me that I’m “a real fucking asshole, you know that?”  I replied that yes, indeed, I am, as I grinned from ear to ear.  He went on to berate me as a “disgrace” and a “fucking coward”.  I continued smiling as this old man angrily spat expletives at me on a sidewalk, in front of people, on a cool Buffalo night. He then went inside in disgust, informing the people with whom I was chatting that he would not speak to them while they were talking to an asshole like me. It was surreal. 

I continued speaking with Mr. AARP guy, Pehme and Desmond before going inside to check the event out.  I met Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo, who is a nice fellow even if his politics are all wrong. I like that he recognizes that the legislature is – and should be – a deliberative legislative body, and the role he plays in it.  I saw his dad, too, but we didn’t get a chance to speak. I spoke with lobbyist Jack O’Donnell and met his lovely wife, Marina. It was O’Donnell’s birthday, evidently, and Pehme led the gathering in a round of “Happy Birthday”.  There was even cake. 

I spoke at some length with Camille Brandon, fresh off a primary loss in her Assembly race. While we were chatting, Paladino passed behind me and said hello to her, but indicated that he would speak to her later when “that asshole” was gone.  She later found me and said Carl had asked her why she was speaking to that “asshole”. He was entering Mean Girls territory. 

I saw Jim Heaney and Dan Telvock of Investigative Post, and Justin Sondel from the Niagara Gazette.  I spoke briefly with @HeyRaChaCha from Twitter, and we talked about all the fascinating people who were there. 

As I spoke with Sondel and Mark Cornell from Poloncarz’s office about hydrofracking and Niagara County journalism, Pehme and Allon took to the stage to thank everyone for coming to the event.  Evidently, Paladino was a sponsor of the event because he, too, took the mic.  He welcomed City & State to Buffalo, adding that it was about time Buffalo got some real journalism up in here. He added that Buffalo media had too many “worms like Alan Bedenko”, expressing surprise and dismay as to how I even got into this event, to which I had been invited. 

Of all the elected officials, journalists, and dignitaries who filled that room, only one name was mentioned – mine, spat out by Buffalo’s favorite son – a walking, talking insult billboardatorium

Oh, how delightful this all was. I don’t think you’ve really arrived in Buffalo until you’ve been viciously cursed out by Carl Paladino.

What have I done to this man, except tell the truth about him? His sordid racist emails? His failed candidacy? The horrible things that come from his mouth? This guy is the personification of dishing it out but not being able to take it. (Mr. Tea Party is hanging out with Steve Pigeon, now?) What have I done, except be one of the few not in thrall of his money or perceived power? He hides behind his money, hurling misogyny, homophobia, and invective from emails and billboards, but I’m the coward?  I mean, I never circulated anal horse pornography, but that’s just not my thing. 

What’s with the hate and anger? Here he is, a millionaire in his $70,000 truck, being feted and paid attention to by all sorts of VIPs from not just the region, but throughout the state, but he’s got to take especial time to attempt – and fail – to insult me from the stage at the Dinosaur BBQ at someone else’s event. How great is that

Almost everyone said it was “just Carl being Carl”. It was, indeed.  That is, of course, the problem, but he’s attained folk hero status and can get away with just about anything, and the list of “cowards” who are willing to call him on it is regrettably short these days. There’s a fine line between being a straight talker and the state of being “Carl”. 

As for me, it was one of the proudest nights of my life; a story to remember. I make it a point to never knowingly do business with Carl Paladino, and I didn’t touch a drop of liquid or morsel of food that he underwrote at the event. 

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you. – Matthew 5:44. 

Campaign Finance Irregularity Wednesday

23 Jul

Cheers to Steve Pigeon and Kristy Mazurek, who have managed to crowbar their names back into the news. They have either found or manufactured a crisis, accusing Board of Election workers of destroying NYSUT apparatchik Mike Deely’s petitions for county committee.

Is it true? Who knows, but the accusation has been trumpeted, and it’s now Dennis Ward’s and Jeremy Zellner’s problem to unfuck. From Caputo’s PoliticsNY.net

Mike Deely, regional staff director of the New York State United Teachers Union. He’s one of the largest donors to the ECDC over the years and a longtime member of the party’s executive board. Deely recently joined PMB forces, upset with the direction headquarters has taken in the last year.

In the meantime, West Seneca has (naturally) been the epicenter of Pigeon’s and local Conservative Party head Ralph Lorigo.  Steve Casey’s departure from City Hall to become the CEO of the monstrous Scott Congel-led Seneca Mall project underscores the political nature of that project. 

Floridian billionaire Tom Golisano is talking about joining with Congel for the location of the Seneca Mall, near the I-90 and Ridge Road. That land deal has been on simmer since late 2013, at least. 

Pyramid Management Group out of Syracuse have been sniffing around the Seneca Mall since at least last summer.  Look at this August 2013 article from the West Seneca Bee regarding the approval of $50k for town SEQR review of the Seneca Mall site. 

Though not much other detail was offered at Monday night’s Town Board meeting, the board unanimously approved a feasibility study to be performed regarding the proposed development of the former Seneca Mall site at a cost not to exceed $30,000…

…[Town Councilman Eugene P.] Hart said he had just learned of this resolution the day of the vote. Henry said it all came together “pretty quick.” He said the town was required to have the grant application submitted by Aug. 12, hence the need for immediate action.

“It seems very cryptic when you read it,” said Hart. “People will wonder what’s going on.”

[Supervisor Sheila] Meegan said she realized that, but they can’t “spill the beans.”

Hart also told the public that it is the intent of the board to rezone the former Seneca Mall site from industrial to commercial, as per the owner’s request. He said he could not offer much information but did say the proposed development would be a “game-changer” for the town.

Councilman John M. Rusinski said a delicate balance must be struck between the needs of the taxpayers and the needs of the developer. Both he and Hart said the feasibility study is being done in order to protect the interests of the taxpayers.

“Economic development is important to the town,” Rusinski said. “This project is a good thing.”

The Town Board Minutes of October 17, 2013 reflect that Supervisor Meegan made a motion, seconded by Rusinski, to authorize Meegan “to execute an agreement with Camoin Associates to conduct an economic and fiscal analysis for the Seneca Mall site.” 

On the question, Councilman Rusinski stated he agrees with the study but expressed concern about the verbage. He referred to a previously passed resolution which states the dollar amount is not to exceed $30,000, yet an attachment in the agreement shows a fixed fee of $25,000.

Town Engineer Richard Henry responded this was his mistake. The fixed fee language will be removed and the agreement will be amended to read “not to exceed.”
 
Councilman Hart stated he has numerous concerns and commented if this project were to go forward it will be considered huge and impact all of Western New York, yet they do not have a lot of information about the developer. He did not feel they had enough information to go forward at this time and questioned spending $25,000 when there are so many unanswered questions such as infrastructure and sewage.
 
Mr. Henry responded he has spoken with Camoin and they are aware they have to have more information from the developer in order to go forward. Upon approval, Camoin will present the developer with a list of questions. Mr. Henry stated the purpose of the study is to assess the fiscal impacts to get the answers so they can go forward.
 
Councilman Hart suggested the developer provide the town with $25,000 and the town will spend it on their behalf and do the study.
 
Town Attorney Shawn Martin responded the developer should not pay for a study that the town is requesting.
 
Supervisor Meegan stated they will be finding out what the potential is for the town’s investment and whether or not the investment will have a return for taxpayers. She commented that the town has an opportunity to do something and they cannot continue to let the site sit there as it has for so many years. The developer is asking for assistance to pursue a Seneca Place project of 3 million square feet of mixed use buildings, community center, retail, residential, office, hotels, parking, etc. Supervisor Meegan stated this project will not go forward at risk to the Town of West Seneca taxpayers.
 
Councilman Rusinski stated that West Seneca is screaming for economic development and the town has made the mistake of being too idle in the past.  The analysis will provide insight as to whether this type of development has economic potential for West Seneca. He did not feel any board member would put taxpayers at risk.
 
Councilman Hart stated there doesn’t seem to be any involvement by the IDA’s or the development corporation of New York State and he feels there should be more substance with regard to the developer’s marketing and business plan. Councilman Hart questioned how soon information will be provided to the board members and if the recommendations and numbers will be made public at that time.
 
Mr. Henry responded they have a total of 60 days; 30 days to gather the information and another 30 days to compile the information and report back to the town.
 
Mr. Martin stated if the report has an exception with regard to acquiring property or contract negotiations involving costs, information will not be made public.  He will have to see the report before he can make a determination as to whether or not the information provided will be made public at that time.
 
Councilman Hart stated he is ready to discuss the entire project with the public so they are fully aware of what the proposal is. He would like to see the Seneca Mall property developed and is willing to look for his own developer and take the property by eminent domain to acquire a reasonable project.
The motion carried unanimously. Lorigo’s involvement, at minimum, has to do with the fact that his office is located at the Seneca Mall parcel. Why did this come up last summer? Because of what I called the AwfulPAC; the now-defunct “WNY Progressive Caucus” was the Steve Pigeon / Frank Max / Kristy Mazurek effort to disrupt the Democratic Party and defeat certain of its county-level candidates.
 
AwfulPAC benefited from a huge cash injection from nominal Democrat and pro-life-oh-wait-pro-choice Tim Kennedy. But at the time, a singular donation of $25,000 from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 3 was quite puzzling, and no one reported on it. 
 
 
No one understood why it was made, and it’s glaringly odd because a $25,000 donation would have practically emptied the union’s account. The image above is taken from Mazurek’s AwfulPAC 11-day pre-primary filing. By contrast, this is what the Bricklayer’s union’s disclosure shows on its 11-day pre-primary filing: 
 
 
We’re meant to believe that a union with only $28,000 on hand is emptying its account to fund the AwfulPAC? Indeed, a scan of this union local’s intake and outflow shows modest amounts – a few thousand coming in, a few hundred going out. It reports $5,000 to current Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren in its 11-day pre-General. It gave Sean Ryan $500 bucks. Its July 2013 report shows a little over $1,000 to Tim Kennedy, but at no time did the BAC Local 3 report $25,000 to the “WNY Progressive Caucus”, and such an outflow appears on no disclosure report whatsoever
 
So, what’s going on? 
 
 
 
As Pigeon and Mazurek hyperventilate over allegations of supposed petition-destruction – something that despite years and years of open and obvious, internecine Democratic warfare has never happened before – let’s not let them off the hook for their own, more glaring and apparent sloppy campaign finance irregularities. 
 
New York State Democrats’ inability to get out of their own damn way is neither novel nor unique. Witness the spectacle just this week,  as a liberal gubernatorial challenger, Zephyr Teachout, is holding anti-Cuomo press conferences with right-wing Putin lookalike winner Rob Astorino. Hell no.
 
You want to make a point about the shutting down of the Moreland Commission? Do it. You want to call out the governor with his Republican challenger standing next to you? You just lost me. 
 
Here in Erie County, Nick Langworthy has the easiest  job in the world. He doesn’t need to do a thing when he has an endless parade of job-hungry nominal Democrats around to repeatedly sabotage whatever the county committee tries to do. 

LD-3 Democrats Select Savage, Disrespect Females

7 Apr

The Erie County Democratic Committee selected loyal City Hall soldier Peter Savage III to fill the seat that Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli vacated in January. A vote Monday is expected to formalize the recommendation. Here is the press release that went out this past weekend: 

(Buffalo, NY) Democratic committee members in the 3rd Legislative District voted today to recommend Peter J. Savage III to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Lynn Marinelli. Savage currently serves as Senior Deputy Corporation Counsel in the City of Buffalo Department of Law.  He has worked in a number of roles in city government and served on the boards of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services and the Good Government Club of Western New York.

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said, “I would like to congratulate Peter Savage on his decisive victory in today’s vote.  He will bring a wealth of knowledge and passion for his community to county government.  On Monday I am sending a letter to the Erie County Legislature calling on them to appoint Peter quickly.  The people of the 3rd Legislative District deserve representation.  I look forward to working closely with Peter and County Executive Mark Poloncarz to continue moving our party and community forward.”  

When Bob McCarthy wrote about the hand-wringing that’s taken place over the past few months over this, he focused on factionalism; whether Savage is too close to City Hall.  That is far from any reasonable point.  

Under normal circumstances, it would be good form for Democrats to nominate and select a female to replace an outgoing female – not because of any quotas, but because women are generally underrepresented in elective office. The Erie County Legislature has three women remaining in an 11 – person entity. Savage’s entry does nothing to change that. Frankly, because Democrats are supposed to stand for some semblance of gender equality, justice, and fairness, you’d expect that the 3rd District would get it together to recommend one of the qualified females to replace Marinelli. 

Michele Iannello is a veteran of the factional wars, so I can see the committee passing her over, but what about Jennifer Diagostino or Amber Small? You mean to tell me there did not exist one qualified female in the 3rd Legislative District to replace a female legislator? 

This is not to say Savage is unqualified – he surely is. I also don’t much care whether Savage was Deputy Mayor Steve Casey’s right-hand man. The question is one of judgment, and what it means to be a Democrat. 

My problem is that Savage carried Conservative Party petitions for Republican Chris Collins during the 2011 County Executive race against Democrat Mark Poloncarz. He carried petitions for a piece of garbage fusion party that opposes reproductive rights for women, same-sex marriage, and every other social justice item for which Democrats are supposed to stand. He carried those petitions in opposition to a qualified Democratic candidate who had a very difficult race. Some say that sort of thing is just politics as usual; I call it an unforgivable betrayal. 

City Hall was quite open about its support of Collins in 2011 – after all, many of the benefits then-extant legislative coup granting Collins a de facto legislative majority inured to City Hall.  The quo for that quid came about with some Republicans close to Collins reportedly helped Brown against Sergio Rodriguez last year. 

It’s also come to light that Chairman of the Conservative Party – Ralph Lorigo (whose son is a County Legislator) – lobbied the Tonawanda Democratic Committee on Savage’s behalf. The Conservative Party which, when it isn’t busy wielding political influence that it hasn’t really earned, is busy advocating for things Democrats are supposed to hate, like reduction in spending on social programs and education. The tea party, for God’s sake. 

Savage heads up a PAC called the “Committee for Change” and is active in Steve Pigeon’s “Democratic Action”. Board of Election filings reveal that the “Committee for Change” donated to Joe Lorigo, who is a Conservative Party member who caucuses with the Republicans. How, precisely, does “Committee for Change” back Democratic candidates, as claimed, if it’s supporting Conservative candidates? Based on this, what guarantee is there that Savage will caucus with the Democrats at all? 

That’s some change. 

Congratulations seem to be in order for young Mr. Savage. But the Democrats in the 3rd LD should take a good hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whom they’ve become. It’s still a man’s world when a guy who so actively campaigned against the Democratic County Executive can get a nod to replace a female on the county leg. It’s a sick joke that an active supporter of the notorious Conservative Party – which stands against everything the Democrats should – gets an appointment such as this. 

At this rate, I’m shocked that Kathy Weppner wasn’t under consideration. She’s a conservative and a woman, but lives outside that particular district. 

10 Worst of 2013

31 Dec

Because it’s the end of the year, it’s compulsory to do a nostalgia listicle, right? This is culled from my own posts here at Artvoice daily, and not intended to be comprehensive.  Everything chosen essentially at random.  

10. Dennis Gabryszak

Oh, look. Another entitled do-nothing superfluous, self-important Albany hack who sexually harasses female staffers. If it was one staffer, it’d be worth a listen. Two staffers, and it’s going to raise eyebrows. Three staffers? Now it’s a thing. Four, and the fourth is still working there? Cringeworthy. The fact that Gabryszak has said nothing is thanks to some fantastic legal advice, but equally horrible political advice. 

9. Donn Esmonde

Donn Esmonde proved himself to be an ass throughout 2013.

It started when this retired suburban Long Island native decided that he is against quality education for children in suburban districts. One with questionable ethics, to boot. I look forward to more Tielman quotes, self-congratubation, and cheery, irony-free invocations of “lighter, quicker, cheaper”. 

8. The Conservative Party

To paraphrase Linda Richman, the Conservative Party is neither conservative nor a party. Discuss.

Ralph Lorigo’s personal fiefdom proves that political feudalism is alive and well in the 21st century. While the deceptively named Independence Party is now running all its endorsements through its statewide committee (and the NYGOP), Lorigo’s faction will endorse the occasional Democrat, but the criteria are always murky. This year, the CPWNY went out of its way to defame Republican Buffalo mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez

7. Tim Kennedy

See Number 6, below.

This guy came up with over $80,000 – much of it from inactive campaign accounts with no money in them, and none of which was properly disclosed – to sabotage Democrats in 2013. 

6.  Pigeon, Max, Mazurek & the AwfulPAC

It’s like a shit-stained comet, coming back to streak across our pleasant skies every few election seasons.

Yet again, former Erie County Democratic chairman G. Steven Pigeon assembled a horrible band du jour to sabotage the county committee’s election year efforts. Cheektowaga town Democratic chairman Frank Max believes himself entitled to the office of county chairman, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s the only one who thinks so. (He’s been rather silent on the whole Gabryszak thing, don’t you think?) Pigeon and Max, their EmoDems, along with Kristy Mazurek, whose elbows are as sharp as her tongue, got AwfulPAC going just in time for the September primaries. Add in some dubiously sourced campaign cash from various entities, as well as $80k+ from state Senator Tim Kennedy, who owes Pigeon one for maneuvering him into that office, and you’ve got this year’s comet’s skidmarks. 

What did they accomplish? Wes Moore lost, but viciously sabotaged Democrat Wynnie Fisher. Rick Zydel lost, and Pat Burke came out of nowhere to beat everybody. Dick Dobson defeated the politically tone-deaf Bert Dunn, but AwfulPAC abandoned Dobson in October, proving that they were really just Democrats for Tim Howard all along. They tried to take credit for a win in Rochester with which they had nothing to do. Oh, and they returned the queen of transactional politics, Barbara Miller Williams, to the county legislature. But because it’s easier to cast it all as a big loss for Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner, that was the narrative we were all fed

5. Donald Trump

Everyone’s favorite birther started out the year by releasing a forgery of a birth certificate. Why won’t Donald Trump address the allegations that he is the spawn of an orangutan? 

Oh, and now he’s “considering” a run for Governor of the state of New York.

4. The WNY Voter

Byron Brown coasts? Barbara Miller Williams elected again? Carl Paladino elected to the Buffalo school board? Horrible turnout numbers for elections? Can’t we do better than this? 

3. Tim Howard

The elected Erie County Sheriff decided to also appoint himself to a Supreme Court judgeship, but elevated himself to the New York Court of Appeals – maybe even the Supreme Court! 

He unilaterally decided that he wasn’t going to enforce the NY SAFE Act (see #1, below), thus completely misunderstanding how the constitution works and what roles the various governmental branches play. 

2. Chris Collins

Seriously, take your pick – whether it’s his criticism of an historic deal with Iran, Collins’ vigorous support of a government shutdown in a hopeless effort to get the President to ditch Obamacare – and then claiming he didn’t support it at all, or his jejune “poll” of his constituents, Chris Collins proved time and again that he is the worst Congressman WNY has sent to Washington in perhaps forever. No amount of Buffalo News rehabilitation will change this. 

1. Concern-trolling and the NY SAFE Act

If you really think that limiting magazine capacity and requiring more stringent background checks in order to purchase a firearm is a tyrannical usurpation of your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, in a state that already has among the strictest gun laws in the country, you’re having a bit of an overreaction.

I liken it to the kid in class who craves attention, so he casts himself in the role of victim in order to feed the craving. We see you, and your Gadsen flag. However, society has a similar compulsion to balance the right of people to, e.g., send their kids to school and not have them come home in the box because an unhinged lunatic had an arsenal versus your right to own an arsenal

Dishonorable mention:

The same collection of Buffalo plutocrats who gave us such hits as “Dr. James Williams” are now agitating to pay off Buffalo School superintendent Pamela Brown in an effort to be rid of her. Forget that there have been incremental improvements in results under her tenure; forget that Williams was a trainwreck of a disaster, bought and paid for by M&T Bank’s Robert Wilmers; and forget that Brown has been in her current position since June 2012. The bottomless pit of racist, sexist, misogynist invective that some are hurling at her for not adequately herding all her myriad feline coalitions has been appalling. I don’t know why the likes of Paladino don’t just come right out and say what they mean – that she and the board members who appointed her are a sordid collection of incompetent negresses. Brown isn’t perfect, but relentlessly sabotaging her, dehumanizing her, and delegitimizing her isn’t going to fix much. At least give her a chance to succeed or fail. 

Coming soon: best of 2013. If you have a nomination, email me here

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. 

Quality

28 Oct

Reading the Buffalo News’ endorsements this cycle has been entertaining, if nothing else. Last week, we had a lackluster semi-endorsement of our hyperpolitical caretaker mayor. More recently, the News has slapped our embarrassing Sheriff, Tim Howard, who has been dramatically bad at his job. To top it off, he effectively appointed himself to the bench, and declared the NY SAFE Act unconstitutional, without ever donning a robe or passing the bar. 

To say that Howard’s position on the SAFE Act is fundamentally undemocratic is an understatement. Howard needs to go, even if his SAFE Act declaration was a cheap ploy to get gun-huggers’ votes. By contrast, I hadn’t heard much from Dobson, but he was especially impressive at a recent candidate forum he attended in Clarence

Then turn to the endorsement for the County Legislature, District 8. Republican Ted Morton is up against Democrat Wynnie Fisher. How’s this for an opening

This became a difficult race to call with the revelation that the Republican candidate for this open seat, Ted B. Morton, violated ethical rules as a financial planner by borrowing money from his clients between 2009 and 2012. For that infraction, the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency fined him $5,000 and suspended him from acting as a financial planner for six months.

His employer, LPL Financial, fired him. He mentioned none of this in his campaign or during an interview with the News editorial board.

This is an egregious violation that should disqualify Morton from public office, at least for now. We cannot endorse him, even though he is, in other ways, the better candidate, having more experience and a surer sense of the task at hand.

So, Wynnie Fisher may have inexplicably admitted her own naivete, but even in doing so she’s more open and transparent than her unethical opponent. Simply amazing. 

Finally, the News’ endorsement of Kevin Gaughan is critical of the incumbent

Mychajliw’s image as a self-promoter who is preparing for higher office is inescapable. The image is burnished every time he criticizes even the tiniest action of the county executive and ensures the media is there to cover it. Mychajliw trumpets that he hasn’t called news conferences to discuss his findings, but he’s not shy about alerting the media at the same times he sends his findings to county government.

I saw Mychajliw, who has carefully formulated this “good guy” image, has started airing negative ads against Gaughan. While Gaughan’s tax problems are embarrassing, there’s plenty of embarrassing stuff about Mychajliw’s background, too. The doctrine of clean hands should estop Mychajliw from this sort of nonsense. At least Gaughan has taken responsibility for his debt, and paid it off. This shouldn’t negate his 20+ years work trying to help turn western New York into a more cost-effective place for taxpayers to live.