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Political Shorts and a Hot Dog Stand

17 Sep

1. Schneiderman Kickoff

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman kicked off the WNY leg of his 2014 re-election campaign in Niagara Square on Tuesday, flanked by a wide variety of politicians, activists, and union leaders from throughout the area, some of whom don’t always get along (more on that later). Throughout his first term, the former State Senator from New York’s Upper West Side has brought a new energy to the Attorney General’s office, with his most significant focus being the protection of the average consumer from predatory, unfair, and deceptive business practices.

After glowing speeches from former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul and Mayor Byron Brown, Schneiderman was introduced by Avi Israel, an average guy from North Buffalo. Israel’s son, Michael, tragically committed suicide a few years ago in part  because he was taking several prescription medications that different doctors had prescribed.  Because there was no mechanism in place for the physicians to see what others had prescribed, and at the time of his suicide, Michael was taking about 20 different medications

With Schneiderman’s help and lobbying, New York passed the I-STOP prescription monitoring program last year. The program requires providers to review a patient’s medical history before prescribing any opioid pain medication. It also requires any such medications to be e-prescribed, and the filling of any prescription by a New York pharmacy updates the database in real time. This has decreased doctor-shopping in New York by an incredible 75%

Just this week, the AG’s office cut a deal with Wal*Mart over a fraudulent “sugar tax” it was levying on sales of soda

Schneiderman’s opponent is hitting the incumbent on his silence over the Moreland Commission debacle. But consider this

I think you may have heard that that is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, and I don’t comment on ongoing investigations,” Schneiderman told reporters in Schenectady, where he announced $20 million for a land bank initiative. “My office is cooperating with the United States Attorney and we’ll leave it at that.”

Schneiderman has said little about the Moreland Commission’s demise or whether he knew about claims that Cuomo’s administration was interfering in the panel’s work and steering them away from Cuomo’s allies.

Schneiderman’s office deputized the members of the commission, and has been cooperating with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office in connection with its ongoing investigation. Meanwhile, Schneiderman’s opponent touts his work with George Pataki, a governor who didn’t need to shut down his own investigation into public corruption because it never made its way to his agenda. 

For his part, Schneiderman noted that his office had prosecuted over 50 cases of public employees and electeds stealing taxpayer money and abuse of power. 

2. Scratch that!

State Sellout Tim Kennedy is not challenging Jeremy Zellner for the chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee at this Saturday’s re-organization meeting. Instead, it will be Amherst Town Councilman Mark Manna. Manna reportedly has the backing of Mike Deely from NYSUT, State Sellout Tim Kennedy, and Mayor Byron Brown. 

This is all very interesting mostly because Zellner and ECDC endorsed Brown’s re-election campaign last year on the express condition and guarantee that the Mayor would back Zellner’s re-election as chairman. That’s honor for you. I’m not 100% sure what it is about Steve Pigeon’s track record of running the party in the late 90s is so desirable to people, so it must come down to who doles out the jobs, and possibly something to do with the judicial nominations. There’s no other objectively rational explanation. 

I like Mark, so I’m not going to bash him, but I will say this: Zellner’s opposition is running on a “peace and progress” platform. It seems to me that Erie County Democrats could easily have had peace and progress over the course of the last decade if there wasn’t a conspiratorial opposition working feverishly to sabotage the county committee every so often. A group of malcontents (Deely, for example, was for Teachout/Wu and now he’s aligned with people who sell out to the GOP regularly?) conspiring in Steve Pigeon’s house to overthrow the guy they’ve been working feverishly to weaken over the last few years is hardly the picture of party unity anyone needs. This time, at least, they don’t have Governor Cuomo’s blessing or support. 

Let it be clear: if you hand over the reins of the party committee to Steve Pigeon, the last things you’ll get are peace or progress. 

3. Grisanti Staying In The Race

State Senator Mark Grisanti remains on the Independence Fusion Party’s ballot, and dammit he’s got bank, and he’s gonna spend it. Right now, it would be a 4-way race involving Grisanti, Marc Panepinto on the (D) line, Kevin Stocker on the (R) line, and Timothy Gallagher (who?) on the Conservative Fusion Party line. Stocker and Gallagher split the gun-fetish vote, so look for Stocker to somehow wrangle the Conservative Fusion line in the next few weeks. With Stocker picking up the anti-Cuomo vote, Grisanti and Panepinto duke it out for the general electorate, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, but not especially liberal. 

126,000 people voted in 2012, and turnout might be about that high, given the gubernatorial race. But when Paladino ran in 2010, only 65,000 people voted overall, and Grisanti narrowly beat incumbent Antoine Thompson. 2012 gave voters a chance to express their outrage at Grisanti’s same sex marriage vote, and 2014 gives the NY SAFE Act opponents a similar opportunity. But Grisanti can tout the fact that both major parties have rejected him and posit himself as the centrist alternative to ultra-left-wing Panepinto and extreme right-wing Stocker. Don’t count Grisanti out just yet. In November,  the tea party’s influence is significantly more diluted than it was in September. 

4. How hard is it to operate a bridge,

for God’s sake? The Peace Bridge is the steel emblem of western New York. It is our physical connection to a huge, wealthy Canadian marketplace, and stands as a symbol of political gridlock, secrecy, inaction, failure, and idiocy. 

5. Reverse Cowdog Taken?

The contrived use of shipping containers – whatever. But I quite literally hate everything else about this “Dog e Style” from the name, to the font, to the sign, to the mascot. Get it? The hot dog is wearing a tux, so is “é” “is” in Portuguese? But the double entendre is “doggy style”, which will make parents of pre-adolescents cringe the hell away from that place because, really. The day my kid asks to get a “gourmet” hot dog at a place pronounced “doggy style” is not a day that will ever happen. 

Via @buffalovebirds at Twitter

Via @buffalovebirds at Twitter