Tag Archives: 2009 elections

Vote Today

3 Nov

Erie County residents can look up their details here.

In addition to the county races, for which Marc and Chris have also provided endorsements, I’m going to obviously keeping an eye on NY-23, where Democrat Bill Owens is up against Conservative Doug Hoffman.  My friend Mark Wilson, who pens the fantastic cartoons I get to run here, also blogs at Adirondack Almanack, so keep an eye on what they’re saying about that Adirondack congressional race.

I’ll also keep an eye on the genuine neo-Nazi running for Congress in North Carolina, George Hutchins.  His website is a visual abortion, and it takes only about 3 clicks to get to the Nazi apologia.

Finally, there’s a case in Batavia that tickled my fancy for a while.  Rose Mary Christian is running for a seat on the Genesee County Legislature.  She was on the Batavia City Council, and advised her colleagues that she got fired from her job at Wal*Mart because she ate some remaindered coffee cake that was going to be thrown out, and apparently eating food that’s destined for the bin is stealing, or something.  Tim Paine felt aggrieved by actions Christian took with respect to elections to the City Council leaked this blockbuster information.  The backlash was awesome.   I hope she wins big.

Polls are open until 9pm.  Join us here at WNYMedia.net for general election night shenanigans starting around 8pm.

Endorsements

3 Nov
dale volker

Volker isn't running, I just love this picture at election time.

As Alan noted yesterday, it’s obligatory that the columnists at WNYMedia issue our annual slate of endorsed candidates in local races.  Unlike Alan, I think our endorsements matter, not necessarily as a means to effect votes, but as a part of the continuing development of alternative media in WNY.  30,000 people consume our content on our page or on numerous other aggregators, partner sites, radio shows, news readers and social networks each day.  We’re an informed part of the voting populace and we represent a growing constituency in this region, one that doesn’t regularly read Bob McCarthy’s column in The Buffalo News or watch the half-assed product of our local television news teams.  Politicians need to start working with us, not against us.

So, as a means to continue defining our presence, these endorsements matter.  Take ’em or leave ’em.

I’m only issuing endorsements on races I have been watching.  If I leave anything out it’s either because the race is non-competitive or I am not knowledgeable enough about the candidates to make an informed statement.

Erie County Comptroller

Mark Poloncarz.  Yes, he advertises on our site, but Mark is a big boy who gets new media and understands that reaching our readers and expecting our endorsement are two completely different things.  I’d gladly accept advertising money from Phil Kadet, but his campaign manager kept asking us to interview Phil for our “magazine”, so I don’t think they really understand the whole Internet thing.  I digress…

Mark has proven himself to be competent, professional and diligent in his role as County Comptroller and he has been a nice counterbalance to both County Executive Collins and the Erie County Legislature.  Much has been made by Kadet’s campaign that Mark is too political, but Kadet sure didn’t have any problem taking $10K from Collins’ Taxpayers First PAC which is funded by the BNP as well as associates of Steve Pigeon and Joel Giambra, did he?  He sure didn’t have a problem holding fundraisers in the living room of Chris Collins or having Chris pull money in from the Associated Building Contractor lobby or asking Collins to show up at his fundraisers as a special guest or pay for his advertisements with Greener and Hook, did he?  Yeah, Kadet is non-political, my ass.

I’m sure Phil Kadet is a nice guy, but he’s been suckling from the public teat as an adviser to the County for nearly two decades and was recruited by Collins to be a rubber stamp for his budgets, forecasts and policies.  I’ll stick with Mark and his cadre of bookish nerds in the Comptroller’s office, thank you very much.

Erie County Sheriff

John Glascott is my pick.  Did Glascott do enough to define himself as a candidate?  Who knows and who cares?  This election is a referendum on Tim Howard and his inability to perform the basic duties expected of a County Sheriff.  He has failed, epically.   His failures have been recounted on these pages regularly and it’s seems repetitive to mention them yet again.  If you were to make a documentary of Howard’s tenure as Erie County Sheriff, the soundtrack would undoubtedly be Yakety Sax.  At this point, I’d vote for Mike Hudson and his diseased liver over Tim Howard for Sheriff.

Erie County Legislature – 9th District

Christina Wleklinski Bove is my pick.  If you’ve driven through West Seneca at election time in the past few years, you’re familiar with the ubiquitous signs for Bove littered around the district.  She is a tireless campaigner and has a solid track record of finding efficiencies and implementing cost cutting strategies in West Seneca.  She’s innovative, dramatic, interesting and will certainly spice up the legislative chambers.  Her opponent Brian Wirth’s primary qualification appears to be that he is the grandson of longtime politician Sandra Lee Wirth.  He’s taken a few classes at ECC and has worked as a roofer for his Uncle and as a realtor for his Grandma.  He’s also endorsed by the local teabaggers, who are evidently not concerned with credentials, skills, education or anything like that…

Erie County Legislature – 10th District

I endorsed Kevin Hardwick shortly after he announced his candidacy and I stand by that endorsement today.  He’s a good man and will do a quality job serving the residents of his district.

Erie County Legislature – 12th District

Bob Reynolds has done a quality job as a county legislator and deserves to keep his seat.  Unfortunately, he opposed Chris Collins on several issues in the last year and thus earned a Collins sponsored challenge from former Channel 2 reporter Lynne Dixon.  Reynolds has 30 years under his belt as an employee of Ford and understands that there are benefits to implementing Six Sigma as an efficiency tool.  However, he has been outspoken in his criticism of how Collins has implemented Sigma as Collins is yet to demonstrate meaningful savings with his program.  Reynolds has been an advocate for the Distressed Property Task Force and a leader on labor and efficiency issues.  He’s a good government legislator and Dixon doesn’t have an edge in experience, qualifications or unique legislative proposals which would provide reason to replace Reynolds.

Erie County Legislature – 14th District

Tom Loughran might be the least dynamic man to ever hold office in the Erie County Legislature.  He’s a smart businessman and an effective legislator, but he is not a gifted retail politician or fundraiser.  Contrast with his opponent, Shelly Schratz, whose primary claim to fame is unpaid taxes, “stirring the pot”, and being shrill.  The Amherst Town Board is a model of inefficient governance and immaturity and she has been a major instigator of that silliness.  Do we really want to promote her to higher office?  Sure, she can impress a room of teabaggers with her small government buzzwords, but when it comes down to doing the business of a legislator, Schratz has proven ineffective. Loughran might not be interesting, but he has done good work in the legislature as a budget skeptic and advocate for sensitive environmental policy.

Orchard Park Town Supervisor

Patrick Keem is a lifelong Orchard Park resident and Chairman of the Erie County Citizens Budget Review Commission.  He has tirelessly campaigned for the office and has a detailed strategic plan for the Town of Orchard Park.   His opponent, Town Clerk Janis Colarusso, fought Kevin Gaughan every step of the way in regards to the vote to downsize town government and has spent 30 years working in the public sector as a party apparatchik.  She traffics in the sort of doubleplus ungood, non-committal reform speak of middle rung politicos.  You wouldn’t know any of this based on the tenor of the campaign, which has been professional, polite and focused on issues in the town, a refreshing rarity in the local political wars.

Mayor Of Buffalo

Unfortunately, the Erie County GOP has given up on the City of Buffalo and decided to depress urban turnout to benefit their countywide candidates by not running a candidate in this year’s Mayoral contest.  I’m advising everyone I know to write in “None Of The Above” in the Mayor’s race as a statement of dissatisfaction with both the middling performance of Byron Brown and the lack of choice in this year’s election.  If I had a choice between Byron Brown and Random Republican Guy with a pulse, I’d pull the lever for the Republican.  Since I don’t, it’s “None of the above”.

The Obligatory Endorsement Post

2 Nov

I’ve done it every other election season, so why stop now, right?

But this year is different.

First of all, let’s dispense with what Rumsfeld would call the known knowns:  nobody gives a crap whom I endorse for elected office, and this is a completely meaningless post as a practical matter. I do not presume to have any influence over anyone’s vote, nor do I suppose that anyone really cares.

But I’ll do it anyway because I like to.

This is not, however a prediction post, so when you post a comment in a few months telling me how stupid and ignorant I am for “predicting” the outcome of a race incorrectly, you will be directed to this paragraph of this post.

This year, I am not going to give any specific endorsements of personalities, rather an un-endorsement of a particular slate of candidates; the Chris Collins slate of candidates.

Much like his chief executive counterpart in Buffalo City Hall, Chris Collins brings to that office charisma and remarkable sum of banked political capital.  Tony Masiello or Joel Giambra were middling apparatchiks who talked a good game but left the office having done more bad than good.  To his credit, Giambra pushed for, but failed to bring about, any sort of regionalism.  Byron Brown and Chris Collins won in recent landslides and have the power, but lack the will, to do very much with it.

Regional metropolitan government could save this region.  We discard it like the morning’s Charmin.

Collins in particular won on a platform of “running government like a business”, being apolitical, reining in costs, lowering taxes, and asking tough questions through, among other things, Six Sigma initiatives.  In practice, however, he has failed at all of those things.

It’s as popular as it is facile to blame his failings on the Democrats, on the unions, on the legislature.  Politics is not a one-person sport.  Part of what makes a good politician is the ability to build consensus – to make the assumption that everyone in government is there to do good by those who sent them there.  Collins bypassed that, and behaved like a bull in a china shop from jump street.  His efforts, like Brown’s, amount to tinpot Machiavellianism – exploiting, for instance, a rift between Lynn Marinelli and Len Lenihan to his advantage, rather than genuinely reaching out to to a stark Democratic legislative majority to enlist their help to develop a strategy for betterment of the region.

The notion that Collins is apolitical is a falsity.

“Running government like a business” is a happy-sounding mantra that makes the electorate believe that he’s going to go after waste and fraud, and really streamline government.  That’s happened only on the fringes, and has been almost exclusively directed at the poor, the sick, the single parents – people who need help, but people on whom Collins could never count to support him.  He gave them even less reason to, arguing that 100% federal reimbursement of certain programs that assist the poor was irrelevant, and shunted these responsibilities off to charities.  He’s saving money on legacy costs, he argues.  Yet he has made no moves to, e.g., close golf courses that also employ county workers who also represent legacy costs.  That choice is neither political nor businesslike.

In other words, whatever little streamlining there’s been, it’s been decided politically.

Cutting waste and spending?  Like his predecessor, Collins hired people whom he knew (nothing wrong with that) and asked the legislature (which, for the most part, granted his requests) to give raises and variable minimums to his appointees.  This way, a new hire could have, say, 5 years’ worth of seniority on day one.  That’s not how businesses are run, is it?  That’s not a reduction in spending, is it?  And Collins blames Albany on 88% of the county budget problems, ignoring the fact that there are opportunities available to maximize savings even on that end of the budgetary spectrum.

It’s not the pablum you should pay attention to – it’s the deeds.

So, Chris Collins has allegedly struck a deal with Byron Brown where the Republicans run no one in city-based races for Mayor or County Legislature.  This guarantees Brown’s re-election unopposed tomorrow, and artifically depresses turnout in the city for the comptroller’s and sheriff’s races, thus helping Kadet and Howard.

And for the suburban races, Collins has deliberately done exactly what Byron Brown did back in 2007 – hand-picked or otherwise supported candidates to challenge elected officials whom Collins has deemed are obstructing his plan for oddly selected spending cuts, tax hikes, and union demonization. Collins’ complained-of inability to get his agenda through the legislature is as much his fault as anyone else’s.  When you treat the legislature like some meddlesome hoop through which you need to jump, rather than a co-equal branch of government, you’re going to run into some problems.

There has been practically zero substance to any of the county legislature races this year.  All anyone wants to talk about is minutiae – how many legislators; how much do they get paid; are they full- or part-time; are there extended terms; are there term limits; do they keep district offices.  There’s no referendum on Collins’ initiatives versus anyone else’s.  There’s been no analysis of Six Sigma or taxes or spending or practically any policies whatsoever.  Collins is just trying to stack the leg in his favor so there’s a better chance he’ll get done what he wants done.  I’m not saying that’s abnormal or wrong, per se.  Just true.

One thing’s for sure, if he’s successful, then being a legislator really won’t be full-time.  Introducing and rubber-stamping the executive’s initiatives takes little time or thought.

The sheriff’s race shouldn’t even be close.

The race for comptroller is laughable.  Collins is somehow trying to sell the public on the notion that it’s better that his guy is in that office, rather than someone independent from him.  That way, I guess, we can get the hard-hitting fiscal reporting and analysis we got when Nancy Naples kept an eye on Joel Giambra. Win!

And all of this, remember, is over what everyone will tell you is 12-ish% of the overall county budget.  $1.1 billion altogether, and they’re engaging in blood feuds over $130,000,000.

Since only 12% of the budget is allegedly subject to the political whims and desires of our elected officials, it would appear to me that most of their tasks are ministerial in nature.  In other words, we have no use for county government at all, as currently structured.  We could just as easily just have counties be geographical municipal divisions made up of a handful of elected overseers and a competent bureaucracy.  Make sure the parks are open.  Make sure you can reserve a shelter easily.  Pave the roads.  Fix the bridges.  Plow the streets.  You don’t need 15 elected legislators and a bunch of pointless fighting for that.

But since it’s more fun to bicker over WIC and golf courses, let’s not really get to the heart of the problem, but just skim the surface to please everyone’s constituencies.

Vote however you want on Tuesday.  But for as long as we remain saddled with that pointless anachronism we call county government, let’s maintain a check on the arrogant and misguided county executive until such time as he learns that politics is a game of give and take – not take and shiv.

And let’s start talking about abolishing county government.  Srsly.

Apolitical Nonpolitics

31 Oct

Our apolitical County Executive robo-calls on behalf of his hand-picked Comptroller candidate lapdog Phil Kadet.

Thank God this is all about competence and everyone’s being so nonpolitically apolitical.

Collins/Kadet Robocall can be heard here.


Political Money and Political Politics

30 Oct

In the race for Erie County Comptroller, no one can mount a credible attack that incumbent Mark Poloncarz has done a lousy job.  Instead, the only attacks are that he’s too political and that he “can’t count”.  Specifically, Phil Kadet charges that Poloncarz projected that 2008 would end up with a deficit of $10 million, but that it actually ended up being a surplus of $10 million.

That would be great if it was true.

The ad references a January 2009 article where everyone – the comptroller and the county executive – expressed concern about a deficit.  In the article Kadet cites, Poloncarz specifically states,

“There is a very distinct possibility, when all is said and done and we close out our financial statements, that we will end up with a deficit,” Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz said Friday. “It will probably be less than $10 million. But you don’t want a deficit. And a deficit is a deficit.”

That alone is distinctly different from what Kadet’s ad claims. And Collins’ office was concerned, too:

County Executive Chris Collins, through his budget office, had slowed hiring to a trickle and froze other discretionary spending when sales tax income started cooling at midyear.

Collins’ budget director, Gregory G. Gach, also canceled any employee travel plans that were not fully reimbursed by the state or federal governments or were not needed to “fulfill core missions.”

Gach, in his final budget status report for 2008, told the Legislature in early December that he foresaw a $1.6 million surplus but warned that a further downturn in sales tax income could change that. Fuel prices, a major component of sales tax proceeds, already were falling.

In his forecast, Gach said he had not accounted for the potential $6 million-plus payment related to ECMC because it was only rumored at the time. Weeks later, however, the state Health Department alerted Erie County it owed the money, then took the $6.23 million on Tuesday.

When the final numbers actually came in, it turned out that there would likely be a surplus of $5 to 7 million – not the $20 million swing Kadet charges.  That’s not an inability to count, that’s alerting government to a potential problem, and government reacting appropriately to slash spending.

So, we’ve established that Kadet’s making crap up when it comes to who can and can’t count.  Let’s turn to Kadet’s “I’m a CPA” mantra. He also claims that the current comptroller’s office is too political (read: anti-Collins). They charge that the cellphone audit, the parking audit, and other audits have all been too political.

But so what?  What’s wrong with examining everything that county government does?  And Poloncarz has been criticizing the Democratic legislature when needed, too.  For instance,

  • In 2006, the Democratic-controlled Legislature approved a resolution granting raises to Giambra managerial-confidential employees in Sewerage Management.  The resolution they approved also would have granted sewer management the perpetual right to grant their managerial-confidential appointees raises whenever they felt like it without legislative approval.  The comptroller’s office contacted the Legislature leadership before they voted on the resolution to alert them to the significance of what they were doing and to advise them against doing it.  They did it anyway.  Poloncarz alerted the public and the media, criticizing the Legislature action, which resulted in the Legislature going back at the next session and reconsidering the resolution to change it to ensure legislative approval and oversight of all such raises in the future.
  • In 2009, the Democratic members of the Legislature attempted to send a partisan mailing to election inspectors claiming credit for attaining higher election day pay for election inspectors.  Upon learning of this, the comptroller’s office  immediately and publicly said this was inappropriate and violated the Legislature’s rules of order pertaining to mailings at County expense.
  • Over the past several years, the comptroller’s office has been critical of proposed Legislature Democratic amendments to the annual budget, noting that certain amendments would create negative variances and could contribute to deficits.
  • In 2006, the comptroller’s office conducted investigations and stopped the Forestry Management Program (timber harvesting in County forests) and the Concession Project at Wendt Beach Park after the Democratic-controlled Legislature had approved each project and allowed them to move forward.  Both projects had serious problems and potential improprieties in the RFP and contract award process with the winning vendors.
  • They have consistently warned and cautioned the Legislature about excessive capital borrowings and County debt and urged them to reduce annual proposed borrowing even when some legislators wanted more or certain projects in their districts funded.
  • In annual budget reports, when Democratic Legislature staff received upgrades or additional salary outside the normal process, we reported that in our reports and noted the incongruity (just like with administration political appointees).

So, the job of comptroller as taxpayer watchdog has been adequately executed for the past four years.  Phil Kadet, on the other hand, was hand-selected by Chris Collins, and has been the beneficiary of at least two very high-dollar fundraisers hosted by Chris Collins, including one in Collins’ own home.  That hardly bodes well for Kadet’s independence as comptroller.

A Note to A.J. Baynes

24 Oct

The anti-Howard videos that appear on WNYMedia.net were created by WNYMedia.net on our own dime, on our own time. At no time did anyone from the Glascott campaign have anything to do with them, or pay for them.

Pointing out Sheriff Howard’s patent failure is fun, easy, and effective – we don’t have to be paid to do it.

But thanks for the opportunity to re-post these:

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From the Buffalo News:

The sheriff’s department came under fire when a volunteer search party discovered the body of the Clarence mother of four the day after the department scaled back its own round-the-clock search.

“He could have called in other law enforcement agencies,” Glascott said of Howard. “You never should stop a search and let friends and family find the body.”

At the time, Howard’s right-hand man took responsibility for scaling back the search and acknowledged the bike path area where Diver was found had been searched at least twice.

“We may have missed it,” Undersheriff Richard T. Donovan told a packed news conference three years ago.

Howard, who often points to Sanchez’s arrest as one of his proudest achievements, took issue with Glascott’s criticism of his department’s handling of the search.

“The investigation never ceased,” Howard said. “It was never stopped.”

The sheriff’s role in the Bike Path case has emerged as a campaign issue in part because of radio and Internet political ads praising and criticizing him.

A new Internet video by Marc J. Odien, founder and editor of WNYMedia.net, an online source for local news and information, lambastes Howard for his handling of the Diver search.

The ad, now widely available on YouTube and other online services, claims Howard called off the search, “less than 24 hours after Joan Diver went missing.”

Odien, who was paid to build Glascott’s campaign Web site, said the candidate had no role in the video.

“This is all mine,” he said. “I just think the whole Diver thing was mishandled.”

A.J. Baynes, Howard’s campaign manager, called the ad a “blatant, desperate attempt by a losing campaign to garner votes.”

NY-23 Where it's Teabags vs. Republicans vs. Democrats

22 Oct

Did you know that NY-23 is now ground zero for the civil war underway within the Republican Party? After Republican Representative John McHugh resigned the seat to become Secretary of the Army, the RNC selected Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R, I, WF) to run for the vacant seat, while the Democratic candidate is lawyer and Air Force veteran, Bill Owens.

But there’s a third candidate in the race. Doug Hoffman is a member of the usually fusiony Conservative Party, but there’s something genuinely interesting at play here. The ultra-right conservative movement has seemingly more hatred for Dede Scozzafava than for the Democrat, Owens.

If you Google Hoffman and NY-23, you get a laundry list of conservative bloggers, pundits, and activists lining up to assassinate Scozzafava’s political career and promote Hoffman as the “real Republican”. Malkin. Bachmann. Armey. NRO. Club for Growth. Even Sarah Palin.

Notorious racist Robert Stacy McCain is freelancing (for himself) and is soliciting donations from his readers to fund a trip up to the North Country to “cover” this race. To get a sense of what the teabagger contingent really think, consider this from McCain’s site:

For an extra $4.60, I can add a 23-mile detour to Ogdensburg, N.Y., walk to the Canadian border and urinate on the other side. Just sayin’ . .

Hahahahaha! Because they’re Canadian!

This from the same crowd who earlier this year breathlessly supported the lazy Albany career hack Jim Tedisco – an empty-suited RINO if ever there was one – in the NY-20 special election.

Far be it from me to get my hands dirty while the Republicans are busy further damaging the remnants of their brand, but it’s a fascinating battle going on between the traditional northeastern moderate Republican establishment that has a libertarian streak on social issues and believes in lowering taxes and spending, and the whacko Cheneyistas who think anyone to the left of Michelle Malkin is a commie heretic.

Will the Republican Party go full teabag? They’re trying that out in NY-23. It will definitely be fun to watch the right split their vote between Scozzafava and Hoffman, thus hopefully enabling a Democratic pickup.

But for what it’s worth, Scozzafava’s campaign is packed with hilarious fail.

For instance, don’t hold a press conference outside your opponent’s campaign HQ. Hilarity may ensue.

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Albany incumbents are so cute when they’re caught in tough races.

Howard and the Jails

23 Sep

When the Federal Government tells you that the county jails are not kept up to constitutional standards, and the state Department of Corrections sues you to ensure that the jails are kept up to constitutional standards, then there may be a problem with you keeping the jails up to constitutional standards.

But Keanu Reeves got to visit the jails that federal investigators couldn’t. So, there’s that.

At least one commenter argues that, well, Howard’s opponent is a “Barney Fife” who operates a small-town gaol with only a handful of town drunks, miscreants, and misfits, and that he hasn’t amassed the number or quality of endorsements as Howard.

But that’s not the issue, and Cheektowaga isn’t Mayberry. It’s a town of 90,000 that hosts the area’s busiest airport, busiest mall, and has inner-ring suburb problems.

The issue is Tim Howard’s performance; his management of the county jails, and the best defense he can muster is that prisoners aren’t entitled to the same treatment they’d get in a hotel. That’s very true, and very beside the point. Howard has been Sheriff for 4 years. The endorsements he’s obtained are political – not based on merit. At least two inmates were “mistakenly” released on his watch, one of whom raped someone. A third inmate of his escaped using a kitchen implement and went on to murder one state trooper, and wound two more.

There’s a dangerous mix of arrogance and poor management with our current Sheriff. The Feds told him to make changes. He ignored them. The state is now doing the same. He’s refusing.

John Glascott’s site is here.

Ricchiazzi Endorses Kearns

10 Sep

His statement/press release after the jump. (Update: for those of you who say “who’s Ricchiazzi”, click this link or this link.)

Continue reading

Silly Season

10 Sep

This is the strangest mailing I’ve ever seen, and a South Buffalo correspondent informs me that it came in an envelope with a return address of PO BOX 256, Buffalo, NY 14201, which he identifies as the Mayor’s Leadership Council. It is a copy of a Kearns ad that ran in other city districts making an issue of the amount of attention South Buffalo gets in appointments and funding comparative to other districts.

This was accompanied by a letter signed by 6 City Hall Dept Heads that live in South Buffalo and were mentioned in the Kearns ad. The subtext is that South Buffalo voters should retain Mayor Brown because he’s good for South Buffalo, (i.e., provides jobby jobs).

Front and Back

Front and Back

Pages 2 and 3

Pages 2 and 3

I’m astonished that Mayor Brown would send around an unmarked mailing to South Buffalo urging people to vote for Kearns, but hey, why not?