Tag Archives: A-144

The Cost of 9 IDAs in Buffalo-Niagara

15 Dec

Assemblyman Sean Ryan (A-144) held a press conference yesterday to protest the way in which Industrial Development Agencies in Erie County do business. Specifically done in response to the Amherst IDA’s granting of an incentive package to facilitate Premier Liquor & Gourmet’s move from Kenmore to Amherst, Ryan issues three documents outlining the cost/benefit to running nine separate IDAs in Erie and Niagara Counties. By comparison, New York City has only one IDA.

This chart outlines the cost of these tax breaks, and what other things they might have bought, and then compares the annual IDA tax subsidies that are granted each year in New York State against the much-touted Regional Economic Council regional plans submitted and reported on in Albany last week:

IDA chart : Assemblyman Sean Ryan//

Ryan avers that the IDAs have an incentive to remain open as separate entities, and to grant property and sales tax breaks even in cases where one WNY community is poaching from another – the fact that each announced IDA transaction results in a fee to the IDA itself.

IDA Report – Assemblyman Sean Ryan//

Even more egregiously, if the IDA recipient business fails to meet its obligation to create jobs, there is no recourse or “clawback” provision. The common misconception is that IDA incentives exist to lure businesses to the area. Yet Ryan’s study reveals that, of all 71 incentive packages given by the IDAs in Erie and Niagara Counties in 2010, exactly one was to attract a business from out-of-state. The rest were for the expansion or intraregional relocation of existing businesses.

It’s high time the region started streamlining its business development and retention strategies in a coordinated, regional way. IDA incentives given to well-off local companies as a “freebie” with little to no return on investment, which oftentimes results in one WNY community poaching from another needs to stop. Assemblyman Ryan is on the right track here, and it echoes what Erie County Executive-elect Poloncarz was advocating during the last election cycle.


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Legislature Downsizing & Hoyt for Marriage Equality

27 May

Needless Collection of Humans

Jerry, let me tell you something, a man without hand is not a man.  I got so much hand I’m coming out of my gloves. – George Costanza, “The Pez Dispenser

1. I haven’t written much of anything about the county redistricting clusterfiasco because NY-26 has been a preoccupation. Most of what I’m going to write sort of re-hashes what Chris posted yesterday, but I want to add some additional thoughts about how we got here and what it means.

The process was broken from the get-go. It was ground zero for the blood feud between Chris Collins and the Democrats, and Grassroots “Democrats” against the party apparatus led by Len Lenihan. Predictably, it degenerated into ugliness, and the redistricting commission became a joke and a sham to ram through whatever Chris Collins wants; and there were people who call themselves Democrats who were going along with this.

Now that there seem to be two competing maps that are to be voted on by the legislature next week, and that one map is being promoted by the Chris Collins – Republican – Miller-Williams coalition, and the other one is being promoted by the Legislature Democrats. Regardless of which map wins, the people have already lost. The process has been farcical and hypercharged with political idiocy. (Here is the Republican map) (Here is the Democratic map)

Reader and commenter RaChaCha forwarded to me an editorial on the process that was published in the Bee Newspapers. It excoriates the redistricting committee that was chaired by Adam Perry for failing to hold three promised public hearings in more remote parts of the county. I have emailed the Bee to ask whether I can reprint it in its entirety, but offer this key passage:

The committee could have used the opinions and concerns of the public to draw a map that would best serve the people.  Instead, we got a map that best serves the interests of politicians, with continued gerrymandering.  Lines weren’t drawn to best represent the communities but to boost the chances for re-election among the legislators.

In the end, the concerns of the people were overshadowed by the concerns of the politicians looking to remain in office and hold on to a slice of power.

The committee failed us.

Neither plan is perfect, but the Democratic plan is less un-perfect than the Republican/Miller-Williams plan. One has to imagine that Collins will veto the Democratic plan if it passes, and this would set up a very interesting County Executive race in November. Right now, of the three Democrats who are aligned with Collins as part of the ridiculously named “reform coalition”, Miller-Williams is definitely voting for the Republican plan, and Tim Whalen is definitely voting for the Democratic plan. Everyone is waiting to see what West Seneca legislator Tina Bove will do, as she is the swing vote and is probably milking that fact for all it’s worth. We’ll find out next Wednesday at 2.

But remember this: right now, ECDC has hand. Time and time again over the past two years, nominal “Democrats” on the County Legislature have collaborated with Chris Collins against the interests of their own constituents. Real Democrats worked damn hard in 2009 to ensure that the Legislature retained a Democratic majority to check King Collins’ power. Unfortunately, three so-called “Democrats” align themselves instead with Collins when convenient in exchange for a growth of personal power, and at the expense of their constituents, and Democrats who helped them get elected. These people who act out of self-interest to help themselves and Chris Collins aren’t Democrats. Barbara Miller-Williams has become, for all intents and purposes, a mere Collins puppet. Now that ECDC has quite a bit of momentum coming out of the Hochul win, her shenanigans have weakened her and her cohorts considerably. It’s time for Miller-Williams to recognize that (a) she’s the chairwoman of the Legislature; and (b) she sticks a (D) after her name. It’s time for her to consciously decide to act like she is both of those things.

2. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt penned an excellent editorial to the Buffalo News in support of marriage equality.  I’m sure Sam won’t mind if I reprint it here in its entirety:

New York State is at a crossroads. The Legislature is presented with the opportunity to pass a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, granting them access to the same rights already afforded to straight couples. This comes at a time when national and statewide polls have shown an enormous increase in public support for marriage equality. More New Yorkers than ever recognize that denying our gay and lesbian family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors the right to marry is simply not fair.

Marriage equality is about fairness. It is about ending discrimination. It is about the freedom to marry the person you love and the legal rights that go along with it.

Throughout my career in public service, I have worked for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers. It is an issue that is close to me personally, but beyond that it is a public issue that has the power to change society’s perception. I believe that as an elected official, I have an obligation to help the people in my district who need it the most. It is time for us as representatives to acknowledge the will of the people both in New York and beyond and pass marriage equality legislation.

Some opponents argue that civil unions are a compromise solution that would allow gay and lesbian couples some limited rights. Yet a recent evaluation of the civil union system instituted in neighboring New Jersey showed that the two are not equivalent in practice. Couples joined in civil union faced bureaucratic hurdles that married couples did not. The two institutions were in effect separate, but not equal. Civil unions are not the answer. There is just no substitute for marriage.

To be clear, this legislation expands the legal definition of marriages recognized by the state. No religious institution would be forced to perform marriage for gay or lesbian couples, nor would any religion be compelled to recognize their marriages.

As majority whip, I will do all that I can to ensure that true marriage equality passes for a fourth time in the State Assembly. But once again, the State Senate will be the battleground for this vote. My colleagues in the State Senate must understand that this discrimination against lesbian and gay couples and their families cannot continue any longer. They must understand that a “yes” vote for marriage equality is a “yes” for justice, equality and fairness.

New York State was once a progressive leader in civil rights. It is time for our State Legislature to stand up and make our state a leader once again. We must end this injustice that has gone on for too long by making marriage equality law.

 

 

The Other Major Races #WNYVotes

15 Sep

Allen vs. Thompson SD-60

Rory Allen is a smart, young businessman who came to the party with little name recognition, an energized base among the Elmwood Buffalo Rising types, little political experience and less money. He and a small group of people got his petitions together in record time. The plan was to get out the vote in areas that didn’t turn out last time – Thompson and his Grassroots army get the vote out on the East Side of Buffalo consistently and effectively. Allen, however, didn’t raise enough money to compete, and he didn’t really take the fight to Thompson. This was the anti-incumbent year, and the incumbent got away with nary a scratch. It’s good that Rory had a positive message, but it needed a lot more punches, and much more frequent messaging.

Kennedy vs. Stachowski SD-58

Stachowski ran in 2008 promising to be the influential chairman of the senate finance committee – and just you wait at how great that’ll be. But it never happened, thanks to the amigo revolt when the Dem majority couldn’t agree on a leader. Then it went even further down the drain during the coup. To his credit, Stack didn’t join the coup, although Pigeon and Espada were pressuring him to do so. The marriage vote? Democracy broke out in the Senate, but Stack voted against marriage equality. That energized liberals against him. Kennedy ran on a reform platform, but as a county legislator he has something of a flawed and thin resume. He has to take on Jack Quinn III, who is very well liked in the Southtowns. It’ll be the local race to watch, for sure. In the end, Stack tried to stay alive by holding up the state budget to get UB2020 rammed through. It backfired because, after all, he held up the already dreadfully late, horrible state budget.

Domagalski vs. Gallivan vs. DiPietro SD-60

Gallivan claimed victory. Domagalski says, “not so fast”. DiPietro joins the ranks of Lenny Roberto as the newest perennial candidate who takes bad advice from Jim Ostrowski. DiPietro proves that it wasn’t the appeal of tea party dogma that carried the day for Paladino – Paladino’s tough talk and name recognition brought it home for him. If there was some sort of tea party wave sweeping through WNY, DiPietro should have been a shoo-in against the former party boss and the double-dipping former Sheriff. This one is still too close to call, and I wonder how much Paladino’s last-minute endorsement of Domagalski buffeted him to such a competitive showing. Polls released illegally about a month ago showed Domagalski at single digits.

Hoyt vs. Golombek A-144

Sam eked out a victory – his third very tough primary in a row. Golombek conceded that he had lost the Democratic primary, but did not rule out continuing on to November on the Conservative Party line. It’d be sort of swell if the Hoyt-Brown/Pigeon feud would lie dormant for a while so that the mayor and the city’s most powerful Assemblyman could actually work together to do good things for the city. Nah.

Overall, Western New York is now the epicenter of Republican politics in New York State. Nick Langworthy is more powerful and better respected than state committee chair Ed Cox. The question now becomes whether this wave of anger and hatred will resonate with Democrats and Independents, and how effective Stone and Caputo will be in their effort to destroy Cuomo personally and professionally.

The Independence Party: Independent from Steve Pigeon?

20 Jul

Permit me to preface this post by re-stating my profound hatred for fusion voting in general and the Independence Party in particular.

I was flabbergasted yesterday to receive a press release from Assemblyman Sam Hoyt announcing that he had received the endorsement of the New York State Independence Party. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of local politics knows two things: (a) Steve Pigeon has become the de facto go-to guy for IP endorsements locally; and (b) Steve Pigeon and Sam Hoyt hate each other with a passion unbridled and would go to the ends of the Earth to destroy each other.

Not only that, but Bill Stachowski in SD-58 and Jim Domagalski in SD-59.

Joe Golombek is challenging Sam Hoyt in A-144, and it’s no secret that he’s aligned himself with Mayor Brown, who is aligned with Grassroots, which is aligned with Steve Pigeon, who is supposed to be the guy who controls whom the IP endorses. Golombek’s website already touted his IP endorsement. So did Kennedy’s.

Tim Kennedy is challenging Bill Stachowski in SD-58, and it’s no secret that he’s aligned himself with Chris Collins, who has aligned himself with Grassroots and Steve Pigeon, who is supposed to be the guy who controls whom the IP endorses.

One could almost argue that Golombek’s and Kennedy’s entire campaign strategy in terms of whom they’ve aligned themselves with have been completely blown to shreds in the last 24 hours.

In SD-59, it’s a Republican war going on between the tea party factions, Tom Reynolds, and Chris Collins. DiPietro is supposed to be the tea party guy, but now Ostrowski and his 2 supporters have turned on him, so he’s only got the support of the Rus Thompson faction. Domagalski is the Chris Collins pick, and Pat Gallivan is the revenge of Tom Reynolds. In the end, Domagalski got the IP nod, giving his campaign a boost.

Indeed, the conventional wisdom behind getting the IP line is that it gives party-line adherents an opportunity to throw you a vote without having to fill in a box with an “R” or “D” next to it. Here, it also ensures that the candidate is still around in November, regardless of what happens at the polls in the primary races in September.

For Sam Hoyt and Bill Stachowski to get the IP endorsement is a huge coup for them both, and seems to significantly undercut Steve Pigeon’s power in local electoral politics. I’m sure he’s owed enough favors that he’ll find a way to get himself and his friends jobs some other way. But it seems that there are people in this state who currently enjoy exponentially more political clout than Pedro Espada’s patronage hire.

Sam Hoyt’s Re-Election Announcement

21 Mar

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