Tag Archives: Albany politics

Excelsior.

4 Aug

The state legislature passed the budget last night. It was 125 days late – the second-latest-ever – and it lurches towards bridging a $9 billion shortfall by raising taxes and fees. Most notably for already recession-weary New Yorkers will be the abolition of the state sales tax exemption on clothing costing less than $110. You can do your clothes shopping in Pennsylvania, again.

Spending, naturally, will increase overall by 2.4%.

There was no debate on the floor of the State Senate.

There will be a billion dollars’ worth of savings through across-the-board spending cuts, and a measure was passed that would have long ago adversely affected Dale Volker. From now on, convicts serving time upstate will no longer be counted as part of the local upstate population. Instead, they will be counted as residents of the communities they lived in when arrested. Had this been in place previously, Volker’s district may have been abolished altogether, and this will have serious implications when districts are redrawn.

The SUNY autonomy plan was withdrawn, and UB 2020 holdout Bill Stachowski didn’t get his way, as usual. Although he relented on this issue, he claims that a “framework” or “outline” of some future agreement on SUNY was reached, but ideas aren’t bills, and bills aren’t law. The Assembly’s budget bill omitted SUNY, and the Assembly had left town, so the Senate never took up the issue in its final vote.

In the end, the “tough choices” that were made in Albany consist of panicky hole-filling. The interests of downstate and upstate New York have never diverged more, and never before has the downstate legislative leadership more starkly disregarded upstate’s needs. The reforms that are done are too infinitesimal to be granted the monicker “gradual”, and fundamental solutions to longstanding chronic problems with state governance are ignored.

New Yorkers – already taxed higher than most Americans – will be taxed even more now, and an already unattractive state for people and business will become even uglier. While downstate hits the occasional economic speedbump, upstate has been in an ever-widening sinkhole for two generations, and the current governmental structure ensures our perpetual influence-free status.

Excelsior.

Antoine Thompson: Mail Call

2 Aug

State Senator Antoine Thompson loves marketing himself on the public’s dime.  It’s substantively no different from what any State Senator does, so to have George Maziarz criticize Thompson in the article seems particularly hypocritical.  It’s also technically not electioneering on the public’s dime because the mailings tout Thompson’s “work” in the State Senate, but it’s also clear that Thompson has spent hundreds of thousands of public dollars on these mailings since 2008, and exactly no money on campaign postage so far this year.   No one should be surprised by this:

Thompson is also big on mailing birthday greetings to constituents.

“I’m a taxpayer and I don’t need Antoine Thompson to send me a birthday card with my money,” said Fabiano, the retired Grand Island resident.

Spelling, punctuation and factual errors are common in the mailings, whose content is drafted by Thompson’s staff. One headline misspelled “soldier.” A flier reporting on the results of a spelling bee promoted by Thompson misspelled the name of a school attended by one of the winners. A third mailing that urged citizens to vacation in state parks listed some facilities that are not state parks, including the Darwin Martin House.

Senators as a group are not shy about using their mailing privileges, but at least one of them is openly critical over what Thompson is doing.

“Birthday cards, picnic invites — that’s way over the top,” said Sen. George Maziarz, a Newfane Republican.

Many of Thompson’s mailings promote events his office is sponsoring.

Something he terms “community leaders and stakeholders breakfasts” are a popular topic, and his Web site lists 21 such breakfasts over the course of this year. Other mailings have promoted senior citizen cookouts and dances — “senior balls,” as he terms them. These events are always free to the public.

How is Thompson paying for them?

He has insisted in the past that state funds are not involved. But a review of his campaign disclosure reports since January 2008 shows few expenses that appear to be related to these. And his most recent ethics disclosure statement filed with the state does not list any relevant donations.

One former member of Thompson’s staff said the senator and members of his staff often solicit businesses for cash or product donations used at the social functions. The News documented one such effort in March, when Thompson’s staff solicited food donations from 20 restaurants for his annual St. Joseph’s Table celebration.

Thompson is practically the poster child for every stereotype that exists about self-interested, self-aggrandizing, self-enriching politicians. That he continues to be re-elected to go to Albany as the most dysfunctional local member of a dysfunctional anachronistic clique is embarrassing and outrageous.  With 2010 being supposedly flush with anti-incumbency fever, this is his time to go.

60/30

23 Jul

Carl Paladino is touting a Rasmussen poll that gives him the edge over Rick Lazio.

“The edge” being better defined as, which Republican gubernatorial candidate gets to be ass-beaten worse by Andrew Cuomo in November.

Marc Coppola: Abolish Electoral Fusion

21 Jul

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Coppola is running for the 61st Senate District, now represented by Republican Mike Ranzenhofer. Coppola has refused to seek or accept any minor party lines, and called on his opponent to do the same.

Marc Coppola for State Senate.

When Bigotry Trumps the Constitution

19 Jul

Under the Establishment Clause, if a government bans the construction of a mosque – it’s really not any more a mosque than the YMCA or YWCA or the JCC are churches or temples – at 51 Park Place because of its supposed proximity to the World Trade Center site in New York City, then there can be no religious structures or monuments of any kind within that same radius. (That means you, St Paul’s & St. Nicholas! Bye-bye, Y! And other Y!) That prohibition, however, would be violative of the Free Exercise clause.

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Therefore, Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino think that anti-Muslim bigotry is more important than the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Put another way, to Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino, being a bigot is more important than being an American. It’s good to know that an unemployed woman from Wasilla, Alaska knows what’s best for Manhattan. Refudiate!

Friends of Pedro Espada

16 Jul

Paladino Helping Clear Cuomo’s Path

16 Jul

It’s campaign disclosure time! The most closely-watched race this year is, naturally, the race for governor.

On the one hand, we have a candidate with a grassroots groundswell of support, with literally thousands of donations from regular folks donating less than $1,000.

And on the other hand, we have mad-as-Mel-Gibson Carl Paladino.

As of this morning, Rick Lazio’s numbers are suspected to be so dismal that he’s waiting until the last moment to disclose his take.

Paladino reported having raised $1.7 million for his gubernatorial run – $1.6 of it, or roughly 94% from his own fortune. He has pledged to spend up to $10 million for his campaign. Just over $100,000 came from individuals and businesses, almost all of them in WNY. Special mention goes to Jim Ostrowski, who pulled in close to $10,000 for “consulting”, Rus Thompson, who pulled in about $20,000, and Michael Caputo, who had a fantastic $93,000 month of June (I’m assuming that figure includes paying for the use of his boat as Paladino wasted his time sailing it down the anachronistic, socialistic Erie Canal), and a grand total of close to $300k. Good job, guys!

Paladino also filed 28,000 petition signatures, just under double the required amount. That likely gives him enough of a cushion in the event that Lazio files a challenge. I suspect that all the bluster last week about Paladino having trouble with this task was overblown puffery to motivate the teabagging masses.

Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic nominee, raised $9.2 million and spent about the same amount as Paladino – $1.6MM. Combined with his prior figures, Cuomo now has $23.6 million cash on-hand. The Daily News goes on to report that over the last six month, Cuomo’s campaign received just under 4,000 donations, 70% of which were for less than $1,000.

In other words, mindful of the fact that Democrats hold a 27% enrollment advantage, Carl Paladino’s efforts to split the right-of-center vote continue apace, resulting in an even-more-inevitable Cuomo landslide.

Gay Marriage PAC Targets Stachowski

7 Jul

Campaign mailings can often be hilarious and vicious, and because of how they’re targeted, they oftentimes fly under the general population’s radar. So, please feel free to send along the better mailers to WNYMedia.net offices or by emailing them to this address or this one.

Here’s one going around being sent by a pro-marriage-equality PAC called “Fight Back New York“:

Here’s its statement to the issue:

Sen. Stachowski’s voted against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers at every turn, whether it’s nondiscrimination protections or marriage equality.

Sen. Stachowski’s been part of the dysfunctional New York State Senate for far too long — 30 years. He does not represent fair-minded New Yorkers, and it’s time we hold him accountable. Remember the hard-hitting tactics we used to help keep anti-equality Hiram Monserrate from office this spring? We’ll be engaging in similar targeted outreach to voters in Sen. Stachowski’s district. It’s time our elected officials learned that they can’t vote against equality and expect to be voted back into office.

Democrats Tim Kennedy and Mike Kuzma are running against Stachowski in the Democratic primary.

HT Towle Road

Expelling Espada

7 Jul

Pedro Espada is being kicked out of the Democratic Party. I don’t know if that’s unprecedented or not, but it’s a very interesting and unusual turn of events to say the least.

In its complaint to the Bronx County Democratic Committee, the State Democratic Committee charged that Espada became a Democrat for “ulterior motives,” including his own financial gain, not out of a commitment to Democratic principles.

“Time and again, by word and by deed, Pedro Espada has put his own naked financial interest ahead of bedrock Democratic ideals. Espada has run rough-shod over campaign finance rules devised by Democrats, has played fast-and-loose with state residency requirements, and – most egregiously – appears to be a Democrat purely for personal profit, not a commitment to our core values,” said Jay Jacobs, chair of the NYS Democratic Committee.
“By initiating this proceeding, the Democratic Party seeks to make official what has long been true in fact: Pedro Espada is no Democrat. With any luck, the results of today’s action will – once and for all – end any pretense that Pedro Espada is a member in good standing of the Democratic Party,” added Jacobs.

New York law allows a political party to revoke a voter’s party registration where “the voter is not in sympathy with the principles of such party.” New York State Election Law § 16-110 (2). The process was formally initiated in writing by Edgar Santana, the Deputy Executive Director of the NYS Democratic Committee and a registered Bronx Democrat.

I predict he’ll join the party over which his patronage hire, Steve Pigeon, holds a great deal of sway – the Independence Party.

A corrupt man for a corrupt party!

Even a Broken Clock…

2 Jul

Senator William Stachowski, at long last, after 30+ years of middling mediocrity, has grown a legislative, metaphorical set of balls.