Tag Archives: AwfulPAC

Trolling Erie County Democrats

15 Sep

Word has it that Steve Pigeon’s biennial attempt to troll the Erie County Democratic Committee comes in the form of a new challenge to Jeremy Zellner’s chairmanship. Reportedly going around calling himself the most powerful Democrat in WNY, in comes State Senator Tim Kennedy, who is allegedly putting his name in contention as county chair. 

You might remember Tim Kennedy, who recently won re-election by wildly out-spending his opponent, orchestrated a coup in the Erie County Legislature in 2010. That coup took a Democratic majority and handed over a de facto Republican majority to Chris Collins. In exchange, Kennedy’s path to the state Senate was cleared. 

So, to be clear, Tim Kennedy sold out Democrats and his constituents in favor of Chris Collins and the Conservative Party to ease his path to the Senate. 

Because this isn’t remotely serious, they’re unlikely to show up. Being chair is actually difficult work. This crowd is content to play fast and loose with campaign finance rules, and to sabotage the committee and its candidates for the next couple of years. 

 

Buffalopundit Endorsements: NYS Primary Day Sept 9th

8 Sep

Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough! 

Tuesday September 9th is primary day throughout New York State. Here are the races people are watching in western New York, and my comments and picks for each.  As always, these choices are mine alone and do not constitute an endorsement by Artvoice or any of its staff. They are not predictions, but preferences. 

Governor and Lieutenant Governor: Democratic Party

Zephyr Teachout and Kathy Hochul

I wrote about it with some detail at this link.  Andrew Cuomo seems more interested in an historically wide margin of victory than in dealing with the corruption that rots the core of New York State politics. Practically every problem with state, regional, or local policy and politics that you can imagine stem at least indirectly from some form of petty corruption. Until and unless someone in Albany has the guts to do what’s right, this will continue to harm and haunt every New Yorker, from Montauk to Niagara. When given a chance to undertake a profile in courage vis-a-vis corrupt Albany politics, Andrew Cuomo’s response was an epic profile in cowardice. He didn’t just punt – he forfeited.  

Despite all the good he’s done for the state in general and WNY in particular, given a choice in this race at this time between Cuomo and Teachout, I have to go with the political neophyte with the funny name and upstate ignorance. She recognizes what the problem is, and pledges to do something about it. Cuomo told us he knew what the problem was, and he told us he was going to do something about it, but in the end he chose an on-time budget deal with Skelos and Silver over the people. 

As for Lieutenant Governor, @superwuster doesn’t know anything about upstate or WNY, nor does he care to educate himself. Those reasons alone would be enough to pick Kathy Hochul to take the #2 slot. 

State Senate: 60th District: Republican Party

Mark Grisanti

Mark Grisanti is controversial because he takes risks and votes his conscience. Grisanti is detested on the right for his votes in favor of same-sex marriage, and the NY SAFE Act. He is being attacked from the right by the likes of the tea party, and from the left by NYSUT’s PAC, which is backing likely Democratic challenger Marc Panepinto. NYSUT figures that it can throw some shade at Grisanti and help Stocker win the nomination, and that this will make the November race easier for Panepinto. I’m not a big fan of disingenuousness like that, but hey – it’s politics. I respect Grisanti because he sticks his neck out to do what he thinks is right – not just for his constituents, but for the state in general. 

State Senate: 60th District: Democratic Party

Marc Panepinto

Panepinto over Al Coppola should be a no-brainer, even with the former’s past election law issues. Al Coppola most recently gained notoriety for his brave opposition to any Peace Bridge expansion, etc., but prior to that he helped get Antoine Thompson elected to the State Senate by pulling votes away from Marc Coppola. So, even Panepinto’s reported alliance with Steve Pigeon is a minor issue because no one’s sabotaging any Democrats today. 

State Senate: 62nd District: Republican Party

Robert Ortt

Mostly because Gia Arnold showed herself to be woefully unready for prime time with her cheating non-scandal, abrupt withdrawal, and silly re-entry. Ortt is a serious candidate with a serious job. Arnold is an inexperienced and unserious candidate who has, in her very short political life, displayed breathtaking immaturity, and she’s running a one-issue campaign on guns. The winner of this race will face Democrat Johnny Destino, who, like Ortt, is a serious adult person. 

State Senate: 63rd District: Democratic Party

Betty Jean Grant

Given his behavior over the last few years, incumbent Tim Kennedy has a lot of shit behavior to answer for. In 2010, he helped to spearhead a petty Republican coup of what should have been a Democratic majority during the last couple of years of Chris Collins’ tenure as County Executive. Kennedy conspired to hand control over to the Republicans, and the legislature effectively rubber-stamped anything Collins wanted during that time. More recently, Kennedy’s campaign funds provided over $85,000 to the “AwfulPAC” (a.k.a. “Progressive Caucus of WNY”) to defeat endorsed Democrats in primaries and hand races over to Republicans in order to embarrass Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Jeremy Zellner and hand control of the party – and patronage jobs – back over to people friendly with Steve Pigeon. 

If people want to get rid of Jeremy Zellner, then do what’s necessary to accomplish that goal. But if you sabotage the party and Democratic candidates, and help Republicans, you’re doing it wrong.  Tim Kennedy has been doing it wrong, and Betty Jean has been doing it right. In fact, Betty Jean was the stalwart during the legislative coup – calling Kennedy and his henchmen out publicly and relentlessly. She is a warrior for what’s right, and for her constituents. She deserves this. 

New York State Assembly: 141: Democratic Party

Crystal Peoples-Stokes

Seriously, you’d vote for Antoine Thompson? What is it with the political herpes, coming back every few years to make WNYers feel uncomfortable and itchy? Remember how two years ago, Chuck Swanick went gunning for Mark Grisanti by trying to capture the homophobe vote? Now deadbeat extraordinaire Antoine Thompson returns from a cushy city exile to try and weasel his way back into elected office. Do not forget that Thompson was an Albany pol for a few years, and rather widely regarded to be just awful. Don’t believe me? Here’s something I wrote in 2012, when the city hired Thompson:

What can’t be forgotten in this instance is that Antoine Thompson’s tenure in the state senate was pockmarked with scandal. There was the bizarre  junket to Jamaica, where Thompson claimed to be on a trade missionpaid for with campaign funds. During the short-lived and wildly corrupt Democratic leadership of the state senate, Thompson’s behavior became brazen and strange. He got his staff to lie for him, had been accused of accepting money in exchange for influence on Racino management, and developed a reputation for being thought of as a statewide laughingstock.  He stiffed groups that relied on his member item handouts.  In his own life, Thompson stiffed his creditors to the tune of $5,700.  Thompson gave $1000 to the legal defense fund for convicted fraudster and woman-slasher Hiram Monseratte.

Thompson arranged for a $400,000 subsidy to Howard Milstein’s Niagara Falls Redevelopment, an outfit run by a billionaire chairman of the Thruway Authority that has redeveloped absolutely nothing. When Thompson suffered a minor pulled-muscle injury in a car crash and discovered that he wasn’t hurt enough to meet the tort threshold and file a personal injury suit, he tried to change the law

Then there was this:

They claimed to have nobody on staff called John Taylor. They said the Albany staffer is Shawn Curry, a recent hire as a legislative assistant.

So who is John Taylor? That’s what we wanted to know. So we called him up.

The Post: “Hi, is this John Taylor?”

“Yes”

The Post: ” But isn’t your name really Shawn Curry? And if so why are you giving out a fake name from the Senator’s office?”

“Could you hold please . . .[in the same voice] This is Shawn Curry.”

The Post: “Why are you using a fake name from the Senator’s office, Shawn?”

“I am very busy, I have business to attend to, I can’t answer your question.”

Antoine Thompson’s political aspirations should be little more than a punch line, regardless of his opponent’s merits. 

New York State Assembly: 143: Democratic Party

Camille Brandon

Brandon worked closely with Kathy Hochul at the County Clerk’s office, and she’s got a good reputation for being a hard worker. By contrast, note the surname of Brandon’s opponent, and scroll up to read what I wrote about Tim Kennedy and AwfulPAC. You’ll note a similarity, and you’d be right – they’re related, and they have no business being anywhere near any sort of elected office of any sort. 

I’ll be on with Shredd and Ragan at 7am Tuesday on 103.3 WEDG to talk about how awful all of this is. Whatever you do, please go out and vote!

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. 

Tim Kennedy’s Just Desserts

29 May

Tim Kennedy sold out his principles, his party, and his constituents when, in 2010, he executed a Steve Pigeon-brokered deal to align the majority Democratic county legislature with Republican County Executive Chris Collins. The figurehead leader of that coup was Barbara Miller-Williams, who has since returned to the legislature, and Kennedy was happy to let her take the brunt of criticism at the time. 

Through his actions, Kennedy handed a de facto legislature majority to the Republicans and to Collins, leading to devastating harm to the most vulnerable members of our society and a wide variety of policy decisions that were penny wise but pound foolish. The “reform coalition” reformed absolutely nothing, and merely served as a springboard for Kennedy to run for the state Senate against a guy who had been there forever and was just as toxic. 

When Kennedy last ran for re-election to the senate, County Legislator Betty Jean Grant – who had been among the most vocal and fearless critics of the “reform coalition” coup – launched what seemed a quixotic write-in campaign against him. In the end, she lost by only 139 votes, according to the Board of Elections. (Grant maintains that she won). 

Last cycle, Kennedy donated $85,000 in campaign funds to the Pigeon-Mazurek “AwfulPAC” or “WNY Progressive Caucus” (which was hardly “progressive”, and is now defunct). His obvious purpose was to punish Grant, and although she won re-election, Miller-Williams defeated Grant ally Tim Hogues. 

We now come full circle, as Kennedy flips and flops on abortion, and Grant’s effort against Kennedy becomes more organized. 

Last night, the county Democratic committee endorsed Grant over Kennedy. And of course it did – why reward someone who has worked tirelessly against the committee and its candidates with an endorsement? But as you read the press release shown below, note that county chair Jeremy Zellner’s last paragraph is Kennedy getting cockpunched. 

The Erie County Democratic Committee’s Executive Committee today overwhelmingly endorsed Legislator Betty Jean Grant for New York State Senate, District 63. 

The Executive Committee, which includes leaders from each town in the county and the City of Buffalo, credited Grant with her long history of standing up to powerful interest groups on behalf of the average citizen.  “Betty Jean Grant has shown unwavering support for the Democratic Party’s platform and philosophy,” said Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner.  “There is no second guessing when it comes to her commitment on jobs, education, health care and social issues.  Legislator Grant has always consistently supported the issues that are the bedrock of the Democratic Party.”

Grant’s support on the committee extended far beyond her base in the City of Buffalo, “I am proud to note that I received endorsements and nominations from suburban towns and among leaders in the pro-choice community.  I look forward to campaigning throughout the district and talking with voters from all backgrounds and points of view. I vow to work closely with Governor Cuomo to continue the momentum that Western New York has achieved.”

Zellner dismissed criticism that the endorsement amounted to insider support from party bosses. “Our Executive Committee is designed to represent a cross section of our community. In addition to representatives from each town and city in the county, we have seats for labor, education, the private sector as well as the LGBT community and African American and Hispanic leaders.  Legislator Grant’s support comes from the grassroots up. The public has grown cynical of politicians who trot out substance free, feel-good initiatives at home, while running back to Albany to surround themselves with the worst elements of our political system.

This will absolutely be a race to watch. 

 

The 2014 Kennedy/Mazurek Slate

13 Mar

From everything I can gather, there’s never been a time in recorded history when Erie County Democrats were united and working together as a matter of routine. It happens from time to time when convenient (i.e., when there’s something (or nothing) in it for everyone), but every election cycle or two there’s a party establishment that is battling on two fronts; Republicans on one side, and the sabotage wing of the nominal Democratic party on the other. 

You know the drill – “Concerned Parents” bludgeoning Sam Hoyt within an inch of his political life with the double-edged sword of infidelity and interns, engineering a coup in the state Senate to depose Democratic leadership there with a small collection of criminals, and a copycat coup in the Erie County Legislature to prop up the person who has quickly emerged as the most transactional, least interesting local politician – Tim Kennedy. 

Kennedy and Betty Jean Grant never really got along well, but the whole thing fell apart when Kennedy and Barbara Miller-Williams sold the Democratic legislature majority out to then-County Executive Chris Collins in a Pigeon-engineered coup in 2010. That positioned Kennedy to challenge incumbent Bill Stachowski and hop over to the appropriately useless State Senate. Grant mounted a grassroots, barebones challenge against Kennedy as payback two years later, and lost by only 139 votes

This year sets up a rematch of the Kennedy-Grant battle. During the last political cycle, the political action committee that Pedro Espada’s patronage hire, Steve Pigeon, set up last year with toxic personality Kristy Mazurek, found itself the subject of a bipartisan Erie County Board of Elections campaign finance violation probe. Subpoenas revealed undeclared expenses and sloppy accounting. It was called “Progressive Caucus of WNY” and its sole purpose was to sabotage the Erie County Democratic Committee and its candidates during the last cycle. I called it “AwfulPAC“. At one point in late October, it was late on its filings and $19,000 in the red. (It’s since updated its filings, which the Board of Elections has basically said are a masterpiece of fiction.) But losing most of its primaries wasn’t enough, AwfulPAC’s Republicans-in-Democratic-clothes went so far as to defame the Democratic candidate on the eve of the election

Pigeon supposedly funded AwfulPAC to the tune of $120,000 of money that came from God knows where. Senator Tim Kennedy gave an additional $80,000 – and he got revenge on Betty Jean Grant when AwfulPAC candidate Barbara Miller-Williams unseated Tim Hogues in the September primary. 

In the end, it cost about $267,000 (that are accounted-for) for Steve Pigeon and his known associates to kneecap the county Democratic committee and destroy Tim Hogues and Betty Jean Grant.  This is all they can do, since they have failed and refused to successfully challenge the committee chairmanship repeatedly over the last decade. They’re now gearing up not only to do battle against Grant, who is well-liked and not even close to lying down for these punks, but also to back a likely Mazurek effort to take the Assembly seat most recently kept warm by creepy toilet video director Dennis Gabryszak. AwfulPAC failed to account for $35,000 in TV spending, and spent another $112k directly on behalf of failed Sheriff candidate Dick Dobson, despite not properly being set up as an independent Dobson committee

Meanwhile, Kennedy flips and flops on abortion – he was pro-life when convenient, and is now pro-choice because that has suddenly become convenient – 

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo’s joke of an election law review – the Moreland Commission – has done absolutely nothing about any of this.  It hasn’t addressed election law shenanigans or improper reporting, raising, and spending of money, and has completely avoided the issue of toxic and corrupt minor “parties” and their use of electoral fusion to obtain unearned political clout and patronage. 

As Kennedy and Mazurek run, watch how the money flows in and out of their campaigns, (to the extent the disclosures resemble reality), and that’s how you’ll know what this is all really about. Hint: good government and constituent service aren’t on the list.

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

AwfulPAC Hilarity in Rochester

13 Nov

In the news: Kristy Mazurek and her AwfulPAC claim to have helped elect the next Mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren. Warren responds, “who?” 

But as Warren sought to pivot from the campaign, a Buffalo activist behind a political action committee under investigation for election law violations claimed last week that her group was “representing” Warren in the election.

Warren will become the city’s first female mayor when she takes office in January. She defeated Mayor Thomas Richards and challenger Alex White last week after a lengthy campaign that saw considerable involvement by individuals and groups outside the candidates’ own campaign committees.

Richards had an unofficial campaign spring up weeks after he ended his own. Warren had close friend and Albany lobbyist Robert Scott Gaddy drop more than $40,000 on radio ads in the days before the primary. Then last week, activist Kristy L. Mazurek, the co-founder of the Western New York Progressive Caucus told WBEN930 in Buffalo on Thursday that the caucus was “representing” Warren in her mayoral campaign. No contributions are shown in either the PAC or Warren’s financial disclosure statements, however.

“I don’t even know who that is,” Warren said when first asked about Mazurek.

When later provided a description, she recalled meeting Mazurek at a luncheon days before the election but said they had no contact before or since. The luncheon was a fundraiser hosted, she said, by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown “and his team.” Brown reached out after the primary to offer his support, she said, and he along with Assembly member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, (who also assisted Warren in the primary) offered to do the fundraiser.

AwfulPAC: Being awful since August 2013, and now under investigation. 

Wes Moore c/o Kristy Mazurek?

1 Nov

Michael Caputo’s PoliticsNY.net published some embarrassing 10 year-old information about Democratic LD-8 candidate Wynnie Fisher on Friday. Fisher apparently doesn’t get along with her neighbors, who figured they’d dime her out to her former Democratic primary opponent, Wes Moore. Typical small-town neighbor feud. Fisher’s neighbors sent a letter to Fisher’s Democratic primary opponent, Wes Moore. 

Now, if you wanted to send a letter to Wes Moore, what address would you use? 

Wes Moore’s campaign committee was based (inexplicably enough) in LD-6 – Clarence. 

8940 Main Street is a nondescript office building at Shimerville Road. Essex Homes and some other offices are located there. But when first constituted, Moore’s campaign treasurer listed a Buffalo address: 

Evidently, Nanula’s company is now located in Clarence. In any event, there is nothing to show that Moore’s campaign can be contacted anywhere but Clarence or Buffalo. A Google search doesn’t give up much information. Moore never had a campaign website – only a Facebook page, since closed. 

The WNY Progressive Caucus (which I have dubbed “AwfulPAC”) is now under investigation for campaign irregularities; possible illegalities. Among the myriad accusations that have been lodged is that members of the WNY Progressive Caucus PAC have been “coordinating” with campaign committees, which is against the law. Specifically, it is believed  that Kristy Mazurek of the suspended “2 Sides” WGRZ weekly political program, had simultaneously held positions of some authority within the Rick Zydel and Wes Moore campaigns. Due to some rift between Erie County Democratic chairman Jeremy Zellner, she was going to run legislative candidates to oppose the committee’s own. Only Barbara Miller-Williams was successful. Barely. 

Mazurek co-hosts 2 Sides with PoliticsNY.net publisher Caputo. She also ran media relations for the Shenk for Comptroller campaign, whose internal campaign materials mysteriously appeared on Caputo’s site some weeks ago – months after they ceased to be in any way relevant to anything. 

The primary that kicked Wes Moore out of the race for LD-8 took place the second Tuesday in September. Mazurek’s AwfulPAC was created on August 22nd. By September 7th, she claimed to the Buffalo News that any suggestion that she was coordinating with the Moore campaign was “laughable”

“That’s laughable,” said Mazurek, who denied any official role in any campaigns since the PAC was formed last month.

Mazurek said she volunteers at various campaigns but is involved in no coordination between them and the PAC.

“I can show up as a volunteer or for lit drops or fundraisers,” she said. “But I have been hands off because I know the rules and regulations.

“And I don’t understand these continuing, vicious attacks on Steve Pigeon,” she added. “I’ve never heard such a bunch of crybabies before.”

So, from Mazurek’s own mouth, she hadn’t been “hands-on” with the Moore campaign since August 22nd.  

But, if there had been no coordination – everything “hands-off” – between Mazurek‘s AwfulPAC and the Wes Moore campaign starting on August 22nd, why did the disgruntled neighbors send their “we hate Wynnie Fisher” materials to Mazurek’s house on October 19th

Compare that with this: 

Why is Wes Moore getting mail at non-coordinating “volunteer” Kristy Mazurek’s house? Why did the information then become fodder for a concerted Republican attack just 10 days later? Is Mazurek just a Republican stooge, now

AwfulPAC abandons Dobson

31 Oct

AwfulPAC made $112,000 in direct payments to vendors on behalf of the Dobson for Sheriff campaign. Under the law, it was entitled (a) only to make contributions to the Dobson campaign, not make payments on its behalf; and (b) spend only up to $14,392. AwfulPAC hasn’t filed its 10 day pre-General election disclosure, but its last report showed only a $100 check to its spokesman for taking the heat up in the Falls after AwfulPAC libeled Mark Hamister

If AwfulPAC was so intent on electing Dick Dobson Sheriff of Erie County, why hasn’t it spent $100,000+ on the general election? As it turns out, Dobson is an excellent candidate and would make a great Sheriff. He is articulate and thoughtful, and could use the help.

One can only conclude that AwfulPAC was never about electing Dick Dobson Sheriff – it was just about Dobson winning the Democratic primary in September. Now, AwfulPAC’s silence is effectively an endorsement for Tim Howard, since Dunn and Dobson are splitting the non-Howard vote. Not one ad, not one expenditure, not one contribution. 

Dobson’s own disclosure shows that Democrats came out in force for him after he won the primary, helping him raise over $10,000 in just one reporting period, $13,000 in another. Mazurek and Pigeon aren’t named. Pigeon’s Landen Associates contributed a whopping $200

In the first post-primary report, “Democratic Action” donated $9,000. That’s fine – that’s what a PAC is legally empowered to do. That’s great, except Democratic Action hasn’t filed a single disclosure this cycle, its last being a “no activity” report in July 2013. Its last reported fund balance? $2,400. If you’re going to BS people, at least do so credibly. 

In any event, $9,200 is a far cry from $112,000 in TV time. Why did Pigeon’s money and support flow in prior to October, but not since?