Tag Archives: Bruce Jackson

Wendt in the Niagara Falls Reporter

4 Aug

Mike Hudson, commenter and agent provocateur on this site, writes up the Wendt Foundation imbroglio over at his paper. Thanks to Mike for the kind words.

Bruce Jackson and Carl Paladino

3 Aug

I was scrolling today through the Citizens for a Better Buffalo website – which hasn’t been updated since 2007 – and found at the very bottom of a loooooong scroll this entry:

Jackson to Paladino: “What’s your interest?”
8/17/2006

In an astounding exchange of e-mails, Professor Bruce Jackson asks developer Carl Paladino why he promotes the Casino so heavily. He does not get an answer to his question. Indeed, the style of Paladino’s response suggests that he surely has something to hide. Citizen for a Better Buffalo, YOU decide. To read this apalling exchange, click here. – Ed

Here is the .pdf of Jackson’s Artvoice piece detailing his email correspondence with Carl Paladino.

Now, when Jackson attacked me, he accused me of being part of a conspiracy to “Swiftboat” the holy, sainted Wendt Foundation. Unlike with Paladino, Jackson did not put fingers to keyboard to ask me about it. That’s shoddy “journalism”, even from a prestigious SUNY Professor who earns $150,000. I have emailed Jackson a total of three times since this whole thing blew up and he has not deigned to respond to me. Typical, as Jackson doesn’t have to answer for anything he says or writes.

Note that Jackson asks Paladino:

I’m trying to figure out why you keep pushing the casino so aggressively

As he has since done with me, Jackson starts off with the assumption that anyone who in some way defends the casino or criticizes its opponents has some personal or financial interest in it. Jackson’s motives, of course, are pure and sweet and taste of honey and roses. Right?

I’m not saying Jackson has any ulterior motive, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. He is quick to attack those who do not share his views, yet is slow to admit his own interest in the casino battle. So, if it’s appropriate for Paladino, it’s appropriate to ask the question of Bruce Jackson (here, since he won’t respond to my emails):

I’m trying to figure out why you keep pushing casino opposition so aggressively. I’m also trying to figure out where the money goes.

Bruce Jackson, The Wendt Foundation, and Harrah's Casino (Updated)

24 Jul

It’s one thing for Bruce Jackson to say that I’m a schmuck for writing something nasty about the Wendt Foundation. It’s another thing altogether for him to insinuate that I was part of a conspiratorial effort to embarrass it.

Luckily, two can play at this guessing game.

Perhaps the reason why Mr. Jackson took the “conspiracy” tack has to do with the fact that he and his kids have benefited from the Wendt Foundation’s largess.

1. If you take a look at Jackson’s CV, posted here, he lists himself as being a 2007 recipient of a “fellowship” or “grant” from the Margaret Wendt Foundation. That’s strange, since the Wendt Foundation’s disclosure shows that it is limited geographically to WNY and “no grants to individuals” (p. 10 of 2007 – links to 2007 and 2006 Wendt disclosures are at the bottom of the post).

Given the tone and content of his current Artvoice article, I find that to be a patent and clear conflict of interest.

To quote the philosopher Ron Popeil, “but wait, there’s more.”

Jackson’s CV also lists him as a Vice-President of Citizens for a Better Buffalo, the organization that brought the lawsuit which is being funded by the Wendt Foundation. (Citizens for a Better Buffalo has no website, and there is no way to determine its membership, or its income or expenditures).  In Artvoice, Jackson discloses his “former” vice presidency of CBB, but does not disclose the next item:

jackson.JPG

2.  That is an image taken from the signature blocks at the end of the casino opponents’ recent motion asking Judge Skretny to enforce his July 8th decision and force the NIGC to shut down gaming operations in Buffalo.  Jackson & Jackson are among the lead attorneys in that lawsuit.

Why is this a big deal?

The lawyers at Jackson and Jackson are related to Bruce.

They’re his kids.

How much Wendt Foundation money did they earn for their work on the casino lawsuit?  How much did Bruce receive in 2007 from the Wendt Foundation?  Why wasn’t that disclosed in his article?  Why do I have to be accused of “swiftboating” the Wendt Foundation by some guy for whom Wendt is a benefactor?

According to the 2006 IRS Form 990 disclosure of The Wendt Foundation, the “Network for Religious Communities” is the recipient of about $910,000 over the course of 2006. While most line-items for payouts have some detail to them, such as “Erie County SPCA: Purchase a replacement vehicle for the Rescue/Cruelty Investigations Department”, the Network for Religious Communities just gets “Support $1,455,000”. There is no further explanation. Network for Religious Communities is one of the many plaintiffs in the anti-casino lawsuit. [UPDATE: “Pat” points out in comments that CACGEC funnels donations through the Network for Religious Communities Rev. Showers is CACGEC’s Treasurer, and CACGEC does not appear to be a non-profit as recognized by the IRS.]

I called Wendt for comment, but no one was around to discuss it and no one has called me back. It appears, however, that Wendt funneled the money for the lawyers through the Network for Religious Communities rather than through the ad hoc, newly created “Citizens for a Better Buffalo”. To whom does Jackson & Jackson send its bills?

3. The Margaret Wendt Foundation, which has spent $2 million to protect the people of Buffalo from themselves by funding this lawsuit against the casino is one big, fat, 501c3 hypocrite.

Based on its 2006 IRS disclosure, between 2003 – 2006, it held $2.73 million worth of stock in Harrah’s. 58,900 shares, to be exact. It sold the shares in 2006 for about $4.8 million – a tidy $2 million profit.

One might say that Wendt’s investment in Harrah’s funded the Buffalo effort to destroy a Harrah’s competitor.

Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. is the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment through operating subsidiaries. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada 70 years ago, Harrah’s has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now owns or manages casino resorts on four continents The company’s properties operate primarily under the Harrah’s, Caesars and Horseshoe brand names; Harrah’s also owns the London Clubs International family of casinos and the World Series of Poker. On January 28, 2008, Harrah’s Entertainment was acquired by affiliates of private-equity firms TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management.

Harrah’s is also a leading management company for several Indian Casinos, such as Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort in San Diego, CA.   The Rincon Band of Mission Indians is the tribal organization affiliated with this casino.

Gambling.  Good enough for Bruce Jackson’s kids to make money off of. Good enough for the Wendt Foundation to make money off of.  Not good enough for you.

Not yours.

Research and contributions from Christopher Smith

wendt_form990_2007.pdf

Wendt_form990_2006

UPDATE: Thanks to Tom Bauerle for talking about this this morning.

Also, there’s this:

In 2001, The New York Times reported that Harrah’s Entertainment Corporation was in negotiations to manage and operate three Western New York casinos for the Seneca Nation. Harrah’s has a long track record managing casinos for Indian nations, including the Ak-Chin casino near Kansas City, the Rincon Casino in San Diego, and Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.

Harrah’s, the world’s second-largest casino company, is one of several companies that have made a proposal to the Seneca Nation of Indians, hoping the tribe will choose them to build and run as many as three casinos in western New York. Harrah’s says it has also discussed a Catskills casino with another tribe — it will not say which one — and scouted locations, armed with a feasibility study it conducted on the region several years ago.

Such casinos in New York would take some business away from Atlantic City, doubling the resolve of casino companies there to get a piece of the action in New York.

”If someone’s going to cannibalize us, I want to be the cannibal,” said Philip G. Satre, chief executive of Harrah’s, which has two Atlantic City casinos. He said his company was talking with the Senecas ”long before the bill was passed.”

So, is it possible that the purchase of Harrah’s stock in 2003 precipitated an expected agreement with the Seneca Nation to operate casinos in Western New York and the sale of that stock been predicated on the announcement or intention of the Seneca Nation to operate the casinos on their own?

(If any other media outlet decides to run with any of this, it’d sure be swell to get some attribution this time. KTHXBAI.)

Swiftboating? Moi?

24 Jul

Bruce Jackson writes in this week’s Artvoice:

The BuffaloPundit blog, anti-casino in the past, came out against the Wendt foundation on July 13. It’s posting for that day was headlined,“Margaret Went Foundation.” Under that was a pretty color picture of a casino at night with “Keeps Joel Rose” in the top left corner and “Up at night” in the bottom right corner. The remainder of the posting was a listing of fundable activities and grant recipients from the Wendt Foundation Web page and an attack on the foundation for its support of the lawsuit. On July 22 the site posted a photograph of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic under a caption saying, “Here’s what the Butcher of Sarajevo looks like nowadays.” Under the picture was a caption saying, “Rumor has it the Wendt Foundation is paying him $1,000,000 to fight a casino in downtown Buffalo.”

1. Thanks for the plug.

2. I was never anti-casino, per se. I was anti-carving-out-sovereign-exclaves-in-Buffalo-for-gambling-purposes. Even Skretny upheld the sovereign exclave bit. I’ve never subscribed to the moralistic or economic arguments against a casino.

3. My post spelled “Wendt” correctly – Artvoice didn’t. Although “Went” is clever.

4. The Karadzic crack – for the humor-challenged – was about likening Joel Rose’s beard to Karadzic’s hirsute disguise. Not likening CACGEC to Republika Srpska. I realize now that it could have been taken that way, and I’m sorry.

Perhaps the most surprising attack on the foundation was Michael Beebe’s July 20 article in the Buffalo News, which begins innocently enough with a listing of some Wendt grantees: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House and Graycliff, the Roycroft campus in East Aurora, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The foundation has funded, writes Beebe, “hundreds of social programs through churches, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, the Boy Scouts of America and the United Way. In each of the thousands of Wendt grants over the years, the philosophy has been the same: step in when government or other means of funding are not there, and do it as low-key as possible.”

Then Beebe’s tone changes: “Suddenly, though, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation finds itself at the center of controversy.”

How, exactly, is the Wendt Foundation in the “center of controversy”? Primarily by being in this article written by Beebe, which is headlined “Wendt in the middle of casino battle: Foundation aids foes with $1.9 million.” This is a newspaper article that defines and creates its own subject, a journalistic tautology.

Who is making the charges occasioning the article? Beebe refers to them only generically: “Talk-show hosts and bloggers have criticized the foundation for the $1.9 million it has spent so far funding the lawsuit against the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo.”

Talk-show hosts? Which ones? The rational ones or the fruitcakes? The analyzers or the frothers? Since when is criticism by a talk-show host the subject of a long piece by anybody in the news section of the Buffalo News? A dozen of those criticisms are aired on Buffalo talk radio every day and the News pays them no attention at all. Why now? Beebe told me in an email that he’d “heard snippets of Sandy Beach’s show…the day the casino decision came down” and that many of the blog comments he’d seen referred to “the same July 8 Sandy Beach show, in which they said he demonized the opposition.” The Buffalo News is going after the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation because Sandy Beach kvetched about it?

Bloggers? Beebe names none of them. Search the Buffalo blogs and you’ll find a lot of comments on the casino litigation (much of it by the same few people writing the same letters again and again), but hardly any, other than BuffaloPundit, going after the Wendt Foundation.

I’ll note for the record that Jackson doesn’t ever defend the Wendt Foundation’s use of $2 million to fund the casino lawsuit. Apart from confirming that how the foundation spends it money is up to its trustees, he only attacks its critics. I think that speaks for itself, and that the underlying point – that the Wendt Foundation certainly could have found better uses for $2 million – remains quite salient indeed.

More troubling, Jackson poses the suggestion that there is a conspiratorial, concerted effort to “Swiftboat” the Wendt Foundation.

Is all of this—Scott Brown’s WGRZ story (which has no ascriptions), Michael Beebe’s Buffalo News story (which has no ascriptions), the blog posts (nearly all of them under assumed names, many of them using the same language to make the same bogus charges again and again)—mere coincidence or is it a concerted effort to put public pressure on the one significant source of funding open to the casino opponents? Is it an expression of community concern or is it, at least in part, organized and deliberate? Is it swiftboating?

The most workable definition of “swiftboating” I’ve found is on the Urban Dictionary Web site: “A political ploy whereby allegations, falsehoods, exaggerations, or distortions are publicized to discredit a person or entity and have the intended effect that public attention is drawn to the ensuing controversy about the veracity of the allegations and away from some other political embarrassment.”

What a steaming load of horseshit. Bruce Jackson could have easily contacted me via email to ask me whether I had acted in concert with anyone in posting what I did about the Wendt Foundation, but did not. What I do on this site is comment on news events that interest me. I saw the Wendt Foundation story at WGRZ, heard them talk about it on WBEN, and decided to do a post about it because it troubled me, too. Jackson ought to retract his brain-farted supposition or else produce some evidence that I conspired with Channel 2 or WBEN to write something critical of the Wendt Foundation.

Also, in comments to the posted Artvoice piece, Joel Rose doesn’t understand how I know what keeps him up at night.

It’s a joke. It’s a picture of the proposed casino, and I suggest that it keeps you up at night.

I wonder what $2 million could have bought for the poor, underfunded, unconnected, and unprivileged in WNY.