Tag Archives: Conservative Party

Ralph Lorigo and the Conservative Party Endorsement (UPDATED)

16 Sep

It’s no secret that I detest New York’s archaic electoral fusion system, which enables platform-free, principle-free minor parties to exert undue influence on the political system.

In one of my recent posts about Clarence politics, I wrote this:

Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo was personally, directly involved in the now-abandoned plan to build a large Wegmans’ on Transit Road in Clarence, just north of Transit Road. Lorigo represents local developers like Benderson, but in this case Lorigo owned the real estate proposed to be used for the Wegmans project, half of which was zoned residential. The process was followed, the people (directly, and by & through their elected representatives) spoke, and Wegmans won’t be building there – that’s democracy how it should work. In less ethical places, the wishes of the politically-well-connected owner or developer might have taken precedence over the wishes of the public. Apparently, because Clarence went against Mr. Lorigo’s personal pecuniary interests, he retaliated against Mr. Bylewski by refusing him the Conservative Party endorsement; ironic, since following the law and democratic process is what one might expect a doctrinaire conservative to support.

This goes back to my entreaties to abolish electoral fusion because it’s rife with corruption from corruptables, and has very little – if anything – to do with political ideology.

I wasn’t talking out of turn there, either. I’ve heard from several sources whom I consider to be beyond reproach that Lorigo was proudly proclaiming that he’d withhold the Conservative endorsement from Bylewski because Wegmans didn’t go through. Beyond. Reproach.

Color me intrigued when Mr. Lorigo sent me this email yesterday:

I know you and I are politically on opposite ends of the spectrum but you have your fact wrong about Clarence . First it was the town committee that made the recommendations for endorsements and it was Wegmans that withdrew in the face of neighborhood opposition .

What I’ve learned is that, in politics, there’s the reason something happens, and then there’s the real reason.  Lorigo has just lost his best friend on the Clarence Town Board – Joe Weiss, who was trounced at the polls on Tuesday and abruptly resigned on Thursday (effective the 28th).  The local committee’s recommendation is often, and routinely, overruled by the county committee.

I asked Bylewski for his reaction to Lorigo’s email, and he sent this along:

I did not receive the local endorsement.  However, the County Conservative Party has stepped in the past in our Town’s local elections to either give the endorsement to someone else or open the line for a Primary.  This was recently done in a local judicial contest where the local committee endorsed one candidate and the County endorsed another.  This year, the Town Board race was opened up for all three candidates.

I had called the Chairman multiple times to talk with him.  However, he never returned the courtesy of the call.  When I saw the Chairman at a Conservative fundraiser, I reminded him of my calls and that I thought it would be best to meet and clear the air.  He agreed that it was a good idea and would call me.  At that same fundraiser, other high level Conservatives indicated they were working on my behalf.  Well, unfortunately, I am still waiting for that call.

As to the Wegmans’ project, we, as a Town, on multiple occasions wanted to and expressed a desire to work with the applicants.  However, it appeared that the applicants were unwilling to reconfigure their project more than a few feet.  This inability presented us with a project that would not work based on our Master Plan and extensive efforts internally to amend the Master Plan.  We provided detail developed by a UB Planning professor as to how the project could work on the existing site.  The applicants still refused.

I would receive calls from the applicant an hour or two in advance of a Town Board meeting.  Even though I was busy preparing for other matters, I took those calls because I wanted the process to work.

Ultimately, the process did work and the Master Plan has been adhered to.

If the Conservative Party was about conservative values, it wouldn’t hesitate to endorse Bylewski – a hard-working consensus-builder who has kept spending and taxes down, worked hard to promote the town’s best interests, and has expertly, calmly navigated some of Clarence’s biggest crises and development issues. A competent, meritorious Democrat in a Republican town is jarring to people who can’t see beyond labels. His opponent, meanwhile, is busy lying to the voters, treating them like uneducated, illiterate morons.

That the “Conservative Party”, which in the same breath endorses same-sex marriage proponent Tim Kennedy, and then heaps scorn and derision on same-sex marriage proponent Mark Grisanti, exerts any control or influence over our electoral politics in WNY is truly one of the reasons why this region (and state) is so rife with pay-to-play petty corruption and patronage. The electoral fusion system is perpetuated by the dealmaking that leaves both parties happy – the minor party gets favors and jobs, and the elected officials get re-re-re-elected with their help. It breeds cronyism and a dirty system in which the interests of the populace-at-large is left by the wayside.

Frankly, I won’t be fully convinced of Governor Cuomo’s reformist bona fides until he takes this dirty system on.

Ralph Lorigo may think he’s on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, but it’s not because I’m a liberal and he fancies himself a conservative.  Instead, it’s because I’m for competent, good, meritorious government and he (and his party) is (are) looking out for number one.

It’s. Enough. Already.

UPDATE: Wegmans statement

When Wegmans was interested in building a new store in Clarence, there were obstacles to us moving forward; while we worked to make progress towards that end, we discovered that a better option for us and our customers was to stay right where we were and expand the Wegmans at 8270 Transit Road instead.  We are still in the early phases of making that happen, but this is the direction that we are taking toward our goal of offering expanded service and products to our customers in that area.

Theresa Jackson, Consumer Affairs Manager, Wegmans Food Markets

Clarence Supervisor Race: Unethical Republican Fundraising

12 Sep

Fundraising & Primary Day

Tuesday the 13th is Primary Day throughout western New York, and I’ve taken quite an interest in the politics of my own town of Clarence. The politics have taken on a new shade of ugly there this season, mostly because certain Republicans find themselves unwilling to work with current Supervisor, Scott Bylewski.

First, two-time councilman Joe Weiss decided that his political feelings were more important than the Free Speech guarantees of the United States Constitution.

Then the Republican candidate for Supervisor, David Hartzell, politicized a routine IDA meeting and warned of an IDA “backlash” against those who dared to politically oppose him and otherwise engage in the lawful political process.

A palpable pattern of retaliation and threats from Weiss and Hartzell against those who oppose them has emerged.

Now? We have this letter sent by Mr. Hartzell to a prominent local law firm, soliciting for campaign donations and hinting not-at-all subtly about the possibility that, y’know, maybe a firm that gives him a nice sum of money might be, y’know, more likely to be selected to do outside legal work for the town, hint-hint, nudge-nudge.


If you’re going to send out a letter soliciting for a political donation, you might put something in about why you’re the better candidate; why you think the other guy is a loser; what your plan is, should you be elected; how the town is going down the wrong path, etc. Something – anything – that outlines to the prospective donor why their money is well-spent on your candidacy.

Everyone knows that large political donations are often seen as investments in a candidate; that the donors believe that their money should at least buy them access to an unhostile ear. That in itself is bad, but this isn’t a post about why we need public funding of elections.

This is a post about a subtle promise for future favoritism. Hartzell’s letter contains no pretextual B.S. about why the law firm should give him money – it gets right to the point and hints around about the fact that, should he win, the town’s going to hire a new outside firm. Reading between the lines, the implication couldn’t be clearer:

Throw me some cash, and maybe it’ll be your firm.

Is it illegal? Maybe. Unethical? Definitely. Unseemly? Hell yeah.

I’ve heard from loads of Clarence residents and businesses over the past few weeks, all of whom have thanked me for helping to expose Joe Weiss for the bullying, intimidating creep they – but few others – knew him to be. The battle in Clarence right now may be over signs, but signs don’t vote – people do.

Although I absolutely abhor fusion voting, if you’re a registered Independence Party or Conservative Party voter in the town of Clarence, you have a primary Tuesday, and I urge you to write Scott Bylewski’s name in on those party lines. The IP line has been pretty uniformly denied to Democrats this year throughout the state, and the Conservative Party line, which is controlled by Ralph Lorigo, went to Mr. Hartzell.

Please fan/follow Supervisor Scott Bylewski on Facebook and Twitter:


Why Should You Care?

The reason why this race is important has to do with Mr. Lorigo, actually. Clarence politics isn’t really controlled by party affiliation – not as much as you’d like to think.

What’s really going on is a battle over the growth of the town.

Clarence has a very precise and detailed Master Plan (map here) dating back eleven years. Some in the town consider that document to be advisory, and stand ready to disregard it for development by friendly developers. Others in the town, including Bylewski, believe that the Master Plan is the law of the town, and should only be changed, and variances granted, if the political process has been scrupulously adhered-to. Clarence may be a growing suburb, but it still retains a great deal of its exurban and rural roots, and while growth and development aren’t frowned upon, they are regulated and controlled.

Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo was personally, directly involved in the now-abandoned plan to build a large Wegmans’ on Transit Road in Clarence, just north of Transit Road. Lorigo represents local developers like Benderson, but in this case Lorigo owned the real estate proposed to be used for the Wegmans project, half of which was zoned residential. The process was followed, the people (directly, and by & through their elected representatives) spoke, and Wegmans won’t be building there – that’s democracy how it should work. In less ethical places, the wishes of the politically-well-connected owner or developer might have taken precedence over the wishes of the public. Apparently, because Clarence went against Mr. Lorigo’s personal pecuniary interests, he retaliated against Mr. Bylewski by refusing him the Conservative Party endorsement; ironic, since following the law and democratic process is what one might expect a doctrinaire conservative to support.

This goes back to my entreaties to abolish electoral fusion because it’s rife with corruption from corruptables, and has very little – if anything – to do with political ideology.

Collins Should Reject Conservative, Independence Party Endorsements

28 Jul

Yesterday, reputed golf cheat and local wealthy person Chris Collins called on Mark Poloncarz to reject the endorsement of the Working Families Party because ACORN! SOSHULIZM! and because of improprieties that took place by New York City-based representatives of that party – well, to wealthy industrialists from Spaulding Lake “money donated by unions” is a synonym for “improprieties”.

By that logic, I call on Chris Collins to reject the endorsements of the Conservative Party, which is fundamentally corrupt and based not on political ideology, but on what’s in it for its members.  I also call on Chris Collins to reject the endorsement of the so-called Independence Party, which has also been mired in controversy after controversy, including Mr. Haggerty’s current unpleasantness, accusations regarding quids pro quo in Erie & Monroe Counties with Jack Davis, and myriad other, daily payoffs that the IP gets for confusing unsophisticated voters into thinking that their endorsement means that the candidate is in some way “independent” of something.

Electoral Fusion is, at its core, a jobs-generating joke. It has no political value whatsoever. The Working Families Party actually has a platform, at least.  It’s just that its platform helps working people – something Chris Collins wouldn’t know very much about.

Byron Brown to Andrew Cuomo: Take Your Deal and Shove It

22 Jul

Why would the caretaker mayor of a depressed city that is dependent on state aid, programs, and control board, choose to betray the most popular governor in America?

WNYMedia.net has exclusively learned that, in a stark betrayal of Governor Cuomo’s express wishes for Democratic peace among all the various factionstop City Hall apparatchiks circulated Conservative Party nominating petitions on behalf of Republican County Executive Chris Collins and a Family Court Judge candidate.


The people who certified that they circulated these petitions are:

The petition on the first page has an illegible signature, but we are led to believe it belongs to none other than Byron Brown’s right-hand man, Steve Casey. For comparison’s sake, here is the signature shown on that petition:


Click to enlarge

And here is Casey’s signature (dated 2006), taken from the Board of Elections:

Click to enlarge

In my opinion, the signatures match.

These petitions were reportedly filed on Collins’ behalf, and they contain glaringly few actual signatures – as if the people circulating them weren’t really looking to ensure Collins’ inclusion on the Conservative line, but instead sending a message. The message here is, quite figuratively, a massive middle finger to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who went out of his way to broker a Democratic peace for the 2011 election cycle. This is Byron Brown and Steve Casey saying, “we’re not making peace with anyone” and underscoring the fact that their dealmaking and quids pro quo with Collins are far more important than actual policy or Democratic electoral success or unity; it’s possible that these petitions were circulated with Brown’s deals with Collins in mind.

But on the surface, it’s a frank betrayal of any Democratic bona fides Brown and his gang purport to have ever had, as they are clearly supporting a county executive who goes out of his way to do economic and social harm disproportionately targeting the poorest residents of the city Brown likes to think he represents as Mayor.

Prior to publishing this report, I reached out to City Hall through Brown’s spokesman, Mike DeGeorge.  I sent him the following email:

Mr. DeGeorge:

Tomorrow morning, WNYMedia.net will be running a story evidencing that top members of Mayor Brown’s cabinet, as well as someone in the law department and two people affiliated with citizen services, circulated Conservative Party nominating petitions for Chris Collins and a Family Court judge.

The reason for writing is to determine whether any of the following people: [names omitted] might have any comment on the matter, or whether the Mayor may wish to comment or issue a statement in some way.

As you’re no doubt aware, Governor Cuomo and Charlie King brokered a negotiated peace between the rival factions in the Democratic Party. Although the peace is messy, this is quite an interesting breach of it indeed.

My questions to these people would be:

  • What purpose would there be for these city officials to so brazenly disregard the Governor’s wishes, yet only collect a tiny handful of signatures?
  • What is the message being sent here to Andrew Cuomo? To Brian Higgins, ECDC, Grassroots, and city Democrats?
  • Will Mayor Brown be endorsing Chris Collins for County Executive?
  • Will Mayor Brown be endorsing Mark Poloncarz for County Executive?
  • Will Mayor Brown be endorsing anyone for County Executive?
  • Is there some quid pro quo or dealmaking underlying this apparent public support of Chris Collins?
  • Is Mayor Brown (or do any of these people) in favor of Collins’ policies, despite the fact that the poorest city residents have been most directly (often adversely) affected by them?
  • Has the Mayor heard from Governor Cuomo regarding this issue?
  • Is Mayor Brown thinking of changing his party affiliation?

The article is scheduled to run at 7:30 tomorrow morning.  Any statement/comment or response(s) to these questions would be appreciated before then.  I am specifically not asking for confirmation or denial or comment about the fact that the petitions were circulated and filed – the documents, which I will post, will speak for themselves. Mr. Casey’s signature appears on one of them, although I cannot be 100% sure. Perhaps he would like to confirm or deny that fact.  The documents – in pdf format – are visible by following this link. http://www.scribd.com/doc/60554311/CON-Petitions

Thank you in advance.


I did not receive a reply .

Three Thoughts

19 Jul

1. It’s great to see that James O’Keefe has set up another entrapment video, this time attacking Medicaid, (well, more specifically a county employee in Ohio), by reinforcing the most rank, ignorant stereotypes of people in need of government services – this time, posing as Russian mobsters with “gold plated” engines. Also good to see that he’s preying on Americans’ inherent politeness, even in the face of rank obnoxiousness, and trying to turn that into a scandal.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/SpeakerBoehner/status/90913667398385664″%5D

2. If Speaker Boehner is really serious about “stopping the spending binge” in Washington, when can we expect him to call for an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya?

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/SpeakerBoehner/status/93018233585664000″%5D

Really? Neither will Republicans – and they’re the ones pushing for a balanced budget amendment. So, that’s sorted.

3. Let’s say that a handful of Mayor Byron Brown’s City Hall operatives went out of their way to circulate Conservative Party petitions for Chris Collins, and let’s say they did so in the wake of that big Cuomo-brokered peace treaty, which has been carefully followed by the Higgins, Grassroots, and ECDC/Hoyt camps since being agreed-to.  What would the political calculus be for the Mayor of the state’s second-largest city to buck the express wishes of the most popular governor in the United States?

Grisanti Addresses the Criticism

28 Jun

Mark Grisanti is sorry.

If you based your vote in the 2010 race for the 60th State Senate District  on Grisanti’s then-opposition to same-sex marriage, then he apologizes to you.

Grisanti held a late afternoon press conference at the Mahoney office building yesterday, and had two messages to get across; the apology was one of them. The other? He didn’t horse-trade for his vote.

It’s rare that a political figure so blatantly and openly flip-flops on an issue and reneges on a campaign promise. But Grisanti makes it clear that he agonized over this issue during the six months it was on his agenda, and his exhausted tone and defiant words are loaded with something all too rare in our politics: sincerity.

Grisanti said that his offices were deluged with calls from all around the country, but claimed that they split about 50/50, for and against marriage equality.  He downplayed any rifts, indicating that he had spoken to both Conservative Party chair Ralph Lorigo and Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy, and while they’re disappointed, everyone has to move on to the next issue.  The elephant in the room? Although the Conservative line helped Grisanti defeat Antoine Thompson last year, neither the ECGOP nor the Conservatives really lifted a finger to help him get elected last year. Aside from the endorsement, there was no lit, no canvassers, nothing. Grisanti beat an entrenched incumbent himself, and it’s clear he bristles at their threats regarding his marriage equality votes.

Rumors are swirling about the possibility that Grisanti will revert back to the Democratic Party – not a bad move in a Democratic district that the likeable, smart Grisanti won handily with an (R) after his name. Now that Langworthy and Lorigo so publicly have their knives out for Grisanti over this vote, Grisanti notably didn’t rule out a party switch at some point in the future.  He said that this same-sex marriage vote, when paired with his 2008 letter strongly opposing it, has taught him not to ever paint himself into a corner again.

Grisanti’s vote wasn’t influenced by the phone calls, or by internet chatter, joking that he can’t even get on his own Facebook page. Instead, he performed legal research on the matter, finding out that civil unions don’t really work, and that married couples enjoy 1,300+ rights and privileges that unmarried couples don’t. He had to compartmentalize his faith and examine the issue purely on the facts and the law, resulting in a conversion.  However, he would not agree to vote in favor of this law without strong religious exemptions and an inseverability clause, which would render the entire law null and void should a future court change so much as one word.  Grisanti says that the clergy to whom he’s spoken since his vote appreciate that language.

Channel 2 and the News’ Bob McCarthy were intensely interested in the “betrayal” angle, and whether Grisanti had committed “political suicide”. Grisanti smiled and replied that he’s new to politics and didn’t make his decision under pressure. He said it was going to pass anyway, but he could not in good conscience refuse to extend basic civil rights to his taxpaying constituents. He said he doesn’t know – or care – whether he committed political suicide with this vote. He didn’t get into politics to be re-elected, but to do good by his constituents. If they decide he should leave Albany, so be it.

Grisanti seems visibly exhausted by the last few weeks, but he went out of his way to defend his honor against those who call him dishonorable, against those who say he cut a deal for UB 2020 or that the governor made him some sort of guarantee in exchange for his vote. He said UB 2020 was a done deal, and that the Governor made absolutely no promises to him, and that there was no quid pro quo whatsoever for his vote.

I guess in western New York politics, we’ve become so cynical and jaded, expecting our electeds to be dirty, dishonorable deal-makers that when we see true leadership, hard work, and conscientious research and analysis, we really don’t know how to react and assume we’re being played.

I don’t think Grisanti is playing anyone.


Ian Murphy for Congress & Corwin goes Homophobe

25 Feb

I don’t even recall where I saw it, but last night I sent an email to the Buffalo Beast‘s general email address and to publisher/owner Paul Fallon inquiring about something big they were planning for the NY-26 race. The response from Ian Murphy and Paul Fallon was that Murphy is considering a run for the Lee seat, possibly on the Green Party line.

Murphy has definitely gained some notoriety this past week with the Buffalo Beast’s epic prank call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and has lefty bona fides that make a run on that line possible and interesting. The Green Party in New York is tiny, but to its credit does not play the fusion game and runs its own candidates.

While Murphy has practically no shot of winning in this conservative, rural district, he has a unique opportunity to draw even more attention to a special election process that is already quite notable indeed. I predict shenanigans aplenty that will ironically mock the very foundation of our political system.

It’s good to know the Beast is back, and better than ever.

In other news, as you may know the Department of Justice has decided that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in pending litigation to declare it an unlawful usurpation of state’s rights, but remains obligated to continue to enforce DOMA until it is struck down by a court or repealed. Of course, almost everyone in the media and politics has begun screaming about how wrong it is that the Obama administration will now refuse to enforce an Act of Congress, when any fair reading of what’s going on shows that to be patently untrue. Chalk it up to some people not understanding much of anything, and posing as “journalists” and “politicians”.

To illustrate how stupid our politics has become, yesterday brand-new and sparkly Republican candidate for Congress in a non-existant special election, Jane Corwin, came out strongly in favor of the execrable Defense of Marriage Act and slammed President Obama for “usurping the power of the Supreme Court”; something he has quite clearly not done even remotely, even a little. I don’t know what the hell DOMA has to do with jobs and a crap economy in western New York, our needs for science, technology, industry, agriculture, employment, and a knowledge-based economy, but quite literally the first thing Corwin took up in her run for Congress is homophobia. Shame on her, and shame on the Republicans for being so preoccupied with their culture wars and not at all interested in jobs and the economy.

But it won Corwin the unanimous endorsement of the Monroe County Conservative Party, although she needs the state party’s approval for the line. Good to know the Conservative Party’s principles remain firm: hatred of gays, hatred of reproductive freedom, and love of patronage jobs.

When Corwin issued her scathing indictment of President Obama and gay people, three Tweets on the #NY26 hashtag came down simultaneously (One, Two, Three). Evidently, the “New Yorker’s [sic] Family Research Foundation“, the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, and the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms PAC have their Twitter feeds run by the same person; all three united to halt the growing menace of teh gay. A-holes.

Electoral Fusion Ruins New York Some More

29 May

New York is one of only a small handful of states that permits electoral fusion – the system whereby minor parties can and do endorse candidates from major parties. Any party that garners 50,000 votes or more on its party line in any gubernatorial election is guaranteed a slot on the ballot until the next gubernatorial election. It is often argued that the existence of these party lines enable die-hard Democrats to vote for a Republican without pulling a lever on the Republican line, and vice-versa for Republicans to vote for Democrats. The Conservative Party = Republicans. The Working Families Party = Democrats. The Independence Party = hacks and opportunists.

The net result of this is that a lot of dealmaking gets done to ensure minor party ballot lines – and in any New York State-based political deal, jobs are on the line. For the most part, all this amounts to is a big patronage factory. (I know that there are exceptions, but they just prove the rule.)

So, in-between the Democratic state convention last week and the Republican state convention next week, the Conservative Party held a convention that culminated in Republican Rick Lazio getting the nomination for that party line. This over the strenuous objection of supporters of Angry® Tea Party candidate and horse porn aficionado Carl Paladino, and Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.

In fact, two competing slates were up for votes at the Conservative convention yesterday – Rick Lazio and Erie County Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo. Lorigo, however, isn’t running. He put his name in as a placeholder for either Carl Paladino, whom he backs, or Steve Levy – Lorigo struck a deal with Levy supporters to create this placeholder slate.

Because Lazio got just a bit over 50% at the Conservative convention and Lorigo got over 30%, Lorigo’s slate has about a week to decide whether it will mount a primary.

Paladino is threatening to dilute the Conservative Party’s clout in November by launching a Tea Party line, and Paladino is supporting Lorigo’s move and will continue to do so unless Lazio strikes a backroom deal with him to guarantee him 25% of the vote at the Republican convention to guarantee a slot on the Republican primary ballot.

Remember Ed Cox moaning about how inclusive and open the Republican convention would be, as opposed to the Democratic convention where the delegates “conspired” in a “backroom deal” to ensure that all five AG candidates would appear on the September primary ballot? Yeah, what a load of disingenuous bullshit that was.

The only things missing from this story are the words “Steve Pigeon” and “Chris Collins”, who have conspired locally to cripple the Democratic Party.