Tag Archives: corruption

Democrats: Vote Teachout / Hochul September 9th

3 Sep

Tuesday September 9th is primary day, and Democrats throughout New York State have an important choice to make for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

I’m voting for Zephyr Teachout for Governor, and Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor, and you should, too. 

I am deeply disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s mishandling and abrupt cessation of the Moreland Commission’s investigation into Albany cronyism and corruption. These two topics are, to me, among the most important challenges facing the state today.  The role and power of money in politics, the unmitigated power of incumbency, the dictatorship of Albany authorities and bureaucracies, and the quid-pro-quo legalized bribery of electoral fusion all conspire to keep New York politics dysfunctional, slowly reactionary, and self-indulgent. For this reason, as well as Cuomo’s apparent lies about meddling in the state Senate, I have to register my disgust with the status quo.

These are huge, persistent problems, yet no one in or near power has any incentive to address or change them. Zephyr Teachout has made this the centerpiece of her campaign. 

I don’t do this lightly – my hesitation to denounce Cuomo is informed by how obviously good he’s been for western New York, helping to rebuild the foundation on which a new economy might emerge. We are finally making big leaps into the information age, having long-ago shed our reliance on big industry. We’re also rediscovering the value of skilled trades as an avenue for personal success and entrepreneurship. Having lost the WNY vote to Carl Paladino pretty decisively, Cuomo has paid remarkable attention to our region.  Imagine how good it would be for him to run for national office at some future date, and be able to campaign on how he turned around 50 years of Buffalo’s economic depression. I will enthusiastically vote for Andrew Cuomo in November if he is the party’s nominee. 

Furthermore, the Teachout/Wu ticket is focused on issues that matter only to the 5 boroughs of New York City – risibly so. As the old joke goes, ‘what’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? I don’t know and I don’t care’. Take a look at the five pillars of the Teachout/Wu platform, and the words “Buffalo” and “Western New York” appear exactly zero times. This ticket, as presented, has nothing to say about WNY or upstate issues (except for spotty broadband service and fracking) because they don’t know the first thing about it.  Teachout fumbled questions about keeping the Bills in WNY. Teachout/Wu presents a wide spectrum of points of view about New York State – Upper West and Lower East Side. 

Teachout’s “economy” piece deals mostly with consolidation of power, and the parts about infrastructure deal with the MTA and the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Upstate gets an abrupt shout-out about broadband, but that’s it.  The “education” piece is of general applicability to all of New York, and is replete with positions any Democrat should support – especially when it comes to the shameful way Albany has been balancing budgets on the schools’ backs for several years. On the “environment“, Teachout is the only serious candidate who opposes hydrofracking, full stop. Let Pennyslvania destroy its own aquifers – we like ours just fine, thanks. On “an open democracy“, Teachout talks about reforms that really have little to do with opening up democracy, and talks instead of reforming criminal justice, marijuana laws, and preventing abuse of the disabled. 

But the bigger picture has to do with the way the system itself is rigged – even when it benefits us as western New Yorkers.  It’s simply not being treated like the serious problem it is. That’s why the position on “corruption” is so important to me. The only thing missing – because Working Families Party – is an entry denouncing and promising an end to electoral fusion in New York State. Not incidentally, Teachout has written a scholarly work attempting to prove that embedded in our Constitution is an “anti-corruption principle” every bit as important as, say, separation of powers. 

So, because Teachout’s platform imagines that New York consists – with the exception of the Albany exclave – mainly of territories East of the Hudson and South of Poughkeepsie, I will be voting for Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor. 

Hochul has the administrative and governmental chops to make up for Teachout’s utter lack of experience, and Hochul brings with her a native’s passion and knowledge about rural and western New York realities to help balance out Teachout’s geographically limited platform. Hochul was an independent-minded, conservative Democrat and balances out Teachout’s progressive-left worldview and mindset. Remember – although Teachout is running with Wu and Hochul is running with Cuomo, you can split these slates up however you’d like. Vote Cuomo/Wu, if you prefer. 

This isn’t about conspiratorial fantasies, either. I’m not trying to punish Cuomo for the NY SAFE Act or the dictatorship of the bureaucracy, except insofar as he’s doing nothing to make state bureaucrats answerable (at least indirectly) to their bosses – the people. 

For all the good he’s done for western New York, Andrew Cuomo has deceived Democrats and reformists in this state to the point of outrage. The brazen horse-trading with Senate President Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver to abruptly end the Moreland Commission on corruption was the last straw. No on-time budget is worth sacrificing the public trust yet again. It also speaks to the fundamental anti-democratic unfairness of the continued all-powerful triumverate that presides over Albany’s body politic. Cuomo’s apparent involvement in maintaining a Republican-led Senate is a betrayal made worse by lies

Albany graft and corruption help to stall and demean economic, political, and social progress in every corner of New York State. Teachout deserves support in the upcoming primary because she’s the only candidate who perceives and identifies the problem, and is assigning it the importance it deserves. But Teachout’s political novelty and ignorance about rural and upstate issues demand that the ticket be balanced with someone with experience and a WNY worldview.

Democrats should vote Teachout/Hochul on September 9th. 

Cuomo’s Betrayal

25 Jul

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

The biggest and worst problem plaguing Albany and New York State politics is corruption. Albany’s especial brand of dysfunction thrives in an opaque environment, and there is a complete and bipartisan absence of political or moral will to change it. It’s been well over a decade since people and organizations began to seriously address this culture of corruption, and NYU’s Brennan Center deserves kudos for pushing the issue with specificity

It was almost a decade ago that Suffolk County Executive Tom Suozzi barnstormed the state, seeking the Democractic nomination for governor under the banner of “Fix Albany”. We send Assemblypeople and Senators to Albany, and while we see occasional profiles in courage, like Mark Grisanti’s pivotal vote on same-sex marriage, these individuals do little legislating and a lot of grandstanding. Nothing ever changes, and there’s no one who’s all that interested in cleaning Albany up. 

Enter Andrew Cuomo, a former Attorney General who swept into Albany to get things done, but also to restore trust in state institutions. While he has infuriated the gun-hugging areas of the state outside the NYC media market, he has now successfully angered the left, most starkly by helping to maintain a Republican Senate majority. In order to secure the Working Families Party’s Wilson Pakula, Cuomo decided to actually back members of his own party to win Senate races. 

But his most promising act was to establish a “Moreland Commission” to investigate corruption in Albany – most importantly, the misuse and corruption surrounding campaign finance in the state. This dovetailed nicely with Cuomo’s now-erstwhile support for public financing of elections – a goal he all but abandoned in order to “get things done” with respect to a budget deal with the other two men in the room. (That hasn’t changed, either). 

This New York Times article is a blockbuster of investigative journalism, outlining the ways in which Governor Cuomo’s office micromanaged and hamstrung the work the Moreland Commission was doing before he unceremoniously and summarily killed it in order to “get things done” viz. budget deal with Silver and Skelos. Here is a brilliant timeline that the Times put together. Luckily, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, is picking up where the defunct commission left off, investigating and prosecuting obvious illegality. 

I frankly don’t get it. If Cuomo’s aim is to ascend to the White House, he’s just dealt himself a huge blow. It won’t do much to say, “I fixed Buffalo, the unfixable” when opponents and allies alike view him with distrust because when it came time to address the state’s most pressing problem, Cuomo whiffed. 

He didn’t just whiff – he threw the game. 

I’m not going to support Astorino, and Zephyr Teachout lost me by holding a “Cuomo resign” presser with Astorino. It’s high time we stopped demanding resignation and impeachment every time a politician does something stupid or with which we disagree. It’s stupid and childish.

I want someone to say that the NY SAFE Act is a distraction from the real problems we have, like unfunded mandates, the Gap Elimination Adjustment robbing schools blind, the completely unregulated and mismanaged state Authorities, our corrupt and corrupting Wilson Pakula/electoral fusion system whereby party endorsements are exchanged for money and jobs, and the toothless, ineffective board of elections that is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute campaign finance fraud. These are all long-standing issues, and very well known. But New York has a dictatorship of the bureaucracy, and for some reason elected officials have no will to fight that tyranny of the careerists. Even, tragically, Andrew Cuomo. 

Getting things done is great, and it’s a welcome change from the feckless Pataki Adminstration. But New York Democrats have had almost 10 years to do something meaningful about not just the symptoms, but the root causes of why the state underperforms economically – especially outside of the New York City metro. 

Four years ago, a New York Observer article wrote that mine was the “Site that Saved Andrew Cuomo”. I don’t – for a second – doubt, question, or regret my 2010 support for Cuomo over Carl Paladino. But in 2014, the continued state gutting of public school budgets, tyranny of the Authorities, continued erosion of public trust through “electoral fusion” dealmaking,  and Albany’s unwillingness to heal itself make me wish for a true alternative – not just a Westchester County apparatchik or a leftist Manhattan protest candidate. 

New York isn’t broken because of the number of bullets you can put in a magazine is now restricted. But your focus on things like that help to distract you from genuine problems that affect us all. 

Albany’s Culture of Corruption & Fusion

3 Jun

In your real day-to-day life, does last week’s Zephyr Teachout / Working Families Party brinksmanship with Governor Cuomo matter to you? 

Mr. Langworthy hits on a key point of New York’s fundamentally corrupt electoral fusion system – all of this chasing of third, fourth, and fifth lines involves extortion and bribery.  All of it. Every single one.

The system is dirty because the system is set up to be dirty. 

You want to be angry about Cuomo dismantling the Moreland Commission on public corruption literally overnight to cut a budget deal? I’m angry, too, and hope the US Attorney in Manhattan truly does pursue what scraps he’s been able to gather. Asking Albany to clean house reminds me of Jesse Pinkman, the young henchman from Breaking Bad, attending group drug counseling so he can sell meth to other attendees. 

 But the system itself can’t be reformed as long as fusion is permitted to be legal. You can bet that just about very time a politico chases a minor party fusion line, there’s some degree of corruption afoot. The “Independence Party” is the worst, but they’re all cut from the same cloth. 

It really doesn’t get any simpler. If you want to end Albany’s culture of corruption, you have to end Albany’s culture of corruption. Just. Do. It. 

If you’re like I am, do you draw any comfort or satisfaction from the fact that Cuomo is equally reviled on both the hard left and hard right? 

Prison Gangs of New York

7 May

Prison Gangs of New York

 

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

Meanwhile, an Ontario Judge Kicks Rob Ford Out of Office

27 Nov

Although Ontario is right here in our own backyard, we think about it when it comes to sport or culture or shopping, yet most of us are blissfully ignorant of Ontario politics.  Yesterday, Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland ruled that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford be removed from office for violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.  Text of the decision is below. 

Ford wasn’t immediately dismissed; the removal is stayed for 14 days. Ford plans to appeal the ruling

For the uninitiated, Ford is a Tory from Etobicoke, a western suburb that is part of the City of Toronto. His family owns a label company there, and he entered politics as a Toronto city councilman in 2000. He was elected Mayor in 2010 as Torontonians sought to reduce fraud and waste in city government.  He positioned himself as a populist conservative, attacking perks in members’ budgets and calling for removal of long-termers in the council. He became mayor on a platform of “putting people and families first, focusing on the fundamentals, reducing waste, and eliminating unnecessary taxes.”  Think of him as a portlier, blue-collar Chris Collins. 

Like Collins, Ford has a reputation for being arrogant, ignorant, and disrespectful.

Ford’s removal from office had nothing to do with his fiscal conservatism, and everything to do with arrogance and ignorance. In early 2010, then-councilman Ford sent letters on official City of Toronto letterhead identifying him as “Etobicoke North Councillor” soliciting donations for his private “Rob Ford Football Foundation”. He collected just over $3,000 from donors, including several city lobbyists, clients of city lobbyists, and a company that did business with Toronto. His colleagues in the council sanctioned him and ordered him to pay the money back, and a taxpayer lawsuit was filed. 

“In his letter of response to the complaint, Councillor Ford wrote, ‘I do not understand why it would be inappropriate to solicit funds for an arm’s-length charitable cause using my regular employment letterhead,'” Leiper quoted him as saying.
 
Ford had said there was “no basis in policy or law” to stop him from fundraising this way. However, Leiper said she had advised him in December 2009 and in February 2010 that he shouldn’t fundraise in this way.

After the decision yesterday, the plaintiff’s counsel indicated that it didn’t have to be this way

“It is tragic that the elected mayor of a great city should bring himself to this,” Ruby said. “Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford. It could have so easily been avoided. It could have been avoided if Rob Ford had used a bit of common sense and he had played by the rules.” 

As Globe and Mail columnist Marcus Gee explains

What they missed was a dangerous strain of arrogance. This was the mayor who called senior civil servants to his office to demand paving and other repairs outside his family business in Etobicoke. This is the mayor who used publicly paid workers in his office to help coach his high-school football team. This is the mayor who called the head of the Toronto Transit Commission to complain about a late bus that had been pulled out of service to pick up his football players. And this is the mayor who wanted the city’s accountability officers reformed out of existence when some of them questioned his conduct and policies.

Here was a guy who ran as a man of the people but acted as if he were above the limits that apply to ordinary mortals. For Rob Ford, the rules were always for somebody else. Nowhere was that clearer than in the case that led to Monday’s damning court judgment. While he was still a lowly member of city council, a position he held for a full decade, the city’s Integrity Commissioner found that he had used his status as councillor to solicit funds for his private football charity. Among the donors he approached were lobbyists and a company that does business with the city. The commissioner found that seven lobbyists or clients of lobbyists who had donated to the football charity had either lobbied Mr. Ford or registered an intent to lobby him.

The danger is obvious: if a lobbyist does a favour for a councillor – even if it means donating to a good cause – he might expect something in return. Mr. Ford, who rails about corruption at city hall, should have seen that.

Instead, he brushed off the complaint.

In Toronto, they remove their elected officials for perceived conflict of interest over $3,000 to a personal football charity.  Anyone get the sense that, under those rules, practically every politician in western New York would be removed?  It comes as no surprise that Canada is the 10th least corrupt nation in the world, while the United States can manage 18th

Rob Ford Conflict of Interest Decision

Stenhouse Settles (How Not to Run a Poor City)

15 Jan
Buffalo City Hall

Buffalo City Hall by Flickr User Alex Fisher Photography

The corruption lawsuit brought by NRP, a Cleveland developer, against some city bigshots just got itself an empty chair to which the other defendants can point. It’s alleged that the Rev. Richard Stenhouse and his Jeremiah Partnership conspired with Byron Brown, Steve Casey, and others to shut NRP out of a proposed east side housing development project unless it would retain Stenhouse’s unwanted services.

No one who pays even passing attention to Buffalo politics was surprised by it. The only surprise is that an out-of-town plaintiff with little else to lose was willing to go to war over it.  Racketeering, Buffalo style: city government fails even at that.

Stenhouse’s insurance company reportedly paid $200,000 to settle the case. That leaves city officials still litigating the case, and Stenhouse is free and clear but could still be subpoenaed to testify at trial. That Stenhouse’s insurer chose to dump the case at this stage for a hefty six-figure sum is indicative of a thought there that the facts and law weren’t shaping up all that favorably. And instead of paying Stenhouse $80,000 for unwanted “services”, NRP itself got paid for enduring the insult.

But I’ll take note of something else that troubles me about Stenhouse and his Jeremiah Partnership. The east side, as we all know, is not at a loss for housing; it’s at a loss for habitable housing. There are thousands of vacant homes blighting the city, abandoned to the clinging remnants of once-thriving neighborhoods. To modernize each one costs a small fortune – especially if one is poor. New windows, new siding, lead paint remediation, structural repairs, updating the utilities – these cost loads of money that are seldom justified by a concomitant rise in home value. That’s why land banking is a viable option for much of Buffalo, and why the state passed a land banking law, and why Empire State Development is accepting land banking bids.

This program permits municipalities to apply for and create land banks in their communities.  Pursuant to Article 16 of the New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation Law, signed into law by Governor Cuomo in July 2011, certain municipalities are permitted to create land banks upon approval of ESD.  Land banks are not-for-profit corporations created to take control and redevelop vacant or abandoned properties to where they can better serve the public interest.

Program Highlights

  • In order to combat the problem of vacant and abandoned properties, the program permits local communities to create land banks to be utilized by communities to facilitate the return of vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use.
  • The primary focus of land bank operations is the acquisition of real property that is tax delinquent, tax foreclosed, vacant and/or abandoned, and to use the tools of the program to eliminate the harms and liabilities caused by such properties.
  • Ten land banks will be permitted to be created within New York State.

Eligibility, Criteria & Additional Program Information

Eligibility, criteria and additional program information, can be found in the Land Bank Program Guidelines. For additional information, please review the Land Bank Act (Article 16 of the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law).

And what is the Stenhouse track record of improving and lifting up the community? David Torke at the FixBuffalo blog will tell you all about it. Take, for instance, 38 Ada Place. A quaint little one-block street of once-tidy homes, Ada Place has loads of rehabilitation potential, given its proximity to Main Street and  Canisius.

Torke writes:

Rev. Stenhouse’s organization Bethel Community Development Corporation purchased 38 Ada Place in 2002. Three years ago I included a post about 38 Ada Place in a six part series about a failed neighborhood housing plan.  Rev. Stenhouse wanted to be part of that plan.  38 Ada Place  looked like this in March 2009.

Rev. Stenhouse was invited to Housing Court for his failure to properly maintain a string of houses across the street from his Bethel AME Church, near the corner of East Ferry and Michigan and directly across the street from one of the City’s newest school renovations – Performing Arts.   He later resigned from the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority when he plead guilty in Buffalo’s Housing Court in 2007.  He’d been appointed by Governor Pataki to be the Control Board’s Secretary and Treasurer in 2004.

What happened to that failed neighborhood housing plan?  It’s dead.  Rev. Stenhouse and his now defunct Jeremiah Partnership are defendants in a Federal “Pay-to-Play” lawsuit.  Here’s a copy of that lawsuit filed on behalf of a Cleveland Ohio based developer NRP Group in June 2011.  According to public records the Jeremiah Partnership failed to file the required 990’s for three consecutive years. The IRS has revoked its exempt status.

It would seem to me that the Rev. Stenhouse is already in water far too deep for his own abilities, and that he ought to concentrate on the structures he already owns, rather than allegedly conspiring with city officials to clumsily strong-arm developers into a job or a contract.

It’s indicative of the fact that the city isn’t about governing, per se, it’s about enrichment through money and the use of power. Through land banking and a strong homesteader program with grants and no-interest loans for people to fix up old homes, we can shore up what’s good, land bank what’s not, and try to rebuild communities block by block using existing home stock, rather than vinyl ranch homes that look more at home in Cheektowaga than a few blocks from the central business district.

Stenhouse's Contributions as per the BOE

Also, a Buffalo News headline claimed that Mayor Brown, in a Friday court filing, “took the offensive” and “countersues”. The case docket with the District Court reveals that the defendants have filed no counterclaim. In fact, what was filed on Friday is a Federal Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss; in this instance, it’s been filed in lieu of a formal Answer to the Complaint, because the defendants argue that the plaintiff has no case. In the old days, it was called a “demurrer“.  But no counterclaim or “countersuit” has been filed, and the headline author was incorrect on that point. 

In its papers, the defendants say that the “pay to play” allegations are untrue because Stenhouse never made a contribution to the Mayor. That’s true, as far as we know. However, the Jeremiah Partnership is a faith-based organization, and as such may be exempt or legally barred from making political contributions. However, it’s not Stenhouse or Jeremiah that’s alleged to have “paid” to play, but that they conspired with city officials to make NRP pay Jeremiah Partnership to secure a lucrative development contract.

You can read the relevant parts of the Mayor’s and Steve Casey’s motion below. Defendant Demone Smith filed a similar motion on Friday. Much of what’s written there is bluster and public relations about NRP’s own reputation.

Amended Complaint NRP v. Brown et al//

12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss NRP v. Brown et al//

Memorandum of Law in Support of Brown’s Motion to Dismiss//

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!

Pigeon Interview

3 May

This weekend at the New York Democratic Rural Conference, Marc Odien and I were there to shoot video of the speeches, wait for the results of the annual straw poll, work some sources for news/gossip and maybe score an interview or two.

To our surprise, in walked the white whale of political interviews, Gerald Steven Pigeon.  You might know him better as Pedro Espada’s patronage employee, former Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, current subject of a federal money laundering investigation, or the bogeyman in the closet of New York State politics.  Marc and I were eager to interview the Rasputin of local politics.

Each time scandal arises in WNY or statewide politics, you can be assured there are accusations that it is somehow tied to Pigeon.  I’ve often wondered if Pigeon didn’t simply serve as a necessary evil or foil for local politicos as they won or lost various political negotiations.  If they lost, it’s easy to blame the galloping ghost of graft, Steve Pigeon.  If they won, they overcame some conspiracy led by Pigeon which only increases the margin of their perceived victory.

However, we’ve done our homework over the years and usually only bring Pigeon into the equation when the evidence warrants his inclusion.

And when we do bring him into the discussion, its usually not been very kind.

Last month, I wrote this in a profile of Steve Pigeon during the PolitiFAIL tournament:

Pigeon is a  malignant mole on the face of this region, an unlanced boil on the ass of Buffalo.  Generally unaccountable to the public as he is an inside player, this Machiavellian prince of pomposity and backroom deals has worked to empower the Grassroots majority that is the current scourge of election law and political propriety, put together the Responsible New York Cotillion of Inside deals to overthrow a duly elected Democratic majority in the State Senate and essentially acts as unelected fixer for politicians and patronage seekers alike.

It is politics and power before policy and governance with this man.  It’s all a game in which the daily butcher’s bill details the winners and losers in the political world but cares not for the real world implications of those power games.

Pigeon, granting access to power, privilege and donor lists in exchange for the right to take it all away should you cross him politically.  Pigeon eschews sunlight and transparency and operates his politics in the darker corners of society. Concealed behind closed doors, as if in a closet.  From his tiny closet of lies, inside power and secrets he has surreptitiously changed our politics forever in this region.  Until he comes out of that closet, we’ll be subject to his underhanded shenanigans and machinations of inside baseball.  Steve, do us all a favor and come out of the closet.

I asked Steve for an interview and he agreed to discuss his role in last summer’s State Senate coup, his relationship with Pedro Espada, the current investigation of he and Espada, and his role as the bogeyman/Rasputin of local politics.  We posted the interview without our traditional snarky musical soundtrack or clever editing.  We thought we’d give Steve the opportunity to respond to the things we’ve written over the years.

Evidently, he reads the site and doesn’t think too highly of our good friend, Alan Bedenko.

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A lot of party line stuff on the coup and Espada that we’ve been hearing for over a year.  If we had more time, we would have covered more ground, but he was pretty wound up towards the end and we ran out of time to ask him about the “Reform Coalition” or get deeper into the federal investigation.  Maybe next time around…

Pedro Espada, Jr

29 Apr

When they make the biopic of Pedro Espada, Jr. – the most unapologetically, blatantly corrupt and petulant politician this side of Louisiana – they will quite obviously have to retain the services of Joe Pesci to play Mr. Espada.

Just watch this report from YNN and look at Espada’s body habitus and choice of suits.  If that’s not Tommy DeVito (Goodfellas), I don’t know who is.

Iceberg Tips, One Suspects

11 Apr
West Seneca town hall
Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes, you discover that the problem isn’t so much whether you have a town board of 3 or 5 or 7 people.

Sometimes, you discover that there’s a 30 year history of fundamental corruption and conflict of interest.

I suspect that the story of West Seneca Building Inspector William Czuprynski is not as infuriatingly unique as we might hope, and that it’s more indicative of how “business” gets done in Western New York.