Tag Archives: Councilman Mickey Kearns

Looking Forward To 2013

17 Sep

The results of Tuesday’s Democratic Mayoral Primary Election in Buffalo are in and aside from a few crankpots crying about voter fraud, it’s over.  I mean seriously, for the voter fraud claims to matter, you’re talking about 5,000+ fraudulent votes.  Using the tired old bullshit about groceries and cigarettes for votes is just that, tired.  We checked out those claims as they came in and they were baloney.

Let’s take a look at the results by district and compare them to the 2005 Democratic primary results.


Aside from turnout levels, the 2009 race looked a lot like 2005.  Byron Brown won the Masten, University, Fillmore, Ellicott and Lovejoy districts while Mickey took the South, North, Niagara and Delaware districts.  One can leave the analysis at the city polarizing along racial lines or income level (and you’d be partially right), but there is a bit more to it.  As I see it, Mickey could have won this election easily, if he had the right strategy and a solid organization which canvassed and worked on election day to Get Out The Vote (GOTV).

The problem with Mickey’s campaign was exactly what I said two months ago, no vision.  He ran a Common Council platform on a citywide scale and did nothing to offer a clear alternative to his opponent.  I also said the only chance Mickey at victory was if Brown completely imploded.  Only the near self-immolation of Byron Brown by way of One Sunset, Leonard Stokes and Michelle Barron made this an interesting race.  When the Brown meltdown began, Kearns didn’t have the organizational support of ECDC at his back nor the independent resources to step his game up.  Carl Paladino rode in on a white horse to help, but frankly, Carl is an asshole.  He brings money and publicity, but there are just as many people in the city who hate him as love him.  Carl’s involvement began to make Byron look like a sympathetic figure.

When we met with Mickey a few weeks ago, I told him I thought Niagara was the key to his hopes for victory.  The presumption being that Masten and South would basically cancel each other out and Mickey needed to take a winnable district, maximize turnout and build a buffer.  If he could make inroads in Niagara, it might have a bleedthrough effect to North and Ellicott precincts which could bring the numbers closer in those districts.

Looking at their canvassing maps in the election offices, I thought they spent too much time farming infertile ground in Masten, University, and Fillmore.  Every prime voter in Niagara should have been touched at least three times, preferably more.  Canvassed, lit drops, phone calls, community events, etc.  Mickey had Niagara District Councilman David Rivera on his side and several prominent West Side activists working for him.  While those campaign volunteers worked their tails off, they didn’t have the resources to mount a serious GOTV effort on election day and the voter identification pre-work wasn’t there to support a ground operation on election day.

It’s also interesting that with all the hipster angst being espoused on various local blogs, Byron did pretty well in the core hipster precints of the Elmwood Village and Allentown.  I’d suspect that a candidate with a serious campaign with the appropriate level of big picture vision would have pulled in bigger numbers in Delaware.

So, all of this brings us to 2013.  When looking at the map from the last two elections, the battle lines are clear.  Assuming Byron runs again in 2013, who is on the bench of the Democratic Party to challenge him?  Mike LoCurto?  Maria Whyte?  Sam Hoyt?  Dave Rivera?  Or will we look to another wildcard like Kevin Gaughan?  The candidate who chooses to take up the fight against Byron or  whomever Grassroots puts forward as his replacement in the event of a Brown promotion (Antoine Thompson or Demone Smith) needs a couple of things, most notably:

–  A clear platform filled with aspirational goals and a message of positivity.  Be the big picture opportunist and identify a couple of common council members who can endorse your vision while promising that the day-to-day service delivery is going to be excellent under your stewardship.

–  A well-organized corps of volunteers who will canvass, stump, lit drop and phone bomb.  Grassroots is excellent at the blocking and tackling of election day maneuvering and they do their homework prior to election day.  If you’re going to eat into their east side edge, you better have a plan to maximize turnout in Delaware, Niagara and South.  Not just maximize, but blow it out.

Is such a candidate in Buffalo?  The war isn’t about racial lines; it’s about organization and messaging, two things Mickey sorely lacked.

What do you think. is there someone out there who can be groomed?

Mickey Kearns for Mayor

14 Sep

I’m a registered Republican, and a resident of Grand Island. I’m not allowed to vote for the mayor of Buffalo. But that doesn’t mean this race doesn’t affect me – in fact, the mayor of Buffalo probably directly affects my life more than my own town supervisor.

So, please, those that can, do what I can not do. Vote for Mickey Kearns for Mayor of Buffalo. Thank you.

Kearns for Mayor of Buffalo

13 Sep

For all intents and purposes, election day for Mayor of the City of Buffalo falls on Tuesday of this week.

Of course, I am but a lowly suburbanite with no ability or right to vote in this election. My opinion is completely worthless, and I recognize this 100%. However, I do believe that what happens in the city of Buffalo can have an affect on the rest of the region, including my town. A well-run city attracts people and businesses. A poorly run one repels them. It’s as simple as that. So, as a proponent of regionalism and metropolitan government, I will opine in this race, as I did in 2005 when I urged the people of Buffalo to vote for Kevin Helfer.

Here’s what I said then about Byron Brown:

He’s a nice guy and I’m sure he’s a hard worker and loves Buffalo. I have no doubt about that. But I fear that he would maintain the status quo. When interviewed on the WNY Progress Report about patronage and Ray McGurn, Brown said that patronage wasn’t such a bad thing, and that Ray McGurn isn’t his problem. The constant illegal parking outside his downtown campaign office is emblematic of an arrogance of power and a complete disregard for the rules by which the rest of us live by.

But above all, Brown has no executive experience whatsoever, and has done little during his tenure in the State Senate. History has proven time and again that a driven politician with good ideas can make his mark against even the most difficult odds. Brown didn’t go to the Senate to shake things up and reform it. He went to play along. Out of 4 bills that he co-sponsored in the Senate, three involved the changing of street names. Not a record of achievement.

When Brown headed up Grassroots – the political club he helped found to wrest political influence from people like Arthur Eve – $80,000 in money went unaccounted-for. Brown is receiving a great deal of support from his buddies in Grassroots like Maurice Garner and Clarence Lott. Ultimately, a Brown administration would replace the South Buffalo patronage mill with a Grassroots patronage mill.

By contrast, Helfer pledges a meritocracy, whereby only qualified people get hired – not the best-connected people.

Ah, meritocracy. What a quaint concept.

What Byron Brown brought to the city was a hyper-political environment where who you know is more important than what you know. An environment where you are ordered by your supervisor to do campaign work. The idea of meritocracy in City Hall is all but dead, as underscored by the myriad good people hired for important positions whose departures were attributed to the ham-handed, arrogant, offensive interference by Brown’s ultra-political, Pigeonesque deputy.

While some progress has been made fiscally and in other areas, as pointed out in the Buffalo News’ non-endorsement endorsement, the problem isn’t whether or not Byron Brown has been a failure. In many ways, he hasn’t. That is, if your measure of success means that things plod along with the same old ad hoc battles being waged and same old problems being band-aided by the same old “solutions”.

Four years in, and there’s still no plan.

The problem is that Byron Brown is above all a disappointment. He was the first new mayor elected to lead the city in a decade. He is young. He is a transplant to the area. He is smart, bright, and seemingly inquisitive. One would think that someone such as this might bring new ideas to the office – ideas that might help Buffalo abandon its post-industrial rust belt malaise and begin its journey towards whatever’s next.

Instead we get Citi-Stat and its accompanying show-trials of department heads. We get BERC handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars to inexperienced restaurateurs who are friendly with the Mayor, but poor credit risks. We don’t have Smart Code. We don’t have a comprehensive plan for the city’s future and a path to get there. We have Brown instead taking credit for everything good, and passing the buck on every mistake and misstep.

Seriously, the last time Brown acknowledged a mistake was after he tried and failed to cover up his kid’s late-night joyride. Everything with the Brown Administration is a state secret of the highest order. There is no accountability, no candor.

These things count for something in this day and age. In this place.

So, we turn to Mickey Kearns. He made a splash last year bucking Mayor Brown and Brian Higgins on the Route 5 changes now underway. Frankly, I think he’s wrong on that. He has a tendency to fumfer and filibuster, and he’s a relative newcomer to city government. He has been waging battle against a small-picture mayor by countering with his own small-picture ideas. These are problematic for me, because a city like Buffalo needs vision as much as it needs honesty and competence.

Kearns has that honesty. He’s a straight talker. When he tells you something, it’s unencumbered by embellishment and excuses. He promises to be open-minded and learn not only from the city’s past mistakes, but from other cities’ successes. He recognizes that the closed-mindedness in City Hall is a problem, and he pledges to change that. Kearns lists Jimmy Griffin as one of his political influences, but is quick to point out the good in Griffin and jettison the bad.

Rather than re-hashing Kearns, read what Jim Heaney has to say. It’s dead-on.

So, the choice becomes whether you want honesty and openness in city government, or four more years of ultra-politicization, cover-ups, half-steps, and malevolent political coercion? Look, I don’t harbor any illusions about Mickey Kearns being the hope for a new, progressive, forward-thinking Buffalo. But we took a chance on Brown. Now it’s time to take a chance on Kearns.

Vote Kearns on Tuesday.


Channel 2 Mayoral Debate

13 Sep

Good: that Channel 2 held the only “televised” Mayoral debate.

Bad: that Channel 2 didn’t, and hasn’t, actually “televised” it.

Part one is here, after the jump.  Get the other segments here. Note to Channel 2 – you couldn’t have made this more of a pain in the ass to watch, and the fact that your embed code includes autoplay is absolute rubbish. Continue reading

Ricchiazzi Endorses Kearns

10 Sep

His statement/press release after the jump. (Update: for those of you who say “who’s Ricchiazzi”, click this link or this link.)

Continue reading

Silly Season

10 Sep

This is the strangest mailing I’ve ever seen, and a South Buffalo correspondent informs me that it came in an envelope with a return address of PO BOX 256, Buffalo, NY 14201, which he identifies as the Mayor’s Leadership Council. It is a copy of a Kearns ad that ran in other city districts making an issue of the amount of attention South Buffalo gets in appointments and funding comparative to other districts.

This was accompanied by a letter signed by 6 City Hall Dept Heads that live in South Buffalo and were mentioned in the Kearns ad. The subtext is that South Buffalo voters should retain Mayor Brown because he’s good for South Buffalo, (i.e., provides jobby jobs).

Front and Back

Front and Back

Pages 2 and 3

Pages 2 and 3

I’m astonished that Mayor Brown would send around an unmarked mailing to South Buffalo urging people to vote for Kearns, but hey, why not?

The Mickey Kearns Interview

8 Sep


Matthew Ricchiazzi

27 Aug

Last week, I interviewed Buffalo Mayoral Candidate Matthew Ricchiazzi at our Niagara Street offices.


Matthew is a young guy who is clearly well-educated, bright, and possessed with the ignorance of youth. I don’t mean that derisively, the kid is audacious in what he believes and ignores obstacles put in place by those who disagree. I was impressed by his grasp of the issues and the thorough campaign platform he has constructed.

Matthew is running as an independent candidate after he was unable to secure the support of the Republican Party. I think that actually works out better for him in the long run as he can now be seen as what he is without the negative perception filter people in the city apply to the Republican Party.

The first few questions were about the lack of strategic vision laid out by the Democratic candidates in this election. It seems that Brown and Kearns are focused on provisioning of services rather than setting a big picture agenda for the city and region. It’s the smallness of our politics that hold us back and the lack of ambitious goals which ultimately results in us failing to move forward. Incremental improvements to previous failure is not a plan for success.

Ricchiazzi might be young and he might be politically inexperienced, but he’s the one candidate who is talking about the future and applying lessons learned in other emerging cities.

Clearly, I liked him, but I realize the enormity of the task in front of him in the general election. He is underfunded and lacks the organization behind him to run a traditional city-wide campaign and sophisticated GOTV effort.

Even if he fails to make a significant dent at the voting booth, he can become and advocate for positive change and introduce big picture ideas into our collective politics.

I’ll post the rest of the videos later as I want to discuss some of his ideas in-depth, but take a look at his plans and let me know what you think. It’s an interesting mix of tax reduction, market based strategies, urban planning, and traditional left wing issues of social/economic justice.

We’re scheduling interviews with Mickey Kearns and Byron Brown for next week to answer many of the same questions.

The Buffalo Mayoral "Race" 2009

7 Aug

I guess it’s time to start focusing on this “race” for Mayor given that primary day is about a month away. Artvoice did a piece on Mickey Kearns, indicating that he’s taking the gloves off in his criticism of the Brown Administration.

Paul Wolf writes:

In my opinion Mickey Kearns has dropped the ball in his campaign for Mayor by running a campaign that lacks bold ideas. Don’t tell me what you are against and what Brown has done wrong, tell me what you are for and what you are going to do as Mayor.

That’s true.  But bold ideas don’t win elections for mayor of the city of Buffalo.  Just look at the current and previous few occupants of that office.  Just ask someone like Kevin Gaughan. What wins that election is a careful tightrope walk, promising change to the progressives and maintenance of the status quo to entrenched interests. This way, everyone is equally disappointed.

But Paul is right.  Kearns’ mayoral platform reads like he’s running for town board of some small town somewhere.

If you haven’t yet, check out Matthew Ricchiazzi’s page.  He’s a young kid with little experience, but lots of good ideas.  I hope to hear more from him in the future.

(Image courtesy Flickr user outofcontxt)

Kearns Needs Money

16 Jul


Today was an important day in the “race” to be the next Mayor of Buffalo.  It’s the day the July 2009 Periodic Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports are published by the New York State Board of Elections.  As a campaign junkie, report filings get me as excited as Navin Johnson on phone book delivery day.

Aside from miraculous upsets, the guy with the most money in the bank is usually a stone cold leadpipe lock to win an election.  So, with Mickey Kearns’ chances already in doubt, I was interested to see if he could shake loose some sheckels from the Buffalo hoi polloi for his Mayoral campaign.  After reviewing his finances, I think the answer is a resounding “no”.

His July Periodic summary shows that Kearns was able to raise $82,919.17 in cash and “in-kind donations”.  Of that $82,919.17, Kearns spent $66,925.23 which leaves him with $15,993.94 to fight the remainder of the primary against Mayor Byron Brown.  Of course, he’ll raise more money in the months ahead, but his poor showing thus far and the general perception that he’s in over his head will not help future fundraising efforts.

Kearns raised about $31K in individual donations, $2,750 in corporate donations, $2,900 in union money, roughly $35K of in-kind donations and a transfer of $11,500 from his Common Council warchest which is now in the red to the tune of $2500.

The money is tight because no one wants to throw money at a candidate who lacks a serious chance of winning nor do they want to get on the bad side of Mayor Brown’s steamroller political machine.  Byron Brown’s filing has not yet made public on the NY Board of Elections site, but it is estimated he has in excess of $1,000,000 on hand.  Brown’s January 2009 periodic report showed a balance of over $750K and he has been holding frequent, big ticket fundraisers ever since.

If I’m Mickey Kearns, I’m praying that Jim Heaney at The Buffalo News finds a meatier Byron Brown scandal than the One Sunset story.  Mickey’s only chance at victory comes from a total implosion by the Brown campaign.