Tag Archives: Crime & Punishment

Podcast the Fourth: Dirty Republican Telephone Tricks

28 Oct

A press release from the New York State Democratic Party’s Executive Director, Charlie King:

“The State Democratic Party is asking Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III to investigate reports of widespread and fraudulent phone calls that specifically target Democratic voters in Erie County.”

“Republicans clearly recognize they cannot win their upcoming elections on their own merits and are resorting to their usual playbook of unethical and reckless tactics. This is voter suppression at its most deceitful. Those responsible for these calls should be forced to answer to the proper authorities. No issue should be taken more seriously than the attempt to tamper with the democratic process so that people can cast their vote fairly.”

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Harassing phone calls from someone purporting to be from the Democratic challenger for County Executive aren’t just taking place here in Erie County to suppress the Poloncarz turnout.  It’s also happening in an almost identical way to a very similar candidate down in Suffolk County. There, Democrat Steve Bellone’s campaign is battling against harassing phone calls being made to his supporters purporting to be from his campaign.

I had an opportunity to speak with Poloncarz spokesman Peter Anderson about this issue. If you’re receiving harassing phone calls that purport to be from the Poloncarz campaign, please let me know at this email address. If you can, record them.

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Stupidest Thing Ever?

24 Oct

Just a few days ago, it was revealed that some cretin in the Board of Elections sent out absentee ballots that were pre-marked for Chris Collins. They were sent out to at least 10 Lackawanna Independence Party voters, and the Sheriff’s Department quickly mounted an investigation, as both parties’ BOE commissioners expressed shock and anger.

I rushed to judgment and assumed that the cretin who would do such a brazen and stupid thing would be a Republican proponent of Chris Collins.  Yet based on information from several sources, not to mention Stefan Mychajliw’s proxy outrage for his boss, it would appear that the culprit is actually a BOE Democratic appointee with close ties to Collins’ last opponent, Jim Keane. On Friday, Poloncarz released this statement:

Ballot tampering is a serious issue and I hope for a quick resolution of this recent issue at the Board of Elections. I support the investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office. Whether it is a Democrat or Republican who is at fault, it is my hope that the Sheriff’s Office will get the true facts of the case, make a swift prosecution to the extent of the law, and the individual should be immediately terminated. At the end of the day, he or she denied someone the opportunity to vote fairly in this race.

I apologize for thinking logically and assuming that only a Collins partisan would do something so stupid. I never considered that an even more stupid individual would try and do this – commit fraud to make Collins look bad, and have it backfire. I don’t know if an arrest is imminent, but when it happens I can expect Collins’ camp to make as much hay of this as possible. Who can blame them? Playing the victim is a great ploy in a campaign, and they’ll milk it for all it’s worth.

Thankfully, the Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that neither campaign had anything to do with this, so there’s that, but this absolute idiot, in trying to get Collins in trouble, has gotten himself into trouble and has caused the Poloncarz campaign to do damage control for something they had nothing to do with.

Caputo Arrested

12 Mar

I saw this weird article about former Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo and his 70-something father getting arrested for “speeding” by, among others, an Orchard Park detective in an unmarked cruise, and it jogged my memory.

A source close to the Paladino campaign had warned us at WNYMedia.net some time ago that the former gubernatorial candidate intended to try and have me and Marc Odien arrested on bogus charges. Supposedly, his security people had illegally and improperly obtained personal and financial information on us, and an AP reporter whom they didn’t like. Interesting also because apparently Paladino owns property in Orchard Park.

Obviously, nothing ever happened, but the coincidence is palpable. *Shrugs*.

Buffalo Crime Reports

2 Jun

transparency

Buffalo took an incremental step towards transparency and accountability with the announcement that Buffalo Crime Statistics would be released on a daily basis on an external website called Crime Reports.

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The service pulls a feed from the City of Buffalo’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Records Management System (RMS) to post the latest crime statistics for the public to view on-demand.  Here’s a short video from Crime Reports which explains how it works.

Essentially, the City’s record management system publishes an XML file that is uploaded to the Crime Reports website.  The City can determine what data is included in the feed as to keep certain information private.

As of now, the city is only publishing information regarding violent crime, not property, drug or quality of life crime, but those reports may be added in the future.  You can sign up for e-mail alerts that will let you know when crimes occur in your neighborhood or even a full digest of crime in the entire city.  Right now, the individual crime data is limited to a general block area with limited details not to include disposition of the case.  The administration states that the reasons for the limited data fields are privacy issues and manpower related as it would be too time intensive to update the feed with further information.

I’d like to understand at a deeper level how the City of Buffalo’s CAD/RMS system works before launching into a specific and uninformed criticism of this particular issue.  However, it is noteworthy to take a look at how crime and public data is being released in other cities as a comparison.

In Chicago, the process of removing case details is automated by the system and their XML feed of daily crime is published in a way in which the public can create their own reports and data mashups using a website called EveryBlock (formerly Chicagocrime.org). The reports are thorough and include more detail than is currently published on Crime Reports for Buffalo.  This is probably a measure of program maturity as Chicago has been working on this project since 2002 and Buffalo just started this month.

Using Crime Reports is a commendable step towards transparency by the City of Buffalo, but I want more.  I want all data to be open, transparent and accessible to me so that I can dice it, mash it and serve it up in any and every way possible.

The City of Charlotte is demonstrating the value of complete data transparency with the way they are using EveryBlock.  They have put not only their crime reports online, they have added feeds from their departments of building permits, housing inspection, restaurant inspection as well as their city council minutes.  Want to know how your favorite restaurant did on their last inspection?  You can find out here.  Do you want to know who applied for a certificate of occupancy for a new condo development in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood?  Click here to find out.  The site also pulls in feeds from third party sites like realtors, news organizations and other local governments.  It’s really a definition of open and accessible.

The value in transparency is giving people the power to be involved when they are able, not at a time of the government’s choosing, i.e. common council meetings at 1PM on a Wednesday or non-indexed pdf’s released after an endless series of FOIL requests.  It also give people a historical context for the decisions and actions of those in power, not the transient and temporary accountability of a TV show on public access television.

This is an important first step, let’s hope we can build on this.