Tag Archives: election

Buffalopundit Endorsements 2014

2 Nov

Caveat: Artvoice does not do political endorsements. Nothing written in this post should be interpreted, construed, or cited as an endorsement by the owners or editors of Artvoice itself. This endorsement is mine alone. No person or campaign has directly or indirectly paid for or otherwise sponsored any post or endorsement.  I do not know whether any candidate or party has ever paid for an advertisement in Artvoice, nor would I be in a position to know. I am an independent contractor and have no involvement or employment with Artvoice or its advertising or editorial staff. Any questions or issues can be directed to me at buffalopundit[at]gmail.com. I recommend you click the links – especially in NY-27. Now, on with the countdown. 

United States Congress (NY-26): Brian Higgins

I did this already, I’m sure you all know.

I posted it here just a short week ago

Kathy Weppner talks nonsense, her utterings, laughable; 

Congressman Higgins belongs in the Capitol

United States Congress (NY-27): No Endorsement

I admit that this pick came to me as a shock, 

but I got information I can’t simply mock.  

It shows that the Democrat, not long ago, 

worked for the campaign of Paladino

He helped with debate prep – and this made me cross –

he helped Carl defame a planned downtown mosque

Chris Collins is there, and he’s one of the worst. 

But principle matters; it ought to come first. 

Chris Collins? You kidding? At least he’s consistent. 

Not “Democrat now!”, but once Carl’s assistant

The incumbent, he voted for Cruz’s shutdown, 

harmed our economy and then, like a clown, 

claimed to be against it, despite his own vote

And (of course) blamed Obama, repeat, edit, rote. 

But Collins was for it, before he was not; 

he blamed the “extremists”, rejected the plot

Although Collins’ tenure has been ineffective

I won’t back a Carl guy, he must be rejected. 

Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York State: Cuomo/Hochul

Listen, Cuomo’s got flaws, and of that I’m aware. 

But Rob Astorino I just cannot bear.

His running mate –  Hochul – I respect a great deal,

and the great things he’s done for our region are real.

The Buffalo Billion and Startup New York,

should not be dismissed as cheap welfare and pork.

Never before has an Albany pol,

done this much for Buffalo, as I can recall.  

I do want to see much more effort to end

corrupt fusion and graft – those Albany trends. 

Transparency now is the name of the game, 

and Cuomo’s too secretive, to his own shame. 

After all that he’s done, though, I can’t just reject, 

Cuomo and Hochul, whom I hope you’ll elect. 

Attorney General: Eric Schneiderman

Did you see the debate? Whoa, that Cahill’s a twit. 

He screamed, interrupted, behaved like a shit. 

And kudos to Bob – wow! A substantive question!

I’m voting for Schneiderman this coming election. 

His office protects every one of us from, 

fraud and abuse, and the criminal scum. 

For those who take pills for pain they can’t stop, 

he set up I-STOP, so they can’t doctor shop

Schneiderman’s strong on consumer protection,

And Cahill deserves this year’s voters’ rejection.

State Senate District 63: Tim Kennedy

Given the choice between sellout or dummy, 

the outlook for voters just isn’t too sunny. 

Tim Kennedy isn’t my favorite guy

his opponent, however, should make you ask, “why…

“…would local Republicans beclown themselves so…

“…by running a guy who’d make Weppner say, ‘whoa’“.

Kennedy may have some bridges to fix, 

but Donovan? Please, voters, no, nada, nix

State Senate District 62: Rob Ortt

Oh, great. For fuck’s sake. What a choice – I’m aghast. 

Two Republicans, one Paladino backed last.

Ortt is the Mayor of North Tonawanda,

Destino’s a Dem whom I’m not wholly fond of. 

Paladino endorsed him the last time around

and that’s generally something I can’t just write down. 

Destino was backed by the goons who had tried

–  in a spurious way that I cannot abide – 

to smear Maziarz as a closeted gay

and failed, like the cretins they are, by the way. 

Ortt is a vet with conservative views. 

But defeated that Gia – so, he’s reasonable, too

When assholes supporting you campaign on hate, 

it behooves you to answer with outrage, and state

something where you reject their assistance and views,

and you do it quite loudly, and make it big news.

I’m sorry you didn’t, and I hope that you’ll scorn

that loudmouthed old hater who forwards horse porn. 

State Senate District 61: Elaine Altman

Hah! Mike Ranzenhofer? Career politician. 

Dear reader, what was his agenda or vision? 

Say “no” and do nothing, for 20-odd years? 

It’s time for a change, and it’s time to switch gears. 

Altman’s a teacher, she knows Common Core, 

and she’ll fight to fund schools, and absolutely do more

to help out a district that’s been represented 

by someone who’s done not a lot, I’ve lamented. 

Send a teacher to Albany!”, that’s where she belongs. 

Ranz’s tenure in government’s two decades too long.

State Senate District 60: Not Stocker

I mean no disrespect to Dem Marc Panepinto, 

I don’t mean to leave him out hanging in limbo. 

Think Again, Turn Away

A vote for the Dem would be great and just swell,

but Grisanti deserves to go back for a spell

As senator, he’s been unfazed and courageous. 

“Profile in Courage” would not seem outrageous. 

He helped us to pass same-sex marriage, and took

a risk to pass SAFE Act after Sandy Hook.

It showed us that people don’t need a damn armory,

and schools should be havens of peace and of harmony. 

So, whatever you do, and don’t think it’s a shocker

vote for anyone, just not the tea party’s Stocker

NYS Assembly 146: Ray Walter

Did you know that Ray Walter is in a real race? 

Against a young Dem with a fresh, stubbled face? 

I’m sure that Steve Meyer’s an earnest young chap, 

with ideas and energy. Aside from all that, 

I have to agree that he’s lacking know-how, 

and has yet to consider what furrows our brow. 

He’s just out of school, and has loads of more time, 

to get a career, pay some taxes and climb

up to a level where he really can get, 

the problems that we New York families fret. 

Ray and I see eye to eye on the tolls, 

that the Thruway Authority always controls, 

with antiquity formed in the shape of a booth, 

within it a person, who I doubt, in his youth, 

Imagined his life would be handing out slips.  

Yet throughout the world, the traffic just zips, 

through camera tolls without stopping to pay.

This dreary old system, it pisses off Ray, 

So, send my friend back to fight Albany pols, 

besides, the Assembly’s in firm Dem control. 


For a number of races, there is no opponent. 

For a real democracy, that’s a missing component. 

For all of these races, you have a blank check,

vote whomever you please, except for Mazurek

I’ll note, on the side, that Ray Walter’s a friend, 

and he’s running against a young Dem 


But no matter what, do not let the time pass. 

Just remember to vote, and Donn Esmonde’s an ass. 

Winners and Losers as #WNYVotes

11 Sep


Dick Dobson: He appears to be the winner of the Erie County Sheriff’s primary against Bert Dunn, pending counts of absentees, etc. Dunn learned that money alone doesn’t buy you an election – you have to get out there, and you have to spend it. Dobson out-ran Dunn from day one, and he squeaked out a victory with only 500 votes or so separating them. Now, it’s on to defeat the anti-professional incumbent. (Micropolitically, this is a gold star for Frank Max and a bruise for Jeremy Zellner). 

Wynnie Fisher, Betty Jean Grant, Byron Brown: all of them defeated their opponents by more than 10 percentage points. Fisher and Grant were up against Steve Pigeon / Kristy Mazurek candidates and earn Jeremy Zellner gold stars. Indeed, Zellner’s clever effort at unifying the party through his unqualified endorsement of Byron Brown also earns him a gold star. Moore may be a headache in November assuming he’s on the Working Families line. 

Pat Burke: From South Buffalo bartender to winner of a legislative primary. No one gave Burke a serious shot until the day of the election, and it was all centered on turnout – if the South Buffalo portion of the district came out for Burke in a big way, he could eclipse Dearmyer and/or Zydel, the Cheektowagans. That’s exactly what happened, and while Dearmyer had a lead through the first half of the night, Burke came charging out of nowhere to take a pretty convincing lead. Chances are this won’t be over today, as all votes get counted, but credit goes to Burke, who ran without help from either the Pigeon faction or Headquarters, and claims to be independent of all of them. That’s great, so long as he doesn’t sell out to the Republicans. 

Barbara Miller-Williams: Quite possibly the worst transactional legislative horror show ever to jump out at you is leading incumbent Tim Hogues by just 20 votes. This is the woman who sold out to Chris Collins for a big chunk of money for the Colored Musician’s Club – her husband is on its board. With paid-off silence, she collaborated with the Republican dismantling of health clinics and other critical services for her poor urban constituency. She became the de facto head of a Republican legislature that was little more than a Collins marionnette, and if you watched Collins last night, he is one of those right wing scumbags who has nicer things to say about neofascist autocrat Vladimir Putin than his own country’s President. This race is going to be litigated, so it’s not over yet, but simply by making it competitive at all, Miller-Williams shows that she shouldn’t be counted out yet. Query why she’s still a Democrat, though. That’s what tens of thousands of dollars from Steve Pigeon and Tim Kennedy will buy you, though. 

Mary Giallanza Carney and Deanne Tripi: won the Family Court race. I generally stay out of judicial races. 

The residents of Niagara Falls, Governor Cuomo, and Mark Hamister: See below. 

Jeremy Zellner: Sure, he seems to have lost the Sheriff’s race, and the Hogues race is way too close to call – and Dearmyer didn’t pull it out against Burke. But Zydel, Moore, and Nixon all lost to HQ candidates, showing that he has political clout his opponents kept saying he didn’t have. 


Sam Fruscione: Niagara Falls voters had to select three, and they had four choices. Fruscione was the “beneficiary” of an inflammatory mailer that called Buffalo developer a “con man” – a criminal – and Fruscione skulked away from blistering questioning from Mary Alice Demler about it. He lost last night – lost big. He blamed it on anti-Italian “racism”. Someone should explain to Mr. Fruscione two things: 1. “Italian” is a nationality – not a “race”; and 2. You don’t get to glorify the mafia and mob violence by selling La Cosa Nostra paraphernalia and Stefano Magaddino t-shirts and then get to complain when people call you out for retaining the services of convicted loanshark extortionists. Chutzpah doesn’t even begin to explain the idiocy here. This guy was trying to play Mark Hamister, and when the Governor out-strong-arms you, your political days are numbered. 

Bert Dunn: As I mentioned above, he had all the money in the world and the backing of HQ, but you can’t force him to go out and spend it and do the work necessary to combat a hard-working opponent. I’m a prime dem and I got one piece of lit from Dunn, nothing from Dobson, but it came about 2 weeks ago, and the lackluster ads from Dunn showed up on TV just in the last few days. He waited too long and didn’t do nearly enough to secure what he apparently thought was a sure thing. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but here it never really began. 

Rick Zydel: This was Pigeon’s and Max’s and Mazurek’s big, marquee race – the one they were going to embarrass HQ with. Zydel came in to unseat longtime incumbent and legislative majority leader Tom Mazur. Mazur decided to bow out. Well, HQ may have a bit of mud on its face this morning, but not from Zydel – from Pat Burke, who came out of nowhere with the apparent win. Zydel was Zy-done from minute one, and Lynn Dearmyer was consistently ahead of him all night until city results started gushing in. 

Wes Moore: Another hand-picked Pigeon guy, Moore was setting up to challenge the sleepy incumbent, Terry McCracken. McCracken dropped out, Moore had a head start, yet an unknown from Alden named Wynnie Fisher trounced him – a win for Zellner and HQ. 

Kristy Mazurek, Steve Pigeon, Frank Max: Ask anyone Mazurek has come into contact with in the last year or so, and they’ll tell you that soon after her candidate David Shenk lost dramatically to Stefan Mychajliw in last year’s Comptroller’s special election, that she was going to go to war with HQ and Zellner. She was there earlier this year, unironically sporting a red armband as the Max people tried to strong-arm their way to a chairmanship victory. She told anyone who would listen that she was going to single-handedly run candidates for the legislature that she picked, and that they would all win and embarrass Zellner and HQ. She threatened to blackmail and bully opponents, and that she would release embarrassing information about them. She set herself up as a kingmaker without a kingdom. She latched on to Frank Max first, because they had interests in alignment with each other. Steve Pigeon came into the picture with gobs of cash. Stories have already come out about how questionable the sources of cash are – and more stories are coming.  In the last week or so of writing about the “WNY Progressive Caucus PAC“, I have heard several remarkably similar stories from completely unrelated people, explaining how even a hint of disagreement with Mazurek invites a blistering “do you know who I am” and “do you know who my father is” response from her, with demands of “who are you working for”, harassing phone calls, and even firings over social media. You don’t build an army by burning bridges. Pigeon proves yet again that his negativity crosses a line and ends up helping his target, more often than not. It happened in the Falls, and in the Zydel, Moore, and Nixon efforts. Steve Pigeon is exceptionally good at formenting chaos and stirring shit, but he is palpably bad at the whole “winning elections” thing, at least locally – and the people who end up aligned with him turn out to be just horrible, more often than not – not sure if that’s organic or learned. As an aside, I’ll note that the one Democratic candidate for Cheektowaga town board whom Max’s organization did not endorse – Diane Benczkowski – received the most votes last night. 

Bernie Tolbert: A campaign that was relentlessly negative once it started up way too late to gain any traction. It was clear that the people advising Tolbert weren’t paying attention to the polls that showed widespread contentment with Byron Brown and the job he was doing, because they kept hitting him with negativity and pointing out minor things like Brown’s sudden attention to vacant eyesore buildings or having cops walk a beat in Allentown. Tolbert never got a chance to define who he was, and so Brown didn’t have to pay him any attention. People couldn’t “believe in Bernie” because they didn’t quite understand why Bernie was running, or what he’d specifically do differently from Brown. Brown pretends like he ran a clean race, but he had surrogates go out and hit Tolbert. In the end, Tolbert’s campaign seemed reactionary and petty while Brown was cool, calm, and collected. 

Tim Kennedy: Through his affiliation with the Mazurek PAC, and his apparent $85,000 in reported donations through two campaign committees – one of which has been closed since 2011 – he lost big-time last night. He has pissed of HQ, Higgins’ people, South Buffalo, the Governor, and some other very powerful people. He is up for re-election next year, and he is about to get called out for apparent election law violations. There will be a coalition of entities united against him next year, and he’s going to need a lot of money and a lot of luck to win re-election as a Democrat in his district in 2014. 

You: Because really, no matter who wins or loses, everything ends up being transactional nonsense and little of it ever translates into good government. 

#ItsTime vs. #BelieveinBernie vs. #Progress

13 Aug

He may be underfunded, and he may have a dramatic party enrollment disadvantage, but Republican mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez has staked out a unique position here. While Mayor Brown touts “progress” which he hasn’t had a lot to do with, and while Bernie Tolbert shows random people who “believe” in him for unexplained reasons, Sergio shows a set of fundamental problems – crime, unemployment, lack of opportunity, and despair – and declares that it’s time for a change. 

For a young Marine who is getting jerked around left and right by every Republican political machine with which he comes into contact, he’s showing people that he won’t give up, won’t back down, and can’t be bought. That is refreshing all by itself. 

Admittedly, he doesn’t go into details of what that change would look like, and the candidate himself only makes a cameo appearance at the end, but I think it’s easily the best ad from any Buffalo mayoral campaign in perhaps ever. Kudos to Sergio and his team, and I’m looking forward to the hashtag mayoral race. 

Is It Illegal To Instagram Your Completed Ballot?

6 Nov

@MarkPoloncarz on Twitter

This seems to be the burning question this afternoon on Twitter, as people post images of their ballots with Obama or Romney ovals completed as instructed. Gizmodo and others are on it, and our local journalists are smelling a story. After all, the County Executive Tweeted a picture of part of his ballot. 

The law everyone is citing is Election Law section 17-130(10). It reads: 

Any person who…[s]hows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents, or solicits a voter to show the same…is guilty of a misdemeanor. 

First of all, no one is prosecuted under this section. In my review of the times in which this statute has been cited by New York State Courts, the only such case dates from 1979 where a person’s provisional ballot was invalidated because he put his name on it; (that violates subsection 11 of the statute). That’s it. 

The reason why the law exists? To prevent people from selling their votes; offering to vote a particular way, and having to show the completed ballot to the payor as proof before payment is made. It also exists to prevent intimidation of voters or otherwise violating the secrecy of the vote. However, the statute has not been updated to make it a misdemeanor to photograph one’s ballot for any purpose, or to show the photograph – only to show the ballot itself. 

So, Instagram the shit out of your ballot, and don’t worry about it being invalidated or about you being arrested. After all, political speech is offered the highest protection of all speech, and what’s more political than Tweeting a picture of your ballot. I’d wish the authorities good luck in overcoming the 1st Amendment challenge to that misdemeanor charge. 

Also, the New York State Board of Elections issued a statement today indicating that it’s perfectly legal. So, there’s that. 

Primary Night Nutshell

13 Sep


Senate 60: Democrat: Mike Amodeo

Senate 60: Republican: Mark Grisanti 

Senate 60: Independence Party: Mark Grisanti

Senate 62: Republican: George Maziarz

Senate 63: Democrat: Kennedy (by small 271 vote margin)

Assembly 149: Democrat: Sean Ryan

Assembly 147: Republican: David DiPietro

Assembly 147: Independence Party: Christina Abt

Buffalo South District: Christopher Scanlon

Wrapping My Head Around Last Week

14 Nov


I’ve been thinking about the County Executive’s race all week, and I can’t seem to crystallize my thoughts into a coherent post, so here you go.

I’m not quite sure why regional campaigns would leave their messaging and communications in the hands of outsiders. Someone in Albany or Washington isn’t going to have his finger on the pulse of western New York, no matter whether they’re Buffalo expats or not.  Buy local, and use local talent.  Peter Anderson for Poloncarz was always cool as a cucumber. Stefan Mychajliw for Collins probably had a really difficult boss, and he got bogged down in making his boss look like the victim of union/Democratic fraud and dirty tricks. Collins, however, was too widely unliked.

Poloncarz and his team out-everythinged Collins’. While Collins and his people were busy whining about ballot tampering and signs “stolen” from public property in Williamsville, Poloncarz was undeterred from his central message of jobs and returning government to the people. Poloncarz showed up at candidates’ forums – friendly and unfriendly – that Collins completely avoided. Poloncarz walked door to door, attended fundraisers, shook hands, and – most importantly – listened to people.

Just three years ago, Collins was a rising Republican star. He was the millionaire model for conservative beancounters everywhere, even being invited to speak at the GOP Convention in 2008. Now? He’s going back to the private sector, where he can treat his businesses and employees however he’d like. Those people get paid to deal with him. Not so the voters of Erie County. Any talk of Collins running for statewide office is now quieted.

The people told him that they don’t like taxes, but they like the stuff they pay for, like libraries.

Running government like a business was a great platform to run against a reheated old pol like Jim Keane. But Collins didn’t run it like a business – he ran it like his business. He surrounded himself with very young staffers who were as sycophantic to their boss as they were arrogant to others. Their political prowess had become legendary, yet they had never run a competitive race against anyone. Kathy Hochul showed that they were weak; that was the first clue that Collins would lose. That he generally kept the same crew around was hubris, and they lost their second competitive race.

Correspondents tell me that the collective mood in the Rath Building has improved dramatically since last Tuesday’s surprisingly  convincing Poloncarz win. It’s not because Poloncarz is suddenly going to hire back everyone his union masters demand, as some would think; instead, it’s because county workers know that this victory will quiet down the incessant scapegoating. Despite all the talk of Six Sigma, the time will soon come where these workers will be judged on their merits; on their efficiency – not on arbitrary beancounting. The days of cutting off our nose to spite our face will be over.

The public-sector unions, however, are kidding themselves if they think they own the incoming County Executive. They will be treated fairly, but won’t be given the keys to the candy store.

Leading into election day, I was afraid it would be too close to call – that Poloncarz would win, but not for weeks, and that Collins would be yelling about election fraud. His win wasn’t exactly a landslide, but it was a much bigger margin than anyone expected, and it’s due to hard work.

Poloncarz insiders told me on Election Night that Bob McCarthy had slagged them off all summer, complaining about how boring the race was, and what a shoo-in Collins was to win re-election. They perceived McCarthy’s coverage of their effort as being unnecessarily negative and excessively dismissive. He pretended that there was a potential conflict of interest by SEIU – which has no contract with the county – paying Poloncarz’s campaign manager’s salary. There wasn’t, and it’s not as unusual as he suggested. McCarthy’s interest in the race began and ended with financial disclosures – Collins was the winner because he could afford to self-fund, and Poloncarz was the loser because until that first Siena poll was released, he hadn’t raised as much. Yet McCarthy didn’t do the math, and Poloncarz had even then out-raised Collins. After Siena, Poloncarz out-raised Collins by 4:1.

Bob, cash doesn’t vote. People do.

Political junkies like to follow the financial filings at the BOE; the general public, not so much. McCarthy comes out of this campaign looking downright shortsighted and foolish. His coverage was practically negligent.

By the way, city turnout last week approached 25%. Remember when the Siena polls came out and the city sample was 21% and 19%, respectively, and how the Collins camp and others had a conniption fit over that? That was fun.

They were right – Siena was inaccurate. They showed a dead heat when Poloncarz was out ahead. Collins’ people touted magical internal polls showing him up, up, up, but that didn’t materialize.

Ballot tampering – Collins’ crew’s attempts to link that to Poloncarz was pathetic and whiny. Granted, Poloncarz jumped the gun when he accused the Republicans of engineering that attempted fraud, but in the end, Collins was clearly trying to set this up for post-election-night litigation. But everyone knew the cops had absolved both campaigns of responsibility, so Collins came off as whiny.

I think a reason why the margin was so wide has to do with Collins’ appearance on the Fox News Channel in the days leading up to the election. Here’s a guy who won’t talk to voters in his own town, yet he has the time to go on a divisive Republican propaganda outlet with a miniscule national audience? Collins could have influenced more voters by yelling out his window in Clarence than appearing on some obscure Fox News show no one heard of.

The election, I think, was ultimately about re-assessing our community priorities. We may not be ready for true regionalism, but we’re over pitting one population against another. We’re bored with political scapegoating of certain sectors of our society. We want the county to move forward into the 21st century and stop bickering. We don’t like how high our taxes are, but enjoy the things they pay for that lift up our quality of life, and we need to find a comfortable balance. We’re tired of unfunded mandates, and we’re sick of redundancy.

What I’m most hopeful for isn’t a different kind of beancounting, but big ideas. When Poloncarz spoke of closer ties with Canada, an examination of redundant IDAs that poach business from each other, de-politicizing processes that Collins had hyperpoliticized, I get excited. When I consider that regional cooperation and consolidation of redundancies may re-emerge, I’m quite pleased. When I consider that the comptroller will now be in a position to fix issues he had identified as plaguing Collins’ budgets, I’m hopeful.

After the mess Giambra made, Collins’ policies may have been what we needed, but his obnoxious arrogance gave him a very short shelf-life indeed.

Endorsements 2011

7 Nov

These are not predictions. These are preferences. Please be sure to join WNYMedia.net Tuesday for election night coverage starting around 9pm. Your mileage may vary. Offer void where prohibited.

1. Erie County Executive: Mark Poloncarz

No surprise here. Mark is a personal friend and I believe in the work that he’s accomplished on behalf of all the taxpayers of Erie County. His office has been run with excellence in mind, and with the taxpayers’ best interests at heart. He is a middle-class kid who hasn’t forgotten from whence he came, and wants to go up 5 floors in the Rath Building in order to represent all the people of Erie County – city, suburb, rich, poor, black, white – everybody. I won’t repeat four years’ worth of posts exposing Chris Collins for being the tax-hiking, elitist hyperpolitical tinpot Machiavelli he is – just do a search for “Chris Collins” on our site.  What I will say is that Poloncarz is going to bring not just competence, but excellence to the County Executive’s office. Despite lots of pressure to do otherwise, Mark is a believer in maintaining a meritocracy in his office. He hires and retains people who do the best and most thorough work for their county pay. He’s a hard worker who doesn’t back down from a challenge or a fight. When it comes to dealing with a dysfunctional legislature, a county control board, and his enemies’ slings and arrows, Poloncarz has proven that he’s up to it, time and time again. He fought to make sure his office did county borrowing because he got the better financing deals. He’s exposed waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money large and small. He doesn’t think you need to substitute creative thinking and common sense with some expensive cluster of management-speak to get the best and most efficient results for your tax dollar.

But on top of that, Mark has his priorities straight. He doesn’t think you should privatize WIC or shutter clinics to score political points with a certain population of voter. On the contrary, he thinks that the county should save money wherever possible; clinics are cheaper than emergency room visits. WIC is now less convenient for its users. It wasn’t Six Sigma that found how DSS was using 19th century technology to maintain its files – it was a vigilant comptroller’s office. It’s not simply about frugality for its own sake – it’s about being smart with money.

All of the fights that take place in our largely redundant and pointless county government center around the very small (8 – 12%) of the budget that’s discretionary. That’s what most of our anger and derision flows from.  Given that this percentage is so small, it’s best for everyone – politicians and the community-at-large – if it’s spent thoughtfully, if at all. Instead, the incumbent County Executive has hyper-politicized the funding of libraries and cultural organizations rather than used real merit or apolitical considerations. Collins needlessly created a funding crisis for the county libraries out of whole cloth, which he’d prefer to resolve through a brand-new tax and special taxing district; just the sort of authority-creation that New York State is trying to abolish. That’s old-style spendthrift liberal thinking. It lazily shunts responsibility off of the county and on to some other entity, whether it be a new tax and bureaucracy, or the towns.

Remember – when it comes down to brass tacks, we like these services that we get with our taxes. It’s only in the abstract that we yell about taxes, until we’re reminded what they pay for.

Likewise, the process to fund cultural organizations shouldn’t be at the County Executive’s whim; it shouldn’t be, as it is now, just a newer version of old-style spendthrift liberal thinking like the member items of yore. Instead, Poloncarz would return that duty to the apolitical, non-partisan Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board, or ECCRAB. It was a system with which everyone was on board, and it took politics out of the equation. We didn’t have the huge fights then that we have now, as Collins artificially picks winners and losers with zero input from public stakeholders.

Finally, Collins is nothing more than an old-fashioned tax & spend liberal. Although Collins likes to say he’s looking out for the taxpayers, he’s raised taxes on us, and gone to court to prevent the legislature from keeping those hikes lower. Although he says he’s careful with our money, he’s spent millions on his friends and cronies, without regard to results or merit. Although Collins likes to seem as if he’s a good government type, he’s in ongoing violation of the county charter in terms of providing monthly budget monitoring reports. Although Collins says he’s trying to create a brighter future, he maintains the tired, failed status-quo when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in western New York; he eschews the notion of IDA consolidation, and hasn’t set up a one-stop-shop for businesses to use when considering a move to our region.

For someone who promised to run the county like a business, why has he behaved like that?

So, on Tuesday, I’ll join Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Representatives Higgins and Hochul, and Mayor Byron Brown to vote for Mark Poloncarz for County Executive.

2. County Clerk: Maria Whyte

As a county legislator and community activist, Maria’s been a tireless advocate for the poor and underprivileged on Buffalo’s west side.  It will be a huge loss to lose her to the quiet administrative work of the clerk’s office, but she has pledged to improve the public’s access to county information, to improve efficiency and wait times, to build upon the DMV improvements already built-in to the system under Dave Swarts and Kathy Hochul, and to modernize recordkeeping to reflect a 21st century where people look stuff up on computers and read PDF files.  Although I have nothing against Chris Jacobs, he has run from his tenure on the Buffalo Board of Education when he’s mentioned it at all, and he has illegally played politics with the 501(c)(3) foundation he created to help underprivileged, bright kids escape the crushing hopelessness of the very public school system he helped run. These, I think, disqualify him from running the largely ministerial clerk’s office – if you can’t follow simple rules and you’re embarrassed by your own record, maybe go back and fix those before asking for a promotion.

3. Assembly 148: Ray Walter

I like Craig Bucki, and I think he’d make a fine Assemblyman.  I also like Ray Walter, and I find that he’s as thoughtful as he is brash; as willing to debate the finer points of policy and the law as he is to roll his eyes when Betty Jean Grant is speaking. Let’s face it, being an Assembly Republican is a thankless job – just ask Jane Corwin. It’s replete with big smiles and bigger checks, and yelling about Shelly Silver and the evil downstate Democrats. All of this comes back to my thought that we need a unicameral legislature. Because I think that Ray is a smart guy and an independent thinker, and because I know that he has big ideas on how to reform government and includes people who don’t always agree with him into the conversation, I’m going to give Ray the edge. I’m not convinced that Bucki would do better or worse – I just don’t know him well enough to make that determination. I am confident, however, that Ray is the kind of legislator who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and is willing to take the time to research and examine ways for government to do its job better. I know his nickname in the county legislature is “Rush”, as in Limbaugh, but maybe the Assembly needs that.

4. Erie County Legislature

As a side note, I’m appalled by the number of uncontested races this year.

District 1: Tim Hogues over Barbara Miller-Williams and Joe Mascia: Hogues will replace the Democrat-in-Name-Only who currently occupies this seat and chairs the legislature. Miller-Williams’ tenure has been replete with her doing her BFF Chris Collins’ bidding, oftentimes to her own benefit and her constituents’ detriment. She doesn’t belong anywhere near county hall.

District 2: Betty Jean Grant is unopposed. 

District 3: Lynn Marinelli is unopposed. 

District 4: Jeremy Zellner over Kevin Hardwick: I like the professor personally, but he had an opportunity to establish his bona fides as an independent thinker rather than a Collins rubber-stamp when it came time to over-ride many of Collins’ 2010 cuts. He didn’t take it, even going so far as to acquiescing to Collins’ continual petty attempts to decimate the personnel and effectiveness of the Comptroller’s office.

District 5: Tom Loughran over Shelly Schratz: Unlike Hardwick, Loughran has shown himself to be an independent legislative thinker from time to time. Schratz is a perennial candidate who is aligned with the noxious tea party movement. We need fewer Collins acolytes in the legislature, not more.

District 6: Ed Rath over Toni Vazquez: Vazquez didn’t seem to really have a firm grasp on county issues in general, or district issues in particular. Rath is poised to do something with the office he’s in, but I’d like to see some more independence and aggressiveness from him in the future.

District 7: Tom Mazur is unopposed. 

District 8: Terry McCracken over Mike Cole: I have no idea about anything having to do with McCracken, except that he’s not Mike Cole. Cole, you’ll remember, was, in effect, an Assemblyman-for-life until his drunken Albany shenanigans with interns got him in trouble with oft-hypocritical conservative family values types. Hey, Mike: it’s too soon.

District 9: Jon Gorman over Lynne Dixon: Gorman’s is a brilliant mind, and he’s a hard worker. Dedicated to the people’s business, he’d be one less Collins follower in the legislature, and would bring a legal eye to the proceedings to help minimize any recurrences of “null and void” declarations, should Collins win.

District 10: No Endorsement: I will not endorse Christina Bove, as she helped create the de facto Collins majority in the legislature as a consummate follower and “what’s in it for me” type politician. On the other hand, the Lorigo name should be drummed out of our collective body politic, firstly by abolishing the family nest egg that’s built upon the hyper-corrupt electoral fusion system. Lorigo’s efforts to bully Bove by having daddy file a $3MM defamation suit over an ad in – of all things – the f’king PENNYSAVER, takes pettiness to a whole new level – the fact that this prominent law firm can’t even be bothered to actually file and serve a Summons and Complaint, with the alleged libel plead with the requisite particularity, instead relying on the lazy lawyers’ “Summons with Notice”, which gives them indignant headlines and nothing else.

District 11: John Mills in unopposed. 

Town of Clarence: Scott Bylewski

The town race has been exquisitely ugly this year, thanks in no small part to the execrable Joe Weiss and his puppet, Dave Hartzell. Bylewski enjoys bipartisan support from people who truly care about the town and the direction in which it’s going. His opponents have proven themselves to be a dirty, hypocritical collection of fetid assholes whose idea of good government is to lie to town residents when they’re not berating them. Don’t be fooled by the lies and deception – Bylewski is working hard to keep the town on the right track, despite myriad pressures from many sides to go against the town’s land use constitution.

The Paladinoists’ Attempted Assist

4 Nov

Rus Thompson hasn’t been relevant at all this campaign season – a first for the frequent candidate and tea party leader, especially in a county election year.

So, he went on the “Voice of Paladino” “News”Radio 930 to announce what was literally touted as “breaking news” over the apparent ballot tampering allegations stemming from the Board of Elections. The news? A person – whom Thompson didn’t identify – is offering a $5,000 reward towards the conviction of the guilty party/ies.

What I don’t get is, why won’t Rus name Carl Paladino as being behind this?

How do we know it’s Carl, or someone affiliated with Carl?

1. Rus Thompson’s sudden appearance – seemingly out of nowhere – in an ongoing effort to make this ballot tampering case into something bigger than it is. The Sheriff’s office said from day one that neither the Poloncarz nor the Collins campaigns had any knowledge or involvement in the tampering. The Collins campaign is behind, and it’s spooked, and it’s trying desperately to win through trickery because he can’t win on the issues or his record.

2. Paladino has been largely silent this election season, as well. Yet suddenly everyone on the Paladino campaign email list began receiving emails that look extraordinarily similar to those his campaign would send out in 2010. These emails cite cases of ballot tampering in Troy, NY and try to somehow link it to Cuomo, Lenihan, and Poloncarz viz. the tampering in the BOE. When I received them, I immediately suspected that Michael Caputo, Paladino’s campaign manager, was behind them. They mimic his style, they close with an East Aurora address, and they use the Paladino campaign apparatus/email list. I don’t know if it’s Caputo or Paladino (or both).

3. The evidence – I pulled up two emails. The first is a Paladino campaign email from October 30, 2010. Here are the full headers from that:

Delivered-To: buffalopundit@gmail.com
Received: by with SMTP id b14cs62443bks;
Sat, 30 Oct 2010 11:38:58 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with SMTP id c30mr6007854agk.152.1288463937465;
Sat, 30 Oct 2010 11:38:57 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from pequod.localdomain (ecampaignconnect.com [])
by mx.google.com with ESMTP id g9si8679218yha.3.2010.;
Sat, 30 Oct 2010 11:38:57 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: neutral (google.com: is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of errors-paladino@grasstopconcepts.com) client-ip=;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=neutral (google.com: is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of errors-paladino@grasstopconcepts.com) smtp.mail=errors-paladino@grasstopconcepts.com
Received: from [] (unknown [])
by pequod.localdomain (Postfix) with SMTP id B2B7CC0DAD
for ; Sat, 30 Oct 2010 14:38:44 -0400 (EDT)
Mime-Version: 1.0
From: Carl Paladino
To: “Buffalo Pundit”
Precedence: Bulk
Subject: From Carl’s iPhone
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2010 14:38:56 -0400
Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable

Compare those headers to these, from a recent email blast about the ballot tampering:

Delivered-To: buffalopundit@gmail.com
Received: by with SMTP id a1cs159308faw;
Wed, 2 Nov 2011 13:11:30 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with SMTP id d63mr9541772yhn.73.1320264689024;
Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:11:29 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from ecampaignconnect.com (ecampaignconnect.com. [])
by mx.google.com with ESMTP id q9si1766547ann.3.2011.;
Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:11:28 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of alert@buffalo*********.com designates as permitted sender) client-ip=;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=pass (google.com: domain of alert@buffalo********.com designates as permitted sender) smtp.mail=alert@buffalo********.com
Received: from [] (unknown [])
by ecampaignconnect.com (Postfix) with SMTP id 5E18143458
for ; Wed, 2 Nov 2011 16:11:56 -0400 (EDT)
Mime-Version: 1.0
From: Buffalo *******
To: “Buffalo Pundit”
Precedence: list
Subject: Troy-like Dem ballot scam… in Buffalo?
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 16:11:28 -0400
Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable
X-DKIM: OpenDKIM Filter v2.4.2 ecampaignconnect.com 5E18143458

At the footer of the new email, this:

img src=3D”http://grasstopconcepts=2Ecom/e/8578/t=2Ephp?l=3D228&e=3Dbuffal=
opundit@gmail=2Ecom” height=3D1 border=3D0

The Paladino campaign emails and the current email effort to unfairly and falsely smear Mark Poloncarz with ballot tampering come from the same company – Grasstop Concepts using ecampaignconnect.com at IP When you click on the link in the ballot tampering email, this is what you see in the address bar for the split-second before it redirects:

Racist horse porn enthusiast Carl Paladino is trying to stay behind the scenes, playing dirty tricks, using Rus Thompson as his go-to surrogate to appear on “Radio Free Paladino” and try to make this into an issue. Why? Because their candidate – Chris Collins – is losing, and will lose, next Tuesday. They’re pulling out all the stops to try and make this into an issue on election day, but the Republican Collins-ally Sheriff’s Office has already absolved both campaigns from any involvement.

All done story. Nice try, though!

Chris Collins’ Direction Deficit Disorder

21 Oct

Yesterday, the second and final debate was held between County Executive Chris Collins and Comptroller Mark Poloncarz. It was held at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Academy at 8:30 am, a great educational opportunity for that school and its AP Government class, but a

horrible opportunity for average voters to get a second opportunity to vet the two candidates for county executive. The debate wasn’t just held at a time of day when most people are at work on en route, it wasn’t aired on radio or television. Your only opportunity to see it was to watch a poor quality live stream at Channel 4’s website, or inaudible audio at the Buffalo News’ site.  Here’s Channel 4’s report. Here’s the Buffalo News report. I have to hand it to the students, they asked some great and relevant questions.

Unfortunately, nary a voter will ever see it.

However, one interesting thing occurred. The Poloncarz and Collins campaigns were specifically ordered not to film the debate in any way. The school didn’t want this educational event sullied by politics (i.e., didn’t want the campaigns to use video from the event for campaign purposes). Indeed, when I inquired of debate organizer Ted Lina, he did not issue a denial, but sent along this:

We sought to provide an educational experience for our students with this morning’s debate. We do not wish to involve them or St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in the politics of the debate itself. We have no further comment at this time.

I had inquired about reports I was hearing that, despite the school’s prohibition against videotaping the debate, the Collins campaign blatantly refused to abide by this simple request. Poloncarz’s camp did not record it, but here’s a picture of Collins’ press guy, Stefan Mychajliw, videotaping after being asked repeatedly to stop – and refusing.

What is it about Chris Collins that makes him above the law? What is it about Chris Collins that he and his people can disobey the reasonable request of a Catholic high school that’s hosting a debate? It’s a sense of entitlement that lets Collins think it’s ok to park his car in a handicapped spot, or in a no parking zone.

Apparently, rules are for other people.

Election Night 2011: #NY26 Special Election

24 May

While the Cover it Live Liveblog will be up shortly on the main page, I thought I’d pull together what we’re up to right now.


The WFP just sent this around:


As the polls close in Western New York tonight, we anticipate a close election – so close that the results may not be known overnight. In fact, Republican Jane Corwin’s camp has already filed legal paperwork in anticipation of a drawn out certification process. However, we are confident that Democrat-Working Families candidate Kathy Hochul will prevail once all the votes are counted.

Hochul was up against two self-funding millionaires and at least $650K of Karl Rove’s money in a deep red district. Whatever the outcome, the results tonight would not have been possible in the Republican wave of 2010. That wave is clearly now over, and the Republicans have Paul Ryan and the Tea Party to thank.

Republican Overreach:

Make no mistake – this election was a referendum on the Republicans’ overreach – led by John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan – and their attempts to destroy Medicare as we know it.

Majority Leader Cantor and other Republicans have already begun spinning their side in anticipation of a loss for their candidate – they’re going to say this election came down to a spoiler candidate in a three-way race. It would be wrong to accept this premise. In fact, as Davis’s support bled week-over-week, his voters migrated directly to Kathy Hochul, not to Jane Corwin. Further, his supporters rate Hochul more favorably than Corwin. Most importantly – Davis is also against the Paul Ryan plan to destroy Medicare.

Simply put, a majority of voters in this election have cast their votes for candidates who said they would protect Medicare and oppose Paul Ryan’s budget.

Jane Corwin has tried to distance herself from her party’s views in the final weeks of this election; however, the radical strain of right-wing ideology espoused by Paul Ryan and the current crop of GOP House leaders has proven too heavy an albatross.

A loss for Republicans in a district this red is sure to drain the color from John Boehner’s face; it won’t be easy for him to keep his caucus together as vulnerable Republicans in swing districts begin to walk back their embrace of the Tea Party fringe. Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts has already disavowed the Paul Ryan-Tea Party budget proposal in preparation of a tough re-election ahead of him. He won’t be the last member of his party to do so.

In fact, when Scott Brown was originally elected in January 2010 to replace liberal icon Ted Kennedy, the nascent Tea Party crowed that their moment had arrived. Win or lose, we say that their 15 minutes have now come to an end. Their policies have been soundly rejected.

Role of the Working Parties Party:

Published reports state that Karl Rove’s American Crossroads enterprise spent over $650,000 in the district as of a few weeks ago in order to put Jane Corwin over the top. We suspect that number may have risen in the final days of the campaign.

On May 10, I said this in an appeal to WFP supporters:

“We don’t need to compete dollar for dollar with Rove and his corporate backers. But we do need to get as much manpower as we can into the district. Our person-to-person grassroots campaign can beat Rove’s TV commercials any day.”

Our supporters, along with friends at MoveOn.org, raised us over $130,000 to fund our GOTV work – and we believe it’s made much more of an impact than anything Rove put on TV. Thanks to those contributions, we’ve knocked on tens of thousands of doors, and we’ve spoken to disaffected Democrats, turned-off Republicans, and unaffiliated voters. Those cross-sections of society don’t agree on much – but they do believe in economic fairness and the need to protect Medicare.

Of course, lawn signs don’t win elections, but we think our “Save Medicare, Vote Hochul” signs in public spaces and outside polling places throughout the district didn’t hurt. The message seems to have resonated.

Lessons for 2012:

Republicans have been trying to dismantle Medicare since LBJ enacted it into law. They’ve been trying to end Social Security since FDR enacted it into law. And now, of course, they’re trying to end President Obama’s historic health care reforms.

They are backed in these efforts by their powerful donor base — corporate interests and a few bad-acting ultra-wealthy individuals who have a stake in social inequality.

Tonight’s election shows that we can do two things in order to beat the Republicans and their Big Money backers:

1. Democrats must stay true to their legacy of social progress and their progressive roots. They must not be afraid to rail against attempts at “right-wing social engineering.”

2. We must fund strong campaigns that rely on aggressive grassroots outreach. We might not win every TV war, but we can win in the field when we bring our message to voters’ doorsteps directly.