Tag Archives: endorsements

The Race for Attorney General

14 May

Courtesy of Robert Harding, here is the state of the Attorney General’s race on the Democratic side. Although NY Superintendent of Insurance Eric Dinallo has the largest volume of county endorsements, they don’t amount to much. Meanwhile, Nassau DA Kathleen Rice and State Senator Eric Schneiderman are close to the 25% threshold to reach the ballot thanks to large weighted votes from Brooklyn and Manhattan. Also see this piece from Room Eight, which acts as a sort of spring training preview of the field.

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Neither Niagara nor Erie County have endorsed any candidate. The GLOW counties have backed Dinallo. Notably absent from the race is current AG Andrew Cuomo, who (a) is running a campaign for calendar year 2010; (b) but isn’t campaigning for any office yet.

On the Republican side, the only almost-announced candidate is Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan.

The Obligatory Endorsement Post

2 Nov

I’ve done it every other election season, so why stop now, right?

But this year is different.

First of all, let’s dispense with what Rumsfeld would call the known knowns:  nobody gives a crap whom I endorse for elected office, and this is a completely meaningless post as a practical matter. I do not presume to have any influence over anyone’s vote, nor do I suppose that anyone really cares.

But I’ll do it anyway because I like to.

This is not, however a prediction post, so when you post a comment in a few months telling me how stupid and ignorant I am for “predicting” the outcome of a race incorrectly, you will be directed to this paragraph of this post.

This year, I am not going to give any specific endorsements of personalities, rather an un-endorsement of a particular slate of candidates; the Chris Collins slate of candidates.

Much like his chief executive counterpart in Buffalo City Hall, Chris Collins brings to that office charisma and remarkable sum of banked political capital.  Tony Masiello or Joel Giambra were middling apparatchiks who talked a good game but left the office having done more bad than good.  To his credit, Giambra pushed for, but failed to bring about, any sort of regionalism.  Byron Brown and Chris Collins won in recent landslides and have the power, but lack the will, to do very much with it.

Regional metropolitan government could save this region.  We discard it like the morning’s Charmin.

Collins in particular won on a platform of “running government like a business”, being apolitical, reining in costs, lowering taxes, and asking tough questions through, among other things, Six Sigma initiatives.  In practice, however, he has failed at all of those things.

It’s as popular as it is facile to blame his failings on the Democrats, on the unions, on the legislature.  Politics is not a one-person sport.  Part of what makes a good politician is the ability to build consensus – to make the assumption that everyone in government is there to do good by those who sent them there.  Collins bypassed that, and behaved like a bull in a china shop from jump street.  His efforts, like Brown’s, amount to tinpot Machiavellianism – exploiting, for instance, a rift between Lynn Marinelli and Len Lenihan to his advantage, rather than genuinely reaching out to to a stark Democratic legislative majority to enlist their help to develop a strategy for betterment of the region.

The notion that Collins is apolitical is a falsity.

“Running government like a business” is a happy-sounding mantra that makes the electorate believe that he’s going to go after waste and fraud, and really streamline government.  That’s happened only on the fringes, and has been almost exclusively directed at the poor, the sick, the single parents – people who need help, but people on whom Collins could never count to support him.  He gave them even less reason to, arguing that 100% federal reimbursement of certain programs that assist the poor was irrelevant, and shunted these responsibilities off to charities.  He’s saving money on legacy costs, he argues.  Yet he has made no moves to, e.g., close golf courses that also employ county workers who also represent legacy costs.  That choice is neither political nor businesslike.

In other words, whatever little streamlining there’s been, it’s been decided politically.

Cutting waste and spending?  Like his predecessor, Collins hired people whom he knew (nothing wrong with that) and asked the legislature (which, for the most part, granted his requests) to give raises and variable minimums to his appointees.  This way, a new hire could have, say, 5 years’ worth of seniority on day one.  That’s not how businesses are run, is it?  That’s not a reduction in spending, is it?  And Collins blames Albany on 88% of the county budget problems, ignoring the fact that there are opportunities available to maximize savings even on that end of the budgetary spectrum.

It’s not the pablum you should pay attention to – it’s the deeds.

So, Chris Collins has allegedly struck a deal with Byron Brown where the Republicans run no one in city-based races for Mayor or County Legislature.  This guarantees Brown’s re-election unopposed tomorrow, and artifically depresses turnout in the city for the comptroller’s and sheriff’s races, thus helping Kadet and Howard.

And for the suburban races, Collins has deliberately done exactly what Byron Brown did back in 2007 – hand-picked or otherwise supported candidates to challenge elected officials whom Collins has deemed are obstructing his plan for oddly selected spending cuts, tax hikes, and union demonization. Collins’ complained-of inability to get his agenda through the legislature is as much his fault as anyone else’s.  When you treat the legislature like some meddlesome hoop through which you need to jump, rather than a co-equal branch of government, you’re going to run into some problems.

There has been practically zero substance to any of the county legislature races this year.  All anyone wants to talk about is minutiae – how many legislators; how much do they get paid; are they full- or part-time; are there extended terms; are there term limits; do they keep district offices.  There’s no referendum on Collins’ initiatives versus anyone else’s.  There’s been no analysis of Six Sigma or taxes or spending or practically any policies whatsoever.  Collins is just trying to stack the leg in his favor so there’s a better chance he’ll get done what he wants done.  I’m not saying that’s abnormal or wrong, per se.  Just true.

One thing’s for sure, if he’s successful, then being a legislator really won’t be full-time.  Introducing and rubber-stamping the executive’s initiatives takes little time or thought.

The sheriff’s race shouldn’t even be close.

The race for comptroller is laughable.  Collins is somehow trying to sell the public on the notion that it’s better that his guy is in that office, rather than someone independent from him.  That way, I guess, we can get the hard-hitting fiscal reporting and analysis we got when Nancy Naples kept an eye on Joel Giambra. Win!

And all of this, remember, is over what everyone will tell you is 12-ish% of the overall county budget.  $1.1 billion altogether, and they’re engaging in blood feuds over $130,000,000.

Since only 12% of the budget is allegedly subject to the political whims and desires of our elected officials, it would appear to me that most of their tasks are ministerial in nature.  In other words, we have no use for county government at all, as currently structured.  We could just as easily just have counties be geographical municipal divisions made up of a handful of elected overseers and a competent bureaucracy.  Make sure the parks are open.  Make sure you can reserve a shelter easily.  Pave the roads.  Fix the bridges.  Plow the streets.  You don’t need 15 elected legislators and a bunch of pointless fighting for that.

But since it’s more fun to bicker over WIC and golf courses, let’s not really get to the heart of the problem, but just skim the surface to please everyone’s constituencies.

Vote however you want on Tuesday.  But for as long as we remain saddled with that pointless anachronism we call county government, let’s maintain a check on the arrogant and misguided county executive until such time as he learns that politics is a game of give and take – not take and shiv.

And let’s start talking about abolishing county government.  Srsly.

Obamacons

1 Nov


There are two traditionally Conservative publications – both British, but also widely read in America and worldwide – that have endorsed Barack Obama.

The Economist’s endorsement is here. It notes McCain’s impetuousness, but also his record of centrist bipartisanship, and laments the fact that a completely different, disingenuous McCain showed up for this election.

At the beginning of this election year, there were strong arguments against putting another Republican in the White House. A spell in opposition seemed apt punishment for the incompetence, cronyism and extremism of the Bush presidency. Conservative America also needs to recover its vim. Somehow Ronald Reagan’s party of western individualism and limited government has ended up not just increasing the size of the state but turning it into a tool of southern-fried moralism.

Of Obama, they say that he would, first and foremost, offer a physical rebuttal to the notion of the Islamists and other America-haters that this isn’t a Democratic country that offers people of any background an opportunity to succeed and to lead. It’s harder to accuse the US of being anti-anything when its President is a black guy whose middle name is “Hussein”. It also claims that this “global electoral college” on its site underscores the fact that the rest of the world wants Obama to win, and he would instantly help regain America’s standing in the world community.

The Economist says that the way Obama has behaved and operated his campaign more than makes up for his lack of executive political experience and relatively thin resume. When the shit hits the fan, (Jeremiah Wright hubbub, economic crisis), Obama never took the easy, political way out. “On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well.”

Although they have their reservations about his ability to take on a Democratic Congress, the Economist suggests he won’t brook any nonsense from them.

So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

The Financial Times says:

Two main points seem to tip it for the FT:

We applaud his main domestic proposal: comprehensive health-care reform. This plan would achieve nearly universal insurance without the mandates of rival schemes: characteristically, it combines a far-sighted goal with moderation in the method. Mr McCain’s plan, based on extending tax relief beyond employer-provided insurance, also has merit – it would contain costs better – but is too timid and would widen coverage much less.

Our health care system in the United States (1) isn’t the best in the world; (2) costs too much in private, insurance, and government dollars; and (3) still fails to insure everybody. Every other industrialized nation in the world somehow manages to insure all of its citizens, whether it be through a single-payer socialized system like Britain’s and Canada’s, a mandatory government-subsidized insurance scheme, or some type of hybrid public/private scheme.

and, of course, the thrilla from Wasilla,

For all his experience, Mr McCain has seemed too much guided by an instinct for peremptory action, an exaggerated sense of certainty, and a reluctance to see shades of grey.

He has offered risk-taking almost as his chief qualification, but gambles do not always pay off. His choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, widely acknowledged to have been a mistake, is an obtrusive case in point. Rashness is not a virtue in a president. The cautious and deliberate Mr Obama is altogether a less alarming prospect.

As much as McCain has tried to paint Obama as “dangerous” and “inexperienced”, there seems to be a consensus that’s developed – especially since the Palin selection – that Obama is a less “risky” choice than McCain.

Buffalo News Endorsements So Far [UPDATED]

29 Oct

President:

Barack Obama (D) (article here)

If Americans want a future where our leaders respond to challenges with judgment and principle, rather than panic and rashness, they will elect Barack Obama president. We recommend they do so.

Our preference for Obama is not based only on matters of character, intelligence and calm. It also flows from his superior positions on such basic issues as war and peace, energy and environment, the economy and taxation, health care and justice.

Fundamentally, Obama does not want us to fear the future, the ever smaller, ever more complicated world, the problems we face and the choices we must make. He most certainly does not want us to be afraid of one another. And Obama does not even want us to be afraid of his rival candidate.

Congress:

NY-26: Alice Kryzan (D) (article here)

Kryzan is having no more of the Bush administration’s nonsense about the solution to every problem being another tax cut for the rich. And she resists the lure of cheap, and environmentally damaging, oil, turning instead to a new, green economy that will not only battle the trends toward climate change but also promise economic benefits to previously troubled areas such as Buffalo and the Great Lakes.

NY-27: Brian Higgins (D)

Higgins is vitally important on those local needs, and he is on the right side of the big issues. He is tired of the United States being played by all sides in the Iraq conflict and upset by what the conduct of the war on terror has done to American values. He favors reasonable regulation for the shattered financial markets and will not be a vote to continue the ruinous Bush tax cuts.

NY-28: Louise Slaughter (D)

As chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, she is in a good spot to see to the needs of all of Western New York. But, more than that, her position on the important issues facing the nation recommend her to the voters.

Slaughter is a strong voice for facing the threat of climate change through limits on greenhouse emissions, alternative energy sources and efficient autos and power plants. She supports a carefully managed withdrawal from Iraq and a restoration of the constitutional balances that have been upset by the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror. She seeks an end to the Bush tax code, which she rightly labels as a blatant redistribution of wealth — from the poor to the rich.

NY-29: Eric Massa (D)

Massa, a Democrat from Corning, favors a tax code that reserves its breaks for those who need them the most, has detailed ideas for a new regulatory system for the financial industry and regrets deeply the damage that has been done to the American military, American security, the American Constitution and American prestige by the misbegotten war in Iraq.

The News really honed in on the Bush-era’s tax cuts for the rich, and how that has practically become the Republican Party’s answer to everything.

State Assembly Continue reading

Powers to Rivals: GLOW ME

30 Apr

Congratulations to Democratic candidate for Congress from NY-26, Jon Powers, who last night scored the last and decisive county committee endorsement in NY-26, earning the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Committee.

Len Lenihan said, “Jon Powers is running an incredibly effective grassroots campaign and he represents a new generation of leadership that people are hoping for in this country.”

Throw Jon a couple of bucks, or else attend his fundraiser May 6th.

(In case you’re wondering, the title reflects that Powers has the endorsements of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming, Monroe, and Erie Counties.)