Tag Archives: Erie County New York

Lying Liar Chris Collins

31 Oct


Going to the voters of Erie County to debate, speak, and listen to them at candidates’ forums? Absolutely not
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Go on Obamaphobic proto-fascistic Fox News and lie through your dirty whore mouth? Absolutely.

Having watched Chris Collins lie lies in the video, I won’t dignify it with an embed or even a link. Collins’ hysterical whining should stay on an obscure Sunday cable news show I’ve never heard of where it belongs.

Chris Collins quite literally lied every time he opened his mouth when speaking to the Obamaphobe network on a show nobody saw.

But now I understand why Collins doesn’t want to attend candidate forums and avoid real questions from real people – because he’s intemperate, rude, and finds it easy to make shit up out of whole cloth.

You may critique me or Poloncarz all day for jumping the gun on blaming a Republican for faking the Collins ballots, but Collins is no better going on “national” TV and directly blaming Poloncarz AFTER the Sheriffs’ office has expressly absolved both campaigns of involvement or blame. Which is more egregious?

The only thing missing from this campaign is Collins BOE patronage hack Michael Mallia assaulting a senior citizen. Shame on Collins and his clearly spooked, desperate campaign of failure and lies. Thankfully, the video isn’t in the news, and nobody saw it.

Happy Monday!

Regarding a Political Opinion Poll

28 Oct

Hey, about those phone calls that voters are receiving purporting to be from the Poloncarz campaign, we’ll have some video up later, but here are a few issues:

The Collins campaign has it all figured out.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/news4buffalo/status/129995007955435522″%5D

1. Here’s an audio recording of the outgoing message you hear when dialing the number at issue: (716) 250-7491:

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Now, if you Google that phrase: “If you received a call from this number, you were contacted regarding a political opinion poll“, you get this result – the same exact message, same exact voice comes up if you call (858) 634-5689.

2. At a press conference Friday at 1:00 pm, County Legislator Kevin Hardwick indicated that he had received what he thought to be a perfectly reasonable call from that same number, asking him to support Poloncarz, and reading from a script that outlined that Congressman Brian Higgins and Congresswoman Kathy Hochul had endorsed him.   That’s odd, since Hochul & Higgins didn’t formally endorse Poloncarz until October 28th, but the call Professor Hardwick received came on October 26th.

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I asked Peter Anderson from the Poloncarz campaign, and he adamantly denied that the campaign – or any of its surrogates – was making these calls.

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The smoking phone!

Hey, Chris and Stef – which union is busy making calls to San Diego County, California, and Erie County, New York?

County Executive Race Friday

27 Oct

Mark Galvin is what you might call a hack’s hack. A former Erie County Parks employee in charge of administering Derby Beach under Joel Giambra. Was very active in the Keane campaign in 2007. When that failed, he was ousted from county government, but landed a cush job at the BOE as a “thank you” for his work in county government and for Keane.  He is now suspected of allegedly sending absentee ballots that were pre-marked for Chris Collins to several individuals in Lackawanna.

A motive? Unknown.  What we do know is that Galvin has no ties whatsoever to the Poloncarz campaign. A review of his contributions via the Board of Elections shows contributions made almost exclusively to the party committee and to Jim Keane.  Apart from that, $25 to Michele Iannello in 2009, and $250 to Sam Hoyt in 2010.  He gave $500 to Brian Higgins in 2008. He lived in Derby until an apartment opened up in Marine Towers, which is notorious for being the housing project of choice for the politically connected.

Here’s other stuff we know:

1. The first information that leaked about a possible suspect involved a Democrat from Lackawanna. Obviously, if that was true, it would be easy for the Mychajliw/Collins crew to draw some connection with Lackawanna native Poloncarz.  As it turns out, the BOE employee from Lackawanna didn’t do it. Interestingly, several sources are telling me that Galvin, the suspect, is a long-time source for web outlets associated with Collins campaign; sites that loudly touted the supposed Lackawanna connection, allegedly fed to them by Galvin himself to redirect the heat.

2. The Sheriff’s office has made it quite clear that neither campaign had anything to do with this attempted fraud by an alleged habitual leaker of information.

While law enforcement takes care of the scummier, stupider underbelly of local politics, on to other issues relating to this race:

Telephone Harassment

Who is routing calls through numbers beginning with (716) 250-xxxx in an effort to embarrass the Poloncarz campaign? Hundreds of people have complained of getting multiple harassing calls per day asking them to vote for Poloncarz. The Poloncarz campaign had this to say:

We’ve gotten some reports of harassing calls coming from someone claiming to be associated with my campaign. They are not. If you get one of these calls please take the phone number down, the date and time of calls (including if you get many in one day) and contact the campaign at information@markpoloncarz.com or 896-2680.

The calls are being routed through a service called “bandwidth.com“. They aren’t coming from Poloncarz. I wonder who would do such a thing? Harass identified Poloncarz voters? 

Collins Snubs Voters 7 Times

From a Poloncarz press release: In the worst spirit of the season, Chris Collins once again pulled a nasty trick on voters by failing to show up for yet another candidates forum in Hamburg last night, the seventh time he has disrespected voters across Erie County. Scheduled throughout the season and the county by various groups interested in learning more about both candidates and their platforms, each forum provides an opportunity for open dialogue between residents and candidates.

“If Chris Collins thinks he can stay in hiding and win this election, he’s sorely mistaken,” said Peter Anderson, spokesman for the Poloncarz campaign. “He spends his time hiding behind misleading commercials and blowing off residents who deserve to know what he stands for. These people care. They showed up. Why didn’t Chris Collins?”

To date, Mark Poloncarz has participated in seven candidate forums, talking with concerned voters from Buffalo and Eggertsville to East Aurora and Hamburg. Collins, meanwhile, has avoided any public appearances after his disastrous debate performances, and his stony silence regarding the real issues is eroding confidence.

“After missing seven scheduled opportunities to interact with voters, it’s painfully obvious that Chris Collins doesn’t care what voters have to say, or what their concerns are,” Anderson continued. “He’s totally out of touch with Erie County. He doesn’t deserve the support of county residents if he doesn’t care enough to show up at these important forums and discuss the issues directly with his bosses – the people of Erie County.”

Recent Candidate Forums Held in Erie County Not Attended by Chris Collins

  •  Tuesday, October 11 – Eggertsville Candidate’s Night – St. Paul’s Church, 4007 Main St., Eggertsville
  • Friday, October 14 – Southeast Works Candidate Forum, Depew
  • Tuesday, October 18 – St. John the Baptist Holy Name Society “Candidate Nite” – 1085 Englewood Ave., Tonawanda
  • Wednesday, October 19 – Candidate Forum, WNY Independent Living – 3108 Main St., Buffalo
  • Monday, October 24 – Clarence League of Woman Voters Candidate Forum – Clarence Town Hall
  • Tuesday, October 25 – East Aurora League of Women Voters Candidate Forum – Aurora Senior Center
  • Wednesday, October 26 – Hamburg League of Women Voters Candidate Forum – Union-Pleasant School

Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers: MISLEADING

13 Oct

WGRZ’s truth test, isn’t.

Poloncarz Claim: During Chris Collins’ Tenure as County Executive, Erie County lost 10,000 jobs.

That’s either true, or it’s not. We do know that Collins claimed – and took credit for – growth in jobs during 2010 – 2011, but neglected to point out that these still represented a net loss of jobs, which is clearly spelled out in this article. Poloncarz’s ad is merely filling in the blanks Collins left out.

Poloncarz Claim: Under Chris Collins, County Taxes Have Gone Up.

When Collins took office in 2008, he fought to increase property taxes by 4.8%. The legislature refused – it cut spending in order to maintain taxes where they were. Collins went to court to ensure that your property taxes would be raised, and a judge ruled that a 2% hike was all that was necessary.  Read that again: the Republican wanted to raise taxes and fought the Democrats’ efforts to prevent that.

Collins trots Stefan Mychajliw out to over-react: “It is completely disingenuous, unfair, cheap, and sad that the Poloncarz atta

ck ad offers no perspective on what awful shape Erie County’s finances were in when Chris Collins took office and where they are now.”

Not really. In fact, the truth – that Collins FOUGHT IN COURT to raise your taxes – is even more damning than the mere charge that “taxes have gone up”.  If anything, Poloncarz’s ad was too soft on the incumbent.

Remember when Collins gamed the legislature to get spending cuts, yet proceeded to send out tax bills at a higher rate than the legislature approved?

WGRZ Claim: We Tried to Contact Poloncarz for a Comment.

I spoke with Poloncarz today, and no one tried to contact him or the campaign for a comment, and no such message was ever received.

Poloncarz Claim: While Collins Gives Raises to his Cronies, He Cuts Funding to Libraries, Health Care and Parks.

WGRZ confirms that the library funding was cut in 2011. WGRZ confirms that Collins sought to cut Medicaid benefits to those horrible grifting poor people who can go buy their own damned glasses.  Collins also got rid of county management of WIC and federally funded health clinics for the poorest of the poor onto faith-based charity organizations.  So, that’s true too.

But when the redcoats at Channel 2 examined the parks budgets, this is what they showed to judge Poloncarz’s claim as “misleading”.

  • 2007 – $3,314,304
  • 2008 – $4,779,444
  • 2009 – $4,229,537
  • 2010 – $4,592,728

Notice anything there? That’s right – the 2007 budget was passed in 2006 under Giambra. The 2008 budget was passed in 2007 under Giambra. The 2011 budget, which shows a drop in parks funding is omitted. Great math, Channel 2!  I even like the line in Channel 2’s article, which asserts that “now” is equal to “2010”.

My reading of the 2010 budget, however, reveals a drop to $4,145,651 – I don’t know where Channel 2 is getting a 2010 increase from. The 2011 budget dropped the parks budget further, to $3,272,892.

Interestingly, Channel 2 says nothing about the “raises to cronies”. So, let me clarify the truth of that assertion by linking to this.  The legislature cleverly attempted to grant a first-since-2005 raise to rank & file county workers on the same day that Collins attempted to get a $30,000 raise for his county attorney.  He even offered the new County Attorney a salary far in excess of what is budgeted, and secured just that.

Bob McCarthy Claim: Poloncarz Lagging in Fundraising

Oh, and finally, to fact-check the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy, who is absolutely obsessed with fundraising, let’s do this fun exercise.

State Board of Elections records show Poloncarz with only about $213,000 on hand — far behind the $1.27 million reported last week by Collins and raising questions about his ability to compete with the well-heeled incumbent.

Since the Buffalo News’ political reporter has simply morphed into a concern troll, let’s take May 5, 2011 as a start date – that’s the day on which Mark Poloncarz declared his candidacy for County Executive. If you do a query at the Board of Elections website for Collins and Poloncarz, between May 7, 2011 and October 12, 2011, here’s what you find:

Poloncarz total:        $383,242.14
Collins total:              $333,311.62

Those numbers may not be 100% accurate, and to be fair, Collins announced in March. Since that time, he’s raised about $448,712.  He loaned his campaign another $800,000 in the Collins/Lee/Paladino/Corwin model of buying governmental power, and $54,000 of that was raised at a one-time $1,000-per-plate dinner attended by average Erie County millionaires.

Perhaps Mr. McCarthy could express how some are concerned over Collins’ rather anemic fundraising, despite the people with whom he’s aligned and the power of incumbency. $1.2 million and he can’t break 3% in a Siena poll against the guy with $200k in the bank.

Miller-Williams Forcing County Leg Workers to Electioneer?

23 Sep

I’ve deliberately been ignoring the comings and goings of the ridiculous, court-governed county legislature race because, really, it’s something that just shouldn’t be.  We don’t need it, and we don’t need them – not to do its largely ministerial functions.

But this comment made in reply to this Artvoice piece stood out:

Many Erie County Legislature’s Democratic staffers are complaing that Chairwoman Miller-Williams is forcing them to canvas the 3rd Legislative District for the Independence Party Line.They are complaining because they are being made to work for Chris Collins and the other Republican Legislators who received the Independence Party’s endorsement and against endorsed Democrats. Miller-Williams was also the only Democrat endorsed by them. These workers are caught in the middle because they are being told that they will be fired if they did not do this political work. Isn’t this illegal under New York State election laws?

Yes, it’s illegal.  If it isn’t, it should be. If it isn’t, it’s palpably unethical.

Barbara Miller-Williams has proven herself to be a loyal Collins Republican, and as with most Byron Brown allies, she blurs the line between government and campaigning into illegality that sometimes does – and sometimes doesn’t – get exposed, but is seldom, if ever, prosecuted. Ask Tanya Perrin-Johnson.  I frankly don’t know why Ms. Miller-Williams doesn’t just switch to the party with which she is most closely aligned.

I don’t know why she continues to pretend to be a Democrat, but that’s her business. In the long term, would be great for the community if we could restructure government into something more streamlined and effective. In the short term, as with Antoine Thompson, it would be good to be rid of bad political actors like Ms. Miller-Williams.

Poloncarz to Collins: Y U No Want a Debate?

24 Aug

Yesterday, the Poloncarz campaign (full disclosure: I never get/got a dime from them for writing about this) released this press release:

Poloncarz Once Again Calls for Series of Debates with Collins

ERIE COUNTY, NY — “Three weeks ago, I sent Chris Collins a letter challenging him to a series of debates so that we can begin to discuss the issues that are important to Erie County’s families. As of today, I have received no response. 

“The taxpayers want to hear about the issues that affect their daily lives. I have challenged Chris Collins to a series of three debates with an unbiased moderator, but he is too preoccupied with sending out his campaign spokesman to attack me with petty insults to even acknowledge my offer.

“Chris Collins has clearly decided to hide behind his misleading campaign commercials rather than talking about the real issues of our county, including the unsightly condition of our parks, which was highlighted yesterday in a WIVB story*. I’d like to know what parks are ‘in the best shape ever,’ as Collins’ commercial claims. Not Ellicott Creek Park, not Como Park, not many county parks and beaches, unfortunately. 

“As County Executive, I will be available to the people of Erie County. I want to hear their questions and concerns directly, and that begins here on the campaign trail with this series of debates. I am looking forward to an honest discourse with my opponent instead of cheap political shots.”

* “Shabby park shelter leaves renter irate,” WIVB, August 22, 2011, http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/erie/Shabby-park-shelter-leaves-renter-irate

Good question.  There was a televised Collins/Keane debate and another on WBEN, but that was about it. Keane was an epically horrible and disappointing candidate who never stood a chance (neither, by the way, did Paul Clark). Collins came across in 2007 as earnest, apolitical, and interested in making a difference. His tenure as county executive has been, unfortunately, hyperpolitical, transactional, and replete with patronage, payback, and politically calculated decisions that “got the county out of” some service or another, while creating new six-figure positions out of whole cloth. Collins has a visceral hatred of Poloncarz, and the latter can (and does) exploit that to his advantage.

Having them debate facts and policy for the benefit of the electorate is important and inevitable. There’s no primary, so we already know that these two are their respective parties’ nominees. Let’s start talking about their records, their vision, and their plans for Erie County and her people.

The Legislature Redistricting

14 Aug

For those of you who may be interested, here is the court order and maps (including a separate, detailed map of Buffalo), relating to U.S. District Court Judge Skretny’s decision on Erie County Legislature redistricting:

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Regionalism: Time to Party Like it’s 1999

8 Mar
Erie County Hall. Buffalo NY

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve heard it said that Buffalo is where good ideas go to die.

I don’t think of it like that. Buffalo is where good ideas are made to inhale chloroform, dragged around to the back of the abandoned house, and murdered by status-quo driven self-interest.

Buffalo in 2011 is besotted with the same problems, the same issues, the same concerns, and – strikingly – the same debates it had a decade ago.  Save one.

Regionalism.

Regionalism was murdered in 2005 after being debilitated by people who have an interest in maintaining the status quo, and then unintentionally killed by a politically beleaguered Joel Giambra; it was manslaughter.  After all, during the last few years of his 16th floor Rath Building tenancy, Joel Giambra was political poison. If he was for pink bunny rabbits and sun-shiny days, polls would show that 20% of WNYers agreed with him, while 70% hated bunnies and sunshine, and a further 10% didn’t know.

But as wrong as Joel Giambra was about a lot of things, he was right about one – that western New York needed to seriously consider the implementation of regional, metropolitan government. The champion of this idea was Kevin Gaughan.

Gaughan recognized that regionalism – a concept whose entry in the regional socio-economic-political discussion began through a forum held in 1997 at the Chautauqua Institution – was a non-starter due to its support from, and association with the toxic Giambra.  He turned his attention to another crusade – the “Cost“, which studied and determined that we ought to remedy a symptom of too many governments in WNY – i.e., too many politicians and appointees – and begin eliminating villages and downsizing town boards and other legislatures.  That has been met with some success, more failure, and bypasses the disease itself.

Yet those familiar with the internet’s Way Back Machine can still access Gaughan’s arguments for regional metropolitan government.

One of the opinions I’m most known for is the idea that county government ought to be abolished. It was done in 1997 in Massachusetts, which recognized that county government largely adds no value to the work already done by cities, towns, villages, and – most importantly – the state.

We have so many redundant and needless governments in western New York that the regional is factionalized and fragmented.  The Balkanization of western New York helps ensure that there is no unified plan – with a set vision, and a series of distinct goals – for moving a region into a 21st century reality.

We rely on the Sabres and the Bills to keep convincing ourselves that this is a major league city. It isn’t. Our infrastructure planning assumed that the City of Buffalo and Erie County would grow to a population of over 2 million people. It hasn’t; it’s shrunken. People clamor for change, yet moan about its actual implementation. As if by abolishing a village government you abolish the village itself and displace its people.

We are the ultimate hoarders; hoarders of pointless governmental entities that add no value to the civic equation. Why? Could it be as simple as my hypothesis – that there are too many people dependent on the maintenance of the status quo to permit change to be implemented?

It’s time for us, the people of Erie County and western New York, to start talking again about looking forward.  The governmental number and structure of the 50s needs to change, or this region will continue to decline.  The age of industry has given way to the age of knowledge and information.

The city of Toronto, Ontario is a municipal entity comprising over 2 million people. It has a directly elected mayor and a unicameral legislature made up of 44 councilmembers representing a geographical constituency. In 1998, Toronto and six surrounding municipalities joined, making up the amalgamated Metro Toronto. Buffalo also has a changed demographic reality, one that could do with some radical change.  You mean to tell me that 45 elected officials to handle a population of 900,000 isn’t doable? Western New York has 45 separate and distinct governments, comprised of well over 300 elected officials.

This is the first in a series, and it’s my hope that we can re-spark this discussion and come up with ways to implement and design this new reality for western New York. I sincerely think that by making this switch to metropolitan government is the best chance for lurching us out of a 50s growth & infrastructure mentality that has been an anachronism for decades. This is an idea that will be fought tooth & nail by those who benefit from our stagnated status quo, but some of their points will be valid and need to be addressed.  I hope to conclude with an action plan that will enable people to lobby, advocate, agitate, and cajole for this idea.

Downsize? Let’s downsize from 45 to 1.

Sometimes, old forgotten ideas are worth reviving.  Let’s do that.

Largely Symbolic, Locally Stupid

18 Jan

Many thanks to the Republican congress for finally freeing us from the tyranny-at-gunpoint of $32 million in regional federal investment in pork barrel projects such as:

Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station $9.5 million
Lake Ontario/Niagara River navigation $4.2 million
Cyclotron at UB research center $3.7 million
Statler transportation facility $3 million
Viral research at Hauptman-Woodward Institute $2 million
Darwin Martin House improvements $1 million
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus streetscape improvements $1 million

Although it does sometimes seem as if the Darwin Martin House is the biggest welfare queen in Buffalo, I have a huge problem with losing funding for things like viral research and the Cyclotron.  We’re pretty good here in western New York of maintaining a mediocre economic status quo, so when Washington throws us a bone we should run for it, not from it.   After all, it’s not the federal government at the root of that mediocrity, and New York State is a net federal payor.

Earmarks get a lot of attention because they’re easy for people to understand, and easy for some politicians to heap scorn upon, but they’re real projects that benefit real people and create real private-sector jobs.  In the case of medical or scientific research, they can have scientific and economic benefits that last decades.  After all, a lot is riding on the medical campus, as it represents a huge effort to move our region further away from its long-gone industrial past and into a 21st-century knowledge-based economy.

I challenge anyone to tell me why a C-130 flight operations center at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is mere “pork” – like a bridge to nowhere – with no federal benefit.

While the sole Republican representative from the Buffalo area, Chris Lee (NY-26), says it’s indicative of an effort to stop “reckless spending”, that sort of comment does a disservice to the projects themselves.  There’s nothing “reckless” about an investment in Buffalo’s future, it’s common sense. And given that earmarks make up less than 0.5% of the federal budget, talk of this earmark ban being some sort of return to fiscal sanity is just a lie.  This is macro window dressing, with very poor micro effects.

In the meantime, the United States spends around $700 billion per year for defense alone, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – about $2 thousand million per day out of a $3.5 trillion budget.

I guess things in Washington are not that dissimilar from our own Erie County Legislature – we get all worked up about minutiae, ignoring the bigger picture.

Let them Wear Contacts!

12 Jan

King Collins du Lac has evidently decided to completely disrespect and ignore a legitimate judge’s ruling.

We know he has contempt for the democratic process as manifested through the legislature and the checks that it places on his power.

We also know he has contempt for the comptroller’s office and the checks that it places on his power.

We knew he had contempt for the federal government and its meddling in the affairs of his jails.

But now we also know that he has contempt for the third branch of government  – the courts.  The problem is that “contempt of court” – where, as here, someone knowingly disobeys a judge’s order, one wonders whether his royal highness might be haled into court to answer for his contempt and possibly end up locked behind federally-investigated Erie County bars.

The tax bills are going out now. Tax officials have printed them with a rate calculated as though [Supreme Court Justice Joseph R.] Glownia had never ruled, except for that $457,000. The rate remains at about $5.03 for every $1,000 of assessed value, before certain charges that vary by municipality.

What it means is that county tax bills that are going out soon will be $8 million higher than they’re legally supposed to be.  So, Collins gets his spending cuts, but grants no tax reduction?  That should play well in November.

He has also decreed that the destitute deadbeats can buy their own goddamned optometrist visit and their own goddamned glasses.  Collins doesn’t wear glasses, so I don’t know if he realizes how much all of that costs, but his decree must now simply wait out the pesky political process he so despises. Let them wear contacts!