Tag Archives: golisano

Golisano Treads Into Nut Territory

23 Jun

Naples’ own Tom Golisano is considering for the U.S. Senate. But he’s not taking on Schumer or Gillibrand. We’re talking about one of the seats from Florida.

I thought he was all about cleaning up Albany or something.

What’s the difference between Tom Golisano and a kook? About $1.8 billion.

Golisano Explains

15 Jun

In the New York Post, Golisano explains why a coup will lead to better government. That’s nice. But here’s the truth – it’s not about Golisano. His political team is all about personal aggrandizement, not the good of the people. That’s why the two Senators who decided to caucus with the Republicans are two of the most opportunistic, ethically challenged individuals in a body packed with them.

The rumor now is that Monserrate is upset that more Democrats didn’t sign up with their “coalition” Senate majority, so he’s coming back to the Democrat minority, leaving a 31 – 31 split. As I said before, they should actively bar him and prevent him from having anything to do with them. They should shun him and prohibit him from participating in any meaningful way.

And they should make sure to keep all tableware up where he can’t reach it.

And then they can go about just dissolving the complete, utter waste of time, money, and resources that is the New York State Senate. A useless hellhole of influence-peddling and member items. Anything that renders Dale Volker unemployed is fine by me.

Unshackling Business Sector Shenanigans

12 Jun

It was certainly an eventful day in New York’s ongoing Senate coup saga, replete with hidden keys, locked drawers, lawsuits and one of the new “coalition” Senators contemplating a flip back to the Democratic voting bloc.  However, there was just as much excitement in the private sector as a slew of news erupted in a massive shakeup of corporate interest and advocacy groups.

New Florida resident, Tom Golisano, continued his efforts to shake up government in his former home state of New York by joining the Unshackle Upstate coalition.  As a quick aside, I’ve always found the term “Unshackle” to be quite comedic and odd.  A coalition of millionaires shuffling between their corporate offices, expensive import cars and suburban McMansions like slaves in shackles, just begging to be cut loose.  I digress…

Golisano has pledged his support to Unshackle Upstate as it has broadened its coalition to include business groups in Westchester, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.  Golisano did not say what amount his financial support for the organization would amount to, just that he would help “however he could”.


Over on the Buffalo Niagara Partnership blog, they laid out what Golisano joining their organization means for the effort and informs the reason as to why the BNP and Unshackle Upstate have had mild success to this point.

It’s clear in Albany that politics comes first – and forceful politics backed by money and manpower can be unbelievably influential in shaping policy. Take a look at the Working Families Party of New York’s web site – which promotes the state’s pro-labor, high tax agenda… It literally spells out how the game is played. So, in order for Unshackle Upstate to play the Albany game, we need to coalesce with people and organizations who have like principles and goals: lower taxes, smaller government and fiscal accountability. Mr. Golisano is one of those people, and we’re happy to welcome him as a member of Unshackle Upstate. Building the coalition of individuals, employers and groups that want to see change in Albany raises awareness, raises resources and, ultimately, raises clout.

There seems to be a sudden realization that after 16 years of advocacy, the BNP could rival a grassroots organization like the Working Families Party if they had some money at their disposal.  Isn’t this the organization that has the President and CEO of every major regional corporation on its Board of Directors?  I have to wonder about the effectiveness of an organization of well-heeled millionaires who can’t seem to outpoint the plucky hippie unionistas of the WFP.  Seems like a leadership problem to me…or the most uncoordinated and helpless millionaires in the nation.  It’s yet another WNY organization that measures success by its efforts and not results.

No wonder local developer and agitator Carl Paladino is calling for Rudnick’s removal as head of the BNP.

“It’s time for change,” said Paladino, who has repeatedly condemned the Partnership — and Rudnick specifically — for failing to aggressively advocate on behalf of downtown Buffalo. “We will form another Buffalo-area chamber of commerce and seek to provide the business services that are expected of a chamber of commerce, as well as advocate for a community that lacks any sense of leadership. We are sick and tired of waiting for the Partnership … or anyone else while our community continues to fail.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Rudnick pulling Golisano and his fat Florida wallet into the equation will stifle any dissent that may have resulted from Paladino’s efforts.  Bad timing, Carl.  Also, bad timing because it would appear that Rudnick’s friend, benefactor and fellow Harvard alumnus, M&T Bank CEO Bob Wilmers is heading back to Buffalo.

Wilmers resigned his position as Chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation today, barely one year after being appointed to the position by Governor David Paterson.

Just one year after becoming the state’s economic development czar, Robert Wilmers is stepping down from the post, the latest in a growing line-up of officials departing the Paterson administration.

The agency has seen its share of infighting, sources have said in recent months, with tension between the various upstate and downstate offices of the department. A source said recently that Wilmers also has expressed frustration with the musical chairs among high-ranking officials in the governor’s office over the past year — making it difficult for the agency to get adequate attention at the Capitol.

Wilmers tenure at ESDC has been a rocky one, with little to show in the way of success.  While Wilmers took over the organization during a period of national economic upheaval and a collapsing state budget, his tenure will be remembered as ignominious, at best.  Wilmers complained for years about the problems of doing business in New York and when finally given the keys to the FAILvan, he handed them back after a year.  Maybe working for free (Wilmers opted not to take a salary) creates an environment in which plutocrats like Wlmers walk away when the going gets tough, eh?

All of this amounts to what, exactly?  I think we can all get behind the idea that Albany is broken.  The legislative process is fundamentally flawed, special interests dominate the discussion and the tax rates are out of control.  It’s a morass of self-serving connected insiders who are ultimately pushing for their own personal agendas.  Now, we have a group of well-heeled connected insiders armed with the cash to tilt legislation in their factor through lobbying, campaign donations, advertising, clout and influence.

It’s really tough to decide who wears the black hats and who wears the white hats when we have public and healthcare unions advocating for an agenda which results in higher taxes and bloated government and a group of anti-union corporatists looking to maximize profits.  Who is advocating for the people who are not members of either interest group?

I’m loathe to say it, but maybe Carl Paladino is on to something…or maybe it’s time to look at doing things a different way.

New York’s Strongman Underwriting Unshackle Upstate

11 Jun

In this video, New York’s Floridian Strongman announces that he will bankroll Unshackle Upstate. The person introducing him is the head of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Andrew Rudnick. He had to look 60 miles down the Thruway to find a billionaire to underwrite his project.


Golisano acknowledges that you might as well call him a special interest, and although he’s very proud of the Senate coup, and what he promises it will accomplish, he has “no plans” to return to New York. And I’m eager for someone to tell me how making dysfunctional Albany even more dysfunctional is good for businesses already in, or looking to locate in, New York State.

So, the coup is the best thing ever, but not good enough to move back for. Gotcha.

Four Men, A Billion Dollars, and some Patronage Jobs in a Room

10 Jun

Tom Golisano posted a self-congratulatory, self-indulgent post at the Responsible New York blog today, and concludes with this :

One important concrete change is that with these rules reforms and coalition government all 62 senators will play a role in negotiating the next budget. That means in one fell swoop one of the infamous “three men in the room” is gone. Who’s next? Hopefully there are some members of the State Assembly who are willing to put reform above party and the people above politics.

Yeah, now there’s four men in the room, and one of them has a billion dollars in the bank. This is strictly third world stuff we’re talking about. But at least some of the comments are hilarious.


10 Jun

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

You’d Better Put that Blackberry Away

9 Jun

Let’s make something crystal clear.

I don’t give a crap that the Republicans took over control of the Senate with the help of two opportunistic indictees. There is not a single, solitary person who can convincingly argue that the same crowd that ran the Senate from 1965 – 2008 suddenly, magically found its reformist, small government, lower spending mojo. That is farcical.

That’s also hardly the point.

It’s Albany; the difference between a Republican and a Democrat has to do with which lobby is paying someone under the table to have your yard landscaped or your bathroom tiled.

Democrats should put away any and all notions that this was done illegally or that Malcolm Smith remains majority leader. What’s done is done. Take your lumps, move on, and regroup. What’s happened here procedurally is not the important fight.

The state’s fortunes do not rise and fall on parliamentary procedure. It’s substance that’s important. Unfortunately, procedure has consequences all its own.

What’s disturbing to me is that this is a typical Pigeon/Golisano fit of pique. It was reported and confirmed that Golisano decided on this course of action because Malcolm Smith was fiddling with his Blackberry in a meeting with him. While rude, it’s hardly the sort of thing that merits a coup unless you’re really super sensitive.

This new not-reformist not-coalition is spreading around press releases about how this is really a great victory for reform.

That must be why it all took place behind the scenes, why it had so much to do with the spreading around of member items, why the swearing-in of Espada took place in Skelos’ office, why some Florida billionaire bankrolled a coup, and why there clearly was some sort of massive quid-pro-quo for all this to happen.

If you’re going to preach reform, attaining power by parliamentary trick isn’t an auspicious start.

And what now? If someone hurts Golisano’s feelings or looks at Monica Seleš the wrong way, is he going to flip it back to the Democrats? Shall we just have the majority in the State Senate be subject to the whims of an out-of-state billionaire whose political operation is run by a guy who failed at running the Erie County Democratic Committee?

Seriously, I’m hating New York state right now really hard.

As an epilogue to this post, after the jump I’ve re-printed my open letter to Tom Golisano – the purported reformer who just bought a legislature. Continue reading

Albany Asplodes

8 Jun

Two prominent Western New Yorkers teamed together with a couple of discontented and/or power-hungry New York City-area Democratic State Senators to engineer and execute a Republican takeover of the State Senate.

That didn’t take very long.

To upstaters who were upset at how downstate-centric the State Senate had become under Queens’ Malcolm Smith will certainly have their boo-boos salved by the upstate sensibilities of the two guys who’ll run the show from here on in – a fellow denizen of the Island of Long, Dean Skelos, will become Senate Majority Leader, and Bronx Democrat Pedro Espada, Jr. will become the Senate President.

Espada was joined by fellow Democrat Hiram Monseratte in deciding to caucus with the Republicans, and the entire deal was brokered by a billionaire resident of Florida.

Monseratte is notable for the fact that he was recently arrested for slashing his girlfriend with a broken wine glass, requiring 20 stitches. Republicans continually called for his resignation. Until they needed him, in which case they welcomed him with open arms. With long sleeves, one would imagine.

Also backing the effort was Mr. Golisano, the founder of Responsible New York, a political action committee that gave thousands of dollars to Senate Democrats last year to help them take control of the Senate. He has become increasingly critical of the party.

Mr. Golisano recently announced that he was moving his legal residence to Florida out of anger about the budget deal reached in April by Democratic leaders in Albany, which included an increase in taxes on high earners.

Mr. Golisano played a role in negotiating the original deal under which Mr. Espada and other recalcitrant Democrats gave their support to Mr. Smith.

Steve Pigeon, an aide to Mr. Golisano, said Mr. Golisano felt betrayed by Mr. Smith because the leader had not delivered on the overhaul of Senate rules he had promised upon taking power.

“He feels very strongly that he backed Malcolm Smith, and Smith didn’t keep his word, and didn’t make the changes he said he would,” Mr. Pigeon said. “What you will see now is power-sharing, real reform.”

Hey, this is how you orchestrate a tea party. Not by speechifying in the town square. You engineer a coup ensuring that some sort of vague political power be transferred from one set of mediocre legislators to another.

I have no doubt that the targeting of Senator Bill Stachowski will now promptly end since he has become again a minority party irrelevant in the State Senate. No doubt, fiscal sanity and a veritable container-ship-load of good government innovations and ideas will come from the principled visionaries Dale Volker or George Maziarz. Shining stars of the WNY political scene.

And what will become of poor Joe Mesi? Judging by what’s been written above, Golisano and Pigeon are going out of their way to play a game of make-believe called “bipartisan” or “coalition”, so no doubt Mesi’s job is safer than a Zurich vault.

Naturally, everything comes back to the fact that we don’t really have any practical use whatsoever for a state senate in the first place, and this entire body is a complete and utter hive of irrelevancy and redundancy. Albany shouldn’t exist for our amusement about coup plotters and the like. It should exist to work for our best interests.

I look forward to Golisano’s Christmastime coup when he realizes that this group of cretins is no better than the last group of cretins.

Because that’s what we have in Albany. A merry-go-round of cretins, mostly .

Dear Tom Golisano:

19 May

I read this in the Buffalo News yesterday:

“I wish there were 100,000 people standing behind me feeling the same way and acting the same way, but they’re not,” Golisano told reporters at the state Capitol. But, he added, he still feels a sense of responsibility to stay engaged in trying to change the ways of Albany — even if he has moved his legal residence to Naples, Fla.

There are a million people, probably more, who feel the same way as you about reforming New York, its taxation structure, its spending, and the general way it does business. We can’t all “act the same way” because we’re not billionaires. But many of us try, and still more have tried, to effect some change, with varying degrees of success.

I did a post last week that highlighted the fact that it’s no big surprise, and in no way unique for you to move to Florida. People move to Florida from western New York every day. It just so happens that you’re a politically connected billionaire, so there’s more at stake when it’s a guy like you leaving.

But back to your “wish” of having 100,000 people standing behind you – when exactly did you invite them? Responsible New York was never a grassroots organization. It never tried to organize people to take action – or really do anything whatsoever.

All you did was throw some money at some people whom you liked better than other people. You apparently helped to fund a vicious and likely illegal effort to obliterate Sam Hoyt and his reputation. Your political organization was a top-down affair run by one of the most divisive political figures western New York has ever seen. By selecting that person to run Responsible New York, it lost pretty much all of its credibility as a change agent, and guaranteed that its successes would be accidents.

Throwing money at races is fine, but money doesn’t always win the race. I’m quite sure that a well-organized, well-funded effort to organize average people to effect change in New York State government(s) would find a warm reception in every corner of the state. Imagine if there was a group representing average taxpayers that could rival the lobbying prowess and spending ability of the big special interests and unions that run the show in Albany.

You never set that up, though. Instead, you just wrote some checks and put up a totally non-transparent website that didn’t even have any sort of social media aspect to it – except a seldom-updated blog – so that the people you pretended to be representing in that effort could communicate with you, and with each other, and get involved.

I guess the upshot of it all is, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Responsible New York was never about change and reform. It’s about kingmaking and backscratching.

As for your grandstanding on taxes, I only wish that the unfriendly business climate in New York could someday enable my taxes to go up by $5 million per year when the rate is raised by 2.12%. Hope you enjoy Florida. I hear Naples is really gorgeous.



Deep Thought

17 May

Now that Golisano is moving to Florida, will he pour money into candidates’ coffers and (allegedly) also maintain close ties and coordinate with those campaigns?

Or is that sort of benefaction only reserved for New York State races?