Tag Archives: good government

AwfulPAC is Awful (UPDATED)

30 Oct

Remember the WNY Progressive Caucus? The Steve Pigeon/Kristy Mazurek production that was caught existing way before it intended

It’s $19,000 in the red, paid someone $100 on top of that, and is late filing its 11-day pre-General election disclosure

So, good government and whatnot. 

UPDATE: 

The Erie County Board of Elections voted unanimously today to refer a complaint lodged by attorney Mark Sacha against the WNY Progressive Caucus and Democratic Action to the County Attorney to seek a court order requiring the PACs to provide complete and accurate disclosure reports of all incoming and outgoing money. Furthermore, the BOE voted to launch an investigation into allegations that the PACs have been operating in violation of the law. 

Specifically, a PAC exists to raise money for candidates, and to donate money to those candidates’ campaigns. It does not exist to spend money on behalf of campaigns – that is what a committee does – authorized or not – and it is required to file a CF-3 sworn statement indicating the identity of the candidates the committee is backing. 

All this comes amidst evidence unearthed by Jerome Schad, an attorney for County Legislators Betty Jean Grant and Tim Hogues, showing that the WNY Progressive Caucus has actually spent $35,000 more on TV ads than it has disclosed to the Board of Elections. 

Campaign Finance Complaint & Evidence Against WNY Progressive Caucus

Syracuse = WNY

9 Feb

There is one word to describe this story by frequent commenter RaChaCha – astonishing. From an email he sent this morning:

Coming on the heels of denying WNY Senator Stachowski his promised position as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the new state senate majority is again brusquely snubbing NY’s second-largest city — and third-largest, to boot — by refusing to hold one of their public hearings on senate reform/rules changes anywhere west of Syracuse.

I was in Syracuse Friday afternoon — this year I was pulled into a budget project for Onondaga County, and have been commuting to Syracuse daily — so I took the opportunity to speak at the senate public hearing held at Syracuse city hall. This month, there will also be hearings in Manhattan, Albany, and Long Island — but *nothing* west of Syracuse. Thursday and Friday, I spoke with the chief staff organizer of the public meetings, Andrew Stengel, about the possibility of also holding a hearing in WNY. I mentioned the very strong coverage by the Buffalo News on state government reform, and that Buffalo’s new media outlets such as Buffalo Pundit and Buffalo Rising would help get the word out about a session held in WNY — but he was having none of it. “This IS the Western New York hearing,” he told me. He said Syracuse was picked to be “convenient” to folks from Rochester and Buffalo, as well as Central New Yorkers.

How did that work out–? Well, of the 15 speakers, NOT ONE was from west of Rochester — and the one other speaker from Rochester was someone I’ve never heard of or met, representing a good government group I’ve never heard of, who was handing out homemade business cards without an e-mail address or phone number. Clearly, the two of us together couldn’t possibly do justice to the ideas, experience, and passion for state government reform held collectively by all the residents of the state west of Onondaga County.

Also in Syracuse was WGRZ reporter Kristin Donnelly — not to speak but to ask the committee co-chair about holding a hearing in WNY. Although they were slightly nicer to her, she got the same answer as I did (http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=63996&catid=37).

Staffer Andrew Stengel (whose two phone numbers both have NYC area codes) admitted to me that he had never ventured as far upstate as Syracuse before Friday. I don’t question his good-government credentials (until hired this year by the state senate he was on the staff at the Brennan Center), but regardless, this seems to be yet another case of WNY — like all of upstate — getting short shrift from our Manhattan-centric state leadership. In fact, the senate reform committee has but 3 of 9 members from upstate: two Republican (minority) members, and one Democrat who hardly seems old enough to shave. The Brennan Center crowed on their blog (http://reformny.blogspot.com/) about the makeup of the reform committee, despite that 5 of 9 members hail from the Big Apple, and not a *single* member is from west of Onondaga County.

I think we can and should do better. It’s perhaps over-optimistic, but if we make a collective fuss, we might be able to embarrass the state senate into getting out their maps and finding their way west of Syracuse — to hold a hearing on state senate reform and rules changes that WNY’ers can really participate in. I’m doing my part by drafting an article for Buffalo Rising about the situation.

Personally, I think it’s an outrage. It’s approximately 150 miles from Buffalo – Syracuse. A 300-mile round-trip is supposed to be convenient to Buffalonians? On a Friday? For a hearing that takes place in the afternoon?

Here’s a tip for Mr. Stengel. Believe it or not, people west of the Hudson and north of Poughkeepsie still do have jobs, in spite of Albany’s best efforts.

To have someone affiliated with the Brennan Center so ignorant about basic fucking New York geography is as disconcerting as it is insulting to hold the WNY hearing in Syracuse. Hey, how about we hold a hearing about New York City policy in Binghamton? That’s about the same distance as Buffalo is to Syracuse.

If they did deign to hold a hearing in Buffalo, I’d definitely promote it and attend it, and I’m sure WNYMedia.net would cover and record it. But we’ll not have that opportunity, because no one could make it 300 miles round trip halfway across the damn state to make this event.

New York State: Excelsior

6 Mar

This post at Albany Project was so good, I figured I’d let it speak for itself (the original is at The Daily Gotham):

The black eyes for the State of New York simply do not end. Most dysfunctional legislature in the country? Check. Losing Congressional seats because of relative population decline? Check. An economic performance that trails the rest of the nation significantly, and upstate, catastrophically? Check.

Now, Governing Magazine has ranked the fifty states in order of efficiency. On the standard grade-school scale, New York comes in at a B-, just a tad lower than the national average. Among the states that beat us in terms of effective governance?

Louisiana. They got a B. Freaking Louisiana.

***

Does that put Joe Bruno’s perma-hissy-fit about Eliot Spitzer and holding the Senate into perspective? Sure it does. Carping about mean people ain’t going to fix this state, people.

Depressing as hell.