Tag Archives: John Mills

PolitiFAIL Tourney Results, Day 1

23 Mar

The results from Day 1 of the 2010 WNY PolitiFAIL Tournament are in and some of the results are surprising.

In the first matchup, we had what appeared to be the equivalent of Syracuse vs. Vermont, with Mayor Byron Brown facing off against Delaware District Councilman Michael LoCurto.  Mayor Brown rained FAIL down upon Mr. LoCurto and swamped him early and easily as he cruised to a 255-18 romp.  Mayor Brown now advances to meet the winner of the Demone Smith/Mickey Kearns matchup.  Will we see a rematch of the 2009 Mayoral election in Round 2?

In the second matchup in the City FAIL Bracket, North District Councilman Joe Golombek took on University Heights Councilwoman Bonnie Russell.  This turned out to be a cakewalk for Ms. Russell as she took it to Golombek early and often with her two fisted dose of FAIL; Grassroots Membership and Ethical Scandals.  We thought Joe “Serbian Club” Golombek and his disdain for Sam Hoyt might rile the readership, but the voters seemed to appreciate his big picture thinking and love of sausage.  Russell moves on to face off against the winner of the FAILoff between Deputy Mayor Steve Casey and Rep. Brian Higgins.  She certainly has an uphill battle ahead of her, but we think she might have the FAIL goods to keep it competitive.

In the third matchup and the first from our County bracket, we saw Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinell take on Erie County Legislator and Minority Leader John Mills.  Marinelli’s tenure in office as opposed to Mills’ bump on a log record seemed to be an interesting contrast in styles of FAIL.  This one came down to the wire with Marinelli squeaking out a victory over Mills by a margin of 104-102.  In the end, it appears Mills did not have a big enough record to sit on in order to get a proper seat at the FAIL table.  Marinelli moves on to face the winner of the matchup between Erie County Sheriff Tim “Rosco P. Coltrane” Howard and Erie County Comptroller Mark “Not an accountant, but I have lots of nerdy friends” Poloncarz.

In the day’s final showdown, we had Erie County Executive Chris “Let Them Eat Cake” Collins taking on Erie County Legislator and newly minted Pigeonista, Tim Kennedy.  While we don’t have firm evidence, we did hear that Kennedy texted in his vote while driving.  We were surprised by the closeness of this matchup, frankly.

While Kennedy is the type of fumfering, mildly competent leadership that is the norm in Western New York, we didn’t think he would come close to matching FAIL with Collins and his army of Talking Phone Book executives and administrative bootlickers.  Kennedy got off to an early lead until Collins pulled ahead early in the second half with a barrage of anti-urban proposals and excuses for his incompetent management and leadership of the County Correctional Facilities.  At the half, we hear that Collins was given a pep talk by the UB Center for Industrial Effectiveness which coached him to Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify his FAIL strategy to stay within the bounds of Six Sigma methodology.  His businesslike approach to providing the freshest and most measured dose of FAIL earned him the victory over Kennedy in the waning minutes, 306-287.  Collins moves on to take on the winner of the Barbara “Fat Pension” Miller-Williams and Ray “Rolleyes” Walter showdown.  We expect the BMW/Walter matchup to feature an excessive number of parliamentary missteps followed by excessive sighing.

See you tomorrow!

PolitiFAIL Tourney 2010, Marinelli vs. Mills

22 Mar

In the 4 vs. 5 Matchup in the County bracket of the PolitiFAIL Tourney, we have Erie County Legislature Minority Leader John Mills facing off with former Majority Leader and Chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature, Lynn Marinelli.

By all accounts, John Mills is an honorable man and a successful entrepreneur. However, his record in governance is lacking.  He served as nothing more than a speedbump in previous years and currently serves as the matador for introducing the whims and wishes of Erie County Executive Chris Collins into the legislature for consideration.

Mills is a particular strain of FAIL that has afflicted the WNY region for decades, the legislative speedbump.  Offering no real solutions of his own to regional problems, he simply serves as a transactional toll booth on the way to the status quo.  Constantly serving in the minority and using that position to point out that he is unable to implement the changes he desires, yet never seems to propose nor fight for.  Quick, name 3 of Mills’ top contributions to the polity of WNY.  Can’t think of any?  Try Google.  Nope, nothing there either.  Transitioning costs from the district offices to increased staff and cost in the central staff this year doesn’t count.

Aside from being the nominal ringleader of the “Reform Coalition” put together with Pigeon Democrats and petulant minority legislators, Mills has not done anything of note during his three terms in office.  So, he has that going for him, which is nice.

Lynn Marnelli was first elected to the Erie County Legislature in 1996, which underscores her selection as the fourth seed in the tournament.  If John Mills is the legislative equivalent of a speedbump, Lynn Marinelli is the equivalent of the toll booth attendant.  One former legislature staffer defined her as the “consummate transactional politician”.  Elected to serve as the Erie County Legislature Majority Leader in 2004 and again in 2005, Lynn ascended to the position of Legislature Chairwoman in 2006 and held the position in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

During her time as Chairwoman, Lynn was known for her dealmaking prowess and no-nonsense leadership style.  She is a firm advocate for progressive causes and women’s issues.  However, back in 2008, there was some bad blood about a deal Marinelli made with the Republican minority to maintain her position as Chairwoman and some decisions she made which benefited the Republican agenda.  Most of them are detailed on the hastily thrown together and now fallow blog, Republican Lynn Marinelli.

On the other hand, some claim that Marinelli is nothing more than a party apparatchik doing the bidding of Erie County Democratic Chair Len Lenihan.  Most notably, by Erie County Executive Chris Collins.  She has also been cited by observers and reporters as being particularly petulant and argumentative with current Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams.  I’m not here to judge, just painting the picture from various observers.

So, speedbump versus transactional tenure, which enables more failure?  You decide.


Barbara Miller-Williams: Cop Lawmaker.

11 Mar

The state pension system is hopelessly broken, and I don’t see how there’s a path to fixing it. Under this scheme, state workers can pad their state-tax-free state pensions by working ungodly and insane amounts of overtime during their last several years before retirement so that their lifetime pension payout is as large as humanly possible.

Take Barbara Miller-Williams.

The chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature is also a Buffalo Police Officer, and at age 60 she’s fast approaching retirement. That means that in 2006, she only racked up $384 in overtime earnings – the last year it didn’t count towards her pension calculation.

In 2007, however, that hopped to $7,600 just in overtime. In 2008, it skyrocketed to $25,000 in OT. In 2009, she doubled that by racking up an incredible $51,000 just in overtime, on top of her $60,000+ salary.

Jim Heaney FOILS Barbara Miller-Williams’ police payroll information and discovers that the chairwoman of the anachronistic and useless county legislature is simultaneously legislating and working near-60-hour weeks as a police officer.

This gaming of the system – which is universally done and for which Barbara Miller-Williams is not unique – helps boost her lifetime pension by about $14,000 per year. She will receive $44,000 per year from her state pension and pay no state income tax on that sum.

There’s a simple fix. Merely calculate one’s pension based on the earnings average throughout their career. But who’s got the political will to make that change? An Albany legislator who is waiting on a state pension? An Albany pol who relies on union support and money for re-election? Yeah, not so much.

Of course, Barbara Miller-Williams is also the chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature. Last year, she was a backbencher while working her regular police job plus an average of 19 police OT hours per week. Unless she never went to sleep during 2009, I’m amazed at how she could have served her constituents in the legislature, such as that is.

At least she underscores Kevin Hardwick’s point that being in the leg is a part-time gig.

But Miller-Williams’ police job prohibits her from working more than 20 hours at any other job. Her predecessor as chairwoman, Lynn Marinelli, says she worked 40 – 60 hour weeks when she was chair. Maria Whyte says the difference between the two is palpable; Miller-Williams is hard to find.

John Mills gives Jim Heaney a quote that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. It reads like, and was probably intended to be, a compliment. But honestly, it doesn’t get more backhandedly insulting than this:

“I attend more committee meetings than most people, and she’s there,” said the Orchard Park Republican. “I thought she’d have a longer learning curve, but she’s a much brighter person than I think a lot of people give her credit for.”

Shorter John Mills: “I thought she was an total idiot. I found out that “total” was too strong.”

If you want to talk about status quo, this pension largesse is among the biggest budgetary drags on taxing entities throughout the state. If you want to talk about agendas, the biggest agenda in this state has to do with public money and how to amass it.

I don’t begrudge Barbara Miller-Williams gaming the system to squeeze every penny out of it that she can.

But the system really needs to be changed.