Tag Archives: Legislator Michele Iannello

Powers' Law

4 Nov

If you’re a political candidate, and you get a call from the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy, and he informs you that he’s going to run a story the next day that accuses you of horrible moral turpitude (e.g., you stole money from Iraqi orphans or you’re a racist), you absolutely cannot issue a limp rebuttal and pretend like it will all just blow over.

You have to address the allegation head on, strongly, to take control of the narrative as soon as possible, otherwise your silence/tepid response will be interpreted as a concession of the accusation’s truth.

Not that it was necessarily going to change the outcome, but Michele Iannello broke this law with the WFP/racism charges of last week.  Yes, it may have hurt her chances last night, but more importantly it probably put an end to her career in politics, full stop.

On the other hand, little dumb stuff like, e.g.,  property taxes paid late is ok to ignore until it blows over.

Gaffetober (Updated)

28 Oct

Close on the heels of Chris Collins’ epic Shelly Silver fail come reports that Michele Iannello is embroiled in a sensitivity issue of her own.  The Buffalo News reported this morning on charges coming from the Working Families Party and Buffalo Teachers’ Federation President Phil Rumore that Iannello ordered a couple of black canvassers off her campaign.

I contacted Michele for comment, and she directed me to the statements she made in Bob McCarthy’s report.

She said she objected to Working Families requests by door-to-door canvassers asking voters to sign a pledge promising to vote for her, prompting a split with the party.

“It’s just a difference of opinion,” she said…

“I’m an independent and don’t answer to the Democratic Party or the Working Families Party,” Iannello said.

She said she did not know where Rumore’s accusations originated.

“If they interpreted this in a different way, I’m sorry,” she said.

I didn’t call Collins an anti-Semite, and I’m not going to call Michele a racist.  I don’t think either person is any one of those things.  But in politics, perception can trump reality, and this definitely looks very, very bad indeed.  If you haven’t been following the thread at Colin’s page, you should.

This raises a couple of points, not just for Iannello, but for Collins as well.  Firstly, beware whom you piss off, because you may find yourself thrown under a bus sooner rather than later.  Secondly, if you say or do certain questionable things, expect to find them in the paper.  Finally, to my mind I find that this whole things is a cautionary tale about candidates courting and doing business with minor parties under our system of electoral fusion.  Once you turn over even a portion of your campaign to people with whom you’re in a relationship of mutual convenience, you’re going to have to play ball – whether that means accepting canvassers to whom you object for some reason, or putting up with aggressive canvassing tactics.

I distinctly recall the Mayor of Buffalo saying that blockbuster charges coming within days of an election are politically motivated.  Certainly, that possibility needs to be considered.  But if I were advising Iannello, and this wasn’t true, and the WFP was throwing her under the bus improperly, then I’d be telling her to issue a stronger response. But I’m not, and she got elected.  I didn’t.

I distinctly feel like I’m only getting half the story, so alas we’re stuck with Phil Rumore calling Iannello a racist.


Artvoice reports that the Adam’s Mark incident was not the first or only time that Collins used the anti-Christ “joke”:

But it’s clear to me that his remark comparing an orthodox Jew to Hitler and the anti-Christ was not “off the cuff” or “unscripted”; it was not a momentary lapse in judgment. The joke is part of Collins’s repertoire. He has used it more than once, who knows how many times. Perhaps he wasn’t even aware that it was offensive until the uncomfortable silence he met at the Adam’s Mark on Saturday night. Maybe he didn’t know it was offensive until Elizabeth Benjamin exposed the remarks in the New York Daily News on Sunday. Maybe he still doesn’t believe what he said was offensive.  He certainly did not recognize it to be offensive between the time he made the remark to that group of college students and the time he made the remark on Saturday. Or he did and didn’t care. The former makes him an idiot, the latter makes him arrogant and heedless.

Bruce Fisher has more in Artvoice’s cover story.

Election 2009 Just Got Interesting

17 May

Today was the last “Hardline with Hardwick”. Professor Kevin Hardwick will be running on the Republican line against Michelle Iannello.

I’m curious to see what, if anything, WBEN will put on the air from 10 – 12 on Sundays. This is also going to suck for me because I count both Hardwick and Iannello among my friends.

His decision now sets up one of 2009’s most competitive and high-profile contests in the Legislature. It pits Hardwick, 52, against Iannello, 49, in a race expected to center around support for County Executive Chris Collins.

Hardwick said the county executive “pleaded” with him to run, and that he expects Collins will support him politically and financially. He said he is eager to run on a pro-Collins platform, and will paint Iannello as an “obstructionist” who opposes virtually everything the county executive has proposed.

“This is not about supporting everything the guy does, but it’s about giving him a chance,” Hardwick said. “The Democrats have been conducting the “politics of no.'”

Earlier this spring Collins indicated that Iannello occupied a top spot on his target list for 2009. He said he will possibly finance certain Republican candidates to the extent allowed by law.

Now Hardwick appears to be part of an effort that may also target Democrats Robert B. Reynolds of Hamburg and Kathy Konst of Lancaster.

“I will be someone who can work with him,” Hardwick said of Collins, “and that will have benefits for the county in general and the 10th Legislative District in particular.”

There’s ample blame to go around on the 16th floor of the Rath Building for the degeneration in relations between them and the Legislature. When the executive treats the legislature as an irrelevant nuisance, that flies in the face of the fact that they’re coequal branches, and tends to queer the relationship between the two.

This will be the marquee race this summer & fall, and Iannello has come out swinging hard with a press release, reprinted after the jump. Continue reading

Here’s An Idea – Pick Up the Damn Phone

6 May

First, the press release from County Legislator Michele Iannello:


Legislator Michele M. Iannello (D-Kenmore) believes that County Executive Chris Collins is playing political games, by ignoring Legislative action, which called for the donation of a 2003, 12-passenger van to the Village of Kenmore for senior transportation.

Last month, the Erie County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution, prepared by Senior Services Commissioner Brenda Ward, authorizing the County Executive to turnover the van to the Village of Kenmore, as the County was no longer using it. The Legislature took this action after months of discussions and meetings that were organized by Legislator Iannello. Legislator Iannello, Commissioner Brenda Ward, Kenmore Village officials and Dawn Coniglio, Nutrition Specialist of the Kenmore Community Center, were involved in the process. The van was delivered to the Kenmore DPW garage prior to passing of the resolution for inspection by the Kenmore mechanics. Kenmore mechanics have been working on getting the van road-ready for transporting seniors.

Yesterday, in a surprise move, Erie County DPW worker’s picked up the van and delivered it back to the County garage. Dawn Coniglio discovered this and immediately called Legislator Iannello upset and looking for answers.

“The seniors were asking about the status of the van so I sent my driver Ron Robertson down to the DPW to check on it, only to find out the van had been taken back by the County without any prior notification. We were all confused by this and it caused distress and disappointment with my seniors,” stated Dawn Coniglio.

Legislator Iannello made several inquiries and was given poor excuses by the administration. She stated, “It is my belief that this is another example of Mr. Collins’ political game-playing targeted toward me. However, the victims are the senior citizens of the Village of Kenmore. This was a ‘win-win’ for the County and the Village.”

The resolution called for the County to donate the van, the Village would do all necessary repairs and for the first time, have a senior-friendly vehicle providing the much-needed transportation for the senior citizens of Kenmore.

“I am outraged at these actions with no explanation, not even a phone call to notify anyone. That is not the way Erie County does business and that is not the way I do business. A resolution is legal and binding. Someone needs to explain that to the County Executive,” added Iannello.

Collins’ response & my take after the jump Continue reading

The America’s Fair is Dead & Other Crap

15 Apr

Long Live the (return of the) Erie County Fair. (And it’ll be free for kids under 12).

I also caught the fact that Chris Collins is taking a page from the petty Machiavellian machinations of the Brown/Casey/Pigeon cabal.

Chris Collins ran for CE pledging to be a chief executive, not a chief politician. While an easy and obvious shot at his predecessor and opponent, Collins has become as political as the best of them. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – just don’t let’s play make-believe about what you’ll be and who you are.

The county’s CEO wants to be rid of three thorns in his side. Two of them are county legislators – Bob Reynolds, a centrist from rural southern Erie County, and Michele Iannello, a more left-leaning Democrat from Ken-Ton. The third is the county Comptroller, who is being targeted by Collins because he has the audacity to do his job.

Collins claims to want to be rid of “obstructionists”. How are Iannello and Reynolds any more or less “obstructionist” than any of the other 10 Democrats on the leg – a body that goes along with practically everything Collins wants?

Perhaps the obstructionism wasn’t so bad. After all, Collins wanted to raise your taxes 4.8%. The Democrats attempted to block him, and the whole thing went to court.

Again – why do we need any of this sideshow?

And here’s where I am today, so I don’t know why I’m writing about the stupidity of our redundant county government.

The Erie County Legislature Finds Unanimity

30 Jan

Nothing unites the legislature like the control board’s malicious bumbling and stumbling, nor the hamhanded and arrogant incompetence of the Collins administration with respect to the tax bill fiasco.

Wasting money and making huge errors isn’t very Six Sigma-y, is it? Michele Iannello said:

“If we are going to talk about running county government like a business, then there have to be consequences for someone who made a $2 million mistake.”

(Now, if Gramigna will just explain who Legislator Robert Russell is)

(Photo credit: whitneyarlene via Flickr)

Vacancy Dominoes

22 Nov

If Higgins or Brown go to the US Senate, Jim Heaney reports on speculation that Sam Hoyt will eagerly step up to replace either one.

Then, who takes Hoyt’s seat in the Assembly? Iannello? Then who takes Iannello’s seat in the county legislature?

Baby Joe Mesi’s Fight for Organ Donation Foundation

3 Sep

The Buffalo Bean received a tip that a charity founded by State Senate Candidate Baby Joe Mesi amounted to a “war kids relief” problem, invoking the short-lived non-scandal that befell Jon Powers for about two days.

Specifically, the allegation is that Mesi’s charity only gave out $13,500 in grants while paying Mesi’s father $16,500. The implication, obviously, is that Mesi set up the charity just to pay his dad off, and that the charitable purpose was just a cheap pretext.

I thought the attacks on Jon Powers having to do with War Kids Relief were not only patently false – and proven so – but that they were unfair, because the founder of a charity shouldn’t be subjected to ridicule just because the otherwise noble effort doesn’t live up to expectations.

Likewise, I think attacking Mesi for this is equally unfair.

By way of disclosure, I consider Michele Iannello a friend and am supporting her candidacy for SD-61. I’ll write it up and explain why sometime this week. However, if Mesi wins the primary election, I will support him in his campaign against Mike Ranzenhofer.

I contacted Mesi’s campaign after reading Bean’s post and asked them for a statement. What follows is what they sent:

The Joe Mesi for State Senate campaign has issued a response to rumors generated by his opponents about the Baby Joe Mesi’s Fight for Organ Donation Foundation. In addition to Joe’s statement, several allies in the health care community who are appalled by attacks on Joe’s charity work have also spoken out on his behalf.

John Herman COO of Kenmore Mercy Hospital, quickly responded. “We are grateful for all of the work Joe Mesi and his foundation have done on behalf of organ donation over the years including a contribution from the Baby Joe Mesi Organ Donation Foundation to the Kenmore Mercy Hospital Foundation. We used the contribution to embark on a joint project in which materials explaining how organ donation works were provided to Kenmore Mercy Hospital patients. The project has been a success and we feel it has had a positive impact on organ donations,” said Herman.

Yesterday, Joe joined Upstate New York Transplant Services at a community blood drive at ECC to support the work done by UNYTS and to spread awareness about the great need for organ donations. UNYTS spokesperson at the event, Danielle Keller, said, “The work Joe has done with the Fight for Organ Donation Foundation shows Joe’s commitment to health care issues. We are pleased with Joe’s willingness to always promote organ and blood donations throughout our community.”


As I have said before, my cousin Ganelle was the real fighter in our family. When she died in a tragic accident while waiting for a second kidney transplant, my family and I were inspired by her fight to continue working on behalf of the organ donation cause.

I founded the Fight for Organ Donation Foundation in 2003. We have raised over $13,000 in contributions for organ donation services and research. Kenmore Mercy Hospital and the Children’s Hospital at Strong are the two benefactors of our contributions. As we stated in the foundation’s tax records, the goal of the foundation is to raise the public’s awareness and educate the public regarding the need for organ donation and to raise funds to provide financial assistance to organizations which are involved in organ donation activities.

We ran a slim budget that got us by on scheduling for public events, materials, and administration. Thankfully, my father, Jack Mesi, offered to help run the foundation for a paltry fee of $400 a month, which he ceased receiving three years ago and he has not been paid at all in the years 2007 and 2008. Both my father and I have given countless talks and appearances in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation since the Foundation’s formation. I am sure the money paid to my father during those years barely covered his expenses. There is an abundance of public records demonstrating the work we have done promoting organ donation and working with the health care community and potential donors. If my opponents are trying to paint this as some sort of money-making venture instead of what it was – a foundation I was inspired to start on behalf of Ganelle – then they are gravely mistaken.

It has been an amazing experience to encourage members of our community to help one another. I have been awed by the hundreds of children I have met who are living today because someone willingly registered as an organ donor before they passed on. I have been proud to stand alongside hundreds of organ donation service workers and health experts who work every day to save the lives of thousands of Western New Yorkers.

I hope my opponents agree that we should not play politics with children’s lives. Organ donation is an important service that we can all sign up for. I proudly carry my own organ donor’s card, and I hope that through all the work over the years, we have inspired thousands of people to do the same.

Although I’m backing Iannello and sincerely hope she wins the primary next Tuesday, after what was done to Jon Powers and the denigration heaped upon War Kids Relief – a cause that was, is, and will be noble – I won’t play this particular game. Raising awareness for organ donation is a noble effort, and one that Mesi has clearly put a lot of effort into. No one was unjustly enriched by it, and there is no question that it is noble.

This is gutter politics in the same vein as the Hoyt email leaks, Davis’ swiftboating of War Kids Relief, and I am 100% sure that neither Iannello’s nor Ward’s camp released this information to Bean. I have no doubt that it was a Republican operative or that it was someone working on Ranzenhofer’s campaign. Consider to whom it was leaked.

Who, Me?

27 Aug

Michele Iannello and now Sam Hoyt have accused Tom Golisano’s and Steve Pigeon’s Responsible New York for breaking the law. RNY is permitted to spend unlimited sums of money on behalf of a candidate or against any candidate, so long as there is no coordination between RNY and the campaign it’s supporting.

Iannello’s charges that Pigeon had been advising Joe Mesi very closely before RNY was formed. Now Hoyt accuses a Kavanaugh consultant, the son of the judge for whom Kavanaugh is confidential law clerk, of jumping ship to RNY. In both cases, the consultant had signing rights on the candidate’s account.

In all of this inside baseball internecine warfare stuff, one thing stands out –

First with the Illuzzi stuff, and now with this, I’m growing quite weary of Barbra Kavanaugh’s pleas of ignorance.

I realize it’s not her campaign that’s done it, but it’s all been done by people close to her in order to further her campaign and harm Hoyt’s. Either she approves of it or she doesn’t.

Hardline with Hardwick Debates

22 Aug

Coming up this Sunday is a debate between the Democratic candidates for the SD-61; Michele Iannello, Joe Mesi, and Dan Ward.

Coming up the Sunday after that (August 31st) is a debate between the Democratic candidates for the 26th Congressional District.

Well, some of them.

Alice Kryzan‘ll be there. Jon Powers‘ll be there.

But what of His Highness the Duke of Bilosershire, Earl of Winningnot, Viscount of Failingham, Jack Davis? So far, he won’t be there.

Figures. After all, he can’t buy a win on Hardwick’s show.