Tag Archives: Lynn Marinelli

Rewind: A Collins Carol (2008)

28 Sep

‘Twas 2008, and the county was screwed
the people were not in a holiday mood.
The taxes, they said, were quite high, thanks, enough,
and people agreed that the times were quite tough.

On a floor called sixteen, a man crunched up some numbers
Six Sigma, he thought, would drag us out of our slumber.
Amid raises for managers, programs were cut.
The lawmakers’ charges, he’d always rebut.

In order to pay for his raises so steep,
the people’d fish money from pockets less deep.
Thanks to meltdowns and layoffs – economy dire,
taxpayers had little up there to admire.

But lawmakers thought they could do him one better
and changed his proposals – some letter by letter.
They cut all the raises, revived some dead funding,
and wondered, who died and made this guy the king?

On the floor of sixteen, Collins grew quite enraged,
and the comptroller soon had to become more engaged.
Explaining to Collins his budget was faulty,
but not using language one might think was too salty.

He told the lawmakers that they were wrong, too.
Their outlook was based on too blissful a view.
A budget like theirs, higher taxes required,
a result that really quite no one desired.

The leg passed its budget, some vetoes were used.
The leg overrode some, those cuts they refused.
Then from the Rath Building arose some weird chatter.
The People then wondered, “NOW, what was the matter?”

It seemed a dispute had arisen quite great,
as to which branch of power could set the tax rate.
The executive said, he’s the man with the pen,
while the leg thought that it could. It told him, and then…

To court they all went, led by Lynn Marinelli.
against Collins and Green, (I saw her on the telly).
Judge Feroleto granted Lynn an injunction,
who argued that Collins had usurped a leg function.

Then Judge Peradotto, the leg soon lamented,
ordered that Collins’ bills could be printed.
So from Springville to Amherst and then Lackawanna,
we’ll pay more for less stuff, sort of anti-nirvana.

When green and red budgets were part of existence,
we complained and cajoled, and put up some resistance.
the problems keep coming, they should all feel shame.
For now everything new can seem old again.

(Originally published December 27, 2008).

Scenes from the Verizon Strike

11 Aug

A series taken during yesterday’s rally at the Verizon building in downtown Buffalo, where the Communications Worker’s Union, (CWA) is on strike against Verizon.

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Legislature Selects Jack O’Donnell as Erie County Water Commissioner

27 May

It is emblematic of a horrifically broken political system that an hours’ worth of political fighting and hatred stems from giving a do-nothing Erie County Water Authority patronage position paying about $20k as payback to political figures. John Elmore may be a phenomenal lawyer, but has no experience running – or qualifications to run – a water authority. Jack O’Donnell may be the best political consultant in the free world, but has no experience running – or qualifications to run -a water authority.

So, the Republicans, Lynne Dixon (IP) and “reform coalition” Democrats (Kennedy, Bove, Miller-Williams) promoted the name of O’Donnell, a Steve Pigeon associate, for the ECWA position at issue. John Elmore had been the choice of Grassroots, which is somewhat allied with Pigeon at this time. (The Democratic legislators who remain loyal to the county committee run by Len Lenihan had supported Frank Swiatek).

(Yes, in Erie County the Democrats have now split into three separate and distinct cliques. That’s a recipe for disaster not just for the party, but for the region as a whole.)

So, when the Republicans cut a deal with the three rogue Democrats to promote Jack O’Donnell to the water authority, the ECDC Democrats played a shrewd hand – nominating attorney John Elmore, the Grassroots candidate, at the last minute – after it was clear that Miller-Williams had jettisoned him to make a deal with Pigeon’s folks to ensure Independence Party endorsements for everybody in important races (Collins wins, Kennedy wins).

As Lynn Marinelli noted, not for nothing the County Executive’s chief of staff attended this particular legislative session. Deals had been made. Deals were being executed today. Political expediency, as usual in WNY, vanquished merit.

Betty Jean Grant entered Elmore’s name into consideration, and when Miller-Williams indicated that she would be supporting O’Donnell, Grant called Miller-Williams a “hypocrite” and indicated that the chairwoman was either lying before, (when she expressed support for Elmore in the paper), or was lying now.

With the clever outmaneuvering of Miller-Williams, I can’t think of a WNY politician being so quickly out-witted, or looking more foolish in recent memory. In the video below, Grant goes after Miller-Williams like I’ve seldom seen anyone go after a local politician before in an open forum.

Given the sudden … confusion … Maria Whyte recommended the matter be returned to committee to suss out who was for Elmore and who was for O’Donnell. This was defeated. The vote was taken, and the Republican minority voted for purely political reasons to support a Democratic associate of Steve Pigeon.

This is fantastic political theater.

This is depressing to anyone who cares about good government and smart policy.

The fun starts at 19:11

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PolitiFAIL Tourney Results, Sweet Sixteen

30 Mar

We have now reached the Epic Elite Eight of FAIL.  It was a fun round with some of the best matchup previews to date.  A reminder, the winner of the WNY PolitiFAIL Tournament will be announced at a press conference in front of the Rusted Hulk of Invisible Casino FAIL on Fulton Street in Downtown Buffalo at 5PM on April Fool’s Day.  I hope you’ll be able to join us, we’ll be streaming it live on the site and we’ll invite the winner to receive our FAIL Trophy.

Let’s revisit the day in FAIL.

Joe Illuzzi vs. Andrew Rudnick

This contest was much closer than originally predicted.  In the matchup thread, Illuzzi was compared to both Omar Little and a used condom.  I employed every tactic and insult I had in my quiver to establish a resume of FAIL that would get Mr. Illuzzi past the Bow-Tied Boss of Business Bologna, Andrew Rudnick and into the Elite Eight.  However, the voters rewarded Rudnick’s  seeming lack of accomplishments, high salary and inability to attract women with his feral scent of failure by sending him forward in this tournament with a victory of 204-182.

Byron Brown vs. Mickey Kearns

A rematch of Mayorpaloozer 2009 with Brown once again besting Kearns in a rout.  I thought this contest might be closer than the shellacking Kearns received at the polls last November, but it is pretty clear that the Mayor has no friends among the readership of WNYMedia.  We had expected that a last minute blast of campaign cash from Carl Paladino to help get Mickey over the hump, but he failed to organize his campaign and fell flat on his face, again.  When asked for comment on his victory, the Mayor said, “Ummm, ahhh, ummm, victory in this contest, ummm, ahh”

Dale Volker vs. George Maziarz

This was a clash of FAIL heavyweights.  Two of the most senior members of the FAIL delegation facing off in an epic battle of weak prostates and frivolous mailers to voters.  In the end, Volker’s resume of FAIL, lack of distinguished legislative record, general arrogance and general dickishness carried the day by a margin of 262-198.  Volker can credit his victory to Pundit’s epic matchup preview, which will serve as his magnum opus to local political failure.  Maziarz was last seen hightailing it back to Albany where he can be found spooning up with downstate interests, union insiders and other toxic assets.

The WNY Voter vs. Steve Pigeon

This was a showdown between the citizenry of WNY, who each year shuffle to the polls like labotomized minions of the monied insider club of local politics and the king of inside political baseball, Steve Pigeon.  The WNY voters shook off their thorazine induced shuffle to yank Pigeon from his closet and spank him in the light of day.  The voters rout Mr. Pigeon to move on to the next round after winning by  margin of 296-178.

Antoine Thompson vs. Bill Stachowski

Antoine routed in this one, primarily because most people in the area don’t know who the fuck Bill Stachowski is.  Thompson’s ratio of FAIL/Tenure seems to have struck a chord with the voting audience, 281-167.

Tim Howard vs. Lynn Marinelli

I’m getting tired…Rosco P. Coltrane took it to the high priestess of parliamentary procedures, 271-114.

Chris Collins vs. Barbara Miller-Williams

This wasn’t even close.  It was rumored that BMW tried to buy off voters with the proceeds from her three pensions, but Collins’ Six Sigma’d his way to victory, 311-98.

Steve Casey vs. Bonnie Russell

Casey in a cakewalk over a common councilwoman who few know of and less care about.  She snuck through the early rounds due to weak matchups and once faced with a quality opponent, shrunk faster than Casey’s manhood in a cold pool.  Casey wins 161-72.

Our elite eight matchups are as follows:

City Bracket:

Byron Brown vs. Steve Casey or as others are referring to it, Willie Tyler versus Lester.

State Bracket:

Dale Volker vs. Antoine Thompson

County Bracket:

Chris “Boss Hogg” Collins vs. Tim “Rosco P. Coltrane” Howard

Other Bracket:

The WNY Voter vs. Andrew Rudnick

Matchup previews will be published through the course of the day, stay tuned and keep voting!

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.

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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.

Drama at the Leg: As Fun as it is Pointless

25 Feb

In the Erie County Legislature, there is a weekly drama unfolding that is really quite entertaining.

On the one hand, you have West Seneca legislator and Pigeon acolyte Christina Bove passing on votes until she finds out how her colleagues voted.  She almost invariably votes the way Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams votes.

On the other hand, you have former Chairwoman Lynn Marinelli assert herself quite forcefully with Miller-Williams to the point where the exchanges between them becomes downright belligerent, with Marinelli backhandedly reminding BMW that she used to be the big cheese.  Today, BMW just about ejected Marinelli from the chamber.

Good times.

And to think that for the most part the jobs that these 15 people do are largely ceremonial and ministerial things that a computer could be programmed to do.

Thank God, however, that we that Chris “Six Sigma saved us $7.5 million” Collins doesn’t have carte blanche to do whatever he wants with impunity.

Yet.