Tag Archives: Marc Coppola

Family Feud

10 Dec
Antoine Thompson on the night of the United St...
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Byron Brown and Len Lenihan had a falling out in 2006 because Byron Brown insisted on hand-selecting Antoine Thompson to succeed him (pun intended) in the State Senate.  Lenihan refused, noting that neither Jimmy Griffin nor Tony Masiello had been given that opportunity when they shifted from the senate to become mayor, and that the interim replacement in the state senate would be the committee’s choice, and they chose then-councilman Marc Coppola.

Coppola ultimately lost the primary in September 2005 to Thompson, who most recently lost his senate race against Mark Grisanti.  Thompson lost that race in a district that skews overwhelmingly Democratic – a seat he would have normally kept for as long as he wanted.  Now that Thompson has blundered his way out of office, and the underlying cause of the feud is rendered moot, there’s room for rapprochement.  (Perhaps the diplomatic mediation communications between both camps should be published by Wikileaks and the Buffalo News).

Brown and Pigeon re-aligned and have acted in an oft-concerted effort to motherf*ck Lenihan and ECDC at every turn since.

The feud is ridiculous and petty and counterproductive and stupid.  Paterson is right to bring it up, but wrong to bring it up so damned late.  It’s astonishing that Brown’s camp took a “who, us?!” stance of gotta-be-feigned incredulity.  Pigeon is probably busy trying to find a new sugardaddy to fund his ruination of WNY and state politics now that Golisano is firmly ensconced in Florida and Pedro Espada is cooling his heels in Mamaroneck, waiting to see how that whole indictment thing plays out.

“[It’s] competition to see who stands on the smallest hill,” indeed.

Coppola Challenges Ranzenhofer to Debates

23 Sep

In SD-61, Democratic Challenger Marc Coppola challenges incumbent Republican State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer to a series of debates – anytime, anywhere.

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Marc Coppola for State Senate SD-61 #WNYVotes

22 Sep

By way of full disclosure, I ran against Mike Ranzenhofer for the county legislature in 2007.  I think he’s just as ineffective and feckless now as he was then.

Ranzenhofer has been in elected office for over 20 years, and has helped preside over the precipitous decline in WNY’s fortunes during that time.  While he was in the minority during most of his tenure in the county legislature and state senate, someone who believes in good government can still make a positive difference for his constituents beyond just saying, “no” and proposing pie-in-the-sky tax cuts without actually doing the work necessary to get it done.  During his short time in the majority, he advocated for, and passed, the Giambra budgets that led to fiscal meltdown in 2004.

Marc Coppola, former Buffalo City Councilman and pre-Antoine SD-60 senator has moved into Tonawanda and is running to replace Ranzenhofer in SD-61.  He made a splash when he announced by renouncing our corrupt system of electoral fusion, refusing to accept or seek the WFP or IP or CP lines.  He pledges to work to abolish fusion. By contrast, Ranzenhofer sought and received the endorsements of the IP and CP, and no doubt some IP and CP low-level, semi-intelligent apparatchik will get some sort of state job or contract in exchange for that endorsement.  You scratch my back politics is de rigeur in New York if you play the fusion game.

Coppola is the first person with a high profile to so vocally criticize and renounce fusion – a system that helps and is helped by the party establishment.

Yet Ranzenhofer goes to the Senate, helps the Republicans cut deals with corrupt friend-of-Pigeon, Pedro Espada, and criticizes the budget process in Albany.   He has zero independence whatsoever and goes along with whatever the minority does.  Coppola rightfully criticized Ranzenhofer’s disingenuous complaints about the budget process thusly,

There are 62 members in the New York State Senate and it only takes 32 to pass a bill. Even with nine members absent, the remaining 53 are more than enough to get something accomplished. The fact that nothing is getting done is due to senators like Mike Ranzenhofer who would rather accomplish nothing so that they can play partisan blame games.”

Ranzenhofer has also been missing in action when it comes to the battle to pass the UB 20/20 legislation. The university is the district’s largest employer and in desperate need of help.

“I challenge the incumbent senator to show some independence and work for the people who elected him, not his party leader. I challenge him to do something for his district and WNY. New York State is in its most difficult financial crisis since the Great Depression. This is no time for partisan politics. It is a time for all members to act like adults and work together for the good of all New Yorkers.”

Coppola isn’t just blowing smoke.  During his abbreviated (4-month session) tenure in the state Senate, Coppola submitted many  bills, four of which passed and were signed into law by the Governor, all while being in the minority and the most freshman member of the Senate at the time.  That’s about the same number that former state senator Byron Brown passed during his entire 5 years there.

The fiscally conservative Republican incumbent, isn’t.  Just yesterday, Coppola pointed out that Ranzenhofer is all too happy to spend public money when it directly benefits his re-election campaign.

[Ranzenhofer] is an outright hypocrite, claiming to be a fiscal conservative, while spending like a liberal.

“Ranzenhofer continues to call for budget cuts and less spending, but what does he do? He spends, and spends, and then spends more taxpayer money,” Coppola said.

Ranzenhofer sent out taxpayer-funded mailings through his government offices. This most recent mailer simply invites people to come and meet his staff. Another mailer informs people to be safe on Halloween.

“Are these messages really important enough to spend thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on?” asked Coppola.

The practice is widely criticized as wasteful.

Coppola believes Ranzenhofer is misleading the public when he sounds the alarm about state spending and reducing taxes, yet he continues to spend more than any other WNY Senator in his conference on useless mailers.

Ranzenhofer wants it both ways contends Coppola, “He’s telling his constituents that he’s trying to reduce state spending, but nobody will listen to him. He is ineffective because he has no credibility and doesn’t practice what he preaches.”

Coppola also criticized Ranzenhofer for using the system to further his re-election campaign with mailers close to the election at taxpayer expense. Ranzenhofer should have used campaign funds, said Coppola.

“He has over a quarter of a million dollars in his campaign war chest, why not lead by example and use that, rather than taxpayer money when the state is virtually bankrupt,” he added.

Ranzenhofer really is just a suburban, Republican variation on the Antoine Thompson theme.  He gets a free pass on everything he does (or, more often than not, doesn’t do) because he’s a Republican with a gaping enrollment advantage in his district.  But can you name a singular Ranzenhofer legislative success?  Can you name one initiative that he’s brought forth to make your life better?  Hell, can you name a time he actually accomplished something – whether it be lowering taxes or controlling spending?

A cynic would say that Ranzenhofer’s political tenure are mere efforts to get great benefits and a sweet pension – something his small Akron law firm could never offer and remain solvent.

By contrast, Coppola wants to return to Albany and actually bring about some political change that would matter.  Abolishing electoral fusion would matter. Changing the way in which the state budget is passed would matter.  Instituting rules changes to render the legislative process in New York more democratic and fair would matter.  The highlights of his platform include,

  • A Constitutional Budget Deadline, ending late state budgets forever.
  • A Mandate Relief Task Force, that will review and recommend changes to state laws that increase property taxes
  • A Regional Economic Development plan that will grow jobs by consolidating agencies, streamlining the process, and adding consistency
  • Adding full investigatory powers and abilities to both the State Board of Elections and the Legislative Ethics Commission in order to hold elected officials, candidates for office, and their staffs accountable for violations
  • An end to Fusion Voting, which allows candidates to run on multiple party lines. This has become a breeding ground for corruption and has outlived its usefulness in New York State

When you talk to Marc Coppola, you sense his passion for good government and public service.  He knows the importance of that work, and understands the process and its nuances. He’s a guy who would go to Albany and actually do something – not just cut deals with Pedro Espada, then sit back and do nothing.  Coppola is hosting a fundraiser at Caputi’s on Sheridan in Tonawanda tonight, and you can contribute to his campaign here via ActBlue.

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Statler, Byron III, Coppola v. Ranzenhofer

3 Aug

1. Mark Croce, a local developer and restaurateur, has teamed up with James Eagan to bid $700,000 for the Statler Tower in the wake of the IssaFail follies. $200,000 for the building, and $500,000 to bring its taxes up to date. Croce’s efforts may be successful because he owns parking and parking-ready lots nearby.

2. Mayor Byron Brown’s son is in trouble again – this time, for hilariously shoplifting $60 worth of crap from AJ Wright in North Buffalo. Everyone remembers Byron III’s early-morning joyride through his neighborhood, which led to accusations, cover-ups, and confirmation through surveillance video. This time, the Mayor isn’t up to any similar shenanigans, and Byron III will probably end up with some sort of pre-trial probation.

3. The State Senate was called into special session last week to try to pass the now-1/3-year-late state budget. Because a handful of Senators were on vacation and didn’t show up, and because Bill Stachowski (SD-58) continues to hold things up over UB 2020, nothing happened. State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer (SD-60) complained that Paterson’s calling a special session displayed, “…just a tremendous disregard and disrespect for taxpayers cause you got to pay everybody to come up here – gas and all this other stuff.” Well, yes – in this circumstance, with the Senate being a bunch of rubber-stamp babies who do whatever Sampson or Skelos tell them to do, it was a waste of time. But if Senators actually do the work of legislators in a regular functioning democratic representative body, something could absolutely get done.

As Ranzenhofer’s opponent Marc Coppola put it in a recent press release,

New York Senator Mike Ranzenhofer’s comments on the state budget are nothing more than empty rhetoric. This week Ranzenhofer criticized members of the state legislature over the budget process, but failed to point out his own lack of accomplishment.

He and his colleagues provide a lot of criticism and offer little by way of solution. “There are 62 members in the New York State Senate and it only takes 32 to pass a bill. Even with 9 members absent the remaining 53 are more than enough to get something accomplished. The fact that nothing is getting done is due to Senators like Mike Ranzenhofer who would rather accomplish nothing so that they can play partisan blame games” said Coppola.

Ranzenhofer has also been missing in action when it comes to the battle to pass the UB 20/20 legislation. The University is the district’s largest employer and in desperate need of help. “I challenge the incumbent Senator to show some independence and work for the people who elected him, not his party leader. I challenge him to do something for his district and WNY” said Coppola. “New York State is in its most difficult financial crisis since the Great Depression. This is no time for partisan politics. It is a time for all members to act like adults and work together for the good of all New Yorkers.”

I think that’s exactly right. The Senate is impotent because Senators let it be.

Marc Coppola: Abolish Electoral Fusion

21 Jul

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Coppola is running for the 61st Senate District, now represented by Republican Mike Ranzenhofer. Coppola has refused to seek or accept any minor party lines, and called on his opponent to do the same.

Marc Coppola for State Senate.

Marc Coppola Running in SD-61; Calls for End to Fusion Voting

23 Jun

The political system is remarkably broken and corrupt. As a result, the policies that emanate from Albany are generally stupid, short-sighted, and designed to ensure re-election and the pleasing of various lobbyists and other special interest groups.

It’s easy to lapse into the habit of criticizing what amount to the symptoms of our broken politics, but oftentimes it’s important to go for the cure, instead. Two antibiotics would help to kill the infections that sicken Albany. Firstly, the legislative reform proposals that NYU’s Brennan Center has been pushing for almost half a decade should have long ago been implemented. They won’t be, however, because the current three-men-in-a-room system is advantageous to the legislators, who seldom have to do much or act effectively or responsibly.

Secondly, electoral fusion must be abolished because it is corrupt and corrupting.

Electoral fusion is the system whereby meaningless, pointless, and redundant special-interest groups and PACs get to call themselves political parties. But instead of actually running candidates for office, they simply cut deals to endorse major-party candidates. The minor parties get something in return, of course. Usually jobs or the promise of jobs. If the parties call themselves something catchy, they may garner 50,000 votes in any given gubernatorial election, thus ensuring that they remain on the ballot statewide for the following four years, cutting deals and endorsing major party candidates.

You think of yourself as a conservative, and refuse to vote for a Democrat like Tim Kennedy? Kennedy got the Conservative Party line! So vote for him there, pretend your conscience is clear, and help somebody’s brother’s cousin get a job at some state authority.

You think of yourself as an independent voter and enroll in the “Independence Party”? Welcome to the world of Steve Pigeon and Frank MacKay, as well as Tom Golisano’s money. At least Sandy Rosenswie got a job out of last year’s endorsements. Whew!

It’s particularly noteworthy and appreciated, therefore, that former Buffalo City Councilman and former State Senator from SD-60, Marc Coppola, has come out swinging in his current, new campaign against State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer in SD-61. Instead of criticizing his opponent’s lack of leadership or ideas, he’s swinging against the system itself.

Coppola has pledged not to seek or accept the endorsement of any minor party lines, and has also promised to introduce legislation to abolish electoral fusion in New York State. Ours is one of only eight states in the Union that still allow minor parties to endorse members of other parties and to count the aggregate votes towards the total. This ensures that petty power brokers continue to wield influence that is disproportionately large in relation to the actual number of party members or voters.

Coppola’s effort is radical – and that’s unfortunate. Every candidate should stand on principle and transparency, but few of them do. Indeed, many of them create their own little party lines for vanity or strategy. Carl Paladino is doing it right now for the tea party, and Chris Collins did it with the “Taxpayers First” line.

You can’t clean up Albany without abolishing the anachronistic fusion system, which exists solely to encourage transactional politics and discourages good government. Here’s the text of Coppola’s press release on the issue:

Town of Tonawanda resident and candidate for NYS Senate Marc Coppola is calling for an end to political corruption in Albany. Several minor party leaders are now under investigation for alleged illegal activities.

Coppola, who is the endorsed Democrat for State Senate running against Mike Ranzenhofer for the 61st district, believes fusion voting is part of the problem. It’s an election system that allows for candidates to run on multiple party lines. “Minor parties and their leaders have a disproportionate amount of influence in New York State politics and our government,” said Coppola. “It has proven to be a pay to play system and a breeding ground for corruption. New York is one of only several states in the country that allows the tail to wag the dog and the voters and residents of this state deserve better.”

Coppola has not requested and will not accept any party nomination other than his own and challenges his opponent, incumbent Mike Ranzenhofer to do the same. “As long as candidates participate in this system that has become disingenuous, sometimes corrupt, and an insult to voters, it will continue. I for one choose not to.”

If elected, Coppola will sponsor legislation ending fusion voting in New York State.

Now, here’s the question: will Mike Ranzenhofer do the same thing? If not, why not? Will anyone ask him?