Tag Archives: mesi

Local Election Predictions

4 Nov

Normally, I would have made an endorsement post like I have for the previous three years, but there are few local candidates to whom I would give an endorsement.  So, I just skipped it.  I figured it would be more interesting to make some predictions on election eve…but only for the races I’m interested in.  It’s my blog and that’s how I roll.

When it comes to winning elections, there are four things a candidate needs to do to win a race.

1.)  Define yourself

2.)  Define your opponent

3.)  Define the stakes

4.)  Raise a fuckload of money

Who has done the best job accomplishing these four things in their respective race?

Let’s start with the local Congressional races…

Projected Winner:  NY-26 Christopher Lee (R)

The DCCC has dumped nearly $2MM into this race and I am still trying to figure out why they bothered.  Alice Kryzan is going to get smoked in this district, it’s not even gonna be close.  While Chris Lee has nothing in his past which would indicate even a shred of credibility as a candidate (aside from winning membership in the lucky sperm club), Alice Kryzan is exactly the kind of candidate that can’t win in a rural/new money Republican district.  Lee’s money advantage and his enrollment advantage in the district make it simple for him to simply play defense and win.  Kryzan was defined early as a traditional liberal trial attorney who wants to raise taxes, take away your Doctor and help fix the environment.  Not winning issues in this district.

For all of Jon Powers flaws, he was the one Democrat who could win this district.  He had crossover appeal as a vet and former Republican.  It was easy to project McCain/Powers voters in the hinterlands of this district, but very few McCain/Kryzan voters.  Unfortunately, this seat goes to a douche like Lee by default.  He’ll take the the GLOW counties 70-30 and Erie/Monroe County 52-48 based on heavy Obama turnout which will give a slight boost to Kryzan and arm people with false hope as the early returns trickle in.

Projected Winner NY-27:  Brian Higgins (D)

Brian Higgins has turned out to be a pretty damn good Congressman, eh?  He is in tune with his district on local issues and is a leader for progress on the waterfront.  He has also exercised independence from the party on national security, war funding and ethics reform.

Dan Humiston appears to be a guy who felt like wasting a couple hundred grand on a Congressional run to help market his company.  There is no explanation for his half-assed campaign and he has done absolutely nothing to define himself, his opponent, or the race.  His slogan is “It’s Time”.  What the fuck is that supposed to mean?  Ya know what, “it’s time” for Higgins to win by a landslide, I’ll go with 80-20 as heavy Obama turnout bumps up Higgins numbers.

State Senate Races:

SD-58:  Bill Stachowski (D)

Whoa!  Someone woke Bill Stachowski up.  After 30 years of simply being present, the Chauncey Gardner of local state politicians woke up in August to find he had an actual race on his hands.  Stachowski is the most unexciting of our local state delegation and has little to show for thirty years of unfettered incumbency.

Enter bejoweled sideshow Dennis Delano.  The Buffalo cop did a good job early of defining himself and raising money but he didn’t do enough work on defining his opponent as a do nothing boil on the ass of the WNY political scene.  Delano didn’t do that because in so doing he would have exposed himself to be less than literate on the issues and also exposed himself to criticism from the local Dem machine.  He had hoped to get enough of an early lead to play defense, but it hasn’t worked.  Heavy turnout for Obama in the heavily Democratic 58th will swamp Delano and ensure that Stachowski can go back to his regular schedule of naps and ignoring problems.

SD-59:  Dale Volker (R)

Yes, the epitome of everything that is wrong with Albany will be sent back for yet another term of spending $1MM on staff and thumbing his nose at responsible, ethical government.  What a dick.

Early on, Kathy Konst couldn’t seem to decide between running for Congress in the 26th or taking Golisano’s money to run in SD-59.  She got off to a lousy start and Volker had a tough primary battle on his hands.  Konst should have used that time to better define herself with a solid ground game, biographical mailers and some limited media buys in the far reaches of the district.  For some reason, she didn’t get her house in order.  After his primary win, Volker immediately went for the jugular and defined Kathy as a quasi-felon for voting chicanery and exposed her husband to be the worst businessman this side of Ken Lay.  Her seeming lack of answers and slowfooted response to Volker’s charges absolutely destroyed her.  She has gotten her shit together in recent weeks, but it’s too late in the game for a candidate with a short budget.  Golisano didn’t seem to come through with the money needed to win and now she’s damaged.  ‘Tis a shame, she would have been a phenomenal state senator.  Let’s hope she recovers and can seek another office in the future.

SD-61:  Joe Mesi (D)

Would I tell Joe Mesi he was unqualified to serve in the State Senate?  Would I tell him that I think he’s not smart enough for the job?  Would I tell him to his face that he is one of the least qualified candidates to ever run for political office in WNY?  Not a chance, he’d punch my face in.  So, I’ll predict that most voters in SD-61 will be intimidated by Mesi showing up at their house to deliver a ferocious beatdown if he finds out they voted for a joke like Mike Ranzenhofer rather than him.

There are no winners in this election, especially those who will be represented by either one of the laziest and most uninspired county legislators in recent history or a guy who until last year made a living by getting punched in the mouth.  Democratic turnout in this district should be strong, especially in Mesi’s stronghold of Tonawanda and I think it’ll be enough for him to eke out a win.  Ranzenhofer did a poor job of defining himself since he has 20 years of doing pretty much nothing as a legislator.  What a FAILboat of an election.

The rest of the races were over after the primaries due to gerrymandering or I just don’t care.

As my friend DJ Lance Rock would say…

One Day

3 Nov

Tomorrow is the day. The smart money says Obama’s got it in the bag.

Nate Silver:

However, Obama’s win percentage has ticked upward again for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he’s gotten some relatively good numbers out of Pennsylvania since our last update, with PPP and Zogby giving him leads of 8 and 14 points, respectively, and Rasmussen shttp://buffalopundit.wnymedia.net/blogs/wp-admin/post-new.phphowing his lead expanding to 6 points after having been at 4 before. (The Zogby poll is probably an outlier, but may serve to balance out outliers like Strategic Vision on the other side).

Secondly, McCain’s clock has simply run out. While there is arguable evidence of a small tightening, there is no evidence of a dramatic tightening of the sort he would need to make Tuesday night interesting.

Busloads of people from Western New York are now in Ohio to get out the vote, because the race has been tighter there – and Ohio is more susceptible to hijinks – than elsewhere in the area. Phonebanks to GOTV are still being held at the Polish Cadets Hall with calls being made to battleground states to ensure that people know where and when to vote, and that they know their rights. You can even make GOTV calls from the comfort of your own home.

On the Mesi, Stachowski, and Kryzan races, you can do lit drops or phonebanks for them, as well. Yesterday, the Republicans threw a dirty trick at Mesi by doing a robo-call during the Bills game that was designed to inflame people’s anger. Don’t let them and their cynical, bigoted bullshit win.

This has been one of the strangest, longest campaign cycles I’ve seen and I’ll be rather relieved when it’s over.

Don’t forget that you can follow us here at WNYMedia.net, and we’ll feature video and liveblogging right here on Election Night, complete with interviews from both Democratic and Republican victory parties.

RoboCall About Mesi

2 Nov

I just received an anti-Mesi RoboCall from 201-257-4001. So far, the only thing I can find is that the number has been used to hawk DirectTV in the past, and that the number is based out of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. There was no message at the end of the call to indicate who had paid for or authorized it.

Calls made to Mesi campaign and Ranzenhofer campaign offices were not answered.

New Siena Polls Out in Senate Races

2 Nov

They’re here, HT Albany Project:

58th SD – Erie County – William Stachowski (D, incumbent) vs. Dennis Delano (R)

Stachowski now has a 47-43 percent lead over Delano, after trailing 49-36 percent in the previous Siena poll in this district where Democrats have a better than two-to-one enrollment edge. Stachowski has increased his lead among Democrats to 62-30 percent (up from 51-34 percent). Delano maintains a 63-25 percent lead among Republicans (virtually unchanged from 64-23 percent) and has seen his lead among independent voters fall to 54-36 percent, down from 67-19 percent.

Whereas Delano led in all three sections of the district previously, Stachowski now leads 47-37 percent in Buffalo/Lackawanna, 48-45 percent in Cheektowaga, and 47-44 percent in the southern suburbs. Stachowski has a 12-point lead with men, while Delano has a two-point lead with women. Delano has a significant lead with Protestants. Stachowski leads with Catholics, and has a big lead among younger voters.

Stachowski has a 50-31 percent favorable rating. It had been 39-14 percent. Delano’s favorable rating, 53-33 percent, is down from 63-15 percent. Delano continues to have a positive favorable rating with voters of every party, while Stachowski has increased his favorability among Democrats but lost ground with independent voters and saw his favorability among Republicans drop from 35-12 percent to 29-50 percent.

More than half of voters would like to see the Senate controlled by Democrats, and Obama has opened 55-37 percent lead over McCain, up from 45-41 percent previously.

“Senator Stachowski has turned this race around. In four weeks he has erased a 13-point deficit and turned it into a tight four-point lead. Where Delano previously had a much better favorable rating with voters, the two are now viewed by voters in virtually the same light. We will have to wait until Election Day to see if Stachowski continues his momentum to win re-election, or if Delano can turn this race back around again and defeat a 27-year incumbent in this overwhelmingly Democratic district,” Greenberg said.

In the Mesi/Ranzenhofer contest:

61st SD – Erie and Genesee Counties – Michael Ranzenhofer (R) vs. Joseph Mesi (D)

Ranzenhofer has a 47-42 percent lead over Mesi, who had a slimmer 40-38 percent lead in the previous Siena poll, in this district where Republicans have a very small enrollment edge over Democrats. Ranzenhofer leads among Republicans 69-25 percent, up from 59-21 percent. Mesi leads among Democrats 62-29 percent, closer than the previous 63-19 percent. Mesi leads among independent voters 42-37 percent, although Ranzenhofer closed the gap from 43-28 percent. Mesi leads in Tonawanda by seven points (down from 10). Ranzenhofer leads in the Clarence/Newstead/Genesee County portions of the district by 15 points (up from two points), and in Amherst by three points (up a tick from two points).

Ranzenhofer has a 47-26 percent favorable rating, compared to 35-12 percent previously. Mesi’s favorable rating is 46-37 percent, compared to 45-18 percent in the previous Siena poll.

While the race has shifted seven points from Mesi to Ranzenhofer, a reverse trend occurred on the question of who voters support to control the Senate. Previously, voters supported Republican control by a 44-38 percent margin, while now a slim plurality, 43-41 percent, support Democratic control. The presidential race also flipped, with McCain’s 45-40 percent lead now becoming a 51-42 percent lead for Obama.

“This district is close in enrollment between Republicans and Democrats. The voters are close in their view on which party should control the Senate. The voters have switched their support from McCain to Obama over the last few weeks. And a small Mesi lead has turned into a slightly wider Ranzenhofer lead. Which party’s voters turn out in larger numbers on Tuesday may well determine the outcome of this race. Either way, it figures to be a late night as the votes get counted in this race,” Greenberg said.

Mesi needs your help. Ranzenhofer has a 20-year record of FAIL, and wants to bring his brand of FAIL to the Senate.

Buffalopundit Endorses

30 Oct

Although I realize that this is about as worthless and useless as just about anything, I still do it every year. Why? Because I feel like it! Some of the following are people who will be on my ballot, and others aren’t. No one has paid me a red cent for an ad or endorsement, ever – these are based on my own judgment and opinion. I am not including the unopposed and almost-unopposed races. So, coming up Tuesday the 4th, I recommend voting for the following candidates:

President: Barack Obama

My coming around to Obama didn’t come quickly or reflexively. I was a big fan of Bill Richardson’s, but he ran a crap campaign. I saw that it was between Clinton and Obama in December 2007, and began leaning Obama. In January, Obama amazingly won Iowa. That was all she wrote.

The moment came when I started listening to Obama’s speeches on race, on family, on America as that shining city on the hill – a place that aspires to greatness, and which people from around the world seek to emulate. Barack Obama is the closest thing to Ronald Reagan the Democrats have ever had. In a time when Americans are fearful and uncertain about their future, Obama talks about hope, change, and a brighter future.

It’s what he’s been doing for the past 22 months. It won him the nomination. It will win him the election. It will be win for the USA.

In a time when Americans are sick and tired of the politics of hatred, division, and polarization, Obama extends a hand and says, let’s work together in a spirit of compromise and cooperation to bring about a 21st century America – a better, leaner and more efficient government – to bring about change to our economy, to our foreign policy, to our domestic affairs.

The economy has been battered over the last few months, and throughout the crisis, Obama was – well, presidential. No crazy tactics or erratic grandstanding – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. He did the same with respect to Iraq. There have been many times over the past 11 months that I’ve listened to or read something from Obama that has simply taken me aback – that a candidate doesn’t talk down to me like some kind of idiot. That a candidate has a reasoned, intelligent, well-executed set of ideas and plans is something we’ve frankly been without for the past 8 years. By way of example, on Tuesday while having lunch on Allen Street, I read this article in Time Magazine.

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for “maximum flexibility” going forward.

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security.” Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

Again – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. And in this instance, he challenged. We can’t have a President who just rolls over for whatever anyone’s telling him. We’ve had 8 years of a President who abandons pragmatism and deliberation in favor of ideology and inflexibility. We can’t have a President who doesn’t demand frank answers to tough questions from his subordinates, and we can’t have a President who doesn’t ensure adherence to constitutional constructs with respect to who’s in charge of what.

In 2004, I heard an unknown guy with a funny name give a speech at the Democratic National Convention. I will never forget hearing this passage:

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

At the time – the Iraq war was a year and a half old and going sour – it was a blockbuster speech and a concept so completely foreign to many ears turned numb from Roveian division. I thought then that this was Obama’s entry into the 2008 election. I was right. I am so ready for this guy to become President, and to have someone in Washington working hard to ensure a brighter future and a more perfect union. Website here.

NY-26: Alice Kryzan

There is no question that the 26th district has been ill-served for too long by former clout-wielding Republican Tom Reynolds. Reynolds is the kind of guy who lives in the past – old divisions, old issues, old ways of thinking. There is hardly an initiative anyone can point to as the “Reynolds record of excellence”, which really is what any legislator should aspire to, given the opportunity to go to Washington and do right by his constituents and the country. (Not to mention get paid a lot of public money and benefits-for-life).

There are two rookies vying for this seat this year, Democrat Alice Kryzan and Republican Chris Lee. There is not one thing that Lee has done or said that has been even remotely impressive, except perhaps for his fundraising prowess. His ideas are the same recycled, old Republican pablum that we’ve endured for 8 years under Bush, and longer still being represented by Reynolds. Lee seems like a nice enough guy, and I credit anyone willing to stand up and take a shot at a run, but in this year, in this climate, with the problems we’re facing, it’s patently time for something new.

Alice Kryzan is a brilliant and well-respected veteran environmental litigator who, by trade and training, can (and must) see both sides of an issue. She offers a platform not dissimilar to that of Barack Obama, with his focus on trickle-up tax breaks for the middle class and poor, more accessible health care, an as-soon-as-possible end to the war in Iraq in a safe and controlled manner, and the promotion of “what’s next” for Western New York’s (and the country’s) economy. Western New York was a pioneer in sustainable energy production, and we need to reclaim that mantle with whatever non-fossil-fuel options are out there that are available. Alice will bring renewed energy to these issues, and more responsiveness and care to constituent issues. Website here.

NY-27: Brian Higgins

You know how I mentioned above that Reynolds doesn’t really have much of a record fighting for positive change in WNY? Brian Higgins has accomplished more in 4 years than Reynolds has in 10. Western New York is better off having him in Washington fighting for a fair shake from NYPA, holding the Thruway Authority’s feet to the fire over tolls by highlighting its federal funding, being in the forefront – really, the go-to guy – of waterfront development in the City of Buffalo. Brian Higgins is no knee-jerk liberal, and he’s drawn the ire of the far left for many of his votes with respect to security and police powers, but that shows me that he’s a principled and pragmatic politician who is willing to be independent of Democratic orthodoxy. I don’t like robots – I need someone who thinks and gets things done. Higgins’ opponent, like Lee, offers nothing really new to the table. Both he and Lee repeat how they’ve met a payroll and run successful businesses. Lee inherited his, but Humiston built his. That is admirable, regardless of how you feel about tanning beds. But the job of a congressman isn’t to build a business, make a profit, or make a payroll. It’s to make and shape public policy. Higgins has proven that he is good at it, and that what he does benefits WNY. Website here.

NY-29: Eric Massa

Does what’s happened over the last 8 years really get you pumped? No? Randy Kuhl was an enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush. He accused Democrats of wanting to see the country do badly. He is a detestable, bullying figure who hasn’t earned re-election. By contrast, Eric Massa is a smart and energetic veteran. He’s a cancer survivor and has intimate, first-hand knowledge of foreign policy and military issues from his tenure as Retired General Wesley Clark’s chief aide while Clark was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO’s European forces. Massa is on board with the renewed concentration on the hardships of the middle class, which will be a refreshing change from the Bush Administration’s obsession for giving the superrich a hand. Website here.

SD-61: Joe Mesi

Did you really expect the guy who ran against Mike Ranzenhofer for a county leg seat to endorse Mike Ranzenhofer for a State Senate seat?

I am well-versed in Ranzenhofer’s legislative record, and to say it’s unimpressive is an understatement. Has he ever voted for a tax increase? No. But he’s voted for a great many budgets containing spending hikes, and what makes that so egregious is that it is patently fiscally unconservative to do that. Ranzenhofer was all too happy to plow Giambra’s policies of borrow & spend through the legislature as minority and majority leader. He complains about roads not being repaired – including many in his own district – yet refuses to vote for budgets that would fund them (as if it would all be done for free).

The Buffalo News noted that Mesi is not as well-versed on the issues as Ranzenhofer. Well, neither would you be if you were a rookie running against a 20-year veteran. I find Mesi to be smart, accessible, and above all a good listener. A guy who is as regular as they come, but has a major stake in this community and wants to ensure that his family and everyone’s gets a fair shake going forward. He is in favor of maintenance of the STAR program, and is pushing for measured, intelligent cuts to the state budget that don’t arbitrarily slash items that people not only depend on, but that are critical to our future. Like schools and public safety. He is dedicated to the expansion of green jobs and industry in New York, and for a ban on unfunded Albany mandates. He is in favor of a tax cap with a circuit breaker, and isn’t just looking at what the state’s problems are now, but is looking into the future to try and work towards longer-term goals to growth and prosperity. I also appreciate the fact that he’s not playing the upstate Republican game of demonizing downstate New York. It’s not productive.

The involvement of Steve Pigeon in Mesi’s campaign is troubling, but not enough so that I would for some reason say, “gee, I’ll vote for Ranz”. Website here.

SD-59: Kathy Konst

When Dale Volker went to Albany as an Assemblyman, Richard Nixon was being inaugurated for his second term. Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon. New York’s World Trade Center had its ribbon-cutting. The Watergate scandal hadn’t yet hit. Nelson Rockefeller was Governor. Stanley Makowski had just taken over the mayor’s office from Frank Sedita, Sr.

And in that 36 years, Volker has done – what, exactly? The state has seen tragic decline in population and economic growth. Albany is as dysfunctional as it’s ever been. In 36 years, Volker should be able to point to a vast, proven record of service and excellence. Instead, he and his goon squad insult and threaten anyone who might unseat this unprincipled thug with a $1 million state payroll all his own. First, he and his people threatened and insulted Republican challenger David DiPietro, and now he’s doing just about everything in his power to not only defeat Kathy Konst, but to destroy her.

And in a year when people talk of mavericks, Kathy Konst really is one. She’s a Democrat, but she is neither beholden to Democratic Headquarters, nor is there very much love lost between the two. Although Konst and her husband are not beloved figures in local Democratic circles, we’re not voting for the Konsts’ friends or enemies – we’re voting for Konst. She has a proven record of transparency and hard work towards reform in the county legislature – both substantive and procedural. If ever there was someone we should send to Albany to give her a chance to shake things up, it’s Konst. Website here.

SD-58: Bill Stachowski

Dennis Delano may be a hero cop, but his political views and positions are unknown, since he won’t debate or appear anywhere to discuss the issues on voters’ minds. Seriously, Stachowski wins almost by default, and as ranking minority member of the finance committee, he is well-positioned to do a lot of good for WNY and the state-at-large. And if that doesn’t do it for you, Republican Jim Kelly endorses him, too. Website here.

Supreme Court: John Michalek, Tracey Bannister

Michalek is running for his second term. Bannister is the only candidate running who has earned the Erie County Bar Association’s highest ranking – Outstanding. As confidential law clerk to Justice Gorski in Supreme Court and in the Appellate Division, she has the experience and skills needed to be an excellent Justice.


David Donohue for Town Justice

David is running on the WFP line and is an excellent attorney and dedicated deputy town attorney. He is a lifelong resident of the town and very active in the community.

Tim Pazda for Town Board

Tim Pazda is a community juggernaut in his own right. He has volunteered for just about every local committee and charity imaginable, including the bicentennial celebrations this year, and many years with the Clarence Center VFD. He is a member of the planning board and extraordinarily knowledgable about development issues in the town. One of his initiatives was to institute design guidelines for certain areas of town to ensure that development follows the character of the surrounding area. That’s why the Dunkin Donuts at Goodrich & Main won’t be a beige eyesore, and it’s an idea that every community in WNY could learn from. Website here.

No matter what you do, please go out and vote. You may not think that your vote counts when you think, e.g., of the Presidential race – but it sure as hell matters to the downticket candidates.

Mesi vs. Ranzenhofer

28 Oct

The topics covered in this debate were essentially similar to those touched upon in the Hardwick debate a few weeks ago. As I mentioned in the tweets from the hall, the room was overflowing with Mesi supporters – at least half of the place got up and left after Mesi and Ranzenhofer were done. The applause from them was rousing, and Ranzenhofer jokingly thanked them for their welcome.

Ranzenhofer talked a lot about his plan to slash 15% across-the-board from the state budget. He explained that he’d like to expand the STAR rebate program and institute a hard property tax cap. Mesi countered that he would like to institute a ban on unfunded Albany mandates, which cripple county and local governments across the state. This is a theme that should be repeated statewide in every race, and it was good to see Mesi out in front on that issue. Mesi is also for a circuit breaker tax cap, which is tied to the homeowner’s income.

As an aside – the dynamic of some of these debates is interesting. Whenever a candidate gets behind on an issue, uttering “me too” or explaining away his opponent’s proposals, I feel that there was a smidgen of momentum lost. To a certain degree, especially in this type of forum, you want to lay your policy specifics out in a coherent and concise manner. Make it bold, but also make it interesting. I think Mesi did an outstanding job doing just that.

Think for a second about the needless complexity of the tax code, which has become little more than a full employment act for CPAs and tax attorneys. New York is the same way – instead of just endeavoring to make it more palatable for businesses to locate here, we complicate everything. STAR rebates, circuit breakers, Empire Zones, etc. – it should and could be made simpler, especially for economically depressed non-tri-state-area counties.

Both candidates support nonpartisan redistricting for state legislative seats, and Ranzenhofer mentioned downsizing the state legislature. I would be cautious about that, because of the population disparity between the New York City area and the rest of the state. We can’t afford to have upstate districts underrepresented in comparison with the City, and although it is a good idea in theory, safeguards would need to be put into place. What I’d love to see is some tough reform of the way Albany spends money on itself – an across-the-board cap on the cost of legislative staffs, regardless of seniority would be nice. Clamping down on perks and per diems. If state residents are due for some belt-tightening and the loss of services, politicos should lead by example on that point.

Both candidates support increased accountability and oversight for state authorities, which currently act as a sort of shadow government, adding debt and cost to the operation of the state without it necessarily being on the state’s own books. There is no reason why these rogue-prone semi-autonomous entities should be permitted to exist the way they do, and it’s time for Albany to shed Robert Mosesism and move towards leaner, more efficient government that is always accountable for every penny spent and taken in. Ranzenhofer recommended abolition of the Thruway Authority and putting its responsibilities under the State DOT. He’s right, but it doesn’t go far enough. Every state authority should be up for dissolution and incorporation into the executive branch of state government, and it’s high time residents knew exactly how bad it all is.

One item of disagreement among these two candidates was the issue of the aforementioned budget cuts. Ranzenhofer’s plan is to simply take a meat cleaver and chop 15% off of everything. Mesi’s plan is more nuanced than that, cutting where needed, but maintaining funding for key items that will help the state plan for the future. Now is not the time, for instance, to cut education. Now is not the time to cut programs that encourage the sciences and the development of new economies for biotechnology, nanotechnology, and other, similar items that could very well form the basis for New York’s future resurgence. I would tend to go with caution and planning over slashing.

Ranzenhofer closed with a standard Republican spiel about incentivizing the growth of business in New York. That’s all well and good, but I think the incentivizing should be for all businesses, and not complicated by Empire Zones and the like. Mesi suggested funding the research and development of green energy by instituting a windfall profit tax on oil companies. Big oil is obviously reluctant to fund energy initiatives that could render it redundant, so this is an interesting proposal. Mesi also invoked the UB 2020 initiative, indicating that UB could and should grow its business incubator program to encourage and support – through resources and venture capital – new businesses and new areas of potential growth for Western New York, which is too busy worrying about its manufacturing past and not busy enough worrying about what will replace it.

Mesi brings a personal touch to that story, explaining how a family member lost his job at American Axle. There are hundreds, if not thousands of blue-collar workers who have lost, or are at risk of losing their jobs in the manufacturing sector, and we need to move on to the next step in our economic and industrial journey here in WNY. Mesi gets the big picture, and there are too few politicians who do.

Tweeting the Clarence Candidates’ Forum

27 Oct

Ranzenhofer Ad: Downstate is What, Now?

27 Oct

There is a negative Ranzenhofer ad out there hitting Mesi for taking downstate money. (Interesting that it’s bad for Mesi, but OK for Ranzenhofer and Delano. But I digress).

This is how Ranzenhofer’s ad illustrates the point about downstate money. In it, a stencil is applied over a white brick wall that has “NYC” drawn in stylized graffitti print. A spray can miraculously appears, causing the message carved into the stencil to appear on the brick wall. I don’t even remember what the point being made is.

What’s Ranzenhofer trying to say here? That downstate = urban blight, graffitti, and defacement of property? Gee, what a fascinating image to convey. I’d love to hear more about why that particular device was employed to make this point.

(A free Hershey bar to the first person to post the ad I’m talking about to YouTube.)

Ranzenhofer & Downstate Interests

26 Oct

I’m not one to engage in the upstate vs. downstate nonsense because it’s idiotic, but when someone does decide to play the “downstate loves you and you love downstate” card against an upstate candidate, it’s always refreshing to see whether there’s any hypocrisy going on.

As one might expect in the Ranzenhofer-Mesi race, Ranzenhofer gets along quite nicely with downstate special interests and politicians, so perhaps they might consider rethinking that tack. This new blog has more.

Joe Mesi’s Plan for Change

26 Oct

The Mesi campaign’s official blog posts this today:

On Saturday at 11:30 in Amherst, State Senate Candidate Joe Mesi released his 18-page “Plan For Change: Specific New Ideas For Our Future” booklet with volunteers who were preparing to go knock on doors for Mesi despite the inclement weather. (You can view the online version here.)

Mesi’s book outlines his proposals to create new jobs and keep existing ones in WNY, provide real property tax relief, target investments in research and higher education, create a new energy economy, and reform Albany.

Speaking today, Mesi said, “A lot of people talk about change. Even my opponent is talking about change – which is ironic given that he’s been in office for 20 years. I feel an obligation to talk about some very specific ideas I have for our future. Voters deserve real substance, not just sound bites.”

Mesi added, “I want you to read my plan and talk about the issues. You might not agree with every detail, but you deserve to know where I stand. We need new leadership in Albany that believes in us and much as we believe in ourselves. New leadership that won’t give up. That won’t say cut – with a sledgehammer – but instead say use a scalpel, and, at the same time, invest in our strengths and believe in our future.”

The plan focuses on investment in high-tech and health care industries, such as Roswell Park and the Buffalo Medical Campus, demanding accountability from Empire Zone beneficiaries, lowering property taxes, ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs out of state, and growing green industry. Mesi proposes initiating a property tax “circuit breaker” cap, which sets a ceiling of what percentage of your annual pay goes to property taxes. Most importantly, Mesi understands that unfunded Albany mandates are a massive, crushing burden on our county and local governments.

Mesi is also a proponent of UB 2020, which holds out the promise of UB as tomorrow’s regional economic engine for all of WNY. Read the whole thing. I don’t think I’ve recently seen any candidate put out as detailed a platform for forward-thinking change.

Meanwhile, Mesi’s opponent – who has spent 20 years in the county legislature and has not one. single. success. attributable to him during his tenure in that body – was for spending cuts before he was against them.