Tag Archives: NY State Senate

Grisanti v. Thompson

19 Oct

The New York governor’s race may be the most entertaining and photogenic on the ballot, but it is far from the only choice voters will have in November. In fact, in some locations, the ballot is so full it wraps around to a second side. Why is this important? Voters forget to look at the back. If I worry for America, it is because of research like this and this.

Hopefully the 60th Senate District race is on the front, because Western New York has a great opportunity this year to finally rid ourselves of Antoine Thompson.

My opposition to Thompson is not primarily policy based: I probably agree with at least the sentiment of his environmental work, and I don’t him any credit for having an iota of leadership or influence on the matters bogging down the NYS legislature. He is a reliable Democratic vote, which enabled the chaos, but he can’t be blamed for leading it – he’s not capable enough for that.

No, I oppose Thompson because he is nearly a caricature of an Entitled Incumbent. He is free to be completely incompetent, in his basic duties as a legislator of casting votes (and remembering what those votes are) because he is sure he will be re-elected. He is free to send whole forests of propaganda mailings (and now books!) at the taxpayer’s expense, and take junkets to Jamaica during budget hearings, because he is sure he will be re-elected. He is free to hand out $400K to the most hated (non)developer in Niagara Falls, in exchange for campaign contributions, because he is sure he will be re-elected. It is the culture of the Entitled Incumbent in Albany that enables the government meltdown, because with no fear of removal by the voters, the longer the politicians stay in Albany “debating”, the more money they make.

Therefore, the policy positions of his opponent, Mark Grisanti, are secondary. When Grisanti wins, he will be a junior member of the Senate, and has little chance to make himself heard for his first term. That’s okay – he won’t be Antoine Thompson.

Grisanti seems to know this, and I love his mailings for their pragmatic cynicism. Here’s a flier I got in my weekly Grand Island Dispatch.

I think its wonderful that Grisanti reminds voters on Grand Island that they are represented by Thompson. It would be easy to forget: Thompson never comes here, and you will barely see a single Thompson sign on the island. Meanwhile, his opponents have not (lately) had the money to run a serious challenge. Grisanti is reminding the voters of Niagara Falls, Tonawanda and Grand Island that while Thompson has forgotten about them, they should not forget they have the power to vote him out. Let’s see how far down that ballot all that Republican anger goes.

I also like the choice of candidate in Grisanti, because if he wins, it will provide a model to the rest of the state. Grisanti is a registered Democrat, and has lost to Thompson in Democratic primaries in the past. By gaining the Republican and Conservative endorsements this year, Grisanti is bypassing the traditionally low-turnout primary to take his case to the entire district. Until we have open primaries (nullifying the power of the party members) where any registered voter can vote on primary day, or even better, a fusion system (like in Washington State) where the top two vote getters on primary day appear on the general ballot, no matter their party affiliation, then this is the best New York State can do. Pragmatically run a guy with cross-over appeal just to get rid of the incumbent. I’ll buy that.

Albany’s problem is not Republican or Democratic. It is an Entitled Incumbent problem. Get rid of Thompson.

Rory Allen for NYS Senate (SD-60) FUNDRAISER TONIGHT

7 Jul


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Please join us at Coles for an exciting time to help Rory Allen kick-off his campaign for the New York State Senate – 60th District! Stop by to support Rory, have a chance to speak with Rory one-on-one about his vision for WNY or even just to sign his petition to get him on the ballot!

1104 Elmwood Ave
Buffalo, NY 14222 US

Wednesday July 7th from 6 to 8 pm.

$25 Donation

If you are unable to attend and would like to make a donation:

Please send checks payable to : Friends of Rory Allen and mail to 286 Baynes Street, Buffalo, NY 14213

Rory Allen. He’ll make sure to vote for the bills he sponsors, and vote against the ones he opposes.

Erie County: An Orgy of Transactional Politics

5 Jul

Steve Pigeon is de facto dictator of the Independence Party, and its endorsements in Erie County.

Steve Pigeon is Pedro Espada’s employee, earning receiving $150,000 in taxpayer dollars per year.

Steve Pigeon, working with Senate candidate Tim Kennedy, longtime associate Christina Bove, and sole Grassroots-connected legislator Barbara Miller-Williams, orchestrated an alliance between them and the Republican minority, thus effectively obliterating the Democratic legislative majority that was hard-fought during the 2009 elections.

In order for Pigeon to retain his Senate position, he is dependent on the continuation of a Democratic Senate majority. He calculated early on that Kennedy may be a better Democratic Senate candidate than Bill Stachowski.

Sandy Rosenswie is the nominal chair of the Erie County Independence Party (IP).

Sandy Rosenswie was hired by the Erie County Legislature’s “reform coalition” majority.

Tim Kennedy, who is a member of that “reform coalition”, is reportedly going to receive the IP endorsement.

It’s an orgy of transactional politics that ensures exactly one thing only: that Steve Pigeon retains his highly paid position suckling at the public teat. It’s also a scenario that never could have occurred in quite that way without the existence of electoral fusion, the root of many electoral evils in New York State.

Also see (NSFW):


Even a Broken Clock…

2 Jul

Senator William Stachowski, at long last, after 30+ years of middling mediocrity, has grown a legislative, metaphorical set of balls.

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?

Matthew Ricchiazzi : Ineligible for SD-60

9 Jun

The requirements to run for the state senate in New York are pretty clear. You need to be 18, have lived in the New York for at least 5 years (preferably not with your parents) and most importantly, you must have been a full time resident of the senate district you want to represent for the 12 months immediately before the election.

So, if someone wanted to run against Antoine Thompson in New York’s 60th Senate district, that person would have to have lived in that district since at least November 2, 2009.

Over the weekend, the Ostrowski/Coniglio faction of the local WNY tea party endorsed a handful of candidates for this years state elections. Among them was Matthew Ricchiazzi. You might remember him from such failed campaigns like last year’s Mayoral race and most recently, last month’s Buffalo School Board election.

His first two attempts at getting on a ballot having failed, Mr. Ricchiazzi is looking for a trifecta with his current run against Antoine Thompson.

WNYmedia has learned that Mr. Ricchiazzi could be considered ineligible to run for the New York State senate’s 60th district seat.

Ricchiazzi recently sent a “press release” out trying to paint WNYmedia blogger and Carl Paladino supporter Rus Thompson as a democrat:

Monday morning, Ricchiazzi blasted off an email to just about every local media email address he could harvest – even the kid who covers the online-bargain beat for the Channel 2 morning infotainment hour got an email. In it, (see it here in its entirety), Ricchiazzi pleases his new political ally – Ostrowski – by blasting Erie County Republican Party chairman Nick Langworthy for, among other things, endorsing “Democrat Rus Thompson”. (Ricchiazzi’s website is here).

Anyone who knows Rus, even if by name only, can tell you that despite his current BOE status, Rus is about the farthest thing from a Democrat out there.

When dropping out of last year’s mayoral race, Ricchiazzi wrote:

Let’s be honest–a 23 year old, openly bisexual, half-Indian, registered Republican running for Mayor of Buffalo was a long shot.

Like his self-described sexual orientation (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Ricchiazzi is just as undecided about his political affiliation.

Matthew Ricchiazzi was a registered Democrat for most, if not just about all his voting life (six years):

In January of 2009, before President Obama was even inaugurated, Ricchiazzi changed his party affiliation to Republican.

Yet in numerous interviews over the last two years, Ricchiazzi has claimed to be a fiscally conservative, socially liberal “Republican”. Know any of those?

Hell, I’m a bleeding-heart liberal, but also consider myself a fiscal conservative.  Do you know anyone on either side of the aisle that likes high taxes?

I digress.

In his attempt to run for Buffalo School Board and sometime in April 2010, the Erie County Board of Elections sent Ricchiazzi mail which came back undeliverable. At the time, it was discovered Ricchiazzi did not live at the address on Brinton Street he supplied:

Until this morning,  Ricchiazzi was considered an “inactive voter” by the Erie County Board of Elections. His voting record only tallied vote was in one Presidential Election back in 2004, which seems to also be the last time he was a legal resident of Erie County for the length of time needed to run for office.

After graduating from Sweet Home High School, Ricchiazzi attended Cornell University until 2008 and then Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, until a few weeks ago.

Obviously, it’s hard to be a full time student at Cornell and live in north Buffalo. Ricchiazzi’s Facebook status reveals that he was living in Tompkins County as recently as May 15th:

And back in March when he was coming “home to Buffalo Amherst” for spring break to collect petitions that would eventually be deemed invalid for the Buffalo School Board Election:

And in February when he was snowed in during an Ithaca snow storm:


Calls to the Tompkins County BOE confirm Ricchiazzi never registered at his most recent residence near Cornell University. When he filled out his Democrat -> Republican enrollment registration card in January 2009, he maintained his given address on Margaret Drive in Amherst, well outside the 60th Senate District.

Parts of the The NYS Public Officers law place a heavier burden on the residency of candidates as opposed to an average voter.  If challenged in court, Ricchiazzi would have a hard time confirming his residency in the 60th district for 12 consecutive months. Due to the district falling in both Erie and Niagara County, the issue would have to be brought before the State Board of Elections and to State Supreme court in Albany county.

Are we meant to believe that Mr. Ricchiazzi wants to go to Albany to be a legislator, yet cannot be bothered to properly register to vote? Cannot be bothered to vote at all in five years?  Are we meant to believe that he would well represent his prospective constituents, but cannot be bothered to meet (or research) the basic requirements to run for a particular public office?

While Jim Ostrowski denigrates his former allies, calling them “regular office seekers”, his coalition is busy endorsing a kid who in 2 years has run for 3 offices, doesn’t own a home, probably hasn’t paid a property or income tax, and who until today was not registered to vote, doesn’t vote, and quite possibly is now ineligible to run for the office he seeks to hold.

That’s not just sloppy.  It’s lazy and stupid.

New York State Senate: The Anniversary of the Coup

9 Jun

The New York State Senate Democrats pat themselves on the back for, I guess, making incremental, infinitesimal changes to the way in which that anachronistic and needless redundant legislature does business.

When your biggest accomplishments for the year amount to making yourselves a teeny bit less corrupt and more accountable, that speaks for itself.

It still happens to be the place where Pedro Espada is majority leader, and Steve Pigeon is a patronage hire. Good government? Hardly.


Antoine Thompson Deflects the Easy Questions

8 Jun

Check out WGRZ’s Ron Plants trying to ask Antoine Thompson what could possibly be the simplest, most basic question a reporter could ask a useless state legislator.


HT Shredd & Ragan

A Noo Yawk that Noo Yawkezz Could Afawd

26 May

A video that was shown at the NYS Democratic Convention today highlighting eleven reform-minded freshman state Senators.


The website also features a “hall of shame” of state senators who blocked ethics reforms.


26 May
Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator from...
Image via Wikipedia

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

New York’s newest, most junior, appointed Senator is making her bones among the downstate, more liberal wing of the party.  Senator Gillibrand struck a similar theme to what Schumer had said just a few minutes earlier, but she was significantly less long-winded about it.

She stated that the government shouldn’t “balance the budget on the backs of single mothers”.  While the Republicans fought to ensure that credit card companies had an easy way to do business, the Democrats fought for consumer protections.  The Republicans talk tough, but their policies send $1bn per day to foreign countries for our energy needs.

“If we can beat Russia to the moon, we can beat China…” to green jobs and renewable sources of energy.

Senator Gillibrand went on to back up her pro-choice bona fides, call for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and that she will fight not for the powerful, but to ensure “prosperity for all”.

One got the sense, as compared with the reception given to Schumer, that the party faithful aren’t as familiar with Gillibrand as they perhaps ought to be, or would like to be.  She was nominated by downstate names like Reggie LaFayette, the Westchester County party chair, and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Video to come.