Tag Archives: NY26

Things Worse than #LatteSalute

25 Sep

Eliminationist radio station WBEN spent an entire day Wednesday lamenting / concern-trolling the President’s apparently impeachable offense of saluting Marines with a coffee cup in his hand.  Of course, because he’s Obama, it was a latte. But while Tim Wenger’s obsession du jour was n0bummer’s epic disrespect of every troop and all troops everywhere, what sort of thing has WBEN (and the rest of the local media, for that matter), completely ignored? 

How about a former WBEN employee and current sponsor raising money off the severed heads of Americans slaughtered by ISIS? This isn’t the semi-informed lunatic ramblings of some online crank listener – this is an endorsed Republican candidate for Congress. Not once did anyone on WBEN spend a nanosecond condemning this. 

Or how about WBEN’s afternoon drive time shock jock dreaming – literally – of a military coup in Washington, and his idiot commenters trying to out-do each other with eliminationist wet dreams. (Helpful hint: the page is publicly viewable, so don’t whine to me about not blocking the names out. 

That’s some station Tim Wenger has molded into his own image. So, while it’s a daylong horror for Obama – a civilian – to salute Marines whilst holding a coffee cup, it’s perfectly ok to make political hay off American martyrs and to openly advocate for and dream of sedition, treason, and a coup d’etat. Clear? 

Shorter Weppner: #BlameTheHelp

31 Jul

In regard to “infected poors”, our intrepid candidate dons a new pair of clownshoes

You may remember Laura Yingling from a few weeks ago. Weppner chided Yingling  for soliciting photographs of blighted parts of the NY-26 district to “use against Brian Higgins on Twitter and Facebook”

Now, we’re meant to believe that the “infected poor” – actually, it read “infected poors” – Tweet from Weppner’s own Twitter account was actually published “accidentally” because Yingling thought it came from the Heritage Foundation.  

In other words, referring to unaccompanied minor refugee human beings as “infected poors” is ok, so long as the Heritage Foundation does it first?

Weppner then goes on to write about her love of Mexico, despite the fact that the unaccompanied minors at issue are not coming from Mexico, but through it, from places like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Weppner does, however regale us with pictures of her and her husband enjoying Mexico, apropos of just about not a goddamn thing. Except perhaps to transmit the message, ‘some of our best friends are brown and speak Spanish.’ 

“Mariachi Kathy” Via Facebook

Unbelievable is that this is the third or fourth major embarrassment for the Weppner campaign.  First it was the Jerry Zremski piece in the Buffalo News where all of Kathy’s wild and wacky conspiracy theories came to the fore. She subsequently – quickly – scrubbed all evidence of her former, WBEN-cultivated self from the internet. Next, Weppner chided Yingling for the solicitation of blight photos, and now this. 

I went back to the article Weppner/Yingling linked to, and although a bunch of quite hateful people wrote shit about “extortion”, nowhere did I see the words “infected” or “poors”.  I call bullshit. 

For someone running for a serious federal legislative office, this is beyond bush league. I expect better from school board candidates, much less congressional ones. Why on Earth would someone vote for a person whose campaign stumbles from embarrassment to embarrassment, with the staff taking the fall for it? Why would you want to elect someone who makes “careless errors” that are vicious and insulting about young kids coming here for a better life? 

Hell, even though Weppner writes that Yingling tendered her resignation, we don’t know if it was accepted or what. Presumably, Yingling is still in charge of bravely re-Tweeting hateful bullshit she pulls out of the deepest depths of the ultra-right blogosphere under her candidate’s name. 

That “infected poors” Tweet went out because someone affirmatively cut it, pasted it, and hit the publish button. See below – they went so far as to add two hashtags to it, including #NY26. One would suspect that the person who did it bothered to read it first. One would expect that a candidate would have her name on a Google Alert, and find out that the “infected poors” thing was the subject of a post and might be problematic. 

Make no mistake – the “infected poors” Tweet was sent because someone liked it and agreed with it.  It was not a careless error – it was the deliberate and thoughtful endorsement of its sentiment. 

UPDATE: It looks like this is from where Yingling / Weppner got the “infected poors” line: 

Beats me how someone is too dim to figure out that “Populo Iratus” isn’t the same thing as the Heritage Foundation. 

This is what happens when a terrible, ignorant tea party candidate retaining the free services of an ignorant tea party activist. Hilarity would ensue, if it wasn’t all such a sad example of inhumanity. 

Are you an immigrant who sought refuge in America from violence or oppression? How about your ancestors? Denigrating foreigners as diseased subhumans is all too common throughout our history. Kathy from Williamsville is just letting you know how she really feels. 

Amateur-Hour Weppner can’t mariachi her way out of this one. 

The Special Election as an Economic Event

16 Jun

Using very basic systems and economic theory, we could model a region’s economy like this:

This model indicates four basic flows of capital: into the region, out of the region, and the churn of buying and selling within the region itself. Pre-railway and telegraph, when it was relatively difficult to move goods and funds, most of a region’s economy consisted of the churn. A few places of great trade – sea ports and stock exchanges – saw the vast majority of inter-region flow. The interstate and internet accelerated this inter-region flow, yielding today’s world, where you buy books from Amazon, music from iTunes, strawberries from Mexico, and everything else from China. The “buy local” concept would have been comical in 1800 (or even 1900, or 1950) – where else would you buy?

A region gains in wealth when it maximizes its inflow, minimizes its outflow, and has a healthy washing machine in the middle. Thriving modern cities act as magnets of capital (monetary and intellectual, but we’ll ignore the second for this article), and see little of their own trickle away. Everyone wants to build condos in Toronto – do you think all that condo money was locally procured? Likewise, Germany continues to succeed as an exporter of high value goods – capital flows into the country at an amazing rate, as rubber-dogshit making machines fly around the globe.

In Buffalo, we suffer as an attractor of capital. While in exporting we punch above our weight, we have little success in other areas. Outside of our trade with Canada and above average manufacturing sector, our region relies on a greying population for outside funds: social security, national and state pensions, and Medicare (thus our growing healthcare sector). It isn’t long before we are crowing about swimming meets, the bi-focal crowd, and other conventions and the outside dollars they bring as an engine for the future. With a small corporate presence and a generationally stalled economy, there is little to attract institutional outside dollars (note when it does happen, we flip out screaming “They like us!”). This system becomes self-reinforcing, as we then have little venture capital and development dollars for the churn, and our sluggish economy perpetuates. Meanwhile, our output stream remains steady, buying all those strawberries and books.

Which is a long way of getting to this question: is a special election a positive economic event for the region? Ignoring the politics of the candidates, do we gain or lose dollars, as a region, when the nation turns its attention towards us. Outside dollars flooded into the race, to be sure. But they also dissolved into television ads at an alarming rate. Who makes money from this political theater? Are we richer as a region for having it occur?

For my answer I looked in the mandatory Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings of candidates Hochul, Corwin and Davis (Murphy still has not completed any paperwork that I could find – he can’t has serious candidacy). Each filed a quarterly report ending March 31st, a “Pre-Special” before the election, and a number of 48 hour notices that detail last minute donations or loans by the candidates. Here are the broadest strokes, from categorizing each individual donation and expenditure line item, as best as I can discern:

Before we get to the details, let’s look at the big picture. Unitemized donations are too small to require filing of donor names, so I can make no determination from where they came. Also, note that each candidate (even Hochul) loaned themselves a lot of money. That money could have been used to invest in local IT start ups, start a local foundation, eat nothing but Pez the rest of their lives, or move to Costa Rica and live like a king or queen. Anyone is allowed to do with their own money as they see fit, but in this case, they chose to spend it on a political campaign. Second, the vast majority of the money spent goes to media purchases, which are a mixed local/outside bag. But we’ll talk more about that in a moment. Third, these large line items can obscure some major movements. Almost half ($216,300) of Hochul’s outside money came in the last couple days of the campaign, presumably as her potential victory looked more possible. In addition, even her paltry local spending is artificially puffed up, as $18,141 is payroll tax for a paid staff that largely resided in New York City and Washington, DC (I counted their $30,680 in salary as an outside expense). In addition, Davis’ local spending is skewed by a $50,000 legal bill to Jim Ostrowski. But now we’re getting into details, so let’s look at that some more.

The quirks of each line item provide curious insights into each candidate’s campaign, especially in comparison to each other. What lies behind each donation and expenditure? Who are all these retirees and homemakers that can write $2500 checks? Within a couple days of announcing her campaign, Hochul’s family (the Courtney’s) raised $46,300 from Virginia, Maryland and Florida. In contrast, Corwin only got $5000 from her family, and $1000 from her husband’s. Why did Mark Poloncarz give an extra $30 in late April after he had already given $500? Really? Thirty bucks? (Mark, you read us regularly, please do explain – there must be a story.)

Seeing who and where the support lines up can also be fascinating. Yes, the lawyers and unions are with Hochul and doctors and business world with Corwin. But would you guess Gerry Buchheit and Rocco Termini were Corwin supporters as well, while the Benderson’s sided with Hochul? Or that Corwin got donations from a wide swath of her potential district – suburbs of both Buffalo and Rochester and the towns in between – while Hochul’s donations almost exclusively came from central Erie County or completely outside the area?

There are other interesting storylines in the expenditures. Hochul and Davis used Paychex for their payroll work, but Corwin used local(er) Complete Payroll Processing of Perry. Corwin also went to the Amherst Chamber of Commerce for health insurance (Hochul and Davis claimed none), had a much larger local paid staff ($41,321 total versus $2258 for Hochul and $5650 for Davis, minus Ostrowski), bought her business furniture at Prentice Office Furniture on Franklin, used a local graphic designer in the Tri-Main building ($4844 worth), got her copier supplies at a spot on Seneca Street ($432), and used a local photographer ($1750). Meanwhile, Hochul went to chains for such supplies (Best Buy on Transit and Office Depot in Williamsville) or bought it online from California, and Davis claimed none of it at all. Why did Corwin (Albany) and Hochul (Kentucky) have to go out of the area for lawn signs, while Davis claims none? Corwin also curiously bought $2320 worth of stuff from Chris Lee’s old district office, and reimbursed her husband (and her home) for $13,798 worth of phone and internet use. I was going to praise her for using a local polling firm, the only one of the three to do so, but I can’t find much public information on JRK Consulting of Tonawanda, that got $20,000 for their services.

These expense lists are far from complete – not a drop of gasoline, for example, was claimed by anyone But peering into the campaigns from these lists, one starts to develop a sense of their personality. Corwin’s feels business-like. She bought supplies from her business contacts, relied on a larger paid staff (and paid $16,091 in “signing bonuses” to retain them), and took donations from the general business community, while largely bankrolling the investment herself. Hochul’s campaign feels like it was an outside force that happened to her – much more of the money came from wealthy donors in New York City, union and liberal PACs ($154,400, double Corwin’s total PAC money) or from the Democratic fundraising machine ActBlue from Massachusetts ($114,557). Likewise, other than a few cell phones from the AT&T store in Hamburg, and a bit on rent and utilities, she spent her money on air time, consultants and media pro’s in Washington. Her campaign office was largely a pass through for outside funds to flow to DC. Davis, meanwhile, almost paints a sympathetic picture in his expenditures. He spent the vast majority of his money on lawyers ($51,500), consultants ($154,529), polls ($150,000), mailers ($185,218) and radio air time ($1,086,234). Line item after line item is labeled “research” and “surveys.” What was he looking for? What were these people telling him? I see a tired old figure sitting by the Wireless in the last days of the campaign, paying pollers check after check until he hears some good news from the nice man at the top of the hour. 

But while those small story-lines are intriguing, the overriding effect can not be ignored. The vast majority of the money spent by campaigns goes to media buys: radio and mailers for Davis, television for Hochul and Corwin. Hochul used Buying Time Media ($534,300), and Corwin used Greener and Hook ($1,386,863), but both are large firms in Washington that not only produce the commercials, but buy the air time on local stations. This is where our FEC analysis starts to break down. Which stations benefitted? How much did they charge? Do they make a premium on political ads versus the latest local car commercial? How much of each buy actually gets eaten up in consulting fees by BTM or G&R? And what of the $650,000 influx by Karl Rove’s Crossroads PAC (among others), that worked on behalf of Corwin . . . but not really so it isn’t claimed in her records?

The unfortunate conclusion I come to is that my basic question, how much money stays local in an election, is unanswerable in the public records except in the most clumsy and basic way. While tantalizing hints are bandied about at the edges, the real money, in a magnitude to overwhelm any salary or furniture purchase, is obscured in private corporate ledgers and hazy PAC buys. But I believe this conclusion, at least, is fair: to come close to balancing the Local Donation/Outside Expense ledger, our local television and radio stations would have to make an incredible windfall profit to compensate for what appears to be a massive outflow of funds from our region.

The Latest News in #NY26

10 Feb

Within thirty minutes of Rep. Chris Lee’s resignation from Congress, my phone began buzzing with texts and calls from political insiders, hacks and hangers-on with updates on the behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy in the race to replace Lee.

According to the law, the candidates to succeed Lee are chosen by a weighted vote of the county party chairs in the district. The 26th district includes parts of Erie, Niagara, Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Orleans counties. It is a far-flung district that was drawn as a Republican safe haven for former Rep. Tom “Boss Hogg” Reynolds.  For the Republican Party, Erie and Niagara County hold 51% of the weighted vote in the designation vote by the county chairs.  I can’t seem to find the weighted vote breakout for the Democrats in this district but I recall that it is similar or higher.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the formalities…lets get to the feeding frenzy.  I spoke with several Republicans and many Democrats both local and statewide in the last twenty four hours and this is what I’ve gleaned from those conversations.

Not Running Nor Under Consideration:

Carl Paladino

The former NY GOP Gubernatorial candidate is not even remotely under consideration for the designation.  Under no circumstances would the local, state or national Republican Party support his candidacy in this race.  Carl is a proud, lifelong resident of South Buffalo (NY-27) and would need to move into NY-26 to run, which is doubtful.  He is absolutely toxic and since Lee just committed political suicide with topless email photos, it is unfathomable that Carl “Horse Porn, N-Word Email” Paladino would garner any demonstrable level of support.

Chris Collins

The reports are that the current Erie County Executive is not interested in the race.  Several sources close to Collins tell me that the he is focused on running for re-election and a future run for Governor.  While he has a formidable war chest for a Congressional campaign, Collins will continue his laser-like focus on taking things away from “the poors” and destroying the urban fabric of WNY.  As an aside, Collins does not possess a legislative temperament.  The very idea of being just 1 of 435 voices in Congress must sicken him.  The daily compromising, the mixing with the hoi polloi, and the good-nature tickle fights with guys like Eric Massa would drive this egomaniac insane.

Kathy Konst

Former Erie County Legislator has been hard at work trying to get her name out as a candidate.  Reporters who aren’t in tune with our petty local politics might remember Konst as an up and coming reformist legislator. However, that’s no longer the case.  During her ill-fated 2008 state senate campaign against Republican Dinosaur Dale Volker, it was revealed what an enormous train wreck her husband was financially and she was publicly hung out to dry and beaten like a filthy carpet by Volker.  She never recovered.

She turned on the local Democratic Party and basically handed her County Legislature seat to the Grover Dill of local politics, Dino Fudoli.  She was immediately appointed as Commissioner of Environment and Planning under Chris Collins in the least transparent political sellout in recent local memory. She is persona non grata with local and regional Democrats.  In fact, I think it’s more likely that Jimmy Griffin (deceased former Mayor of Buffalo) would win this seat.  Since Konst would need to secure certificates of authorization from Erie County Dem Chairman Len Lenihan and Niagara County Dem Chair Dan Rivera (who share the majority of the weighted vote) Kathy doesn’t have a chance in hell.  All done with that rumor, okay?

The Republican Frontrunners

George Maziarz

Maziarz has been in the New York State Senate since 1995 and is an entrenched Albany politician who maintains appeal with the tea party lunatics and centrist Republicans.  Sources say he has the full support of former Rep. Tom Reynolds who is still a local kingmaker in Republican circles.

During his time in office, Maziarz has demonstrated the kind of tone deaf leadership which has made Albany famous for its epic level of dysfunction.  His “government reform” sensibilities have been on display in recent years.  For example, Maziarz spent $906,831 of our tax dollars on staff expenditures between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009.    In 2009 and 2010, Maziarz raised campaign funds with tutti di tutti scumbag of the New York State Senate, Pedro Espada.  Maziarz is also the leader of a chorus of legislators who denounce “downstate” interests while accepting massive campaign donations from public employee unions, downstate interests, and lobbying groups.  He has been a proponent of generic Republican causes like “lowering taxes” and “lowering taxes”, “protecting the sanctity of marriage”.  Also, “lowering taxes”.  He likes that idea.

Recently, Maziarz was appointed to a cush “lulu” position in the State Senate as Vice President Pro Tempore and serves as a lynchpin of the narrow Republican majority in the senate.  If Maziarz were to accept the designation for NY-26, it would alter the balance of power statewide.  Jimmy Vielkind of the Albany Times-Union has more on the potential side effects of a Maziarz designation.

Jane Corwin

State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin represents the Fightin’ 142nd Assembly District, which covers parts of Erie and Niagara Counties.   Corwin has experience following disgraced Republicans into office, so she has that going for her, which is nice.  Jane defeated Assemblyman Mike Cole in the 2008 primary after Cole was formally censured by the New York State Assembly. He admitted to drinking excessively with a student intern and then spending the night in her apartment.

After a career of working at her father’s company, inheriting money and serving on charitable boards, Corwin served as the Assistant Treasurer of the Collins For Our Future campaign and was rewarded for her support by being pushed into the Assembly seat by the aforementioned Collins.  Did that sound dismissive enough?  Good.  That’s what I was going for.  She has been a reliable conservative vote on issues close to the hearts of right wingers everywhere.  You can check out her ideological positions by clicking here.  Good news for you people who hate the environment, she loves hydrofracking!

Most importantly, as an entitled millionaire who earned her money the old fashioned way, she is the perfect choice for the designation.  She can self fund this special election and she has enough money in the bank to take on whomever she’ll have to face in 2012 when NY-26, NY-27, and NY-28 are collapsed into two after redistricting.

Democratic Frontrunners (Pretty short bench for this race)

Mark Poloncarz

Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz has not stated privately or publicly that he is interested in the race, but he has the name recognition required to start the campaign.  In 2005, Poloncarz won a county-wide office that had been under Republican control for three decades.

Mark has a pretty solid record of fiscal conservatism and good government ethics while developing a reputation as a fighter after nearly four years of daily battles with the County Executive.  Not a lot to go on policy-wise as he is the beancounter for the Erie County and rarely stakes out positions aside from fiscal issues, but Mark is known to be a solid progressive and is popular with the netroots.  He polls very well in the outer suburbs of Erie County and would be a dangerous candidate for any opponent.

Kathy Hochul

In 2010, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul won re-election to her office and is rumored to be interested in the Erie County Executive position as well as the designation in NY-26.  Recent polling data gives her very high marks for likability, name recognition, and credibility.  As Erie County Clerk, she hasn’t taken many positions on matters of public policy, but she has stepped out on occasion to assert herself in the public eye.  Most notably, Hochul challenged Former Governor Eliot Spitzer on his plan to to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.  Hochul is not viewed as a “progressive” by the netroots/activist class, but she is a qualified, professional government executive.  Can she raise the money for the race?  Can she put together the organization required to run in a district as large as NY-26?

Jon Powers

A 2008 democratic candidate in NY-26, Powers lost in a three way primary to local businessman/soup fanatic Jack Davis and environmental attorney Alice Kryzan.  Powers was widely seen as an ideal candidate due to his military experience, educational background and dreamy good looks.  However, after losing the primary, Mr. Powers quickly left WNY for a job with a progressive national security think tank in Washington D.C. and is currently employed as a Special Advisor on Energy to the US Army.

Powers also burned some bridges on his way out of town by not giving up his Working Families Party line to Kryzan after she won the Democratic Primary. This alienated local Democrats and WFP officials alike.  Powers faces a massive uphill climb if he is interested in the race.  Most notably, the perception that he was a “carpetbagger” who parachuted back into WNY in 2008 only to run for Congress, which was solidified when he immediately moved to DC after losing in the primary.  He would need to assemble an organization, raise six figures of money in a hurry and mend some serious fences.  An unlikely candidate.

The Backbench Candidates:

Let’s dispense with the candidates who are just happy to have their name included in the discussion; Assemblyman Jim Hayes (R, Williamsville) Erie County Legislator Ed Rath (R, Amherst), Erie County Legislator Ray Walter (R, Clarence) and Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks (R, Fairport).

Due to the weighted vote favoring candidates from Erie or Niagara County, Brooks starts out with a massive disadvantage but she is a leading compromise candidate.

Hayes is usually rumored to be a candidate when positions open up, but it appears he likes his comfortable position as a high ranking minority legislator in Albany.

Walter and Rath are relative newcomers to elective politics, but if the Collins and Reynolds factions cannot agree on a candidate and Brooks cannot secure support, one of them could emerge as a potential compromise candidate.  Rath, by nature of his Mother’s name recognition and reputation and Walter by nature of his strong right wing fiscal positions, likability and ties to Collins.

Due to her fat bank account and relationship with Chris Collins, I suspect we’ll see Jane Corwin emerge as the Republican candidate and she’ll be difficult to beat.  It looks as if Kathy Hochul will emerge as the Democratic candidate and her only real limitation would be raising enough money to compete with Corwin.

If a respectable candidate is identified who can raise in the neighborhood of $200-500K on short notice, the DCCC will reportedly inject a serious amount of cash into this race.  Even in a right leaning district, a centrist technocrat like Hochul could steal the seat for the Democrats.  So, can Kathy turn around a quick fundraising operation to get the necessary national support?

Did I just write 1800 words about this race?  YOU’RE GOD DAMNED RIGHT I DID! If you read all the way to the end, you get a prize…an autographed picture of Marc Odien!  Please send a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to:

Self Loathing Political Nerds Anonymous

327 Niagara Street

Buffalo, NY 14201