Tag Archives: Sam Hoyt

Downsizing of State Authorities Proposed

9 Jun

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (A-92), Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions (and candidate for Attorney General) and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (A-144), Chairman of the Committee on Local Governments, are co-sponsors of a bill introduced yesterday (A.11106) that would abolish 129 public authorities. The legislation comes after a recommendation by the Authorities Budget Office that these authorities should be dissolved.

This action is a direct result of the historic Public Authorities Reform Act of 2009 and is a significant step in the process of reigning in New York’s 700+ public authorities. The PARA created an independent Authorities Budget Office which was responsible for identifying the authorities to be abolished, representing over 15% of New York’s public authorities.

Assemblyman Brodsky stated, “The Public Authorities Reform Act was the most substantial reform of state government in decades and its practical impacts are immediate. There will be further downsizing the further we go into PARA. This is the first step and there will be others. We’re pleased that progress is being made in implementing whistleblower provisions, reviewing no-bid contracts and other real reforms created by PARA. This is reform the way we promised.”

Assemblyman Hoyt stated, “This legislation goes a long way towards addressing the proliferation of public authorities in New York. The tax payers of New York State for too long have been forced to deal with hundreds of these quasi-governmental agencies that are accountable to no one. This is the first significant step towards finally reining them in.”

Here is the complete list of authorities that would be abolished. Most of them are urban renewal agencies and parking authorities:

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Pigeon

3 May

The truth, they say, is subjective. One can promise to tell what they think to be the truth, but seldom is there only one, correct version of any story of any event.

Now watch this:

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I’m so used to being insulted by this person’s surrogates that it’s fascinating to watch the words come directly from his mouth. G. Steve Pigeon defends himself and takes a swipe at yours truly:

…whatever the bald guy is who likes calling people names and is just a rude and unsuccessful, jealous politician himself who ran for office and was completely, um, uh, no one would elect him to be a dog-catcher, you know he loves to call other people names.

Generally, it would be a privilege to be insulted by Pedro Espada’s patronage hire. Certainly I dish it out, and definitely I can take it. But Mr. Pigeon, you have it all wrong, sir.

Just like the “truth” isn’t defined by how you rebut what Sam Hoyt or Dennis Ward say, my life isn’t defined by any of the personal insults you hurl at me. On the other hand, when I call you a tinpot Machiavelli or a douche, these are categorically and objectively true tidbits of information. When we point out that some recent “reforms” you’ve championed have actually cost the taxpayers more, I am writing things that are objectively true and verifiable.

But back to the insults.

I won’t say never, because I’ve probably slipped here and there, but I cannot recall a single instance where I’ve ever attacked or criticized a political figure for their personal appearance. Not even Domagalski. In Steve Pigeon’s case, I can say I have never launched an attack on his person. This is because I don’t give a shit what he looks like – he could look like Adonis and still be a detestable political figure.

Like most adults, I’m concerned with merit (or lack thereof) – not a politician’s body habitus or characteristics. My distaste for Steve Pigeon stems from his actions – not his looks, so it’s quite telling that the first thing he goes for is to call me “bald”. There is no seriousness there, no substance there, no merit there – just a schoolyard bully who grew up to be an asshole of a political albatross. Unsubstantive, meritless non-seriousness is also how he conducts his politics.

Now, certainly I may be rude, as Mr. Pigeon suggests, especially towards political figures who have little or no objective merit as such. He is correct that I was an unsuccessful politician. Dreadfully so, in fact. So? I tried. I made Mike Ranzenhofer think and defend what amounted to an 18-year record of failure, stasis, and hypocrisy. I didn’t have the money, time, or resources to do it right, but I gave it a shot. But it’s also true that I have no aspirations to political office. So, no – I’m not “jealous” of anyone – especially not MIke Ranzenhofer or his successor, Ray Walter, and my failure as a politician is that, only.

And what would you say I’m jealous of? I’m jealous of people pulling down less than $50 large per year to keep Chris Collins in check and administer only 10% of the budget of the political unit for which they legislate? Maybe that’s how his mind works.

Dog-catcher? I would hope that no one would elect me dog-catcher, mostly because (1) I don’t like dogs; and (2) I am not qualified to be dog-catcher.

Just like Hormoz Mansouri and Jack O’Donnell aren’t qualified to help run the water authority.

So, I’d love the opportunity to interview Pigeon someday and invite him to make these charges to my face and we can have a back-and-forth about what really matters – not my hairline, but stuff like, for instance, “reforms” in the State Senate notwithstanding, we still have a three-men-in-a-room troika dictatorship. I’d like to hear Mr. Pigeon explain why he thinks we need a State Senate at all, if the aim is good government rather than personal political power. I’d like him to defend the growth of the Erie County legislative staff in the name of so-called “reform”.

I don’t care if Pigeon likes what I write about him or his political allies. What matters is that he – and they – read it and thinks it important and influential enough to discuss, and comment on so hatefully.

PolitiFAIL Tourney Results, Day 1

23 Mar

The results from Day 1 of the 2010 WNY PolitiFAIL Tournament are in and some of the results are surprising.

In the first matchup, we had what appeared to be the equivalent of Syracuse vs. Vermont, with Mayor Byron Brown facing off against Delaware District Councilman Michael LoCurto.  Mayor Brown rained FAIL down upon Mr. LoCurto and swamped him early and easily as he cruised to a 255-18 romp.  Mayor Brown now advances to meet the winner of the Demone Smith/Mickey Kearns matchup.  Will we see a rematch of the 2009 Mayoral election in Round 2?

In the second matchup in the City FAIL Bracket, North District Councilman Joe Golombek took on University Heights Councilwoman Bonnie Russell.  This turned out to be a cakewalk for Ms. Russell as she took it to Golombek early and often with her two fisted dose of FAIL; Grassroots Membership and Ethical Scandals.  We thought Joe “Serbian Club” Golombek and his disdain for Sam Hoyt might rile the readership, but the voters seemed to appreciate his big picture thinking and love of sausage.  Russell moves on to face off against the winner of the FAILoff between Deputy Mayor Steve Casey and Rep. Brian Higgins.  She certainly has an uphill battle ahead of her, but we think she might have the FAIL goods to keep it competitive.

In the third matchup and the first from our County bracket, we saw Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinell take on Erie County Legislator and Minority Leader John Mills.  Marinelli’s tenure in office as opposed to Mills’ bump on a log record seemed to be an interesting contrast in styles of FAIL.  This one came down to the wire with Marinelli squeaking out a victory over Mills by a margin of 104-102.  In the end, it appears Mills did not have a big enough record to sit on in order to get a proper seat at the FAIL table.  Marinelli moves on to face the winner of the matchup between Erie County Sheriff Tim “Rosco P. Coltrane” Howard and Erie County Comptroller Mark “Not an accountant, but I have lots of nerdy friends” Poloncarz.

In the day’s final showdown, we had Erie County Executive Chris “Let Them Eat Cake” Collins taking on Erie County Legislator and newly minted Pigeonista, Tim Kennedy.  While we don’t have firm evidence, we did hear that Kennedy texted in his vote while driving.  We were surprised by the closeness of this matchup, frankly.

While Kennedy is the type of fumfering, mildly competent leadership that is the norm in Western New York, we didn’t think he would come close to matching FAIL with Collins and his army of Talking Phone Book executives and administrative bootlickers.  Kennedy got off to an early lead until Collins pulled ahead early in the second half with a barrage of anti-urban proposals and excuses for his incompetent management and leadership of the County Correctional Facilities.  At the half, we hear that Collins was given a pep talk by the UB Center for Industrial Effectiveness which coached him to Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify his FAIL strategy to stay within the bounds of Six Sigma methodology.  His businesslike approach to providing the freshest and most measured dose of FAIL earned him the victory over Kennedy in the waning minutes, 306-287.  Collins moves on to take on the winner of the Barbara “Fat Pension” Miller-Williams and Ray “Rolleyes” Walter showdown.  We expect the BMW/Walter matchup to feature an excessive number of parliamentary missteps followed by excessive sighing.

See you tomorrow!

Sam Hoyt’s Re-Election Announcement

21 Mar

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Something is Better Than Nothing, but Worse than Everything

8 Mar

Albany’s dysfunction is definitely at fault for “killing” the city, as Donn Esmonde calls it. But not for the reasons – or the issue – he cites.

Buffalo developer Rocco Termini has become the official developer by appointment to the court of Mayor Brown in recent years, and without a doubt has taken up and actually completed a number of high-profile projects in the city. His specialty, for which he’s received the most accolades, is to take an abandoned shell of a building and rehabilitate it to something beautiful and useful. Termini is the principal of Signature Development, which offers lots of rehabbed lofts for rent around town. He has cultivated a reputation as a forward-thinking, city-friendly doer, and it’s well-earned.

His two recently announced projects involved complete rehabilitation and renovation of the decade-long vacant AM&A on Main Street, and the Lafayette Hotel Flophouse on Lafayette Square. Both buildings are beautiful grande dames of downtown, both are dead buildings. To renovate both and lurch them into the 21st century would cost almost $100 million apiece.

Because Buffalo is Buffalo, one can’t just plug $100 million into a dead building and expect to get a reasonable return on that investment (See: al-Issa, Bashar). Tax credits and other government incentives need to be part of the financing mix in order for these projects to get done.

Without them, the buildings are vacant and boarded-up.

But the plans for both the AM&A and Lafayette Hotel projects have been halted. Termini blames 2009 Albany legislation that was supposed to ease the path to completion. As Esmonde puts it,

The law was supposed to hand developers the tax-credit help they needed to revive big, historic buildings. Instead, in typical Albany fashion, it turns out we were handed a near-empty bag. The law touted by Hoyt as a cure-all is, we are painfully finding out, missing key pieces that are the difference between a bang and a whimper.

“It’s not even half a loaf,” developer Rocco Termini told me last week. “It’s nothing . . . This law is useless.”…

…Paterson and his bean-counters are to blame for neutering the law over concerns about its costs. That view ignores the bigger picture: Albany’s short-term outlay in tax credits pays off in the long run as people are put to work; as grand downtown buildings are revived and spur other development; as new property tax dollars flow.

Hoyt slammed Paterson’s budget director, Robert Megna, for persuading Paterson last summer to de-fang the tax credit bill. Hoyt said he is trying to persuade Paterson to now sign a full-package tax-credit law, one that does what last year’s law was supposed to: Make it financially doable for developers to revive historic buildings.

A lot of fingers get pointed at Assemblyman Sam Hoyt over this, because he was one of the law’s sponsors, but also because Termini’s high-profile, well-publicized halted projects and pointed criticisms are directed his way. To ignore the fact that it’s an election year and Hoyt is despised by the Mayor, facing a challenge from Golombek, who is seeking Golisano/Pigeon funding, and is, frankly, an easy target because of who he is. You know – a legacy with a checkered past.

You get the feeling that, when it comes to this disagreement and moaning over historic redevelopment tax credits, that you’re only getting one side of the story. Esmonde spoke with Hoyt, and quotes him selectively to make him sound like a feckless milquetoast.

Termini? He may be the savior of the Webb Building and a media darling, but it’s not widely known that he’s a principal in Burke Brothers Construction, which has had its share of housing court issues, and was cited in yesterday’s Buffalo News story about the failures of the city-subsidized home-ownership program.

When Hoyt’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit legislation was passed by the Albany legislature unanimously in both houses, it contained all of the provisions Termini is complaining about. The governor vetoed the bill as too expensive, and he explained to Hoyt that he would sign it into law if this was corrected.

In the end, the veto threat centered around a few important provisions that enabled banks, insurers, and out-of-state investors to buy the tax credits. So, the choice was: pass a watered-down imperfect law, or risk another veto.

Yet since that time, Paterson has signaled twice that he might allow the necessary changes to go through. If made, there would be a huge positive impact on the budget. Once made, shovels go into the ground throughout upstate. The Lafayette and AM&A’s would be among them, but it would hugely benefit all of upstate. Naturally, this puts thousands of people to work, pulling people off unemployment, returning income and sales taxes to the state. At the same time, the expense to the state is deferred as the tax credit only gets paid out after the project is complete which, in the case of the bigger projects, is likely to be several years down the road when, presumably the economy is much healthier.

Esmonde’s petulant retort:

And if a frog had wings, it would not bump its butt. Look, I want this to happen as much as anybody. But I doubt that a politically wounded governor will agree to something that, in the short run, adds an expense when he is facing an $8 billion budget hole. The time, in my view, to get this done right was last summer, and—as we are painfully learning —that did not happen.

Nor would it have.

Now, an imperfect bill may not work wonders for Rocco Termini, but Hoyt has cited some smaller developers who have hired people to help with their workload since the law was passed.

There was a strategy behind all this. After the veto, the choice would have been to do nothing, or to engage in negotiation and compromise. Choosing the latter path was the only way to retain and maintain the leverage to push for the amendments that were lost – the ones about which Termini is complaining. Without the existing law, they’d be pushing a much heavier cart up a much steeper hill. The law itself is targeted to especially defined parts of upstate that are whacked with economic blight. Not just Buffalo, but Rochester, Syracuse, Jamestown, and other places looking for their rust belt revival.

While Hoyt’s strategy to push through the changes to this law that were excised from it during last year’s negotiations at least make sense, the criticisms don’t. Maybe the law as written doesn’t help Termini rehab AM&A and the Lafayette, but there are loads of smaller-scale projects throughout upstate that have been directly helped along by this tax credit scheme.

Eliminating blight and putting people to work is an objectively good thing.

According to Hoyt, there were two choices last summer – compromise or do nothing. Doesn’t it make more sense for Buffalo’s biggest columnist and renowned developer to put pressure on the Governor to make needed changes, and to encourage the local delegation to get behind the bill? I’m not understanding why waging a media war against Hoyt is somehow going to make stuff happen faster or better.

The Cost of Bad Government

9 Feb

Last week, the Empire Center for New York State Policy released their annual report on NY legislative spending and posted it on their government transparency website, SeeThroughNY.  I didn’t see much of any coverage of the release, so I wanted to get this out in front of our readers.

What is the cost of State Sen. Dale Volker?  Well, that’s a tough question seeing as how he has influenced state policy since 1975.  However, between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, Sen. Dale Volker spent $1,082,884 of our tax dollars on staff, rent, travel, telephone service, office supplies and other expenditures.  This news would not be complete without the monthly posting of my Dale Volker meme.

Evidently, Dale is not the only member of our local delegation who has been feasting at the trough.  You might remember “favorite son of the tax cutting tea party group”, Sen. George Maziarz.  He spent $906,831 of your dollars on staff expenditures between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009.  #1 toxic asset indeed…

While 19 of the top 20 spenders on the list are Republicans (undercutting their current demands to cut spending and transfer power back to them), our local Democratic State Senators finished about middle of the pack on expenditures.  State Senator Bill Stachowski edged his way into the Top 40 with a total of $561,817 and State Senator Antoine Thompson finished at #44 and rising with a total of $548, 236.  I’m sure their numbers will be much higher in next year’s report after the Democrats transition into the majority with its higher allocations for staff expenditures.

In case you were thinking it was just the State Senate that has been chowing down on taxpayer dollars, our State Assembly members have been just as hungry.  Assy. Robin Schimminger finished as the sixth biggest spender in the State Assembly with a grand total of $290,919 spent on staff expenditures.  He finished just $2,000 behind everyone’s favorite bad government bogeyman, Shelly SilverAssy. Sam Hoyt comes in at 29th on the list with a total of $219, 435.

Is it really any wonder that our population drain continues unabated?

From 2000 to 2008, in both absolute and relative terms, New York experienced the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.

It’s not just the cost or the taxes, it’s that people feel hopeless and disconnected from power.  Their senators and assembly representatives act with impunity and arrogance, no longer functioning as our representatives, doing the people’s work.  The only action many NY residents feel they have left at their disposal is to simply move to another state.

Each year we go to the polls, elect these same individuals and expect different results.  The problem is YOUR State Senator and YOUR State Assemblyperson.  It’s not the “other guy” or those “vampires legislators downstate”, it’s your representative.  Don’t be fooled when your Senator or Assemblyperson shows up with a four foot check for your volunteer fire department, they’re buying you.  They’re spending a truckload of money to do very little in Albany and the dole out fat lists of member items in order to stay in office.  If there is a viable primary opponent this year, donate to him/her.  Support that candidate with your time and effort, and then hold them accountable while they are in Albany.

The only way things will change is if we make them change.

We deserve better.

Mandate Relief ? !

12 Nov

From a press release received today:

Assemblymember Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) announced that the Legislature passed his bill providing mandate relief for municipalities (A.2 Extraordinary Session Assembly Bill) that will streamline government, cut wasteful spending, and save taxpayers millions…

…Hoyt’s legislation, one of two bills voted on during Tuesday’s special session, would reduce the cost of local government through state mandate-relief and increased flexibility for local governments to empower municipal leaders to find operational efficiencies. Specifically, this bill would:

· Reduce the minimum number of municipal corporations needed to establish a health insurance cooperative from five to three;

· Facilitate highway shared services agreements among municipalities, and between municipalities and state agencies;

· Allow one public health director to serve more than one county;

· Increase the local competitive bidding threshold for all contracts for public work involving an expenditure of more than $20,000 to $35,000

· Authorize the Municipal Bond Bank Agency to purchase municipal bonds for public improvements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and allow them to issue pooled municipal bonds to achieve lower interest rates;

· Treat municipal employees the same as private sector employees by prohibiting them from seeking recovery against a public employer for damages otherwise covered by insurance; and

· Protect parties to the settlement of tort claims from certain unwarranted liens, reimbursements and subrogation claims.

“This legislation will enable all units of local government to accelerate economic development projects in both the public and private sector. It will provide greater efficiencies and lower the cost of government at the local level,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “As sponsor of this governmental reform measure, Assemblyman Hoyt was instrumental in leading this bill through a complicated legislative process, and county leaders appreciate his tireless efforts to make this happen.”

“I am committed to reducing the excessive and unnecessary tax burden currently borne by working families across this state, which is why I fought to create a new law earlier this year that will enable people to reduce the size of their local governments. That law, combined with this one, are important to streamline our government, give municipalities greater flexibility, and put more money in people’s pockets instead of paying for wasteful, unnecessary services,” Hoyt concluded.

Like an Albanian Blood Feud

31 Mar

Is the fight between Steve Pigeon and Sam Hoyt. A mailer such as this outside of an election cycle? Pretty much unprecedented.

Sam Hoyt on High Speed Rail Part III

11 Mar

How we get the money, how we get it built, and the Central Terminal:

Sam Hoyt Discusses New York High Speed Rail, Part 2

10 Mar

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Yesterday, I posted the the first part of our extensive discussion with NY State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D-144) about the proposed high speed rail project across Upstate New York.  Since I posted that video, Governor David Paterson held a press conference in Albany to announce a $10.7BN plan for high speed rail construction across New York State.

The Plan presents an inventory of freight and passenger rail system infrastructure needs in New York State totaling more than $10.7 billion during the next 20 years. The Plan also presents trends in rail freight and passenger use and was the focus of considerable public review, including a 45-day public comment period and public workshops held last summer in Buffalo, Binghamton and New York City.

The Plan outlines priorities for funding consideration from the $9.3 billion dedicated for Intercity Rail in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the reauthorization of the Federal Surface Transportation Act which is due October 1, 2009 and for the development of the next State transportation plan, which will succeed the current plan following the 2009-10 State Fiscal Year.

With that announcement as a backdrop, here is the second installment of our Hoyt discussion which covers how New York will pay for high speed rail and the history of the plan that was unveiled today.  We have another installment of this discussion to follow.