Tag Archives: scandal

Dennis the Assemblyman

24 Dec


(Sung (more or less) to the tune of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

You know Cole and Fossella, Lopez, and Chris Lee,

Spitzer and Massa and Weiner – those three!

But can you believe,

the skeeziest claims come to be

 

Dennis

Dennis the Cheektowagan,

has a very cushy job.

He hires pretty women,

and jokes around about his knob. 

 

Dennis’ young accusers,

say that he’s a pre-da-tor.

One says his office camera,

stored photos that he took of whores!

 

He told one girl that he likes butts, 

and asked her to sleep over. 

Invited one for a “massage”,

as per the court disclosure.

 

All of the Cheektowagans

used to throw their votes to him.

Now they won’t vote for Dennis,

everything is pretty grim

 

Three twenty-somethings lawyered up,

their claims will make you groan.

One was sent a video 

showing Dennis getting blown!

 

Dennis the Cheektowagan, 

said to one girl, “may I please fuck you”? 

Now he’s a statewide story,

his Albany career is through!

The Coopers, Formerly of Lovejoy

16 Apr

Let’s dispense for a moment with the “it’s the people” canard about why Buffalo is great – the City of Good Neighbors. 

The reality is that some people are great and neighborly, and others aren’t. Buffalonians are no more or less great or neighborly than any other Americans. Sorry, but you’re not special. 

This comes into stark view as we find out about the violent racist harassment that drove a Black family out of Lovejoy last week. When you have a lost generation of people who can no longer rely on steady industrial work in now-dormant or departed facilities, you get anger and resentment. Young, angry, and resentful people develop irrational hatreds and sometimes act out on them. 

That socioeconomic fact is, however, no excuse. The Coopers of Lovejoy have every right to live wherever they please, without fear of constant harassment from small-minded racists. The Buffalo News stories (here and here) about the issue were well done and provided extraneous details, such as the muttering of racial epithets within a News photographer’s earshot. 

Neighbors thought the family was a “gang” because, well, the Coopers are a large Black family. 

We shouldn’t be tolerating pogroms in 2012 in Buffalo, and another matter comes into stark view. Where is our political leadership on this issue? Rich Fontana is the city councilman from Lovejoy, and he laid blame on the victims

“The family was originally harassed, but when they called in other family members for protection, they turned the situation upside down, and they became the aggressors by sending two Lovejoy youths to the hospital and robbing fast food delivery people,” Fontana said. “After that, I got involved and told both sides to stop the aggression. It was calm until 4:30 this morning.”

Cooper took issue with Fontana’s assessment.

She said that white youths and adults threw rocks and bricks at one of her sons and a nephew, prompting family members to fight back, adding that it occurred after months of racial slurs. “It wears on you,” she said.

As for the allegations of fast food thefts, Cooper said no one at her home ordered the pizza or Chinese food and that no one on her porch attempted to take it.

But the delivery workers filed police reports late Tuesday night, with one claiming an order of pizza and chicken wings was snatched from him and the other reporting that he managed to flee with the Chinese food before it could be taken.

So, the Coopers certainly didn’t find any help or sympathy from Fontana. It’s their fault someone pranked them by ordering food for them. It’s their fault they fought back against harassment. Yet that contradicts this: 

“I’m telling all the residents and every kid I can pull into my arms to stop the attacks, unless you’re attacked first. You do have the right to defend yourself, but don’t be the aggressor against anyone in the neighborhood,” [Fontana] said.

Well, too late. The Coopers moved away. Mayor Brown got briefly involved, but this was an opportunity for him to use his bully pulpit for good. Seeing no ribbons to cut, he has shown zero leadership on yet another critical issue facing the city. 

Good people are good, and bad people are bad – and they come in every hue, from every nation. One would have thought that, in 2012, we’d all be on the same page with that. And in Buffalo, we reserve our outrage for important matters, like footballers’ criticisms of our hotels and the giggles of a different Cooper – Anderson, of Manhattan. 

Baum: You’ve Been Served

22 Nov

I actually interviewed at the Steven Baum foreclosure mill last year. I knew they did foreclosure and collections work, but didn’t know the full nature of what they did. I answered an ad for a litigation attorney, dressed up for it, and met with two women who were dressed in sweatshirts and jeans.

They asked what I liked about being a lawyer. I replied that I enjoy representing and helping a diverse roster of clients through a difficult time.  I like using my mind, my research and writing skills, and the fact that every day is different – some days you’re in court, some you’re in depositions, and on other days you’re just pushing papers around. As far as trying cases, it’s simply a fun thing to do, to direct your half of that production for a jury.

The women explained that they don’t try cases there, “litigation attorney” ad notwithstanding. Every day consisted of a lawyer drafting identical boilerplate documents and managing a huge roster of foreclosure actions, mostly from the comfort of their own office. You don’t meet your clients – you just deal with banks and roll the cases through the system, one by one.

Having indirectly expressed the fact that I hated that sort of daily sameness, I didn’t expect a call back, nor did I receive one.

With the news yesterday that the now-embattled Baum firm is closing in the wake of scandals involving not only a tasteless and hateful Halloween party, but an allegedly predatory way of doing business, the awkward failure of that job interview was retrospectively awesome.  The Baum firm appeared to be a bad actor, and its way of doing business was coming back to haunt it. A lawyer friend of mine sent this to me:

Several years ago, I had my first case with the Baum firm. The residents in a three or four unit apartment complex had found a notice of petition and petition for a post-foreclosure eviction on the foyer stairs in their building.  None of them were served with the pleadings, nor did they receive the 10-day notice of the pending action. All of the papers were made out as against the pre-foreclosure owner/landlord, naming him as a resident of the property, along with his wife, a neighbor and any number of “John Doe” respondents.

When I called the Baum firm, the lawyer I spoke with (I forget the name) was adamant that service was proper and wanted to focus solely on how we could get my people out with a minimum of fuss. They had affidavits of service showing someone served the property owner (who had moved to South Carolina about three years ago), his wife (ditto) and the woman who lived at a next door address for (I believe) at least a decade, all as residents of the subject property.

I objected to this purported service, in our conversation, stating that none of my people had received papers and none of the named people resided in the property. The attorney I spoke with stated, basically, that he had affidavits of service so the action was going forward.

It wasn’t, per se, improper. He did have the proof of his case and it was on me to make the objection. If we had gone to court, I would have, and I wonder how it might have worked out. Instead, all of my people ended up leaving for new housing as the landlord was letting utility service lapse prior to the scheduled court date.

As a lawyer, though, I feel that I can’t just plow ahead. My clients sometimes lie and sometimes they don’t know the truth. If someone brings up a major issue in the case I’m working on, I feel it’s my professional and ethical duty to react appropriately. That might include being noncommittal to opposing counsel but researching behind the scenes. But it shouldn’t mean disregarding what I’m told and turning a blind eye to alleged abuse of process service or improperly commenced proceedings. The willingness of this Baum attorney to base a case on clearly fraudulent affidavits of service gave me an initial impression of this firm that I feel is only proven by all the news stories I keep seeing about their ongoing conduct.

If you take a look at the images that accompany the linked-to stories about the now-infamous Halloween party, you’ll note that the Baum employees were specifically mocking foreclosure defendants who claimed not to have received service of process – a key issue in any such case.

However, I’m torn on this one. I’d rather have seen Baum enter into a deal with Attorney General Schneiderman to pay a fine and reform the way it does business – to work to modify notes to keep people in their homes, with the understanding that abandoned homes, bank-owned foreclosures, and homelessness are to be avoided if possible. Because ninety people are losing reasonably well-paying white-collar jobs here in western New York, I’m not cheering the demise of this firm – yes, there’s a poetic justice with respect to the heartless and unfunny people who mocked the homeless and the victims of the foreclosure crisis, but that wasn’t representative of all the Baum employees who work there now.

I guess I wish those individuals the best, and hope they learned something from the experience.

Clarence Thomas’ Weinergate Breather

8 Jun

While we’re all agape over Weiner sexting, a sitting Supreme Court justice stands accused of not just the appearance of impropriety, but colossal conflicts – and potential conflicts – of interest.

And for those of you who like the Weiner scandal, let’s don’t forget that Clarence Thomas likes porn, makes jokes about pubic hair on a can of coke, and was otherwise sexually inappropriate with his former co-workers.

I’m astonished that a sitting Justice on the highest court in the land can’t get it together to properly make financial disclosures dating back to 1997.

“It has come to my attention,” Justice Thomas wrote Monday to federal officials, “that information regarding my spouse’s employment required in Part III B of my financial disclosure report was inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”

Remember when Geithner got in trouble for underreporting, then amending tax returns because he used TurboTax? What’s Thomas’ excuse?

Anthony Weiner Asplodes

6 Jun

He shouldn’t have sexted, sure. He especially shouldn’t have lied about it. He shouldn’t have denied it for a solid week. He is such a strong progressive voice in the Congress, and is among the most vocal critics of Republicans and their policy. He may not have resigned, and he will stand for re-election next year where this sexting issue will be front and center. It is, I think, right to let his constituents decide whether he merits their further support, but it wouldn’t be a horrible thing if Weiner resigned at this point, either.

The guy is damaged goods. For now.

Because until today none of the images could conclusively proven to be Weiner, I withheld commenting on it in any substantive way. In the end, the images are of him and he sent them and he could have just admitted it last week when they came out. At least Chris Lee had the wherewithal to know to quit while he’s ahead and get out of public office before the tranny hunting came to light. Weiner didn’t have the same self-awareness to come clean knowing there might be more out there.

Had he done that, it would have just been about sexting. Now it’s about lying – to lots of people. Chris Lee had more class than Anthony Weiner.

And that trainwreck of a press conference. Weiner was late. The smug, unctuous Breitbart hijacked it for 13 minutes taking questions, eagerly awaiting his redemption after so many lies. He got it. He even got an apology.  When Weiner finally took the podium, he was contrite, teary-eyed, candid, and too late. He took questions for what seemed like a painful eternity.  The press conference that Breitbart had hijacked turned quite quickly into an Anthony Weiner therapy session.

As David Frum tweeted, “What I learned from the Wiener press conference: sexting is not the only form of narcissistic exhibitionism.”

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I think the idea was that after a week’s worth of running, he was going to stand there like a man and take every question. He’d stand there, alone and ashamed, and answer questions as impertinent as why wasn’t his wife on the stage, and that he was pretty sure all the women involved were of age. Ugh.

Each one of his answers will edit down very nicely in myriad attack ads.

The whole thing was a farcical distillation of how idiotic this country has become. If it’s not Sarah Palin’s painful mangling of the ride of Paul Revere, it’s some egotistical lean congressman showing off his pecs to strangers. But he stood there – he stood there until Howard Stern Show head writer Benjy Bronk asked Representative Weiner whether he had chubbed up for those pictures or if he was fully erect.

Weiner is right to let his constituents decide what should happen to him in 2012. Perhaps he should consider resigning now and then running for the special election. It kills two birds with one stone – it shows contrition for lying and covering up, but also lets his constituents hold the reins as in a vote-of-confidence. Malfeasance + (time x contrition) = Americans are historically forgiving. In the meantime, minority leader Nancy Pelosi will be initiating an ethics investigation into all of this.  Weiner has a reputation for being brash and obnoxious, so perhaps this doesn’t harm him as much as it might some other person.

And for the Republicans who are gloating – David Vitter. John Ensign. Larry Craig. Let’s not gloat too hard. K? Weiner isn’t busy going to Congress to moralize about sex, so he may be a liar and a stupid freak, but he’s not a moralizing hypocrite, FWIW.

It’s a very sad day for the Weiner family, indeed. I think losing Weiner’s voice in Congress – and losing that voice’s stature – makes it devastating for the country, and for the causes Weiner believes in.

Jack Davis Campaign Staffer By Day, Male Escort By Night

14 Mar

Campaigning for a congressional seat is serious business; Congress is serious business.  It behooves us, the people, to avoid sending irresponsible dummies to represent us in Congress if at all possible. For instance, knowing what we know now, perhaps more people would have refused to vote for former Rep. Chris Lee (R – Clarence/Disgraced).

Coming on the heels of Lee’s epic, half-day-long self-immolation at the temple of Craigslist’s finest “passable TS/CD”, a gaggle of people are clamoring to run for a seat that could very well be redistricted out of existence next go-around. The Republicans have already selected Jane Corwin to run for the NY-26 seat, and marginally-more-conservative Iraq War veteran David Bellavia is coming at Corwin from the right.  The Democrats waited until there was an election called to begin their selection process in earnest.

Regardless of whom the Democrats select, there will be a fourth candidate – Jack Davis of the loony party. Davis, who couldn’t get elected in 2004, or again in 2006 in the wake of Tom Reynolds’ involvement in the Mark Foley congressional page sex scandal, or even make it through the primary against Jon Powers and Alice Kryzan in 2008, figures that the 4th time’s the charm. He’s reconfigured his website, hired the Clownshoes Political Consultancy, Ltd, got himself on the Twitters, and even has a solitary Facebook fan.

But when someone runs for Congress – especially a seat made vacant due to sex scandal, you’d figure that the candidate would properly vet his campaign staff and weed out … well, weed out the male prostitutes.

Last week, ads began popping up on Craigslist and other free online classifieds like Backpage seeking campaign workers for a campaign starting March 10th. Prospective employees were asked to call “Jay” at a number with a 303 area code; Colorado.  Here’s one from backpage that’s still cached in Google:

The ads, while cached, have since been quickly scrubbed by the person who posted them when people started connecting the dots. Here’s the Craigslist ad that appeared in the Buffalo section – again featuring Jay with a 303 area code:

That ad still appears, but instead urges people to call Jay at a 716 area code. “Jay” at that 303 area code is named Jay Lasher, whose political provenance isn’t clear through Google searches; it’s hard to fathom why he was selected to do the hiring for a nascent political campaign. Here’s his MySpace profile, which now sports a different name:

Here’s the top of his Facebook profile, which has since seen its name changed and information locked down:

Here’s how it looks today, with the same Palin profile image, but the same changed name as the MySpace profile, in what appears to be a clear effort to conceal.

So, what’s all this about male prostitution, you ask? Well, click to enlarge this wholly different ad that Lasher evidently took out last year through Backpage.com. Note the inventive transformation of that same 303 phone number. His email? “jay4massage”. He has strong hands that know how to be soft and the desire to make this an event you’ll never forget.  I wonder if that’s the pitch he gave Jack Davis about collecting petition signatures?

Click to enlarge

Lasher also apparently took out this ad in “CityVibe”, offering escort services and massage. Again, same phone number, same 303 area code, and the lanky, long-haired guy in the image closely resembles the profile image in Lasher’s MySpace profile:

Click to enlarge

Stamina, drive, and “strong hands” that “know how to be gentle”.

The following ad that Lasher evidently took out is particularly unsafe for work and quite sexually explicit.  Again, it features the name “Jay” as in “jay4massage” and the same 303 area coded number.

The first image shows the information; his phone number, his email address, and the special and stamina-y services he offers.

Click to enlarge

Here’s the second part of the ad, which reveals his “strong hands”.

Click to enlarge

Note especially the fascinating disclaimer:

Click to enlarge

Lastly, three graphic ways of proving that the ad is “NOT an offer of prostitution!”

We’re not passing judgment on homosexuality or sensual massage or happy endings or whether prostitution should be legal. None of those philosophical issues matter.  Jay Lasher is, as far as we’re concerned, free to pursue any employment he wants whether it’s being a male escort or getting petitions for the execrable Jack Davis. (Frankly, the former may be more morally correct than the latter).

What matters here is that xenophobic newly-minted tea partier, former Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-nutter Jack Davis has demonstrated such poor judgment and political self-awareness that he hired a guy off the street to run his petition effort who happens to have recently hired himself out as an erotic masseuse, claiming not to be  a male prostitute, despite adding pictures of his erect penis to his “massage” ads.  Literally anyone with a rank knowledge of how to use Google could have vetted Jay Lasher a bit better.

On Friday, WNYMedia editor Chris Smith emailed David DiPietro, (who is officially employed by the Jack Davis campaign) and asked him if he was aware that someone named Jay Lasher with a 303 area code telephone number was soliciting paid canvassers on behalf of the Davis campaign.  DiPietro replied, “Jack does have an outside firm helping with petitions along with a number of volunteers.  I do not know the ‘Jason’ you are talking about, but I am not directly involved in the petition part of the campaign.  I will find out tommorrow (sic).  It is too late tonight.  The 303 number does sound familiar.  I’ll let you know.”

Calls made to Lasher’s 303 number were, likewise, not answered or returned.

Click to enlarge

After two days of waiting for that response, Smith again emailed DiPietro and campaign attorney Jim Ostrowski for comment on the specific matter of Lasher’s alleged masseuse-cum-escort side-job, we are still awaiting an official reply.  This morning, in response to this active Craigslist ad enjoining people to call “Jay” at a 716 number about working in the campaign office, Smith called asking to speak with Jay, Jeremey, Jason, and any other “J” name he could think of, ending in “Lasher”.  The woman who answered confirmed that the number was, in fact, the Davis campaign’s office, but that no one named “Jay” worked there, or had ever worked there.  A follow-up call revealed an outgoing voice mail message featuring a male voice asking people who are calling about the “ad” to leave their information.

If this is how Davis goes about hiring campaign staff, whom exactly will he hire should he go to Congress?  It’s about smarts and responsibility.

The voters of the 26th Congressional district have suffered through Jack Davis’ moneyed temper tantrums three times already, and each time has been an utter disaster. He’s alienated everyone who supported or helped him in those efforts, and has become a grumpy, reclusive, immigrant-hating Monty Burns who thinks he can buy himself a Congressional seat.

Just say no to Jack Davis, his petitions, their carriers, and his final quixotic exercise in self-aggrandizement.

Governor Material

13 Mar

The Buffalo News found several people to go on the record and accuse Carl Paladino of being a deadbeat.

(What is it about megalomaniacal western New Yorkers with Napoleon complexes packing heat?)

The Buffalo News today reports that recent gubernatorial loser and wealthy local malcontent Carl Paladino allegedly owes thousands of dollars to myriad campaign staffers and vendors. The man who pledged to spend $10 million apparently borrowed $3 million from “unnamed sources”, owes thousands to average people trying to make a living, and has apparently reacted to them in malicious and unfair ways. At least a few promise to sue, and one threatens to dime him out to the state bar grievance committee.  He allegedly owes $8,000 to Michael Johns, who worked Tea Party outreach, he reportedly owes William Rey about $5,000 for video production. He allegedly owes Tim Suereth $6,300 for expense reimbursement.

Others due money in amounts ranging from $1,200 to about $35,000, include an attorney, a researcher, and a half-dozen campaign staffers and media producers, according to the former campaign aides, consultants and vendors.

Several of those owed money described a frequent pattern of behavior by Paladino when he was approached for payment.

Paladino at first failed to respond, and then offered a disputed history of the terms originally agreed upon. Paladino sometimes contended that, regardless of terms, he paid people what he felt they were worth, the former aides and consultants said. And, they added, Paladino often became insulting and confrontational.

“He seems to be picking fights with people he owes money to and not paying,” Suereth said. “He’s looking for every reason to not pay people he owed money to at the end of the campaign.”

Perhaps the lede was buried, because Paladino‘s own former campaign manager, Michael Caputo, claims that he’s owed $38,000, but more importantly:

Caputo has said in the past that most of the fees he received were subsequently spent on legal, research and media services related to the campaign.

I’m no expert on New York State’s campaign finance laws, but that doesn’t seem completely Kosher. Disclosure rules exist to promote disclosure.

Paladino, who has become a bizarre and paranoid local cross between Sarah Palin and Charlie Sheen, took to Facebook to excrete the following:

You received a message on your blog from an unidentified, disaffected campaign malcontent who has no regard for truth or facts and you think you have a scoop.  You don’t.  There are people who didn’t get paid for good reason.  Everyone who deserved to be paid was paid.  They can go to court if they have a complaint.  What business is it of yours?  It’s a civil matter.

Well, what “business it is” is that these people went to the News to voice their complaints, and they were particularly brave in that they used their own names and accused Paladino of very specific charges. Paladino ran for governor, and the conduct of his campaign is newsworthy because of the public nature of campaign finance laws and disclosure, but it details his demeanor.  You can tell a lot about a person about how he conducts his business, and how he treats those who work for him. Paladino treats his vendors and campaign employees like disposable pieces of garbage whom he can cheat, and force them to sue him to be made whole.

Remember if you write something and have actual knowledge that what you write is not true, it obviates the need to prove malice even for a public person.  In any event I believe we can prove malice.  I caution you to be careful.  Don’t for a minute think that I won’t haul you into court and subpoena every e-mail and document you, spineless and Evans ever wrote about me.  I can’t wait to depose the three of you.  You better not destroy the records.  Judges don’t like people who do that.

Naturally. The bully with a law firm threatens to sue. The problem here for Paladino is that “malice” in defamation jurisprudence isn’t defined as “being mean” or “hating Carl”.  He’d have to prove to a jury that the Buffalo News published false facts in an article without regard to their truth or falsity.  The article itself reveals that this charge must fail, as the writer spoke with people who got stiffed and proved it, and did so on the record.

Furthermore, discovery runs both ways for Mr. Paladino, and at the heart of any defamation litigation is the supposition that the plaintiff’s reputation has been harmed or assailed.  Therefore, Mr. Paladino puts his reputation at issue in the case, and it is itself subject to discovery.  I’m sure the News’ lawyers would likewise relish the opportunity to depose Mr. Paladino, and he had also better not engage in any spoliation of evidence; not because “judges don’t like people who do that”, but because it’s improper and illegal.

You sit in a big room with many people who don’t respect or like you or your fearless editor and publisher and they watch what you do.  They are good people with integrity and honor and they want the best for their community.  They don’t like elitism nor do they like editorializing on the front page.  Truth is truth.  Give it up Jim.  You are a messed up dude.

Well, no. Jim Heaney isn’t a “messed up dude”.  He’s a local reporter who got a juicy tip, followed up on it, verified the facts, and printed them. Just because Mr. Paladino doesn’t like the content of those articles doesn’t make them editorials. Also contained in Paladino‘s clumsy threat-letter is dicta explaining that the author appreciates the coverage he gets from Business First and Buffalo Rising. Yet it’s becoming clearer by the day that Paladino “leads” by threatening people. He surrounds himself by sycophants, and bullies everybody else.

Until now, western New Yorkers were happy to say Carl was like their crazy uncle. As the facts come out, it would appear that his personality is more sinister than that. Refusing to pay vendors, unilaterally abrogating agreements, forcing people to sue him to be made whole, then making threats against those who complain, aren’t the ways in which legitimate businessmen behave. It’s not how your crazy uncle behaves. It’s more sinister than that. Frankly, if Paladino is on speaking terms with Buffalo Rising and Business First, then those two outlets aren’t doing their jobs.  On principle, I don’t knowingly or intentionally do business with this person.  The rest of western New York, now knowing how he operates and how he treats his underlings and vendors, should do the same.  The same goes for anyone seeking or receiving political support or funding from him. Choices matter.

Buffalo News Peddles Rumors About Chris Lee

12 Feb

Since our inception in 2004, we have received several public and private admonishments from writers and editors at The Buffalo News about the way we report and opine on the news of the day.  The undercurrent of all those critiques has been that they were “responsible” journalists who did not traffic in rumors, innuendo, or off-the-record allegations.  Implying, of course, that WNYMedia and other online outlets were irresponsible and amateurish. The tongue clicking and “tsk-tsks” which have emanated from One News Plaza over the years have entertained us.

Today, we return the favor.

In this morning’s edition, Jerry Zremski and Steve Watson wrote what is essentially a hit piece on Former Rep. Chris Lee (R, Chippenfail).  It reads like a “story” one would find on the execrable Joe Illuzzi’s website, or in a cheap tabloid.

About halfway into the article titled “Alleged womanizing by Lee has a history”, Zremski writes,

No concrete evidence has surfaced that Lee, a Republican from Amherst, has cheated on his wife, Michele, with whom he has a young son.

However, that did not stop the writers from giving us a full story of unconfirmed and unsubstantiated rumors about the man.

And funny pictures...

WNYMedia has a reputation as a left-leaning website known for taking on Republican politicians and public figures, but we simply do not publish personal rumors or blind items on this website.  If we did, dozens of local politicos (Democrat and Republican alike) would be reading the things we hear about their personal lives.

We only publish stories if someone is willing to go on the record or we have two direct sources confirming the story, not some collected hearsay curated from various media sources.  Furthermore, we’d only do so if it’s remotely newsworthy – that we’ve engaged in an analysis where we’ve balanced the likely harm that might come from publicizing the information versus the public’s right to know, and how relevant the information is to something of public – not just prurient – interest.

Not one name is mentioned. Not one concrete allegation is made, or verified.  At least the New York Post’s article got a little specific. In fact, this spoof website is a nice interpretation of Zremski’s article.

It is clear through reading Zremski’s meta-story about the various allegations other media outlets have alluded to, that neither he nor Watson have direct sources on Lee’s personal proclivities.  Rather than drumming up the story themselves with some feet-on-street reporting, this article serves as a “Help Wanted” piece soliciting locals to share their stories about Lee banging cocktail waitresses and hairdressers, which can then be reported on the record.  It rehashes off-the-record rumor and unsubstantiated hearsay from a long-ago failed candidate’s oppo research.

If we had published something about Chris Lee similar to what the Buffalo News put out on the newsstands, we’d be rightly pilloried as smut-peddling internet hacks, and the pro journos at the News would look down their collective nose at us as being further evidence of how untrustworthy those online outlets like WNYMedia.net or Gawker are.

Yet, the two biggest political scandals of the past twelve months involving local politicians – Carl Paladino’s and Chris Lee’s weird emailing proclivities – were broken by those very online outlets.

What the News did today was cheap, lazy journalism – a backhanded attempt to solicit a scoop – and Margaret Sullivan should be embarrassed that it was published by her newspaper.

Party Animal

11 Feb

HT Marquil at EmpireWire.com

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:

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