Tag Archives: scandal

How To Not Be In Politics

25 Mar

So…I guess Rick Snowden’s involvement in local politics is pretty much all done?

Deep Thought

9 Mar

How soon before we always surround the word “suicide” with quotation marks when referring to the Erie County jail system?

It’s Come to This

9 Mar

HT Elizabeth Benjamin at Daily Politics

Did He Keep His Socks On?

25 Feb

Looks like Governor Paterson has his own State Police/influence issue.

Evidently, an aide of his beat up a woman, and the victim complained in court that members of the governor’s state police detail had been pressuring her to drop the charges.

She told the police that Mr. Johnson, who is 6-foot-7, had choked her, stripped her of much of her clothing, smashed her against a mirrored dresser and taken two telephones from her to prevent her from calling for help, according to police records.

The woman was twice granted a temporary order of protection against Mr. Johnson, according to the proceedings in Family Court in the Bronx.

“I’m scared he’s going to come back,” she said, according to the proceedings, in which a court referee at the initial hearing noted bruises on the woman’s arm.

Some Democrats are asking Paterson to suspend his campaign or even resign. Denise O’Donnell, whose office oversees the State Police, resigned today in outrage over the imbroglio.

New York and her politicians never disappoint to disappoint.

Worst Politician Ever?

8 Feb

In the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s race, I think we may have found the absolute worst person ever to run for office.

Scott Lee Cohen, allegedly abused anabolic steroids, displayed fits of rage and forced himself sexually on his wife before their divorce, court documents reviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Cohen also allegedly skipped child-support payments at the same time he was investing his own money — a total of more than $2 million — in his successful bid to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. His ex-wife, Debra York-Cohen, alleged just two months ago that he owed her nine months worth of back child support totaling $54,000 for their four children.

York-Cohen described life with the millionaire pawnbroker as “pretty unbearable” and said she lived “in constant fear of him,” according to a May 2005 order of protection she filed in the divorce case.

BUT WAIT! There’s more!

Cohen can’t adequately explain the circumstances surrounding an October 2005 domestic-battery arrest that the Sun-Times revealed new details about Tuesday night.

In that case, a prostitute with whom Cohen was living alleged he held a knife to her throat. He said his former live-in girlfriend called police in retaliation for him having her arrested on a property-damage charge for destroying his apartment months earlier.

“I never knew her as a prostitute. She was a massage therapist,” Cohen said on WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight.” “She may have had marks, but if there were, they were done by her. And if we can find her, we will have her [explain that].”

This is the prostitute massage therapist in question:

It might be best to just let Mr. Cohen explain himself…


Just a day after promising that he wouldn’t step down, Cohen held a resignation press conference at a Northeast Chicago bar that crossed the line into epic.  Yes, that’s his son sprawled on the table, bawling for the cameras.


The reason I’m posting about this?  Well, as a former resident and political op in Chicago, I still follow this stuff.  Corruption and FAIL in Chicago politics makes our tedious little turf battles seem so small and mindless.

Also, this is incredible theater and speaks to a fundamental lack of accountability when running for office if the media is asleep at the wheel.  Cohen sold himself as a “green entrepreneur” who was essentially self-funding his own race, but the media didn’t really vet him until after he won the primary.  Turns out he was a deadbeat dad and a pawnbroker with limited success in a separate enterprise as a “green entrepreneur”.  Sure, there were some details about his past which were detailed in the media, but they were never really investigated until this past week, after he won his primary election.  A massive failure of the fourth estate, new media outlets and ultimately, the voters.

My absolute favorite part of all of this?  the “ethics” section on Scott Lee Cohen’s website.

It is not enough to continue sending Illinois politicians to jail: clearly, the allure of cash and power is more compelling than the deterrent of jail time. Therefore, Scott proposes ethical reforms that will help elect trustworthy candidates and ensure that a betrayal of public trust is discovered quickly, should it ever occur.

1. Have each candidate take a “Character Test,” drafted by a panel of judges and ethicists, for the purpose of evaluating the character of each candidate. The test must be submitted as a candidacy filing document in Springfield, Illinois and immediately made available to the public on the Internet

I wonder how Cohen would fare on his own “character test”?


5 Jan

Shouldn’t Citistat have discovered the fact that the city of Buffalo’s HR department had overpaid health insurance premiums to the tune of $526,000?  If not, what the hell good is it?  Why don’t we ever even hear about it anymore? Because it’s been politicized into practical worthlessness?

Auditors said they were alarmed to find numerous former employees — including some deceased individuals — on city records for prolonged periods. They’re trying to determine whether health benefits were paid for any dead people. They know of at least one instance in which the city paid health insurance for an employee who had left the payroll many months earlier.

The audit paints a picture of a department plagued by bulging paperwork backlogs, a lack of checks and balances, poor delegation of tasks and a need for employee training.

When auditors tried to explain the magnitude of the problems to Human Resources Commissioner Karla L. Thomas, a memo indicates she “rebuffed” them by saying “TMI,” meaning “too much information.” Auditor Darryl McPherson reported that one week later, Thomas contacted the comptroller’s office.

“The commissioner e-mailed her desire not to be included in e-mails that discussed how to develop and manage procedures regarding payment processing,” McPherson wrote in a memo.

Imagine that. Remove-me-from-this-listserv!

On the issue of patronage, which Jim Heaney touches upon here, let’s go with this: patronage isn’t bad, per se. But if you hire people with whom you’re politically affiliated, or to whom you owe favors, they should at least have a basic set of qualifications for the position.

But sometimes the news is so bad that even Mayor Brown had no choice but to (at least verbally) throw his commissioner in front of, if not under, the bus.

Being half a million dollars out of whack is a very bad thing indeed, no matter what the circumstance.  Not giving a shit about it is worse.  Trying to then shunt blame onto the auditing entity is just plain old stupid.

Bad to worse to stupid.

After One Sunset and now this, it seems a pattern is emerging.

Tonawanda Coke Raided

18 Dec

Ever inhale air on the Tonawanda side of the Grand Island Bridge?

The Clean Air Coalition has been targeting the likely culprit, Tonawanda Coke, which was found in October to be emitting 75 times the normal volume of benzene from its River Road facility.

Benzene causes cancer. People living downwind from Tonawanda Coke are getting cancers at abnormally high levels. The owner of Tonawanda Coke rejects the notion that his plant is the major source of benzene in the air in Tonawanda and Grand Island, and claims that other plants together with Thruway emissions are causing the problems.

But that didn’t wash.

Ryan is convinced the heaviest and dirtiest emissions occur after dark to hide what the plant is doing.

“Some nights it gets so bad,” he said.

hemist Joseph Gardella Jr. supports Ryan’s theory, based on analysis of data from a five- day study conducted by the EPA in April, which the agency has yet to analyze.

“The EPA sampled in the middle of the night when the Thruway traffic wasn’t an issue,” said Gardella, a University at Buffalo chemistry professor. “They’d get these spikes of huge amounts of benzene being emitted in a short time period.”

Plus, Tonawanda Coke’s owner has a track record of past violations at a coke plant in Erie, PA where that company got hit with a $6.1 million for air quality illegalities, and a lack of cooperation.

Well, the Feds finally raided Tonawanda Coke on Thursday, taking records and samples. You see, the Clean Air Coalition complained to Schumer and Gillibrand, who in turn urged Tonawanda Coke’s owner to meet with them. He refused. Gillibrand got the EPA involved.

It’s time for polluters to be held accountable for their illegalities and for poisoning the community. It’s cool to make a buck and employ people, but if you can’t be bothered to follow the law then the law needs to get involved. I have no doubt that Tonawanda Coke has the capability to take measured to come into compliance with air quality requirements. But it probably costs a few bucks to do that, and they’ve evidently weighed the choices and determined that any consequence from poisoning the surrounding neighborhoods is just a cost of doing business.

The day is coming soon when the exact environmental and genetic triggers of cancer can be pinpointed in each individual case. When that day comes, companies like Tonawanda Coke are going to be in big trouble indeed.

Law & Order: SPU

6 Nov

Brian Davis has rapidly become the most hilarious elected official in all of western New York. No one else can match his level of personal and professional failures and breaches of ethics.

When the FBI and DA’s office comes to hunt you down at your work because they “just want to talk”, it’s like a replay of something out of Law & Order: Special Politicians’ Unit

Powers' Law

4 Nov

If you’re a political candidate, and you get a call from the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy, and he informs you that he’s going to run a story the next day that accuses you of horrible moral turpitude (e.g., you stole money from Iraqi orphans or you’re a racist), you absolutely cannot issue a limp rebuttal and pretend like it will all just blow over.

You have to address the allegation head on, strongly, to take control of the narrative as soon as possible, otherwise your silence/tepid response will be interpreted as a concession of the accusation’s truth.

Not that it was necessarily going to change the outcome, but Michele Iannello broke this law with the WFP/racism charges of last week.  Yes, it may have hurt her chances last night, but more importantly it probably put an end to her career in politics, full stop.

On the other hand, little dumb stuff like, e.g.,  property taxes paid late is ok to ignore until it blows over.

The Albany Swamp

20 Oct

This editorial in the New York Times is packed with win.

The state has become a national embarrassment, a swamp of intrigue and corruption, a $131 billion monster controlled by a crowd of smug officials whose main concern is keeping their soft jobs. By now, most New Yorkers have given up hope that these officials are capable of cleaning up their own mess.

The clock is ticking. In one year, unless the Albany crowd pulls off some miracle, which we doubt will happen, it will be up to the voters to get them out, all of them.

I like what the Times is proposing.

(Cartoon courtesy Marquil at Empirewire.com)