Tag Archives: SD-59

Buffalopundit Endorses

30 Oct

Although I realize that this is about as worthless and useless as just about anything, I still do it every year. Why? Because I feel like it! Some of the following are people who will be on my ballot, and others aren’t. No one has paid me a red cent for an ad or endorsement, ever – these are based on my own judgment and opinion. I am not including the unopposed and almost-unopposed races. So, coming up Tuesday the 4th, I recommend voting for the following candidates:

President: Barack Obama

My coming around to Obama didn’t come quickly or reflexively. I was a big fan of Bill Richardson’s, but he ran a crap campaign. I saw that it was between Clinton and Obama in December 2007, and began leaning Obama. In January, Obama amazingly won Iowa. That was all she wrote.

The moment came when I started listening to Obama’s speeches on race, on family, on America as that shining city on the hill – a place that aspires to greatness, and which people from around the world seek to emulate. Barack Obama is the closest thing to Ronald Reagan the Democrats have ever had. In a time when Americans are fearful and uncertain about their future, Obama talks about hope, change, and a brighter future.

It’s what he’s been doing for the past 22 months. It won him the nomination. It will win him the election. It will be win for the USA.

In a time when Americans are sick and tired of the politics of hatred, division, and polarization, Obama extends a hand and says, let’s work together in a spirit of compromise and cooperation to bring about a 21st century America – a better, leaner and more efficient government – to bring about change to our economy, to our foreign policy, to our domestic affairs.

The economy has been battered over the last few months, and throughout the crisis, Obama was – well, presidential. No crazy tactics or erratic grandstanding – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. He did the same with respect to Iraq. There have been many times over the past 11 months that I’ve listened to or read something from Obama that has simply taken me aback – that a candidate doesn’t talk down to me like some kind of idiot. That a candidate has a reasoned, intelligent, well-executed set of ideas and plans is something we’ve frankly been without for the past 8 years. By way of example, on Tuesday while having lunch on Allen Street, I read this article in Time Magazine.

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for “maximum flexibility” going forward.

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security.” Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

Again – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. And in this instance, he challenged. We can’t have a President who just rolls over for whatever anyone’s telling him. We’ve had 8 years of a President who abandons pragmatism and deliberation in favor of ideology and inflexibility. We can’t have a President who doesn’t demand frank answers to tough questions from his subordinates, and we can’t have a President who doesn’t ensure adherence to constitutional constructs with respect to who’s in charge of what.

In 2004, I heard an unknown guy with a funny name give a speech at the Democratic National Convention. I will never forget hearing this passage:

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

At the time – the Iraq war was a year and a half old and going sour – it was a blockbuster speech and a concept so completely foreign to many ears turned numb from Roveian division. I thought then that this was Obama’s entry into the 2008 election. I was right. I am so ready for this guy to become President, and to have someone in Washington working hard to ensure a brighter future and a more perfect union. Website here.

NY-26: Alice Kryzan

There is no question that the 26th district has been ill-served for too long by former clout-wielding Republican Tom Reynolds. Reynolds is the kind of guy who lives in the past – old divisions, old issues, old ways of thinking. There is hardly an initiative anyone can point to as the “Reynolds record of excellence”, which really is what any legislator should aspire to, given the opportunity to go to Washington and do right by his constituents and the country. (Not to mention get paid a lot of public money and benefits-for-life).

There are two rookies vying for this seat this year, Democrat Alice Kryzan and Republican Chris Lee. There is not one thing that Lee has done or said that has been even remotely impressive, except perhaps for his fundraising prowess. His ideas are the same recycled, old Republican pablum that we’ve endured for 8 years under Bush, and longer still being represented by Reynolds. Lee seems like a nice enough guy, and I credit anyone willing to stand up and take a shot at a run, but in this year, in this climate, with the problems we’re facing, it’s patently time for something new.

Alice Kryzan is a brilliant and well-respected veteran environmental litigator who, by trade and training, can (and must) see both sides of an issue. She offers a platform not dissimilar to that of Barack Obama, with his focus on trickle-up tax breaks for the middle class and poor, more accessible health care, an as-soon-as-possible end to the war in Iraq in a safe and controlled manner, and the promotion of “what’s next” for Western New York’s (and the country’s) economy. Western New York was a pioneer in sustainable energy production, and we need to reclaim that mantle with whatever non-fossil-fuel options are out there that are available. Alice will bring renewed energy to these issues, and more responsiveness and care to constituent issues. Website here.

NY-27: Brian Higgins

You know how I mentioned above that Reynolds doesn’t really have much of a record fighting for positive change in WNY? Brian Higgins has accomplished more in 4 years than Reynolds has in 10. Western New York is better off having him in Washington fighting for a fair shake from NYPA, holding the Thruway Authority’s feet to the fire over tolls by highlighting its federal funding, being in the forefront – really, the go-to guy – of waterfront development in the City of Buffalo. Brian Higgins is no knee-jerk liberal, and he’s drawn the ire of the far left for many of his votes with respect to security and police powers, but that shows me that he’s a principled and pragmatic politician who is willing to be independent of Democratic orthodoxy. I don’t like robots – I need someone who thinks and gets things done. Higgins’ opponent, like Lee, offers nothing really new to the table. Both he and Lee repeat how they’ve met a payroll and run successful businesses. Lee inherited his, but Humiston built his. That is admirable, regardless of how you feel about tanning beds. But the job of a congressman isn’t to build a business, make a profit, or make a payroll. It’s to make and shape public policy. Higgins has proven that he is good at it, and that what he does benefits WNY. Website here.

NY-29: Eric Massa

Does what’s happened over the last 8 years really get you pumped? No? Randy Kuhl was an enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush. He accused Democrats of wanting to see the country do badly. He is a detestable, bullying figure who hasn’t earned re-election. By contrast, Eric Massa is a smart and energetic veteran. He’s a cancer survivor and has intimate, first-hand knowledge of foreign policy and military issues from his tenure as Retired General Wesley Clark’s chief aide while Clark was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO’s European forces. Massa is on board with the renewed concentration on the hardships of the middle class, which will be a refreshing change from the Bush Administration’s obsession for giving the superrich a hand. Website here.

SD-61: Joe Mesi

Did you really expect the guy who ran against Mike Ranzenhofer for a county leg seat to endorse Mike Ranzenhofer for a State Senate seat?

I am well-versed in Ranzenhofer’s legislative record, and to say it’s unimpressive is an understatement. Has he ever voted for a tax increase? No. But he’s voted for a great many budgets containing spending hikes, and what makes that so egregious is that it is patently fiscally unconservative to do that. Ranzenhofer was all too happy to plow Giambra’s policies of borrow & spend through the legislature as minority and majority leader. He complains about roads not being repaired – including many in his own district – yet refuses to vote for budgets that would fund them (as if it would all be done for free).

The Buffalo News noted that Mesi is not as well-versed on the issues as Ranzenhofer. Well, neither would you be if you were a rookie running against a 20-year veteran. I find Mesi to be smart, accessible, and above all a good listener. A guy who is as regular as they come, but has a major stake in this community and wants to ensure that his family and everyone’s gets a fair shake going forward. He is in favor of maintenance of the STAR program, and is pushing for measured, intelligent cuts to the state budget that don’t arbitrarily slash items that people not only depend on, but that are critical to our future. Like schools and public safety. He is dedicated to the expansion of green jobs and industry in New York, and for a ban on unfunded Albany mandates. He is in favor of a tax cap with a circuit breaker, and isn’t just looking at what the state’s problems are now, but is looking into the future to try and work towards longer-term goals to growth and prosperity. I also appreciate the fact that he’s not playing the upstate Republican game of demonizing downstate New York. It’s not productive.

The involvement of Steve Pigeon in Mesi’s campaign is troubling, but not enough so that I would for some reason say, “gee, I’ll vote for Ranz”. Website here.

SD-59: Kathy Konst

When Dale Volker went to Albany as an Assemblyman, Richard Nixon was being inaugurated for his second term. Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon. New York’s World Trade Center had its ribbon-cutting. The Watergate scandal hadn’t yet hit. Nelson Rockefeller was Governor. Stanley Makowski had just taken over the mayor’s office from Frank Sedita, Sr.

And in that 36 years, Volker has done – what, exactly? The state has seen tragic decline in population and economic growth. Albany is as dysfunctional as it’s ever been. In 36 years, Volker should be able to point to a vast, proven record of service and excellence. Instead, he and his goon squad insult and threaten anyone who might unseat this unprincipled thug with a $1 million state payroll all his own. First, he and his people threatened and insulted Republican challenger David DiPietro, and now he’s doing just about everything in his power to not only defeat Kathy Konst, but to destroy her.

And in a year when people talk of mavericks, Kathy Konst really is one. She’s a Democrat, but she is neither beholden to Democratic Headquarters, nor is there very much love lost between the two. Although Konst and her husband are not beloved figures in local Democratic circles, we’re not voting for the Konsts’ friends or enemies – we’re voting for Konst. She has a proven record of transparency and hard work towards reform in the county legislature – both substantive and procedural. If ever there was someone we should send to Albany to give her a chance to shake things up, it’s Konst. Website here.

SD-58: Bill Stachowski

Dennis Delano may be a hero cop, but his political views and positions are unknown, since he won’t debate or appear anywhere to discuss the issues on voters’ minds. Seriously, Stachowski wins almost by default, and as ranking minority member of the finance committee, he is well-positioned to do a lot of good for WNY and the state-at-large. And if that doesn’t do it for you, Republican Jim Kelly endorses him, too. Website here.

Supreme Court: John Michalek, Tracey Bannister

Michalek is running for his second term. Bannister is the only candidate running who has earned the Erie County Bar Association’s highest ranking – Outstanding. As confidential law clerk to Justice Gorski in Supreme Court and in the Appellate Division, she has the experience and skills needed to be an excellent Justice.


David Donohue for Town Justice

David is running on the WFP line and is an excellent attorney and dedicated deputy town attorney. He is a lifelong resident of the town and very active in the community.

Tim Pazda for Town Board

Tim Pazda is a community juggernaut in his own right. He has volunteered for just about every local committee and charity imaginable, including the bicentennial celebrations this year, and many years with the Clarence Center VFD. He is a member of the planning board and extraordinarily knowledgable about development issues in the town. One of his initiatives was to institute design guidelines for certain areas of town to ensure that development follows the character of the surrounding area. That’s why the Dunkin Donuts at Goodrich & Main won’t be a beige eyesore, and it’s an idea that every community in WNY could learn from. Website here.

No matter what you do, please go out and vote. You may not think that your vote counts when you think, e.g., of the Presidential race – but it sure as hell matters to the downticket candidates.

Konst for Senate

28 Oct


Karma is a Bitch for Volkeristas

27 Oct

Recall, if you will, the fact that Volker Chief of Staff Harry Wahl told a DiPietro supporter the following some time ago:

“I was at a fundraising event one night [May 31st] with my wife Laura and a man who I didn’t know approached me and said ‘I don’t know if you’ve heard but Dave DiPietro is running against [Dale] Volker for State Senate'”, explains Gunner. “I said yeah, I heard something about that.” Gunner said Wahl then told him “If you help DiPietro you will become my enemy. And if your wife supports him you will become my enemy.”

Gunner went on to detail more of the conversation. “He told my wife, ‘If you are friends with Theresa DiPietro you should start saving her moving boxes, because when I am done with her husband, she will be divorced. He will lose his house and his business.’ Then he told us he had the resources available to make it happen.”

Initially he thought it was a joke, but soon found out it was not.

Who was the man that approached him? Gunner said it was Harry Wahl. Wahl is husband of Town of Aurora councilmember Kelly Wahl and an Aurora resident. He is also the Chief of Staff / Director of District Operations for State Senator Dale Volker according to his page on LinkedIn. Wahl was also part of an investigation that led to the guilty plea for intentionally failing to report expenditures of the committee called the “Friends of Terry Yarnall”.

Isn’t that charming? Volker is so proud of the record of FAIL in his three decades in the State Senate, that he and his hacks have resorted to outright threatening those who might oppose him.

Well, karma’s a bitch for overpaid Volker goon Harry Wahl, because evidently his wife recently filed for divorce in Erie County Supreme Court. I guess he ought to, you know, “start saving [his] moving boxes.”

Normally, I wouldn’t give a crap if some two-bit hack’s wife dumped him, but given the intimidation and scare tactics that this Republican pissant engaged in with respect to the DiPietro campaign, it is relevant, and it serves him right.

Deep Thought: Thursday Mk2

23 Oct

If you’re appalled by “career politicians”, you’re not supporting Dale Volker for State Senate, right?

Dale Volker – You Look Like A Million Bucks

23 Oct

There is no conceivable, rational, logical reason why this do-nothing demagogue needs a million-dollar payroll all for himself.

Welcome to the New York State Legislature, which spends more than $200 million a year and employs more than 3,500 to serve the wants and needs of 212 members of the Senate and Assembly.

Put another way, the Legislature employs as many people as the City of Buffalo and the Town of Amherst combined. Cops, firefighters, trash collectors — the whole works.

“It’s a platinum-coated Legislature,” said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Legislators spend more than one-third of their budget to staff and operate their offices. Seniority

and party affiliation drive how much a legislator gets.

The longer you serve, the more you spend. And if your party is in the majority, you get more than those in the minority.

As a result, Volker, the Depew Republican who has served in the Senate for 32 years, operates the costliest office of the 19 legislators who represent Western New York.

His office — including his salary and those of his staff, rent and telephone, and bulk mail that sometimes serves political purposes — cost taxpayers $922,137 in the last budget year, according to state documents.

Don’t forget to check out Heaney’s “story behind the story“. Nice, huh?

Responsible New York – Two Ads

13 Oct

I saw two ads this week put out by Responsible New York. One was for Kathy Konst, and the other was for Joe Mesi. Both ads were almost identical – Tom Golisano, sitting in a posh office, looking into the camera and earnestly explaining why Kathy/Joe is being endorsed by RNY, and asking you to vote for them. This is the first time RNY has actually used its founder and benefactor to do an ad, having relied during the primaries on mass mailings, negative ads, and oft-dirty tricks.

Golisano may or may not have political aspirations of his own, but I think there are two purposes being served by these pretty classy and earnest advertisements. First, obviously Golisano wants to promote RNY-endorsed candidates. Secondly, perhaps the notion got to Golisano that his own reputation as a straight-talking change agent was vulnerable in the wake of the ugliness of the primary campaign season – the Hoyt/Kavanaugh race in particular.

As a side note, I half-listened to the Volker/Konst debate on Hardwick’s show on Sunday, (I was at work), but thought that they both came off as rather shrill. I was struck by the fact that they both appeared by phone – were they both opposed to meeting the other in person? The phone debate simply sounded lame, although Hardwick did his best to keep it moving and relevant. Volker’s upstate/downstate victimhood grew tiresome almost instantly, and he didn’t do anything to change the fact that he is a walking, talking advertisement for term limits. Konst has a very tough row to hoe in this race, and they’ve thrown the figurative kitchen sink at her.

Next Sunday is the Mesi-Ranzenhofer debate, which reminds me of this just a short year ago.

If It’s Sunday, It’s Hardline With Kevin Hardwick

11 Oct

I’ll be calling in around 10:15 this Sunday, but stay tuned for Kathy Konst debating Dale Volker in Hardwick’s Thunderdome.

WBEN 930-AM and www.wben.com

Meanwhile, in Buffalo & WNY

8 Oct

Dennis Delano may be the very bestest detective WNY has ever seen, but I am gobsmacked that he’s got a double-digit lead over Bill Stachowski in a Democratic district. 49-36 with 15% undecided. That’s amazing, especially given the fact that I am not totally convinced that Detective Delano really has a firm grasp on Albany issues, Capozzi and DeJac notwithstanding.

Likewise, I am not at all surprised that Dale “Batshit” Volker is leading Kathy Konst 50-33 with 17% undecided. Konst did finally get around to releasing her financials this week, and they are underwhelming to say the least. Volker’s got six figures in the bank, and Konst has about $3,500. Sounds like my race, and we all know how that turned out. Problem is, Konst is already an elected official and should be in a better position than I was to raise money for a statewide run in a pivotal race in a pivotal year.

Chris Collins needs to learn that (a) you catch more flies with honey than with with sledgehammers, and (b) “running government like a business” does not mean you can just continue with the management style of a businessman who runs a closely held private corporation and is used to snapping his fingers and having his bidding done. The Legislature is not Collins’ rubber stamp, and it does not serve at his pleasure. It is a co-equal branch of county government. Perhaps he could treat it as such.

Byron Brown stood in front of a dilapidated home and, amazingly, did not call for its demolition. Instead, the city will be rehabilitating 500 such homes over the next 5 years with the assistance of housing activist organization and all-around cool people PUSH.


Congratulations to the Punaros, who welcomed their daughter into the world today, complete with announcement via Tweet.

LIN Television still has not relented, and continues to block its two local signals – WIVB-TV Channel 4 and WNLO-TV Channel somethingorother from being carried on Time Warner Cable stations in Western New York. I used to watch Channel 4 News pretty regularly, and I’ve missed one Bills game, one Amazing Race, and tomorrow it’ll be one Survivor episode. Again – the bad guy in this is LIN Television, the parent corporation of Channels 4 and 23, which is demanding that Time Warner pay to carry a local, free, commercial, advertising-supported channel. Through its actions, not only is the cable consumer getting shafted, but so is the Channel 4 advertiser and the local ratings for CBS programming. Idiotic move, and I suspect this has a lot to do with bluff-calling, but it’s high time this gets resolved, but soon.

This is a Toronto link, but what the hell. Two words: gourmet poutine. Oh, yeah. You know you want it.

Kevin asks an excellent question.

WTF is Going on in Konstville?

6 Oct

They blew another financial disclosure deadline. Why would the Konst camp so blatantly and stupidly harm her chances?

The software isn’t that hard to use, and I can’t fathom why they’re not filing. Is it a strategy? If so, it’s a dumb one. Is it mismanagement, If so, Kathy Konst needs to get a hold of some people who can help her do this the right way. Otherwise, she’s probably going to be toast.

When you opponent already has a bunch of mud to sling at you, don’t hand him over a new wheelbarrow full of mud.

Remember When Dale Volker Argued With Donn Esmonde?

6 Oct

Yeah, so do I. This video is jam-packed with win – from the Black Rock Toll closure ceremony October 2006: