Tag Archives: #WNYVOTES

Buffalopundit Endorsements: NYS Primary Day Sept 9th

8 Sep

Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough! 

Tuesday September 9th is primary day throughout New York State. Here are the races people are watching in western New York, and my comments and picks for each.  As always, these choices are mine alone and do not constitute an endorsement by Artvoice or any of its staff. They are not predictions, but preferences. 

Governor and Lieutenant Governor: Democratic Party

Zephyr Teachout and Kathy Hochul

I wrote about it with some detail at this link.  Andrew Cuomo seems more interested in an historically wide margin of victory than in dealing with the corruption that rots the core of New York State politics. Practically every problem with state, regional, or local policy and politics that you can imagine stem at least indirectly from some form of petty corruption. Until and unless someone in Albany has the guts to do what’s right, this will continue to harm and haunt every New Yorker, from Montauk to Niagara. When given a chance to undertake a profile in courage vis-a-vis corrupt Albany politics, Andrew Cuomo’s response was an epic profile in cowardice. He didn’t just punt – he forfeited.  

Despite all the good he’s done for the state in general and WNY in particular, given a choice in this race at this time between Cuomo and Teachout, I have to go with the political neophyte with the funny name and upstate ignorance. She recognizes what the problem is, and pledges to do something about it. Cuomo told us he knew what the problem was, and he told us he was going to do something about it, but in the end he chose an on-time budget deal with Skelos and Silver over the people. 

As for Lieutenant Governor, @superwuster doesn’t know anything about upstate or WNY, nor does he care to educate himself. Those reasons alone would be enough to pick Kathy Hochul to take the #2 slot. 

State Senate: 60th District: Republican Party

Mark Grisanti

Mark Grisanti is controversial because he takes risks and votes his conscience. Grisanti is detested on the right for his votes in favor of same-sex marriage, and the NY SAFE Act. He is being attacked from the right by the likes of the tea party, and from the left by NYSUT’s PAC, which is backing likely Democratic challenger Marc Panepinto. NYSUT figures that it can throw some shade at Grisanti and help Stocker win the nomination, and that this will make the November race easier for Panepinto. I’m not a big fan of disingenuousness like that, but hey – it’s politics. I respect Grisanti because he sticks his neck out to do what he thinks is right – not just for his constituents, but for the state in general. 

State Senate: 60th District: Democratic Party

Marc Panepinto

Panepinto over Al Coppola should be a no-brainer, even with the former’s past election law issues. Al Coppola most recently gained notoriety for his brave opposition to any Peace Bridge expansion, etc., but prior to that he helped get Antoine Thompson elected to the State Senate by pulling votes away from Marc Coppola. So, even Panepinto’s reported alliance with Steve Pigeon is a minor issue because no one’s sabotaging any Democrats today. 

State Senate: 62nd District: Republican Party

Robert Ortt

Mostly because Gia Arnold showed herself to be woefully unready for prime time with her cheating non-scandal, abrupt withdrawal, and silly re-entry. Ortt is a serious candidate with a serious job. Arnold is an inexperienced and unserious candidate who has, in her very short political life, displayed breathtaking immaturity, and she’s running a one-issue campaign on guns. The winner of this race will face Democrat Johnny Destino, who, like Ortt, is a serious adult person. 

State Senate: 63rd District: Democratic Party

Betty Jean Grant

Given his behavior over the last few years, incumbent Tim Kennedy has a lot of shit behavior to answer for. In 2010, he helped to spearhead a petty Republican coup of what should have been a Democratic majority during the last couple of years of Chris Collins’ tenure as County Executive. Kennedy conspired to hand control over to the Republicans, and the legislature effectively rubber-stamped anything Collins wanted during that time. More recently, Kennedy’s campaign funds provided over $85,000 to the “AwfulPAC” (a.k.a. “Progressive Caucus of WNY”) to defeat endorsed Democrats in primaries and hand races over to Republicans in order to embarrass Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Jeremy Zellner and hand control of the party – and patronage jobs – back over to people friendly with Steve Pigeon. 

If people want to get rid of Jeremy Zellner, then do what’s necessary to accomplish that goal. But if you sabotage the party and Democratic candidates, and help Republicans, you’re doing it wrong.  Tim Kennedy has been doing it wrong, and Betty Jean has been doing it right. In fact, Betty Jean was the stalwart during the legislative coup – calling Kennedy and his henchmen out publicly and relentlessly. She is a warrior for what’s right, and for her constituents. She deserves this. 

New York State Assembly: 141: Democratic Party

Crystal Peoples-Stokes

Seriously, you’d vote for Antoine Thompson? What is it with the political herpes, coming back every few years to make WNYers feel uncomfortable and itchy? Remember how two years ago, Chuck Swanick went gunning for Mark Grisanti by trying to capture the homophobe vote? Now deadbeat extraordinaire Antoine Thompson returns from a cushy city exile to try and weasel his way back into elected office. Do not forget that Thompson was an Albany pol for a few years, and rather widely regarded to be just awful. Don’t believe me? Here’s something I wrote in 2012, when the city hired Thompson:

What can’t be forgotten in this instance is that Antoine Thompson’s tenure in the state senate was pockmarked with scandal. There was the bizarre  junket to Jamaica, where Thompson claimed to be on a trade missionpaid for with campaign funds. During the short-lived and wildly corrupt Democratic leadership of the state senate, Thompson’s behavior became brazen and strange. He got his staff to lie for him, had been accused of accepting money in exchange for influence on Racino management, and developed a reputation for being thought of as a statewide laughingstock.  He stiffed groups that relied on his member item handouts.  In his own life, Thompson stiffed his creditors to the tune of $5,700.  Thompson gave $1000 to the legal defense fund for convicted fraudster and woman-slasher Hiram Monseratte.

Thompson arranged for a $400,000 subsidy to Howard Milstein’s Niagara Falls Redevelopment, an outfit run by a billionaire chairman of the Thruway Authority that has redeveloped absolutely nothing. When Thompson suffered a minor pulled-muscle injury in a car crash and discovered that he wasn’t hurt enough to meet the tort threshold and file a personal injury suit, he tried to change the law

Then there was this:

They claimed to have nobody on staff called John Taylor. They said the Albany staffer is Shawn Curry, a recent hire as a legislative assistant.

So who is John Taylor? That’s what we wanted to know. So we called him up.

The Post: “Hi, is this John Taylor?”

“Yes”

The Post: ” But isn’t your name really Shawn Curry? And if so why are you giving out a fake name from the Senator’s office?”

“Could you hold please . . .[in the same voice] This is Shawn Curry.”

The Post: “Why are you using a fake name from the Senator’s office, Shawn?”

“I am very busy, I have business to attend to, I can’t answer your question.”

Antoine Thompson’s political aspirations should be little more than a punch line, regardless of his opponent’s merits. 

New York State Assembly: 143: Democratic Party

Camille Brandon

Brandon worked closely with Kathy Hochul at the County Clerk’s office, and she’s got a good reputation for being a hard worker. By contrast, note the surname of Brandon’s opponent, and scroll up to read what I wrote about Tim Kennedy and AwfulPAC. You’ll note a similarity, and you’d be right – they’re related, and they have no business being anywhere near any sort of elected office of any sort. 

I’ll be on with Shredd and Ragan at 7am Tuesday on 103.3 WEDG to talk about how awful all of this is. Whatever you do, please go out and vote!

Winners and Losers as #WNYVotes

11 Sep

Winners

Dick Dobson: He appears to be the winner of the Erie County Sheriff’s primary against Bert Dunn, pending counts of absentees, etc. Dunn learned that money alone doesn’t buy you an election – you have to get out there, and you have to spend it. Dobson out-ran Dunn from day one, and he squeaked out a victory with only 500 votes or so separating them. Now, it’s on to defeat the anti-professional incumbent. (Micropolitically, this is a gold star for Frank Max and a bruise for Jeremy Zellner). 

Wynnie Fisher, Betty Jean Grant, Byron Brown: all of them defeated their opponents by more than 10 percentage points. Fisher and Grant were up against Steve Pigeon / Kristy Mazurek candidates and earn Jeremy Zellner gold stars. Indeed, Zellner’s clever effort at unifying the party through his unqualified endorsement of Byron Brown also earns him a gold star. Moore may be a headache in November assuming he’s on the Working Families line. 

Pat Burke: From South Buffalo bartender to winner of a legislative primary. No one gave Burke a serious shot until the day of the election, and it was all centered on turnout – if the South Buffalo portion of the district came out for Burke in a big way, he could eclipse Dearmyer and/or Zydel, the Cheektowagans. That’s exactly what happened, and while Dearmyer had a lead through the first half of the night, Burke came charging out of nowhere to take a pretty convincing lead. Chances are this won’t be over today, as all votes get counted, but credit goes to Burke, who ran without help from either the Pigeon faction or Headquarters, and claims to be independent of all of them. That’s great, so long as he doesn’t sell out to the Republicans. 

Barbara Miller-Williams: Quite possibly the worst transactional legislative horror show ever to jump out at you is leading incumbent Tim Hogues by just 20 votes. This is the woman who sold out to Chris Collins for a big chunk of money for the Colored Musician’s Club – her husband is on its board. With paid-off silence, she collaborated with the Republican dismantling of health clinics and other critical services for her poor urban constituency. She became the de facto head of a Republican legislature that was little more than a Collins marionnette, and if you watched Collins last night, he is one of those right wing scumbags who has nicer things to say about neofascist autocrat Vladimir Putin than his own country’s President. This race is going to be litigated, so it’s not over yet, but simply by making it competitive at all, Miller-Williams shows that she shouldn’t be counted out yet. Query why she’s still a Democrat, though. That’s what tens of thousands of dollars from Steve Pigeon and Tim Kennedy will buy you, though. 

Mary Giallanza Carney and Deanne Tripi: won the Family Court race. I generally stay out of judicial races. 

The residents of Niagara Falls, Governor Cuomo, and Mark Hamister: See below. 

Jeremy Zellner: Sure, he seems to have lost the Sheriff’s race, and the Hogues race is way too close to call – and Dearmyer didn’t pull it out against Burke. But Zydel, Moore, and Nixon all lost to HQ candidates, showing that he has political clout his opponents kept saying he didn’t have. 

Losers

Sam Fruscione: Niagara Falls voters had to select three, and they had four choices. Fruscione was the “beneficiary” of an inflammatory mailer that called Buffalo developer a “con man” – a criminal – and Fruscione skulked away from blistering questioning from Mary Alice Demler about it. He lost last night – lost big. He blamed it on anti-Italian “racism”. Someone should explain to Mr. Fruscione two things: 1. “Italian” is a nationality – not a “race”; and 2. You don’t get to glorify the mafia and mob violence by selling La Cosa Nostra paraphernalia and Stefano Magaddino t-shirts and then get to complain when people call you out for retaining the services of convicted loanshark extortionists. Chutzpah doesn’t even begin to explain the idiocy here. This guy was trying to play Mark Hamister, and when the Governor out-strong-arms you, your political days are numbered. 

Bert Dunn: As I mentioned above, he had all the money in the world and the backing of HQ, but you can’t force him to go out and spend it and do the work necessary to combat a hard-working opponent. I’m a prime dem and I got one piece of lit from Dunn, nothing from Dobson, but it came about 2 weeks ago, and the lackluster ads from Dunn showed up on TV just in the last few days. He waited too long and didn’t do nearly enough to secure what he apparently thought was a sure thing. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but here it never really began. 

Rick Zydel: This was Pigeon’s and Max’s and Mazurek’s big, marquee race – the one they were going to embarrass HQ with. Zydel came in to unseat longtime incumbent and legislative majority leader Tom Mazur. Mazur decided to bow out. Well, HQ may have a bit of mud on its face this morning, but not from Zydel – from Pat Burke, who came out of nowhere with the apparent win. Zydel was Zy-done from minute one, and Lynn Dearmyer was consistently ahead of him all night until city results started gushing in. 

Wes Moore: Another hand-picked Pigeon guy, Moore was setting up to challenge the sleepy incumbent, Terry McCracken. McCracken dropped out, Moore had a head start, yet an unknown from Alden named Wynnie Fisher trounced him – a win for Zellner and HQ. 

Kristy Mazurek, Steve Pigeon, Frank Max: Ask anyone Mazurek has come into contact with in the last year or so, and they’ll tell you that soon after her candidate David Shenk lost dramatically to Stefan Mychajliw in last year’s Comptroller’s special election, that she was going to go to war with HQ and Zellner. She was there earlier this year, unironically sporting a red armband as the Max people tried to strong-arm their way to a chairmanship victory. She told anyone who would listen that she was going to single-handedly run candidates for the legislature that she picked, and that they would all win and embarrass Zellner and HQ. She threatened to blackmail and bully opponents, and that she would release embarrassing information about them. She set herself up as a kingmaker without a kingdom. She latched on to Frank Max first, because they had interests in alignment with each other. Steve Pigeon came into the picture with gobs of cash. Stories have already come out about how questionable the sources of cash are – and more stories are coming.  In the last week or so of writing about the “WNY Progressive Caucus PAC“, I have heard several remarkably similar stories from completely unrelated people, explaining how even a hint of disagreement with Mazurek invites a blistering “do you know who I am” and “do you know who my father is” response from her, with demands of “who are you working for”, harassing phone calls, and even firings over social media. You don’t build an army by burning bridges. Pigeon proves yet again that his negativity crosses a line and ends up helping his target, more often than not. It happened in the Falls, and in the Zydel, Moore, and Nixon efforts. Steve Pigeon is exceptionally good at formenting chaos and stirring shit, but he is palpably bad at the whole “winning elections” thing, at least locally – and the people who end up aligned with him turn out to be just horrible, more often than not – not sure if that’s organic or learned. As an aside, I’ll note that the one Democratic candidate for Cheektowaga town board whom Max’s organization did not endorse – Diane Benczkowski – received the most votes last night. 

Bernie Tolbert: A campaign that was relentlessly negative once it started up way too late to gain any traction. It was clear that the people advising Tolbert weren’t paying attention to the polls that showed widespread contentment with Byron Brown and the job he was doing, because they kept hitting him with negativity and pointing out minor things like Brown’s sudden attention to vacant eyesore buildings or having cops walk a beat in Allentown. Tolbert never got a chance to define who he was, and so Brown didn’t have to pay him any attention. People couldn’t “believe in Bernie” because they didn’t quite understand why Bernie was running, or what he’d specifically do differently from Brown. Brown pretends like he ran a clean race, but he had surrogates go out and hit Tolbert. In the end, Tolbert’s campaign seemed reactionary and petty while Brown was cool, calm, and collected. 

Tim Kennedy: Through his affiliation with the Mazurek PAC, and his apparent $85,000 in reported donations through two campaign committees – one of which has been closed since 2011 – he lost big-time last night. He has pissed of HQ, Higgins’ people, South Buffalo, the Governor, and some other very powerful people. He is up for re-election next year, and he is about to get called out for apparent election law violations. There will be a coalition of entities united against him next year, and he’s going to need a lot of money and a lot of luck to win re-election as a Democrat in his district in 2014. 

You: Because really, no matter who wins or loses, everything ends up being transactional nonsense and little of it ever translates into good government. 

Awful Endorsements for an Awful Primary Day: #WNYVotes

9 Sep

Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough! First things first.

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as such. They have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. All endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions.

Secondly, here is audio of a podcast I recorded with Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly and Trending Buffalo‘s Brad Riter. In it, we discuss the primary, the state of (mostly) Democratic politics in WNY, and how we got to this awful place.

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/TB09-09-13primary1.mp3

Thirdly, here is some background. Jeremy Zellner defeated Frank Max last year in a hotly contested race for chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee – a win that was ultimately challenged in court, where Zellner’s win was upheld. Since then, Max and a group of dissident Democrats commonly affiliated with former party chair Steve Pigeon have turned their dissidence from passive neglect to active sabotage; chaos for chaos’ sake, as there is very little chance of success and barely any upside whatsoever.

The Mascot for the WNY Progressive Caucus PAC (not real)

In just the last two weeks, the Pigeon faction has created a brand new political action committee called the “WNY Progressive Caucus PAC“. It is operated by Kristy Mazurek, funded by Steve Pigeon, Frank Max, and Senator Tim Kennedy, and has as its spokesman a young Pigeon protege originally from Genesee County.

Typically, these sorts of things used to fly well under the radar, but this year it got blown wide open when a Buffalo News freedom of information request traced inflammatory mailers in two county legislature races to this new entity. Since then, the organization has been effectively outed, as it has begrudgingly (and arguably incompletely) disclosed donor and payee information, showing over $100,000 going in and out of the PAC in just about a week in support of certain Democratic candidates not backed by the party committee.

In addition, the PAC was found to be behind mailers that were sent throughout Niagara Falls in support of one city councilman who is working to halt progress on a prospective hotel project that Buffalo businessman Mark Hamister has proposed. The defamatory mailing went so far as to accuse Hamister of being a criminal.

If you want to get into deep background, consider this: when Max and Zellner squared off against each other for the chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee, conventional wisdom was that Governor Cuomo was backing Max. When Max lost, conventional wisdom was that Cuomo’s people were continuing to back Max against Zellner, and that relations were chilly between Zellner and the Governor.

But a lot has changed in the last year, and the Governor is just fine, thank you, with Zellner, and Max has not been seen with Cuomo as much in recent months, if at all.

To make matters worse, the PAC’s mailer in the Falls was so inflammatory that Hamister was about to pull out of the deal altogether until Governor Cuomo called all parties to intervene and save it. I wonder what Cuomo thinks of Frank Max now that his PAC almost destroyed a development project in a city starved for them?

So, we turn to the races. These are Democratic primaries, mostly in Erie County. I don’t really care about the fusion parties, or whatever the Republicans might be up to.

COUNTYWIDE

Erie County Sheriff (BERT DUNN)

None of this matters if we don’t first come to an agreement on what incumbent Sheriff Tim Howard is. He is looking for a third term, and has been nothing but a bitter embarrassment and disappointment. When he wasn’t screwing up the Joan Diver search or letting Ralph “Bucky” Philips escape from custody, he was catching the attention of the federal Department of Justice due to conditions at the county holding centers. Howard needs to go.

Bert Dunn is the scion to the Bert’s Bikes empire, and his family also founded Dunn Tire. This means he can operate a campaign that is completely self-funded and reliant on nobody. Why is this important? Because Richard Dobson – a nice guy who retired over a decade ago – has no money at his disposal, and there won’t be a lot coming his way. The only way Howard goes is against a credibly well-funded challenger.

The last two Democrats to take Howard on – Fieramusca and Glascott – lost because they were retirees with little money and no political experience. Dobson may be the best guy in the world, but he is exactly like the last two challengers. Democrats need to try something different this time, and Bert Dunn helps them accomplish that.

Dobson allies will point out that Dunn wrote something mean about Obama and Cuomo in a text message to a friend. Who cares? Being Sheriff isn’t about partisan politics or whether Obama is great. It’s about competence, justice, and professionalism, and I have no reason to doubt that Dunn could bring that to the table.

COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Certain races will be closely watched because it takes one seat to flip the Democratic majority into a Republican one. That one seat doesn’t necessarily mean a Republican pickup, by the way – there are at least four nominal “Democrats” vying for a seat, any one or all of whom would gladly strike a deal to share power with the Republicans, just like under Barbara Miller-Williams period of dysfunction and collaboration.

District 1 (TIMOTHY HOGUES)

Tim Hogues is the incumbent. Hogues is chairman of the public safety committee and has helped to restore all the Collins cuts to libraries, rodent control, and a soon to open clinic on Broadway. Hogues is a rising star in the party and someone to watch. Barbara Miller-Williams sold out her party and her community to do Chris Collins’ bidding back in 2009. The de facto Republican legislative majority over which she presided was devastating to her constituents, and she was so politically inept that she approved the redistricting plan that ended up costing her re-election. She is being materially supported by the Max/Mazurek/Pigeon PAC, which has launched a vicious smear campaign against Hogues for having the audacity to act in exactly the way a legislator in a regional governmental entity should act.

District 2 (BETTY JEAN GRANT)

Rumor has it that Tim Kennedy’s $45,000 donation to the Max/Mazurek/Pigeon PAC is revenge for Grant coming very close to unseating him in the state Senate through a write-in campaign last year. Democrat Grant is still smarting over how Kennedy conspired with Steve Pigeon, Barbara Miller-Williams, and Chris Collins to deliver Collins a de facto Republican legislature. Betty Jean is a great advocate for her community, and deserves re-election.

District 7 (LYNN DEARMYER)

This is the Tom Mazur district. This is ground zero for the battle between the Democratic factions. The Pigeonistas are backing former Cheektowaga Councilman Rick Zydel. Zellner (although not the county committee) is backing Lynn Dearmyer, who ran for the seat in 2009. I went online to look and see what the candidates stand for. Zydel doesn’t even have a website where one can look at his platform. That by itself should disqualify him in this day and age. Dearmyer makes much of her personality and biography, and that stuff is all messed up and stuff, but doesn’t really explain what she’d do to change anything, or how she’d be different. Pat Burke also has a website, and it touts his background and achievements, as well. The “issues” section is pretty light, though. He definitely identifies some serious problems, but doesn’t quite get into specifics of any solutions.

Based on that, I would back Dearmyer or Burke. I think I would lean Dearmyer because the outgoing rep is backing her. But for the love of God, people, put some damn ideas up on the internet.

District 8 (WYNNIE FISHER)

So, again – the Pigeon people are backing Wes Moore. Remember that thing I wrote up a few paragraphs about not having a website? Sheesh, neither Moore nor Wynnie Fisher have any significant web presence. They are on Facebook, though. On Fisher’s page, I see her with Mark Poloncarz and Maria Whyte. On Moore’s page, I see an August 28th post from Kristy Mazurek thanking people for coming to a Moore shindig, indicating some form of involvement in the campaign. The problem with that is that Mazurek’s PAC came into existence on the 22nd, and she shouldn’t be coordinating between the PAC and the campaign. I suppose the definition of “coordination” is subject to some debate, but this sure as hell smells like it.

I don’t want another turncoat legislature that hands the body over to the Republicans. Fisher it is.

BUFFALO MAYOR (DEMOCRATIC PARTY): (NO ENDORSEMENT)

I’ve never endorsed Byron Brown before, and I’m not about to start. While Brown hasn’t delivered on the “progress”, as he claims, his challenger Bernie Tolbert has been all over the place in this race. Tolbert’s effort has been so weak that he didn’t just fail to define himself, he was such a nonentity that Brown didn’t find a need to try to define Tolbert, either. Tolbert said people “Believe in Bernie” but didn’t explain why, or for what. Tolbert offers up a choice without a rationale – yeah, Byron is terrible in a lot of ways; a caretaker mayor, but Tolbert only went as far as pointing that out, never giving voters a positive reason why they should choose him instead.

For me, President Obama’s visit – and the way each campaign used it – said it all. While Tolbert got out a quick one-liner about Obama mixing up Higgins and Brown, the Mayor used glowing things Obama said about Buffalo’s recent successes as the template for his own, positive, ad. It was as if Obama was not only endorsing Brown, but telling people that Brown was behind them all. It was the last nail in a coffin that only needed maybe 3.

(CONSERVATIVE PARTY): SERGIO RODRIGUEZ

Seriously, I hope all of the fusion parties go straight to hell, but you go to war with the army you have, not the one you want. Sergio Rodriguez is the Republican candidate who is also vying for the Conservative Party line. I would love for him to have it, because the only thing conservative about Byron Brown (whom that committee has endorsed) is his quiet passivity as mayor over the last two terms. I apologize for omitting this originally, but this is an excellent way to send a message to the “politics as usual” crowd that money and jobs don’t always rule the day. 

NIAGARA FALLS CITY COUNCIL

If you are fortunate enough to live in the Cataract City, and unfortunate enough to deal with its ever-crisis, then do yourself a favor, Democrat, and vote for Andrew Touma, Kristen Grandinetti, and Charles Walker. (It’s a vote-for-any-three election). I don’t know the first thing about them, but I have seen enough about Sam Fruscione in the last week to know that you should never, ever vote for him again for anything, ever.

Questions/comments & hate mail: buffalopundit[at]gmail.com

Follow along on Twitter.

Endorsements 2011

7 Nov

These are not predictions. These are preferences. Please be sure to join WNYMedia.net Tuesday for election night coverage starting around 9pm. Your mileage may vary. Offer void where prohibited.

1. Erie County Executive: Mark Poloncarz

No surprise here. Mark is a personal friend and I believe in the work that he’s accomplished on behalf of all the taxpayers of Erie County. His office has been run with excellence in mind, and with the taxpayers’ best interests at heart. He is a middle-class kid who hasn’t forgotten from whence he came, and wants to go up 5 floors in the Rath Building in order to represent all the people of Erie County – city, suburb, rich, poor, black, white – everybody. I won’t repeat four years’ worth of posts exposing Chris Collins for being the tax-hiking, elitist hyperpolitical tinpot Machiavelli he is – just do a search for “Chris Collins” on our site.  What I will say is that Poloncarz is going to bring not just competence, but excellence to the County Executive’s office. Despite lots of pressure to do otherwise, Mark is a believer in maintaining a meritocracy in his office. He hires and retains people who do the best and most thorough work for their county pay. He’s a hard worker who doesn’t back down from a challenge or a fight. When it comes to dealing with a dysfunctional legislature, a county control board, and his enemies’ slings and arrows, Poloncarz has proven that he’s up to it, time and time again. He fought to make sure his office did county borrowing because he got the better financing deals. He’s exposed waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money large and small. He doesn’t think you need to substitute creative thinking and common sense with some expensive cluster of management-speak to get the best and most efficient results for your tax dollar.

But on top of that, Mark has his priorities straight. He doesn’t think you should privatize WIC or shutter clinics to score political points with a certain population of voter. On the contrary, he thinks that the county should save money wherever possible; clinics are cheaper than emergency room visits. WIC is now less convenient for its users. It wasn’t Six Sigma that found how DSS was using 19th century technology to maintain its files – it was a vigilant comptroller’s office. It’s not simply about frugality for its own sake – it’s about being smart with money.

All of the fights that take place in our largely redundant and pointless county government center around the very small (8 – 12%) of the budget that’s discretionary. That’s what most of our anger and derision flows from.  Given that this percentage is so small, it’s best for everyone – politicians and the community-at-large – if it’s spent thoughtfully, if at all. Instead, the incumbent County Executive has hyper-politicized the funding of libraries and cultural organizations rather than used real merit or apolitical considerations. Collins needlessly created a funding crisis for the county libraries out of whole cloth, which he’d prefer to resolve through a brand-new tax and special taxing district; just the sort of authority-creation that New York State is trying to abolish. That’s old-style spendthrift liberal thinking. It lazily shunts responsibility off of the county and on to some other entity, whether it be a new tax and bureaucracy, or the towns.

Remember – when it comes down to brass tacks, we like these services that we get with our taxes. It’s only in the abstract that we yell about taxes, until we’re reminded what they pay for.

Likewise, the process to fund cultural organizations shouldn’t be at the County Executive’s whim; it shouldn’t be, as it is now, just a newer version of old-style spendthrift liberal thinking like the member items of yore. Instead, Poloncarz would return that duty to the apolitical, non-partisan Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board, or ECCRAB. It was a system with which everyone was on board, and it took politics out of the equation. We didn’t have the huge fights then that we have now, as Collins artificially picks winners and losers with zero input from public stakeholders.

Finally, Collins is nothing more than an old-fashioned tax & spend liberal. Although Collins likes to say he’s looking out for the taxpayers, he’s raised taxes on us, and gone to court to prevent the legislature from keeping those hikes lower. Although he says he’s careful with our money, he’s spent millions on his friends and cronies, without regard to results or merit. Although Collins likes to seem as if he’s a good government type, he’s in ongoing violation of the county charter in terms of providing monthly budget monitoring reports. Although Collins says he’s trying to create a brighter future, he maintains the tired, failed status-quo when it comes to attracting and keeping businesses in western New York; he eschews the notion of IDA consolidation, and hasn’t set up a one-stop-shop for businesses to use when considering a move to our region.

For someone who promised to run the county like a business, why has he behaved like that?

So, on Tuesday, I’ll join Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Representatives Higgins and Hochul, and Mayor Byron Brown to vote for Mark Poloncarz for County Executive.

2. County Clerk: Maria Whyte

As a county legislator and community activist, Maria’s been a tireless advocate for the poor and underprivileged on Buffalo’s west side.  It will be a huge loss to lose her to the quiet administrative work of the clerk’s office, but she has pledged to improve the public’s access to county information, to improve efficiency and wait times, to build upon the DMV improvements already built-in to the system under Dave Swarts and Kathy Hochul, and to modernize recordkeeping to reflect a 21st century where people look stuff up on computers and read PDF files.  Although I have nothing against Chris Jacobs, he has run from his tenure on the Buffalo Board of Education when he’s mentioned it at all, and he has illegally played politics with the 501(c)(3) foundation he created to help underprivileged, bright kids escape the crushing hopelessness of the very public school system he helped run. These, I think, disqualify him from running the largely ministerial clerk’s office – if you can’t follow simple rules and you’re embarrassed by your own record, maybe go back and fix those before asking for a promotion.

3. Assembly 148: Ray Walter

I like Craig Bucki, and I think he’d make a fine Assemblyman.  I also like Ray Walter, and I find that he’s as thoughtful as he is brash; as willing to debate the finer points of policy and the law as he is to roll his eyes when Betty Jean Grant is speaking. Let’s face it, being an Assembly Republican is a thankless job – just ask Jane Corwin. It’s replete with big smiles and bigger checks, and yelling about Shelly Silver and the evil downstate Democrats. All of this comes back to my thought that we need a unicameral legislature. Because I think that Ray is a smart guy and an independent thinker, and because I know that he has big ideas on how to reform government and includes people who don’t always agree with him into the conversation, I’m going to give Ray the edge. I’m not convinced that Bucki would do better or worse – I just don’t know him well enough to make that determination. I am confident, however, that Ray is the kind of legislator who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and is willing to take the time to research and examine ways for government to do its job better. I know his nickname in the county legislature is “Rush”, as in Limbaugh, but maybe the Assembly needs that.

4. Erie County Legislature

As a side note, I’m appalled by the number of uncontested races this year.

District 1: Tim Hogues over Barbara Miller-Williams and Joe Mascia: Hogues will replace the Democrat-in-Name-Only who currently occupies this seat and chairs the legislature. Miller-Williams’ tenure has been replete with her doing her BFF Chris Collins’ bidding, oftentimes to her own benefit and her constituents’ detriment. She doesn’t belong anywhere near county hall.

District 2: Betty Jean Grant is unopposed. 

District 3: Lynn Marinelli is unopposed. 

District 4: Jeremy Zellner over Kevin Hardwick: I like the professor personally, but he had an opportunity to establish his bona fides as an independent thinker rather than a Collins rubber-stamp when it came time to over-ride many of Collins’ 2010 cuts. He didn’t take it, even going so far as to acquiescing to Collins’ continual petty attempts to decimate the personnel and effectiveness of the Comptroller’s office.

District 5: Tom Loughran over Shelly Schratz: Unlike Hardwick, Loughran has shown himself to be an independent legislative thinker from time to time. Schratz is a perennial candidate who is aligned with the noxious tea party movement. We need fewer Collins acolytes in the legislature, not more.

District 6: Ed Rath over Toni Vazquez: Vazquez didn’t seem to really have a firm grasp on county issues in general, or district issues in particular. Rath is poised to do something with the office he’s in, but I’d like to see some more independence and aggressiveness from him in the future.

District 7: Tom Mazur is unopposed. 

District 8: Terry McCracken over Mike Cole: I have no idea about anything having to do with McCracken, except that he’s not Mike Cole. Cole, you’ll remember, was, in effect, an Assemblyman-for-life until his drunken Albany shenanigans with interns got him in trouble with oft-hypocritical conservative family values types. Hey, Mike: it’s too soon.

District 9: Jon Gorman over Lynne Dixon: Gorman’s is a brilliant mind, and he’s a hard worker. Dedicated to the people’s business, he’d be one less Collins follower in the legislature, and would bring a legal eye to the proceedings to help minimize any recurrences of “null and void” declarations, should Collins win.

District 10: No Endorsement: I will not endorse Christina Bove, as she helped create the de facto Collins majority in the legislature as a consummate follower and “what’s in it for me” type politician. On the other hand, the Lorigo name should be drummed out of our collective body politic, firstly by abolishing the family nest egg that’s built upon the hyper-corrupt electoral fusion system. Lorigo’s efforts to bully Bove by having daddy file a $3MM defamation suit over an ad in – of all things – the f’king PENNYSAVER, takes pettiness to a whole new level – the fact that this prominent law firm can’t even be bothered to actually file and serve a Summons and Complaint, with the alleged libel plead with the requisite particularity, instead relying on the lazy lawyers’ “Summons with Notice”, which gives them indignant headlines and nothing else.

District 11: John Mills in unopposed. 

Town of Clarence: Scott Bylewski

The town race has been exquisitely ugly this year, thanks in no small part to the execrable Joe Weiss and his puppet, Dave Hartzell. Bylewski enjoys bipartisan support from people who truly care about the town and the direction in which it’s going. His opponents have proven themselves to be a dirty, hypocritical collection of fetid assholes whose idea of good government is to lie to town residents when they’re not berating them. Don’t be fooled by the lies and deception – Bylewski is working hard to keep the town on the right track, despite myriad pressures from many sides to go against the town’s land use constitution.


Siena Poll on the Erie County Executive Race: Dead Heat

6 Nov

Things I find interesting from the Siena Poll for the County Executive’s race that was released last night, apart from the fact that the race swung from a statistical dead heat of 49/46 for Collins with a MOE of +/- 3.4%, to a genuine dead heat of 48/48 with a MOE of +/- 2.7%.  Undecideds went from 6% to 5% overall.

Low & High Earners: County on Wrong Track.

49% of Erie County Residents think the county is going in the wrong direction. 45% think it’s going in the right direction. Among those making over $100,000 per year, the split is 49/47. Among earners of less than $50,000, the split is 53/42. The only earners who think the county is on the right track more than wrong are those earning $50k – $100k, where the split is 48/47.

Poloncarz Has Higher Favorables and Lower Unfavorables than Collins

Collins’ overall favorable/unfavorable is 51/45. Among those making more than $100,000 per year, Collins is less liked than among those earning less; among people making $100,000, Collins’ favorable/unfavorable is 49/50.  Among earners of less than $50,000, the split is 52/49, and among earners of between $50,000 – $100,000, that range is 53/44.

Poloncarz’ overall favorable/unfavorable is 52/44. Among $100k+, that split is 55/42. Middle earners? 53/41. Less than $50k give Poloncarz a favorable/unfavorable of 52/37.  Compare that to October, when Poloncarz’s overall favorable/unfavorable was 49/27 – the last 3 weeks of lies and negativity from Collins have hurt, but not badly enough that Poloncarz’s favorable went up 3 points. By contrast, Collins’ favorables dropped from 55%, and his unfavorables went up from 41%.

Dead Heat

48/48 as between Poloncarz and Collins. Men prefer Collins, women prefer Poloncarz 49/46. 5% of voters remain undecided.  Interestingly, those making under $50k and those making over $100k prefer Poloncarz – 49/47, and 51/45 respectively. Those earning between $50k and $100k prefer Collins 50/46.

The sample this time reduced people from the city of Buffalo from 25% to 19% of the sample, reflecting what Siena says is the fact that city voters said they were less likely to vote. The largest income bracket sampled is that middle one that prefers Collins, and note that people across the board overwhelmingly think that Collins is going to win, in spite of the fact that the race is a dead heat with Democrats coming home and undecideds breaking more for Poloncarz.

GOTV

People are locking in their votes, and there’s less room for the candidates to maneuver. Everything now comes down to party apparatus and getting out the vote. This should be interesting, since Poloncarz and the Democrats have entire machines ready to hit the streets on Tuesday, while the Republicans simply won’t have the same amount of boots on the ground.

In 2007, only 291,244 votes were cast in Erie County, and Keane only won the City of Buffalo, where 46,517 votes were cast in total.  16% of the turnout was in the City of Buffalo, where Clark smeared Keane in the African-American press as being a Klansman, or worse.  No such shenanigans will be taking place on Tuesday, where Poloncarz has strong support in the city, and turnout is expected to be higher than in 2007.  Collins and his allies know they’re in trouble because they can’t match the Democrats on turnout, which explains the last-minute push to pin the absentee voter fraud on Poloncarz and turn it into an issue – an effort that’s failed completely.

As far as predictions, I think it will be as close as the SD-60 race between Grisanti and Thompson. In other words, I think that Poloncarz will have a 3-digit edge in the unofficial BOE tally, and it will come down to hand-counts and absentees.

The Paladinoists’ Attempted Assist

4 Nov

Rus Thompson hasn’t been relevant at all this campaign season – a first for the frequent candidate and tea party leader, especially in a county election year.

So, he went on the “Voice of Paladino” “News”Radio 930 to announce what was literally touted as “breaking news” over the apparent ballot tampering allegations stemming from the Board of Elections. The news? A person – whom Thompson didn’t identify – is offering a $5,000 reward towards the conviction of the guilty party/ies.

What I don’t get is, why won’t Rus name Carl Paladino as being behind this?

How do we know it’s Carl, or someone affiliated with Carl?

1. Rus Thompson’s sudden appearance – seemingly out of nowhere – in an ongoing effort to make this ballot tampering case into something bigger than it is. The Sheriff’s office said from day one that neither the Poloncarz nor the Collins campaigns had any knowledge or involvement in the tampering. The Collins campaign is behind, and it’s spooked, and it’s trying desperately to win through trickery because he can’t win on the issues or his record.

2. Paladino has been largely silent this election season, as well. Yet suddenly everyone on the Paladino campaign email list began receiving emails that look extraordinarily similar to those his campaign would send out in 2010. These emails cite cases of ballot tampering in Troy, NY and try to somehow link it to Cuomo, Lenihan, and Poloncarz viz. the tampering in the BOE. When I received them, I immediately suspected that Michael Caputo, Paladino’s campaign manager, was behind them. They mimic his style, they close with an East Aurora address, and they use the Paladino campaign apparatus/email list. I don’t know if it’s Caputo or Paladino (or both).

3. The evidence – I pulled up two emails. The first is a Paladino campaign email from October 30, 2010. Here are the full headers from that:

Delivered-To: buffalopundit@gmail.com
Received: by 10.204.126.78 with SMTP id b14cs62443bks;
Sat, 30 Oct 2010 11:38:58 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by 10.91.50.30 with SMTP id c30mr6007854agk.152.1288463937465;
Sat, 30 Oct 2010 11:38:57 -0700 (PDT)
Return-Path:
Received: from pequod.localdomain (ecampaignconnect.com [24.199.182.6])
by mx.google.com with ESMTP id g9si8679218yha.3.2010.10.30.11.38.57;
Sat, 30 Oct 2010 11:38:57 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: neutral (google.com: 24.199.182.6 is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of errors-paladino@grasstopconcepts.com) client-ip=24.199.182.6;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=neutral (google.com: 24.199.182.6 is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of errors-paladino@grasstopconcepts.com) smtp.mail=errors-paladino@grasstopconcepts.com
Received: from [192.168.0.5] (unknown [192.168.0.5])
by pequod.localdomain (Postfix) with SMTP id B2B7CC0DAD
for ; Sat, 30 Oct 2010 14:38:44 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id:
Mime-Version: 1.0
From: Carl Paladino
To: “Buffalo Pundit”
Precedence: Bulk
Subject: From Carl’s iPhone
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2010 14:38:56 -0400
X-Bounce-Tracking-Info:
Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable

Compare those headers to these, from a recent email blast about the ballot tampering:

Delivered-To: buffalopundit@gmail.com
Received: by 10.223.151.1 with SMTP id a1cs159308faw;
Wed, 2 Nov 2011 13:11:30 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by 10.236.190.99 with SMTP id d63mr9541772yhn.73.1320264689024;
Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:11:29 -0700 (PDT)
Return-Path:
Received: from ecampaignconnect.com (ecampaignconnect.com. [24.199.182.6])
by mx.google.com with ESMTP id q9si1766547ann.3.2011.11.02.13.11.28;
Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:11:28 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of alert@buffalo*********.com designates 24.199.182.6 as permitted sender) client-ip=24.199.182.6;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=pass (google.com: domain of alert@buffalo********.com designates 24.199.182.6 as permitted sender) smtp.mail=alert@buffalo********.com
Received: from [192.168.0.6] (unknown [192.168.0.6])
by ecampaignconnect.com (Postfix) with SMTP id 5E18143458
for ; Wed, 2 Nov 2011 16:11:56 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id:
Mime-Version: 1.0
From: Buffalo *******
To: “Buffalo Pundit”
Precedence: list
Subject: Troy-like Dem ballot scam… in Buffalo?
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 16:11:28 -0400
X-Bounce-Tracking-Info:
Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable
X-DKIM: OpenDKIM Filter v2.4.2 ecampaignconnect.com 5E18143458

At the footer of the new email, this:

img src=3D”http://grasstopconcepts=2Ecom/e/8578/t=2Ephp?l=3D228&e=3Dbuffal=
opundit@gmail=2Ecom” height=3D1 border=3D0

The Paladino campaign emails and the current email effort to unfairly and falsely smear Mark Poloncarz with ballot tampering come from the same company – Grasstop Concepts using ecampaignconnect.com at IP 24.199.182.6. When you click on the link in the ballot tampering email, this is what you see in the address bar for the split-second before it redirects:

Racist horse porn enthusiast Carl Paladino is trying to stay behind the scenes, playing dirty tricks, using Rus Thompson as his go-to surrogate to appear on “Radio Free Paladino” and try to make this into an issue. Why? Because their candidate – Chris Collins – is losing, and will lose, next Tuesday. They’re pulling out all the stops to try and make this into an issue on election day, but the Republican Collins-ally Sheriff’s Office has already absolved both campaigns from any involvement.

All done story. Nice try, though!

Collins vs. Poloncarz: Final Weekend

4 Nov

1. The Siena Poll will be releasing updated numbers on Saturday. The hot rumor is that it will find Mark Poloncarz ahead of Chris Collins, likely by about 3 points. This would represent a 6-point swing in Poloncarz’s favor in just less than a month. Undecideds are deciding, and they’re breaking in favor of the Democrat.

2. Poloncarz’s final pre-election day fundraiser in Lackawanna Thursday night had a huge turnout of regular folks looking to elect only the second Democratic County Executive in Erie County history.

3. Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer will be in town today, holding a GOTV rally with Poloncarz at the UAW hall on Wehrle. Look for Mayor Byron Brown to stun everyone and endorse Poloncarz over his ally Chris Collins for County Executive. Sure, it’ll be under duress but it’ll be good nonetheless.

4. In keeping with this week’s general theme of highlighting Poloncarz on the issues, you really need to read his comprehensive and informative look at Medicaid. While Collins heaps scorn and derision on the destitute, the working poor, and threatening to take away optical or hearing coverage for the most vulnerable in our society, most Medicaid expenditures go to pay for nursing home care for the elderly. Whereas Collins shuttered clinics for the poor, they cost $2.3 million per year to operate, yet brought in $3 million in revenue.

Aside from relying on recent changes in the ways in which counties can administer Medicaid, Poloncarz proposes doing something the Collins Administration hasn’t bothered with – aggressively going after Medicaid fraud.

…as County Executive Mark Poloncarz will implement a two-part plan to reduce the cost of Medicaid: (1) expose provider fraud contained in the system by using current County Social Service resources to create a new Erie County Medicaid Inspector General division to work with our partners in government and the private sector to identify the fraud and recover said fraudulent payments; and (2) reduce the cost of providing basic health care services to Medicaid recipients, especially women and children, through the creation of the Erie Community Healthcare Office

We pay $1.4 billion per year on Medicaid in Erie County. There is no reason why our efforts to find and end waste, fraud, and abuse shouldn’t be systematic and aggressive. Poloncarz plans to do just that. As for the healthcare office, it would be something like a managed care plan with an emphasis on preventative care.

In his first term, Mark will work toward the creation of the Erie Community Healthcare Office, which will serve as a point of entry for Medicaid patients. Such a clinic could be placed in the former premises of one of the previously closed health clinics, thereby saving taxpayers money by using currently owned County facilities. Instead of Medicaid recipients going to a hospital emergency room for basic health care services, recipients will go to the clinic. Instead of Medicaid patients ignoring basic checkups and preventative care, the County will monitor recipients‘ health care for better disease management, thereby leading to decreased costs. In the end, such a center would reduce program misuse, fraud and overuse while providing quality care, and, as was the case with the clinics which were previously closed, make money for the people of Erie
County. Moreover, as it has in Chemung County, it will save millions of dollars per year
by controlling costs presently beyond the control of county government.

Collins’ plan? More of the same, status quo thinking, and demonizing the poor. Not looking at solutions, but looking for people to blame and curse.

5. ArtVoice’s Geoff Kelly provides a comprehensive look at Collins’ four years – the ups, the downs, and the mehs. It’s a great trip down memory lane.

6. The right wing have been freaking out because the NY/NJ Port Authority Police Benevolent Association gave Poloncarz a $20,000 donation. Collins and his mouthpieces have been sounding ignorant dogwhistles,

“He’s a pawn of Jersey union bosses who are giving him tens of thousands of dollars in a last-minute push to take our government away from taxpayers,” Collins said. “They know he will give the special interests anything they want, regardless of the cost to taxpayers.”

The Police Benevolent Association is the union representing rank & file police officers working for a massive interstate port authority apparatus. It has no employees, control, influence, or business in Erie County. This is a case of a downstate union helping out an upstate Democrat in a tight race against a self-funded millionaire. Poloncarz would never be in a position to “give” this union anything at all, much less “anything they want”. Collins here looks like a petulant infant.

But it gets better.

The same guy who told a Montante family member to give him a “lapdance”, and referred to Sheldon Silver as the “anti-Christ”, has this to say about our great state of New York:

“Downstate is not a friend of upstate”

Speak for yourself, dummy. What kind of political “leader” governs through division like that? What good is it to score a cheap political point against Poloncarz by denigrating a very wealthy and influential part of the state?

On top of this – does Collins realize whom the Port Authority of NY/NJ PBA represent?

The heroes of September 11th. The cops who policed the Port Authority-owned World Trade Center, many of whom died valiantly trying to save their fellow citizens from death by terrorism.

The right wing freak-out over a donation from a union representing heroes is appalling, but not surprising – they only think of cops as heroes when convenient.

7. Lastly, check out today’s Buffalo News story about the travails of Dan Neaverth, Jr. Collins is accused of eliminating his county emergency services position – a job that was fully funded with federal dollars for post-9/11 emergency response – in order to placate Rural/Metro, a generous Collins supporter. Collins plays politics with everything, including your family’s health and safety.

Chris Collins’ Direction Deficit Disorder

21 Oct

Yesterday, the second and final debate was held between County Executive Chris Collins and Comptroller Mark Poloncarz. It was held at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Academy at 8:30 am, a great educational opportunity for that school and its AP Government class, but a

horrible opportunity for average voters to get a second opportunity to vet the two candidates for county executive. The debate wasn’t just held at a time of day when most people are at work on en route, it wasn’t aired on radio or television. Your only opportunity to see it was to watch a poor quality live stream at Channel 4’s website, or inaudible audio at the Buffalo News’ site.  Here’s Channel 4’s report. Here’s the Buffalo News report. I have to hand it to the students, they asked some great and relevant questions.

Unfortunately, nary a voter will ever see it.

However, one interesting thing occurred. The Poloncarz and Collins campaigns were specifically ordered not to film the debate in any way. The school didn’t want this educational event sullied by politics (i.e., didn’t want the campaigns to use video from the event for campaign purposes). Indeed, when I inquired of debate organizer Ted Lina, he did not issue a denial, but sent along this:

We sought to provide an educational experience for our students with this morning’s debate. We do not wish to involve them or St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in the politics of the debate itself. We have no further comment at this time.

I had inquired about reports I was hearing that, despite the school’s prohibition against videotaping the debate, the Collins campaign blatantly refused to abide by this simple request. Poloncarz’s camp did not record it, but here’s a picture of Collins’ press guy, Stefan Mychajliw, videotaping after being asked repeatedly to stop – and refusing.

What is it about Chris Collins that makes him above the law? What is it about Chris Collins that he and his people can disobey the reasonable request of a Catholic high school that’s hosting a debate? It’s a sense of entitlement that lets Collins think it’s ok to park his car in a handicapped spot, or in a no parking zone.

Apparently, rules are for other people.

Fourteen Thoughts

3 Nov

1. We had a lot of fun last night talking about the returns and what they mean on WECK.  Despite a very late start due to a Canisius hockey game that went into overtime, I think that our discussion was not just insightful, but above all, fun.  Thanks to Brad Riter, Chris Smith, Brian Castner, Tom Dolina, and Nick Mendola for participating and making it a great show.  Thanks also to our guests, Erie County Legislator Ray Walter, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, and Congressman Brian Higgins.  We had other guests ready to go, but their window of opportunity occurred during the time that the hockey game was still going on.

2. Despite his loss – which I won’t analyze in detail today – Carl Paladino is the most influential Erie County Republican who didn’t get elected.  Nick Langworthy may be the most influential GOP county chair in the state.  Paladino’s speech last night was such that I can’t imagine what he said was what was written down on the TelePrompTer in front of him.  It was the tough-guy upstate New York version of Sarah Palin’s farewell speech – he has not yet begun to fight.

3. Brian Higgins is the top Democratic dog in town right now.  He has working relationships with every warring faction.  In an historic “throw the (mostly Democratic) bums out” year for Congress, the tea partiers threw a true believer up against Higgins, and the incumbent demolished him 61-39.  Lenny Roberto and his ilk said that Higgins wasn’t listening to his constituents by passing health care reform and other pieces of the Obama agenda.  Evidently, Higgins did exactly what a vast majority of his constituents wanted, thanks. Not just that, but Tim Kennedy drafted Higgins to defeat a feckless campaign waged by Jack Quinn III, who won’t be returning to Albany.

4. In SD-60, I predicted a race that would be tight enough to require a recount.  That’s exactly what we’ve got right now, since Thompson now leads by less than 300 votes with two Republican districts waiting to be counted.  Last night, Chris discovered that Thompson wasn’t just being hit by Grisanti and the First Amendment Club in Niagara Falls, Grand Island, parts of the Tonawandas, and the west side of Buffalo, but there is a breakaway Grassroots faction that was actively campaigning against Thompson in his east side strongholds.  Thompson may have overplayed his hand and done a Kavanaugh flip with his “Grisanti is evil for being an attorney” lit, and frankly he’s not well-regarded by most anyone, anywhere.  This one is days from being decided.

5. The voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of an 11-member county legislature. The next legislative election is next year, and the redistricting will have to be completed before then.  That means the leg will have to get to work right away to appoint a redistricting commission to examine how this will be accomplished and where the lines will be re-drawn.

6. In SD-61, Mike Ranzenhofer proved that Republicans will re-elect him time and time again despite his non-existent record.  He needs to either wake up and become effective, or else he needs to lose re-election in 2012.  In order to do that, someone needs to start thinking seriously about challenging him right now.

7. In SD-59, Dale Volker will be riding off into the sunset, replaced by his choice, Pat Gallivan. Cynthia Appleton ran an honorable, issues-based campaign, but I think she didn’t spend enough time in voter-rich Erie County.  David DiPietro’s pathetic showing of a mere 8-ish thousand votes is a serious rebuke to his bitter and relentlessly combative campaign. He should be embarrassed and ashamed.

8. Sam Hoyt lives to fight another day, as does Dennis Gabryszak.  A Republican pickup in A-146 where Kevin Smardz defeated Brad Rybczynski.  Jim Hayes defeated Greg Vinal in A-148, and Robin Schimminger defeated Kevin Stocker in A-140.  Jane Corwin, Mark Schroeder, and Crystal Peoples-Stokes were all running unopposed.

9. Both western New York tea party factions are huge losers this morning.  Aside from the gubernatorial race, where their favored candidate lost, Brian Higgins obliterated Lenny Roberto, Louise Slaughter demolished Jill Rowland, and both Pat Gallivan and Cynthia Appleton humiliated David DiPietro. Their angry, uninformed rhetoric and ultra-right-wing policy positions are shared by a tiny minority of Republican voters.  The general electorate has rejected them conclusively.

10.  Not WNY-based, but in a year where five New York State congressional districts flipped D to R, Bill Owens in NY-23 managed to win re-election against his Republican opponent, and Doug Hoffman running again on the Conservative Party line only. That was a big tea party loss in a special election last year, and Owens held on.

11. Did you listen to our coverage on WECK last night?  What did you think?  We didn’t have anyone babysitting the liveblog, so it didn’t really get used.  When we’re multitasking, checking results, hunting sources and guests, and talking on the radio, maintaining a liveblog takes a back seat – Marc usually does it, but he wasn’t with us last night.  Do you use it?  Did you miss it? Consider the comments section an open thread on the local and state races.

12. Schneiderman defeated Donovan – New Yorkers want an activist attorney general who won’t give Wall Street a free pass.  Gillibrand defeated DioGuardi – the state GOP blew it, running a washed-up old guy against an aggressive, energetic newbie.  Schumer defeated whoever his opponent was – that says it all. DiNapoli defeated Wilson – he has organized labor to thank.

13. Now that Chris Lee is in the majority, the time has come for him to do more than just vote no.  While he’s been good on issues concerning big WNY development projects, and trans-border issues, he has been nonexistent when it comes to making proposals, or voting for things that matter to people who aren’t living in Spaulding Lake.  He’s run out of excuses, and it’s time for him to step up.  We’ll be watching very closely.

14. Last thought – Andrew Cuomo has a very tough job ahead of him to effect even minimal structural change in Albany.  One of the problems that he identified early and had taken the initiative to try and change was the fact that New York has over 10,000 separate government entities and literally countless numbers of authorities with spending and borrowing power.  A government that’s out of control and far too bloated cannot stand.  Yet, when voters are given the opportunity to abolish duplicative, redundant layers of government, they never do – see, e.g., Sloan, Williamsville.  When it comes to eliminating expensive redundancy, we can’t have it both ways anymore.

Now, courtesy of Marc Odien and Tom Dolina…

[HTML1]

Grisanti vs. Thompson

3 Nov

In Erie County, Thompson is up by 3,332.  In Niagara County, Grisanti is up by 3,074.  That’s net +258 for Thompson with two election districts still unreported.  This is epic, not only because Thompson is very close to being ousted, but because the balance of the state senate remains unclear this morning.

We had a late night last night, so I’ll have more later.