Tag Archives: Working Families Party

Albany’s Culture of Corruption & Fusion

3 Jun

In your real day-to-day life, does last week’s Zephyr Teachout / Working Families Party brinksmanship with Governor Cuomo matter to you? 

Mr. Langworthy hits on a key point of New York’s fundamentally corrupt electoral fusion system – all of this chasing of third, fourth, and fifth lines involves extortion and bribery.  All of it. Every single one.

The system is dirty because the system is set up to be dirty. 

You want to be angry about Cuomo dismantling the Moreland Commission on public corruption literally overnight to cut a budget deal? I’m angry, too, and hope the US Attorney in Manhattan truly does pursue what scraps he’s been able to gather. Asking Albany to clean house reminds me of Jesse Pinkman, the young henchman from Breaking Bad, attending group drug counseling so he can sell meth to other attendees. 

 But the system itself can’t be reformed as long as fusion is permitted to be legal. You can bet that just about very time a politico chases a minor party fusion line, there’s some degree of corruption afoot. The “Independence Party” is the worst, but they’re all cut from the same cloth. 

It really doesn’t get any simpler. If you want to end Albany’s culture of corruption, you have to end Albany’s culture of corruption. Just. Do. It. 

If you’re like I am, do you draw any comfort or satisfaction from the fact that Cuomo is equally reviled on both the hard left and hard right? 

The Morning Grumpy – November 22nd

22 Nov

I have a voracious appetite for internet memes, video, podcasts, news, and analysis. Each morning I’ll share several links that you can consume during your “morning grumpy”.

1. It is tremendously sad that up to 700 people will now be out of work at Pillar Processing and Steven J. Baum PC.

In an abrupt turn of events, Steven J. Baum is shutting down his foreclosure law firm and laying off at least 90 full- and part-time employees in Amherst and Long Island just days after losing the bulk of his business when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stopped giving the firm new work.

The closing could also affect 600 employees at Amherst-based Pillar Processing, a neighboring firm that handles much of the paperwork from the Baum office.

The announcement caps a remarkable fall for the state’s dominant foreclosure law firm, which until recently handled 40 percent of all foreclosures statewide.

The firm last month agreed to pay a $2 million fine and change its practices to settle a federal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, and is also under investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

But what may have hastened the firm’s demise were photos that recently emerged into the national spotlight from the firm’s Halloween party last year, at which Baum employees dressed up as foreclosure victims and attorneys, mocking and ridiculing them.

If any of the former employees find themselves in financial difficulty and perhaps in foreclosure proceedings, I hope they deal with a firm that extends them the ethical treatment, respect, and empathy the Baum firm failed to extend in recent years. We’re America, we need to be better than Steven J. Baum and his ilk.

2. The richest 0.1% of Americans reap nearly 50% of all capital gains.

The preferable treatment that investment income receives in the tax code is one of the factors driving the income inequality and galvanizing the Occupy Wall Street movement. Because the capital gains tax is capped at 15%, “anyone making more than $34,500 a year in wages and salary is taxed at a higher rate than a billionaire is taxed on untold millions in capital gains.

If you’re  a member of the Forbes 400, capital gains make up nearly 60% of your income.  All the while wages have remained flat for what used to be the middle class…

3. People who regularly get their news and information from Fox News are less informed than people who generally avoid news altogether. Yes, we now have proof, watching Fox News actually makes you dumber.

“Because of the controls for partisanship, we know these results are not just driven by Republicans or other groups being more likely to watch Fox News,” said Dan Cassino, a Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor who took part in the analysis of the PublicMind data. “Rather, the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions (about current events and news) than those who don’t watch any news at all.”

Yes, I know the poll is incredibly flawed and I posted it primarily to appeal to the condescending liberal elitist part of my audience. It isn’t a credible poll based on the limited number of questions asked and that it focused on people in New Jersey. While the poll is not especially credulous, some people are more prone towards in-group loyalty and confirmation bias. Jonathan Haidt’s work suggests that this tends to happen to people who identify more as conservative. So, draw your own conclusions.

4. First, they came for the salaries and benefits of teachers, cops, firemen and civil service employees. Up next? Soldiers. How a Pentagon advisory group stacked and staffed with Wall Street executives aims to slash the salaries and benefits of American soldiers.

These ideas may sound like a bold new approach in an urgent moment—but in fact, the push for pension cuts and other corporate “reforms” at the Pentagon originates from an obscure advisory panel that has existed for a decade: the Defense Business Board. Its 21 members know little about military affairs, but they are rich in Wall Street experience, including with some of the biggest companies implicated in the 2008 financial meltdown. They are investment bank CEOs and CFOs, outsourcing experts, and layoff specialists who promote a corporate agenda of “behavior change” and “business solutions” in the military bureaucracy. The board proposes not only to slash and privatize military pensions, but also to have the Pentagon invest in oil futures, boost pay for its executives and political appointees, and make it easier for them to fire rank-and-file employees while scaling back those workers’ collective-bargaining rights.

5. Where does New York’s 1% live? The Center for Working Families, a progressive think tank with ties to the Working Families Party breaks it down by State Senate District and State Assembly District using data from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The report finds that 93% of millionaires live in and around New York City and uses the data to argue that upstate lawmakers should support the continuation and further progressive modification of New York’s “Millionaire’s Tax” as it will have limited effect on their constituencies. Fewer than 0.4% of taxpayers in SD-58 would be affected, 1.4% in SD-59, 0.8% in SD-60, and 2.0% in SD-61.

Who Pays the Millionaires Tax Reporthttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/73355726/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list

 

Quote of the day: “There are some who maintain that trade will regulate itself, and it is not to be benefited by the encouragements or restraints of government. Such persons will imagine that there is no need of a common directing power. This is one of those wild speculative paradoxes, which have grown into credit among us, contrary to the uniform practice and sense of the most enlightened nations.” – Alexander Hamilton, Founding Father and First Secretary of the Treasury (The Continentalist, No. 5)

Song Of The Day: Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside, “Against The Law”

Follow me on Twitter to satiate your need to observe juvenile bickering and consume tangential snarky observations on things.

Collins Should Reject Conservative, Independence Party Endorsements

28 Jul

Yesterday, reputed golf cheat and local wealthy person Chris Collins called on Mark Poloncarz to reject the endorsement of the Working Families Party because ACORN! SOSHULIZM! and because of improprieties that took place by New York City-based representatives of that party – well, to wealthy industrialists from Spaulding Lake “money donated by unions” is a synonym for “improprieties”.

By that logic, I call on Chris Collins to reject the endorsements of the Conservative Party, which is fundamentally corrupt and based not on political ideology, but on what’s in it for its members.  I also call on Chris Collins to reject the endorsement of the so-called Independence Party, which has also been mired in controversy after controversy, including Mr. Haggerty’s current unpleasantness, accusations regarding quids pro quo in Erie & Monroe Counties with Jack Davis, and myriad other, daily payoffs that the IP gets for confusing unsophisticated voters into thinking that their endorsement means that the candidate is in some way “independent” of something.

Electoral Fusion is, at its core, a jobs-generating joke. It has no political value whatsoever. The Working Families Party actually has a platform, at least.  It’s just that its platform helps working people – something Chris Collins wouldn’t know very much about.

NY-26 One Day After Lee

11 Feb

First and foremost, I’d like to urge anyone with the last name “Konst”, and anyone pushing a “Konst” for any elected office in Western New York to lose my number, my email address, and my Twitter handle. I am absolutely appalled by the aggressive trial ballooning of Kathy Konst, who abandoned a pretty safe Democratic seat to go work for Chris Collins, setting up an almost impossible election campaign for Diane Terranova, thus paving the way for antidemocratic tea partier Dino Fudoli to win. (Konst left the legislative race too late for her name to be removed from the ballot, and litigation was required to do so. It was a colossal middle finger to the Democratic Party). The notion that Konst, who is working for an authoritarian Republican administration, might be authorized by the Democratic chairs of the counties touching NY-26 is beyond laughable. Erie County has the second-largest weighted vote in the process, and Lenihan wouldn’t advance Konst – even under duress – any sooner than he’d advance Ray Walter. She was just embroiled in a mini-scandal just a couple of short months ago, for God’s sake.

Within minutes of yesterday’s Lee resignation, Konst loyalists were relentlessly pushing the notion that DCCC had already identified Konst as a front-runner for the NY-26 race, and that the chairs of the rural counties were either already behind a Konst candidacy, or were actively pushing for it. In my discussions throughout the day, I discovered that none of this was true. I’m sure they contacted DCCC, but there’s no chance D-trip would go against the wishes of the party chairs. When I tried to put a lid on what was starting to be ignorant speculation by out-of-town media regarding Konst, I was met with aggressive good-cop, bad-cop pushback. (I had one Konst loyalist calling to try to reason with me while another threatened me with a defamation lawsuit – SIMULTANEOUSLY). All done! Good bye! Please don’t ever contact me again! Have a nice day!

So, let’s turn from the race for the Republican seat in Cuckooland to NY-26.

The jockeying yesterday was intense – a Congressional seat is a big get for any political person, for any political faction.

The Reynolds faction was pushing State Senator George Maziarz. However, Maziarz was just recently appointed President pro Tem, which comes with some choice lulus (including a $30k stipend). In addition, Senate President Skelos wasn’t all too happy about losing a member of his caucus when the majority is only 2 seats deep. By the end of the day, a Maziarz candidacy seemed rather unlikely indeed.

The Collins faction was promoting Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who is a relative newcomer to politics, having used her Talking Phone Book fortune to replace a disgraced Mike Cole. She’s been in the Assembly minority, is a solid Republican, is uncontroversial and well-liked, and is self-funded. It’s a win all around. Even the people who suggestively grunted Paladino’s name for this seat were met with their leader backing Corwin.

There had been talk of Collins running, but he is focused on re-election as County Executive, and frankly he wouldn’t work well as just one freshman member of Congress. His ego is too big, and his elbows are too sharp.

Unalloyed lunatic Jack Davis’ name popped up with the added information that he had recently switched party affiliation to the Republican Party. He has been doing a humorless Willy Wonka act out in Akron since losing the Democratic primary to Jon Powers in 2008. You know the millionaire save-jobs drill, but I can’t imagine the county chairs would authorize Jack Davis over a perfectly reasonable Jane Corwin. Non-starter.

On the Democratic side, apart from the Konst circus I outline above, the stars were beginning to align for County Clerk Kathy Hochul. Sources say she was very interested and was working the phones, looking for pledges of financial and logistical backing.  Mark Poloncarz has also been mentioned, and is still exploring the possibility. Hochul has a good ground operation, a great reputation among Democrats and Republicans alike, money in the bank, President Obama appointed her husband as Assistant US Attorney, her Democratic bona fides are unimpeachable, and she has the ability to raise money. It’s a win all around.

Other names that popped up included Jon Powers, who was very popular in 2008 with the Netroots, and whose candidacy was deliberately torpedoed by a vicious and unscrupulous Jack Davis campaign. The problem is that Powers has lived in DC, promoting veterans’ issues since leaving the area (a bit late in some people’s opinions) in an effort to hand Alice Kryzan his minor party line. Kryzan herself has expressed interest, but she’s 0:2 in regional political campaigns and doesn’t have anywhere close to the base of support that Hochul does. A Working Families Party officer named Sam Williams expressed interest, but let’s be honest – this is a R+6 district, and you can already hear the shouts of “ACORN!!!1!”.

Buffalo-area native and Obama Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton was mentioned, but he indicated that it was “unlikely” that he’d enter the race.

But in the end, the Democratic bench for this seat is rather slim. Cuomo has yet to call a special election, but the sooner the parties get their candidates in line, the better.

As for Chris Lee? All evidence of his existence has been scrubbed from his local offices, and he’s hiding out with his extended family in Florida, not taking calls. The Craigslist story has let open the floodgates about old stories, confirmed and rumored, about Lee’s past womanizing. Nobody was ever able to pin them down, but chances are that this wasn’t the first time Lee trolled Craigslist for dates, and that his sudden nationwide notoriety might jog other women’s memories in the greater DC area.

Lee has left his family in tatters, his constituents unrepresented and unserved, and damaged his own reputation. That’s pretty stark, but not irreparable. America loves comebacks and second chances, so long as the wrongdoer expresses the right amount of contrition and does his penance. Don’t count Chris Lee out in the future.

Changs and Engs

28 Apr

I wonder how many of the “mad as hell”, mostly local, Paladino supporters are the same people who usually moan about negative campaigning? Because the Paladino campaign sort of inexplicably released this weird Eng-and-Chang photo parody of Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Levy and Assembly Speaker and all-around-bad-guy Sheldon Silver:

The text accompanying the picture reads like this:

Democrat Steve Levy voted with Democratic Assembly Boss Sheldon Silver 98 percent of the time when he was in the New York State Assembly. He even contributed annually to Silver’s political slush fund. Democrat Steve Levy was endorsed for Suffolk County Executive four times by ACORN’s left wing Working Families Party. Levy actively supported Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election. Levy solicited millions in campaign contributions from special interests, even though he was unopposed in his recent re-election. Now, Democrat Steve Levy tells us he wants to be the Republican candidate for Governor.

CAREER POLITICIAN STEVE LEVY – PART OF THE PROBLEM,
NOT THE SOLUTION

Do we really need to re-hash Paladino’s own embrace of Democratic politicians? At least Levy can argue that when he voted with the Democrats he was a Democrat and did so either based on principle or party discipline.

When Paladino donated thousands to Hillary Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, and the exact same Sheldon Silver “slush fund”, he did so out of political expediency.

Remember – Steve Levy donated a mere $650 to Silver’s political slush fund the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. Carl Paladino and entities under his control donated about $450.

So under Paladino’s argument, maybe he’s just Sheldon Silver’s fraternal twin, rather than an identical or siamese.

Or maybe Levy’s campaign decides to be too cute for its own good and sends this out:

I’m also struck by the linkage between ACORN and the WFP. That is pure Glenn Beck retarded chalkboard paranoia. Attaboy, Carl. You go ahead and read Breitbart and regurgitate that as some sort of campaign strategy to move New York forward.

New York State Gubernatorial race 2010: an embarrassment all around. Seriously.