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West Seneca Democrat Asks Lenihan to Let Rank and File Choose Assembly Candidate

The special election to fill the vacant 145th District Assembly seat has been set for March 20, and because there is no primary, each political party’s leadership can choose a candidate to put on the ballot.

Lately, the Erie County Democratic Party’s executive committee has selected candidates in situations like this, though in the past those choices have been made by the party’s committee men and women within the relevant district, as provided in the party’s bylaws.

It has been expected that the executive committee would choose the Democratic candidate for the 145th District seat, too. Indeed, the executive committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, January 17, at party headquarters in the Ellicott Square Building, and the main agenda item is the 145th District vacancy.  The two leading candidates are South District Councilman Mickey Kearns  and Chris Fahey, an aide to Congressman Brian Higgins, with former Lackawanna mayor Norm Polanski and former Erie County Legislator Tina Bove the dark horses.

But now a West Seneca Democratic Party committee man, Robert D. Krautsack, has gone to the courts to demand that the party’s county chairman, Len Lenihan, call a meeting of the 145th District’s committee people, so that they, rather than the executive committee , can choose a candidate for the special election.

Here’s the show cause order and petition, which will be argued in NYS Supreme Court Justice Tracey Bannister’s court on Tuesday morning. Representing Krautsack is Democratic Party activist Peter A. Reese. In a nutshell, Reese’s argument is that the party’s laws empower the district committee members, not the executive committee, to select Assembly candidates.

What follows is a series of emails Reese sent on Saturday morning to the election law attorney and libertarian activist Jim Ostrowski, copying a handful of Democratic Party insiders:

 

Jim Ostrowski:

One of the problems I have with the oral argument of this case which is scheduled to be heard Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 9:00 AM in front of Judge Bannister (Show Cause Order w/Petition attached) is that it will force me to publicly air a strategy which could be very harmful to the Democratic Party. For instance, let’s say that a more experienced candidate other than party choice Chris Fahey, such as Mickey Kearns or Tina Bove were to overhear me say that an alternate strategy would be to have one or both of them seek the Republican or other minor party nomination in the 145th AD and/or circulate petitions for an independent ballot line. Even if we lose Krautsack v. Lenihan, they could then get another lawyer to bring a separate action challenging the Fahey nomination and voiding the Democratic line. If they were to team up with the powerful West Seneca and/or Cheektowaga Democratic Committees or even Mayor Brown’s team, it would be a simple matter to obtain the 1500 valid signatures necessary to qualify for an independent ballot line by the January 23, 2012, filing deadline. As I remember, you were intimately involved with successfully establishing the DiPietro Tea Party Senate independent line in the SS-59 election in 2010. Wasn’t that case reported at: http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2010/2010-20435.html ? Weren’t you also involved in Jack Davis’ independent nomination in the recent congressional race. I seem to recall that New York lawyer character, Henry Berger, Esq. also had something to do with the Davis race. Wait a minute, now I remember. I was involved too and I incorporated his campaign finance committee.

I don’t think another candidate would be collaterally estopped from bringing an action against the Democratic nominee, even if Judge Bannister should err and rule against us. It is truly sad that, as Mr. Krautsack states in his Petition, Chairman Lenihan’s “flaunting of his own party rules violates the rights of the petitioner and threatens to leave the Democratic line vacant in a heavily Democratic district that has not elected a Republican in living memory.”

What do you think, Jim, can I leave this out of oral argument without failing in my ethical responsibility to zealously represent my client? I see no way around it.

On second thought, since the issue has already been raised in a publicly filed document, I guess the harm is already done. Never mind.

Pete Reese

 

Jim:

Just one more thing. Is it true that this matter is being brought pursuant to Election Law Section 6-114 (attached) which essentially elevates the party rules to the level of a statute, overriding all of the other statutory provisions dealing with party nominations? Can you think of any instance, other than a special election, where the party rules could come into play regarding the nomination of a candidate? Isn’t it in fact true that the party never really gets to even designate anyone as a candidate, that being done by way of the petitioning process with nominations conferred by the party voters in primary elections? Isn’t it also true that the party endorsements, normally granted by district committeemen, are merely recommendations which carry no legal force whatsoever? I even seem to recall that the party itself is prohibited from directly expending resources on behalf of endorsed candidates in party primary elections. Maybe this is it?

“§ 2–126. Party funds; restrictions on expenditures No contributions of money, or the equivalent thereof, made, directly or indirectly, to any party, or to any party committee or to any person representing or acting on behalf of a party or party committee, or any moneys in the treasury of any party, or party committee, shall be expended in aid of the designation or nomination of any person to be voted for at a primary election either as a candidate for nomination for public office, or for any party position. (L.1976, c. 233, § 1. Amended L.1978, c. 373, § 18.)”

 

Jim:

Just one last thing, can you think of any reason why Democratic Party Secretary Dennis Ward would rebuke Judge Bannister’s attempts to bring this matter on expeditiously yesterday, rather than delaying the matter until Tuesday morning. As you will recall, should the Judge decide in our favor that would leave only approximately 62 hours to convene 400 plus committeemen, nominate the candidate, have the candidate accept the nomination and mail the results to the Board of Elections. Remember that we informed the Judge that under the normal 96 hour mailed notice of such meetings should have gone out on Sunday (tomorrow). Wasn’t it strange that Mr. Ward acted in such an abusive, uncooperative and unprofessional manner to a sitting Supreme Court Judge? I also found it surprising that later yesterday at approximately 12:07 PM, Mr. Ward refused personal service of Judge Bannister’s Show Cause Order at the Board of Elections, even though he was in his office. Instead, Ward sent out errand boy Darien Pratchett, Chairman of the Zone Chairman’s Association of the City of Buffalo, and Board of Elections public employee to accept the papers. Wasn’t it funny how frightened and confused Mr. Pratchett became when I informed him that the Order did not involve Board of Elections business? I thought I observed a little trail of pee running down his leg.

Pete Reese

 

Jim:

Just on last, final thing. I have reviewed the attached campaign promises made by Chairman Lenihan when he ran for County Chairman in 2002. As you will recall, that was the year he banished the Evil Black Prince, G. Steven Pigeon, from the Chairmanship. Do you believe that his present actions, as complained of by Petitioner Krautsack, are consistent with his 2002 promise to “Operate at all times in strict accordance with the Election Law and our Party rules” (page 9)?

Pete Reese

 

Jim:

A cautionary note: I think we should do our best to keep all our e-mails under wraps. If any of this gets out, it could wreck Tonawanda City Chairperson Gayle Syposs’ efforts to keep Leonard Lenihan as County Chairman.   See the attached documents.  I am somewhat surprised that I was not  asked to sign that document, as I have always been one of Leonard’s staunchest   supporters.

Pete  Reese

 


  • Some Guy

    Peter Reese is such an awful attorney that he doesn’t even know that a statute he cites was overturned in 2006.

    There are few people with less legal or political acumen. Geoff you need to stop using him as a source. He so desperately wants people to like him and think that he is important. It seems that every time he opens his mouth he sounds more and more like Frank Costanza.

  • Joe Genco

    Great to read openly of the disconnect between promises and reality but I always question anyone who lacks the stones to sign their name.

  • King Kong

    All of Lenihan’s friends defending him (which I understand) aside….doesn’t it make sense, from both a practical and an ethical standpoint, to have the committee members from the area that said candidate will represent select the candidate?

  • Jonathan Wellinton-Fidrych III

    I have heard of this Peter A. Reese and I believe him to be a blackguard. He will NEVER be admitted into the Club.

    • Alan Bedenko

      This isn’t about process, though. This is about who’s selected; this is about the war between the Kearns people and the Higgins people for political power in South Buffalo. (P.S., Fahey is as green as he is smart. Kearns is precisely the opposite).

      I just thought I’d cut right through the self-righteous bit and call a spade a spade.

      Have a great day!

  • Peter A Reese

    Alan: I couldn’t disagree more. It’s all about the process. Rules are rules. Why do the party bosses get to pick and choose when they follow the rules and when they don’t? I don’t live anywhere near AD145, but I am going to fight like a bear for the right of the district committeemen to exercise their right to nominate the next Assemblyman. Down underneath this crusty exterior lies the crusty interior of a neighborhood committeeman. I think most of us are tired of being used and abused by an isolated bunch of insiders who reap all the rewards for the hard work we do on the streets.

    BTW, I don’t even recall if I have ever met Chris Fahey, but most people have good things to say about him. I know and like Tina Bove and Mickey Kearns. I have worked on the campaigns of both in the past. They are both capable legislators. Since this nomination is tantamount to an appointment to the Assembly, why not do it correctly? Whoever gets the most weighted votes wins. I will be happy to support and work with whoever is the choice of the committeemen. Through an improbable course of events, I actually have a vote on the Executive Committee. If I prosecute this suit successfully, I will lose my vote in this matter. That would be good.

  • newwayofthinking

    So Tina, how did that little powerplay with your mentor Tim Kennedy in the County Legislature work out for you? He played you like a fiddle sister.

  • Say What?

    “the powerful West Seneca and/or Cheektowaga Democratic Committees”

    Say what????

  • Alan Bedenko

    Peter – if the way in which the matters have been dealt in recent years switched from the local to the county committee and no one had a problem with it, maybe no one has a problem with it.

  • Some Guy

    @Alan

    Don’t bother arguing with Peter. He desperately wants to get in with the likes of Steve Pigeon and Byron Brown, so he is attacking Lenihan and Dem HQ any chance he can get. He even carried petitions for Barbara Miller Williams this year. He doesn’t know that they all laugh at him behind his back, and he will never be more than what he is now, a hanger on of Dave Pfaff.

  • King Kong

    You know, for all of the talk of people whom are associated with Steve Pigeon and Byron Brown being ‘nasty’, this thread shows that the Lenihanites are as vindictive and spiteful as they come. Ad hominem, thou has thy namesake.

    • Alan Bedenko

      Len Lenihan is the county party chairman. Some people like that, others don’t. The people who don’t like it should promote their own candidates to run against & replace him. The last two go-arounds, they didn’t show up, despite recruiting candidates.

      So, as for the Pigeon/Brown/Lenihan cleave, it’s really quite easy to solve. If Byron and the Steves repeatedly can’t seem to convince enough county committee members to oust Lenny, then perhaps Lenny isn’t the problem.

  • King Kong

    I’m speaking of Some Guy and newwayofthinking, Alan, as always, has class.

  • Some Guy

    @Kong

    Speaking of vindictive and spiteful maybe you should you read the portion of the email where Peter attacks the person he just lost an election to.

  • Peter A Reese

    Gramigna is reporting:
    “Interviews For Dem Nod For Schroeder Seat Tues., Endorsement Next Thurs.
    Written by Glenn Gramigna, Editor
    The interviews for candidates who want the Democratic nomination for the 145th Assembly district special election, scheduled for March 20, will be held next Tuesday evening, with the endorsement to be decided and announced the following Thursday. Currently, three candidates have expressed interest, though others could be added to the list.” See: http://www.newwnypolitics.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1

    So the “Nomination for the 145th NYS Assembly District Special Election scheduled for March 20th, 2012” has become an interview? Have Lenihan and Ward thrown in the towel? Mr. Krautsack must be right. Good for him.

  • Some Guy

    Alan Bedenko is a bloated, self righteous dung ball. He is lower than contemptable and obviously conspired with Peter Reese, Hiram Monserrat, Steve Pigeon, Mayor Brown, and John Wayne Gacy in bringing this spurious law suit.

  • Some Guy

    I want to take this opportunity to apologize to Mr. Peter Reese for everything I have posted here so far. It should be clear to you all that I am a gutless weasel who doesn’t even have the gonads to use his own name and be responsible for his baseless attacks. In fact, I am terribly jealous and afraid of Mr. Reese because he displays uncommon courage and integrity when he takes a stand for what he believes. I can only hide in secret while I stuff myself like a swine at the public trough because I am unable the obtain gainful employment in any manner other than kissing the backsides of the political bosses who currently infest the Erie County Democratic Committee.

  • Peter A Reese

    Some Guy: Take courage man, no need to grovel. I accept your apology. We can always work together for a better Democratic Party. You have taken the first step on the road to becoming a mensch. I have always been willing to work for the good of Western New York and the Democratic Party with anyone of good faith and sound moral character.

  • newwayofthinking

    And I for one take pride in my vindictiveness and will continue to wear it as a badge of honor.

  • Real Some Guy

    Seems like I have really touched a nerve. Stick to being a terrible attorney with no personality Peter. You aren’t funny.

  • Real Some Guy

    Pay no attention to the previous post. I AM the Real Some Guy.

  • King Kong

    Peter, I have never met you, but after the above comment hilarity, know this, you are in fact, the man.

  • King Kong

    newwayofthinking – Congratulations on being nonconstructive and petulant, your honesty deserves a round of applause. It’s amazing that Lenihan’s failed chairmanship has inspired so many followers.

  • Fake News Guy

    Breaking news, terrible attorney loses frivolous lawsuit.