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Did You See the Mayoral Debate & Other Things (UPDATED)

1. Federal prosecutors may soon ask  to exhume a dead convicted drug dealer who died while awaiting sentencing. Well, there’s a death certificate, but the government has reason to believe the guy’s not dead. An ingenious getaway attempt, if true, to escape on paper. This would make a great script. 

2. I watched the last half of last night’s mayoral debate. Unfortunately, not one channel saw fit to broadcast it live on TV. I had to find a stream online (and thanks to the magic of Apple TV, we were able to Airplay it to the TV after all). The local media – Channels 2, 3, 4, and 7 and YNN all abrogated their responsibility as FCC licensees to inform and educate the population. It is unconscionable that Channel 4, who had one reporter acting as moderator and another on the panel, couldn’t see fit to preempt a couple of Merv Griffin game shows to get this debate to as wide an audience as possible. Absolutely disgusting. 

You can watch it here at WIVB.com. Mayor Brown seemed petty and defensive – his closing argument implored voters to pick him over a bunch of “novices”. Burn.

But when the sitting Mayor can’t accomplish simple, promised reforms in his seven years in office, why not consider the novices? I also think Tolbert’s work history is far more extensive and accomplished than Brown’s, and Rodriguez was a Marine. Denigrating their backgrounds and experience is hardly a winning strategy for someone who went from being a legislative staffer to the Common Council to the State Senate, and never stood out for bold initiatives or ideas, but relied instead on the power of the political machine. 

For their parts, Bernie Tolbert acquitted himself well, but Sergio Rodriguez was a standout. He was conversational – he didn’t sound like he was reading off a script or memorized group of talking points. He was answering questions in a way that really connected with an audience that was audibly hostile to the sitting Mayor. Tolbert’s substance was very similar to Rodriguez’s, and they pressed the Mayor relentlessly on crime, jobs, and education. 

The only advantages I think Brown has now is his massive, loyal-by-necessity machine, and his huge pile of cash. Well, they’re actually pretty huge advantages when you put it that way. But in terms of connecting with voters and really questioning the engagement and competency of a Brown Administration which is taking undue credit for progress with which it had nothing to do, Tolbert and Rodriguez have a real shot if they can get their messages out. You could hear, if not feel, the frustration and dissatisfaction rolling through the assembled crowd. 

When Rodriguez and Tolbert said they wanted to make the city more business-friendly by streamlining permitting, lowering fees, increasing predictability and uniformity, and setting up a “one-stop shop”, Brown said the city was working on it. 

Working on it?! You’ve BEEN THE MAYOR FOR SEVEN YEARS. YOU CONTROL – WITH ORWELLIAN EFFICIENCY – EVERY EXECUTIVE FUNCTION IN CITY HALL. SEVEN YEARS AND YOU’RE STILL “WORKING ON IT?” City Hall is – and has been – a fetid swamp of bureaucratic sloth and mendacity.

When describing Yugoslav communist self-preservation, corruption, and stasis, Milovan Djilas wrote that a “New Class” had been created, comprised of dictatorial bureaucrats. In Buffalo, we have the same phenomenon – marginally educated people hired and retained not for their merit, but for their politico-financial loyalty to the bureaucrat-di-tutti-bureaucrats, Byron Brown. Forget the “political class” of WNY – our larger problem is this new patronage class. They are neither working class nor transitioning into middle / upper middle class; they have instead carved out their own patronage class whereby your social mobility is founded on the political ties – and donations – you make, rather than your labor, smarts, or merit. It takes seven years to do simple things because the patronage class is united in its opposition to any reformation of the bureaucracy that guarantees it its oft-redundant jobs. 

Byron Brown cannot take on the patronage class because his entire political career is founded on their interdependency. 

The candidates can talk about downtown domed football stadiums until the cows come home, but there is a huge question mark hanging over the city of Buffalo that Mayor Brown hasn’t even seen – much less answered – in the 7 (SEVEN!1) years he’s been occupying the 2nd floor of City Hall. 

3. The Congressional Republicans’ descent into nihilistic brinksmanship continues apace. When your only philosophy and platform is to hate Obama and deny millions of people access to affordable health insurance, I guess that’s what you’re left with. 


  • Jon Spitz

    How this wasn’t on TV is awful. More people are going to see fluffy TV commercials instead of the this. Brutal.

    • sunnydelish

      There were atleast 7 cameras in the room. Channel 4 had 2 and YNN had atleast 1 that I saw. HD 7 was also there, but the reporter/camerlady was busy tweeting on her phone.

      • Ridgewaycynic2013

        The staff from 7 was probably watching a season recap of the ‘Bachelorette’, or some other Disney crap.

  • John Pfeffer

    Possibly one of your best articles. I love this line: “In Buffalo, we have the same phenomenon – marginally educated people hired and retained not for their merit, but for their politico-financial loyalty to the bureaucrat-di-tutti-bureaucrats, Byron Brown”

    • John Pfeffer

      We seem to have this problem in many places in WNY- this “marginally educated” pimped up group of leaders, never quite understanding just how far we really have to reach.

  • Ridgewaycynic2013

    As for item 1, it already was…”The Third Man”.

  • Colin Eager

    City Hall is also full of dedicated people who find themselves trapped in a corrupt system not of their making.

  • Rondo

    Highlight of the debate, Sergio clobbers mayor brown by bringing up the disgraced Man O Trees contractor and its 17000 dollars worth of donations to Brown’s re-election effort and Brown stutteringly, mumblingly takes two lines from presidential debate history by saying “there, there you go, you go again, with your fuzzy math…”

  • Jesse Griffis

    They’ve already decided Brown’s going to win again, and they want to maintain the access they’ve so carefully and skillfully built. Don’t tip that apple cart. Same as journalists everywhere, bending over to power. It’s pathetic.

    • sunnydelish

      I think it was very telling that there were only 70 seats in the auditorium, and they were not allowing campaign staff from both challengers to enter. While the Mayor sauntered into the building at 6:55 for the 7:00 pm show, his sycophants (prep team) were already in the room.

  • sunnydelish

    I feel the real zinger of the night was by Sergio, when he contested Byron Brown’s assertion that crime had gone down on his watch by saying “maybe dog nabbing has gone down, but violence has not”.

  • robrobrobislike

    I agree that Sergio really did his thing last night as far as not holding any punches in pointing out problems, but I still don’t know if he has any viable solutions. The issue with police residency is a good example of this – it would do wonders for police relations with the people if they had to live in the city, but I don’t think that the mayor can get a residency requirement. Anyway, I guess acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step, and Sergio seems to have that nailed down.

    It was refreshing to hear Brown say he opposed dumping public money into the HSBC tower and hilarious to hear him say that we were in a recession in 2006.

  • Hank Kaczmarek

    Rodriguez IS a Marine. Once a Marine, ALWAYS a Marine. And with that comes the Marine attitude and mindset. Calling out BS for what it is. Refusing to accept the status quo. If he gets elected he’ll be wearing a vest. Buffalo had not had an R in the chair since 1965—and the only one since 1957.
    But you HAVE to get this idea out of your head that Republicans don’t want health care for everyone. Simply not true. But there has to be a way that doesn’t put us all on the same system that Canada has. If I want to see a Specialist I don’t want to have to wait 12 weeks for an appointment. Recently you wrote “Medicare has been wildly successful”. Apparently you don’t sell medicare supplemental insurance to the recipients. BTW, any program that is tens of trillions in the hole cannot be wildly successful by any measure. Odumbocare will only create more debt. This is what happens when you “Pass a bill to see what is inside it”. Even D’s in the House and liberal talking heads are beginning to call it a “Train Wreck”.
    Noticed yesterday that when you add the debt of Medicare and the Social Security Trust fund among others to the 17 trillion of debt (6 T added by Odumbo with no result of any kind) the country is actually about 70 trillion in debt. Makes me want to join the activists who go to places like Ashe County, NC where folks are VERY independent (up in the mountains) and pressure them to take SNAP benefits. Things are very wrong when the USDA gives a Gold Award to an employee for how many people she signed up to get a benefit that many of them didn’t feel they really needed. We have plenty of money for that. NOT.

    Buffalo is a microcosm for what happens when the majority of the population is dependent on the government.

    • Sean Danvers

      “Buffalo is a microcosm for what happens when the majority of the population is dependent on the government”
      Actually, Buffalo is a microcosm of the results from Nixon’s opening up of China to US markets. All the “job creators” decided slave labor was better than the American worker for the bottom line. Remember, the less taxes they pay the better we all are!

    • UncleBluck

      Hank you post your parroted conservative talking points every week here and almost none of it is true or backed up by facts. The entire civilized world has a national health plan other than the US. I have many Canadian friends and they all love their health care system and they believe that our health care system is terrible, by the way I just took my mother to the internist and it took 10 weeks to get that appointment, so I don’t see much changing there. On another “parrot” note…SS is not an entitlement nor is it a contributor to the national debt, we all pay into it and we all deserve/get something back. Finally as a veteran of the USAF..I knew there was a reason my basic training sergeant referred to the Marines as bunch of jar heads

      • jimd54

        Hank once posted he was sitting at his computer with his .357 magnum next to his mouse. Who does that and why would anyone bother to take him the least bit seriously?