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The Dog Ate My Homework, er…. Petition

Otto Golden Thief

Otto, Petition Destroyer

 It’s Designating Petition time again for New York politicians.   This sacred ritual plays itself out every year for the thousands of elected officials in the Empire State.   In general, these petitions are the vehicle for office holders and seekers to get their names printed on the millions of ballots consumed in party primary and general elections.   Ballot access requires approximately 5% of the voters registered in each political unit (county, city, town, ward, etc. ) to sign an otherwise meaningless document so that the person(s) listed at the top can run in a party primary.   If there is only one candidate, there is no primary and the office seeker proceeds to the ballot in the November General Election.   There are now eight political parties in New York, and candidates can run on all lines if they wish, so they often have multiple petitions.    The Democrats and Republicans have clouds of registered voters, so 5% can be a big number and the election law has minimum numbers like 500, 1000, and 2000, …. to make life easier.   With the smaller parties, like the Working Families Party (line #6), the number of required signatures in a county legislative race will only be about 20.   Sounds easy, but there are few people eligible to sign, scattered over a large geographic area, and the inconsiderate suckers are never home when you knock on their door.   This means a petition sheet with ten signatures is a valuable document intended to become official on filing with the Board of Elections.   Don’t have enough signatures or otherwise screw up your petition or filing and you don’t get the party line.   Very important for the Dem and Rep  lines, less so for smaller parties, but still highly sought after and prized.   Many elected officials would not be in office, but for the votes they got on the Conservative, Independence and Working Families lines.    And if you have the line, your opponent doesn’t.   Enter Otto, the Petition Eating Dog, who decides to chew on your precious piece of paper a few days before the final filing date, and you have a big problem: 

Chewed Pet Page

Not to worry.   While these petitions are important documents (What good is your vote if you don’t have anyone to vote for?), compliance with the numerous requirements of the election law is only required to be “substantial” and rules are liberally construed consistent with the prevention of fraud and proper administration of the election process.   In English, this means you can screw up a little as long as you are not committing fraud and the Board of Elections (or the courts) can figure out what you are trying to accomplish. 

So break out the glue pot and an  iron, grab a blank petition, and create a Frankenstein which preserves as much of the original  petition (particularly the signatures) as possible.   The result presented below, may raise some eyebrows, but it’ll get you on the ballot.


When you think about it, the only important part of the original which you cannot rebuild is the voter’s signatures.   If you could do signatures on your own, you could do this on the kitchen table.   So no harm, no foul.   The Board of Elections can still see who signed for you.   Initial any obvious changes and you are on your way to a career as a grinning, tax eating politico.


Build the Damn West River Bike Path Already!

Please Dont Bike

After attending a meeting of pro-Parkway partisans on Thursday night, taking a few drives, and finding out that there was a simultaneous pro-Bike Path meeting last Thursday, I decided to film a drive-by of the subject park lands. Councilman Mike Madigan tells me there is no way to build a bike path on the River, but instead wants one between two redundant two lane roadways.   Apparently, Supervisor McMurray favors converting the existing Parkway into a bike path, but the Parkway really isn’t on the river either.  

I am a biker, a scenic walker, and a cross country skier.   If I am going to transport to Grand Island for any such activity, I want to be on the Niagara River, not trapped between two roads, staring at some houses.   I can stare at houses in Amherst, North Buffalo or Clarence.   I don’t think anyone would build the West River Parkway today.   Neither the current pro environmental, anti-automobile attitude, or the traffic load would allow it.   But the Parkway is already there and a riverside bike path is not.   If the Parkway is a scenic route, slowing it down to 35 MPH from the present 55 would make it even more enjoyable.   But that won’t make it a safe pedestrian walkway.

My generation sent a man to the Moon and brought him back safely to Earth, using what now seems like Stone Age technology.   Therefore, in an effort to inspire the current local and state leadership, I have set my Parkway drive-by video to music and sound from the movie, The Right Stuff.  I begin with the clip of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 which was built just across the river in Wheatfield.   Click the movie box to see what the current situation is like from Buckhorn Island Park to the houses north of Beaver Island.   I think there is no real reason why a bike path cannot be built between the Parkway and the river, but you decide for yourself.   (If you look closely, at about 1:50 of the drive-by, you can see that there already is a bike path along the river for some distance.)

The Right Stuff 

Conversations with West River Parkway Homeowner’s Association President, Frank Greco, reveal that Parkway land owners have state permits for temporary docks and vegetation management.    

Temporary Dock Permit-0001



West Parkway Homeowners President Frank Greco


Vegetation Management Permit-0001

Vegetation Management Permit-0002













Mr. Greco also demonstrated that the river bank was not conducive to public  access in many places and he produced documentation for the claim that permanent docks can be maintained by those owners “and their linear descendants” for 99 years from July 31, 1991.  

Permanent Dock Mangement Policy-0001 Permanent Dock Mangement Policy-0002













All of the above lead me to ask:  What is all the brouhaha about?   Isn’t the simple solution building a bike path/multipurpose walkway along the river?   Where are state bureaucratic and elected officials on this matter?   What about Chris Jacobs and Amber Small?   Where is Assemblyman John Ceretto?   What is short time Senator Mark Panepinto’s position?

Somehow I have the feeling that, if someone would just buy a keg of beer at the local fire hall and call a meeting, all this could be worked out pretty easily.   What am I missing? 




Nathan J. Winograd: What’s in a Name?


“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”   –   Bill Shakepeare

 This post is a flagrant attempt to increase my Internet traffic so I can regain my stature on AV without having to resort to long boring posts filled with meaningless charts, graphs and pictures praising the local rich and famous and attacking community “obstructionists”.    After all, lots of us don’t want nice things.    

Yesterday’s innocous Winograd post, attracting more than 500 comments,  makes it abundently clear that Nathan has attracted an enormous following of nonexistant Internet stalkers and trolls.     There are useful articles on classifying trolls and dealing with them.     And Nathan himself has been know to whine about his stalkers, even identifying the most famous.

For myself, I have chosen the low road.    “Why not grind these people up and make something useful of them, like fertilizer for a healthy vegan snack?” I asked myself in one of the ever more frequent conversations I have with the one who understands me best.     If I can find a way to take the name of Nathan J. Winograd in vain and advantage myself, where’s the harm in that?    After all, stalkers and trolls will always be with us like the ubiquitous real world scavengers, dung beetles and Gramignas who digest our excrement and keep our planet clean.     What’s wrong with me being an opportunist for once?    But enough about me.     Let the games begin.

Something is Rotten at the Board of Elections

            When Leonard Roberto founded the organization Primary Challenge, he used to say the Erie County Board of Elections is “the front door to corruption.”      Primary Challenge was supposed to assist in qualifying candidates of all political stripes to run in political party Primary Elections.  Not a bad idea.  Then Primary Challenge somehow morphed into the Tea Party and Roberto became a club house Republican.  However, watching the Erie County Board of Elections does make one wonder whether it is not dominated by a culture of corruption.  Let’s look at the evidence:

1)  Dennis and Champ Don’t Live Here Anymore

            By now most members of my fan club have seen this WIVB news report: Official votes where he doesn’t live

New York Election Law § 1-104 (22) defines “residence” to “mean that place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home and to which he, wherever temporarily located, always intends to return.”    This definition is clearly intended to accommodate home district voting by individuals who are temporarily on assignment away from their permanent and principal home.    Obvious examples are college students away at school, service personnel on duty overseas, or individuals whose jobs require a temporary relocation out of the area, such as insurance company employees acting to settle claims for property damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.     Democratic Election Commissioner, Dennis Ward, lives with his wife in Kenmore, not where he’s registered in Amherst.     This enables him to be a Democratic Party committee member in Amherst and retain control of the large Town of Amherst committee through his designated place keeper, Jerry Schad.    His wife, Michelle Ianello,  retains her residence in the Town of Tonawanda because it suits her political ambitions as a county legislator or state senator.     Dennis admittedly lives with his wife in Tonawanda.     The only way he intends to return to the house he owns and rents out in Amherst is if he intends to leave his wife.     No one really knows where Deputy Election Commissioner, Arthur O. (Champ) Eve, Jr. lives, but many believe he actually resides in a housing complex purportedly designed for battered women on Dignity Circle off Humboldt Parkway.    It’s clear that he doesn’t live with his dad on Jewett Avenue where he is registered.    I live where I’m registered to vote.    You probably do too.    Why don’t the top  two Democratic officials being paid handsomely to oversee fair, accurate and credible elections feel that they need to comply with simple rules the rest of us accept without  question?     Ward routinely invalidates petitions attempting to place candidates on the ballot for primary and general elections because signing voters or petition circulators don’t live at stated addresses.   Why the incredible double standard for them and not for you and me?

2)  Intentional Withholding of Data

                The intentional withholding of voter registration information absolutely necessary to run for public or party office by Dennis Ward and his subordinates has been reported previously.   Here.  

This year for instance, Ward and friends gave Democratic County Committee members at least a five day head start in circulating designating petitions by delivering data to County Committee headquarters (HQ) which was being withheld from the public.

Similarly, the surreptitious nature of data transfers to Democratic Party Headquarters in the absence of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests has been previously noted.    See here,  where it was documented that none of the FOIL requests for a six week period during which voter registration information was transferred to Democratic HQ had been requested via FOIL.

There is no reason for this behavior other than personal advantage for Commissioner Ward as he attempts to manipulate the political process to his own advantage and that of Democratic HQ loyalists.

3)  Private work on the public dime

            Commissioner Ward  apparently conducts a vigorous private legal practice, with a concentration in Matrimonial law.     For his $107,000 per year salary, the tax payers should expect to receive his full and undecided efforts on their behalf.     However, on several occasions he has not been in his office until after 1:00 PM.  A particularly troubling incident occurred on June 12, 2009.  My friend David Pfaff was subpoenaed by Commissioners Mohr and Ward to give testimony regarding a political committee which he served as treasurer.   The committee was allegedly control by G. Steven Pigeon, an arch enemy of Commissioner Ward.     The time stated on the subpoena was 9:30 AM.  Pfaff Subpoena 09-06-12   I might have represented Dave that day, but at that exact time and date I had a motion scheduled to be heard before Judge Donna Siwek in Supreme Court, across West Eagle Street from the Board of Elections.  When I appeared in the good Judge’s courtroom, I was stunned to see Commissioner Ward arguing a matter involving a disputed matrimonial at the bench.  The argument went on for some time and I stepped into the hallway to phone Pfaff.  He told me that neither Commissioner was present and that Ralph Mohr was not expected to attend, as he was engaged in activities offsite regarding voting machines.  No one at the Board of Elections knew where Ward was.  I informed Mr. Pfaff of the Commissioner’s whereabouts and advised him to wait until 10 AM and leave.    Commissioner Ward did not finish arguing his private case until well after ten o’clock.     At the time of this event, attorneys Alan Bedenko, K. Michael Sawicki and David Laub were present in Judge Siwek’s courtroom and I discussed the Commissioner’s attendance to private legal work  with each of them.

            Investigations (and their attendant subpoenas) of any election matter are extremely rare in Erie County.  I can only recall a handful in the past 30 years.  It is really amazing that Commissioner Ward would choose to absent himself from a hearing at a return date and time which he himself scheduled.  One can only speculate as to how often incidents of this variety occur at the Erie County Board of Elections, but it is stunning that Commissioner Ward would have the audacity to openly and publicly flaunt his private practice of law during regular business hours while conducting a high visibility investigation involving Board of Elections matters. 

4)  Flagrant and organic violations of the Open Meetings Law

            I have been attending meetings at the Erie County Board of Elections for about 30 years.    In that time I have never seen a posted notice of a public meeting.  They have a fine big glass door to the street at 134 West Eagle.  It would be a swell place to tape up meeting notices.   I have never heard of any representative of the print or broadcast media being notified of a public meeting by the Board.   

            The Board of Elections is a “public body” under the New York Open Meetings Law (OML).  The Board consists of two Commissioners and they must both agree in order to decide on anything, even the validity of a single voter signature.  Tie votes mean no action is taken.  Note the Pfaff subpoena needed two signatures.  The Election Commissioners must operate like conjoined twins.  They make many decisions during election season, and every last one of them requires an open meeting with timely notice to the public and the media.  It’s not my idea.  It’s written right there in the OML.  And oh by the way, the Commissioners know about these Open Meetings Law requirements.   Every year they attend an election commissioners training session and the section on the OML and FOIL is presented by Robert Freeman who happened to write both Laws.  Bob Freeman has been the Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government since it was first created more than 30 years ago.  His Committee has rendered thousands of opinions, formal and informal, on the OML and FOIL.  He is a good teacher.  I have discussed the difficulty of compliance with the OML for boards of election with Mr. Freeman.  He informs me that there is no exception from compliance for lazy and inept election commissioners.   

            And just one more thing.    The penalty for failure to comply with the OML is a judicial declaration of the invalidity of every decision made in violation of its requirements.

5)  The Amazing Kreskin/Superman Incident

            For a number of years former Board of Elections employees have informed me that political party business is done on public time, using public resources at the Board of Elections.  This year a particularly flagrant incident demonstrated the arrogance which now accompanies this waste of tax payer assets.  George Hasiotis filed a designating petition to put his name on the ballot in the Democratic Primary Election for County Comptroller.  The process of objecting to such a petition for the purpose of denying such candidates a fair election involves filing general and specific objections.   The latter must provide detail and specificity sufficient for the election commissioners to rule a petition invalid by virtue of errors made by the prospective candidate.  As Hasiotis was opposing the Democratic Party candidate, such objections were to be expected.  They are usually filed by a nondescript party loyalist known as an “Objector” who rarely knows anything about the procedure or process of objection in which they are engaged.  This year a young lady named Caitlin E. ONeil was chosen as the Objector and objections were dutifully filed in her name.  These Specific Objections were 114 pages long and exquisitely detailed.  They contained a large number of sophisticated objections based on complex factual and legal arguments.  Compiling these objections clearly took a great deal of time, effort and study of the Hasiotis petition.   

            Once the legal proceedings were commenced, Hasiotis retained attorney James Ostrowski to fight to keep George on the ballot.  I suggested to Jim that he FOIL the records of who had actually examined the Hasiotis petition or requested a copy thereof.  When he received the materials requested, a fascinating fact was revealed.  No one but friends of George Hasiotis who were involved in his campaign had ever inspected his petition and no one ever requested a copy!  FOIL of Hasiotis Petition Examiners  Clearly this Caitlin E. ONeil possesses superhuman skills (like x-ray vision) or a psychic ability to review and study documents which she has never seen.  I looked up her phone number, called her and left a message stating I was writing a story about her objections.  She called me back but refused to answer questions when I began to question her about how much time she spent studying Hasiotis’ petition and propounding her objections.  Clearly she never saw the Hasiotis petition.  So how was this massive document prepared?  Most likely by Board of Elections staff on your time using facilities you paid for.  Got a better explanation, not involving intervention by visitors from outer space?

            So you see there is more than a little rotten at the Erie County Board of Elections.  These are just a few instances observed by private citizens going about their normal activities.   Imagine what a real investigation would uncover.   Did I mention election rigging?  No let’s leave that for another time.  See Max v. Ward 

Oh Where, Oh Where Has Amodeo Gone? Part V: Aftermath

Filed under: Uncategorized


The preliminary tallies show that as many people voted for Grisanti as voted for someone else.     Unfortunately, there were three someone else’s.      A concerted run could have won this for the Democrats in spite of the over-the-top spending plowed into Grisanti’s campaign.     The following picture has nothing to do with this story, but it is funny and it helps to block out column inches to obscure my fellows bloggers posts:



Unlike Mitt’s concession speech, Grisanti’s victory address was brought to you in large part by the stupidity of the Erie County Democratic Party Executive Committee.    When Nick Langworthy thinks of candidates for Republican Man of the Year, he should consider names like Lenihan, Ward and Syposs.

Cheap Political Activist Voting Orders 2012

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Important Public Notice:  These Voting Orders have not been approved by any of the big shots or underlings who run Artvoice.  Very few of them are citizens of this country and they seldom care about voting or engage in it.   These are not endorsements or statements of  probable outcomes.    They are direct VOTING ORDERS and must be strictly complied with!     Any deviation from these Orders is not permitted and violators will be dealt with severely! 

President:   Obama vs. The Plastic White Guy (You know who I mean)

This map presents the present political makeup of the continental USA:

Watch this video and decide for yourself.   You will learn that Obama is actually a white guy too, and therefore safe to vote for:

Family Court:   Write In Democrat Mike Kuzma

Why, because Mike’s a good guy and a Democrat, and County Executives don’t get to pick Judges.    Poloncarz for Carter

Cheap Political Activist Tour: GOTV in CKTW

Filed under: Uncategorized



The Cheap Political Activist tour moved to Cheektowaga Friday night for  a big, free GOTV rally at the K of C on Union Road at William.     Frank Max and 350 friends gathered to fire up the troops for Getting Out The Vote on Tuesday.     Brian Higgins, Tim Kennedy, Dennis Gabryzak, Mickey Kearns, Judge Barbara Howe, David Shenk and every other manner of politician were seen and heard.      The Joes Crangle, older and younger, were  warmly received by an enthusiastic overflow crowd.    Kristy Mazurek and Sue Schmid looked hot in their new hooker boots.      As usual, the speeches went on and on and on and on and on, only to be mercifully ended by the arrival of a fresh supply of pizza.      

It is obvious that Judge Howe is enjoying her first chance to campaign in years.     She actually seems to like handshaking and talking to real non-lawyer people.     With all party lines and no announced opponent, Assemblyman Mickey Kearns seems to be a little overconfident, so the Cheap Political Activist signed on as a paid consultant to guide the remainder of his campaign.

With all the free beer, wine and pop, snacks and pizza he could consume, the Cheap Political Activist rates this as the top event of the tour to date.     Next Up:    Free Victory (and Defeat) parties on Tuesday night!!!

National Organization for Marriage: Way Off Target

Filed under: Uncategorized

This stuff keeps on falling through the mail chute.      If you can do your own artwork and targeting database computing, these will cost about 55 cents a piece to produce and mail.      The US Post Office subsidizes this junk and they can be sent through a mailing house for about 25 cents each.    The other 30 cents is the cost of production and profit for the mail house.     Unless you are mailing at least a thousand pieces, your costs will go up from there.      If you don’t have database and artwork talent the total cost will be about a buck per piece.

 So if you’re going to incur the time, cost and effort to send out something as comically flawed as this, you really need to think about your target recipient group.     Here NOM would want to be getting their warped message to people who would be likely to vote against Senator Grisanti.     So what can we learn from their targeted group?     Ellen is a sixty-five year old Jewish American Princess Democrat from Brooklyn.     She never misses voting, so she is a super prime voter.     She is also a member of the Democratic County Committee.       While it would be difficult to discern her hometown from the voter database, a sharp analyst could pick up the other voter characterization factors.       So who got these flyers?    Probably older female Democratic prime voters.      Now why would anyone think this piece would make them vote against Grisanti?      What really makes this silly is the extra (and tough to  come by) knowledge that Ellen was first taught how to vote by her mother when she was six years old.     Milly proudly took her oldest daughter behind the curtain into a voting machine and told her, “You can either vote Democratic or you can vote Jewish.”

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