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Chris Collins in NRO: Jim O’Donnell Reacts

Jim O’Donnell is the Democrat running against Chris Collins in NY-27. He is a police officer and a lawyer, and you can learn more about him here. Yesterday, he released the statement below. 

I reached out to Collins’ people on Thursday morning to get their side of the story, and to find out more about the NRO writer’s unusually short tenure on his Congressional staff, but no one got back to me. 

Here is O’Donnell’s statement: 

Unfortunately, there are people across the country that do not know that Chris Collins only represents Chris Collins. Because he holds the position of representative, people assume that he represents the people of our district. Since folks across the country don’t know what the boundaries of our district are, they just assume he represents a good portion of New York. So when he questions whether the “Blacks” in Congress are allowed to be on committees, as the National Review alleges he has done, people think those sentiments are held not just by him, but the all the people of Western New York all the way over to the Finger Lakes.

I’m not one to call anyone a racist. I don’t think it adds anything of value to the debate, if anything it detracts from the important issues that should be discussed. In this case it detracts from the fact that Chris Collins has been pointed out by one of the country’s most conservative publications as a crony capitalist who is using his power in Congress to promote his own self-interest. His lobbying for a wasteful government program that he benefits from is just one example from a long list of times Chris Collins refused to represent the best interests of his district, but instead used his time in government to help out another of his many businesses.

I don’t know if these most recent allegations of racism are true, but I do know it is imperative that Chris Collins answers them immediately. I do know that the ability of congress men and women to serve their country has nothing to do with their color. I do know that Chris Collins does not represent me, my district, any part of New York, or any significant part of this country. He may question why “Blacks” are allowed to serve on committees, but we are all questioning why we ever allowed him to serve at all.

 


National Review: Collins Has A Problem with Blacks

I almost feel badly for Chris Collins. Almost. 

My Congressman did a good thing this week, slamming proposed FDA rules against aging cheese on wood boards. It wasn’t the regulatory overreach that Collins made it out to be, but it was a horribly stupid interpretation of existing regulations. 

The FDA opined that wood planks weren’t especially cleanable, but wood has natural antibacterial properties and has been used in cheesemaking for thousands of years without a problem. The FDA backed down from any ban on wood

But sheesh, talk about burying the lede. 

Collins has done a lot to become attractive to the tea party set since his time in Washington, but everything about him reeks of corporate country club elite Republican, and that’s now finding him under fire from the right, for the first time. 

No one criticizes him in western New York because of his deep pockets. Washington’s National Review Online bloggers have no such issue. What has he done? He pissed off
an ultra right-wing SuperPAC. 

Heritage Action blasted Congressman Chris Collins, who represents New York’s 27th District, for apparently engaging in textbook cronyism. Collins, a millionaire many times over, is circulating a letter in Congress in support of re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank, from which one of his businesses, Audubon Machinery Corporation, has benefited in the past. Collins is a co-founder of and serves on the board of directors for Audubon.

A Heritage Action spokesman told The Hill, “Here’s Rep. Collins leading the charge of an entity that he’s personallybenefited from. That’s the definition of Washington working for itself.”

Collins responded, “This shows how out of touch Heritage is with how jobs are created in this country. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re a think tank. They’re not out in the real world.”

That’s rich. Collins accusing someone else of being out of touch with the “real world”. Which “real world?” To Collins, it’s the “real world” of well-connected multimillionaires getting sweet deals through federally subsidized banks. Corporate welfare. There is nothing stopping Collins or his companies from financing international deals through private banks. 

Whatever. It’s a Washington thing that has very little impact on you or me. This, however, is a blockbuster

I was briefly employed by Collins in 2013 but was terminated after three months and did not leave on good terms with the congressman. My impression was that Collins had a steep congressional learning curve. His staff had to coach him to talk less about himself to constituents, and at one point he asked about “a black” being on a Congressional committee after being told that the committee included several minority leaders.

If true, this is a remarkable insight into Collins’ complete and utter lack of character. No amount of Boy Scout talk (an organization that didn’t eliminate racial discrimination until 1974) can make up for a racial animus or discriminatory character. What difference, in 2014, does it make whether there are Black people on Congressional committees? 

Remember – this isn’t some moonbat liberal making this accusation, this is an ultra-right wing former staffer. She was terminated rather quickly, so maybe there are some hard feelings/sour grapes, but it’s an explosive charge to make so casually. 

Collins also made a conscious effort not to ruffle any conservative feathers, and he does not have a seat on  the House Financial Services Committee. 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has called the Export-Import Bank “the face of cronyism.”

Most conservative Republicans do not support re-authorizing the bank. Collins, who almost always votes straight down the Republican line, is one of the few exceptions. A spokesman for the Congressman told The Hill that Audubon has not recently received a direct loan from the bank. Collins regularly touts smaller government, which makes it hard to understand why he would choose to make theEx-Im Bank his one major battle.

I actually support reauthorization of the Ex-Im bank. Not only does it disproportionately help smaller businesses enter the international market in cases where they’re unable to get decent international credit rates, but also because the tea party is out to kill it, which must mean it serves some public good. The tea party exists for one purpose: to destroy America and all she stands for; to create some sort of bizarre hybrid libertarian Christian jihadist confederation where everyone is armed and dangerous. So, yay Ex-Im Bank. 

But Collins’ alleged problem with Black Congressmen being members of committees is something that needs to be addressed and explained. 


Collins Expresses Support for Sharia, Fiqh

This is a Constitutional pronouncement that my Congressman, Chris Collins, Tweeted Tuesday afternoon: 

That’s an interesting take on liberty. 

Hobby Lobby sued the government to preserve some sort of religious right to require that its predominately female workforce not have insurance coverage for certain types of contraceptives, including IUDs and the morning after pill. 

Hobby Lobby argues that requiring it to subsidize insurance plans that cover what it considers to be abortifacients violates its 1st Amendment right to freely exercise its religion. 

I’m not sure which church Hobby Lobby attends. I suppose the Chapel at Crosspoint might be large enough to accommodate an entire Hobby Lobby store, but only one. I haven’t seen a Hobby Lobby store transport itself to and from a place of worship, as I suspect that would cause an epic traffic headache every week. 

So, assuming the corporation has some form of fictional personhood involving fictional church membership and make-believe church attendance, we’re talking about a new precedent whereby a corporation can assign to itself a faith. For instance, Chik-fil-A is famously Christian and notoriously homophobic. Amazing to note that In-N-Out Burger is also run by devout Christians – flip the cup over and there’ll be scripture printed there – but they’re neither homophobic nor trying to limit their employees’ contract rights. 

When an employer provides health insurance as part of its benefits scheme, it helps to subsidize the plans. The insurance plans themselves, however, are individual contracts between the employee and the insurer. So, Chris Collins thinks that an entity that possesses fictional legal personhood should be able to come between a woman and her doctor. 

What if a company decides that its religion dictates that it be exempt from child labor laws, or from sex discrimination laws, or from prohibitions on racial discrimination? Chris Collins would support that, based on his jejune, ignorant pronouncement. 

Who is Hobby Lobby to interfere with a female employee’s medication or health care scheme? People like Collins demonized Obamacare as being a “government takeover” of healthcare, putting the government between a person and their care. But when it comes to women – true to type – corporations and conservative patriarchal government flip the script and maintain control and shame, inserting themselves between a woman and her doctor. 

Does Hobby Lobby oppose artificial dick-hardening drugs as part of its employee health plans? Are we saying #prayersforED in a Christian, Godly way to ensure that the impotent can impregnate women who then,  in turn, find their contraceptive options artificially limited? 

But I suppose we should look on the bright side. Our multicultural-embracing Chris Collins has come out strongly in favor of Sharia law. Under his logic, a corporation can declare itself to be an adherent of Islam. If a craft store decided to close on Fridays and forbid any employee health plans from offering, say, treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, Collins would apparently support that. If an employee of a Muslim craft store decided to bring a ham sandwich to lunch, the company could fire her on the spot; intoxicants and pork are haram under Sharia law and Fiqh. Collins would support, evidently, a company requiring its female employees to wear a hijab or chador, because to him, the free expression of the employer trumps the free expression of the employee. Long live our new, two-tiered Constitution!

The liberty-ish way to handle this is to say that the owners of a business have a right to practice their religion in whatever way they deem fit. However, they should not have a right to impose their religion upon their employees, who are also free to exercise (or to be free from) whatever religion they choose. The American way would be for businesses to let their employees be free to take whatever medicines their doctors prescribe, without interference. Freedom and liberty would dictate that craft stores not interject themselves into contractional relationships between their employees and those employees’ health insurance companies and physicians. 

But when it comes to big business and the role of so-called “job creators”, people like Chris Collins believe that the rights of the employer trump those of the employee. To Chris Collins, Hobby Lobby, and the new tea party plutocracy, employees are mere chair-moistening chattel. If their employer wants to impose Islamic law on them, they are free to contract for their labor elsewhere because the job market is so great thanks to the Republican jobs plan of “repeal Obamacare for the 51st time“. 

I wonder how that’ll play out in Wyoming County. 


Congressional Races of 2014

It’s shaping up to be an interesting Congressional election season. 

Republican incumbent Chris Collins will likely cruise to re-election in the sprawling 27th. He has name recognition, bases his every word and deed on Obama-hatred, and a bottomless pit of money with which to purchase perpetual re-election. 

Democrats endorsed a young police officer and attorney, Jim O’Donnell (no relation), to run against Collins. In addition to his J.D., O’Donnell has a Master’s in Economics, which would certainly come in handy against the throwback voodoo economics that Collins espouses. O’Donnell is running because of Congressional dysfunction

My dream is the same dream that people across the district share for their children. The problem is that Congress lately has been doing a better job of getting in the way of that dream than helping it come true. As a Congressman, I would work every single day to make sure that those very simple dreams, those simple ideals, become a reality.

Hopefully, Collins’ childishly nonsensical  “I was against the federal shutdown that I voted fornihilism will take center stage.  O’Donnell’s Facebook page is here

In the 26th, incumbent Democrat Brian Higgins is likely to coast to re-election, as well. This is especially true thanks to the fact that his opponent is not only going to be a tea partier, but is – quite literally – a low-information WBEN caller. “Kathy from Williamsville” is going to take her fact-free jingoism on the campaign trail. She is a walking, talking anti-Obama chain email, and anyone reporting on her should be sure to have Snopes queued up on their mobile browsers. Seriously – there will be no point covering her campaign if you’re not able immediately to vet her pronouncements and cross-examine her on the inevitable fabrications and fantasies she’ll discuss. After all, she has a list of known communists, doesn’t seem to be ready or willing to represent Muslim residents of the 26th (hint: it’s the primitive blood lust), has declared “white guilt” to be “dead”, warned against a hyperinflation that never came, and – like Ronald Reagan – opposes Medicare

That one will be fun. 


#Sloppery

1. The problems with the Sochi Olympics are myriad and sundry, but most of the mockery has been centered on the general shoddiness and unpreparedness of it all. Not to mention safety concerns. What people don’t get is that Russia is not a functioning nation-state, and doesn’t have anything in its long history that comes within miles of the “customer service” concept. Indeed, Russia’s only functioning economic sectors are “corruption” and “graft”, with “gangsterism” close behind. Putin’s portrait on the front desk of one of the unready local hotels speaks volumes. 

It has forever been a feudal kingdom run first by imperial gentry, then by communist nomenklatura, and now by a hybrid kleptocracy/autocracy with a fierce nationalist streak that is joined at the hip with its secret police service. The notion that this Russia could get it together to throw together an Olympic games in its current political and economic climate was always absurd. Perhaps a future Russia will do better. 

2. A United Nations human rights panel sharply criticized the Vatican for: 

…systematically adopting policies that permitted priests to sexually abuse tens of thousands of children globally over the last several decades.

The United Nations committee faulted the church for failing to take effective measures to reveal the breadth of clergy sexual abuse in the past, and for not adopting measures to sufficiently protect Catholic children in the future.

“The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse,” the report said.

The report also criticized the church’s culture of secrecy and longstanding practice of silencing abuse victims in order to protect the reputation of priests and the church’s moral authority worldwide, asserting that the church had systematically placed preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims.

This is quite possibly the sharpest and strongest criticism yet of what really amounts to a worldwide criminal conspiracy to protect and cover-up sexual assault perpetrated against children by people in a position of trust and authority who donned a mantle of sanctity and holiness. It is nothing short of sickening. 

3. Much of the criticism of the ECC North STEM expansion is emotional rather than factual. The downtown campus isn’t so much a campus as it is a building, and my curiosity is piqued by the interesting group of people who are most vocal about it, and I’d love to know more about who’s funding these efforts. The fact of the matter is that the health-related expansion is taking place at North campus to (a) effectively compete with NCCC and ensure that students and their money don’t end up in another county; and (b) North has the capacity to most inexpensively support the building. It would seem to me that complaints about the commute to Main & Youngs could be alleviated by an improved, more frequent shuttle bus service between downtown, the medical campus, and ECC North, with longer hours and an app to track bus location, departure, and arrival times. If, as the expansion opponents argue, the real issue is student convenience it would seem as if cheaper, more immediate solutions are at hand. A lawsuit to block the ECC North expansion is great for lawyers, bad for students. 

4. Yesterday, bigshots were in town to announce the creation of 43North, a huge business plan competition that will award $5 million in prizes to the best business plans, with the top idea getting $1 million to get started. The competition is open to anyone in the world over the age of 18.  Winning companies will be required to locate in Buffalo for one year, and will receive not only the cash prizes, but free space. Got an idea? Apply here.  

5. You know how people like Chris Collins are salivating over a CBO report that supposedly concluded that Obamacare will cost 2 million jobs? Chris Collins is one of those plutocrats who think that America only exists to comfort the comfortable and further afflict the afflicted. When Paul Ryan is busy fact-checking your clumsy ass, you’ve really gone down a weird rabbit hole. Next time you see Chris Collins in person (that’s a laugh), ask him why he doesn’t think you and your family deserve health insurance. The CBO didn’t say it would cost 2 million jobs – it said that Americans with newly acquired health insurance coverage would be more free

Obamacare would lead to a decrease in the number of hours worked by up to 2 percent in 2024. Most of that drop, the CBO said, would be the result of Americans choosing not to work, for various reasons, but not because employers would want to hire fewer workers on account of the law. Translate those lost hours into full-time employment and it equals up to 2.5 million jobs by 2024. But that’s not the same as jobs being cut.

6. Speaking of our plutocracy, if you want to see the Koch Brothers’ sausage-making recipe, you’re going to want to click here. What people like the Kochs and other billionaires are plotting is to effectively turn the United States into two distinct countries, divided by class.  Succinctly put, they want to effectively end America as we know it and replace our bourgeois revolution of the late 18th century – a product of the Enlightenment – with some restoration of feudalism. The people on the list that Mother Jones obtained would be the lords and you and I would be, at best, mere vassals. The problem is that they’ve got a compliant media, a wholly owned political party, and a poorly informed tea party army to help move the fight along. 

You know, when the rich unionize to halt taxation and further concentrate their wealth and power, doesn’t that prove the fallacy of supply-side, trickle-down economics which has enthralled and destroyed the country since the early 1980s? 


Chris Collins Propaganda Call on Line 1

Maybe he just hates everything “common”

My Congressman was desperately interested in hearing my input about education and the Common Core standards that are slowly being transformed from an initiative to improve and enhance education and student expectations for the 21st century into a communard bete noir. Because Common Core was implemented during the Obama Presidency, Collins is automatically against it. Because many people are concerned about its testing protocols, Collins is interjecting himself into an issue about which he has never spoken before, and about which his ignorance is palpable.

Why was Common Core implemented? Because employers were concerned that High School students were unprepared for the job market – a pretty basic and fundamental issue

The initial motivation for the development of the Common Core State Standards was part of the American Diploma Project (ADP).

A report titled, “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts,” from 2004 found that both employers and colleges are demanding more of high school graduates than in the past. According to Achieve, Inc., “current high-school exit expectations fall well short of [employer and college] demands.” The report explains that the major problem currently facing the American school system is that high school graduates were not provided with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed in college and careers. “While students and their parents may still believe that the diploma reflects adequate preparation for the intellectual demands of adult life, in reality it falls far short of this common-sense goal.” The report continues that the diploma itself lost its value because graduates could not compete successfully beyond high school, and that the solution to this problem is a common set of rigorous standards.

Why implement it nationwide? So that a kid in Alabama meets the same standards as a kid in Vermont, and so that no kid is shortchanged. But to Chris Collins, this is communistic hogwash. Here’s the press release that followed the call: 

Jan 27, 2014 Press Release Thousands of district constituents participate in discussion about new educational standards

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) talked to parents about Common Core today as part of a district-wide telephone town hall meeting.  The new educational standards are currently being implemented in New York State.  Common Core is widely criticized for forcing students to learn skills necessary to perform well on tests as opposed to actually learning critical material. 

Thousands of NY-27 constituents participated in the town hall to learn more about Common Core and voice their concerns about how the new standards are impacting their children. 

“There are few issues as important to the future of our country as the education of our children,” said Congressman Collins.  “Unfortunately, in today’s world, too many of the decisions surrounding our children’s education are being made by government bureaucrats far removed from the classroom.  I believe strongly that parents, teachers and local school leaders know what is best for our children.  Common Core is a typical one-size-fits-all approach generated by big government bureaucrats.”

New York State adopted Common Core standards in 2010.  Across the country, 45 states have begun Common Core implementation, but recently ten states, including Massachusetts, have started to rethink or delay their participation over growing concerns from parents, educators and students themselves.  States were incentivized to participate in Common Core by the federal government through grant money available as part of the American Recovery and Restoration Act (federal stimulus). 

During the telephone town hall, parents voiced concerns about the student testing standards, mandated curriculum, and teacher/school evaluations tied to test results as dictated by Common Core.   Joining Collins for the town hall was Neal McCluskey, Associate Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom

“We should all want our children to be college or career ready following high school graduation and we should be willing to raise our standards to achieve that goal,” continued Collins.  “But Common Core is about churning out students as test takers, not inquisitive students excited about learning.

By forcing students to spend their K-12 years arduously focused on test talking, we will never develop our next generation of leaders, educators and entrepreneurs.  That is sad for our children and our country.”

Collins continued to urge parents and educators to raise awareness of Common Core and push for changes to its implementation, if not full repeal.  Parents with questions about Common Core are encouraged to contact Congressman Collins’ office.

Well there it is. It wasn’t so much to let parents vent concerns as much as it was an opportunity for some guy from a libertarian think tank to propagandize to a conservative constituency. Was there a principal from a school in the district on the call? Was there anyone there who wasn’t there to promote an agenda, but had actual practical experience to offer? Was there anyone there with an advanced teaching degree? This less than a year after the school district that covers Collins’ own home underwent a brutal and painful budget process last year – one that saw tons of young, dedicated educators unceremoniously fired and myriad programs cut. Chutzpah is the word. 

Who got to participate in the call? I’m not on Collins’ mailing list, despite having subscribed at least twice. So, yesterday, while my wife and I were at work, we got this call: 

http://blogs.artvoice.com/avdaily/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/collinscall.mp3

Well, I wasn’t at home. I was at work working. Even though I knew about the call ahead of time, thanks to some local media reporting, I couldn’t participate because I was at work working on work so that I can bring home an income and, among other things, donate money to the school foundation set up to help fund programs that were cut last year. 

Common Core may be susceptible to demagoguery because it sounds ominous, is new, and because the state of New York’s implementation of its standards was as abrupt as it was inept. Tons of kids came home last year having been tested against standards that weren’t taught during the school year, and they got bad scores. But when I talked to my youngest’s school principal and teachers about the new standards, they were universally enthusiastic about it. The new standards will not only ensure that the right things are being taught, but they will have an ability to track how kids are doing in real time, and divert extra help where it’s needed. 

This isn’t about rolling back Common Core. This is about outlawing public education in this country. This is about codifying a fundamentally unfair, tiered education system whereby the poor and middle class receive vouchers enabling their kids to attend de-funded, decontented, tertiary quality schools; the upper middle class might be able to kick in extra for parochial or second-quality private schools; and the millionaire class can afford whatever they damn well please, and have their precious snowflakes’ private educations subsidized by the poor and middle class. It is the very definition of class warfare – by the wealthy against the not-wealthy. This is about the slow dismantling of every progressive goal this country has ever achieved – public K-12 education, social security, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Medicare – anything designed to help average people and the elderly enjoy life. This is a war being waged by millionaires and billionaires against you and me. 

It is a war against the American Dream itself. 

So, if people were hosting a genuine conversation about Common Core and its standards and implementation, that would be great. But that’s not what Collins was doing. He timed the “discussion” so that working parents could not participate. He did not advertise it nearly well enough. He did not have a balanced discussion, but instead propagandized with the help of libertarian school choice advocates (read: public school opponents). 


Collins Demagogues Social Security

This letter to the Buffalo News bears special attention. Thanks to Bruce Kennedy of Orchard Park for taking the time to write it. It highlights the rhetorical nonsense and outright lies that Chris Collins utters without apology, accountability, or irony. 

If I am looking for misinformation or half-truths, there are radio personalities and television networks I can tune into. I expect more from my elected congressman.

Rep. Chris Collins, on a radio program recently, was making the case that we have to cut Social Security benefits in order to lower the federal deficit. This is a talking point that is repeated over and over again as a political scare tactic. The only problem is that it is untrue.

Pause here to remember that all politicians love usually to pander uncontrollably and shamelessly to seniors. During the two Hochul races against Corwin and later against Collins, the Republicans had their support for the Paul Ryan budget hung around their necks to shame them, like the kids whose parents make them stand on the corner with a cardboard sign reading, “I lied”. The issue at the time was Medicare, the wildly popular and efficient single-payer plan for senior citizens.

The Republicans were pushing a plan whereby people under the age of, say, 55, would receive fewer and weaker Medicare benefits when they reach the appropriate age, while current seniors’ plans would be unchanged. This two-tier proposal was especially egregious when you remember that Medicare isn’t some government handout, but a plan that you pay into your entire working life. You’re not some welfare bum, but a customer, in “run things like a business” parlance. 

The Social Security Program is totally financed by a designated tax (FICA). The program does not add a penny to the federal debt and it never has. Social Security in fact is prohibited by law from spending any more money than it has in its trust fund.

Also, it is a social insurance program, not an entitlement, as he referred to it. I assume Collins has subscribed to the theory that if you shade the truth about an issue enough times, people begin to think it has to be the truth. It is a representative’s job to inform the public, not to misinform. When you misinform on important issues, it is a disservice to your constituents.

Collins, of course, is a hyper-partisan borderline tea party public sector millionaire, as he called it. Collins is the least bipartisan rep from New York. He is the 2nd least productive rep from New York. He was for the disastrous shutdown before he was against it. He’s here denigrating Social Security as just another welfare handout that the government just can’t afford anymore, and that he and his nihilist Republican colleagues need desperately to “reform” through abolition and privatization. 

Problem is, there’s no one to credibly run against this congressional trainwreck. However, the new district boundaries help to expand the list of potential candidates. Collins will be largely self-funded, and supported by corporate interests and big right-wing PACs. His opponent would need name recognition, an ability to self-fund, a positive public image, and an way to challenge the myriad Collins lies and anti-regular-person positions and policies.

Know anyone? Tick tock.


10 Worst of 2013

Because it’s the end of the year, it’s compulsory to do a nostalgia listicle, right? This is culled from my own posts here at Artvoice daily, and not intended to be comprehensive.  Everything chosen essentially at random.  

10. Dennis Gabryszak

Oh, look. Another entitled do-nothing superfluous, self-important Albany hack who sexually harasses female staffers. If it was one staffer, it’d be worth a listen. Two staffers, and it’s going to raise eyebrows. Three staffers? Now it’s a thing. Four, and the fourth is still working there? Cringeworthy. The fact that Gabryszak has said nothing is thanks to some fantastic legal advice, but equally horrible political advice. 

9. Donn Esmonde

Donn Esmonde proved himself to be an ass throughout 2013.

It started when this retired suburban Long Island native decided that he is against quality education for children in suburban districts. One with questionable ethics, to boot. I look forward to more Tielman quotes, self-congratubation, and cheery, irony-free invocations of “lighter, quicker, cheaper”. 

8. The Conservative Party

To paraphrase Linda Richman, the Conservative Party is neither conservative nor a party. Discuss.

Ralph Lorigo’s personal fiefdom proves that political feudalism is alive and well in the 21st century. While the deceptively named Independence Party is now running all its endorsements through its statewide committee (and the NYGOP), Lorigo’s faction will endorse the occasional Democrat, but the criteria are always murky. This year, the CPWNY went out of its way to defame Republican Buffalo mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez

7. Tim Kennedy

See Number 6, below.

This guy came up with over $80,000 – much of it from inactive campaign accounts with no money in them, and none of which was properly disclosed – to sabotage Democrats in 2013. 

6.  Pigeon, Max, Mazurek & the AwfulPAC

It’s like a shit-stained comet, coming back to streak across our pleasant skies every few election seasons.

Yet again, former Erie County Democratic chairman G. Steven Pigeon assembled a horrible band du jour to sabotage the county committee’s election year efforts. Cheektowaga town Democratic chairman Frank Max believes himself entitled to the office of county chairman, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s the only one who thinks so. (He’s been rather silent on the whole Gabryszak thing, don’t you think?) Pigeon and Max, their EmoDems, along with Kristy Mazurek, whose elbows are as sharp as her tongue, got AwfulPAC going just in time for the September primaries. Add in some dubiously sourced campaign cash from various entities, as well as $80k+ from state Senator Tim Kennedy, who owes Pigeon one for maneuvering him into that office, and you’ve got this year’s comet’s skidmarks. 

What did they accomplish? Wes Moore lost, but viciously sabotaged Democrat Wynnie Fisher. Rick Zydel lost, and Pat Burke came out of nowhere to beat everybody. Dick Dobson defeated the politically tone-deaf Bert Dunn, but AwfulPAC abandoned Dobson in October, proving that they were really just Democrats for Tim Howard all along. They tried to take credit for a win in Rochester with which they had nothing to do. Oh, and they returned the queen of transactional politics, Barbara Miller Williams, to the county legislature. But because it’s easier to cast it all as a big loss for Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner, that was the narrative we were all fed

5. Donald Trump

Everyone’s favorite birther started out the year by releasing a forgery of a birth certificate. Why won’t Donald Trump address the allegations that he is the spawn of an orangutan? 

Oh, and now he’s “considering” a run for Governor of the state of New York.

4. The WNY Voter

Byron Brown coasts? Barbara Miller Williams elected again? Carl Paladino elected to the Buffalo school board? Horrible turnout numbers for elections? Can’t we do better than this? 

3. Tim Howard

The elected Erie County Sheriff decided to also appoint himself to a Supreme Court judgeship, but elevated himself to the New York Court of Appeals – maybe even the Supreme Court! 

He unilaterally decided that he wasn’t going to enforce the NY SAFE Act (see #1, below), thus completely misunderstanding how the constitution works and what roles the various governmental branches play. 

2. Chris Collins

Seriously, take your pick – whether it’s his criticism of an historic deal with Iran, Collins’ vigorous support of a government shutdown in a hopeless effort to get the President to ditch Obamacare – and then claiming he didn’t support it at all, or his jejune “poll” of his constituents, Chris Collins proved time and again that he is the worst Congressman WNY has sent to Washington in perhaps forever. No amount of Buffalo News rehabilitation will change this. 

1. Concern-trolling and the NY SAFE Act

If you really think that limiting magazine capacity and requiring more stringent background checks in order to purchase a firearm is a tyrannical usurpation of your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, in a state that already has among the strictest gun laws in the country, you’re having a bit of an overreaction.

I liken it to the kid in class who craves attention, so he casts himself in the role of victim in order to feed the craving. We see you, and your Gadsen flag. However, society has a similar compulsion to balance the right of people to, e.g., send their kids to school and not have them come home in the box because an unhinged lunatic had an arsenal versus your right to own an arsenal

Dishonorable mention:

The same collection of Buffalo plutocrats who gave us such hits as “Dr. James Williams” are now agitating to pay off Buffalo School superintendent Pamela Brown in an effort to be rid of her. Forget that there have been incremental improvements in results under her tenure; forget that Williams was a trainwreck of a disaster, bought and paid for by M&T Bank’s Robert Wilmers; and forget that Brown has been in her current position since June 2012. The bottomless pit of racist, sexist, misogynist invective that some are hurling at her for not adequately herding all her myriad feline coalitions has been appalling. I don’t know why the likes of Paladino don’t just come right out and say what they mean – that she and the board members who appointed her are a sordid collection of incompetent negresses. Brown isn’t perfect, but relentlessly sabotaging her, dehumanizing her, and delegitimizing her isn’t going to fix much. At least give her a chance to succeed or fail. 

Coming soon: best of 2013. If you have a nomination, email me here




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