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Democrats: Vote Teachout / Hochul September 9th

Tuesday September 9th is primary day, and Democrats throughout New York State have an important choice to make for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

I’m voting for Zephyr Teachout for Governor, and Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor, and you should, too. 

I am deeply disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s mishandling and abrupt cessation of the Moreland Commission’s investigation into Albany cronyism and corruption. These two topics are, to me, among the most important challenges facing the state today.  The role and power of money in politics, the unmitigated power of incumbency, the dictatorship of Albany authorities and bureaucracies, and the quid-pro-quo legalized bribery of electoral fusion all conspire to keep New York politics dysfunctional, slowly reactionary, and self-indulgent. For this reason, as well as Cuomo’s apparent lies about meddling in the state Senate, I have to register my disgust with the status quo.

These are huge, persistent problems, yet no one in or near power has any incentive to address or change them. Zephyr Teachout has made this the centerpiece of her campaign. 

I don’t do this lightly – my hesitation to denounce Cuomo is informed by how obviously good he’s been for western New York, helping to rebuild the foundation on which a new economy might emerge. We are finally making big leaps into the information age, having long-ago shed our reliance on big industry. We’re also rediscovering the value of skilled trades as an avenue for personal success and entrepreneurship. Having lost the WNY vote to Carl Paladino pretty decisively, Cuomo has paid remarkable attention to our region.  Imagine how good it would be for him to run for national office at some future date, and be able to campaign on how he turned around 50 years of Buffalo’s economic depression. I will enthusiastically vote for Andrew Cuomo in November if he is the party’s nominee. 

Furthermore, the Teachout/Wu ticket is focused on issues that matter only to the 5 boroughs of New York City – risibly so. As the old joke goes, ‘what’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? I don’t know and I don’t care’. Take a look at the five pillars of the Teachout/Wu platform, and the words “Buffalo” and “Western New York” appear exactly zero times. This ticket, as presented, has nothing to say about WNY or upstate issues (except for spotty broadband service and fracking) because they don’t know the first thing about it.  Teachout fumbled questions about keeping the Bills in WNY. Teachout/Wu presents a wide spectrum of points of view about New York State – Upper West and Lower East Side. 

Teachout’s “economy” piece deals mostly with consolidation of power, and the parts about infrastructure deal with the MTA and the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Upstate gets an abrupt shout-out about broadband, but that’s it.  The “education” piece is of general applicability to all of New York, and is replete with positions any Democrat should support – especially when it comes to the shameful way Albany has been balancing budgets on the schools’ backs for several years. On the “environment“, Teachout is the only serious candidate who opposes hydrofracking, full stop. Let Pennyslvania destroy its own aquifers – we like ours just fine, thanks. On “an open democracy“, Teachout talks about reforms that really have little to do with opening up democracy, and talks instead of reforming criminal justice, marijuana laws, and preventing abuse of the disabled. 

But the bigger picture has to do with the way the system itself is rigged – even when it benefits us as western New Yorkers.  It’s simply not being treated like the serious problem it is. That’s why the position on “corruption” is so important to me. The only thing missing – because Working Families Party – is an entry denouncing and promising an end to electoral fusion in New York State. Not incidentally, Teachout has written a scholarly work attempting to prove that embedded in our Constitution is an “anti-corruption principle” every bit as important as, say, separation of powers. 

So, because Teachout’s platform imagines that New York consists – with the exception of the Albany exclave – mainly of territories East of the Hudson and South of Poughkeepsie, I will be voting for Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor. 

Hochul has the administrative and governmental chops to make up for Teachout’s utter lack of experience, and Hochul brings with her a native’s passion and knowledge about rural and western New York realities to help balance out Teachout’s geographically limited platform. Hochul was an independent-minded, conservative Democrat and balances out Teachout’s progressive-left worldview and mindset. Remember – although Teachout is running with Wu and Hochul is running with Cuomo, you can split these slates up however you’d like. Vote Cuomo/Wu, if you prefer. 

This isn’t about conspiratorial fantasies, either. I’m not trying to punish Cuomo for the NY SAFE Act or the dictatorship of the bureaucracy, except insofar as he’s doing nothing to make state bureaucrats answerable (at least indirectly) to their bosses – the people. 

For all the good he’s done for western New York, Andrew Cuomo has deceived Democrats and reformists in this state to the point of outrage. The brazen horse-trading with Senate President Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver to abruptly end the Moreland Commission on corruption was the last straw. No on-time budget is worth sacrificing the public trust yet again. It also speaks to the fundamental anti-democratic unfairness of the continued all-powerful triumverate that presides over Albany’s body politic. Cuomo’s apparent involvement in maintaining a Republican-led Senate is a betrayal made worse by lies

Albany graft and corruption help to stall and demean economic, political, and social progress in every corner of New York State. Teachout deserves support in the upcoming primary because she’s the only candidate who perceives and identifies the problem, and is assigning it the importance it deserves. But Teachout’s political novelty and ignorance about rural and upstate issues demand that the ticket be balanced with someone with experience and a WNY worldview.

Democrats should vote Teachout/Hochul on September 9th. 


Ballot Access & Fusion: Keeping New York Corrupt

It’s petition day throughout New York State, and we’ll learn soon enough that Governor Cuomo will have a primary challenge from the left, and that locally, the Democratic race for the 63rd Senate District (Tim Kennedy, incumbent) is going to be especially fun, as will the Republican challenge to Mark Grisanti, as perennial party-switching candidate Rus Thompson clumsily attempts to manipulate the corrupt fusion system to try and oust the sane guy. 

But it’s not only electoral fusion that’s corrupt and awful, so is the petition process itself. It’s hypercomplicated and deliberately designed to be a minefield for the unwary. It’s not only time to abolish the electoral fusion system and shut down the Wilson Pakulas and backroom deals, but also to simplify the ballot access system to make it easier for candidates to run. The rules for petitioning should be simplified and written in plain English, and there should be an alternative whereby a candidate simply pays a fee (set on a sliding scale, depending on the scope of the office).  Hey, if the state needs another source of revenue, there you go. 

As it stands now, our petitioning process should rightly be named the Election Law Attorney Full Employment Act

As for SD-60, where Grisanti will possibly face off with Rus Thompson, here’s the entire campaign in a nutshell.  I don’t know about you, but I’d choose the calm, professional man in the suit over the wildman in a sweatshirt. 


Kathy Weppner: Why Are American Troops Fighting for Shirtless Chris Lee?

Kathy from Williamsville calls in to Rush Limbaugh in February 2011 to urge people to attend Tea Party Rallies because Chris Lee

Hi, Rush! You know, I want the average American to listen to me. I have my most beloved son, and he’s sitting over in Afghanistan right now while everybody else here is going about their daily business. And we have elected officials getting on a bus so they don’t have to cast a difficult vote. We have president who just submitted a budget that 42 cents on every dollar will be borrowed from a foreign country so that there’s nothing left if he does make it back for his children and his future. We had a congressman here in the 26th District who put his picture — topless, shirtless — on Craigslist. There’s all of this nonsense, and is this what my son is willing to die for? Is this what our sons are doing really difficult things to die for? We’ve gotta rise up. The average American who disengaged a long time ago because they were disgusted, we had better get off of our couches. We had better show up at these Tea Party rallies. We had better reengage. Because there will be nothing left.

RUSH: The second woman in two days who could fill the job of spokesman for the Republican National Committee!…Well said, Kathy. Trust me, don’t doubt me, your passion is shared equally by millions of Americans that you don’t know. You just had ’em sitting up out of their chairs and applauding. I’m glad you called.

I can confirm in March 2014 that we have something left. 


Election Day Gif Recap (Apologies to @goosesroost)

Yesterday, elections were held. With apologies to the Goose’s Roost, a gif recap. 

It was a bad night to be a Democrat in Erie County. I haven’t yet decided what it all means, except that the Republican candidates and messaging resonated with voters, while the Democrats’ didn’t. 

After years of concern-trolling then-Comptroller Mark Poloncarz’s lack of accounting credentials, the Republicans have re-elected a guy with no financial or legal credentials of any sort. 

To top it off, they viciously and dishonorably attacked a civic activist who has a 20-year record of working outside the political system to help reform Erie County government and make it more efficient. 

After all, he committed the sin of “paying off a tax debt over time”. It was like saying someone defaulted on buying a couch because they bought it on credit. 

Republicans are also big fans of the “rule of law”, “term limits”,  and the “constitution”. That’s why they re-elected Sheriff Tim Howard to a third term. 

This is the same Tim Howard who mishandled the Joan Diver investigation, mismanaged the holding center, and saw numerous escapes, including Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, who went on to murder some more. 

But this year, Howard demagogued the NY SAFE Act, appointing himself a de facto Supreme Court Justice and declaring the law unconstitutional before the Court of Appeals ever saw it. 

For their part, the Pigeon cabal that helped to sabotage the Erie County Democratic Committee’s endorsed Sheriff candidate with $112k in likely illegal spending completely abandoned their pick, Dick Dobson, when he outlived his usefulness. 

We also saw a Republican legislative majority emerge yesterday, and time will tell how this will play out. After all, the legislature only has control and discretion over about $100 million; 10% of a billion-dollar budget. I expect more calls for road repairs and less money for social services and things that matter to poor urban residents. 

In particular, Ted Morton, who lost his job and the license to do his job was elected, after launching a despicable, ugly, and dishonorable smear campaign against Wynnie Fisher. In fact, Fisher’s malevolent neighbors defamed her to the Pigeon-backed guy she beat in the primary, who then turned the information over to the Republicans. Hey, Ted Morton, Kristy Mazurek, and Wes Moore, 

Same thing in Orchard Park, where a nasty smear campaign against Republican Pat Keem seems to have backfired on incumbent Janis Colarusso, removing her from office. 

 

On the bright side, although unsuccessful, Republican Jen Stergion ran an energetic and – more importantly – honorable race against Lynn Marinelli.  I hope to see more from her in the future. 

Mark Manna was unsuccessful in his effort to unseat Dr. Barry Weinstein as Amherst town supervisor, but we haven’t heard the last from him, either. 

The Pigeonistas stayed home after helping to sabotage the primaries in September. It’s not about good government or a strong Democratic party with them – it’s about subterfuge and helping Republicans. 

Barbara Miller-Williams was elected to the county legislature again, and it will be interesting to watch and see with whom she decides to caucus. They might want to hire Cash Cunningham to help with this free-for-all. 

And now that the Republicans control the legislature, the patronage gravy train is going to have a brand-new terminal station. 

jetsons

Oh, Byron Brown won re-election to a third term. Our caretaker mayor will take care of ribbon cuttings and patronage hires for another 4 years. 

Sergio Rodriguez, for his part, ran an honorable race and talked about the issues that the big money and elites in Buffalo would prefer to ignore. After all, we have some Wrights, sunsets over water, a suburban office park near downtown, and the best street grid, ever. Sergio, thank you for your efforts and for talking about the real issues that aren’t being addressed meaningfully in city hall. 

Thanks anyway, voters! 

I’ll be joining Mike Caputo on WBEN 930-AM at 10am Wednesday to talk about all of this nonsense.  Here’s audio of me with Mike Caputo on WBEN from this morning: 


Campaign Disclosure: 10 Day Post Primary

If you were a candidate for election involved in a primary earlier this month, your campaign finance disclosure should include a 32 day pre-primary report, an 11 day pre-primary report, and a 10 day post-primary report. For instance, here is Lynn Dearmyer’s list of reports: 

Rick Zydel: 

But the victor of that three-way battle, Pat Burke, is late. As of this morning, his pre-primary reports have shown up. 

They weren’t there yesterday – the pre-primary report was 6 weeks late, and the 11 day was a month late. That’s either the negligence of a crap treasurer or something intentional. I asked him on Twitter:

The last question wasn’t answered. 

Looking at the newly appearing disclosures, in the 32-day, Burke reports $625 in unitemized proceeds from a mid-July fundraiser, which cost about $100 for pizza and beverages. Burke’s campaign bought him $113 pair of shoes for walking door to door, and $213 for “campaign attire” at JC Penney’s – those are new ones on me. He ended the period with $2660 on hand. 

Burke raised another $823 in unitemized contributions at an August fundraiser, and got $50 from Mark Schroeder’s campaign fund, and $250 from Savarino. Robert Sroda donated $1,000 in mid-August.  He pulled in about $3,000 in that period, and spent $3551 on direct mail with Zenger Group, which does tons of work for all sorts of candidates

But we don’t have the 10 day post-primary report, which will show everything that Burke spent in the days leading up to the election. There’s nothing controversial in Burke’s disclosures – no one’s going to make a stink about the suit and shoes, funny as it might be – but the lateness is troubling. 

Turning to this year’s breakaway nominal Democrat shit-stirring, the WNY Progressive PAC finished this year’s primary election cycle with -$18,000. Negative eighteen thousand. 

Steve Pigeon donated a little over $6,000 for stamps and Robocalls – (remember the pro-Fruscione, anti-Hamister mailers in the Falls had stamps on them?) Tim Kennedy ally and cancer peddlers AJ Wholesale gave another $10,000.  Tim Kennedy’s own Senate account ponied up another $40,000 – that makes a total of $125,000 from various open and closed Tim Kennedy campaign accounts.

On the expenditure side, $25,000 was paid to “Landon LLC”, which sounds a lot like Pigeon’s own Landen Associates.  Robocalls were done for $600 by “Van” in “Summerville [sic] MA”. Gia Marketing was paid, as was a Michael Darby, who was paid about $20,000 for a month’s worth of “consulting”. 

Pigeon himself “loaned” the committee another $70,000, leaving total liabilities of $90,000. Forget for a fact that these are the people who brought us the good government activism of Pedro Espada, here’s how they ended up the cycle: 

 

They have Dick Dobson and Barbara Miller-Williams to show for it. One could credibly fund at least 20 successful county legislative races for that kind of money. 

 

 


Awful Endorsements for an Awful Primary Day: #WNYVotes

Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough! First things first.

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as such. They have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. All endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions.

Secondly, here is audio of a podcast I recorded with Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly and Trending Buffalo‘s Brad Riter. In it, we discuss the primary, the state of (mostly) Democratic politics in WNY, and how we got to this awful place.

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/TB09-09-13primary1.mp3

Thirdly, here is some background. Jeremy Zellner defeated Frank Max last year in a hotly contested race for chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee – a win that was ultimately challenged in court, where Zellner’s win was upheld. Since then, Max and a group of dissident Democrats commonly affiliated with former party chair Steve Pigeon have turned their dissidence from passive neglect to active sabotage; chaos for chaos’ sake, as there is very little chance of success and barely any upside whatsoever.

The Mascot for the WNY Progressive Caucus PAC (not real)

In just the last two weeks, the Pigeon faction has created a brand new political action committee called the “WNY Progressive Caucus PAC“. It is operated by Kristy Mazurek, funded by Steve Pigeon, Frank Max, and Senator Tim Kennedy, and has as its spokesman a young Pigeon protege originally from Genesee County.

Typically, these sorts of things used to fly well under the radar, but this year it got blown wide open when a Buffalo News freedom of information request traced inflammatory mailers in two county legislature races to this new entity. Since then, the organization has been effectively outed, as it has begrudgingly (and arguably incompletely) disclosed donor and payee information, showing over $100,000 going in and out of the PAC in just about a week in support of certain Democratic candidates not backed by the party committee.

In addition, the PAC was found to be behind mailers that were sent throughout Niagara Falls in support of one city councilman who is working to halt progress on a prospective hotel project that Buffalo businessman Mark Hamister has proposed. The defamatory mailing went so far as to accuse Hamister of being a criminal.

If you want to get into deep background, consider this: when Max and Zellner squared off against each other for the chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee, conventional wisdom was that Governor Cuomo was backing Max. When Max lost, conventional wisdom was that Cuomo’s people were continuing to back Max against Zellner, and that relations were chilly between Zellner and the Governor.

But a lot has changed in the last year, and the Governor is just fine, thank you, with Zellner, and Max has not been seen with Cuomo as much in recent months, if at all.

To make matters worse, the PAC’s mailer in the Falls was so inflammatory that Hamister was about to pull out of the deal altogether until Governor Cuomo called all parties to intervene and save it. I wonder what Cuomo thinks of Frank Max now that his PAC almost destroyed a development project in a city starved for them?

So, we turn to the races. These are Democratic primaries, mostly in Erie County. I don’t really care about the fusion parties, or whatever the Republicans might be up to.

COUNTYWIDE

Erie County Sheriff (BERT DUNN)

None of this matters if we don’t first come to an agreement on what incumbent Sheriff Tim Howard is. He is looking for a third term, and has been nothing but a bitter embarrassment and disappointment. When he wasn’t screwing up the Joan Diver search or letting Ralph “Bucky” Philips escape from custody, he was catching the attention of the federal Department of Justice due to conditions at the county holding centers. Howard needs to go.

Bert Dunn is the scion to the Bert’s Bikes empire, and his family also founded Dunn Tire. This means he can operate a campaign that is completely self-funded and reliant on nobody. Why is this important? Because Richard Dobson – a nice guy who retired over a decade ago – has no money at his disposal, and there won’t be a lot coming his way. The only way Howard goes is against a credibly well-funded challenger.

The last two Democrats to take Howard on – Fieramusca and Glascott – lost because they were retirees with little money and no political experience. Dobson may be the best guy in the world, but he is exactly like the last two challengers. Democrats need to try something different this time, and Bert Dunn helps them accomplish that.

Dobson allies will point out that Dunn wrote something mean about Obama and Cuomo in a text message to a friend. Who cares? Being Sheriff isn’t about partisan politics or whether Obama is great. It’s about competence, justice, and professionalism, and I have no reason to doubt that Dunn could bring that to the table.

COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Certain races will be closely watched because it takes one seat to flip the Democratic majority into a Republican one. That one seat doesn’t necessarily mean a Republican pickup, by the way – there are at least four nominal “Democrats” vying for a seat, any one or all of whom would gladly strike a deal to share power with the Republicans, just like under Barbara Miller-Williams period of dysfunction and collaboration.

District 1 (TIMOTHY HOGUES)

Tim Hogues is the incumbent. Hogues is chairman of the public safety committee and has helped to restore all the Collins cuts to libraries, rodent control, and a soon to open clinic on Broadway. Hogues is a rising star in the party and someone to watch. Barbara Miller-Williams sold out her party and her community to do Chris Collins’ bidding back in 2009. The de facto Republican legislative majority over which she presided was devastating to her constituents, and she was so politically inept that she approved the redistricting plan that ended up costing her re-election. She is being materially supported by the Max/Mazurek/Pigeon PAC, which has launched a vicious smear campaign against Hogues for having the audacity to act in exactly the way a legislator in a regional governmental entity should act.

District 2 (BETTY JEAN GRANT)

Rumor has it that Tim Kennedy’s $45,000 donation to the Max/Mazurek/Pigeon PAC is revenge for Grant coming very close to unseating him in the state Senate through a write-in campaign last year. Democrat Grant is still smarting over how Kennedy conspired with Steve Pigeon, Barbara Miller-Williams, and Chris Collins to deliver Collins a de facto Republican legislature. Betty Jean is a great advocate for her community, and deserves re-election.

District 7 (LYNN DEARMYER)

This is the Tom Mazur district. This is ground zero for the battle between the Democratic factions. The Pigeonistas are backing former Cheektowaga Councilman Rick Zydel. Zellner (although not the county committee) is backing Lynn Dearmyer, who ran for the seat in 2009. I went online to look and see what the candidates stand for. Zydel doesn’t even have a website where one can look at his platform. That by itself should disqualify him in this day and age. Dearmyer makes much of her personality and biography, and that stuff is all messed up and stuff, but doesn’t really explain what she’d do to change anything, or how she’d be different. Pat Burke also has a website, and it touts his background and achievements, as well. The “issues” section is pretty light, though. He definitely identifies some serious problems, but doesn’t quite get into specifics of any solutions.

Based on that, I would back Dearmyer or Burke. I think I would lean Dearmyer because the outgoing rep is backing her. But for the love of God, people, put some damn ideas up on the internet.

District 8 (WYNNIE FISHER)

So, again – the Pigeon people are backing Wes Moore. Remember that thing I wrote up a few paragraphs about not having a website? Sheesh, neither Moore nor Wynnie Fisher have any significant web presence. They are on Facebook, though. On Fisher’s page, I see her with Mark Poloncarz and Maria Whyte. On Moore’s page, I see an August 28th post from Kristy Mazurek thanking people for coming to a Moore shindig, indicating some form of involvement in the campaign. The problem with that is that Mazurek’s PAC came into existence on the 22nd, and she shouldn’t be coordinating between the PAC and the campaign. I suppose the definition of “coordination” is subject to some debate, but this sure as hell smells like it.

I don’t want another turncoat legislature that hands the body over to the Republicans. Fisher it is.

BUFFALO MAYOR (DEMOCRATIC PARTY): (NO ENDORSEMENT)

I’ve never endorsed Byron Brown before, and I’m not about to start. While Brown hasn’t delivered on the “progress”, as he claims, his challenger Bernie Tolbert has been all over the place in this race. Tolbert’s effort has been so weak that he didn’t just fail to define himself, he was such a nonentity that Brown didn’t find a need to try to define Tolbert, either. Tolbert said people “Believe in Bernie” but didn’t explain why, or for what. Tolbert offers up a choice without a rationale – yeah, Byron is terrible in a lot of ways; a caretaker mayor, but Tolbert only went as far as pointing that out, never giving voters a positive reason why they should choose him instead.

For me, President Obama’s visit – and the way each campaign used it – said it all. While Tolbert got out a quick one-liner about Obama mixing up Higgins and Brown, the Mayor used glowing things Obama said about Buffalo’s recent successes as the template for his own, positive, ad. It was as if Obama was not only endorsing Brown, but telling people that Brown was behind them all. It was the last nail in a coffin that only needed maybe 3.

(CONSERVATIVE PARTY): SERGIO RODRIGUEZ

Seriously, I hope all of the fusion parties go straight to hell, but you go to war with the army you have, not the one you want. Sergio Rodriguez is the Republican candidate who is also vying for the Conservative Party line. I would love for him to have it, because the only thing conservative about Byron Brown (whom that committee has endorsed) is his quiet passivity as mayor over the last two terms. I apologize for omitting this originally, but this is an excellent way to send a message to the “politics as usual” crowd that money and jobs don’t always rule the day. 

NIAGARA FALLS CITY COUNCIL

If you are fortunate enough to live in the Cataract City, and unfortunate enough to deal with its ever-crisis, then do yourself a favor, Democrat, and vote for Andrew Touma, Kristen Grandinetti, and Charles Walker. (It’s a vote-for-any-three election). I don’t know the first thing about them, but I have seen enough about Sam Fruscione in the last week to know that you should never, ever vote for him again for anything, ever.

Questions/comments & hate mail: buffalopundit[at]gmail.com

Follow along on Twitter.


School Budget & Board Elections: Vote Today

Today, communities across New York State will be holding their school tax budget referenda and, in some cases, school board elections. Turnout for these votes is always quite low, yet it’s one of the very few times you have direct control over the taxes you pay – in this case, school taxes assessed against the value of your home.

I live in Clarence, where there’s a battle over a proposed 9.8% rise in school taxes. The proposal rolls right past Cuomo’s property tax cap and needs a 60% supermajority to succeed. 

When we moved to western New York in 2001, we chose to live in Clarence for one sole reason – the excellence of its schools. We have grown to love the town and our neighbors, many of whom also made the move to Clarence because of the school system. It is not hyperbole to suggest that the schools are the town’s very foundation, and if you do harm to them, you harm the entire community. 

Over the past 10 years, the school tax rate has decreased while personnel and non-mandated programs have been cut. Because past budgets were only balanced thanks to use of now-depleted savings, a one-time budget in excess of the cap is necessary to maintain the school curriculum. 

The forces opposed to the school budget are vocal and well-funded. One effort in particular that anyone with a Clarence mailbox knows about has been carefully created and funded from outside the area. Koch Industries’ anti-tax fake grassroots conservative activist group “Americans for Progress” has developed the mail pieces and websites urging a “no” vote and manipulating the data to mislead residents about what’s going on. I, for one, don’t take election of advice from people who proudly, and without irony, place massive election signs on derelict eyesore properties in the town

You can read about the AFP mailers here and here. You can read the reasons to vote YES on the Clarence budget here


[BN]dorsed

The post-Sullivan Buffalo News is releasing its endorsements for the upcoming election. Its endorsement of Stefan Mychajliw over incumbent David Shenk is almost begrudging (registration may be required), reading like an elementary school essay. 

 Mychajliw recognizes his strengths and shortcomings, and would continue the Poloncarz-era oversight of county government.

The editorial board believes Shenk has failed to exert any real independence during his short tenure, and Mychajliw’s education and background is totally inconsistent with accounting, auditing, or any other financial control whatsoever. Mychajliw comes across as the least-bad choice because he’s of the other party. But hasn’t he been campaigning on his independence, rather than his partisanship? 

In the race for the 60th Senate District, it gives incumbent Republican Mark Grisanti the nod, thanks to his votes for marriage equality, a new tier for the state pension system, and his push for UB 2020. The paper’s editorial board gives Democrat Amodeo a one-line “whatever, dude”, and notes that the Conservative Party’s Swanick is a carrer opportunist who embodies homophobic anachronism. At least they got one of those right.  

In the 62nd, incumbent Republican George Maziarz is preferred over Democrat Amy Hope Witryol, mostly because he has clout in Albany, or something. 

There is no mention made, yet, of the 61st District where Newstead’s Justin Rooney is taking on 20-year career politician Mike Ranzenhofer. 

In the congressional races, the Buffalo News wanted to see even a smidge of willingness by the candidates to cross the aisle and act bipartisanly for the good of the country and their districts. In the 23rd District, it picks Republican Tom Reed over Nate Shinagawa, because he said he’d work with Democrats to fix the deficit. The News prefers Democratic incumbent Brian Higgins because he’s a doer who doesn’t take no for an answer, over tea party activist Mike Madigan who had to eschew all of his tea-party ideas in favor of something that might actually sell in a Democratic district – school reform. The News noted that this is a local issue, so he should run for local office. 

But the most striking language came in the News’ endorsement of incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul over Republican Chris Collins. Noting that Hochul has shown significant independent streaks during her short tenure, Collins is quite the opposite. In fact, the News writes that the choice of Hochul over Collins is “clear and obvious”. 

More than that, her Republican opponent, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, flat-out has no business in Congress, unless voters want to see more of the division and rancor that has already made this Congress the lowest-rated ever in an election year.

Collins has a chief executive mindset and lacks both the willingness to compromise and the people skills that effective lawmakers need. Many voters seem to recognize that, given that polling shows a dead-even race in the overwhelmingly Republican district.

What Congress desperately needs are representatives who are passionate about their districts and their country, but who recognize that their political adversaries may also have legitimate viewpoints that their constituents endorse. Hochul has already demonstrated her commitment to that kind of leadership. She is devoted to representing a largely conservative district well.

I can only imagine how that editorial board interview went. Other papers live-Tweet, videotape, or otherwise release those interviews. The Buffalo News should do the same. It continues, 

Collins, meanwhile, lacks the ability to perceive shades of difference in issues. He says he would be willing to compromise with Democrats as long as they first agree to his vision. That, in fact, is a barely disguised pledge not to compromise. That destructive tactic, routinely practiced by House Republicans, nearly led the country to default on its debt last year and consequently led to this January’s looming – and economically disastrous – fiscal cliff.

Collins is a single-minded, intensely focused individual, a quality that has no doubt helped produce his notable success as a businessman. But it didn’t work well for him as county executive and it will work even worse in what should be the collaborative process of lawmaking.

The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a staunch Massachusetts liberal, was widely regarded by his peers – Democratic and Republican – as a top-notch legislator. Why? Because he was willing to form relationships across the aisle to achieve important national goals. He worked with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is at least as far to the right as Kennedy was to the left.

Hochul has the necessary combination of vision, pragmatism and friendliness to adopt that model. Collins does not.

Collins clearly has an interest in public affairs and we encourage him to continue that interest. But he is not cut out for legislative office. Sometimes leaders have to play different roles than the ones they imagine. Collins should find that role and Hochul should go back to Congress.

I can’t remember ever reading a more strongly worded editorial against a particular candidate’s bona fides from any paper, ever. 




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