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Tea Party Protests Grisanti Fundraiser

An exclusive image of the massive tea party protest of Mark Grisanti’s fundraiser, courtesy of @HeyRaChaCha on Twitter


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. 


Swanick’s Money

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Who is funding Chuck Swanick’s Conservative Party run in the 60th State Senate District? We’re told that he’ll do nothing to affect marriage equality, but…

It’s somewhat heartening to know that – at least financially – Swanick finds very little support locally, except from the likes of erstwhile Democrat Joe Mesi. 


Piling On

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I think Mike Amodeo has a hard enough time as it is, given that Governor Cuomo has all but endorsed incumbent Republican Mark Grisanti, that it’s bad form for disgruntled Swanick supporters to pile on. Instead of promoting or assisting the Democrat’s campaign – despite empty pledges to get behind him – they mock him. 

Of course, nominal “Democrat” Chuck Swanick, who challenged Amodeo for the Democratic nomination – and lost quite convincingly – remains in the race because he represents the homophobe vote. His entire reason for being in this race is pure politics, essentially conspiring with Ralph Lorigo’s transactional, unconservative “Conservative Party” to siphon off the homophobe vote from Grisanti and Amodeo.

Grisanti is running negative ads, Swanick “Democrats” are attacking him and mocking him, the Governor’s people are telling him to stay home, and even friendly PACs are withdrawing their pledged support. Grisanti, business interests, and the Governor are attacking Amodeo for a position – a supposed call to get rid of the tax cap – that Amodeo doesn’t even hold

Probably the two biggest issues facing voters in just about every senate district in the state are jobs and hydrofracking. It should come as no surprise that both Grisanti and Amodeo want more jobs. They differ, however, on the issue of hydrofracking, and this is likely why Cuomo and Grisanti are trying to change the subject by making stuff up about the tax cap.

As for the Swanick “Democrats'” “support” of Amodeo, this must be more evidence of what Andrew Cuomo/Steve Casey/Steve Pigeon/Frank Max’s “unity” looks like.  


Chuck Swanick: Progressive?

Yesterday on Facebook, someone I know explained his support for Chuck Swanick for state Senate based on his opinion that Swanick is more progressive on environmental issues than his opponents, and also that he has a better grasp of state issues and their effects on the local community.  

Oh, really? 

I will grant you, he’s more progressive in terms of, e.g., becoming a Republican, cozying up with Giambra, earning personal perks, privileges, patronage, and pay.  I will grant you that he’s more progressive in terms of looking out for #1 above all else, that he is without peer in the business of “protecting Chuck Swanick” and “looking out for Chuck Swanick“.

I will also concede that he is unique in that his bad-government bona fides are unparalleled, and that he and his supporters are undeterred by them. If ever there was an advertisement made to highlight “how government and politics in WNY are horrible things populated by horrible people”, Chuck Swanick‘s name and image would be plastered all over it.  

He should be perpetually and serially unelectable – not just unelectable, but the mere suggestion of his election should send average citizens screaming. 

Last week, proper Democrat Mike Amodeo released his campaign platform. It’s solid, smart, and full of things Democrats should be supporting. So, I’m at a loss to explain why it is that we need a “Democrat” like Chuck Swanick to run against him with the express support of homophobic, fundamentally transactional bad actor, Conservative Party boss Ralph Lorigo

But yeah. “Progressive.” 


Chuck Swanick and Terribleness

Chuck Swanick skulked back into the private sector and out of government in the aftermath of the epic disaster that was the county fiscal meltdown of 2004 – 2005. He went back to his job with CSX, but saw an opportunity last year when State Senator Mark Grisanti voted in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The opportunity was that Swanick could be the conservative Catholic homophobic Democratic candidate and challenge Grisanti. He enlisted the help of local scheissmeister Steve Pigeon, fresh off of a cush State Senate job under his protege-turned-convict Pedro Espada. This means that every hack with a (D) after their name who has a beef with Len Lenihan’s Erie County Democratic Committee had been enlisted in the Pigeon/Swanick cause. 

Swanick, in expressing his disgust and opposition to same-sex marriage, quickly received the endorsement of execrable Ralph Lorigo-led jobs club known as the “Conservative Party” (which is famously inconsistent in its supposed automatic withholding of support for candidates who back same-sex marriage – see Kennedy, Tim). 

What’s so conservative about Swanick? His opponent, Mike Amodeo reminds us of that, as Chairperson of the Erie County Legislature, Swanick requested $4.78 Million for the Legislature’s 2004 budget. Included in Swanick’s bloated budget request were funds for 50 patronage employees. In addition, the Legislature stashed away another $2.7 Million for member items, more commonly known as pork projects. In comparison, the County Legislature’s 2012 budget is $2.96 Million, with no money allocated for member items. The Legislature staff has also since been right-sized to almost half the employees of the Swanick era

“On the eve of the Red/Green Budget Crisis, Chuck Swanick’s focus was on pork and patronage for his political fiefdom,” said his challenger, Amodeo. “Voters have no interest in returning to the days of wasteful spending.”

During Swanick’s tenure at the Legislature, Erie County’s cash reserves dwindled down to a paltry $4 Million. In addition, Swanick helped squander $250 Million of proceeds from the County’s tobacco settlement. Swanick also voted to allow Erie County to sell the Erie County Medical Center to itself, incurring another $200 Million long-term liability in exchange for an approximately $85 Million short-term benefit. New York State eventually determined that Erie County needed “adult supervision” and implemented a control board. 

“When Chuck Swanick left office in 2005, County finances were in complete shambles,” concluded Amodeo. “Chuck’s decision to campaign as a ‘fiscal conservative’ is an insult to every Erie County resident that had their library closed, services cut and taxes raised.”

Remember all that? You should. It’s what sparked a reasonably serious civic discussion about the future direction of the city and county, and started a local tax revolt of sorts as the county’s share of the sales tax inched up to avoid catastrophe. 

Swanick – a former Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat recently accepted two donations totaling $7,000 from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-equality organization based out of Princeton, New Jersey. Since 2007, NOM has spent millions of dollars across the United States to restrict the rights of LGBT Americans, whom NOM Chairman John Eastman has referred to as ‘barbarians’.

Swanick, a 26 year career politician, also received a contribution of $16,800 from Sean Fieler of Princeton, New Jersey. Mr. Fieler, a major Republican donor and hedge fund manager, is chairman of the American Principles Project, whose founder is chairman emeritus of NOM.

 “I am deeply troubled to hear of Chuck Swanick’s taking of campaign funding from NOM, a hate group designated as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” said Bryan Ball, President of Stonewall Democrats of WNY. “Mr. Swanick’s blatant disregard for the equal rights and protections of every Western New York family he seeks to represent is an offensive assault on the right to freedom we value as Americans. The Democratic Party has always stood to aid the civil rights movement, and hate such as Mr. Swanick’s has no place in our great Party. I am proud of all who stand united against such divisiveness. Never should any part of our great Party support his actions.”

According to NOM’s own press release, the organization “intends to participate in legislative contests throughout the state as part of its $2 million commitment to make sure the voters of New York are able to vote to restore marriage in New York”.

Mike Amodeo supports same-sex marriage. He pledges to take on NYPA to ensure that western New York’s waterfronts continue to improve. He is against hydrofracking and the environmental risks that come from injecting bedrock with water and noxious chemicals to extract natural gas from it.  (Swanick essentially supports fracking). He supports term limits and changing Albany’s careerist culture. (Swanick is the opposite). 

Swanick isn’t a Democrat, and I don’t understand his return to politics, except by noting how he differs from the mainstream Democrat running against him. 


Grisanti vs…. Panepinto?

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Marc Panepinto

I’m hearing that Hoytian local attorney Marc Panepinto is seriously considering challenging Republican State Senator Mark Grisanti for SD-60. Grisanti is a former Democrat who defected to the Republican Party and won a very hard-fought election against current Realtor Antoine Thompson.

Although Grisanti endeared himself to Democrats in his district in the wake of his vote on same sex marriage earlier this year, it is an overwhelmingly Democratic district, and unknown what the electorate’s overall thoughts are concerning the Senator’s other policy positions and actions.

No word yet on whether Thompson might want a rematch, as well.