Buchanan Without Shame

Racist Nazi apologist and anti-Semitic Holocaust denier Pat Buchanan is, at long last, leaving MSNBC. In a column, he whines about being “blacklisted”, evoking the specter of the McCarthyist Red Scare of the early 50s. It’s a tricky line for Buchanan to walk – occasionally, he uses the McCarthy witch hunts as a sword against perceived liberal smears against, e.g., Sam Alito. But on the other hand, Buchanan is quite clearly, at least, a McCarthy apologist

But Buchanan is off the air in part because of a grassroots clamor over what he wrote in a book. He equates a changing culture in a country, which has from its very founding been a multi-cultural melting pot to its very destruction. He’s free to espouse those views, to publish them, defend them, disseminate them, and to find another damn TV network on which to spout them. He’s not entitled to a lucrative MSNBC contract, and it’s frankly high time this washed-up, anachronistic ironic xenophobe was no longer polluting the airwaves.

This isn’t brought about due to some unconstitutional “House Un-American Activities Committee” holding a public show-trial “hearing” over Buchanan’s links to an unpopular political organization. Likening a popular effort to have him removed from the airwaves to mid-century government-backed witch hunts and government-sanctioned shunning is disingenuous, at best.

Buchanan always ran for office as a populist blower of every paranoid dog-whistle available. He should understand the power of average people.   

Is This An Odd or an End?

1. The Mayor held a campaign rally gave his “State of the City” address yesterday, and the two big takeaways from it are: 

a. The city will challenge local businesses to hire at least one city resident. 22,000 new jobs. 

b. The city will put out an RFP for development of the Webster Block – a blighted surface parking lot in front of the First Niagara Center and HSBC Atrium. That’s one ugly lot down, hundreds to go. This is an epic middle finger to ECHDC, which had included the Webster Block in its comprehensive plan for Canalside for several years. As usual, there was little communication between the city and ECHDC, and its chairman, Jordan Levy, learned about the Mayor’s decision from the press. 

c. The city will set up a $15 million “quality of life” fund. The natural question is, why did it take the Mayor seven years to come up with this? 

If those are the biggest, most visionary ideas that Byron Brown can conjure, then he really has established why we need someone new, with vision – with a plan – to be mayor of a shrinking city with myriad unaddressed issues. 

2. Carl Paladino submitted plans to turn the crumbling, oversized planter known as the Greystone Building into luxury apartments. This is clearly a positive move, and one that took far too long to come about. 

3. At some point, certain entitled loudmouths will quiet down and let the owner of Acropolis complete the expansion of his business and let him play music within its walls. People who want peace and quiet move to the suburbs. People who want a lively, vibrant community that is tolerant of busy businesses and sometimes conflicting lifestyles live in cities. Ironically, the people complaining hardest about noise and congestion – things that are indicative of a vibrant and successful city environment – purport to be city boosters. (Also, what constitutes a “neighbor” doesn’t include “people who live many blocks away”).  Also, did Janice Okun write this comment at the Buffalo News story linked-to above? 

4. In case you missed it, the identity of the Republican front-runner has changed yet again. While unemployed millionaire Mitt Romney has been the presumptive nominee for months, Republicans haven’t been thrilled with that prospect, and have at various times flirted Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and now – Rick Santorum.

http://polltracker.talkingpointsmemo.com/chart/us-pres-12-2?f=%7B%22t%22%3A%7B%22Internet%22%3A1%7D%2C%22p%22%3A%7B%7D%2C%22c%22%3A%7B%7D%2C%22w%22%3A%7B%7D%2C%22m%22%3Anull%7D&left=0&right=99999999999

The former Pennsylvania Senator is one of the most reactionary and medieval culture warriors out there – his views would enable him to run for Pope. He wants to ensure that Americans all adhere to the same Catholic ethos that he follows, and essentially criminalize anything else. He’s exactly what the bizarre tea party ordered, and here’s his newest ad:  

 5. A guy is going to get to risk his life, another Konst is running for office, and maybe it’s time the Grisantis got a reality show. 

6. Posting will be very light over the next week. Have a great winter break. 

The Scale of the Universe

You’ll need Flash to see this, but this is pretty cool and reveals the scale of the universe. 

Flash Games and Embed Code
http://www.mad4flash.com/games/the-scale-of-the-universe.swf
Flash Games and Embed Code

Frowny Face

Barbecue Brisket and Pulled Pork w Sides @ Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Stamford, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey will get a Dinosaur BBQ before Buffalo gets one. Brooklyn, too. The Syracuse-based BBQ joint already has branches in Manhattan, Rochester, and Troy. Dinosaur has been sniffing around Buffalo for quite some time, so yesterday’s “news” really wasn’t. 

It’s like the saddest Page Six ever. 

So, we just have to wait for a Connecticut suburb and a New Jersey city to get their outlets of an upstate NY success story, first. And then a bit longer. 

Screamy Grisanti Casino Fight: NOW A TALKIE

Courtesy of WNYMedia.net, here is the video – with audio – of the aftermath of the Grisanti fight at the Seneca Niagara Casino last weekend. 

 

Valenti's: The Eden FOIL

This is the final set of documents I’ve received pursuant to Freedom of Information Law requests, relating to the owners of the 2 1/2-star Valenti’s Restaurant. These are public records that are available to anyone. Out of an abundance of caution, I have redacted names and contact information of minors and some other individuals who have not been part of the general Valenti’s story.

And after reviewing these three municipalities’ FOILs, ask yourself: how many times have you had police involvement in your life since November of last year? Valenti’s: The Eden FOIL

Valenti’s: The Eden FOIL

This is the final set of documents I’ve received pursuant to Freedom of Information Law requests, relating to the owners of the 2 1/2-star Valenti’s Restaurant. These are public records that are available to anyone. Out of an abundance of caution, I have redacted names and contact information of minors and some other individuals who have not been part of the general Valenti’s story.

And after reviewing these three municipalities’ FOILs, ask yourself: how many times have you had police involvement in your life since November of last year? Valenti’s: The Eden FOILhttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/81580261/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-1mkypr8w9iqpo918q0jj

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Seneca Anti-Grisanti PR Gone Bad (UPDATED x2)

I realize that the facts are still fluid with respect to the night that State Senator Mark Grisanti and his wife had at the Seneca Niagara Casino this past weekend. I don’t know how intoxicated anyone was, but whoever was the physical aggressor(s) here is in the wrong. 

The Grisantis got out front of the story right away over the weekend, and Seneca loyalists pushed back hard on Monday, accusing Grisanti of “sticking his nose in” where it didn’t belong, and of being intoxicated; neither of which justify being physically pummeled, incidentally. 

I think the incident highlights the primary reason why the Pataki deal to allow the Senecas to annex sovereign exclaves in downtown Buffalo and Niagara Falls was so fundamentally wrongheaded. If we’re to have class III casino gaming in these cities, then it should be legal, tightly regulated, and well taxed. Instead, we’ve permitted a situation where a foreign nation is able to carve out a swath of downtown with dubious police and court jurisdiction when we have alleged crimes and altercations such as this. 

Yesterday, a young Buffalonian named Matt Ricchiazzi inserted himself into the Grisanti matter. Ricchiazzi is a relatively recent Cornell graduate, and has somewhat famously failed to make the ballot in just about every political race he’s run.  He’s had some good ideas for Buffalo under the auspices of his changebuffalo.org, but the perception in the political community is that he wants a fast track to political power without doing much grassroots-type legwork, like becoming a committeeman, for instance. He was, at last check, a supporter of Senator Grisanti, even after the passage of same-sex marriage legislation last year. 

However, Ricchiazzi’s most recent known employment was with Seneca Holdings, LLP, the Seneca Nation’s investment entity. I don’t know whether he is a registered Seneca, but his “religious views” are listed at Facebook as “Haudenosaunne/Ongweo:weh”. 

In the wake of the Grisantis-go-to-the-Casino story, Ricchiazzi took to a Twitter account he seldom (if ever) previously used, and has just as quickly deleted. Because his Twitter account has been deleted, I had to scan through a cached version of the Twitter apps on my phone: 

Ricchiazzi was incensed that the media were reporting that “Seneca businessmen” at the bar had beaten the Grisantis without provokation. He was pushing a story that Grisanti was extremely intoxicated and belligerent, and took to Twitter to argue with Grisanti supporter and Republican political strategist Michael Caputo. 

 

Later in the day, I received an email from Ricchiazzi, as did just about every other current and former journalist and commentator working in Buffalo. Including a few weatherpeople.

 

I emailed him back,

 

WGRZ’s Michael Wooten echoed my request, to which Ricchiazzi responded, 

When I asked him if he was speaking on behalf of the Seneca Nation, he replied that he was not; that he was speaking only as an individual. 

So, why did Ricchiazzi suddenly quiet down and delete his Twitter account? Sources close to the Grisanti camp say that Ricchiazzi has been contacted by the authorities. Over the weekend, Ricchiazzi sent text messages to Senator Grisanti and his chief of staff, Doug Curella. In those text messages, which have been turned over to the police, Ricchiazzi claims that he saw the surveillance and knows that Grisanti and his wife were drunk instigators, that the Senator used a racial slur, and that Ricchiazzi would run a Republican to primary Grisanti on that line, in conjunction with a relentless smear campaign. This would likely set up a 3-way race, as Carl Paladino (a genuine, if flawed, player in Republican politics) has already pledged to support a right-wing primary against Grisanti. 

But Ricchiazzi apparently went one step too far – in one text, he allegedly demanded a $20,000/month job from Grisanti in exchange for his silence and to prevent him from smearing and running a candidate against the Senator. Obviously, Grisanti’s team was tickled by the idea of a kid who couldn’t get on the ballot for the the Buffalo school board throwing fictitious political weight around, but the demand for money was more insidious and likely illegal extortion or blackmail. The Grisanti aide who received the text replied that this demand was completely inappropriate, and Ricchiazzi “withdrew” his “offer”. 

Yet sources close to the Senator also say that Ricchiazzi sent a text message to Grisanti himself on Saturday, expressing shock and dismay at what had happened to him and his wife at the casino. In it, Ricchiazzi told the Senator to sue the casino and the Senecas for the assault, and that Ricchiazzi could act as an advisor against the Senecas on the Senator’s behalf. 

Larceny by extortion is defined in New York’s Penal Law 155.05(2)(e) when a person, “compels or induces another person to deliver … property to himself or to a third person by means of instilling in him a fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the actor or another will: … Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against him; or (v) Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule; …or (ix) Perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.”

It would appear that Ricchiazzi’s texts threatened to accuse Grisanti of criminal or socially unacceptable behavior if Grisanti didn’t pay Ricchiazzi $20,000/mo. Police are investigating the matter.  The Buffalo News obtained vertical iPhone video of the fight’s aftermath, and it is silent due to profanity, and the News says no one uses a racial epithet. It’s not really conclusive of much.  The Niagara Falls Police are not bringing any criminal charges. But whatever PR headway the Senecas may be making with respect to this incident, Ricchiazzi’s self-insertion in the controversy hasn’t furthered that effort. 

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

At 8pm Monday night, I emailed Ricchiazzi for a comment, informing him that I was running with this story regarding his text messages to the Senator and his aide, and noting the deletion of his Twitter account. I told him I would be completing my story at 6:30am on Tuesday. Apart from a “Thanks!”, I have not received anything more substantive from Mr. Ricchiazzi.  

UPDATE:  I called Phil Pantano, the spokesperson for Seneca Gaming, who informs me that he’s never heard of Mr. Ricchiazzi, that he’s had no contact with Mr. Ricchiazzi, and that whatever Mr. Ricchiazzi was trying to do was not in any way solicited or sanctioned by the Seneca Gaming Corporation. Mr. Ricchiazzi emailed me after this post went up to say, 

I’d be happy to tell you the story — and a lot of other stories on Grisanti’s office that pale in comparison to this recent incident.  We should meet for coffee sometime and discuss. Let me know when you’re free.
 
Looking forward to speaking with you,

 

UPDATE x2: Mr. Ricchiazzi emails as follows: 

My text message to Mark on Saturday morning was in the context of just having read initial media reports, which suggested that Maria was horrifically beaten. I spent 5 months of my life helping Grisanti get elected, and Maria has treated me so kindly. She is such a nice, gracious, beautiful person. I wanted to make sure Maria was alright, and at that time I encouraged Mark to file a lawsuit.

After I realized that Mark was using the racist stereotype of “drunk Indians” as an escape goat for his own drunken intoxication, I was upset that Doug would recommend such an inappropriate and racist media strategy. As a friend, I told Doug that the video and audio footage that exists is damning and is a political liability.

Via text message to Doug, I offered to help them walk back their racism as a media consultant, and told them my monthly rate, which is not unreasonable for the industry. Doug misinterpreted me trying to be helpful as a threat, and responded offensively, as if I was trying to demand something from them.

I was offended by his reaction to my offer of help, and even more deeply offended by their use of racism and unfair stereotypes against Native Americans — and I will be saying so publicly to combat this type of bias. Political speech is the most legally protected of all speech.

I did not commit, consider, or attempt to do anything illegal.

I’m puzzled by your characterization of this situation, which I frankly don’t understand. I don’t see how I’m the story, or how I’m central to this situation. I took extensive coursework in indigenous political theory as an undergraduate, and I’m an activist on Native issues. That’s all.

He also adds: 

I’m not affiliated with the Seneca Nation of Indians. I’m Cayuga, bear clan. My usage of the word “us” that you cite, I admit, was too loose.

 

Valenti’s: The West Seneca FOIL

Complaints of criminality against Terry Valenti and Lori Brocuglio – formerly of the late, unlamented, Okun 2 1/2 star-rated “Valenti’s Restaurant” – reached even into towns with which they were unaffiliated. After all, the couple lived in Eden and their restaurant was in North Tonawanda. So, why did I FOIL the West Seneca Police Records? 

Because Brocuglio’s “partner”, Melissa Janiszewski, lives there, and I thought there might be something on file.  I fully expected no hits, but instead I got two revealing pages. 

On January 18, 2012, Janiszewski contacted the West Seneca police to inform them that she had unexpectedly received in the mail a bill from Time Warner Cable for $211.99. It was interesting because Janiszewski doesn’t have a Time Warner Cable account in her name, and because it was for service to a residence at 9003 Gowanda State Road in Eden. Coincidentally, that is the address where Valenti and Brocuglio lived. 

Brocuglio had filed an earlier police report against Janiszewski, claiming that she had property belonging to her. The police took no action, as it was a civil matter and not any sort of theft. 

Valenti’s and Brocuglio’s apparent theft and use of Janiszewski’s credit and identity in order to secure services from Time Warner Cable, however, are quite serious. Especially because it’s unclear whether this was an isolated incident, or a pattern of behavior that has yet to be uncovered. 

Valenti’s: The West Seneca FOIL

http://www.scribd.com/embeds/81453515/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-1m2hwgedlxqbvxexn1x7

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McCarthyisms: Lorigoist Stenography

Buffalo’s sleepiest political columnist™ strikes again!

Speaking of the Grisanti district, much has been made in some quarters about the efforts of Kitty Lambert — a same-sex marriage advocate and head of a group called Grisanti Grassroots – to register about 300 sympathizers in the Conservative Party. The idea would be to build support for Grisanti in the minor party should he face a primary over his 2011 vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

But Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo says about one-third of those new Conservatives hail from Niagara County, which is not expected to be part of the new district. And he points out that Conservative honcho Billy Delmont signed up another 200 Conservatives himself over the past few months. Those new Conservatives may not be as enthusiastic about the Grisanti vote.

His mustachioed somnolence also stuffed Sunday’s column with the third or fourth mention of Barry Weinstein and Chris Collins stalking NY-26, and how Collins in particular loves that he won all the Erie County towns in the district when he ran. 

This is because much the suburbanite electorate is comprised of low-information WBEN voters. 

But that Grisanti thing – “much has been made in some quarters”. Passive voice + strawman, paired with supposed information from what amounts to the boss of a political gang, just shouldn’t be in the paper. 

Same-sex marriage and civil rights advocate Kitty Lambert set Stenographer Bob right.  She runs a group called “Grisanti Grassroots” which has been working to register same-sex marriage proponents as Conservative Party members to help Grisanti should there be any primary. 

Dear Bob:

I was pleasantly surprised to see my name in your column today, especially since I had not spoken to you. I was more surprised to see that you relied solely upon the Conservative Party to provide you with information about our registration drive. Of course, they know none of the details; we didn’t provide them with courtesy copies of our work…

… only 12.5% of the 304 Conservative Party members we registered are from outside Erie County – and nowhere near one-third are from Niagara County.

They lied to you.

Also, my election attorney advised me that, according to NYS Election Law Section 5-304.3, only voters whose registrations were collected and submitted before October 15, 2011 can legally vote in the 2012 Erie County Conservative Party Primary. That’s why we hurried to get it done. That’s also why we did it quietly: so the homophobes in the National Organization for Marriage wouldn’t do the same thing and negate our efforts. We caught them by surprise and they aren’t happy about it.

If our group could have been registering new Conservatives legally qualified to vote in the 2012 primary AFTER October 15, 2011, we would have certainly registered four or five times the voters we did. Therefore, not even one of the voters Billy Delmont allegedly registered “in the past few months” will be legally permitted to vote in the 2012 primary. The only exception to this rule are voters who just turned 18 years old after October 15, 2001 – and I doubt crusty old Billy Delmont knows two 18 year olds, let alone 200.

They lied to you again.

Perhaps we can talk on the telephone or over coffee the next time you write about a project I’m coordinating. My number is 716-xxx-xxxx. I would be delighted to talk or meet with you, as I am an avid reader of your column. And I won’t lie to you.

Sincerely,

Kitty Lambert-Rudd

Coordinator

www.GrisantiGrassroots.com

This is probably illustrative of why buyers of the paper version of the Buffalo News prefer its coupons over anything else.

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