The illuzzi Legacy

Let’s operate under the assumption that there is/are no god(s); that there is no heaven or hell, and that when you die you no longer exist. You are nothingness. There is no life everlasting where you get to see all your loved ones and hang out with all your heroes. These are all fairy tales that people made up to make death less scary, and with the advent of “hell”, we scare you straight. Then again, for a lot of people, you can apparently be a horrible miscreant 6 days a week so long as you go to services and confess or ask forgiveness on the 7th. 

So, while operating that assumption you have the choice of being a good person, or a bad person. You have numerous chances each day to do the right or wrong thing. If you have faith, you figure doing the right thing will make your god happy, and you can ease your slide into heaven. But when you don’t have faith, being nice or good is something you undertake for its own sake; something you do simply because you choose it. Your only life everlasting is your memory and legacy – how you leave this world, and how you’re remembered. Joe Illuzzi, who died yesterday, was a very pious man. 

About a year ago, it was revealed that Joe Illuzzi filed for bankruptcy. At the time, we were still writing for another website, and both Chris and I mocked him for being a deadbeat. He was incensed and, as usual, threatened to “reveal” some utter fabrication about me in an effort to shut me up. So I called him – it was Election Day. I told him to do his worst and print whatever he wants. But as we got to talking, he explained to me that he was hooked up to oxygen and was close to death. He told me that he was declaring bankruptcy because it was his last chance to not saddle his young daughter with his estate’s growing debt. I thought that was a rare show of humanity from someone I hold in low regard. Clearly, I have no problem with his daughter and thought that, in this case, he was doing a noble deed. I removed my posts and Tweets out of respect for that. 

But make no mistake – as far as the political scene in western New York is concerned, Joe Illuzzi left a sordid, hateful, and sad legacy. I received numerous emails from elected officials and hopefuls who unloaded years’ worth of frustration. If you’re not already aware, what Illuzzi ran was a shakedown operation. I can’t tell you how many elected officials appreciated the things we wrote about him over the years – exposing his operation, and how little his site was actually read – because they were sick of being bullied by him. You can go to Glenn Gramigna’s site right now and see that the Illuzzi business model remains alive and well, although Gramigna is less of a bully and more of a nebbish. 

Here’s how it works, in a nutshell: the politician buys an ad on the site. The website owner publishes the ad and agrees to publish all of your campaign’s press releases. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the website owner will take the advertiser’s side in any dispute with a non-advertiser. In the rare instance where both candidates advertise, Illuzzi would take the side of the more conservative advertiser, the one with bigger pockets, or the one who is aligned with either Steve Pigeon, Ralph Lorigo’s Conservative Party, or with the Erie County GOP. 

Imagine that – in just 7 months, Mike Hudson leaves Niagara Falls for L.A., and Joe Illuzzi is gone. Which website will Steve Pigeon now use to get his message out? Will someone take over Illuzzi’s site? Will it be the Niagara Falls Reporter? Where will we now find supposedly earnest paeans to alleged Albany cults

Without electoral fusion, and the transactional interference by minor parties in our political system, there would have been no Illuzzi website. Under the Orsini regime, you could only be assured of the IP line if you advertised with Illuzzi. No exceptions. Likewise, I’m aware of it being a condition precedent for candidates to buy an ad after securing a nomination from various parties at various times. A racket. 

We were never able to convince a politician to record a conversation with Illuzzi to reveal the way he operates. Although New York has a one-party consent rule for recording phone calls, the political fallout was something no one wanted to risk. What Illuzzi did was commit extortion on a daily, casual basis. If you didn’t pay him, he’d threaten you, he’d print horrible rumors about you, he’d make up lies about you, he’d threaten to destroy you. It was truly a protection racket, and he was doing other people’s dirty work. 

Because one thing about Joe Illuzzi is that he was always influential when it came to the horrible, transactional Independence “Party”. Back when the local racket was run by Springville barber Tony Orsini, Illuzzi would print whatever Orsini told him to write, and swaying the IP nomination was one way Steve Pigeon held onto his political influence after he was replaced as Democratic committee chairman. So it should come as no surprise that Illuzzi loved the legislative coup of 2010, he loved Golisano’s short-lived “Responsible New York”, which was so “responsible” it brought now-convicted-felon Pedro Espada to a position of great influence in the state Senate. 

Illuzzi also hated Joel Giambra and was his biggest critic during the budget crisis of the last decade. (But – because of his backing by Pigeon – published all sorts of puffery about budget crisis bad actor Chuck Swanick just this year). Giambra is now an influential Republican consultant/operative who is very close to State Senator Mark Grisanti. 

Speaking of Grisanti, Illuzzi also hated gay people. Last year, Grisanti’s vote for same sex marriage came very close in time to the death of Williamsville North freshman Jamey Rodemeyer. Illuzzi was a pious attendee of a local megachurch and was consistently, devastatingly homophobic. He wrote and said utterly horrible things about people who are homosexual, and about the homosexual community  in general. When same-sex marriage was passed, he wrote terrible things. When Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life after being bullied for being different, Illuzzi sided with the bullies. It was one of the rare instances where Illuzzi found himself with public rebukes from people who demanded he take their ads down. He always refused, and the checks had already cleared, but he was unrepentant and swung back at his critics like a cornered animal. 

It seems there’s some idiot tradition – completely unencumbered by facts or history – where people are expected automatically to be respectful of the dead, no matter what. I don’t understand that tradition. Just because someone stops breathing and descends into a box in the ground doesn’t mean we need to ignore the very real fact that the person led a life significantly pockmarked with crime, neglect, and hatred. Those are choices that person made, and we shouldn’t simply ignore them because he suddenly finds himself without any vital signs.

I wish Joe’s family well, and hope they find comfort in their grief.  


  • The things people are going to say about you when you are dead Alan (what they already say about you). Just as long as you are prepared for the like – cast your stones. 

    • I’m not sure Alan cares what people say now, nor do I think he’ll care after he passes. 

      Has he printed anything false about Mr. Illuzzi here?

    • Well, here’s the thing, concerned anonym. I don’t really know what people will say about me when I’m dead, but as long as it’s the truth, I don’t much care.

      I’ll note you haven’t said that I’ve written one factually inaccurate thing in my post, instead you just turn it around – like a 2nd grader – on me. Nah nah, you’re a doodyhead, too.

      Yes, I am a doodyhead, and I’m proud of the doodyhead that I am. Because for all my myriad faults, one thing I’ve never done – and will never do – is threaten to denigrate a person unless they pay me. I don’t run a racket, I don’t run a protection scheme, and I don’t conspire with people to assault their enemies with lies.

      I don’t know who you are, and you’re too much of a coward to reveal it, so your opinion – such as it is – is, ultimately, meaningless drivel. Clearly you have a beef with me, given that your only tweets in the last 2 weeks have been insults directed at me. I hope you find comfort in just how pitiful a coward you are.

  • I don’t always agree with Alan but I think this was a very fair piece on the “career” of Joe Illuzzi.  Alan isn’t dancing on the grave.  He’s not taking cheap shots.  He is not commenting on Joe’s personal life.  Joe Illuzzi chose to operate a certain way in the political arena and the fact he has passed does not change that.

  • I am impressed that you made the distinction between his professional and personal life.  Having seen him in action and been very sickend by his “business” model and his hatefulness, I don’t know if I could have been a generous.  Joe was a charlatan and bad for Buffalo. 

  • Alan is far more generous here than I would be on this occasion if I wrote a blog and if anyone cared what I thought.  Suffice it to say that my prayer list at Mass did not grow longer this week.

    •  ………posted 10:58 am, September 25, 2012 >

      Michael Caputo: “May he rest in peace, safe from the pain of his illness – and may he meet a forgiving God.” ………posted 9:23 am, September 26, 2012 >
      Michael Caputo:  “Alan
      is far more generous here than I would be on this occasion if I wrote a
      blog and if anyone cared what I thought.  Suffice it to say that my
      prayer list at Mass did not grow longer this week.”

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~WOW ~ i wish my dry cleaner offered a 24hr turn around service like that !  i guess if anyone can appreciate the comforting, self serving fantasy of a “forgiving God” it would be the likes of you, Mike?  i’m still struggling though with the image of you, in a “generous” mood, and at MASS !?!where do people like you celebrate mass?  kneeling on hot rocks, near a lake of fire?  this shit storm of posthumous contempt for your crony Joe can hardly come as a big surprise to the likes of you, or your buddy Carl, in light of  his own words ~ “I’m facing some major demons here, I needed someone (Michael R Caputo) who could go
      right back on top of them in a matter of minutes,” Mr. Paladino said. “YOU’VE GOT TO LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE GOING TO BE PUNISHED.”the operative expression here seems to be “major demons”. it’s a shame that birds of your feather, can’t be buried together.

      • I don’t know who you are talking about, PaulMorgan. I see no disagreement between my first and last statements regarding Illuzzi. Also, Illuzzi was never my crony and I never joined the ranks of his contemptuous ilk. I have no idea who you are, nor do I care, but I do know this: you cannot stand in judgement of me and I laugh at your puerile attempt.

        As for wishing me dead: that’s some sick shit. I hope you, too, meet a forgiving God in your end. And I wish you a long life (of continued mediocrity).

        • my, what noble and delicate sensibilities from the guy who’s public role in Carl Paladino’s failed gubernatorial debacle was nothing if not rank, contemptuous, and full of “sick shit”…we all saw “the e-mails”. 

          congratulations Mike, you’re NOT a known extortionist!
          point taken, and  my sincere apologies if i gave that impression.  however, what you DO have in common with Joe Illuzzi is that  you’ve both practiced, and financially benefited from – the dark art of character assassination politics in which  issues, and policy, take a back seat to baser human instincts, and salacious innuendo.

          “Mr. Paladino considers Mr. Caputo the campaign’s creative force, devising his go-for-the-jugular offensives.”   ~ NY Times

          unlike  one of your notable associates, i used words to make my point, not a
          baseball bat.   i’ve quoted your own statements, and cited attributed sources – i didn’t “hire strippers to embarrass” you, or photo shop you “shirtless in the shower, and covered in mud” as part of an effort to portray you as a slimy politico.  you are correct however that you have “no idea” who i am.  you have no  idea who the  tens of thousands of other decent LGBT New Yorkers are either – but that doesn’t stop you from making a living off attacking their reputations, dignity, or civil liberties.  make no mistake Sir, we all “know” who you really are.

          “May he rest in peace, safe from the pain of his
          illness – and may he meet a forgiving God.” 

          by any measure, that is a “prayer”,  but then, you
          really wouldn’t  know anything about universal compassion, human dignity, or sincerely generous spiritual
          intention, would you?  your cynical and calculated reference to “going to Mass” is the real disingenuous “sick shit” here.  guys like you are the reason many decent people of conscience  won’t set foot in a church, and have rejected your meaningless, hypocritical pretense of “religion”.

          • Paul, you are clearly without a clue. If you want to know more about what I’ve done in support of marriage equality, please ask my dear friends Kitty and Cheryl Lambert Rudd or one of the many other LGBT locals I know and respect. They’ll fill you in, maybe even help you correct the trajectory of your vitriol.

            You are right about one thing: I’m a hired gun. That’s the path I chose; I don’t shrink from it or the legitimate criticism it brings. However, equating my personal views with those of my past clients is naive at best. I don’t blame you for the evils of the meat packing industry just because you flip burgers for a living.

            I wear your legitimate scorn as a badge of honor but your inaccuracies – you own. Good luck to you – I’m out.

          • Mike: Are you proudly acclaiming in public your support of Gay Marriage?  If so good for you, but it is time for you to stop going to communion Mike and maybe join us on the Democratic side, like Alan did.  It is time for you and Alan to see your hypocritical ways.  Today is the day Mike.  You and Alan should amend your ways.  Do something positive for once.  Build something up instead of tearing things down.  You and Alan together should do something – anything – just start with one thing, a first thing that would actually benefit our community.  Start today gentleman.  It is not too late and you are both too talented to waste your lives being so hateful.  

          • HA! My Deadhead buddies have been trying to convert me to Democrat for 30 years. It’s an ongoing enterprise.

            As for marriage equality, I’ve been up front about my support for as long as I can remember. I have far too many gay friends to ever take a position that would prevent their happiness. They feel the same way about me. That’s equality, too.

          • Mike, my memory of you is first working for the
            hateful Carl Paladino, the hateful homophobicCarl Paladino and arranging that famous encounter with Yehuda Levin.  More than anything else that probably killed whatever chanceCarl had of getting a serious hearing on his message east of the Genesee River.  No wonder Carl stiffed you on your salary.  Now you’re working for Mark Grisanti again for a paycheck
            and now we embrace you as a gay activist?   Idon’t care that you make a living off our politicalsystem, but you can’t make it and work for candidates who share your beliefs.   Assuming youhave any core beliefs.   Seeing all this crap withyou and Illuzzi and Paladino and let’s not forgetGeorge Maziarz makes me very happy that I havethrown my lot with Mike Amodeo, a true progressive Democrat who actually has a campaign that consists of people who do share hisvision.

          • Bruce: I do not work for Mark Grisanti. I am not a gay activist. I do not seek your embrace. I do not take your criticism seriously. Good luck to you – I’m out.

          • This is the record you made for
            yourself, live with it.

          • dear Michael “hired gun” Caputo,

            i would really like to visit the Bizarro World you politicos inhabit  –  that alternate reality in which HOW you make your living, has no bearing on “WHO you are” as a person?   where the atmospheric miasma belched in the company you keep is no indication of your own sterling character?  a threshing plane upon which you are utterly absolved of any personal responsibility for the muck you rake, or the contentious political environment you help create?    when prattle and  platitudes  about a soul’s passing, and wishing God’s forgiveness is not considered “prayer”.

            like any shiftless carney grifter,  the more you talk Mike, the more you strip the “illusion” from the reality of your “game”. 

            “However, equating my personal views with those of my past clients is naive at best.”

            help me understand this linguistic slight of hand:  when you’re cashing Carl’s checks (or not, as the case may be) ‘his’ views have NO bearing on your own character, or your own personal views?   curiously enough, when you’re on the Grisanti payroll, suddenly your “work” is a selfless sacrifice on behalf of the LGBT community, and the principled action of a NYS Senator are synonymous with your own?    that’s not naivete – it’s sophistry.

            let’s be clear about the only pertinent issue on this thread, that being – what a person does in the political arena has implications, and is ultimately a reflection of personal character, or lack of same.  that’s the Illuzzi lesson.  making a living off the American political process is parasitic, self serving, and absolutely counter to any democratic principle of “the greater good”.   your history is a well documented matter of public record.   as you say, you’re a hired gun, not a committed activist, or person whose conscience or personal principles govern his actions.   

            thank you for the brilliant epithet:
            “Michael R
            Caputo ~ the “hired gun” from planet “Scitilop”.  (they should have
            picked you to share the ticket with the Romney of Kolob?)

            Mr. Mxyzptlk

  • I think there’s a difference between refusing to acknowledge the wrong done and not dancing one one’s grave.  This is being lost here by some people and that’s a shame.

    • BRILLIANT fundraiser idea Dan, i could sell a LOT of tickets to that dance party!
      (though people would probably want to burn their shoes afterwards).

  • Alan touched on one thing not being commented on.  Just who will or who might take over the Illuzzi blog
    and continue with business as usual?   It’s amazing this is one of the least mouned for people I’ve ever
    encountered in my life.   

  • This is all good, and a necessary corrective to the tendency to pretend that bad people magically turn good once they’re dead.  But this is odd:   “Without electoral fusion, and the transactional interference by minor parties in our political system . . . ”

    Who is covered by the “our” in that sentence?  If it means Democrats and Republicans, then I suppose it makes sense.  But then our political system doesn’t belong only to those who affiliate with the two major parties.  It belongs to us all.  And in that case, it’s wacky to speak about minor parties interfering in the system, since those parties have just as much right to push their agendas as anyone else.   

    • If you are talking about say the Green Party which actually has a platform and has issues and runscandidates to convince people that the Green Party stand on said issues is the correct one thanColin I agree with you.   If you’re talking about minority parties who sell their line in marginaldistricts like at a tobacco auction than you are dead wrong.   The Conservatives, The Independence
      Parties, the famous former Liberal Party did and do just that.  They’re just vehicles for hungrypoliticos. 

  • It was about a year ago when young Jamey Rodemeyer decided that life wasn’t worth living as a gay teen
    and took is own, leaving behind grieving parents and I believe a sister.   Joe Illuzzi scraped the bottom ofthe barrel and beyond when he accused his parents of trying to exploit the tragedy for their own benefit.
    It was then and there that all of us with a sense of decency decided that Illuzzi truly had none.  My God theRodemeyers weren’t politicians they were just ordinary people faced with an overwhelming tragedy.   Inmy years with New York State Crime Victims Board I dealt with many parents who buried gay children as
    a result of a homicide committed by people who thought just like Joe Illuzzi only who used guns and knives and clubs and fists against us and didn’t have a blog to give credence to homophobic bullies.  SoI say to those who say rest in peace for Joe Illuzzi, Illuzzi ought to get a different epitaph, rot in hell.

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