Everybody’s Awful Everywhere (Niagara Edition)

Up in Niagara Falls, a deal with businessman Mark Hamister to build an admittedly boring and dull hotel in the beleaguered city is in danger of being killed by the city’s own council. One of the most vocal critics of a deal that has zero downside for the city is Sam Fruscione. Recently, an ugly mailer accusing Hamister of being a criminal has been hitting mailboxes. Who’s behind it? The usual suspects. What’s Fruscione got to say about it? Nothing; defamation is apparently his thing.

The Buffalo News’ Brink Blog has images of the mailer in question.

Image via the Brink Blog

A $25-ish million development in a city with little of it, and it would bring not just a hotel but retail and residential space, as well – it’s just this side of being aborted altogether. The state would be kicking in $3 million in incentives, and the city gets $100,000 for the derelict property, a new taxpaying entity, and a less horrible area around the state park. The city council, however, is holding out for a $2 million figure for the land parcel – pretty much the opposite of the NFTA selling the state most of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor for $2.00. The city, meanwhile, only owns the land because developer David Cordish gifted it on his way out of town. The development is so important to the the state that Governor Cuomo personally intervened to save it from what appeared yesterday to be imminent death. It should be noted that Hamister’s bid was selected pursuant to a request for proposals that USA Niagara put out.

The mailer above shills for councilman Sam Fruscione and calls a would-be Falls hotelier a “con man” – a criminal.

Pretty mild and simple questions from Mary Alice Demler sent Fruscione into a fit.

As you might have learned over the past week, when it comes to inflammatory and false, libelous mailers, the Mazurek/Pigeon/Kennedy “WNY Progressive Caucus” is likely behind it. A PAC created a week ago and miraculously generated over $100,000 in funding, forced by the media to disclose itself. Its spokesman is a failed candidate for Batavia city council who has been a protege of Steve Pigeon’s since then, where he parlayed a stint as an intern with then-Assemblyman Mark Schroeder into working a patronage job at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

The Fruscione mailer Mazurek’s group produced, seen above, has a glaring typographical error, and as it accuses Hamister of being a criminal, one has to wonder whether they think Fruscione is running against Hamister? What the hell makes Hamister a “con man”? His company’s track record of developing and operating hotels?  The fact that his company will be ponying up $25 million or so for this project, and that it’s probably none of the city’s business how Hamister raises those funds? In what way is it a good idea for a PAC supporting a councilman – a councilman who would not denounce the likely defamatory mailer sent to support his re-election – to accuse a prospective developer of committing fraud in a city well-known for being a corrupt hellhole?

Also, one should make the connection that state Senator Tim Kennedy personally endorses calling Mark Hamister a “con man”, since his campaign account is one of the largest donors to the WNY Progressive Caucus. I wonder what Senator George Maziarz, who represents Niagara Falls, thinks of that.

Long ago, when Steve Pigeon went to war against then-Assemblyman Sam Hoyt during his primary battle against Barbra Kavanaugh, the advertisements against Hoyt were so outrageous and inflammatory that the entire attempt backfired. Instead of being angry at Hoyt’s dalliances with Albany interns, voters took pity on him and his family and he cruised to victory. I called it the “Kavanaugh Flip” – that moment when negative ads actually generate sympathy for their intended victim.

In 2008, Pigeon teamed up with billionaire Tom Golisano to form “Responsible New York”, and ask Kathy Konst, Joe Mesi, and Barbra Kavanaugh how effective it was. You could also ask convicted felon Pedro Espada and convicted girlfriend batterer Hiram Monseratte.

It’s the same as it ever was with Pigeon, though. Consider this exchange Jim Heaney published in 2008:

The attack flyer from Mothers and Fathers [Demanding Answers] uses the same bulk mail permit as … Responsible New York.

Sloppy, sloppy.

Pigeon did a lot of ducking and weaving when I called to inquire.

I asked him what he knows about Mothers and Fathers Demanding Answers.

“I’m not going to comment,” Pigeon said. “I’m sure they will file their independent committee status, if it’s not filed already.”

Gee, Steve, how do you know they’re required to do so?

“I would assume, I don’t know that they do.”

Pigeon then resorted to the mantra he repeated throughout the balance of the interview.

“Everything we’re doing is within the law.”

Followed by:

“We’re not coordinating with the [Barbra] Kavanaugh campaign.”

How does he explain Mothers and Fathers using the same bulk mail permit as Responsible New York?

“Independent committees can work together under the law.”

So, you’re working with them, right?

“I think it will all come out in the reports.”

Is this the dirtiest campaign he’s been involved in?

“I don’t think this one is dirty.”

OK, Steve.

Pigeon went to lengths to vent his outrage over reports that Hoyt had sex with a member of the Assembly staff. This is the same Steve Pigeon who has been an unwavering loyalist to Bill and Hillary Clinton through thick and thin, including the Big Dog’s sexual escapades with intern Monica Lewinski.

I guess you could say Pigeon is practicing situational ethics. Among other things.

There’s con going on in Niagara Falls, alright. But it’s not coming from the guy who is trying to develop a parking lot near a natural wonder.


  • GREAT JOB! This stuff has to stop.

  • Everything that Pigeon does is part of a plan.You have to give him credit he has a system which plays off the ambitions and stupidity of these people.

  • Can an employee of a federal funded entity be a spokesman for a political committee?Isnt that the point of Hatch Act?

  • How can you proclaim to be a political website and miss the most significant story of this political season?

    PoliticsNY (the old Illuzzi site), and NewWNYPolitics (Glenn Gramigna) have not published one word on this ever-growing political scandal. Heck, laws have even been broken here, and these clowns are AWOL. This would be like Macy’s closing their stores the week before Christmas.

    These two sites have no credibility whatsoever having missed this story.


    Of course, both are on the payroll of Senator Pigeon Kennedy. So that may explain why. Perhaps they should work for Channel 2.

    Thankfully, political junkies like me have Artvoice for this type of red meat!!!


  • If I was Mark Hamister, I would not only be shutting this project down, I’d be wildly throwing around lawsuits today.

    • But Alan what about those other six proposals?
      What about a normal “request for proposes”?
      What about the normal open bidding process?
      What about the normal public input stage?
      What about transparency?
      The city gets free land, the city then quickly and under cover mostly of darkness strikes a “deal” with one particular developer? How does all that work Alan? It is good just in this case or is this the proper way we should be doing things ? You tell me.

  • And then this happened.

    There’s a nasty race for Amherst Town Justice. Both candidates are running in all primaries against each other. Most judicial ads are dull, boring reflections of the requirements of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which seriously limit what you (note the pronoun to the left: this will be important later) can say about yourself or an opponent.

    A couple of weeks ago, the endorsed Democrat, Kara Buscaglia, pushed the envelope a little. She stated facts about her opponent (running for town judge because she’s being downsized off the town board) not having any criminal law experience or being active in law practice at this time- important considerations when considering a judge for one of the busiest courts in Upstate New York and which has a primarily criminal docket.

    That led to this attack mailer coming in yesterday’s mail, less than a week before the primary. It is so over the top of the Judicial Code guidelines, it hits the next statute book in the butt. But it’s not from the candidate, but rather from something calling itself the “Amherst Century Club.” I gather, from some old SpeakupWNY posts, that this bunch has gone trawling in prior campaigns and are on the outs with the Wards.

    The Code requires candidates for judicial office, not only to reject such ad tactics themselves, but to not employ others to do indirectly what they themselves cannot do directly.

    I’m sure the opposition will inform us when she’s ready to disavow this trash.

  • There’s a difference between a public authority giving away a piece of land to the state for a nominal price and a city selling a property to a private concern for far less that it’s valued.

    Hamister is loaded and he doesn’t need public giveaways to do this project. It’s the same thing as Ciminelli’s Conventus building in Buffalo (side note: Conventus means “coming together,” which is what all these connected developers have been doing in WNY for the past 10 years).

    It’s a shame that this legitimately shady deal has been co-opted by these gangster pols who I’m sure are just as bought as the rest of them.

    • Othersideofthecanal

      The city’s land is only worth what someone will agree to pay for it. A deal was negotiated for, I think, $100,000. Good for Hamister. If that’s bad for the city, that’s not his fault. Being “loaded” does not make Hamister a criminal, as these mailers state.

      Niagara Falls…where ideas go to die.

      • I’m not agreeing with the mailers, but the Hamister Group has enough money that they don’t need extra incentives for projects like this. They’re getting $3 million from the state for this deal, which, according to the Buffalo News is one and a half times the usual subsidy rate (http://www.buffalonews.com/20130708/Falls_delays_transfer_of_lot_for_Hamister_hotel_project.html).

        For some reason we insist on giving stuff away to the people that need handouts the least. While Hamister may not be a criminal, it doesn’t mean that he is deserving of welfare, either. He’s a seriously connected and prominent person with more than enough money to see this project through AND pay his fair share, yet because of his connections and prominence (he’s a former Empire State Development director for crying out loud), he gets these kind of sweetheart deals.

  • In the immortal words of J.D. Clampett—“Pitiful—-Jes’ Pitiful!!!”

    Some one actually tried to develop something that would make NF USA look less like Detroit, and he has a barrel of corrupt politicians dumped on his head. Sheesh. Oh, the freakin’ cash cow that city could be if it weren’t for the guys in the see through socks and silk suits—In the Government, not on the streets.

  • Wrongful Acquittal

    Part of the Fruscione-Demler interview:

    “Who is Steve Pigeon? Demler asked.
    “Steve Pigeon is a friend of mine,” said Fruscione.
    “So is Gary Parenti. They are friends of mine. I grew up with them guys.”
    “Mr. Pigeon is an attorney. Is he the one who is advising you?” asked Demler.
    “I’m not answering those questions at all,” said Fruscione.
    “Why would you not talk about who’s advising you as a councilman? You’re using his advice,” Demler pressed.
    “I’m using a lot of people’s advice besides anybody else who’s giving me advice,” Fruscione added.

    Fruscione abruptly ended the interview shortly after this exchange and called the interview “entrapment”.

  • Wonder if the Bricklayers Union likes their $25000 going to attack Hamiester

  • Nobody likes to kick a player when they’re down, except me of course! LOL.

    So, FYI…

    In the Geoff Kelly story, titled “One Week Before Primaries, the Crazy Comes Out,” in your print addition this week, Kristy Mazurek admits to a FELONY under NYS Election Law.

    When asked by Geoff about the CONTENT of the mailers her new independent campaign committee flooded Democratic households with in Buffalo (and presumably Cheektowaga, Lancaster, Niagara Falls, Sloan, Depew and Alden), Mazurek blurts out the crime:

    “She also shrugged off responsibility for the content of the Hogues mailer, saying that the messages were crafted by the managers of the campaigns her PAC supported. “I don’t micromanage,” she said; she just writes the checks.”

    With Election Law clearly stating that any independent committee that “coordinates” with the campaign they support, the action is a felony.


    • You are RIGHT ON.Thats why Pigeon moved Kristy to background and brought in Dan Jones.Notice how Jones has changed the message.

      • You also have to notice that in the article it says, “she (Mazurek) Is running the campaigns of would-be legislators Rick Zydel and Wes Moore,” meaning that there is coordinating there, too.

        It’s also interesting to note that the money spent from this committee went to “mailings and television commercials” according to multiple media sources, yet no commercials for any legislator or Niagara Falls council candidates have aired. Confidence is high that the television ads were for Dobson.

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