10 Worst of 2013

Because it’s the end of the year, it’s compulsory to do a nostalgia listicle, right? This is culled from my own posts here at Artvoice daily, and not intended to be comprehensive.  Everything chosen essentially at random.  

10. Dennis Gabryszak

Oh, look. Another entitled do-nothing superfluous, self-important Albany hack who sexually harasses female staffers. If it was one staffer, it’d be worth a listen. Two staffers, and it’s going to raise eyebrows. Three staffers? Now it’s a thing. Four, and the fourth is still working there? Cringeworthy. The fact that Gabryszak has said nothing is thanks to some fantastic legal advice, but equally horrible political advice. 

9. Donn Esmonde

Donn Esmonde proved himself to be an ass throughout 2013.

It started when this retired suburban Long Island native decided that he is against quality education for children in suburban districts. One with questionable ethics, to boot. I look forward to more Tielman quotes, self-congratubation, and cheery, irony-free invocations of “lighter, quicker, cheaper”. 

8. The Conservative Party

To paraphrase Linda Richman, the Conservative Party is neither conservative nor a party. Discuss.

Ralph Lorigo’s personal fiefdom proves that political feudalism is alive and well in the 21st century. While the deceptively named Independence Party is now running all its endorsements through its statewide committee (and the NYGOP), Lorigo’s faction will endorse the occasional Democrat, but the criteria are always murky. This year, the CPWNY went out of its way to defame Republican Buffalo mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez

7. Tim Kennedy

See Number 6, below.

This guy came up with over $80,000 – much of it from inactive campaign accounts with no money in them, and none of which was properly disclosed – to sabotage Democrats in 2013. 

6.  Pigeon, Max, Mazurek & the AwfulPAC

It’s like a shit-stained comet, coming back to streak across our pleasant skies every few election seasons.

Yet again, former Erie County Democratic chairman G. Steven Pigeon assembled a horrible band du jour to sabotage the county committee’s election year efforts. Cheektowaga town Democratic chairman Frank Max believes himself entitled to the office of county chairman, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s the only one who thinks so. (He’s been rather silent on the whole Gabryszak thing, don’t you think?) Pigeon and Max, their EmoDems, along with Kristy Mazurek, whose elbows are as sharp as her tongue, got AwfulPAC going just in time for the September primaries. Add in some dubiously sourced campaign cash from various entities, as well as $80k+ from state Senator Tim Kennedy, who owes Pigeon one for maneuvering him into that office, and you’ve got this year’s comet’s skidmarks. 

What did they accomplish? Wes Moore lost, but viciously sabotaged Democrat Wynnie Fisher. Rick Zydel lost, and Pat Burke came out of nowhere to beat everybody. Dick Dobson defeated the politically tone-deaf Bert Dunn, but AwfulPAC abandoned Dobson in October, proving that they were really just Democrats for Tim Howard all along. They tried to take credit for a win in Rochester with which they had nothing to do. Oh, and they returned the queen of transactional politics, Barbara Miller Williams, to the county legislature. But because it’s easier to cast it all as a big loss for Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner, that was the narrative we were all fed

5. Donald Trump

Everyone’s favorite birther started out the year by releasing a forgery of a birth certificate. Why won’t Donald Trump address the allegations that he is the spawn of an orangutan? 

Oh, and now he’s “considering” a run for Governor of the state of New York.

4. The WNY Voter

Byron Brown coasts? Barbara Miller Williams elected again? Carl Paladino elected to the Buffalo school board? Horrible turnout numbers for elections? Can’t we do better than this? 

3. Tim Howard

The elected Erie County Sheriff decided to also appoint himself to a Supreme Court judgeship, but elevated himself to the New York Court of Appeals – maybe even the Supreme Court! 

He unilaterally decided that he wasn’t going to enforce the NY SAFE Act (see #1, below), thus completely misunderstanding how the constitution works and what roles the various governmental branches play. 

2. Chris Collins

Seriously, take your pick – whether it’s his criticism of an historic deal with Iran, Collins’ vigorous support of a government shutdown in a hopeless effort to get the President to ditch Obamacare – and then claiming he didn’t support it at all, or his jejune “poll” of his constituents, Chris Collins proved time and again that he is the worst Congressman WNY has sent to Washington in perhaps forever. No amount of Buffalo News rehabilitation will change this. 

1. Concern-trolling and the NY SAFE Act

If you really think that limiting magazine capacity and requiring more stringent background checks in order to purchase a firearm is a tyrannical usurpation of your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, in a state that already has among the strictest gun laws in the country, you’re having a bit of an overreaction.

I liken it to the kid in class who craves attention, so he casts himself in the role of victim in order to feed the craving. We see you, and your Gadsen flag. However, society has a similar compulsion to balance the right of people to, e.g., send their kids to school and not have them come home in the box because an unhinged lunatic had an arsenal versus your right to own an arsenal

Dishonorable mention:

The same collection of Buffalo plutocrats who gave us such hits as “Dr. James Williams” are now agitating to pay off Buffalo School superintendent Pamela Brown in an effort to be rid of her. Forget that there have been incremental improvements in results under her tenure; forget that Williams was a trainwreck of a disaster, bought and paid for by M&T Bank’s Robert Wilmers; and forget that Brown has been in her current position since June 2012. The bottomless pit of racist, sexist, misogynist invective that some are hurling at her for not adequately herding all her myriad feline coalitions has been appalling. I don’t know why the likes of Paladino don’t just come right out and say what they mean – that she and the board members who appointed her are a sordid collection of incompetent negresses. Brown isn’t perfect, but relentlessly sabotaging her, dehumanizing her, and delegitimizing her isn’t going to fix much. At least give her a chance to succeed or fail. 

Coming soon: best of 2013. If you have a nomination, email me here


  • Your Best of 2013 e mail link did not work for me so here is the number one pick: Pat Lafontaine and Ted Nolan.

    • Setting aside the fact that if a sports figure is your community’s Person of the Year your community has BIG problems, shouldn’t there be at least some RESULTS before we anoint these guys? Somewhere Terrell Owens is looking for a pawn shop to give him money for his Key to the City.

      • Not because they are sports figures, after all the NHL is a business. It is because they reflect excellence. If you watch the Sabres the difference is already apparent. They are now beginning to exemplify a very high standard of working very hard which they certainly did not do prior to Lafontaine and Nolan returning here. They provide inspiration which I think is important.
        But maybe we should reserve this list for politicians and developers, eh?

        • Again, the sample size is nowhere near enough to fall in love with these guys. Mary Levy was a breath of fresh air when he took the Bills over too. If there’s a Cup in the future, great. But I am really weary of Buffalo’s ability to find inspiration in the mere presence of people who haven’t accomplished anything yet.

        • The FACT that the players took matters into their own hands to FIX the situation is something that was never addressed by any of the local media. They refused to play for the coach & general manager anymore. Had not the players taken control of the situation we would probably still looking at the same dismal picture. Having said that I am pleased to see Lafontaine and Nolan back and running the show!!

          • When Nolan was here before he established a reputation for being strict, a disciplinarian. If a player was not working his ass off Nolan sent him down to Rochester, even if the player was a big star.
            Imagine if you or I, at that age had that kind of money. I’d be a wild man.
            I expected more of that when Nolan returned but he got the message across and the players working hard in practice and play faster than I thought possible.
            The right man at the right time.
            As for Lafontaine his stature as a player coupled with that kind of integrity is a rarity.

  • What, no Tonawanda Coke?

  • “Byron Brown coasts? Barbara Miller Williams elected again? Carl Paladino
    elected to the Buffalo school board? Horrible turnout numbers for
    elections? Can’t we do better than this?”

    The single biggest obstacle to progress in Buffalo is that 90% of the people pointing out the city’s flaws have fled to the suburbs and can’t vote for change.

    • Oh, but they did vote, didn’t they?

      • That’s voting in the same way that an obnoxious backseat driver is controlling the car.

        • No, the proper analogue would be to exit (or never enter) the car in the first place, because it’s being operated by imbeciles.

          • Standing on the sidewalk shouting at traffic that they’re doing a bad job sounds like a lousy way to try and make a difference.

            You asked “Can’t we do better than this?” regarding the outcome of city elections. Most of the wailing and gnashing of teeth I hear about the city comes from people in the suburbs, most of whom only cross the Buffalo city line to go to a Sabres game and then scurry back home. You want input into who the city elects for the school board or City Hall? Live in the city. Otherwise, you’ve got as much right to complain about who Buffalo elects as I do about Orchard Park.

          • It’s a bit of a chicken & egg problem, isn’t it? Why would someone willingly interject oneself into an awful situation? It’s not to say suburban voters didn’t also make horrible decisions – I can count plenty of them, and the Esmonde complaint stems directly from his reporting on a horrible set of events that took place viz. the Clarence schools.

            The “can’t we do better” is directed to everyone – it just so happens that Buffalo voters comically returned a set of really horrible people to office. Because what happens in the City of Buffalo – as the county seat and largest city in the region – affects all of WNY, to somehow pretend as if the problems that it faces magically end at the city line seems counterproductive.

            Frankly, I don’t see any reason why a city resident shouldn’t complain about Orchard Park, if there’s something worth complaining about. Am I geographically prohibited from commenting on goings-on in New York City or Boston or Los Angeles? But even more specifically, because we have some semblance of regional government through the state and county, how governments spend their money and time is something more people should be concerned about, not less.

            I never lived in the city of Buffalo, so I never abandoned it. Indeed, I never lived in WNY before 2001 in any way. When looking for places to live, school quality was of paramount concern; we chose Clarence. People have argued to me over the years that I should move to Buffalo and help to improve the schools; all the while complaining bitterly about the school district, and working tirelessly to get their own kids into either a charter or a private school. I don’t begrudge anyone their own personal, family choice – private, public, city or suburb.

            You don’t get more than one chance to raise your kids and get them educated. While I realize that education is in large part helped by parental involvement, the Buffalo system is so fundamentally shambolic that I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy – either pre or post-Paladino. (i.e., even if everything Paladino wanted could happen overnight, I wouldn’t be attracted to moving into the city). Perhaps the city is in the cards someday when our nest is empty, but certainly not now.

            So, when people complain about families “abandoning” the city or screaming from the “sidelines” or “shouting at traffic”, it’s true. But to say, “hey city, if you want people to move to you, maybe you get your shit together” is a completely reasonable argument. Can’t plow side streets in a timely fashion after a snowstorm, violent crime increasing while the BPD fudges data, no new ideas for really anything. The city can’t get the basics right. People are voting by staying away.

          • “Can’t we do better? But by ‘we’ I sure don’t mean ‘me’, though, because I’ll be over here in Clarence until you somehow manage to magically get your shit together without any effort on my part.”

            This is the civic equivalent of the people who write into the Buffalo News sports section convinced that they alone have the magical secret to turning around the Bills or the Sabres. You’re free to complain about anything you like, whether it’s in Buffalo or Los Angeles or Boston or New York City. Just be aware of how irritating it is to those of us who actually live here to listen to condescending commentary from those who don’t.

          • I won’t just deliberately and knowingly drop my family into situations I know to be bad, to assuage someone else’s irritation. But yeah, I’ll be over here in Clarence until the city decides that it’s had enough of being run horribly.

            Except for the 40+ hours per week I’m in the city, working and spending money, contributing to its economic well-being and whatnot.

          • That’s just it, though. “The city” isn’t a sentient being that’s going to one day decide that it’s sick of being poorly run. It’s an aggregation of all of the citizens within its borders. And you know what? When all of the educated professionals and stable middle-class families run off to the suburbs, leaving behind a population that’s mired in poverty and hopelessness, that city isn’t going to magically turn around.

            Buffalo needs homeowners who take care of their houses. It needs parents who stress the importance of education to their children. It needs informed voters who pay attention and make a thoughtful choice, rather than pulling the lever for whoever Grassroots or their reverend told them to. It needs the middle class that was here until everyone started running away in the 1960s. It needs active citizens, not day-trippers. If you don’t want to get involved, if you just want to shout at traffic, that’s fine. But you’re not helping, no matter how many burritos you buy at ETS before you head back to Clarence.

            Maybe I’m just an idealistic idiot. That’s certainly possible. But I think that change is possible here, and I want to be a part of it rather than waiting for it to happen.

      • Abandonment is not the same as voting.

  • So Andy Cuomo “Cut a historic deal with the state’s public sector labor unions, exacting tough concessions on pay and benefits.” And you’re presenting that as a GOOD thing? That’s very interesting. Why, exactly? I mean, he could have handled things by restoring the state income tax rates of thirty years ago (which would have raised your taxes, right?), but instead, he chose to stick it to the civil servants. Like most NYS public sector employees, I took a de facto pay cut this year.

    No, even though Hitler didn’t care much for unions either, that doesn’t make Governor Andy a Nazi. But unlike you, I don’t much want to celebrate him either. But this is what New Democrats like Bill Clinton and Governor Andy have to offer: “I’m not Hitler! I’m not W! Suck it up and vote for me!”


  • You used to use the word jejune a lot. You don’t anymore. 2014 might be the perfect time to bring that back.

  • I find that reading Donn Esmonde is much more enjoyable if I imagine Peter Griffin saying, “You know what really grinds my gears?” before I wade into it.

    • Buffalo News won’t let me resond to you until I pay for a subscription. I won’t pay to read a liberal rag so, if you wish to continue the conversation my email is jebutler@aol.com Be sure to put your name in the subject or it will be deleted as spam.

      • This is ARTVOICE, NOT the Buffalo News!

        READ, DUMMY!

        • I was replying to Kevin Hickey arse wipe, not you cheeseface!!

          • Nice insult. Too bad you didn’t take my advice.

            AGAIN, it’s Artvoice, not the Buffalo News.

          • You must be a liberal. Ignorant with no ability to comprehend what you read.

          • Why the fuck do you care what my political identity is? YOU’RE the one who can’t fucking read.

            By the way, apparently Kevin hasn’t bothered to respond to you here, so that tells me that either 1. he did send the e-mail or 2. he decided not to bait a TROLL who loves hanging out at right-wing websites ans spew the same crap you’re doing here. Nice try, but you’re not getting away with it.

          • I don’t give a fuck or a rats ass about you or your politics. I am amused by the liberal brain mass. Wasn’t even talking to you and you couldn’t figure it out by yourtself. Maybe you can get a government program going for that too. However, I didn’t even have to “bait” you, you just jump in the boat unprepared and with no protection at all. I have contacted him, he is much better wit then you. Gotta say, you are the easiest liberal yet!!

          • You can’t run with the big dogs around here.

            Stay on the porch. The Breitbrats need their villiage idiot back.

            By the way, Hooked on Phonics didn’t work for you either.

  • Meanwhile, I see that Paladino has stated that he thinks Brown will be gone by July.

    Tell ya what, Pally. I’ll cut you a deal. If Pamela Brown is still here by July, you voluntarily and PERMANENTLY remove yourself from doing any more broadcast or print interviews. Odds are, you won’t do it because you’re a press whore. You apparently NEED to see your name in the news to stroke your fevered ego.

    So, Mr. Paladino, regarding the offer: Deal…or no deal?

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