The Unelectable Joe Mascia

If you’re most people, you never heard of Joe Mascia before this past week. He’s a nothing; a nobody. 

He’s a failure. 

Mascia is running to represent the Fillmore District on the Buffalo Common Council. He’s running with the blessing of the Conservative fusion Party, but Mascia is an unendorsed Democrat who also filed petitions for that line. David Franczyk is the incumbent. Mascia resides in the Marine Drive housing project, which is a waterfront blight whose tenants’ association was

…discriminating against minorities who applied to move in and giving special preference to government employees and people with political connections.

“It was publicly subsidized segregation,” said Scott Gehl, executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, a not-for-profit group that fights housing discrimination in Buffalo. “A lot of the older tenants say things were wonderful in the good old days, but it was a segregated place for people who were blessed with political connections.”

A federal investigation and legal action that HOME filed in 2002 led to a federal judge ordering the tenants’ association to revise its rental policies and give minorities a better chance to move to Marine Drive.

Simultaneously with Mascia’s 2014 conviction for election law violations, he was elected to his fifth term as the tenants’ representative on the board of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority – an agency that offers public housing to the poor in a city with a property vacancy crisis, an urban prairie, and a land-banking program. Although the BMHA owns the Marine Drive complex, it is privately managed

Mascia is only nominally a Democrat. His 2011 race for county legislature was partly funded by contributions from LLCs owned by Carl “Damn Asians” Paladino. In his 2012 run for state Assembly, he received $4,800 from Carl Paladino’sTurning Albany Upside Down” (2nd entry, 3rd entry, 4th entrytea party PAC and $1,666 from Paladino personally. (Query what sort of political committee this is, given that it’s not only contributing to candidates, but also evidently making expenditures on someone’s behalf). At least one of his reporting periods ended up in the red – a huge no-no. By 2012, his campaign war-chest had debt of over $10,000, which rose to $15,000, and was being charged overdraft fees (and here). As of the July 2015 disclosure, Mascia’s campaign account is still over $9,000 in debt

Mascia’s city council run has only the July 2015 disclosure on file, and it reports $500 from Paladino’s PAC, and $239 on-hand

Last week, a recording surfaced where Mascia repeatedly referred to local African-American elected officials as “fucking niggers”. Under no circumstances is a person who harbors such thoughts and utters those words fit for public office. In a normal world, Mascia would have resigned his BMHA seat by now and withdrawn from whatever political campaign he’s engaged in. In a normal world, Mascia would be radioactive. 

Even Hulk Hogan and the WWE know this. 

This isn’t the normal world, though.  This is Buffalo, and Mascia apologized but also made excuses – he’s never used those words before, he was recorded without permission, others are racist, too. It’s beyond unseemly. 

On Friday, Mascia called in to the Sandy Beach show on WBEN. To his credit, Beach treated Mascia with the contempt he deserves. 

It was an astonishing phone call; extraordinary to witness and observe racist old Buffalo taking its dying breaths. Beach called Mascia a “blight”, and said that, “you’re a liar, phony, hypocrite…you’re the perfect candidate for WNY.” Beach said the person who recorded Mascia’s racism, “did the public a service”. Mascia spent time making excuses and calling this a set-up before Beach said, “don’t you have any decency?” At one point, Mascia accused Mayor Brown of using the “same explicative” against white developers building on the east side. He didn’t; he expressed frustration at the lack of African-American developers working in that area. 

Perhaps most hilariously in his ill-fated call to Beach, Mascia attempted to pivot his way into victimhood by paraphrasing this quote from Goodfellas : “If you’re part of a crew, nobody ever tells you that they’re going to kill you, doesn’t happen that way. There weren’t any arguments or curses like in the movies. See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who’ve cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you’re at your weakest and most in need of their help.”

Mascia wasn’t at his weakest – he was quite aggressively challenging David Franczyk. He was funded by a wealthy benefactor. 

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner demanded on Friday that Mascia withdraw from the race for the Fillmore District. Conservative fusion Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo expressed dismay, but never demanded Mascia withdraw. That particular point is moot, as the Board of Elections rejected Mascia’s Conservative petitions.  Mascia’s campaign manager, Katrinna Martin, quit over the weekend, and urged Mascia to abandon the race, as well. For his part, Mascia doesn’t get it. He says that it’s a set-up, and his online mouthpiece is now accusing former County Executive Joel Giambra of organizing an anti-Mascia “conspiracy”. 

So what if it was a set-up? Mascia obviously takes umbrage at the fact that he was recorded without his knowledge – something permitted in New York. He is clearly upset that he was set up by someone he considered to be a trusted friend. It’s also evident from the tape itself that the guy making the recording was baiting Mascia, bringing up certain non-white people and asking Mascia, “what is he?.”

The problem isn’t whether Mascia was set up. It frankly doesn’t matter; there are thousands of things Mascia could have said to insult Byron Brown or Darius Pridgen when prompted. Had he just called them a name or some expletive, it wouldn’t have amounted to much at all. Instead, Mascia called them “fucking niggers”, and called someone else a “camel jockey”. It’s not a crime to be profane or obnoxious or hateful or even a racist. Mascia is free to sit in his house and blurt out whatever hateful stuff he can muster to whomever will tolerate it. 

But Mascia is an elected official, and running for a further elected office. Not just any elected office – but one to represent a predominately African-American constituency. I have no doubt that Mascia’s expression of racist hatred has led many to make calls of support to him. But his attitude toweards African-Americans in Buffalo isn’t the only thing that disqualifies him from public office. 

Mascia pleaded guilty to serious criminal violations of New York State Election Law – a wholesale failure to disclose how he funded his campaigns. Court records also reveal Mascia’s $307.877.64 in unpaid liens, judgments, and debts over a forty year period. Mascia could have been talking about himself when he cynically declared that, “crime has gone too pervasive,” at a public rally on May 23rd. He also ironically – brazenly – said that he is running “against corruption.” The record shows that corruption is his milieu. 

Mascia’s conviction for election law violations were so brazen that he’s lucky to not be in jail. But beyond this, Mascia has a longstanding documented history as a notorious deadbeat.  Court records show that Mascia, his failed companies, and immediate family members, engaged in a decades-long swindle against honest vendors and creditors. Yet, the 70 year-old Masica, lives in public housing and drives around in a new Cadillac when he should be paying back all those he knowingly and deliberately swindled. Indeed, Mascia’s own mother secured a money judgment against him in 1999. 

Mascia says he’ll deliver “concrete results” for the Fillmore District. Mascia should know what he’s talking about: his failed concrete companies, Mascia Concrete Co. and Lor-Sam concrete company defaulted on tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Mascia even stiffed his workers, and was successfully sued by the New York Department of Labor over and over again. That’s bad enough, but he and his companies have sixteen tax warrants and judgments totaling tens of thousands of dollars by the New York State Department of Taxes and Finances and United States Federal Tax Department.

Crooks like to play the victim. That’s why Mascia shed crocodile tears in a published report saying he went into debt because of a traffic accident in the mid-1990’s. Yet how does that explain Mascia’s pattern of willful, staggering debt and swindles decades before the alleged accident? And how does it justify twenty years of more debt after he’s seen laying more concrete masquerading as community activist? 

State Judgments against Mascia include:  

  • New York State Division of Labor, Unemployment Division vs. Joseph A. Mascia – $4,495.57 judgement against Mascia (6/11/97)
  • New York State Department of Labor, Unemployment Division vs. Joseph A. Mascia – $301.04 judgement against Mascia (7/15/97)
  • New York State Department of Labor vs. Joseph A. Mascia dba Mascia Concrete – $16,019.60 judgement against Mascia (10/5/98)
  • New York State Department of Labor vs. Joseph Mascia $4,903.60 against Mascia (1/12/99)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph A. Mascia dba Mascia Concrete $2,310.94 tax judgement against Mascia (4/28/99)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph Mascia $8,880.19 tax judgement against Mascia (6/21/00)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph Mascia $559.76 tax judgement against Mascia (12/16/02)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine  Mascia $96.00 tax judgement against Mascia (1/14/04)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,062.47 tax judgement against Mascia (2/24/04)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $2,229.50 tax judgement against Mascia (2/10/05)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,648.38 tax judgement against Mascia (12/05/05)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,654.36 tax judgement against Mascia (1/05/07)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,045.74 tax judgement against Mascia (9/28/07)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,204.88 tax judgement against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia (6/29/09)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,712.66 tax judgement against Mascia (3/22/10)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $898.92 tax judgement against Mascia (9/21/10)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph A. and Lorraine Mascia $258.04 tax judgement against Mascia (1/9/13)

Federal Tax Liens against Mascia include: 

  • United States Federal Tax Lien against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia – $19,787.83 (6/4/04)
  • United States Federal Tax Lien against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $12,441.15 (9/13/05)
  • United States Federal Tax Lien Against Joseph A. Mascia – $1,400.40 (8/16/06)
  • United Stated Federal Tax Lien Against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia – $562.13 (5/4/10)

State Board of Elections judgments and fines include: 

  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia, candidate, $1,070.50 (6/4/13)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia – $1,070.50 (6/14/15)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia – $1,070.50 (6/27/13)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia -$1,070.50 (9/12/13)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Jospeh A. Mascia – $1,070.50 (10/3/13)

Other actions against Mascia include, 

  • Federal National Mortgage Association vs. Lorraine Mascia foreclosure on $50,000 loan for 109 Greenwood, Buffalo, N.Y. (8/20/98)
  • Allan Murray vs. Jospeh and Lorraine Mascia $410.00 judgment against Mascia (5/16/96)
  • The Kiesten Corporation vs. Mascia Concrete $14,399.52 judgment against Mascia (1/29/99)
  • Katherine Mascia vs. Joseph A. Mascia  $462.90 judgment against Mascia (7/9/99)
  • Fast Track Structures vs. Mascia Concrete $1,328.09 judgment against Mascia (5/28/00)
  • Fast Track Structures vs. Mascia Concrete $18,030.05 judgment against Mascia (8/07/06)
  • Napeir Fitzgerald and Kilroy vs. Jospeh and Lorraine Mascia $49,688.61 judgment against Mascia (2/22/08)
  • Great Lakes Concrete vs. Jospeh Mascia $778.08 against Mascia (12/08/09)
  • The Buffalo News vs. Joseph Mascia $4,131.14 against Mascia (4/9/12)
  • Samantha Mascia (residing with Joseph and Lorraine Mascia; namesake for another of Mascia’s failed concrete companies, Lor-Sam) $97,997.30 bankruptcy

So, the base racism is merely the icing on the cake of Mascia’s unfitness for public office and electability. Serious questions ought to be directed to anyone for their political or financial support of this hypocritical malefactor. It’s Buffalo, after all, and this sort of vocalized racial animus is succor to myriad people who feel economically left behind, or are otherwise socially, politically, or economically stunted. Of course Mascia should drop out of the race. The things he said were so profoundly racist that there was really no chance for him to salvage this already ill-fated run. 

Slowly, and at long last, our world is changing. After 150 years, the confederate battle flag has finally earned its place as little more than a symbol for little more than genocidal race-hate. The small-minded Jimmy Griffin Buffalo is dying in fits and starts, no matter how many rallies people hold for themselves, how many excuses people make for their racism, and no matter how many others in town share these backward views. 

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