The Mychajliw/Kearns Report Gif Recap

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With deepest apologies to the Goose’s Roost, who perfected the art, I attempt to recap the risible, juvenile, unprobative Mychajliw/Kearns “report” on the proposed issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented New York residents. 

The Clerk’s office says it is overburdened by the fact that people who want to “participate in air travel” will need to show proof of citizenship to get a Real ID. So, maybe, staff up. Do your jobs better. Increase efficiency. Be best: 

This has got to be a joke. You don’t need a birth certificate to get a driver’s license. This seems to be a complaint about Real ID implementation, not giving undocumented immigrant residents licenses: 

I am unaware of any country where documents required to verify identity, place of origin, etc., and are in a foreign language do not first require certification or apostille, alongside a certified translation: 

Again, nonsense. The DMV – THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES – and the people who work there will not have to learn about Burmese or Yemeni birth certificates any more than they do now for, say, refugees and immigrants with legal status. Here’s the application. You don’t need a birth certificate to get a driver’s license. You need to pay the fee, pass the test, and establish that you live in the state: 

This one may be my favorite –  that undocumented immigrants won’t have bank accounts, so they’ll be paying cash for their licenses and that this will somehow pose a hardship on the offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Erie County Clerk. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during this “brainstorming” session: 

Morale may be diminished, they say, because clerks will not be able to drop a dime on undocumented immigrant applicants, who are, BTW, not committing a criminal offense simply by being present in the United States without proper visa: 

 

Here, they argue that this hampers law enforcement – cops, sheriffs – from enforcing federal immigration law. Well, interesting because that’s not in their remit. And if you are given a license, you can run a DMV check on it regardless of one’s visa status: 

Sorry, how is this within the job description of a DMV clerk or a comptroller?

I guess here they’re saying that human traffickers will go out of their way to take their victims to the DMV to get a license in order to evade detection?

Here, they argue that all these “illegals” will just register to vote. This isn’t a thing that happens, and the license can clearly state “not a US citizen” or “for driving purposes only” like they do for under-21s: 

 

“License tourism” – even though you need proof of residency, people will supposedly come to NY and pay (in cash) to DMVs to get a license. And this is ostensibly a real thing that will happen and is a negative somehow. For Erie County. This is a thing someone thought about and decided to put in an official-looking “report”-cum-press-release: 

Maybe firearm background checks should be more stringently done. Seriously, the lack of self-awareness for these two to suggest that expanded driver’s license issuance would lead to the wrong people getting a hold of guns is next-level hilarious:  

How many DACA kids are technically illegal but have a valid social security number? Also look at the snark. Being in the country without a proper visa is not a crime, and most undocumented immigrants now are due to visa overstays: 

This is all make-believe.

“I hope you enjoyed reading this report as much as we enjoyed writing it.” This report is a joke. It is make-believe. It is designed for fear and hatred, and not for any legitimate governmental purpose. Shame on these two: 

 

Health Insurance Propagandist: Stick to the Status Quo

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The Buffalo News, which has taken something of a sharp turn to the right, published an “Another Voice” column penned by a health insurance broker. The conflict negates the opinion, but it deserves a fisking because it is so fundamentally dishonest. 

Literally every industrialized democracy in the world has figured out the question of how to ensure that its populace is not bankrupted by medical bills. Some, like Switzerland, rely on a tightly regulated private market where every resident is mandated to purchase a basic level of comprehensive health insurance. Some, like Germany, offer hybrid systems of state-regulated and private insurance. Some, like Britain, offer a comprehensive national single-payer system with a separate private tier of care available to those who can afford it. Some countries have a system run by the central government while others rely on state, cantonal, or provincial management. 

There exist literally myriad ways to solve the problem of paying for everyone’s health care, but the United States has failed and refused to do so, to everyone’s harm. We spend more per capita on private health insurance and derive generally worse outcomes than most of our international peer nations. 

It doesn’t matter what you call it – socialism, democratic socialism, social democracy – the idea is that everyone contributes, and everyone benefits. 

Dan Judge, the president of the “Greater Niagara Frontier Chapter of the New York Association of Health Underwriters” is certain, however, that it would be foolish to kill his job, and he’s got the scare tactics to prove it. 

As an an independent insurance broker in the field of health and employee benefits, I, along with a vast number of my insurance industry colleagues, truly understand and empathize with many of the opinions voiced lately regarding the confusion and frustration in our U.S. health care system. But that doesn’t mean we should throw it out for a single-payer, government-run system.

It is not just “confusion and frustration”, not when even the slight gains won through the Affordable Care Act, like coverage for pre-existing conditions, remains at constant peril from Republican hard-liners. While Washington lobbyists and their paid-for Congresspeople fritter away people’s coverage and health security, we have insurance underwriters desperate to explain that this idiotic, Frankenstein system of ours is worth preserving. 

Single-payer, as proposed under the New York Health Act, would completely disrupt, if not dismantle, our health care system. Mandating that all New Yorkers would be forced to give up their current coverage and be lumped into one government-controlled system would not only be an administrative nightmare, it would also have a negative impact on access to care.

Disruption of a stupid, wasteful, redundant system of multiple private bureaucracies is exactly the point. Our health insurance system is broken. Single-payer is but one option available to remedy that. If insurance brokers are scared of that, then they should propose some other solution. Scaring us with PR-tested phrases like “administrative nightmare” won’t work because any American saddled with some garbage private health insurance has at least one horror story about what a waste of time, money, and effort it is. 

Single-payer is just that – one insurer. Of course, “single-payer” could take the form of a statewide contract through RFP for handling of every medical claim by one company. It doesn’t necessarily have to be administered by a state agency. But yes, instead of paying thousands of dollars to a private insurer of some sort, it would all go to one place, and that one place would pay the bills for doctors, hospitals, testing, therapy, etc. Doctors would have only one place to go to for billing issues, rather than a cafeteria list of various and disparate private entities and coverages, each one posing a bureaucratic nightmare for physicians and staff who just want to get on with the task of treating and helping patients. 

If we look to Canada (the closest single system we have to compare to) we see what life is really like under single-payer. The libertarian Fraser Institute of Canada publishes a “Waiting Your Turn” report every year, highlighting dramatic increases in wait times for specialists and procedures. Patients wait several months just to start cancer treatment. This has an increasing number of people choosing “medical tourism,” traveling to places like New York, rather than waiting in Canada for care.

You cannot stan for a system that prioritizes insurance claim bureaucracy over patient care and then complain, ‘but muh Saskatchewan wait times’. 

Generally, taking one’s cues from a “libertarian” institute is a fool’s errand. If you don’t like Canada’s system, here’s an idea: take what works, omit what doesn’t, and improve upon it. People from Canada do not, generally speaking, travel to the United States to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to receive treatment that comes free back home. For instance, if you navigate to Kaleida’s website, it has a page dedicated to Canadian patients, inviting them to “fast-track” their procedure in Buffalo. The highlighted services are cardiovascular, orthopedics, weight loss (bariatric), general surgery & oncological surgery, neuroscience, and diagnostic services. Although “oncological surgery” is in the pull-down menu, when you click through, it offers hernia repair, laparoscopic surgery, orthopedic surgery, weight loss, gynecological, and urological surgeries. Nothing specific there about cancer. 

Not that Canada’s system is perfect; it’s not. No system is perfect, and the quest for perfection is a red herring when even a modest improvement will do. The benefit, if there exists one, of waiting this long to figure this out, is that we have so many different models from which to choose that have been implemented abroad in real life for real care for real people. Pick what works and improve upon what doesn’t. Don’t stick to the status quo – do something better. 

The NHS, by contrast, has a two-week legislated maximum wait-time for urgent cancer referrals. The biggest problems facing government-run systems is cut-backs and austerity, not the system itself. 

Much of the savings proponents of the New York Health Act point to are dependent upon major cuts to hospitals and doctors. In Erie County, nine out of the 10 hospitals would see funding decline dramatically under single-payer. Your doctor may decide the lower pay and higher taxes aren’t worth practicing in New York anymore. This will also make it harder to recruit new doctors, leading to provider shortages.

On the other hand, doctors could lay off the staff they have on hand who exist solely to navigate the various and sundry insurance schemes that do or do not pay for care, as the case may be, thus keeping more money for themselves. It’s actually a quite cynical and disgusting charge to lay upon physicians, as if money was their motivator, rather than helping sick patients. Do you think a doctor would be happier if he would get paid regardless of whom he saw as a patient, and regardless of whether there was a proper referral, etc., or if he had to maintain the status quo and deal with referrals and co-pays and collections and insurance appeals? Imagine if a doctor would never again have to turn away a patient based on ability to pay. Imagine if a patient could get the care he needed regardless of ability to pay, and not bankrupt his family in the long run. 

And then there are the massive tax increases. Analysis conducted by the RAND Corp. last year estimated that taxes would need to increase by $139 billion in the first year alone under a single-payer system; including long-term care increases this amount by an additional $43 billion in taxes. The NYHA would create the largest state tax increase in U.S. history, ballooning to more than $250 billion a year when fully implemented.

How does that compare with the money New Yorkers now pay to their private health insurers, and in co-pays and deductibles? Every single private health insurance scheme goes to pay for each company’s massive payment-related and medical approval bureaucracy. Eliminate that redundancy.

That same RAND corporation study that Judge cites actually shows a net savings to New Yorkers if this scheme is implemented. If we kept the status quo, New Yorkers would pay $311 billion for health insurance. Taxes would increase and replace that. We would save 6.5% or $20.4 billion in reduced administrative costs, 5.2% or $16.3 billion in reduced physician and hospital administrative costs, $18.6 billion or 6% in reduced prices for drugs and medical devices, totalling a savings of $55.1 billion. The increases in cost would be $17.1 billion or 5.5% to insure everyone, improved fees for providers of $8.8 billion or 2.8%, and $18 billion or 5.8% for enhancements to long-term care coverage.  New Yorkers would save $11.4 billion. 

It is literally cheaper to cover everyone. 

The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office recently determined that a national single-payer system “would significantly increase government spending and require substantial additional government resources.” Just like the RAND Corp., they also noted the possibility of less access to care while facing an increased demand that could not be met.

Yes, because money you now pay in deductibles, co-pays, and health insurance would instead go to one other place, cost less, and provide more. Call it “taxes” to scare people, but I’d rather pay a smaller sum in taxes than I do for health insurance and annual deductibles in order to have complete, comprehensive medical, vision, dental, and long term care coverage. It is a no-brainer for anyone who has any experience with the American system. 

The majority of New Yorkers – 95% – are currently covered by health insurance. (In Western New York, that number rises to 96.8%.) The state should be looking at ways to help cover the remaining 5% instead of ways to create more frustration and confusion under a single-payer health care system.

tl;dr: it’s not so much important that people have adequate health insurance, so long as the health insurance brokers can pay for another Cadillac. 

If people want to have a debate on the merits as to what sort of medical coverage scheme best works for New York or the United States, that’s fine. The status quo, both pre- and post-Obamacare is inadequate and results in literal deaths from people without adequate coverage, money to pay deductibles, and avoidance of medical care due to financial anxiety. 

Americans deserve better. Want to make America great again? Cover every American. This is how it should be: 

and

Our individualistic, libertarian paradise, however, is very different.

A Chronicle Told By An Idiot

I have a general policy to not name the owner of the Buffalo Chronicle, to link to its stories, or otherwise to promote it in any meaningful way. This is, in part, why I am not even going to bother to publish this at the Daily Public.

About a week or so ago, the little-known local bullshit artist who runs the fake-news-before-it-was-a-thing rag published a half-true piece about legal work that I did for Erie County at my former job. The article itself seemed written by an illiterate, and had more than a few inaccuracies.

I debunked a bunch of the information in two tweets – here and here. His insinuation was that the average $75,000 per year of legal work my former firm billed to Erie County at bargain rates was the quid for the pro quo of me supporting County Executive Mark Poloncarz. That is, of course, idiotic. I had supported Poloncarz before I did work for the county, during, and after. I have not touched a county case in almost a year at my current employment, nor do I derive any benefit – monetary or otherwise – relating to the former work that I did.

Interestingly, a few years ago, just after Frank Parlato bought out ArtVoice, local shit-stirrer and former Democratic County Executive candidate Peter Reese sniffed around to try and write this story. Reese called me at the time and I referred him to my boss for comment. Nothing ever came of it.

But Reese has a new toy – the owner of the Buffalo Chronicle. How do we know this?

Looks like the owner of the Buffalo Chronicle went on Reese’s payroll on or about April 14, 2019. The “Better with Reese” BOE campaign filings show that Reese directly paid this individual $3,500 in the four weeks from mid-April to mid-May in order to fund attacks in his rag against me, Mark Poloncarz, Legislative candidates Lisa Chimera and Howard Johnson, Nate McMurray, Judge Burns (who presided over Reese’s BOE case and whom the Chronicle accused of corruption), and Judge Sue Maxwell Barnes, whom he accused of “bribery.” All of this is to fuel some sort of anti-Democratic HQ vendetta by Reese and other Pigeon stan accounts.

The whole thing is projection. The Chronicle accuses me of being on the take in exchange for biting commentary against dummies like Kathy alt-right Weppner and noted local convicted criminals Kristy Mazurek and Steve Pigeon, while a candidate is paying the Chronicle’s owner a handsome sum for “consulting” fees. And what happens? All of a sudden, the Chronicle miraculously finds itself slamming people with whom Reese has some beef. I was a vocal Poloncarz supporter before I did legal work for the county, during, and after. Nothing about what I did changed, except that when I wrote about county issues, I added a disclaimer about that work. If anything, during the time that I did legal work for the County, I regularly withheld comment about county government goings-on.

So the accusation that I was paid off for my commentary is stupid and preposterous. Here, we have Lorigo Democrat Peter Reese shoving $3,500 at this person who can barely scrape two coherent sentences together, and for what – “consulting”? Consulting? I’m at a loss to recall a candidate whom this person has consulted or advised – Egriu? Martin? Mascia? Giambra? Al Coppola? – who has made any significant electoral headway. I mean, that sort of consulting is what he does when he isn’t being outed in Canadian media for his fake stories. Or that time he claimed that Preet Bharara would indict Andrew Cuomo on a Saturday after a holiday.

Joe Illuzzi was savvier, more talented a huckster, and had a genuine knack for running that horrible site of his. Illuzzi was also a better writer, which isn’t saying much.

Stay tuned.

Dictaphone McCarthy and the Case of the Missing $200,000

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News reporting shouldn’t be a “choose your own adventure,” but the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy has a tendency to simply write down what people tell him and report that as fact, without checking. It is lazy horse-race reporting that purports to inform voters about inside-baseball fundraising, but offers zero substance and questionable facts. It’s candy for the Illuzzi-reader crowd. 

On May 22, the Buffalo News published a story claiming that the Republican-endorsed candidate for County Executive had “raised more than $200,000 since declaring her candidacy in March” and that this fundraising prowess lent her the “credibility to raise even more and prove competitive against Poloncarz.” 

The News report that Lynne Dixon, the Republicans’ candidate for County Executive, raised over $200,000 since declaring her candidacy in March is false. She has raised less than $200,000 since January, and of that less than $100,000 can be counted as actual contributions from regular people. 

“It says people are ready for change, and I will continue to work to raise the funds to get my message out,” she said. “I said all along I will raise the necessary money to get my message out, and I will.”

and, according to Republican direct-mail wunderkind Chris Grant, 

“I think she has showed an energy and a buzz around her campaign that has not been seen in a while,” he said. “There is a different element of folks who are attracted to her campaign, and she is tapping into something very different here.”

“While Mark is talking about the Paris climate accord and other esoteric issues to play to his base,” he said, “Lynne is talking about issues important to moms in West Seneca.”

This is just the latest example of Bob McCarthy transcribing whatever the last Republican apparatchik told him, and reporting it as fact. McCarthy’s animus towards Democrats and their party committee chairman Jeremy Zellner is thinly veiled, and all of this “reporting” isn’t so much about facts as it is about feelings.

My initial reaction was this: 

That tweet must have set Grant’s Spidey-sense tingling. 

and 

Well, the filing posted. The report was wholly inaccurate.

Let’s take a look at the filing against the backdrop of the claim to McCarthy of over $200,000 brought in since March. Dixon actually raised $191,358 since January. $168,683 came in via “contributions”, and $26,675 came in as “miscellaneous receipts”. A $9,000 discrepancy, which in WNY amounts to real money, or a single check from the likes of a steel magnate. 

I guess it helps to check what a source is saying. 

Of the $26,675 “miscellaneous receipts”, $25,000 of it was a straight-up transfer from the Erie County Republican Committee. The rest was from local committees. Republican committees throwing money at a Republican race is hardly indicative of some sort of groundswell of small-i independent grassroots support for “change.” 

Another $17,000 came from other campaign committees, LLCs, and PACs, and of that fully $10,000 came from one source – the “Friends of Nick Langworthy” campaign account. While Grant and Dixon declared that, thanks to fed-up West Seneca moms donating “more than” $200,000 since March because Dixon’s message was resonating, it turns out that less than $142,000 came from individual contributions & partnerships.

Breaking down the individual contributions, Pigeonista desperado and nominal “Democrat” James J. Eagan gave $20,000. Brian Lipke of Gibraltar Steel gave $10,000, and Pat Hotung of Main Place Liberty Group cut a check for $25,000. Take away those three mega-donations of $55,000, and regular people donated about $87,000 between January and May. Not too bad, but also not $200,000. 

The problem here is not so much about whether Lynne Dixon raised “more than $200,000” since “March” and whether that is indicative of grassroots demands for change – the issue is that by the time the actual numbers were released to the Board of Elections, the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy had already reported this unsubstantiated hearsay, which was framed as evidence of “people…ready for change.” The whole meme – the whole narrative – collapsed the moment the actual filing was made, and there is no correction or other indication in the News that Dictaphone Bob was duped again, caught transcribing whatever the last Republican told him and not checking the facts.  

“A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes,” goes the quip.

If we can agree that even $87,000 is a good take, I’m sure Dixon will continue to raise money well. So, I don’t understand (a) the need to exaggerate (i.e., lie) about the sum; and (b) why the Buffalo News just goes ahead and prints whatever Chris Grant says. Incidentally, if all of this was to show that West Seneca moms have concerns that don’t quite include the Paris Climate Accords, that is not reflected in Dixon’s financials and is, at best, puffery. Of 15 individual donations from West Seneca residents, 3 were female. The vast majority of the remaining donations were also from men. 

Grant says of Dixon, 

“She’s pitch-perfect for Cheektowaga, which is not a radical, progressive town,” Grant said. “When the Democrats get away and veer into this liberal nonsense, that’s when they get in trouble.”

In 2015, Poloncarz faced off against a folksy former county legislator. In Cheektowaga, Poloncarz received 8,523 votes. Ray Walter received 3,555. In 2011, Poloncarz earned 12,315 Cheektowagan votes vs. Chris Collins’ 9,863. In 2007, however, Chris Collins trounced Jim Keane, but it seems as if Cheektowagans are ok with Poloncarz, who is not a “radical, progressive” of any sort. 

Dictaphone McCarthy needs to check his facts, and the Buffalo News should not just publish what amounts to Dixonian propaganda without verifying the numbers. It’s all of it a disservice to the public. The coming months will see whether Dixon offers a genuine agenda beyond just throwing shade at Poloncarz and running on a platform in defense of one-use plastic bags.

What we do know is that Dixon and her partisans can freely urinate on Bob McCarthy’s leg, tell him it’s raining, and he’ll publish a few hundred words about the big rainstorm. 

Electoral Malpractice

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There are some problems with local designating petitions. The lede in the Buffalo News exclaimed

Five women candidates looking to break the all-male hold on the Common Council charged Tuesday that challenges to their designating petitions stem from “the Erie County political machine” practicing “sexist politics at its worst.”

We definitely need more women to run for elected office, and we need more women to win elected office. So, it is especially galling that a group specifically designed to achieve this goal kneecapped these candidates so hard. 

“A series of frivolous and unwarranted petition challenges have been filed against our campaigns in what will amount to a failed attempt to knock us off the June primary ballot,” the five women said. “This is an effort to block five women from running for Common Council so that their five male opponents may sail smoothly to victory, unchallenged and unchecked.”

It is only inadvertently an effort to “block five women” from this particular run, because all five of them used a defective form of petition. If a “#clubformen” candidate had done the same, then the same challenge would be underway. In the 1985 case of Stabler v. Fidler, the New York State Court of Appeals wrote

Both the actual operation and public perception of the electoral process as one that seeks regularity and evenhanded application must not be distorted. The Election Law must have a neutral application unaffected by party affiliation, policy, position, incumbency, race, sex, or any other criterion irrelevant to a determination of whether its requirements have been met. In short, a too-liberal construction of the Election Law has the potential for inviting mischief on the part of candidates, or their supporters or aides, or worse still, manipulations of the entire election process.

Ballot access in New York State – like many things – is byzantine, difficult, and overloaded with traps for the unwary. Until and unless someone begins to take that problem seriously, these rites will continue to play out, year after year. It simply should not be a complicated or tricky matter to get your name on a ballot, and it acts as a disincentive for regular people to run for office. 

But, for now, it is tricky and byzantine. Unless Albany changes things, all candidates – men and women – have to play by the same rulebook. When a candidate relies on the advice and assistance of a political operative or consultant, she is entitled to competent, careful, and knowledgable assistance. 

New York State Election Law §6-132 sets forth the exact language that needs to be present on a designating petition for a party nomination. 

2.  I,………………… (name of witness) state: I am a duly qualified voter of the State of New York and am an enrolled voter of the………………….. party. I now reside at……………….. (residence address)

Again – the necessary language is right there in the statute. The Board of Elections even has a fillable PDF candidates can use. School board elections for the City of Buffalo, however, are non-partisan, and the “enrolled voter of the ___ party” language is omitted. An independent nominating petition, for instance, can be used. It does not contain the party enrollment language.

The Election Law does not screw around, and is hypertechnical. It is often difficult to predict what a court will find to be an “insignificant” petition flub and a fatal petition flaw. Petitions will be invalidated if you use a binder clip rather than a staple to fasten multiple pages together.  Election Law § 6-132 (2) requires that a subscribing witness to a designating petition be an enrolled voter in the same political party as the voters qualified to sign the petition – a petition-gatherer cannot simply change the witness verification to reflect his party membership if it differs from that of the signers. Petitions will be invalidated if the signers’ addresses are absent or incorrect, or if the subscribing witness omits his or her Assembly District. Signatures collected by a subscribing witness who puts down an incorrect address will be invalidated

The Courts will look to whether a defect in a petition is material or insignificant. Here, given that the actual language that must be present on the petition is included in the statute, there is little chance that a failure to include it will be deemed “insignificant”. 

So it is that the petitions submitted on behalf of several candidates backed by WomenElect and Eleanor’s Legacy are in jeopardy – as are their entire campaigns – over a small but hugely significant clerical omission. This all highlights the importance of proofreading, which is also gender-blind. 

Here is the top and bottom of one page from Common Council candidate Bernice Radle’s designating petitions (I have redacted people’s addresses): 

Note the red arrow. 

And here, by comparison, is the top and bottom of her opponent’s petition: 

Pay close attention to the highlighted text: 

Ms. Radle’s petitions do not include the “and am an enrolled voter of the Democratic Party” text under “Statement of Witness”. This is a requirement for a valid party designating petition, and the petitions submitted by all five WomenElect-backed female candidates for City Council reportedly omit this language. 

The problem is not sexism, but ballot access on the one hand, and following instructions on the other. I don’t know exactly who is challenging these petitions, but the paper appears to be facially, legally invalid. In a contested, adversarial electoral scenario, this is fair game, and if the candidates don’t know this, then certainly the people advising them do. 

These candidates are victims – not of evil men looking to maintain a male status quo, but of clumsy political consultants upon whom the candidates relied to send them into battle adequately armed. Not only did these consultants fail properly to arm these candidates – they didn’t even get them to the battlefield. The action is in Gettysburg, but these candidates are stranded by weather in Atlanta. 

That is the real tragedy here – that people “advising” candidates in an effort to elect more women in New York gave defective advice and materials that may be fatal to these campaign efforts. 

Literally, you had one job. 

Bad Old Days of Bad Old Ways: Pigeon Sine Pigeon

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Dear Sir,

Thank you for your transmittal of April 8th. Evidently you were responding to a tweet from County Executive Mark Poloncarz that you failed or neglected to reprint in its entirety: 

As a preliminary matter, I do not know how my personal email address came to be added to your list. Secondly, reading and listening are both useful skills. 

You ask, “How would you define the “Bad Old Days”? 

As a matter of fact, Mr. Poloncarz both wrote and said “bad old ways”. 

Not days. Ways

Were the “Bad Old Days” the days when the Party Chairman appointed himself to one of the highest paying jobs in county government? Were the “Bad Old Days” the days when there wasn’t one person of color employed at party headquarters? Were the “Bad Old Days” the days where in the first 7 years of your administration you didn’t have one African American in a leadership role? Were the “Bad Old Days” the days where you ordered the re-appointment of a disgraced Water Authority Chairman, whose removal was recommended by a state oversight authority? No Mr. Poloncarz, these were not the “Bad Old Days”, this is your County Democratic Party of today!! 

I’m sure it will come to a surprise to everyone – especially party headquarters – that there is “not one person of color employed at party headquarters.” Call and ask for the Executive Director. Ask her about it. 

In any event, I would like to address the “concerns” contained within your intemperate rant.  

The “bad old ways” involved all those years when other disgruntled nominal Democrats spent a fortune in order to destroy and sabotage good Democratic candidates in order to harm party headquarters and to accumulate money, power, jobs, and influence. 

Pedro Espada says hi. From jail. 

The “bad old ways” were the times when a former Democratic chairman –  deposed for being a divisive failure – undertook a well-funded, two-decades-long political jihad to systemically weaken the party committee he hoped again to run, and scorched Democrats who were trying to better their communities. The “bad old ways” saw a former Democratic chairman open a business with notorious right-wing propagandist Roger Stone in order to destroy local Democrats. 

Pigeoning: pi·geon·ing ˈpi-jən-iŋ: (n) the action of using money and influence, oftentimes pushing the election law envelope, to actively sabotage and undermine the Erie County Democratic Committee.

Now, we have some people trying to Pigeon sine Pigeon, trying so desperately to cling to the bad old ways. 

The “bad old ways” were when your boy did the crimes, like felony bribing a Supreme Court Justice, and felony directing a $25,000 foreign donation to Governor Cuomo. 

The “bad old ways” were the times when Democrats cut deals with the homophobic Conservative fusion Party, and paid Joe Illuzzi for an ad to curry the favor of a Springville barber in order to secure for them the Independence fusion Party line. Never forget that the Conservative fusion Party is the party of Angela Wozniak and Joe Mascia. 

The “bad old ways” were the times when Conservative Party Democrats conspired with Chris Collins to undertake a Republican coup of the Erie County Legislature in exchange for a few dollars thrown at pet projects. The “bad old ways” even include the recruitment of three criminals to help ensure a Republican coup in the State Senate. 

The “bad old ways” were quieted after two brave politicians – People of Color, one of whom now works in the Poloncarz Administration – filed a complaint with the Moreland Commission against your friends in the the WNY Progressive Caucus, or “AwfulPac“. 

In a sense, the “bad old ways” according to Poloncarz includes the times when you and your associates had control over the Water Authority patronage pot

Mark Twain once said “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded”.

Query what the everliving f-ck you’ve done, kind sir, except help to weaken and sabotage the committee. If you don’t like Zellner, challenge him. Run. None of you ever do – full of sound and fury when it suits you, but helping no Democrats – not even Dobson – when November rolls around

Welcome to 2019. Pigeonism is over, and his bad old ways have been consistently rejected by Erie County Democrats.

Very truly yours, 

@buffalopundit

Mychajliw, Dixon and the Violence Brigade

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It should not come as a surprise to anyone that in the era of Donald J. Trump, millionaire, American politics have become incredibly dumb and unconscionably threatening. There exists in the world zero excuse – none – to threaten violence or bodily harm on one’s political opponent. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or a member of some corrupt or washed-up marionette fusion party, under no circumstances is it ok to threaten someone over a political point of view. 

We come to learn this week that County Executive Mark Poloncarz has accepted a security detail from the Sheriff’s office due to threats he has recently received. The Buffalo News reports

On the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day, a suspicious package arrived at his office addressed to him as “personal and confidential.” It had been hand-delivered to his office and had no return address. Nothing inside turned out to be dangerous, but the incident put building security on alert, he said.

Fair enough. I understand that county resources are limited, and I have no doubt that Poloncarz accepted the security detail reluctantly at someone else’s recommendation. In fact, he tells the News exactly that. 

He accepted police protection upon the recommendation of Buffalo police, Erie County Central Police Services and the Sheriff’s Office, he said. That includes special transportation measures and two sheriff’s deputies who travel with him to his scheduled events, among other security measures that he declined to publicly discuss.

and 

He said he does not know how long he will continue to have the security. He hopes it is temporary.

“It’s completely changed how I have to go about my work routine and daily life,” Poloncarz said. “I’m not thrilled with it.”

Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman said he could not elaborate on the details of the open investigation but confirmed the additional protection was recommended.

“Based off the recent threats made against the county executive, we believed a security detail was needed,” Wipperman said.

Also fair. I think that if an elected official received a credible threat of harm, he or she ought to implement whatever reasonable security measures law enforcement might recommend. Obviously he doesn’t need an armored car or a full motorcade, but being accompanied by deputies on the recommendation of the police seems reasonable for an elected official who by no means signed up to get threatened by Facebook trolls whose behavior escalates into potential assassin territory.

In that Buffalo News article, however, one prominent Republican and one member of the washed-up, marionette “Independence” fusion Party attempted to make political hay out of the protection of a fellow elected official. 

“If there is a credible threat to him and he is in need of security, then that’s fine, but I have questions,” said [County Executive candidate Lynne] Dixon, adding that she wants an update on the status of the investigation.

Ms. Dixon should have stopped at “fine.” Everything after that is irresponsible and macabre. 

Wipperman said the deputies, detectives and supervisors who are trained in dignitary and executive protection work come from different parts of the Sheriff’s Office.

“They are assigned on a rotating basis so that none of our normal operations and investigations are hampered,” he said.

On what basis is Lynne Dixon, a county legislator, in any position to demand an “update on the status of” a police investigation that does not affect her? Never fear, dear reader, because Dixon’s ghoulishness is dwarfed by Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw’s colossal grotesqueness. 

“I’m sure there’s a significant cost involved in removing these highly trained officers from their specific detail to protect the county executive like he’s the president,” he said.

Think on that for a second. Mychajliw is quite literally putting a price on Poloncarz’s head. This is professional-grade concern-trolling. I mean, is there a “cost” threshold that Mychajliw or Dixon can stomach to prevent a political rival, his loved-ones, and his staff from being harmed? If so, then why isn’t that being established? Why are the media dutifully transcribing these bloodthirsty sentiments without challenging them.

How much is too much, Stef? What is the most taxpayer money that can be spent to prevent the murder of the County Executive, Lynne? Somebody ask these questions. 

I call upon members of the Erie County Legislature immediately to introduce a bill that delineates the maximum amount of public money that can be spent to protect an elected official against whom a credible threat of violence has been made. 

From a practical standpoint, I believe that it’s smarter for Poloncarz to take security advice from professional members of law enforcement rather than from former journalists with no law enforcement experience who made names for themselves by wearing red parkas.

In February 2017, Mychajliw said he received threats from an inmate, believed to be mentally ill, who threatened to “exact revenge” against him with a gun. That led Mychajliw to apply for a concealed carry pistol permit and purchase a Glock at his own expense. The inmate has since been in and out of jail.

Poloncarz said Mychajliw should contact Central Police Services and the Sheriff’s Office if he has serious concerns.

Mychajliw said he contacted the sheriff when the issue first arose.

“I thought it would be silly to ask for 24/7 police protection,” Mychajliw said. “Our law enforcement should be used to fight crime on the streets, take drugs out of the community and fight the very serious opioid epidemic.”

Mychajliw here presumes that Poloncarz asked for police protection, and the very article in which he is quoted proves him incorrect. To put a finer point on all of this, Mychajliw amazingly does not consider the protection of elected officials from credible threats of harm to be “crime on the streets”. I’m pretty sure it is. His invocation of the “opioid epidemic” is clumsy politicization of all of this. Stefan Mychajliw’s office’s remit does not extend to telling law enforcement how to do its job. 

Wednesday morning, Mychajliw appeared on WBEN and took surprisingly pointed questions from Susan Rose on all of this. He parroted the propaganda he fed to the Buffalo News’ Sandra Tan, and demanded that the Rath Building’s security footage be immediately released so as to apprehend whomever delivered the suspicious package to Poloncarz’s office. 

Except there’s a problem with that. It wasn’t just the suspicious package. 

Five days [after the package was delivered], an incident occurred at [Poloncarz’s] house that prompted him to call the police. He declined to elaborate, saying he doesn’t want the information to harm the investigation or encourage copycats.

Mychajliw said nothing of that, completely ignoring so as to advance his sadistic narrative that Poloncarz is a spendthrift drama queen.

Mychajliw suggested that Poloncarz do what he did – get a concealed carry permit and then cross your fingers that cosplaying Hopalong Stef is better protection against lunatic cranks than foillowing the recommendations of law enforcement. Note that in Mychajliw’s case, he says he contacted the sheriff; the article does not go into any further detail, so we are left to wonder whether the department considered the threat against Mychajliw to be as serious or credible as the ones made against Poloncarz in recent weeks. Perhaps Mychajliw’s concealed carry permit wasn’t just some cynical political ploy to pander to the SCOPE/Abolish the SAFE Act crowd and was instead a well-considered and proportional response to the threat he received; by the same reasoning, perhaps Poloncarz’s reluctant acceptance of a security detail is a proportional and reasonable reaction to the threats he received. 

We are all just trying to be people in this society. If law enforcement had recommended that Mychajliw accept a security detail because some crazed leftist was making credible threats, literally no one would begrudge him that. When the security of public officials takes a back seat to cost, then the country is truly in a sorry state. If there is truly a “concern” about cost, then this could be handled quietly. The fact that it’s in the paper tells you that this is a political stunt and not a serious or credible concern at all. This is a Republican effort to make Poloncarz seem like he is taking something from taxpayers to which he is not entitled. Shame on Dixon and shame on Mychajliw. 

The only appropriate response to learning of a credible threat of bodily injury against a fellow public servant is to ask “what do you need”. These Republicans would sooner see Poloncarz harmed than spend a dime on his protection.

I think the media should stop “both-sidesing” stories like this and instead probe why Mychajliw and Dixon are so eager to see harm come to Poloncarz and his family, friends, and colleages. 

Carl Paladino and the Czech Neutral Tourists

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On Wednesday morning, prolific e-mail author and equine pornography enthusiast Carl Paladino revealed that his biggest fear is apparently riding a subway car on a Friday afternoon in which he is the only white person. This is a reasonable conclusion to extrapolate from his latest email missive, which is nothing more than a vituperative attack on anyone not white. It is typical racist Carl “I’m not a racist” Paladino garbage nonsense that he keeps sending out, yet people still take him seriously as some sort of business leader or voice worth listening to. 

Paladino, the founder of Buffalo’s Ellicott Development, (which among other things rents apartments to people of various races, creeds, and ethnicities, and also operates a hospitality subsidiary that offers goods and services to diverse visitors to western New York), sent around a racist, Nazi piece of garbage email forward that is not only a poor translation from the Russian language, but is a completely false pack of lies. 

It is entitled “19 Pictures from Hell.” Hell being Paris. 

“France is Being Destroyed!” it blares, along with, “ANYONE DUMB ENOUGH TO BELIEVE THE PARIS RIOTS ARE ONLY ABOUT TAXES AND THE CLIMATE? TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND LEARN. ” The report is from:

“…neutral Czech Tourists in 2018 and still getting worse. The overwhelming abuse of the indigenous culture. Shame on those who welcomed such foreseeable destruction.”

When I did a reverse image search of these images, they all originated on Russian websites. Every one of them. It is an old Soviet trick to make the West seem extremely dirty and dangerous, and what better way to illustrate that then to stoke the racist fears of a largely homogeneous white society. 

What is a “neutral Czech Tourist?” What does “abuse of the indigenous culture” mean? I think Carl means white people; that there are parts of Paris that are not predominately populated by white people. He must hate Buffalo and New York City and just about any other place where people of different colors, creeds, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions live and co-exist. There are two images next – one shows armed police outside Notre Dame, and another shows *gasp* black, brown, and Asian people milling about on a busy street.

These people are literally not doing anything other than existing. But this is a hazard of some sort to Carl and his “neutral Czech” correspondents. 

The captions are, again, illustrative.

“We went there not so long ago, just go for the weekend. We bribed the price of tickets, unusually low, but we were not in Paris for more than 10 years…”We decided to refresh impressions, again inhale the French romance. The fact that the lowest price for Air France had alerted us, but nothing like this. “

We “bribed” the price of tickets?  None of this makes sense. Are they saying they bought cheap air tickets on a continent where one can routinely buy cheap air tickets, and that this is somehow evidence of the desireability of the destination? 

“The flight was fine, then we boarded a train that took us to the center, and it was there that we experienced the first shock: not only was the Northern station all littered with debris, there was not a white Frenchman! It shocked us to the core.”

Waitwaitwait. You mean to tell me you flew to one of the biggest cities in Europe and the station had litter? And there “was not a white Frenchman?” I’ve been to Paris. It’s not the cleanest city in the world, but then Zurich doesn’t have a reputation for romance and intrigue. That “white Frenchman” thing though. That’s interesting. What difference does it make whether you saw a black or brown Frenchman? France was a colonial empire, but I guess some people are good enough to conquer, but not good enough to allow to immigrate? So far the “neutral Czech tourists” whom Carl stans saw litter and black people. This makes Paris “hell”. 

Again. This is just racist garbage. But let’s continue.

Look! Black people selling tchotchkes on the streets of Paris! Black people sitting on the steps of a church! OMG PANIC!

Women in Niqab walking along the street throwing up a deuce? Two fingers? Peace sign? Oh, the humanity! People different from Carl minding their own business!

But let’s look at the next caption. 

“Furthermore, we hastily settled near the Sacr Coeur, where the situation seems to have been even worse.”

Oh, no. Whatever happened to our intrepid “neutral Czech” tourists? a mugging? A robbery? An assault of some sort?

“When we went down into the subway to get to major attractions, then suddenly we found out that in the car my wife and I – only white. It was Friday, about two o’clock in the afternoon!”

Quelle horreur! They were the only white people in a subway car at 2 in the afternoon! This, my friends, may be Carl’s biggest fear. Being a minority, given his well-documented animus towards minorities. 

There’s more. Here are pictures of trash and tents. Because brown and black people, right Carl?

The Louvre is deserted!  There are soldiers due to a state of emergency!  There are refugees! Muslims! 

The Louvre is so deserted you should buy your tickets online to avoid the line and guarantee a maximum 30 minute wait. It’s so deserted that lifestyle bloggers give you tips to avoid the hours-long lines

“On the streets of migrants crowd, full of shops, whose owners are refugees. Where did so many of them come from? At the Eiffel Tower – one. Check out all but covered from head to toe Muslim. This selectivity of the French. Landmarks around the tower teeming with hucksters of the African, Arab gambler, beggars from all over the world and pickpockets.”

Big city attracts poor people trying to hustle for a buck. News at 11.

There are more pictures. The top one has English signs. Paris? Doubtful. The middle one shows people dancing and playing drums. But they’re dark, so Carl is afraid of them. The bottom one shows migrants at Calais trying to LEAVE FRANCE to the UK. It’s not Paris.

Carl Paladino of Ellicott Development has more pictures for you, though. Black people. The black people are minding their own business. Or they’re poor. Or it’s a photograph taken from a news report about a street crime. They all look equally scary to him. 

“It was a terrifying experience. I can imagine what’s going on in Marseille and Calais where migrants already de facto set their own rules. In France, a civil war is brewing, that’s what I say. Therefore, I recommend not to go there – Farewell, beloved France! God forbid that we had something like this in the Czech Republic!”

Yes. God forbid the Czech Republic finds itself a magnet for people from another continent. The Czech Republic was never, itself, an imperial colonial power. It did not attract or absorb its conquered colonists, whose overseas homelands had legally become as France as Paris itself. They still are, if you go to Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, St Pierre et Miquelon, Reunion, or other French overseas dependencies and départements

The last three images showing “more pictures of Paris” are below. The top one is a guy praying. He’s Muslim, so Carl Paladino of Ellicott Development reckons he’s bad. The middle one is a guy making a mess on a train. He’s black, so Carl Paladino of Ellicott Development reckons that’s “hell”.  

Look at that last image. That’s quite obviously a guy on the NYC subway taking a piss. I guess that answers the email’s last question, “Is America Next?” I guess a guy pissing on the downtown 6 is evidence that Paris is “hell”.

Evidence: 

March 2010: Paladino’s racist and pornographic emails
October 2012: Paladino denies he’s a birther, but is birther. 
August 2014: Paladino’s homophobic reaction to a 419 scam letter
February 2015: Paladino rejects civil rights assessment of Buffalo schools. 
March 2015: Paladino threatens school board “sisterhood” with libel suit (which never came)
July 2015: Paladino demeans “damn Asians” at UB. 
July 2015: Paladino offers fake apology to “damn Asians”
July 2015: Paladino’s supporters: hey, he could have said, “damn Ukrainians”. 
July 2015: Paladino defends Joe Mascia’s n-word outburst
July 2015: Sandy Beach calls Paladino out on Joe Mascia
August 2015: Paladino digs a deeper hole on Shredd & Ragan. 
August 2016: Paladino claims Obama is Muslim. 
December 2016: Paladino wishes President Obama dead, likens the First Lady to a Zimbabwean gorilla. 
December 2016: Merry Carlmas!
March 2017: Paladino the White Nationalist
April 2017: Paladino spreads fake news
August 2017: Paladino’s True Colors
August 2018: Paladino defends predator clergy

Let’s not pretend that Carl Paladino of Ellicott Development is anything better than what he regularly shows us he is. This email? This email is just straight-up Nazi “white genocide” “great replacement” propaganda. It’s beyond concerning that Nazi propaganda is being spread like this by the owner of Ellicott Development, a large local landlord to various residents, businesses, and government offices, and the owner of a company that provides hospitality goods and services to visitors to western New York. 

Is This Thing On?

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The Trump Crime Syndicate is poised to close all 21 overseas offices of the Citizenship and Immigration Service. Immigrant visa applications will now be handled by already overworked consular offices, and this will result in delay and slowing of visa applications, family reunifications, and adoptions. The rationale is that the Trump Crime Syndicate is opposed to all immigration – legal or otherwise. This will please Trump’s “base”, which is all about keeping America white.

Tucker Carlson is no proletarian populist, but he plays one on TV. Carlson is also either a white nationalist, or a guy who is perfectly fine repeating white nationalist (read: Nazi) tropes and memes to his nightly audience of omniphobe boomer bigots. 

Where the living fuck are Tesla’s solar roofs? What are they doing in there? 

The people who used to ride with Steve Pigeon are out and about, trying to take over bits and pieces of Cheektowaga town government and circulating petitions for a Democratic County Executive primary. It’s nice that there are about 7 people nostalgic for the good old days of conspiring with the fusion parties to ratfuck endorsed Democrats. 

Speaking of which, fusion voting got some attention in the last few weeks because the Working Families Party – a lefty, union-funded fusion party that famously endorsed Cynthia Nixon over Andrew Cuomo last year – decided to mount a push to combat a Democratic push to abolish fusion altogether. Never mind that New York is one of only a few states that allow this practice, fusion voting is nothing but a way for political malefactors to cut dirty deals; e.g., endorsements in exchange for jobs. Fusion is what led to former Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith to go to jail. Fusion was the way Steve Pigeon colluded with Republicans to screw Democrats over. Fusion is what enables the criminal “Independence Party” enterprise to continue to operate and confuse voters. Sure, voting is too restrictive in New York and the system could use an overhaul, but fusion is not some sort of voting rights bonus. It’s a conduit for criminality and graft, and has been for some time. People with longer memories will remember how rumormonger Joe Illuzzi would sell ads to politicians as part of a package that would (a) prevent Illuzzi from printing nasty, false rumors about that politician; and (b) buy the Independence Party line from a Springville barber who ran its local committee. 

Brexit has turned into an utter shambles. With just days left before Article 50 triggers an automatic exit from the European Union, MPs yesterday rejected Theresa May’s clumsily negotiated exit deal for a second time. Brexit has turned out to have been brought about through what appears to be electoral fraud and cheating, assisted in part by Russians intent on striking back at the west for EU and US sanctions brought about in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It is against this shambolic backdrop that New York’s worst legislator – David DiPietro – suggests breaking up New York into several states. After all, what better way to counter the utter moral and political bankruptcy of your political party and ideology than to basically do two mini-Brexits, and enable WNY to lose its downstate subsidy and become Mississippi-on-the-Lake. Re-drawing the political map to make WNY “redder than Texas” and poorer than Alabama. The rationale is, at least partly, an effort to force poor people who rely on programs like Medicaid to leave. 

We haven’t even talked about the Trump kids and their fake security clearances, or Trump’s relationship with Chinese sex traffickers whom he has allowed to sell rich Chinese access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

To Normal People, Rats are the Good Guys

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Michael Cohen, convicted felon and former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, is no longer in the thrall of Trump or the eponymous MAGA cult. Liberated through his admissions and pleas, Cohen is now free to tell the truth and “rat” the President out. In the past, Cohen lied to protect the President. He now has no such mandate. 

While the President and his cult assail Cohen for being a “rat”, they forget that, to law-abiding people, the rats are the good guys – the ones who turn state’s evidence to expose an organized criminal enterprise. Some assholes pulled the wrong message from The Godfather and Goodfellas. 

Politico published Cohen’s prepared Congressional testimony, and every sentence is a bombshell insofar as it confirns what we already know about Trump – that he’s a “racist”, a “conman”, and a “cheat”.

What a difference some cooperation with law enforcement, a conviction, and some genuine checks-and-balances oversight make. 

Instead of recounting each and every of Cohen’s revelations – he brings receipts for most of them, lest you accuse him of fabrication – I highlight one relevant to the Buffalo Branch Trumpidians. Cohen will produce inflated financial documents that Trump submitted to Deutsche Bank in an effort to secure a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills. 

Cohen is not directly accusing Trump of fraud, but the subtext is plain as day – in an effort to secure the Bills, (which the genuinely fracking-rich Pegulas bought for $1.4 billion in cash), Trump resorted to inflating his assets to secure a loan from the only bank left that would entertain his applications

Hell hath no fury like a “personal attorney to Donald J. Trump” scorned. 

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