Joe Mascia on Gerrymandering & his Goons Referred to DA

Joe Mascia, about whom I’ve recently written hereherehere, and here, has chutzpah. Even though he was caught on tape calling some of Buffalo’s African-American elected officials horrible racial epithets, and refusing to exit the race for the Fillmore District Council seat, he is now claiming to be the anti-racism candidate.

It hasn’t been reported that Mascia’s campaign treasurer recently quit, joining Mascia’s original campaign manager.

Also, the Mascia operatives who attempted to manufacture a case against Franczyk aide and attorney Mike Kuzma may soon find themselves in some real trouble. Kuzma’s attorney, Daire Irwin, has referred the matter to the District Attorney’s office in the hopes that the Mascia’s goons are prosecuted for filing a false police report.

Undeterred, Mascia is continuing with his doomed-to-fail campaign by whining about gerrymandering and accusing Francyzk of racism in the expansion of his district to include more predominately white districts. From a press release,

Commissioner Joe Mascia is demanding that 28 year Councilman David Franczyk explain the racism behind the redistricting map that he drew while he was Council President.

During the 2010 redistricting process, then Council President David Franczyk gerrymandered himself a district so contorted for blatantly racial motivations, that it has attracted national criticism from academics at UC Berkeley and in national publications, including The New York Times.

In drawing himself a Whiter district, he simultaneously stole a Black district from the Eastside, a Latino district from the Westside, and a gay district from the Elmwood Village — so that he could use White voters in Allentown to get reelected.

Racism that is codified in public policy is egregious and offensive.  Let’s start talking about the issues that matter.

(See the attached map of current Common Council districts. Note that now-Council President Darius Pridgen lives on the Erie Basin Marina.)

A gay district?

Mascia is being hilarious here, and it’s hard to know whether it’s intentional or not. After all, it’s a tough row to hoe for him to whine about the whiteness of Franczyk’s district, given that its expansion included Marine Drive – offering Mascia himself the opportunity to run for that council seat – and, well, the fact that Mascia is a Caucasian of Italian descent who was recently caught on tape referring to the Mayor, a Councilmember, an Assemblywoman, and others as “ni**er” and “tizzun”.

The press release included a crudely-written graphic, which I’ve fixed for you.

Note the highlights. Who writes “way more”? If Franczyk stole a “black district” and added it to Fillmore, how is that “racist”?

If we are to have a person work to bridge the racial divide, Joe Mascia seems the last person to do that. If you’re going to complain about racial gerrymandering, those complaints ring hollow given the fact that Mascia is also white. He won’t be elected and he’s wasting his time, and I’m sure any push to replace our current redistricting scheme with a mathematical “planning approach to local redistricting” could find quite literally anyone else to promote it, and be a more effective communicator for it.

Paladino on Shredd & Ragan

Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino’s batting average on local radio programs is in the toilet.

First, Sandy Beach embarrassed him with respect to Paladino’s misguided support of racist joke Joe Mascia. Shredd and Ragan spoke with me about it on July 31st.

On Wednesday morning, Paladino called in to the Shredd & Ragan show around 9:30 am and Tom Ragan did a great job. The topic was Paladino’s behavior on the school board, which has been combative, uncompromising, and characteristically obnoxious. Paladino is proud of that noxious behavior, and thinks he’s accomplishing something, and Ragan explained to him why that wasn’t so.

On at least a few occasions, Paladino referred to “the blacks”, “them”, and “they”, clearly delineating race as the dividing line between him and his enemies on the board, when that’s not remotely necessary. Paladino made it as crystal clear as could be that his goal is the complete dismantling of not only the public teachers’ union, but of public education in Buffalo as it exists today. He wants to replace everything with charter schools or vouchers because Nichols costs less per pupil than BPS, and also arglebargle.

Paladino demands that his hand-picked superintendent candidate – Kevin Eberle – be selected as deputy if Kriner Cash is hired for the top job. Ragan rightly pointed out what a set-up that is; if Cash does something Carl doesn’t like, or acts too slowly for Carl’s liking, he’ll just shoot off an email blast demanding his resignation. Ragan implored Paladino to at least give Cash a month. Astonishingly, Paladino treated this like some sort of conspiracy theory, rather than an accurate recitation of a particular M.O.

Ragan asked Paladino to cut it out calling people “blacks”, and Paladino essentially refused, accusing Ragan of being one of those “liberal” “socialists” who scream “racism” all the time, and then telling Ragan that he’d send him “some stuff”.

Listen to the whole thing – it’s an eye-opener. Imagine the Buffalo News comments section coming to life and its very essence being embodied by one wealthy and influential man who now presides over the calculated, planned destruction of a public school system.

I think the whole area has gone mad.

Kuzma to Refer Goons to D.A.

In case you missed it as part of the overall Joe Mascia story, you need to stop and go read this story about how two of Mascia’s operatives tried to manufacture a little attention for themselves at Fillmore District Common Councilman David Franczyk’s office earlier this month.

There, I wrote,

Kuzma then suggested to the detective, “what about charging them with filing a false police report?” The hunt is now on to see what, exactly, was contained in the complainants’ police report.

Here is the police report (you can click to enlarge):

Kuzma says he will be forwarding this information, as well as the identity of his witnesses, to the District Attorney’s office in the hopes that they will prosecute these complainants for filing a false police report.

Paladino Beached

carlsandy

I never thought I’d be praising WBEN’s Sandy Beach for aggressively taking on dumb people and racism, but this Joe Mascia thing seems to have brought out the best in him. Late last week, Beach eviscerated Mascia himself, who called in as part of his fauxpology tour. On Wednesday night, however, Carl “Damn Asians” Paladino expressed his continuing support for the deadbeat Mascia, and Beach took that up as his topic on Thursday. Indeed, I saw a lot of Carl cultists expressing dismay and disbelief over that decision.

The list of people defending Mascia is small and malevolent.

Paladino called in sometime just before lunchtime Thursday and it was a simply jaw-dropping call. It left Paladino hanging up sounding defeated. Here is the audio:

I also live-Tweeted it:

I heard David Bellavia bring up the topic generally, pivoting it into a discussion about a typical WBEN trope – political correctness run amok. It’s the excuse Carl tried to use, and it’s weak.

It’s weak because nine times out of ten, the people whining about being victims of “political correctness” are defending themselves for having behaved like assholes. I posited it this way for Bellavia: there’s a fine line between “political correctness run amok” and common human decency. One example I heard on the afternoon drive was about how Seinfeld can’t perform at colleges because these kids are so PC, and a caller called these people “weak”. No. The difference is that the younger generation doesn’t want to be treated like shit by some asshole.

That right there is, to me, the central theme of the anti-PC whinging – it’s people defending their right to be complete assholes to other people. We see it, for instance, in Lancaster with the “Redskins” controversy. Calling your team a racist epithet may have been just swell, or the bee’s knees 70 years ago, but we’ve evolved as a society to the point where it’s not ok to denigrate American Indians, or to treat them as less than people. We’ve grown to the point (or, at least, we’re trying) where we acknowledge their basic humanity. The people whining about how the effort to change the name to the “Legends” is PC run amok are merely fighting for their ability to continue to be assholes about Native American people.

Coming back to l’affaire Mascia, Carl Paladino whining like a baby to Sandy Beach about “political correct liberals” is shorthand for his true intent, which is to defend and excuse Joe Mascia’s asshole behavior.

Is it PC to complain or condemn someone calling an Italian a “wop”, a Jewish person a “kike”, a Black person a “nigger”? Well, I suppose it is, within the dictionary definition – the use of those epithets is improper, inappropriate, and disqualifies anyone from running for public office. If you willingly use words that dehumanize an entire group of people, you are not fit to serve anyone. But is it unreasonable political correctness? Absolutely not – again, condemnation of someone using racial epithets, or someone who deliberately picks on an entire race of people to make a falsely and inaccurately lie about how they are subsidized by taxpayers or steal college slots from American kids, that’s you being an asshole, and people are right to condemn you for being an asshole. If your defense is, “you’re PC!” rather than, “sorry I lied and picked on an entire race of people who look different than I”, then you’re just an old joke of a fossil.

Carl Paladino and Joe Mascia may have grown up in old Italian families, but just because your forefathers might have called black people “tizzun” or “nigger” doesn’t give you some special license to continue the practice. That, after all, was Paladino’s best defense. It was laughable, and frankly raises the question of whether he uses that word himself, coming from a similar background. The outrageous logic – Paladino said what Mascia did was ok because he was only calling individual black people “nigger”, not the whole race. It was likely the stupidest thing I heard in a week of unrelenting stupidity.

Mascia and Paladino: BFFs

Courtesy of Tommunist.com

Courtesy of Tommunist.com

On Twitter, someone commented that Mascia must have, “missed the thing about integrity is what you do in private.”

Generally speaking, you can get away with saying you’re not racist so long as you’re not, I dunno, caught on tape calling black political leaders “fucking nigger” multiple times, “camel jockey” once, and “tizzun” once. Rod Watson’s column in the Buffalo News, however, posits a very important question about racism and the perception of racism.

On the one hand, Mascia has spent time fighting for BMHA tenants of all races, but is caught on tape blurting out horrible racist things. On the other hand you have Carl Paladino, who has forwarded emails just as racist and disgusting, and who has used subtle codes to express his feelings about people not like he, but

One’s racial slur draws immediate condemnation and calls for his political exile, from both black and white members of the political establishment, as well as other members of his own board. The other’s racist rants and forwarding of emails depicting the black president and first lady in despicable terms drew silence from those same elected officials.

Watson concludes that it’s easy to condemn Mascia because he’s a nobody; a little-known, essentially powerless gadfly. Yet few people stand up to Paladino,

…a wealthy developer and political power broker whose money and influence seem to have neutered the principles that other leaders apply so easily against Mascia.

This is true. Mascia has no business, at this point, being anywhere near elected public office because he has disqualified himself from it. His casual, repeated use of hateful racial slurs are, frankly, inexcusable. In all of his public pronouncements, he’s expressed remorse over those words, but he’s much more upset over having been caught.

I have no idea, thankfully, how Carl Paladino privately refers to people who don’t look, act, or think like he, but he’s at least never been caught using race-hate on tape. A few weeks ago, he told reporters with mics and cameras about how those “damn Asians” were coming to take slots at UB away from real American kids. When challenged, Paladino made a fauxpology, as the Buffalo News reported,

Paladino said he does not take issue with the fact that foreign students attend UB, but thinks their education should not be subsidized by taxpayers. He said he selected Asians as an example of out-of-state students because it is easy to assume they are not from the area, an assumption for which he apologized.

UB made it clear that Paladino’s feeble “point” about foreign students being subsidized is false and inaccurate; they pay their full ride, and they pay it in cash. They can’t claim New York domicile by attending school because they’re here on student visas that automatically disqualify them from doing so. But the real racism here is the notion that Paladino reckons that Asians probably “are not from the area”, which is just fundamentally inaccurate (New York is a big state, by the way, and it’s got Asians in it), and picking on a racial group because of their non-Caucasian appearance – there’s a word for that and the word is “racist”.

Yet while Mascia is pilloried in the media and community for calling the Mayor a horrible racist epithet, Paladino skates. Where’s Sandy Beach to viciously cross-examine Carl Paladino about not only his anti-Asian animus, but the falsity of his underlying charge about “subsidizing” foreign students?

Hulk Hogan gets caught on tape using the word, “nigger”, and he apologizes and the WWE scrubs all evidence of his very existence. Joe Mascia gets caught on tape using the word, “nigger”, and he’s running for public office, and now being defended by…

Carl Paladino.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Oh, yeah. Carl’s not a racist – he’ll laughably threaten to sue you for defamation if you think that of him and express itHe just supports the racist guy. Carl’s not a racist, he just thinks it’s cool to say that Dr. Pamela Brown and Dr. James Williams were hired simply because they were black. Carl’s not a racist, he just sends around emails showing the President and First Lady dressed as a pimp and ‘ho in full blaxploitation garb. Carl’s not a racist, he just sends his buddies emails with links to videos of African tribesmen dancing, calling it the rehearsal for the Obama inauguration. Carl’s not a racist, he just selects people who look different from him, calls them “damn Asians” and accuses them of stealing opportunities and tax dollars from real Americans.

Wednesday afternoon, Mascia defiantly refused to leave the race for the Fillmore District. Forget the racism for a second – this guy still owes about $10,000 to people for his past runs for County Legislature and Assembly. Every penny he takes in for his city race should go to pay off his creditors. He’s unelectable because he can’t handle money, and he’s a racist dummy. Here is his statement (obviously [sic])

Mascia is now in full victim mode, and oblivious when it comes to crisis management. You don’t double down and become Mr. Self-Righteous. You bow out and re-examine what you’ve become. This behavior is, alas, some sort of oddball narcissism. At this point, you have to assume that Mascia is digging the attention.

But in the end, here is the real insanity with respect to all of this: Paladino’s support and defense of the guy who called black political leaders “fucking niggers”:

Carl P. Paladino, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor and member of the Buffalo School Board, said Wednesday that Mascia represents the only “balance against corruption in the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.” He added that tapes of Mascia’s recent “N-word” characterization of several African-American politicians result from a “purposeful attack on him.”

See? Carl agrees – Mascia is the real victim because that audiotape viciously recorded Mascia’s words, verbatim. Carl, too, has been a victim of that insidious practice when the media recorded his thoughts about students foreign and Asian.

“They’re going after a guy who keeps going out on a limb about corruption,” he said. “He should be respected, and I don’t see anybody buying into this racist stuff.”

Carl Paladino, the Italian-American multi-millionaire developer and forwarder of racist emails isn’t offended, so it’s no big deal – not a fundamental character flaw, just a conspiracy to smear the guy who called Mayor Byron Brown a “tizzun”!

Paladino – Mascia’s major financial supporter in past elections and again this year in the Fillmore District campaign – called him an “honest guy.”

“He is sorry,” Paladino continued, claiming Mascia was tricked into using racial slurs in the tape.

“Now all the politically correct people want to get up and say ‘Oh my God’ about this,” Paladino said.

Wait – why is Mascia sorry if this is all just political correctness run amok? Mascia isn’t honest – he lied, at first, when confronted about using “nigger” before the tape came out. Mascia may say he’s sorry, but his media blitz reveals that he’s much sorrier about having been caught. The news flash for Paladino is that it’s not just the “politically correct” who find fault with calling the Rev. Darius Pridgen a “fucking nigger” who, with his “nigger” cohorts just wants all the power. Mascia’s words were reprehensible and ugly – Paladino’s apologia is, amazing as it seems, even more so.

But while Paladino is being ignorant and tone-deaf, Conservative fusion Party head Ralph Lorigo sees the real deal:

“He has told me it’s a conspiracy and that it will all come out,” said Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo. “Unfortunately, no other person put those words in his mouth.”

Exactly. No one’s interested in excuses – the tape speaks for itself. Paladino probably feels a need to defend Mascia because he’s heavily invested in that person. As the News reports, Paladino has contributed over $20,000 in money and things to Mascia’s various efforts to get elected to something.

Paladino said Wednesday he realizes he has been criticized for racial views, pointing to controversial emails that figured in his unsuccessful campaign for governor. His recent remarks in Olean about “damn Asians” and other “foreigners” attending the University at Buffalo on discounted tuition also provoked criticism.

“I have never made racial remarks,” Paladino said, adding his recent comments pointed only to observations that out-of-state students – whether foreign born or not – are taking advantage of New York’s heavily subsidized university system at the cost of taxpayers.

“They were legitimate statements and did not have racist intent,” he said.

Two deluded guys strutting around Buffalo spitting racist crap and getting away with it. We can do better than this, can’t we, Buffalo?

Look at the pattern: Paladino denigrates “damn Asians” because they look different and “aren’t from this area”, and he thinks that’s not racist? He claims no racist intent? That’s sort of the definition of racism. Ignorant. Base. Unbecoming of a public servant. Disgusting. He pretended to apologize, but now continues to defend what he said as a “legitimate point”, but UB explained in detail how it was a completely illegitimate point. So, it was, at best, racially insensitive and factually false. Yet he continues to defend it, and his loopy gang of groupies holds a rally for him.

For his part, Mascia thinks that getting caught repeatedly using racial epithets on tape now qualifies him to be a social justice warrior. No, that’s not how this works. Although he has apologized for what he said, he’s claiming to be the victim now, blaming the guy who taped him for doing so without his knowledge, for waiting to release the tape, and for somehow tricking Mascia into saying what he did. No, that’s not how this works.

Mascia doesn’t deserve public support, but then, neither does Paladino. Mascia’s a deadbeat and Paladino’s an influential millionaire, and the latter is defending the former. Finally,

You know what they say about birds of a feather.

Michele Brown Campaign: Update

It bears repeating that the endorsed Democratic candidate for Family Court is Kelly Brinkworth, and she’s not able to self-fund to the degree that her Democratic rival, Michele Brown, can and has.

On Tuesday, I spoke with Joseph Makowski, who is legal counsel to the Michele Brown campaign. He wanted to clarify some of what I wrote here, relying in part on Ken Kruly’s analysis of Brown’s financial disclosures at the NYS BOE website. Makowski says that Kruly has it, “all wrong” and “made it up.” Because Brown is running a judicial race, Makowski is adamant that the “financials are all fine”, characterizing them as “meticulous”. Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be anything facially wrong with them, as such.

Although Makowski didn’t go so far as to say that the numbers Kruly extracted from the disclosures were faulty, he alleges that the issues surrounding payments made to the David Hartzell for Clarence Supervisor and Christina Bove for West Seneca Council campaigns were not contributions, but payments to vendors. Indeed, they are listed as expenses for petitioning.

As I wrote yesterday, judges are limited to buying tickets to – and attending – other candidates’ events, up to $250 per ticket during the time they are actively campaigning. They are not allowed to otherwise make contributions to campaigns, so if payment was made to the Hartzell campaign of over $5,000 as a “contribution” it would be completely illegal, but Brown’s campaign is within its rights to hire Hartzell’s crew to circulate Republican petitions in Clarence on Brown’s behalf to secure for her that line.

(Observant readers may recall that Annalise Freling was the first of several women to come forward and accuse former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak of sexual misconduct).

Makowski acknowledges that this is a “highly unusual practice”, but when you’re concerned about ballot access, you have to think outside the box. He maintains that Brown’s campaign only bought a small handful of $200 tickets to Byron Brown events – well within the legal bounds of what’s permissible. Makowski also notes that Brown decided to use Steve Casey’s LSA Strategies before the Preetsmas raids of late May, and they girded themselves for the inevitable controversy.

Finally, Makowski acknowledged that the campaign would likely have to issue 1099s to the vendors who were paid for petition labor, as I reported they would have to.

How The Preetsmas Gang is Spending its Summer Vacation

preet13

Note: The Attorney for the Brown Campaign spoke with me after this piece was published, and that update can be found here

We’re still waiting for the inevitable Preetsmas fallout. The statute of limitations for all of the alleged misdemeanors expires in the next month, so everyone expects something to happen shortly.

Although somewhat hobbled by a federal and state investigation into alleged campaign finance fraud and illegality, Steve Pigeon’s crew is still active in the Michele Brown for Family Court race. The endorsed Democratic candidate is Kelly Brinkworth.

The Buffalo News and Geoff Kelly in the Public have recounted the political oddballs helping Brown out, and the curious inflow and outflow of money regarding that campaign. Most notable was the $10,000 to Steve Casey’s LSA Strategies – a business carefully set up using a proxy Brooklyn address, perhaps to thwart or slow scrutiny into its ownership. It remains an open question whether this is the rumored company that Casey co-owns with Chris Collins’ Congressional Chief of Staff, Chris Grant.

Local political veteran Ken Kruly runs an excellent blog, and he looked into the Brown campaign’s campaign disclosures, noting this:

  • As of July 15th, Ms. Brown had $125,205 in her campaign account, more than the amount that Freedman ($64,791) and Brinkworth ($38,048) had combined.
  • Brown has raised nothing from individuals, corporations, other candidates, etc.
  • Brown loaned herself a total of $60,000 in three different loans.
  • Brown has also received a $100,000 loan from her husband, Eugene Cunningham.
  • The Brown campaign paid $10,000 to LSA Strategies LLC, the consulting firm operated by Steve Casey.  (Just wondering, is Chris Grant a partner in that firm?)
  • The Brown campaign paid $4,000 to political consultant Maurice Garner.
  • Grassroots of Buffalo was paid $750.
  • The Brown campaign paid $2,000 for petition circulation to Louis Turchiarelli, who has previously petitioned for at least one Pigeon-supported candidate in Niagara Falls, an effort that stirred some controversy.
  • The Brown campaign paid $5,568 to the committee of David Hartzell, Clarence Town Supervisor, for petition work.  Why is the campaign of the Republican town supervisor in the business or circulating petitions for other candidates?  Looking at the dollar amounts that were paid to “consultants” to the Hartzell committee, it looks like they turned a nice profit.  There are contribution limits that apply to various offices and it may be that $5,568 exceeds the legal limit that the Brown for Family Court committee may give to Hartzell’s committee.
  • The Brown campaign gave $1,500 to the committee supporting Christine Bove, a candidate for West Seneca supervisor in the upcoming Democratic primary.  Bove allies also circulated Brown petitions.  This one has an interesting twist.  Steve Casey is working on the redevelopment of the former Seneca Mall site in West Seneca and it would certainly be nice to have some connection to the town supervisor.  But the incumbent supervisor is Sheila Meegan, the daughter of Chris Walsh, and Walsh is Steve Pigeon’s mentor.  So the question is, why would Casey be working with an opponent of the Meegan-Walsh-Pigeon alliance?
  • Casey and Kristy Mazurek, of Pigeon’s WNY Progressive Caucus fame, carried petitions for Brown.
  • Pigeon ally Joe Makowski, who resigned his State Supreme Court seat in 2009 , is assisting in the management of the campaign, operating out of his law office.

The “payments” made by the Michele Brown campaign are indeed wrong on a number of levels:

1. You can’t “hire” a political committee to do work for you, since the very nature of a political committee under the IRS code exception is to keep the money going in and out  “tax free”. As soon as a political committee gets into the business of making money by being paid for circulating someone’s petitions, they have become a profit-making entity subject to state and federal taxation.  What Clarence Supervisor Hartzell is doing is “earning” money payable to his political committee without paying taxes on it. This is pretty basic, and not an obscure rule, so the Michelle Brown campaign is participating in a tax avoidance scheme. Since she has now stated that she paid the money for petitioning services, will she be sending the Hartzell political committee (and the Christina Bove committee in West Seneca) an IRS 1099 form, as a vendor? And will his committee start filing tax returns and pay income taxes on the money received? If not, that’s illegal.

2. The legal limit for “contributions” to the Hartzell campaign is about $1,000 for the primary race against Town Councilman Pat Casilio, and $1,000 if Hartzell makes it to November.  Brown’s campaign “contributed” – and he “accepted a contribution” – of over $6,000.  Seems like a pretty big faux pas on the part of such a business savvy town supervisor. The limits in West Seneca for the Bove “contributions” may be higher.

3. The Brown campaign has another problem. If she has listed these payments, under the sworn signature of her treasurer, as “contributions” made to two candidates’ political committees, judicial ethics rules prohibit such “contributions” generally, but makes an exception for the attendance at political parties as a part of “campaigning”.  The committee for a judicial candidate may purchase up to 2 tickets (@ $250/each) for attendance at such political events. Paying another political committee for petition labor doesn’t count, and any such contribution is illegal.

So, we have the same old crew running the same old racket, with Pigeon as boss and Casey as underboss. As always, the promise of money and patronage help them marshal a crew of soldiers, (who are, at best, ignorant), to break laws and ethical rules in order to funnel campaign cash into friends’ vendor businesses and buy an elected office. In this case, it’s comparatively small potatoes, since the Family Court judgeship doesn’t control a significant number of jobs. This amounts to an attempt to stay relevant even when under investigation.

But as set forth above, they seem to have an almost innate inability or unwillingness to follow the law and rules, prefering instead behavior so brazen, one could coin a new phrase, “political racketeering”. They’re taking a big risk, because there is an Attorney General and US Attorney who are aggressively pursuing violations of laws that had previously been subject to lackadaisical enforcement.

Unfortunately for western New York, our Erie County District Attorney is completely absent when it comes to prosecuting blatant, repeated violations of election law.

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. 

Carl’s Spontaneous Yay Carl Demo

Hey, kids! All those mean people are saying horrible things about Uncle Carl! Won’t you show up to a “support Carl” rally at 5pm Wednesday on the steps of City Hall?

All of your favorite kids from Getty stock photos will be there!

The image, specifically, is called “Kids K through 12th Grade” and here’s what the rally is all about!

Carl even went on WBEN to argue that he’s not a racist! You guys! And from whence did this totally not-at-all-astroturf display of spontaneous affection for our Carl come from?

Awesome!1!!

Carl's Kids!

All the kids say: Yay Carl!

Let’s Talk about “Mistakes Were Made” in Campaign Finance

Dream deeply - Google Chrome 2015-07-13 15.08.57

Everyone makes mistakes. The more charitable among us ask people to learn from them, lest they be repeated.

When it comes to issues relating to New York’s already comically lax and porous campaign finance regulations, mistakes can certainly be tolerated, but only up to a point.

After a while, “mistakes were made” becomes a convenient excuse uttered to avoid criminal liability.

One of the first things a student of criminal law learns is to define “mens rea” and “actus reus”. The latter is the commission of an illegal act – anything from stealing a piece of candy to murder. The former involves the trickier question of intent. The penalty for the illegal act of homicide is different for intentional murder as opposed to accidental manslaughter. It can even be excused altogether in the case of, say, self-defense. Therefore, it behooves someone caught doing something wrong to simply say it was an accident – a mistake or clerical error.

That might make a prosecutor’s job more difficult, but intent is usually proven through circumstantial evidence.

The Buffalo News published a story on Sunday written by Bob McCarthy, but the information therein was clearly supplied by Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr. McCarthy and Mohr explain that the Buffalo Republican Committee is out of money, and that its prior chairman stands accused of draining its treasury by making donations to political committees controlled by rogue nominal Democrat G. Stephen Pigeon.

Pigeon is believed to be a target of the state and federal investigations into campaign finance illegalities we’ve come to know as “Preetsmas“. At least since his ouster as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, Pigeon has made a career of of attracting and funnelling big money to thwart the Democratic Party and help transactional malefactors like Pedro Espada, or the Republican Party, as happened in Erie County in 2009 and 2013. He stands accused of doing this through careful manipulation and exploitation of the outer edges of campaign finance legality. When he or his lieutenants push through the regulatory envelope, they can just say it was a clerical error; a mistake; inadvertent.

But they’ve been doing this for years. They’re professionals. This is what they do. Nothing is a mistake – all of it is calculated, based on the presumption of regulatory and prosecutorial distraction and inaction.

The Buffalo Republican Committee contributed a jaw-dropping $9,200 in October 2014 alone, and none of the recipients of that money accounted for it in mandatory reporting to the state Board of Elections. $4,700 of that was donated to yet another, hitherto unpaid-attention-to Steve Pigeon ratfcking PAC called “WNY Freedom”.

Pigeon set up “WNY Freedom” in late 2013, around the same time that the Preetsmas target WNY Progressive Caucus (a/k/a “AwfulPAC“) was winding its activities down. Its first donations, as the News reported, came from Carl Paladino.

Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino, who also is not suspected of any wrongdoing, said Pigeon asked him to donate $1,000 in October 2013 – immediately after the WNY Progressive Caucus raised $267,000 for opponents of candidates backed by Pigeon adversaries in Democratic headquarters.

For some reason, Carl didn’t just send a check for $1,000, but instead broke it down into five separate $200 donations made by five separate Carl-controlled LLCs, making good use of New York’s execrable LLC loophole.

“WNY Freedom” filed “no activity” statements in every 2014 financial disclosure report to the State BOE, which leads me to believe that Pigeon was planning to use it for whatever Pigeoning sabotage he was planning to undertake against Democrats during the 2015 election cycle – a sabotage that has been thwarted thanks to a distraction courtesy of state and federal investigators. And that’s the problem, because the city Republicans gave WNY Freedom $4,700.

Paladino told the News that he gave the money to Pigeon’s PAC because

He said he viewed the city GOP and Pfaff as helpful toward building a new majority on the School Board, but never knew how his donation would be used.

We still don’t, as WNY Freedom has never disclosed any expenditures whatsoever. It is true, however, that Pfaff helped Paladino by assisting in gathering petitions for Patty Pierce, Paladino’s majority ally on the school board. It should be noted that Pfaff lives in Kenmore.

Pigeon earlier this year blamed “clerical errors” for discrepancies in figures reported to the Board of Elections for purchases of television advertising by the WNY Progressive Caucus and the actual amounts spent at local stations.

Pfaff, meanwhile, acknowledged mistakes in keeping WNY Progressive Caucus records, especially in reporting that Pigeon received $25,000 from the committee for consulting services. Though Pfaff acknowledged listing the $25,000 as an expenditure, he called it a mistake. He and Pigeon said the money was never received, with Pigeon blaming “sloppy” record-eeping for the entry in the campaign reports.

Pfaff now claims more mistakes and problems communicating with the state board for the failure to record any donations to WNY Freedom.

Pfaff went on to claim that the state board didn’t recognize that he had replaced someone else as treasurer of WNY Freedom. It’s true that the state BOE lists a Franklin Street address for WNY Freedom, not Pfaff’s Kenmore address. But it would have been incumbent on Pfaff to take affirmative steps to make the necessary changes and disclosures – not wait until July 2015 when Bob McCarthy starts calling. The Buffalo Republicans went from $20,000 to $450 in one reporting cycle.

“Two guys came in and gave me their card. We had a pleasant chat,” he said. “I did not knowingly or willingly break election law. I just don’t do that.

“There was poor record-keeping and poor filing,” he added. “I don’t do this for a living, I do it to help out people. And people make mistakes.”

They sure do, but how long have David Pfaff and Steve Pigeon been doing stuff? Over a decade? How do you not know to accomplish one of the most basic things – disclosing contributions made to the political committee for which you’re supposedly treasurer. And if Pfaff wasn’t the treasurer, then it was the treasurer’s duty to do it correctly. This is neither rocket science nor some obscure trap for the unwary.

Former Buffalo Republican Treasurer Joseph J. Surdyk Jr. last September initially made out his committee’s check to People for Accountable Government, another Pigeon-connected independent committee that was active in the 2008 campaign. According to a copy of the check obtained by The News, Surdyk then crossed out People for Accountable Government as payee and substituted WNY Freedom.

Although things are somewhat quiet on the Preetsmas front, don’t for a second think that Kristy Mazurek and Steve Casey have been taking the summer off. They both carried petitions for Michele Brown, a Family Court candidate, and for Mike Drmacich, who is running for Tonawanda City Court. I’m still trying to figure out why Drmacich has a picture with Conservative fusion Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo on his website.

As for Pfaff, who is now on staff with Senator Marc Panepinto, his name has come up repeatedly throughout this Preetsmas holiday season; (here, here, here, here, here, and here). He has been politically involved for years, most of that time as one of Pigeon’s worker bee.

There’s no way “mistakes were made” here, just like no mistakes were made in any of this. Everything that is happening was undertaken deliberately, with the expectation that nothing would come of it; that even if the authorities got wise to it, there’d be a slap on the wrist.

The only “mistake” that was made was overplaying their hand in 2013 and catching the attention of the county and state Boards of Election, and the office of the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney.

1 2 3 4 5 29