The State of the 27th

collins

On Friday January 17, former congressman Chris Collins was sentenced to 26 months in federal prison for his lying to the FBI and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. It is a fittingly ignominious end to a particularly nasty and petulant politician. 

In advance of his sentencing, Collins and his lawyers asked friends and supporters to send letters to District Court Judge Vernon Broderick to advocate for a lenient sentence. Those letters were posted to PACER, the federal online filing system, as were many letters advocating for a harsh punishment. Most of them came from family, a few former colleagues, party hacks, and business partners. There weren’t that many. He was not well liked, and he didn’t need anyone.

Until suddenly, he did. If I’m being generous, the turnout on his behalf was middling. 

Collins will be forever disgraced and a convicted felon. He has selfishly destroyed not only his own life, but that of his family and his son’s soon-to-be in-laws’. People who think that Collins’ greed and above-the-law attitude were a one-off are deluding themselves. This was a pattern for him, and got what he deserved. More significantly for our purposes, the Republican establishment in western New York supported him wholeheartedly in 2018 despite the overwhelming evidence against him, not to mention the federal indictment.

As a result of Collins’ lawlessness, there will be a special election held (probably) on Tuesday April 28th, the same day as the New York State Democratic primary. (Despite Republican hyperventilations, it makes sense to do this, because the various NY-27 Boards of Elections will already be mobilized to handle that race, so it is in the interests of the taxpayers to do this all at once.)

There will be a proper, regular election again held on Tuesday, November 3rd – so basically there will be a race all year. 

Democrat Nate McMurray has sewn up the Democratic nomination, despite a brief challenge from newcomer Melodie Baker, (who subsequently had an intemperate airing of grievances on Twitter about her withdrawal). Query whether she will run again if McMurray’s effort proves unsuccessful in April. 

The Republican race for NY-27, on the other hand, is crowded. Well, it was until the Republican chairs held a super-secret meeting in their rural lair to interview and choose their fighter. The major candidates are State Senator Rob Ortt of North Tonawanda, Fox commentator and lawyer Beth Parlato of Darien, State Senator Chris Jacobs of Buffalo Orchard Park, and County Comptroller/bathroom aficionado Stefan Mychajliw of Buffalo Hamburg. Ortt and Parlato are right-wing ideologues. Jacobs and Mychajliw have found it temporarily convenient to mimic Ortt’s and Parlato’s sharp-elbowed, omniphobic, ultra-right, alt-lite positioning.

As political philosopher Cyndi Lauper once wrote, “money changes everything,” and so it was that the party bosses selected perennial Buffalo News endorsee Chris Jacobs to run for the special election. Jacobs is that sort of effete cosmopolitan country-club Republican the Trumpsters love to hate, so it should come as no surprise that the bosses’ decision brought with it some butthurt. Mychajliw especially went out of his way to denounce the backroom deal, invoking Jeb Bush and incoherently alleging that no one would have heard of reality game show host Donald Trump but for the 2016 primary. 

I do not recall a time when the Republicans in western New York were so fractured and toxic. This is largely uncharted territory. Now that 2020 will be a year-long race, the Republican contest in NY-27 is going to be all about yelling loudly and punching down. All of them seem to think that they can ignore genuine problems and issues the voters in NY-27 feel and instead regorge Fox News/Breitbart talking points that are broad and shallow – they don’t really have any bearing on anyone’s real life, but they make people feel better about themselves whilst giving them someone weaker to blame or hate. 

Each of them has one thing in common: to sell voters that he is the true way – the only obedient vassal to the master, King Donaeld the Unready

Chris Jacobs – Ri¢hie Ri¢h

Jacobs – the Parkside scion of a prominent billionaire family – would have you think that he is all in for Trump. Among his first tweets – since conspicuously deleted – was this: 

I can guarantee you that refugees and undocumented immigration on the Southern US border isn’t a big issue for people in NY-27. Hell, we have an actual border ourselves that’s only a few miles away, as opposed to the one that’s 1,000 miles away. The goal here should be to make the Canadian border easier for regular people to cross, and not harder. People in the area making up NY-27 have had poor or non-existent representation for far too long. People here have concerns about things like predatory lenders, employment, farm labor, and healthcare, but here’s the Buffalo developer feeding anti-immigrant pablum to the masses

When Jacobs ran for Senate against Democrat Amber Small, he was continually asked about whether he supports Donald Trump, and he remained silent. Now? He pretends like he’s Trump’s biggest fan. This is sheer opportunism, but Jacobs has money, friends, and name recognition in the Buffalo media market, at least.

Beth Parlato – the Evangelist

What about Beth Parlato? When Jim Kelly and his wife aren’t stanning for their fellow Christian Central Academy parent and tagging Donald Trump in the tweet…

…she has things like this to say: 

“Our families are under attack. Christian values are mocked, drugs and dangerous illegal immigrants flow through our broken borders, late term abortion is protected, and our schools teach what’s politically correct instead of the truth. Will you help me fight back?”

People literally cannot afford the medication and healthcare that keeps them alive, but this person is going to solve these problems by launching a culture war. Chances are that Parlato, doing her best Betsy Devos impression, hasn’t set foot in a public school in decades, if ever. The only people “mocking Christian values” are the ultra-right holy rollers who think Christianity is about getting rich, and that Jesus was a gun totin’ pickup-drivin’ immigrant-hater. And that the rapture is around the corner. Parlato continues, 

As an attorney, as a judge, as an activist and most importantly, as a mother, I have seen up close the harm that the liberal extremist agenda has caused here in Western New York.

And when our families are hurting, so is our nation.

I’m running to fight back against the enemies of freedom who glorify socialism and show disdain for America’s entrepreneurs.

I’m running to create a better and safer world for all of our children.

I’m running because there are stronger voices for women than Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

I’m an educated, conservative woman who can make a logical argument; which means the Left and the mainstream media is going to hate me. But, I won’t shy away from talking about the same values you talk about every night at the kitchen table.

What specifically has she seen in WNY that has fallen prey to some “liberal extremist agenda” – she doesn’t say because it is enough simply to say it. “Glorify socialism”. “Enemies of freedom.” “Liberal extremist agenda.” “Nancy Pelosi.” “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Parlato’s campaign is all about division and scare-tactics, and this sort of Fox trash talk should be – and will be – rejected. But at least Parlato is sincere about her myriad fears and hatreds. Query how someone so concerned with “Christian values” can support a guy who adulterously fornicated with a porn star while his third wife was pregnant, and then paid her off, or the guy who said his status and wealth made it easy for him to “grab [women] by the pussy”. (See, e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:2, Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:3, Hebrews 13:4, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Revelation 21:8, Proverbs 6:32, and Exodus 20:14).   

Rob Ortt – the Maziarz/Wojtaszek Machine

Likewise, North Tonawanda’s Maziarz guy Rob Ortt is a true believer. I heard his radio spot on WBEN and noted firstly that he is going out of his way to explain away his corruption, and this: 

Some people want to go to Washington and bring everybody to the table. I want to flip the table over.

That one line should be instantly disqualifying. Like his opponents, Ortt isn’t running to represent the people of the 27th district; he has a constituency of two: himself and Donald Trump. 

Politics is bloodsport, but government is supposed to be about doing things that are in the best interests of one’s constituents. One can have strong positions about things, but in the end the art of politics is about compromise and inclusion – not, as Ortt suggests, violent, over-emotional exclusion. If that is his ethos, it is no wonder he has been so feckless and useless in Albany. 

When you click on “issues” on Ortt’s website, the first line that greets you contains the word “Trump”. One of the bullet-pointed “issues” reads as follows: 

Fight Back Against the “Hate America” Voices of the Extreme Left

Honestly, I almost feel sorry for Ortt and the people like him. They are so consumed with hatred and fear that they go out of their way to agitate against people who advocate for things like libraries, schools, and healthcare. These weak-minded people aren’t running against opponents, or for any ideas – they are merely running against the things they reckon their voters reflexively hate. 

It is also important to be clear about something: what Ortt and his people did may not have been a crime, but it sure as hell was sleazy and corrupt.

Come to think of it, corrupt sleazery may exactly be why Ortt stans so hard for corrupt sleaze Trump. 

Stefan Mychajliw – the Phony

Finally, we have young master Stefan Mychajliw, who did not have supporters available to launch his campaign with a rally. Instead, he posted an awkward video, replete with the same sort of divisive, hate-filled rhetoric as his rivals. Also like his opponents, Mychajliw is running for two people – himself and Trump. It is as if Trump and these people are one. To call it a cult would be insulting to most cults. 

Like Ortt, Mychajliw’s first thought is of Trump: 

SEND TRUMP AN ALLY: As President Trump fights to drain the swamp in Washington, he cannot do it alone. We need uncompromising conservatives to stand with him to Keep America Great by fighting for a secure border, fair trade policies, and economic solutions that continue record-setting results. Simply put, we cannot rely on self-dealing Albany moderates who only support President Trump when it’s politically convenient. We deserve a proven conservative we can trust — no matter when the next election is.

Mychajliw was once a Buffalo mensch. Since entering political life and becoming a career politician, he has successfully alienated everyone who used to matter in his life. He trades on his status as a first-generation American, (only half-true), while in the next breath heaping scorn and derision on refugees. Mychajliw targets Jacobs especially (Albany moderate) and ignores the Rev. Parlato and winger Ortt; Mychajliw isn’t a proven conservative, but a purely performative one. He has never had a truly competitive race for Comptroller, so it will be interesting to see how he fares over the summer, and just how low he’s willing to go. He is wholly unqualified for – and uninterested in – the job he has, and it shows. He has spent the last year traipsing across the farms and meadows of NY-27 and having his picture taken, all the while vocally supporting a person under felony indictment who has since resigned in disgrace. 

Of Mychajliw, the Investigative Post’s Jim Heaney writes

The growing body count at the two county jails says all that needs to be said about Tim Howard.

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says a lot of ugly things, takes campaign contributions from some very ugly people, and seems to be using his office more for political purposes than for protecting the interests of taxpayers.

Ditto for County Clerk Mickey Kearns, who seems intent on spending tax dollars on frivolous lawsuits aimed at demonizing undocumented immigrants.

I call the three of them the Bigot Brothers.

Kearns, Mychajliw, and Howard fit the mold of the Erie County Republican Party, which mimics the tone being set at the national level. Gone are the days when more moderate voices held sway. Now it’s the party of Carl Paladino, Michael Caputo, and the like. Which is to say: wingnuts.

The Bigot Brothers indeed. 

And now that Mychajliw has formally announced what everyone’s known for a year – that he’s running for Congress – he will need to address the fact that he apparently used campaign funds from his state office treasury to pay for federal office expenses.

Even money an undeclared candidate for federal office raises and spends “testing the waters” — that is, laying the groundwork for a campaign, lining up support, conducting polls, etc. — must eventually be reported to the FEC, Svoboda told Investigative Post.

“You can defer filing if your fundraising and expenditures are solely for the purpose of testing the waters,” Svoboda said. “But your expenditures must eventually be disclosed if you run. And they must be solely be about the decision to run or not. They can’t manifest actual candidacy.” 

“Testing the waters” means gauging support, not soliciting it. But Mychajliw appears to have spent money doing both — and well in excess of $5,000.

The fact that some of that money came from corporations – something not allowed in federal races – means that Mychajliw, the “swamp drainer” can’t even run this campaign in an uncorrupt fashion.

The people of NY-27 have been victimized by an unresponsive and predatory Republican for almost 10 years. Now four (maybe five if you count the late-coming Trump apparatchik no one’s heard of), candidates vie for approval from a President who is more the head of a crime syndicate than an administration. They each of them look to raise their profile in a region where the Republican Party has found itself with something of a weak bench. 

The efforts of Ortt, Parlato, Mychajliw, and Jacobs to trip over each other in their fear-mongering veneration and worship of Trump and Trumpism leaves an opening for the Democrat Nate McMurray to simply say to the district voters: I will go to Washington and work for you, the people. You will be my bosses and no one else.

That is, after all and at long last, what this should be about.

A Letter Regarding the Sentencing of Convict Chris Collins

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Hon. Vernon S. Broderick
United States District Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of New York
Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse
40 Foley Square
New York, NY 10007

Re:      U.S. v. Christopher C. Collins
            18 Cr. 567    
                         

Dear Judge Broderick:

I write to you as a former constituent of Christopher Collins, the Defendant in the above-referenced matter. I am an attorney duly licensed in the State of New York and am also admitted to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

I have also been a political commentator in western New York area since 2003. During that time and in that role, I observed and chronicled this Defendant’s tenure in public office – first as Erie County Executive, and later as the Congressman for the 27th District of New York.

Recent media reports indicate that probation recommends a one year and one day prison sentence for the Defendant. I believe that this is woefully inadequate and wholly disproportionate to the crimes of which he stands convicted involving fraud and dishonesty.

There exists a certainty that the Defendant, who is also a successful businessman and investor, knew exactly what he was doing when he transmitted material, nonpublic information concerning Innate Immunotherapeutics’ MIS416 drug trial to his family, friends, and colleagues.  There exists a similar certainty that he knew or should have known that his behavior was wrong and illegal at that time.

Respectfully, this Defendant has always comported himself in his public affairs with hubris and arrogance. He quite simply saw himself as above the law, laced with condescension, self-promotion, and self-aggrandizement.  

The Defendant took an oath of office pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §3331, which he disregarded through his fraud, theft, and deceit; but this Defendant regularly politicized his long-time affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America – an organization that also has both an oath and a foundational law to which this Defendant purported to adhere. The Scout oath is a promise:

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Defendant Collins has violated this most basic, boyhood promise to do his best to do his duty to his country. He has violated the law through lying, fraud, and deceit. He did so knowingly in order to unjustly enrich members of his inner circle at the expense of other, honest investors. Rather than “help other people at all times,” this Defendant has gone out of his way – throughout his political career – to comfort the comfortable and further to afflict the already afflicted, by advocating for policies and laws that would help to enrich wealthy people like him, and punish the poor and underprivileged.

His tenure in office hardly justifies any paeans to “public service”. He was there for a political career that could help him and people like him – the wealthy and well-connected. His fraud and deceit is hardly evidence of being mentally awake or morally straight. He cannot follow the law of the Boy Scouts, much less the United States.

The Scout Law demands that a person be Trustworthy; Loyal; Helpful; Friendly; Courteous; Kind; Obedient; Cheerful; Thrifty; Brave; Clean; and Reverent. This Defendant may be loyal to his party and the ultrawealthy like himself, but he was never trustworthy, courteous, or kind in his public affairs. His crimes show that he was not obedient. His demeanor was seldom cheerful. His only bravery took place in order to advance his political career.  

I have seen news reports that this Defendant is of “advanced age” and that he accepts responsibility for his crimes. He is 69 years old and of sound mind and body, not some feeble octogenarian. He has accepted responsibility pro forma, but shows no remorse for his crimes. Instead, he is sad for the effect they have had on his and his family’s reputations. He is sorry only that he was caught.

At the time he took his plea, he acknowledged that he knew that what he did was “illegal and improper,” yet he spent months claiming exactly the opposite. He claimed to be “sorry with regret,” but that had not stopped him from spending the period between August 2018 and 2019 predicting imminent and full exoneration. What sort of person knowingly exposes his own child to criminal jeopardy?

When confronted through this process with his criminality, this Defendant did not come clean or confess. He ran for re-election. He claimed total innocence. He spent months denying culpability and defaming anyone who suggested otherwise, including his political opponents. Not one act or omission of this Defendant’s was indicative of any acknowledgment of personal responsibility or contrition.

This Defendant’s attorneys are quoted in news reports as arguing that society will “gain no benefit” from incarcerating this “husband, father, and grandfather.” Then what of these crimes? In what way is home detention at a luxury Florida estate a deterrent to others who might engage in similar criminality?

The convicted Defendant did not serve me as Congressman with dignity or honor. His first instinct was not to obey the law, but to enrich his family, friends, and other “downstream tipees”, most of whom have somehow, miraculously, avoided legal responsibility for their own knowing criminality. This Defendant was never looking out for the people he was elected to serve. He was only looking out for his own wallet and to expand the reach and scope of his political influence.

Shame and humiliation should come naturally in a situation such as this. That is an emotional and mental process involving some degree of self-awareness and conscience. It is not enough that this Defendant feel merely shame and be confined to his mansion. This honorable Court must use this high-profile criminal as an example to others and uphold the law this Defendant so cavalierly ignored.

This Defendant’s fall is no surprise – it is what comes from such a conspicuous absence of morality and scruples. I spent years chronicling the ways in which he cheated and mistreated the most vulnerable people in western New York. I wrote of his petty arrogance – from misogynistic remarks he made to women, and illegally parking in a spot reserved for the disabled. He would attempt to disregard legislative vetoes as “null and void,” as if he was some sort of dictator. He would refuse to spend money that the legislature had duly allocated. He held private business meetings in his publicly funded office, and worked hard to ensure that people could not get the health insurance they need to survive. He played endless political games to grow his influence.

This Defendant knew he was guilty at the time of his indictment. He should have resigned immediately – that would have been the honorable and “morally straight” thing to do. Instead, he used his continued tenure in Congress as a bargaining chip – as leverage in this very case. He is – and will always be – a crook and a liar. He stole not only from the honest investors in Innate, but from the people in the 27th district who expect and are entitled to honest representation.

I urge this honorable Court to sentence this Defendant to the maximum possible sentence available under federal guidelines.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fascism

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Here is a portion of a speech that Donald Trump gave to the so-called “Value Voters Summit” in October 2019

We meet tonight at a crucial moment in our nation’s history.  Our shared values are under assault like never before.  Extreme left-wing radicals, both inside and outside government, are determined to shred our Constitution and eradicate the beliefs we all cherish.  Far-left socialists are trying to tear down the traditions and customs that made America the greatest nation on Earth.  They reject the principles of our Founding Fathers — principles enshrined into the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that our rights come from our creator.  

A Yale philosophy Professor juxtaposes that Trump speech with this, from 1935: 

Bolshevism is explicitly determined on bringing about a revolution among all the nations. In its own essence it has an aggressive and international tendency. But National Socialism confines itself to Germany and is not a product for export, either in its abstract or practical characteristics. Bolshevism denies religion as a principle, fundamentally and entirely. It recognises religion only as an “opium for the people.” For the help and support of religious belief, however, National Socialism absolutely places in the foreground of its programme a belief in God and that transcendental idealism which has been destined by Nature to bring to expression the racial soul of a nation. National Socialism would give the lead in a new concept and shaping of European civilisation. But the Bolshevics carry on a campaign, directed by the Jews, with the international underworld, against culture as such. Bolshevism is not merely anti-bourgeois; it is against human civilisation itself.

Contemporary Republicans embrace totalitarian, evangelical-flavored neo-fascism and falsely denounce Democrats as anti-American. This is blatant gaslighting, and every Democrat and Democratic candidate should be shouting about it as loudly as possible. Literally everything else – from medical coverage on down – matters little until this neo-fascist scourge is defeated; defeated it has always been, and defeated it shall always be. Not through arms, but at the ballot box.

This is why it’s OK, for instance, on WBEN’s air to threaten the life of a Democratic elected official with impunity. (Three weeks and WBEN remains silent). It is nihilist eliminationist right-wing nationalist neo-fascism. Tim Wenger and his crew are among its vanguard. This isn’t new. I made fun of this in 2014, when I still wrote for Artvoice, and Tim Wenger thought it funny that someone would threaten Hillary Clinton with violence. 

Protecting liberty, democracy, and the rule of law are fundamental American values. The Democratic Party is all about protecting them. Whatever the Republican Party is now, is not. 

Oh Mickey, You So Lyin’

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Michael Kearns, the Erie County Clerk, is on a nativist anti-immigrant jihad that is as stupid as he. Check out this article at WGRZ. It begins, 

The Erie County clerk’s office wants a matter of possible voter fraud investigated.

You would think from that lede that notorious convicted liar-under-oath and vote fraudster Rus Thompson was again on the loose. But that’s not what happened at all. 

“This is the beginning of questioning of possible fraud,” said Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, who wants the county Board of Elections to investigate what happened last week, when a Buffalo man, in the U.S. legally on a work visa, applied for and got a commercial driver’s license.

The “beginning of questionining of possible fraud” is ridiculous fascist word salad from this repulsive elected official. 

“By the time my staff alerted me of this, this gentleman has left the office the transaction was completed,” Kearns said, “I do not know whether it was a mistake or not.”

Mickey. I know this is difficult for you to comprehend, but you are a clerk. Your duties are ministerial. It is not your job to vet whether the applicant is qualified to register to vote – you take the information and you pass it along to the Board of Elections, which makes that determination. If the guy entered a fake social security number that does not match his other identifying data, then it will be rejected. 

This technically is not a situation related to the Green Light law, which allows people to apply for a standard driver’s license regardless of their citizenship or lawful status.  

“They’re asked the question, ‘Are you a citizen or not?’ If they answer yes, there is nothing right now that our staff can do,” Kearns said.

Because getting a license is dependent on paying a fee and passing a test. Registering to vote is dependent on the Board of Elections vetting the information. Mickey Kearns’ penchant for being a nativist, racist liar is not nearly as effective as Stefan Mychajliw’s, but at least he’s getting his name in the paper and really showing the Republican base that he genuinely hates immigrants, regardless of their visa status. Because, as the WGRZ report lays out, this has nothing to do with Kearns’ opposition to the Green Light Law, as this applicant could have applied for a license at literally any time prior to December 2019, and it is likely that people mistakenly complete the whole form, including the voter registration part, unwittingly and with no effect.

Mickey Kearns is using this to concern-troll and virtue-signal over the Green Light Law, which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it. Maybe in the future if someone fills out a Motor Voter application in-house, your staff can check their ID. 

Clarence Schools Catch Anti-Vax Fever

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Dr. Hicks –

Although I do not have children in the district anymore, I need to react to your letters to Assemblyman Norris and Senator Ranzenhofer I saw under the “legislative advocacy” section of the district website. I have a daughter who would fall under the mandate at another school, and this proposed legislation affects her.

I have seen some of what has been floating around on Facebook regarding this issue, and am aware that some parents came to the Board with issues concerning mandatory immunization as to the HPV vaccine.

Obviously, I understand that elected bodies and school administrators have a duty and responsibility to listen to community concerns. But because you are a school district and educators, I think it’s important that facts be substituted for emotion on issues such as this. I think that science trumps propaganda. Medicine beats feelings. There is no responsibility to placate people parroting pseudo-scientific quackery.

The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. There are no significant side-effects beyond what one might experience from any subcutaneous shot. There are allergy concerns which physicians and the manufacturer can address as needed. Beyond that, what we have is a safe and effective vaccine that is used to prevent transmission of a viral disease which has been proven to cause various types of cancers.

It is astounding to me that this would be something the district would be opposing under any theory. I am appalled that in 2019 this is remotely controversial. But my feelings don’t matter; facts do.

If the issue is one of parental choice, query whether those parents have also opted out of MMR or other mandated vaccines. If mumps, polio, or whooping cough are worth protecting against, why not HPV and ovarian or penile cancer?

If the issue is one of religious beliefs, what religious belief? With the possible exception of the Christian Scientists and perhaps Amish, I am unaware of any scripture that precludes the administration of the HPV vaccine to protect against infection, disease, or death.

If the issue is one of medical ethics, let the medical ethicists weigh in. Your letter cites an article from 2007, but there are myriad articles more recently published in that same AMA journal that argue in favor of HPV vaccination.

The only real difference cited is that HPV is transmitted through sexual intercourse, and viruses such as measles and other maladies against which children must be immunized, are not. So what? While I understand that it may shock the conscience of many parents to consider that an 11 year-old may someday grow up to have sexual intercourse, the purpose of vaccinations is not to protect parental sensibilities, but against preventable disease and death.

I have seen some of the online postings in support of the arguments against this mandate – most come from libertarian activist groups that oppose public schools themselves, not to mention anything that they do. Some come from blatant propaganda outlets that have no medical credentials. “Learn the Risk” is anti-vax propaganda. Brandy Vaughan isn’t a physician or pharmacist, she’s a former sales rep for Merck. The same website that Clarence parents are using as an impetus to keep their kids home from school today promotes, e.g., the pseudoscience that vaccines cause autism.

The CDC recommends that pubescent boys and girls receive the HPV vaccine. Same with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Same with the American Cancer Society. The HPV vaccine is not some sort of sinister attempt at, as some are arguing, “population control” under “the mark of the beast”. (Yes, those are direct quotes I found regarding this issue in 2019, amazingly enough.) It is proven medical science that this safe vaccine is effective in preventing the spread of HPV and the cancers it causes. I can only surmise that the biggest opposition to this proposed mandate has to do with puritanical issues surrounding sexual morality.

The HPV vaccine is not sex. It is medicine. I can only hope that these kids, when they reach the age of majority, have not involuntarily forfeited their ability to be protected against these maladies through vaccination.

The duty of a school district is to educate our children. Let the doctors deal with health and let the churches deal with scripture. The duty of our elected officials and governments is to weigh various competing issues and make decisions in the best interests of their constituents. It would be my hope that this balance and these decisions would be made based on objective, empirical fact rather than hysteria or emotion. It is my hope that these would be addressed by crediting science and medicine and discrediting propaganda, quackery, and charlatans.

I strongly support not only the inclusion of HPV in every child’s vaccine regimen, but that this vaccine be mandated by the state for all students.

A common thread I see regarding this is one of liberty and freedom. Being free from a preventable virus or cancer is more important in every way than having the freedom to assuage irrational, scientifically unsupported rumors or emotions.

Respectfully,

WBEN Caller Threatens Poloncarz

polo

If you took Sandy Beach, mated him with Tom Bauerle, and took away all of the experience, self-awareness, and wisdom that comes with age, you’d be left with Joe Beamer, one of the young broadcasters WBEN has brought in on the cheap to supplement its already thin-but-wide roster of right-wing outrage engineers. It is all part of a long-standing stationwide pattern that operates with the apparent support and assent of station management.

Want examples? In 2009, WBEN’s marquee yakker fantasized that there would be a civil war because librulz. WBEN has already used the publicly owned airwaves it licenses to tell its listeners in 2013 that Democrats are “worse than al-Qaeda“, so none of this is novel. (At the time, Assemblyman David DiPietro was on the phone with Bauerle and said nothing. He later forced himself to issue a milquetoast “didn’t hear it”

In 2014, at least one WBEN host openly wished for a genuine military coup against President Obama

WBEN has amplified eliminationist viewpoints for years. In February 2013 – just weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre of 1st graders, and in response to proposals for tighter gun control – WBEN used its putative straight news morning show to organize, promote, and broadcast a bus ride to an Albany pro-gun protest against Andrew Cuomo’s then-nascent NY SAFE Act. WBEN’s supposed straight news – co-hosted then and now by Wenger’s wife – established itself to be little more than a right-wing activist organization.

All it’s missing is tiki torches. There has been a pattern for years here. 

It is long past the time for Democrats to start treating WBEN as a right-wing extremist organization. 

So, what does Joe Beamer have to do with all this? Well, he was in for Sandy Beach on December 3rd and agitated against Mark Poloncarz’s announcement that Erie County would continue to welcome refugees. This being WBEN, the discussion had little to do with refugees and instead centered on “illegals”. “Dave from Lockport” called in and threatened to kill Mark Poloncarz over all of this. Mr. Beamer had absolutely nothing to offer in the way of pushback. Here’s the audio: 

After calling Poloncarz a moron, liar, and idiot for believing that Trump committed impeachable offenses, “Dave” said, addressing Poloncarz, that “if one of your illegals that you bring here to help ruin our country either hurts me or any of mine, I’m gonna come after you and yours. And you can take that to the bank, you moron.” 

OK, Boomer.

Beamer’s response to Lockport’s answer to Cesar Sayoc: that opens up a line. 

Why does WBEN continue to foment hatred and threats against Democratic politicians on the publicly owned airwaves?

Requests for comment I directed to Beamer and Tim Wenger via Twitter were not addressed.

Oh, Mickey, What A Pity You Don’t Understand

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The “Green Light” statute, enacted earlier this year, will permit undocumented immigrants to obtain a New York State driver’s license. It goes into effect in mid-December. It is not – and should not – be a DMV apparatchik’s job to determine who is or is not eligible to be present in the United States. Undocumented immigrants would be able to obtain standard licenses that are not compliant with Real ID, and would be marked “Not for Federal Purposes.” 

Republican Erie County Clerk Michael “Mickey” Kearns declared that he would not issue licenses under the duly enacted state statute. Earlier this year, he brought a lawsuit in his individual and official capacities challenging the constitutionality of the state’s “Green Light” law. On Friday, United States District Court Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford dismissed Kearns’ lawsuit in its entirety, ruling that he does not have standing to bring the lawsuit, and that the Court therefore does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. 

Wolford Decision by Alan Bedenko on Scribd

That afternoon, Kearns held a press conference. There, he did his best Donald Trump impression. His behavior was unbecoming of an elected official. His declarations and  his clumsy, ignorant analysis of Judge Wolford’s decision would have made a 1L blush. Kearns’ reaction was absolutely astonishing. 

Here is the first page of Kearns’ prepared remarks: 

Before I get to the substance of what is written on that page, it bears mentioning that the law bifurcates two overall types of government officials: your job is either ministerial or discretionary; that is to say you either implement policy, or you get to have a say in its creation. When Mickey Kearns was an Assemblyman, his role was discretionary, and he had a say in the legislative process. A county clerk does not set policy; he does not have a discretionary governmental role. He has a set of duties he is charged by law to fulfill, and he is to do so as accurately and efficiently as he cares to do. A county clerk is not a diner at some sort of legislative cafeteria, where he can pick and choose the laws, (subject to his jurisdiction) that he feels like carrying out. 

Kearns has staked out a position as the Kim Davis of driver’s licenses. Just as that Kentucky clerk had a legal responsibility and duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Kearns has a duty to follow New York’s Green Light. This is not dissimilar from when Sheriff Tim Howard declared that he would not follow the New York SAFE Act, but individual police offers do generally retain some degree of discretion. Kearns does not. Imagine if Kearns claimed some sort of opposition to, say, charging recording fees for deeds. He has no more right to ignore the Green Light law than he has to ignore any other law that has applicability in his office. 

In his prepared remarks, Kearns said 

Well, if Kearns had bothered to read the entire 32 pages, Judge Wolford made it perfectly clear when “the hell” they are open, and why they are not now. 

Kearns is wrong – the Judge did not tell him he has to issue driver’s licenses to anyone, but a New York State statute does. When he complains that “County Clerks” have to either be “prosecuted or removed from office,” Kearns omits a key option: the clerks could also choose to follow the law. I guarantee you that Judge Wolford is in a better position to determine whether and when Kearns can bring this lawsuit than he. Likewise, she is better positioned to opine as to the constitutionality of the state statute than he. 

Judge Wolford decided that Kearns has no standing because there’s no injury to him in his individual or official capacity. As a result, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Kearns’ claims that he could go to jail, having run afoul of immigration law, or removed from office by Governor Cuomo for not following the state statute, were ridiculous, speculative, or both. Judge Wolford noted that there have been no federal prosecutions of DMV commissioners in states where undocumented immigrants already have access to licenses. The Judge also held that a person such as Kearns would have to be under a threat of prosecution under and pursuant to the state law being challenged. By contrast, Kearns was claiming he could be prosecuted under a different, federal law.

Judge Wolford also held that Kearns’ alleged potential removal from office would also be pursuant to a different statute, and wholly speculative. The Court noted that removal of a County Clerk is always within the Governor’s powers: 

Article 13, §13(a) of the New York State Constitution grants the Governor of New York the ability to remove from office “any elective sheriff, county clerk, district attorney or register,” so long as the official in question is provided “a copy of the charges against him or her and an opportunity of being heard in his or her defense.” 

What constitutes the basis for removal is wholly within the Governor’s discretion. The Court then set forth the ridiculousness of Kearns’ argument: 

According to Plaintiff’s logic, if the mere theoretical possibility of removal under Article 13, §13(a) was sufficient to confer standing, any elected official covered by Article 13, §13(a) would be able to automatically create Article III standing simply by declaring his or her intention not to comply with a law with which he or she personally disagreed. Such a conclusion is wholly inconsistent with the fundamental standing requirement of, at a minimum, an imminent injury-in-fact. 

No such injury was shown to exist. 

During the question-and-answer portion of Kearns’ Friday press conference, he claimed that implentation of the Green Light Law would cost taxpayers $700,000. There exists no basis for that, and it defies common sense and logic. If, suddenly, a new classification of resident is permitted to pay for a license, revenues will go up. Even the right-wing Comptroller’s June report, which clumsily attempted to denigrate the Green Light Law, did not assert a particular dollar figure with respect to any supposed cost of implementation. There is not so much as a dollar sign contained therein. It is a political document, not a financial one. 

It remains risible to see Kearns, whose Irish roots are obvious, and Mychajliw, who touts his immigrant background every time he breathes, take such a Bannonite anti-immigrant position. 

Kearns went on to assert that Judge Wolford “punted” on ruling on the merits of the case; Mickey Kearns, who has no background in psychology or psychoanalysis, undertook a garbageman’s psychoanalysis of the Judge, indicating she didn’t want to rule on the merits – that she was, “so afraid to rule on the merits of this case.” 

That’s not how this works. The Judge didn’t have to consider the merits of a lawsuit you did not have the right to bring. Indeed, she did rule on the merits, in a way – she decided that you lack standing, and them’s the merits. This wasn’t some sort of hypertechnical procedural ruling on an improperly filed form, a blown deadline, or a word out of place – this was as “on the merits” as this Judge could get on this case.

She did not have to rule on the constitutionality of the Green Light statute because there existed no one before the Court with the capacity to challenge it. 

If, as he claimed, Kearns wanted a “showdown” on the constitutionality of the Green Light Law, then he should have found a way to be aggrieved by it.

Mickey Kearns is an embarrassment. He seems wholly unqualified and unwilling to act as Erie County Clerk. We could have elected Steve Cichon or Angela Marinucci, and instead we have this barely sentient individual running around trying to stick it to immigrants. That he is still at least nominally a Democrat is an outrage. While it may be technically not possible formally to expel someone from the Erie County Democratic Committee, it should be done – even if just for show. Let the Republicans have this person, as he clearly more closely hews to their anti-immigrant positions. 

The Clerk serves for four years. Kearns was elected in 2018. Let’s make his first full term his last in this office and send him to the dreaded private sector he has so vigorously avoided. 

Lloyd Should Not Be Canceled

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There’s an election coming up next week. Obviously, this means that Buffalonians are expressing their political preferences through tortillas.

As we already know, Lloyd served food at the ICE detention facility in Batavia last week. This resulted in a left-wing reaction and threats of boycotts. As we also know, Lloyd reacted positively to that reaction, issuing an apology and donating the proceeds from that outing to a local refugee organization. 

Immediately, Lloyd was branded by bad-faith right wingers as anti-law enforcement generally, and a massive, viral online boycott campaign ensued. One Facebook group has accumulated almost 4,000 members in a few short days. Anecdotal reports reveal that Lloyd was not treated well at the Bills Game. On Monday, Lloyd’s owners held a press conference to apologize yet again, trying desperately to halt a quickening downward spiral. Although it was an odd, belated effort at crisis management, they declared

We serve all communities, we go to all neighborhoods, we are not political. Why would we be? How can any business choose sides in our politically divided country and ever hope to succeed? We make tacos — not war.

As I wrote last weekI think it’s ok if Lloyd serves food at the Batavia facility. After all, it’s not just ICE prison guards who work there, but custodial staff, administrative staff, attorneys for the detainees, and the detainees’ families that would all be able to buy food. I also think that it’s ok if Lloyd decides never to do that again. I think it’s ok for people to not think it’s ok for Lloyd to serve prison guards, and for Lloyd to respond to them as it did — by apologizing. 

The difference between selling a taco to the general public outside of the ICE detention center and giving away thousands in free food for a Tim Howard fundraiser speaks for itself.

Once a business picks a side in politics or the culture war, that business will face an inevitable backlash. Look at Chik-fil-A. Look at the wedding facilities and vendors that refuse service to same-sex couples. Look at Deep South Taco. But that backlash should, in theory, be less acute now that the people who agree will flock there. Conservative evangelicals, for instance, love to own the libs with Chik-fil-A, and to defend the “religious freedom” of places that discriminate against LGBTQ people. So, if a business responds to pressure from a group on the left, can it expect the same level of support? 

As stupid as you may think this whole nacho-flavored proxy war is – and it is stupid – there are several issues that have been neatly distilled in Buffalo in the last few days that merit at least a cursory examination: 

1. If you bring pressure to bear on a person or entity to encourage it to undertake some ethical or political act or omission, this may result in unintended harm. It may rise to the level of existential threat for that business. Be mindful of this unless your goal is to destroy the business itself.

2. If the business upon whom that pressure (e.g., threats of boycotts, pickets, etc.) reacts positively, and bad things start happening to it, a concomitant show of support for that business’ positive reaction would be fair. If not from a non-profit organization, then at least from the most visible and vocal community leaders who pushed for the ethical change in the first place. If you threatened a viral negative consequence against the business and it reacted positively, then why not offer some positive viral reinforcement

3. If you refuse or fail to offer positive reinforcement for good decisions, then that business is up a trapeze with no safety net. This communicates to others that your threats are empty. You can’t boycott a place you don’t patronize. If you threaten the stick and then withhold the carrot, you’re just stirring controversy without regard for the people who depend on that business for their livelihoods; in this case that includes immigrants and refugees. 

If, as the tired trope goes, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism” then never mind the Guevara wannabes, for they are few. If your critics reject, ab initio, your very existence, then it’s probably best to ignore and quietly continue to do your thing. When they insist to all and sundry that “brands are not your friends,” then don’t try to be. 

The Battle of Rocket Sauce Ridge made the New York Times, and I highlight this passage, 

“There is no aspect of immigration detention that can survive without for-profit businesses,” said Jennifer Connor, executive director of Justice for Migrant Families of Western New York, an advocacy organization in Buffalo. “I think businesses have to decide what their values are and what kinds of stands they are going to take. There is no not-political stance.”

Justice for Migrant Families of Western New York is the organization to which Lloyd pledged to donate the proceeds of its objectionable Batavia stop. But do all businesses have to “decide what their values are” and “what kinds of stands they are going to take?” Is there a “not-political stance?” Does your plumber or electrician or spin class leader need to pass an ideological purity test? Your taco joint? There exists also a difference between a personal decision to avoid an objectionable business and an organized boycott. 

The first sentence above notes that “immigration detention” cannot “survive without for-profit businesses.” Few things can. A facile slippery-slope argument could be made whereby we wonder where that ends – do restaurants run background checks on patrons to make sure they’re not serving someone who works for ICE? There exist myriad businesses that do not take political stands, others do overtly, and still others do so quietly. Dick’s Sporting Goods loudly decided to stop selling guns. The foundation run by the founders of Chik-fil-A quietly donates to homophobes. Lloyd is a small local business, wholly unlike Dick’s or Chik-fil-A. Deep South Taco donates free food to fundraise for Sheriff Tim Howard. When people criticized Deep South, its conservative owner doubled down and was unapologetic. The critics boycotted. As the Supreme Court ruled, how you spend your money is political speech.

I try to direct how I spend my money by patronizing good actors in the marketplace and not rewarding bad actors. I prefer small local businesses over megachains. I eat Lloyd, but not Deep South. But that’s not the same as a threat of boycott.

What if the owner of Deep South had relented- apologized and made a donation to a non-profit that promotes some social justice? Would its critics have uttered a word of encouragement about spending money there? The power of a boycott is only as strong as the willingness to spend the money. As a personal example, Carl Paladino could be revealed tomorrow to be the messiah and I’d still never park in an Ellicott Lot or buy things at one of his “Trading Company” locations. This leaves me with a sense of satisfaction, but ultimately powerless to influence Paladino’s or Ellicott Development’s behavior because I won’t willingly or knowingly spend money there, no matter what. 

On Facebook and Twitter, I shared someone else’s thoughts about what happened with Lloyd between the time of its original apology for the Batavia / ICE outing and Monday’s re-apology presser. While the pro-ICE brigades mounted a viral anti-Lloyd holy war – unfairly branding Lloyd to be anti-law enforcement writ large, the people and groups who were originally critical of its Batavia outing said and did nothing to support it; to cushion the blow. Lloyd did the right thing and no one had its back.

That’s not to say Lloyd will suddenly do business with no conscience or moral outlook – just that it’s going to be more careful about what it does and to whom it reacts – once bitten, twice shy.

This being Buffalo, the counter-arguments ranged from bare insults to inanity to wild mischaracterizations. The inane likened Lloyd – a locally owned small business – to Target or Wal-Mart. The bad-faith commentators – the erstwhile pals who lobbed ad hominem attacks about my physical appearance and those too insecure in their own argument to @ reply me, were, as always, a treat. For instance:

The “Lloyds ICE fiasco…” isn’t the “fault of the ‘progressive community'” and no one said it was. Lloyd made its own decision and has to live with it; it chose to react positively to pressure from people and groups that didn’t have its back when the chips were down. This is apparently a lesson Lloyd had fully absorbed and digested by Monday. Lloyd has debts to pay, rents to pay, hundreds of employees – many of them immigrants and refugees themselves – to pay. Lloyd serves food. Does that have to be a political act? Not really. Lloyd’s owners could, of course, donate time, goods, and services to groups and causes they believe in. Indeed, I’m sure they do. Whether they choose to make a big deal about it is their business.

So was all of this really about redirecting Lloyd’s behavior, or about something else? Conceding that Lloyd has a reputation generally as a good corporate citizen, critics of the ICE stop could have reached out privately to Lloyd’s easily accessible owners with a “not cool” and redirected Lloyd in a way that would have not resulted in a firestorm. The whole thing could have been handled in a way that achieved the stated goal of advocating for companies to avoid ICE while minimizing harm to Lloyd and its employees. No business is going to risk public humiliation and widespread boycott for an entity that doesn’t have its back.

Once you demand that businesses take a visible and public political stand, you expose that business to blowback from reactionaries. If you’re quick to punish bad behavior, yet withhold support for good behavior, the business is going to learn from that example and not support you or heed your advice again.

You don’t have to believe in capitalism, by the way, to understand the simple point here. Any parent can tell you the value of positive reinforcement for good behavior. 

We can all agree that Lloyd is better at making food than handling crisis communications. I don’t know who has won from all of this. Certainly refugees, immigrants, and inmates in Batavia have gained nothing. Lloyd has gained nothing. Last week’s critics have gained nothing, except a pledge of a donation and perhaps some moral satisfaction. So, cui bono?

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Tacogate II: Censure Mychajliw

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Republicans love to complain about what they term “political correctness,” often going so far as to assert that being empathetic or mindful of others’ feelings is destroying western civilization as we know it. 

Except, of course, when there’s some virtue signaling (another favorite right-wing trope) of their own to do. 

This week, Lloyd sent a taco truck to the Batavia Detention Center, which is a Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility, housing various non-citizens awaiting trial and/or deportation. Many people are outraged over ICE’s conduct under the Trump Administration, most notably the separation of child refugees from their parents or guardians, unlawful indefinite detention of refugees, and lax oversight leading to physical and sexual abuse of detainees, including children. It is indicative of poor management and a complete abdication of the duty the government has to protect the people in its custody.

For a country that once took pride in being a melting pot of immigrants – of being perceived as a beacon of light, justice, and freedom in a dark and unfree world, it’s been quite the harsh, self-inflicted comedown.

It is also indicative of a wildly toxic anti-immigrant, anti-refugee furor that has overtaken the American government and a wide swath of its citizenry in recent years. It is a new fascism wrapped in the flag and holding the Bible, as prophesied. 

Personally, I think it’s ok if Lloyd serves food at the Batavia facility. After all, it’s not just ICE prison guards who work there, but custodial staff, administrative staff, attorneys for the detainees, and the detainees’ families that would all be able to buy food. I also think that it’s ok if Lloyd decides never to do that again. I think it’s ok for people to not think it’s ok for Lloyd to serve prison guards, and for Lloyd to respond to them as it did – by apologizing. 

If you don’t like it, start your own taco truck empire.

Because that’s ultimately what free enterprise is about. “ICE agent” isn’t a protected class under the Civil Rights Act and its progeny, so Lloyd is wholly within its rights to choose not to ever go there again. Not long ago, I criticized a competing taco business for its ties to Sheriff Tim Howard and other Republicans. At that time, of its owner I wrote, 

Richard Hamilton, the owner of Deep South Taco, supports Sheriff Tim Howard. There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with that — he is free to support whomever he wants. 

In fact, he has hosted fundraisers for Howard in the past, and intends to host another one in the near future. He even cuts Howard a deal, with a $1,600 in-kind contribution for food showing up in Howard’s campaign coffers. 

There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with that — he is free to support whomever he wants. 

Hamilton is tight enough with the Howard that he became a “Reserve Deputy Sheriff”. I have no idea what that is, but there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with that — he is free to support whomever he wants. 

I went on to explain my personal decision never to patronize his businesses, and I respect the decisions of people to make the same choice, or not. The same goes for Lloyd. When a company decides to make a political statement, it has to brace for a backlash from the people who disagree. That’s life. For his part, Hamilton is trying to capitalize on the anti-Lloyd brou-ha-ha by offering a 35% discount to law enforcement. I suggested some additional discounts he might consider.

Free speech is fun. 

Never one to shut up when he’s not needed; never one to not insert himself into a controversy that has nothing to do with him, Erie County’s Comptroller and perpetual candidate Stefan Mychajliw piped up. The mission statement for his office reads as follows:The Comptroller’s Office serves as the county and taxpayer’s independent fiscal watchdog, providing fiscal leadership, ensuring fiscal integrity, timely and accurate reporting, and maintaining public trust and accountability through audits, reviews, reports and investigations.

Whilst running for like four different other offices simultaneously, Mychajliw writes: 

This needs to be unpacked not only because of its factual inaccuracies and poor logic, but because it is dangerous. I have to believe – and consistency dictates – that the people who complain most loudly about the insidious nature of political correctness and cancel culture will not succumb to the things they hate most. Right?

LOL.

First of all, here is the Comptroller – a petty elected bureaucrat; a bean-counter – whose duties are mostly ministerial, directing MAGA cretins to hate on two local businesses. Obviously, the tweet’s original theme had to do with Lloyd, which decided that its five food trucks and two restaurants have a relationship with local refugee and immigrant communities that it would be a betrayal for them to feed ICE guards. Just like Richard Hamilton and his toy badge, Lloyd has the right to not go back to Batavia.

Mychajliw is preening for his MAGA / Bannon followers. He’s running for Congress/Assembly/State Senate/Senate/County Executive by tearing down a beloved local restaurant that employs lots of local people and pays loads of county taxes. But in so doing, he has to invoke the name of Chik-fil-a, and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The secret is that there was never a plan for Chik-fil-A to come to the airport. Never. It was never booked. It was never even a thing – Delaware North simply included that franchise on a list to the NFTA of potential brands that could conceivably be brought in. Stef knew this, probably, but isn’t above trying to score a virtue-signaling point for the Rus Thompson set.  

I distinctly remember people threatening to sue the NFTA, and the FAA investigating the NFTA, over its supposed refusal to consider leasing to a Chik-fil-A over religious freedom. Chik-fil-A is a fast food joint, not a church. If it wants to be treated like a church, it should become one. There is no statute requiring a public entity to cut a deal with a private business on the basis of religion, and if the NFTA rented to, e.g., Joe’s Halal Chicken Shack the MAGA red hat cadre would be apoplectic – pitchforks and all.

The reason why Mychajliw brings up Chik-fil-A to attack Delaware North and the NFTA is that it is emblematic of the “pwn the libs” ideology that is the centerpiece of Trumpism and modern conservatism. They hate that snowflake soy-latte-drinking libs won’t eat at Chik-fil-A, and to really underscore their outrage over beta lib ideological boycotts, they’ll never eat at Lloyd. I mean, the cognitive dissonance is huge.

To reiterate – Stefan Mychajliw is not a candidate for anything right now. He is a bean-counter with an almost exclusively ministerial job which he executes by calling bingo and visiting senior centers. His instagram is loaded with images of him delivering county checks to local businesses and, thusly, promoting them.Which is fine. 

But against that backdrop of looking out for the taxpayer and promoting small businesses in Erie County, why on Earth would a petty county bureaucrat knowingly take to social media to do harm to a locally-owned, job-creating, taxpaying business? It is beyond irresponsible for Mychajliw to do this to any Erie County company. It is a knowing effort to hurt the business over politics (i.e., his own version of “political correctness”), and this could hurt it and, in turn, county tax revenues. 

There should be a consequence here. There should be a palpable consequence to a bureaucrat using his bully pulpit to effectively harm a locally owned business over a political disagreement. It is political correctness run amok. Furthermore, the notion that it is some evidence of creeping totalitarianism – a taco truck’s non-discriminatory decision about with whom to do business – is so incredibly ignorant and stupid, and something Mychajliw should know better than to suggest. But alas, here we are. Totalitarianism comes from dictatorial government fiat, not from public opinion or private company decision-making.

The radical Bannonite neo-fascist Erie County Comptroller used his bully pulpit to attack an Erie County taxpaying, job-creating business for his own political gain. He put the jobs of hundreds of Erie County residents at risk, as well as the income, property, and sales taxes they pay. All over a political disagreement. It is unconscionable for an elected head of an Erie County bureaucracy to single out a taxpaying Erie County employer like this for economic harm. If he’ll do it to Lloyd, he’ll do it to any small local business to advance his own craven self-interest.

Someone on the Erie County Legislature should immediately introduce a resolution condemning the Comptroller’s wildly reckless attack on an Erie County business, and formally censuring him for knowingly doing harm to an Erie County-based company which employs Erie County residents, all of whom pay to Erie County property and sales taxes – directly or not.

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