Cheektowaga: Wrong Democratic Team

CheekRight

We talked about it during Episode 2 of the Public Record podcast, and I wrote about it here and here.

Sometime during this past summer, a political committee suddenly popped up in Cheektowaga calling itself the “Right Democratic Team.” It filed its first and only financial disclosure on or around September 7th – an 11-day pre-primary report. It appears that the “Right Democratic Team” is a Frank Max-aligned subsidiary of Preetsmas Industries.

Here’s what its reports purport to reveal:

1. The “Right Democratic Team” claims to have been created on August 14, 2015, and Kathleen Hannel is listed as treasurer at a Depew address.

Hannel is a supporter of Supervisor Mary Holtz, has been hired in the past as a seasonal worker in the town clerk’s office, and Holtz co-owns the 16 Brookedge Road property with Hannel, according to the Cheektowaga town assessor:

2. In its September filing, the Right Democratic Team says it took in $50 in unitemized contributions from individuals or partnerships on August 26th. The election law allows contributions of under $100 to be unitemized.

3. The Right Democratic Team says it took in $75 in unitemized corporate contributions on July 30th, two weeks before its creation.

So, according to the “Right Democratic Team”, from a date prior to its creation until the September 7th date of this report, it took in only $125 in unitemized contributions, and spent no money whatsoever.

This, however, is not possible. It is a lie. These people are lying. 

How do we know?

1. Here is a ticket for a picnic fundraiser that the “Right Democratic Team” held at Fontana’s on July 30th.

Unless that event was canceled, this committee (a) made much more than the reported $75 in corporate contributions on July 30th; (b) had expenditures relating to the holding of the picnic event; and (c) it is missing – at the very least – one required financial report, the 32-day pre-primary report.

Although the official address for this shadowy committee is that of Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary Holtz, the “remit checks to” address is that of town councilmember Jerry Kaminski. If you go look at Kaminski’s own filings, he reports a $500 contribution to the Right Democratic Team on July 17, 2015. So, why hasn’t the committee that received it reported that? 

Let’s try something different – a search for all contributions to the “Right Democratic Team” that other committees reported. Here’s the result:

So, add to Councilman Kaminski’s $500 an additional $500 from Supervisor candidate Alice Magierski’s committee, Two $500 listings for “literature” to the Right Democratic Team, and a ticket to the July picnic bought by Republican Family Court candidate Brenda Freedman.

That is $2,035 unaccounted-for dollars that the “Right Democratic Team” received starting in mid-July, through September. It had a legal duty to file a 32-day pre-primary report accounting for these payments, but failed and refused to do so. Even if it claimed mistake or ignorance in doing so then, certainly it had a duty to make these disclosures in its 11-day pre-primary report of September 7th. Its failure and refusal to do so is a blatant violation of not only the letter but the spirit of the election law and its flimsy disclosure requirements.

I don’t understand why a group of experienced political operatives feels the need to create a secret, shadowy little political committee to help the Frank Max-backed candidates get elected. Would they be less effective if they obeyed the law? The law requires that they be transparent and up-front about it, yet they refused and failed to do so. Why lie about it? This isn’t an accident – this is deliberate .

Why do people in Cheektowaga tolerate this sort of thing? When will this illegality be prosecuted? Who will prosecute it?

Preetsmas in September

preetsept

It’s been weeks – months – since we last checked in on Preetsmas.

You may recall that on May 28th, state police and FBI agents raided the homes of three prominent political consultants, former county Democratic chairman Steve Pigeon, former deputy Mayor Steve Casey, and Congressman Chris Collins’ chief of staff, Chris Grant. Authorities are investigating campaign finance and election law irregularities of the WNY Progressive Caucus (hereinafter referred to as “AwfulPAC”), and the extent to which they jibe with real life. There’s been speculation that the AwfulPAC investigation branched off into other matters .

Throughout June, we drilled down through the various disclosures and discussed or analyzed how they might be evidence of some illegality:

The First day of Preetsmas (5/28/15): The raids & an introduction

The Second day of Preetsmas (6/4/15): All about AwfulPAC

The Third Day of Preetsmas (6/2/15): Seneca cigarette bootlegger Aaron Pierce & Mickey Kearns.

The Fourth Day of Preetsmas (6/3/15): Steve Pigeon, PAPI, and Gene Caccamise

The Fifth Day of Preetsmas (6/3/15): Pigeon’s Tax Liens

The Sixth Day of Preetsmas  (6/4/15): Analyzing tax returns, and litigation surrounding the sale of the Front Page/South Buffalo News

The Story of Preetsmas (6/4/15): Background on AwfulPAC

The Seventh Day of Preetsmas (6/5/15): Financial Shenanigans with Pigeon-connected PACs

The Eighth Day of Preetsmas (6/7/15): The Money Orders and AwfulPAC

The Ninth Day of Preetsmas (6/9/15): Pigeon’s addresses and Ganjapreneurs

The Tenth day of Preetsmas (6/11/15): The Pigeoning

The Eleventh Day of Preetsmas (6/12/15): AwfulPAC FOIL

Preetsmas: In their Own Words (6/14/15): A trip down memory lane

A Preetsmas Recap and Update (6/16/15): Updates on the investigation

The Preetsmas Mysteries (6/22/15): More about the AwfulPAC money orders

Let’s Talk About “Mistakes Were Made” in Campaign Finance Law (7/14/15): On the question of intent.

The statute of limitations for misdemeanors under the election law is two years from the date of a filing. It’s now mid-September 2015, and 2 year anniversary of the first batch of AwfulPAC’s 2013 reports has come and gone with no prosecution. It’s possible that prosecutors may instead choose to proceed under the New York State Penal Law, for filing a false instrument – a felony.  That may be a cleaner, easier explanation to a (grand or trial) juror.

It may be that prosecutors have focused more on other crimes, all well within the felony category.  It would be a shame to have them ignore the Election Law
even if these people are convicted on other things, because it’s the precedent that’s important – to avoid similar future violations, like illegal coordination.  These sorts of activities have been happening for a long time – at least since 1999, when similiar shenanigans took place on behalf of David Dale vs. Greg Olma, and for Jack O’Donnell vs. Al DeBenedetti. The people who think this all matters can afford to be patient.

Just this past primary season, we had two campaign committees get involved in Cheektowaga that are in blatant violation of the election law; Frank Max’s Progressive Democrats of WNY and a new committee called “Right Democratic Team” clearly participated in the September 2015 primaries, but improperly failed to make the proper financial disclosures. Neither committee filed primary reports, despite things like this happening:

Close readers of the Preetsmas series will recall Aaron Pierce of Irving, NY as having been invested in AwfulPAC, as well. He was a topic of discussion on the 4th and 7th days of Preetsmas. Two of Pierce’s companies found themselves in deep trouble, resulting in a guilty plea and over $1 million in fines, and Pierce lavishly exploits the LLC loophole to plunge tens of thousands of dollars into campaigns.

Max’s Progressive Democrats of WNY received $25,000 from one person just days before a primary election it never disclosed to anyone that it was participating in. Where did the money go? How was it spent – as a donation to one or more campaigns, or to make independent expenditures on other campaigns’ behalf? Whom was the committee supporting or opposing in September’s primary? Why didn’t it file the required forms and disclosures? Is this just another “oops we made a mistake?”

What, exactly, is Pierce buying by throwing $25,000 at Cheektowaga

This is yet another case where a Max- or Pigeon-controlled political committee tries secretly to influence a primary election and does everything it can to avoid drawing attention to itself. Long after it’s too late to matter, or to comply with the letter or spirit of the law, the committee files a flurry of disclosures or amends old ones. It will file forms with the board of elections to reveal the candidates it was backing or opposing months from now – months too late to matter, and months later than required. And, in the end, we’re meant to believe that a person who used to be a town committee chair, has been involved for decades, and who has vied to be the county committee chair did it by mistake and didn’t know any better.

If you have any information concerning this investigation, please feel free confidentially to contact me at buffalopundit[at]gmail.com.

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.

Mascia Goons Visit Franczyk; Hilarity Ensues

Mascia

Scroll to the bottom, and you’ll find what I believe so far to be the first publication of the unexpurgated Joe Mascia tape. I think it’s important to hear the words that he says, the way in which he says them, and the context in which they’re spoken. In the meantime, a story.

A few weeks ago, Fillmore District Common Councilman David Franczyk’s staffer, attorney Michael Kuzma, was hosting former Buffalo writer and gadfly Dick Kern in his office in City Hall. Then-Councilmember Michael LoCurto was there, too. It was lunchtime, and Kuzma was going to join the visiting Kern for lunch. Kuzma was then called into Franczyk’s office.

In the office were two of Joseph Mascia’s political operatives – his now-former campaign manager, Cheektowagan Katrinna Martin, and North Tonawandan aggro-blogger Matt Ricchiazzi. The blogger wanted to take pictures in Franczyk’s office, and Kuzma refused, adding that, “you write crap, you get nothing.” Kuzma was specifically referencing myriad anti-Franczyk pieces the blogger had published, some of which may have been defamatory. Kuzma then began walking Mascia’s operatives out of Franczyk’s office. Kuzma says he never touched either of them.

Kuzma has a history with the blogger, who had once run for Mayor of Buffalo. Kuzma and fellow election law attorney Jim Ostrowski had met with him at the time to help him out, but the putative candidate simply didn’t meet the residency requirement. In his only prior interaction with this young man, Kuzma had only ever tried to help him.

At this point, Mascia’s campaign manager began yelling, demanding that Kuzma stop cursing. Kuzma, however, wasn’t cursing and he continued to try to usher the two out of the office. The blogger again attempted to get his camera on, and Kuzma put his hand up to block the lens. The blogger dramatically started shouting, “don’t hurt me! Don’t hit me!” And loudly saying things like, “this is how residents in the Fillmore District are treated.” It was, to hear Kuzma tell it, a surreal scene.

Kuzma withdrew at this point, and the two unwanted visitors left. After he returned from lunch, a Buffalo cop walked into Franczyk’s office to investigate whether, “someone manhandled a couple of constituents,” and that someone in the office was accused of having, “attacked a woman, manhandled another gentleman, and dropped the ‘f’ bomb.” At the time, Kuzma didn’t know that Martin was on Mascia’s payroll, but he knew the blogger had some relationship with him.

The officer called a lieutenant, who came by 2-3 hours later and heard Kuzma’s side of the story. The lieutenant said he was thinking of charging Mascia’s operatives with trespassing. Kuzma said that probably wouldn’t stick, since it was public property.

A few days later, however, a detective came by Franczyk’s office to take photographs of the “crime scene”. The detective left a calling card with a note informing Kuzma that, “we need to talk to you, you manhandled a couple of people.” Kuzma drew up a witness list and had Franczyk and LoCurto recount what they had observed – that Kuzma had acted professionally at all times, and that Mascia’s interlopers had tried to manufacture some sort of fracas. Kuzma, for his part, was flabbergasted that the BPD had the time to spend on this, given the crime issues in the city.

Kuzma was going to go down to B District to give a statement, and asked prominent attorneys Daire Irwin and Peter Reese to accompany him. However, the Detective wasn’t in, and Kuzma was not interviewed at that time. The next day, Kuzma got a call from the detective informing him that the charges were unfounded and the investigation was over. Kuzma suspected that the detective had spoken with the District Attorney, and acknowledged that a trespass charge wouldn’t stick.

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.

In the meantime, Mascia’s operatives had gone to 311 citizens’ services and made some sort of complaint, which was forwarded to Franczyk’s office for review.

click to enlarge

But what we have is two non-residents of the City of Buffalo who are affiliated with the campaign of a Franczyk rival coming into the councilman’s City Hall office to cause some sort of scene or to set Franczyk or his staff up. Kuzma characterizes it as a “political hit” and that, “without witnesses, this could have turned out very badly” for him.

If a news outlet, political operative, or blogger legitimately attends some meeting or event and is threatened or mistreated, it would be newsworthy and typical for that to become a news story in and of itself. It is a wholly different thing, however, to show up at an elected’s office in an effort to corner or embarrass him, or to manufacture a controversy when one didn’t naturally exist. That’s activism—not journalism. That’s incitement—not reporting.

Mascia began appearing on everyone’s radar last week when he was caught on tape making horrible, hateful racist remarks about local officials such as Mayor Byron Brown, Councilmember Darius Pridgen, and others. He refers to Lou “Fas” Fasolino as a “camel jockey.” He calls the Mayor a “tizzun.” He threatens to wear a “wire” to entrap Joel Giambra.

It would seem that Mr. Mascia’s operatives tried to set up Franczyk and his staff, thus stopping him now from whining about the audio recording being a “set up.” To my knowledge, here’s the only unexpurgated version of the recording that’s been made public. Listen for yourself. 

NY-27 Candidate O’Donnell: S.C.O.P.E. is a Conservative Party Front

Budd Shroeder is the head of “Shooters Committee on Political Education“. SCOPE is chartered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit issues advocacy organization. It states in its own “about” statement

While SCOPE role is focused primarily on the political process, it is an issues oriented organization.  It does not align itself with any political party nor does it endorse any candidates for elective office.  Our function is to counter assaults on the right of firearms ownership.  This entails providing legislators and executives with timely and accurate information to support sound decisions.

The notion that SCOPE is not aligned with any political party is utter and unadulterated nonsense. Here is what Congressional candidate for NY-27 JimO’Donnell – a pro-gun, anti-SAFE Act – Democrat found out, and has to say about SCOPE (emphases added): 

The Truth About S.C.O.P.E.’s Chairman:

Today a neighbor brought me SCOPE’s ratings and asked why it listed me as a B and my opponent was given an A+. After all, my opponent was “accidently” a founding member of one of the groups that helped write the SAFE Act, and I, unlike him, am one of the citizens who actually owns one of the guns made illegal. You would think on those facts alone, I would get an A and he would get an F. So why the discrepancy?

A few weeks ago Budd Schroeder, chairman of SCOPE came up to me and introduced himself. He came up to me on his own, and introduced himself and asked me not to be too hard on my opponent. “He may have made some mistakes, but you don’t want to dwell on them. Just be civil.” I had always planned on being civil, but I thought it was odd that the head of SCOPE would be asking this of me. A few days later, Budd introduced me to a SCOPE gathering as “a candidate for NY State Senate.” This was after he introduced my opponent as a close friend, whose son Budd taught to shoot his first gun.

Never mind Collins being “snookered” into being a founding member of a group that supported the SAFE Act, he has done absolutely nothing legislatively to promote 2nd Amendment rights. I, on the other hand, have written and shared with SCOPE legislation that would help their cause. So why give him a better grade than me? Because Budd is more interested in helping his friends than repealing the SAFE Act.

That’s not where it ends. I have been saying all along that the only way to repeal the SAFE Act in NY is to show all of the democrats who are opposed to it, which from going around this district, is a huge number. I brought this up to Budd and said he should try to reach out to those Democrats, this was his response:

“I have friends who are Democrats. Some close friends. I am a registered Conservative and like having friends on both sides of the aisle. I am also on the Executive Board of the Erie County Conservative Party. Been a Second Amendment activist for almost a half century. Some habits are hard to break and I don’t want to break this one. Thanks for checking in.
Budd”

By this comment, it is clear that Budd does not want to repeal the SAFE Act. It is the single greatest fundraiser for the Conservative Party ever. Budd doesn’t want that to end. I have sat through a few SCOPE meetings, unlike my opponent who received a higher grade than me, and during it I witnessed Budd and others offer flat screen TV’s to the groups who registered the most new people as Conservatives. That is the only goal Budd has, growing the Conservative Party and thereby growing his influence.

People opposed to the SAFE Act: Stop supporting this man – he is wasting your money.

Thanks for checking in.
Jim

I don’t even get what Schroeder’s response to O’Donnell is supposed to mean. Which “habit” is hard to break? Being a Conservative Fusion Party Shill?

The issue isn’t whether Schroeder showed undue and improper favoritism to Chris Collins. That’s pretty typical for a conservative front group, to prefer the Republican candidate over the Demonrat. Even nominal Democrats who are really Paladino Republicans like Johnny Destino have been the victims of SCOPE anti-Democrat animus.  SCOPE decided to “downgrade” Destino’s score because people supporting him are in favor of gun control. That’s simply pathological

In the meantime, SCOPE seems to have listened to O’Donnell and upgraded him from a B to an A, but Collins gets an A+. I mean, based on what, except party affiliation or Conservative Fusion Party endorsement? It’s all nonsense. For instance, in 2012, Brian Higgins received an A+ rating from SCOPE.  This year, he gets an F and Weppner Clownshoes gets an A+.  Ballotpedia says that Higgins supports an “absolute right to gun ownership”. That gets an F? 

What I want to hear more about is the TV giveaways for Conservative Fusion recruitment at SCOPE meetings. If true, it would likely be a clear and absolute violation of the group’s 501(c)(4) mandate to be a non-partisan issues advocacy group. As for the SAFE Act being a great fundraising tool for the Conservatives, well, of course it is. 

I sent a message to Mr. Schroeder asking him for his reaction, and received no reply. 

Tea Party Protests Grisanti Fundraiser

An exclusive image of the massive tea party protest of Mark Grisanti’s fundraiser, courtesy of @HeyRaChaCha on Twitter

Kathy “Purple Penguin” Weppner

Step 1: See what appears to be regurgitated, unvetted nonsense likely spreading rampant through the fascist blogosphere in order to assail the imminent destruction of ‘Murrka by n0bummer and the Alinskyite cadres. 

Step 2: Not being privy to the rampant dementia infecting the idiot fasict blogosphere, Google it and find who’s talking about it. 

Step 3: Be a curious and intelligent person, and try to get to the truth

Step 4: Find out that the whole fascist outrage is not only false, but damningly critical of an attempt to make kids feel comfortable in the classroom. In other words: based on evil. 

1372

Weppner and the Parenthetical Hitler

Hey, the candidates are replying to questionnaires. Let’s take a look! 

Kathy Weppner appears to be the only candidate vain enough to list “Patriot” as a qualification-slash-experience for public office.  That’s just breathtaking. I mean, Harvard Shmarvard. Being a “Patriot” is basically a silent pre-requisite for running for any public office in the U.S., like “sentient being” or “has central nervous system” or “skeleton”. 

Let’s compare the candidates’ “community involvement”, and watch Higgins mop the floor with Weppner’s “hey, I show up when people ask me to” slacktivism. 

Well, well, well. There are so many issues that the government should be addressing, and Higgins focuses on some key ones that fit neatly within a Congressional backbencher’s wheelhouse. But Weppner – she identifies the debt as “our top challenge”, and that if interest rates – that the Fed sets – go up, we won’t make the payments? The US has never defaulted, even in the 80s under Reagan’s debt and double-digit interest rates. People like Weppner who conflate public debt with family debt don’t really understand what they’re talking about. 

First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves…

…It’s true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar’s worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents’ worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns morefrom its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that’s already deep in hock to the Chinese, you’ve been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction.

Now, the fact that federal debt isn’t at all like a mortgage on America’s future doesn’t mean that the debt is harmless. Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion. But these costs are a lot less dramatic than the analogy with an overindebted family might suggest.

I don’t know what Congress is going to do about “leadership” in a “dangerous world”, but whatever. She’s running a chain-email campaign

Now, on to income inequality. If you haven’t, you should read Monday’s Krugman, and then look at this: 

Every time an increase in the minimum wage is proposed, the wealthy egotists who think themselves ‘job creators” and their minions whine about how the jobs will all be lost! They do this, of course, while simultaneously denigrating the jobs and their occupants as losers, slackers, teens, or all of the above.

But the loss of jobs doesn’t happen. At all. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the last 40 years, it would be $10.90/hour.  Instead, the federal rate is $7.25. No one’s talking about making everyone earn the same – this isn’t some Stalinist march to the kolkhoz, but ensuring that people who work earn enough to live, and that we halt policies that disproportionately enrich the already rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. You know, to stop this

But note the rhetoric about how “immigrants…started with nothing, did anything, and ended up great! About that

So, on the one hand, immigrants do just great! But on the other hand, they’re all lawbreaking terrorist welfare queens who want to bankrupt the republic. 

See? It’s your own fault that we don’t know who’s funding campaigns. The word salad that Weppner sharts out here is utter nonsense. 

LOLWUT? First of all, I’d like someone to ask Weppner about the science of global climate change and see if she says the same thing. She completely fails to answer the question posed in any meaningful way, and just punts, adding that we like totally really need to be able to transport her phantom resources “based on science”. 

Common Core is not a federal program, isn’t administered or run from Washington, and was not a federal government initiative. Other than that, awesome!

So, on the one hand, she brings up a separation of powers issue that’s been pretty much resolved for some time – the Commander in Chief does not need a declaration of war to commit US troops. But the last time Congress declared war was World War 2, to combat, among others, Hitler – who appears here parenthetically.

We didn’t fight Hitler because of his crimes against humanity – we fought him because he declared war on the US on Pearl Harbor Day, and because the Nazis had overrun Europe and North Africa. Germany, Italy, and Japan were imposing militarist fascist totalitarian dictatorships all over the place, and we fought Nazi Germany because it had to be done. Weppner alludes to ISIS and its vicious reign of terror, but why isn’t the beheading and crucifixion of adults also a “crime against humanity” justifying American action? 

“Why do we deliver humanitarian food and shelter when humanity is threatened but we do not see the same need when life itself is threatened”.  What on Earth does that mean? We fought crimes against humanity in Bosnia and Kosovo in the last 20 years. What is she saying? 

She started her recent career as a caller to ultra-right-wing hate radio. She graduated from there to being a host on ultra-right-wing hate radio. Now, she feels entitled to a title, and in so doing is simply regurgitating nonsense she hears on ultra-right-wing hate radio. She’ll be lucky to hit 20% because the vast majority of WNY voters are not fascist idiots.

A Tuesday For the Books

Eligible WNY Voter

Antoine Loses: Faith in Humanity Restored

Crystal Peoples-Stokes easily halted Antoine Thompson’s effort to go back to Albany, this time as an Assemblyman. That’s enough, Antoine. You had your chance and the power and prestige went to your head. There’s plenty of other ways to help the community – including, but not limited to, just getting a job and paying your taxes.

Tim Kennedy Wins Handily

Tim Kennedy also defeated Betty Jean Grant. This is, to me, a shame because Tim Kennedy is a sellout. He sold out the Democrats and his constituents when he cut a deal with Steve Pigeon and Chris Collins to hand over a Democratic legislature to the Republicans. He sold out to further his own political career – to replace Bill Stachowski in the state Senate. He out-spent Betty Jean by a huge margin, and she simply couldn’t raise the money to get the word out against someone who was, this time, ready for her.  Kennedy ran on legislation to strengthen child abuse laws, and securing some back-office jobs for our Bangalore-on-the-Lake. One thing is for sure – Betty Jean can go to sleep every night secure in the knowledge that she’s no sellout. 

Tea Party Finally Gets Grisanti

Oh, you tea party. You got a huge victory last night! You finally got rid of Mark Grisanti. Your disgust for him began when he voted for same-sex marriage – you still bring it up today. The SAFE Act vote mobilized you, because guns > gays for you; guns are your common denominator. Congratulations! I saw sponsored posts in my Facebook timeline from Rus Thompson’s extremist “Tea NY” and from former GOP challenger against Brian Higgins, Mike Madigan.  The visceral hatred that the right wing has for Grisanti finally manifested itself in an electoral victory – they got Kevin Stocker.  On the other side, we have Marc Panepinto, a Democratic activist and personal injury lawyer. The district in question is predominately Democratic and people with Italian surnames tend to do well in that district.

But here’s one possibility: Grisanti and Panepinto are both lawyers. Wouldn’t it be funny if Panepinto dropped out, Grisanti switched to the Democratic Party and was appointed to replace Panepinto on the Democratic ballot in November? Panepinto would have to run for Supreme Court somewhere – anywhere in the state. This is a thing that can happen. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the tea party spent all this time and effort just to expel Grisanti from the GOP and have him win in November as a Democrat? 

Teachout’s 35%

Cuomo and Hochul easily defeated Teachout and Wu, which is no surprise. What was a surprise was the fact that Teachout earned about 35% of the statewide vote with almost no money, very little name recognition, and a pretty short race. Hopefully a message was sent to the Governor’s mansion about the importance of fighting corruption. Or maybe not. Maybe we should shut up because of the Buffalo billion and other stuff, and just be satisfied with what we have. What difference does it make if the state is still run like it’s 1953? Shut up, you. 

Tea Party Didn’t Back Gia

Robert Ortt easily defeated on-again, off-again candidate Gia Arnold. Arnold’s entire campaign centered around getting rid of George Maziarz. Once Maziarz announced he wasn’t running again, he stole a ton of her thunder and she was stuck becoming a silly kid, talking about guns, guns, and guns, going so far as to wear a clip as a prop jewelry. In the end, Ortt was the serious and credible Republican guy, and he won handily. 

Mazurek Defeats Brandon

It should come as no surprise that the guy with the Polish name came out ahead in what was once Gabryszak’s Cheektowaga/Sloan district. 

Pegulas Buy Bills

All of this political nonsense was overshadowed by the palpable civic sign of relief when it was confirmed that the Pegula family had won the bidding war to buy the Bills. Not only is the uncertainty over the Bills staying in WNY over for the foreseeable future, but the team can now begin its second chapter in earnest. What amazing news. 

Shredd & Ragan Will Not Be Intimidated

I called in to Shredd & Ragan’s show on 103.3 WEDG Tuesday morning at 7am.  When they asked me something about guns and the SAFE Act, I accidentally said, “I don’t give a shit about guns”, forgetting in my uncaffeinated haze that I was on terrestrial radio and not a podcast. A thousand apologies for that. 

But what would you say if you knew that someone attempted to intimidate WEDG into not having me on the air? 

On Monday around lunchtime, I posted my standard September primary endorsement post, and noted at its conclusion that I’d be appearing on Shredd & Ragan’s show at 7am Tuesday morning. 

After my appearance on WEDG, I spoke with a few people who work behind the scenes for Shredd & Ragan’s show. It turns out that one particularly noxious politically connected individual had contacted the station about my upcoming appearance. This poor creature started out almost eerily polite, explaining that he or she was a friend of the show,  calling as a courtesy to advise them that – now, they’re not threatening anyone – but that I was “under investigation” by a “team of lawyers” and that WEDG – and anyone who gives me a “platform” might be held responsible if I said something slanderous. To say this is completely bizarre, outrageous,  and uncalled-for is an understatement. 

To their credit, the people at WEDG would not be intimidated into keeping me off the air, and directed this complainant to contact the station’s legal department if there were any further issues. 

I’m not altogether sure that the public figure who called the station wants to litigate his or her reputation, but empty threats and petty bullying will not intimidate me into shutting up. 

Zephyr Teachout Attempts to Greet Andrew Cuomo, Shake Hand

Her tenacity is met with a wall of staffers and bodyguards, and a governor who is quite deliberately snubbing her. 

Remember, Democrats: Vote Teachout/Hochul tomorrow!

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