Conservative Party Defames Sergio Rodriguez

When you have to attack and defame a poorly funded grassroots candidate who doesn’t even have the financial or organizational backing of his own party’s county committee, you have to wonder just how weak and pathetic your own fusion party is. 

What on Earth could Sergio do differently from Byron with respect to the 2nd Amendment? Does this have to do with the NY SAFE Act? 

He does pay his bills. All of these debts were satisfied in full. If Sergio is the only person who has ever found himself in school debt that he was temporarily unable to pay back, then this might be effective. Sergio came from nothing, served our country as a Marine, and got a college education. To hell with anyone who would do this to him. Seriously. 

Finally, 

consergio.jpeg 2013-09-06 06-45-48

Click to enlarge, enrage

Rodriguez’s campaign says,

All this to deny voters a choice. Lorigo has now resorted to ugly, dirty, slanderous and baseless politics that people have grown to detest. I am a U.S. Marine who served honorably and with distinction, and will not back down from Lorigo’s shameful tactics. If somehow this chairman and his party’s out-of-touch leadership think for one minute that I will back down, they have another thing coming.

 

Buffalo Mayoral Debate the Third

Untitled

By Joe Janiak

There was a third debate Tuesday night between Mayor Byron Brown, his Democratic challenger Bernie Tolbert, and his Republican opponent Sergio Rodriguez. I don’t see a full video available online, but the challengers took shots at the sitting Mayor, and Byron gave as good he got – especially against Tolbert. During one exchange, Tolbert said his wife accuses him of being “married” to the city of Buffalo, and Byron retorted that Tolbert must be an “absentee husband”. Rodriguez is energetic and charming – he very effectively gets a one-liner out as his first sentence, and the crowd loves him. (At one point, he echoed President Obama, saying he attributed the successful waterfront to  “Mayor Higgins…I mean Congressman Brian Higgins.” Good stuff). I like that more people get to see him during a prime-time debate that’s been broadcast on TV. 

Brown tried to play an interesting card last night, accusing his opponents of “tearing Buffalo down” when, in fact, they’ve been tearing Mayor Brown down

There were questions about education, with Tolbert and Rodriguez accusing Brown of letting the schools crumble around him, but Brown pointed to a very recent donation of city money to restore music programs as evidence of his engagement. Rodriguez retorted that, with the graduation rate having dropped from 54% to 47%, maybe we don’t need the Mayor’s involvement.  Candidates did not support a “full” state takeover of the schools, but didn’t explain what sort of a partial takeover they’d prefer. Rodriguez pointed to Yonkers and New York City as successful examples of mayoral control of schools. 

Brown’s record on crime was attacked, with Tolbert and Rodriguez pointing out that the numbers don’t really reflect positive change in the crime rate, (see below, e.g.). Brown’s challengers also pointed out the perception of safety and quality of life, insisting that uniformed cops walking a beat in a neighborhood would be a great first step towards actual safety, involved policing, and the perception of safety. Rodriguez noted that the city spent $11 million on police overtime last year, and we could instead hire 200 new cops to walk a beat throughout Buffalo neighborhoods.  

Eileen Buckley brought up an interesting question – how do we stabilize the West and East sides and halt these demolitions of dilapidated properties. I don’t remember anyone asking that question in front of so wide an audience before. Tolbert said cranes are nice on the waterfront and all, but the city is ignoring the neighborhoods. Rodriguez said we need the city to help bridge the gap between neighborhood activists and developers, and we need to fight for women and minorities to get development jobs. Mayor Brown proudly touts the demolition of 4,700 buildings – I guess an urban prarie is better than dilapidated squalor, but God is it really something to be proud of? 23,000 vacant buildings? 

Bob McCarthy asked about the NY SAFE gun control act, and Mayor Brown finally stopped fumfering and said that he backed it. He also went out of his way to tell us how many pages it was, and that he read “every bit of it.” What a waste of time. Rodriguez said he agreed with some of it and not with other parts, but criticized the Mayor’s gun buy-backs. Tolbert echoed Rodriguez’s hit on the gun buybacks – that we need to get guns away from criminals, and not use “stunts”. 

Sergio blew Byron away on the issue of jobs, noting that summer jobs for youth aren’t what anyone’s talking about, and we need real jobs for real families, and Brown can’t say there’s been “progress” when the city’s unemployment rate is at a 20 year high. Brown claimed that donations to his campaign is not a quid pro quo for a City Hall job, but Sergio blew that away, calling it a “cultural fear” that funds his campaign. Tolbert accused the administration of soliciting city employee contributions by taking it directly from their paychecks periodically; he pledged to never solicit donations from developers or employees. 

Lastly, here’s an infographic of Buffalo homicide stats that Redditor SunnyDelish put together, using Buffalo Police Department data: 

#ItsTime vs. #BelieveinBernie vs. #Progress

He may be underfunded, and he may have a dramatic party enrollment disadvantage, but Republican mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez has staked out a unique position here. While Mayor Brown touts “progress” which he hasn’t had a lot to do with, and while Bernie Tolbert shows random people who “believe” in him for unexplained reasons, Sergio shows a set of fundamental problems – crime, unemployment, lack of opportunity, and despair – and declares that it’s time for a change.

For a young Marine who is getting jerked around left and right by every Republican political machine with which he comes into contact, he’s showing people that he won’t give up, won’t back down, and can’t be bought. That is refreshing all by itself.

Admittedly, he doesn’t go into details of what that change would look like, and the candidate himself only makes a cameo appearance at the end, but I think it’s easily the best ad from any Buffalo mayoral campaign in perhaps ever. Kudos to Sergio and his team, and I’m looking forward to the hashtag mayoral race.

 

#ItsTime vs. #BelieveinBernie vs. #Progress

He may be underfunded, and he may have a dramatic party enrollment disadvantage, but Republican mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez has staked out a unique position here. While Mayor Brown touts “progress” which he hasn’t had a lot to do with, and while Bernie Tolbert shows random people who “believe” in him for unexplained reasons, Sergio shows a set of fundamental problems – crime, unemployment, lack of opportunity, and despair – and declares that it’s time for a change. 

For a young Marine who is getting jerked around left and right by every Republican political machine with which he comes into contact, he’s showing people that he won’t give up, won’t back down, and can’t be bought. That is refreshing all by itself. 

Admittedly, he doesn’t go into details of what that change would look like, and the candidate himself only makes a cameo appearance at the end, but I think it’s easily the best ad from any Buffalo mayoral campaign in perhaps ever. Kudos to Sergio and his team, and I’m looking forward to the hashtag mayoral race. 

Rodriguez Reddit AMA, Tolbert Opens HQ

BUFFALO NY

By PJBLAKE via Flickr

Republican candidate for Mayor Sergio Rodriguez will be holding a Reddit AMA (“ask me anything”) at 5pm today on Reddit.com – more specifically, the /r/Buffalo subreddit

Democratic candidate for Mayor Bernie Tolbert will be holding a ribbon-cutting party for his campaign HQ at 1375 Main Street from 5:30 – 7:30 today (intersection with Utica St, near Utica Metro station). 

By the way, they held a summit on violence and homicide in the city the other night, and neither the sitting mayor nor the current Buffalo police commissioner bothered to show up. Think about that. 

Bernie Runs, Buffalo Shrugs (& Other Things)

1. Former head of the FBI’s Buffalo office, Bernie Tolbert, has finally stopped teasing everyone and officially entered the race for Mayor of Buffalo, running as a Democrat.  This means he’ll be primarying incumbent Byron Brown in September, and that he will be defeated. Buffalo Rising has the text of Tolbert’s announcement speech, and it focuses on education and crime, but is the same sort of talk we’re used to – technocracy and incremental improvement of bureaucratic issues. It’s a nice speech, but not one that adds a vision for a future Buffalo to the standard-issue schools-and-crime talk. 

The issues are so stark, one would think we could move beyond pablum and get into something a bit different. 

While Mayor Brown has had two terms already to do something big, he’s had little to do with anything big that’s happened. However, there is one thing he is better at than any of his competitors – building and maintenance of a formidable political machine. With the Erie County Democratic Committee likely to endorse Brown in an effort to promote intraparty peace, Tolbert’s chances are only slightly – and theoretically – above nil. 

2. But one correspondent to Buffalo Rising has identified a novel way to shuttle people to and from the Outer Harbor. Despite high prevailing winds and six months’ worth of inclement weather, he has suggested a cable car system to transport people high above the Skyway corridor from CanalSide to the empty and polluted Outer Harbor. Instead of focusing on bringing to Buffalo a cablecar system that was so popular at Walt Disney World that it was removed 25 years ago, perhaps we could spend that money to clean up the contamination on the Outer Harbor property that precludes any sort of development from happening. People on Twitter had fun with the idea on Friday under the hashtag #BuffaloCableCar.

It also reminded Chris & me of the “Detroit Entrepreneurial Guy” meme (example 1, example 2) – especially this one. Just substitute “Buffalo”. 

3. About a week ago, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington dismissively refused to listen to a podcast that Trending Buffalo’s Brad Riter recorded with Artvoice’s Chris Smith, arguing that it wasn’t “real media”. He and I argued about what constitutes “real media” over the weekend, with Harrington insisting that Trending Buffalo isn’t “real media”, and I argued (a) that the internet is a real medium; and (b) Trending Buffalo’s legitimacy as real media is determined by people who consume its content.  If it has relevance and popularity, it’s “real media”. Harrington insisted that blogs are a “wild west” (and I pointed out the wild west was a “real place”), which is an old argument. In the end, query why it is that the Buffalo News has its journalists blog and Tweet with Buffalo News branding if social media and blogging don’t constitute “real media”. 

Journalists can blog, and bloggers can be journalists. Whether an outlet is “real media” is, in the end, wholly up to the person consuming the content. 

I’ll storify up the back-and-forth later this week. 

Follow me on Twitter and send emails and other stuff to here

 

 

Bernie Runs, Buffalo Shrugs (& Other Things)

1. Former head of the FBI’s Buffalo office, Bernie Tolbert, has finally stopped teasing everyone and officially entered the race for Mayor of Buffalo, running as a Democrat.  This means he’ll be primarying incumbent Byron Brown in September, and that he will be defeated. Buffalo Rising has the text of Tolbert’s announcement speech, and it focuses on education and crime, but is the same sort of talk we’re used to – technocracy and incremental improvement of bureaucratic issues. It’s a nice speech, but not one that adds a vision for a future Buffalo to the standard-issue schools-and-crime talk. 

The issues are so stark, one would think we could move beyond pablum and get into something a bit different. 

While Mayor Brown has had two terms already to do something big, he’s had little to do with anything big that’s happened. However, there is one thing he is better at than any of his competitors – building and maintenance of a formidable political machine. With the Erie County Democratic Committee likely to endorse Brown in an effort to promote intraparty peace, Tolbert’s chances are only slightly – and theoretically – above nil. 

2. But one correspondent to Buffalo Rising has identified a novel way to shuttle people to and from the Outer Harbor. Despite high prevailing winds and six months’ worth of inclement weather, he has suggested a cable car system to transport people high above the Skyway corridor from CanalSide to the empty and polluted Outer Harbor. Instead of focusing on bringing to Buffalo a cablecar system that was so popular at Walt Disney World that it was removed 25 years ago, perhaps we could spend that money to clean up the contamination on the Outer Harbor property that precludes any sort of development from happening. People on Twitter had fun with the idea on Friday under the hashtag #BuffaloCableCar.

It also reminded Chris & me of the “Detroit Entrepreneurial Guy” meme (example 1, example 2) – especially this one. Just substitute “Buffalo”. 

3. About a week ago, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington dismissively refused to listen to a podcast that Trending Buffalo’s Brad Riter recorded with Artvoice’s Chris Smith, arguing that it wasn’t “real media”. He and I argued about what constitutes “real media” over the weekend, with Harrington insisting that Trending Buffalo isn’t “real media”, and I argued (a) that the internet is a real medium; and (b) Trending Buffalo’s legitimacy as real media is determined by people who consume its content.  If it has relevance and popularity, it’s “real media”. Harrington insisted that blogs are a “wild west” (and I pointed out the wild west was a “real place”), which is an old argument. In the end, query why it is that the Buffalo News has its journalists blog and Tweet with Buffalo News branding if social media and blogging don’t constitute “real media”. 

Journalists can blog, and bloggers can be journalists. Whether an outlet is “real media” is, in the end, wholly up to the person consuming the content. 

I’ll storify up the back-and-forth later this week. 

Follow me on Twitter and send emails and other stuff to here

 

 

Who is Sergio?

Nothing will quite so starkly upset the Buffalo Republican establishment as Sergio Rodriguez’s announcement of his run for Mayor, set to take place at 1pm in Niagara Square. For WNY Republicans, Buffalo is a tool used to suppress the Democratic turnout for countywide candidates; Sergio Rodriguez, for instance, is Stefan Mychajliw’s worst nightmare. Our new county comptroller – who quite literally press releases a new crisis every. single. day. – won last November by a narrow enough margin that the outcome wasn’t formalized until weeks after Election Day. With a proper big-ticket race on the marquee, Mychajliw’s path to a full term becomes hypothetically more difficult.  The hypothesis is contingent, of course, on Democrats coming up with a competitive candidate. 

Whether Rodriguez’s run will gain much traction is an open question. He ran for a seat on the Council before, and he is very active with veterans’ causes. He is a nice guy – too nice for politics, at first glance – but he’s also a Marine, so it would be foolish to put some real toughness past him. The big problems Rodriguez faces are his city-toxic party affiliation and his utter lack of money in the face of Byron Brown’s tsunami of cash. They are possibly insurmountable, unless Rodriguez can get creative with a bespoke party line (the likelihood of the Conservative Party or Independence Party jettisoning Brown is remote), and can raise some serious money, fast. Since he won’t be running in a primary, he’s got until September to get the money situation together in earnest. 

What is good for the city and region is that Byron Brown will have a challenger in November for the first time since 2005; a challenger who is, significantly, not a mere placeholder. But Rodriguez will have to build his own army from scratch, as it’s doubtful that establishment Republicans will help him canvass, raise money, or collect petition signatures. None of those activities can happen quietly, and the risks of reprisal are real. Rodriguez might conceivably find support among the grassroots / tea party type Republicans, but they’re few, far-between, not based in the city, and too preoccupied with Adolf Cuomo and Josef Obama taking their guns by force. 

The issues and problems that the city faces are tough and they are plenty, and the city has cursed itself with a mayor who doesn’t really want the job, whose concern for politics far outweighs his concern for policy, whose City Hall is corrupt and dirty, and who has no vision or overriding agenda for any of the social, economic, or development issues facing the city. Take any serious controversy that has come up in the city in the last few years, and you’ll be extraordinarily hard-pressed to remember what the mayor had to say or think about it. 

Sergio Rodriguez’s announcement is at 1pm at Niagara Square – can he do it? Is he the future of the city? Let’s listen. 

Wōdnesdæġ

The Off-Season

“The Off-Season” by Flickr user rssloan via the AV Daily Flickr Group

1. Max Dismissal

Supreme Court Justice Deborah Chimes dismissed Frank Max’s lawsuit challenging Jeremy Zellner’s election as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee. Judge Chimes ruled that Max had waited too long to challenge the June 1, 2012 redistricting that the board of elections undertook. Max’s side argued that the board acted after the 1st, but the court disagreed and determined that the lawsuit should have been filed by October 1st, but was 4 days late. 

Naturally, the dismissal of the case of Max v. Foregone Conclusion will be taken up on appeal. 

2. 2013: Brown vs. Rodriguez? 

Who is Sergio?” signs have been popping up all throughout town, and young Republican veteran Sergio Rodriguez is making the rounds, promising to be the first Republican to become Mayor of Buffalo since Chester Kowal in the mid-60s. Although he has no money, little name recognition, and little to no support among the county Republican committee, Rodriguez is right in suggesting that no incumbent should be unchallenged in a general election. The problem here is that Stefan Mychajliw, fresh off a poorly-managed mini-scandal concerning his chief of staff’s DWI conviction, is likely to face a tough re-election battle against a popular Democrat. His margin of victory could be so narrow that a Rodriguez challenge to Brown might bring out enough people in Buffalo to hurt Mychajliw’s chances. 

On the other hand, when your countywide election strategy includes consciously and actively suppressing the urban vote, then your ideas and candidates suck. Be good enough to win in Amherst and Hamburg and Buffalo. 

3. Social Media & Politics

Our podcast with Brad Riter at Trending Buffalo has changed over the last few weeks into a commentary on local social media usage, among other things. Yesterday’s edition covers social media and politics in western New York. 

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/TBOneThing01-22-13.mp3

4. Time Machine

Incredible photographs of the Russian Revolution – many of them hand-colored – have been found in a California basement.