Maziarz in the Niagara Falls Reporter

Down They Go, Horseshoe Falls in Winter, Niagara Falls, Canada (DTB_0134)

Photo by Daniel Novak via AV Photo Daily Flickr Group

The founder and Californian former editor of the now-gynophobic Niagara Falls Reporter, has only good things to say about his friend, Senator George Maziarz, who is retiring under a cloud of suspicion.  Maziarz is under federal investigation for allegedly converting campaign funds to personal use

No one doubts that Maziarz is a personable guy or that his office was excellent at constituent service. The question is whether he misappropriated campaign money. Lucky for Maziarz, he’s got $1 million in campaign funds that he can use to hire excellent criminal defense counsel

The Reporter‘s founder is very self-righteous about corrupt politicians, except the ones he likes. For instance, you’ll likely not find a less corrupt politician than Paul Dyster, yet he is savagely attacked on a weekly basis for the crime of trying to do right by a horribly troubled city. While the Reporter almost single-handedly led to former Mayor Aniello’s indictment and conviction on election fraud (accepting a $40,000 sweetheart “loan” from a Niagara County businessman), it has nothing at all negative to say about Maziarz and the allegations against him. Any other pol would be savagely pilloried. 

Either way, Mike Hudson moved 3,000 miles away, and although his byline occasionally appears in the Reporter, he’s divested himself from any Niagara or WNY worry. 

Oh, and there’s also this, from Maziarz’s latest campaign disclosure

You know, when I was writing nice things about Jon Powers, it was because I supported him and his platform. I gave money to him – not the other way around. 

Awful Endorsements for an Awful Primary Day: #WNYVotes

Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough! First things first.

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as such. They have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. All endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions.

Secondly, here is audio of a podcast I recorded with Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly and Trending Buffalo‘s Brad Riter. In it, we discuss the primary, the state of (mostly) Democratic politics in WNY, and how we got to this awful place.

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/TB09-09-13primary1.mp3

Thirdly, here is some background. Jeremy Zellner defeated Frank Max last year in a hotly contested race for chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee – a win that was ultimately challenged in court, where Zellner’s win was upheld. Since then, Max and a group of dissident Democrats commonly affiliated with former party chair Steve Pigeon have turned their dissidence from passive neglect to active sabotage; chaos for chaos’ sake, as there is very little chance of success and barely any upside whatsoever.

The Mascot for the WNY Progressive Caucus PAC (not real)

In just the last two weeks, the Pigeon faction has created a brand new political action committee called the “WNY Progressive Caucus PAC“. It is operated by Kristy Mazurek, funded by Steve Pigeon, Frank Max, and Senator Tim Kennedy, and has as its spokesman a young Pigeon protege originally from Genesee County.

Typically, these sorts of things used to fly well under the radar, but this year it got blown wide open when a Buffalo News freedom of information request traced inflammatory mailers in two county legislature races to this new entity. Since then, the organization has been effectively outed, as it has begrudgingly (and arguably incompletely) disclosed donor and payee information, showing over $100,000 going in and out of the PAC in just about a week in support of certain Democratic candidates not backed by the party committee.

In addition, the PAC was found to be behind mailers that were sent throughout Niagara Falls in support of one city councilman who is working to halt progress on a prospective hotel project that Buffalo businessman Mark Hamister has proposed. The defamatory mailing went so far as to accuse Hamister of being a criminal.

If you want to get into deep background, consider this: when Max and Zellner squared off against each other for the chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee, conventional wisdom was that Governor Cuomo was backing Max. When Max lost, conventional wisdom was that Cuomo’s people were continuing to back Max against Zellner, and that relations were chilly between Zellner and the Governor.

But a lot has changed in the last year, and the Governor is just fine, thank you, with Zellner, and Max has not been seen with Cuomo as much in recent months, if at all.

To make matters worse, the PAC’s mailer in the Falls was so inflammatory that Hamister was about to pull out of the deal altogether until Governor Cuomo called all parties to intervene and save it. I wonder what Cuomo thinks of Frank Max now that his PAC almost destroyed a development project in a city starved for them?

So, we turn to the races. These are Democratic primaries, mostly in Erie County. I don’t really care about the fusion parties, or whatever the Republicans might be up to.

COUNTYWIDE

Erie County Sheriff (BERT DUNN)

None of this matters if we don’t first come to an agreement on what incumbent Sheriff Tim Howard is. He is looking for a third term, and has been nothing but a bitter embarrassment and disappointment. When he wasn’t screwing up the Joan Diver search or letting Ralph “Bucky” Philips escape from custody, he was catching the attention of the federal Department of Justice due to conditions at the county holding centers. Howard needs to go.

Bert Dunn is the scion to the Bert’s Bikes empire, and his family also founded Dunn Tire. This means he can operate a campaign that is completely self-funded and reliant on nobody. Why is this important? Because Richard Dobson – a nice guy who retired over a decade ago – has no money at his disposal, and there won’t be a lot coming his way. The only way Howard goes is against a credibly well-funded challenger.

The last two Democrats to take Howard on – Fieramusca and Glascott – lost because they were retirees with little money and no political experience. Dobson may be the best guy in the world, but he is exactly like the last two challengers. Democrats need to try something different this time, and Bert Dunn helps them accomplish that.

Dobson allies will point out that Dunn wrote something mean about Obama and Cuomo in a text message to a friend. Who cares? Being Sheriff isn’t about partisan politics or whether Obama is great. It’s about competence, justice, and professionalism, and I have no reason to doubt that Dunn could bring that to the table.

COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Certain races will be closely watched because it takes one seat to flip the Democratic majority into a Republican one. That one seat doesn’t necessarily mean a Republican pickup, by the way – there are at least four nominal “Democrats” vying for a seat, any one or all of whom would gladly strike a deal to share power with the Republicans, just like under Barbara Miller-Williams period of dysfunction and collaboration.

District 1 (TIMOTHY HOGUES)

Tim Hogues is the incumbent. Hogues is chairman of the public safety committee and has helped to restore all the Collins cuts to libraries, rodent control, and a soon to open clinic on Broadway. Hogues is a rising star in the party and someone to watch. Barbara Miller-Williams sold out her party and her community to do Chris Collins’ bidding back in 2009. The de facto Republican legislative majority over which she presided was devastating to her constituents, and she was so politically inept that she approved the redistricting plan that ended up costing her re-election. She is being materially supported by the Max/Mazurek/Pigeon PAC, which has launched a vicious smear campaign against Hogues for having the audacity to act in exactly the way a legislator in a regional governmental entity should act.

District 2 (BETTY JEAN GRANT)

Rumor has it that Tim Kennedy’s $45,000 donation to the Max/Mazurek/Pigeon PAC is revenge for Grant coming very close to unseating him in the state Senate through a write-in campaign last year. Democrat Grant is still smarting over how Kennedy conspired with Steve Pigeon, Barbara Miller-Williams, and Chris Collins to deliver Collins a de facto Republican legislature. Betty Jean is a great advocate for her community, and deserves re-election.

District 7 (LYNN DEARMYER)

This is the Tom Mazur district. This is ground zero for the battle between the Democratic factions. The Pigeonistas are backing former Cheektowaga Councilman Rick Zydel. Zellner (although not the county committee) is backing Lynn Dearmyer, who ran for the seat in 2009. I went online to look and see what the candidates stand for. Zydel doesn’t even have a website where one can look at his platform. That by itself should disqualify him in this day and age. Dearmyer makes much of her personality and biography, and that stuff is all messed up and stuff, but doesn’t really explain what she’d do to change anything, or how she’d be different. Pat Burke also has a website, and it touts his background and achievements, as well. The “issues” section is pretty light, though. He definitely identifies some serious problems, but doesn’t quite get into specifics of any solutions.

Based on that, I would back Dearmyer or Burke. I think I would lean Dearmyer because the outgoing rep is backing her. But for the love of God, people, put some damn ideas up on the internet.

District 8 (WYNNIE FISHER)

So, again – the Pigeon people are backing Wes Moore. Remember that thing I wrote up a few paragraphs about not having a website? Sheesh, neither Moore nor Wynnie Fisher have any significant web presence. They are on Facebook, though. On Fisher’s page, I see her with Mark Poloncarz and Maria Whyte. On Moore’s page, I see an August 28th post from Kristy Mazurek thanking people for coming to a Moore shindig, indicating some form of involvement in the campaign. The problem with that is that Mazurek’s PAC came into existence on the 22nd, and she shouldn’t be coordinating between the PAC and the campaign. I suppose the definition of “coordination” is subject to some debate, but this sure as hell smells like it.

I don’t want another turncoat legislature that hands the body over to the Republicans. Fisher it is.

BUFFALO MAYOR (DEMOCRATIC PARTY): (NO ENDORSEMENT)

I’ve never endorsed Byron Brown before, and I’m not about to start. While Brown hasn’t delivered on the “progress”, as he claims, his challenger Bernie Tolbert has been all over the place in this race. Tolbert’s effort has been so weak that he didn’t just fail to define himself, he was such a nonentity that Brown didn’t find a need to try to define Tolbert, either. Tolbert said people “Believe in Bernie” but didn’t explain why, or for what. Tolbert offers up a choice without a rationale – yeah, Byron is terrible in a lot of ways; a caretaker mayor, but Tolbert only went as far as pointing that out, never giving voters a positive reason why they should choose him instead.

For me, President Obama’s visit – and the way each campaign used it – said it all. While Tolbert got out a quick one-liner about Obama mixing up Higgins and Brown, the Mayor used glowing things Obama said about Buffalo’s recent successes as the template for his own, positive, ad. It was as if Obama was not only endorsing Brown, but telling people that Brown was behind them all. It was the last nail in a coffin that only needed maybe 3.

(CONSERVATIVE PARTY): SERGIO RODRIGUEZ

Seriously, I hope all of the fusion parties go straight to hell, but you go to war with the army you have, not the one you want. Sergio Rodriguez is the Republican candidate who is also vying for the Conservative Party line. I would love for him to have it, because the only thing conservative about Byron Brown (whom that committee has endorsed) is his quiet passivity as mayor over the last two terms. I apologize for omitting this originally, but this is an excellent way to send a message to the “politics as usual” crowd that money and jobs don’t always rule the day. 

NIAGARA FALLS CITY COUNCIL

If you are fortunate enough to live in the Cataract City, and unfortunate enough to deal with its ever-crisis, then do yourself a favor, Democrat, and vote for Andrew Touma, Kristen Grandinetti, and Charles Walker. (It’s a vote-for-any-three election). I don’t know the first thing about them, but I have seen enough about Sam Fruscione in the last week to know that you should never, ever vote for him again for anything, ever.

Questions/comments & hate mail: buffalopundit[at]gmail.com

Follow along on Twitter.

Loanshark Politics and Other Things

Endorsements will come tomorrow both in text and by way of a Trending Buffalo podcast I’m recording with Brad Riter and Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly today. 

In the meantime,

1. Donn Esmonde is still an ass – whether he’s touting Congressman Brian Higgins being a good guy for agreeing with Donn Esmonde, and embracing “quicker, lighter, cheaper” on the waterfront – because “fast, big & grand” is never, ever something to which any community should aspire. Good enough is good enough in Goodenoughistan. Also, Preservationist Tom Yots is a great guy because he’s going to help save a church that all of you – yes you – suburb dwellers single-handedly decimated with your flight from the neighborhood. 

2. Paul Wolf says that Niagara Falls’ trouble troika are being reasonable by asking questions about developer Mark Hamister’s $25 million + plan to develop a mixed-use hotel development near the Falls State Park. 

Asking questions is one thing. From everything I’ve heard from people who have been involved in politics for a long, long time, this city government is uniquely dysfunctional and corrupt. So much so that it makes any other dysfunctional and corrupt government entity look like Switzerland by comparison.

The reason why an appraisal is stupid here is that the city got the land for free, because there’s nothing on it whatsoever, and because it is surrounded by squalor, vacancies, and something that looks like it was airlifted from Fordham Road in the Bronx. The Falls are a couple of blocks away, but the culinary institute (which is not promoted in any way on any approach to the city) is directly across the street.

This is a city that has ceded acres of prime real estate to a NYC-based land speculator who is still patiently waiting to actually do something, and thus leaving acres of prime real estate empty and unattractive.

Niagara Falls Redevelopment redevelops nothing, and these three clowns sit there and ask nothing. Hamister comes to town (he owns and operates hotels, btw) with a plan and all they have to do is sell him a parcel of land for $100k and they get actual redevelopment.

Let’s kill that. Clearly, empty lots and vacant haunted wax museums are the highest and best uses for property in and around the neglected flash cube.

3. Marc Odien does a pretty good job connecting a lot of the disparate dots underscoring this season’s political double-dealing and corruption. It’s all about who gets to pick whom for patronage jobs, and it’s about bad people kicking money back to each other. This comes from the Facebook page of Falls Mayor Paul Dyster (I’ve shortened the links): 

One more time from the top if you missed links from the previous posts:

Top petitioner for Fruscione was Louis D. Turchiarelli, 3248 Seneca Street, Apt. 10, West Seneca, NY 14224. Six sheets of 25 each on 6/29-30.

On petitioner Louis: http://bit.ly/14y7HD5http://bit.ly/1ajCJO6

And on pollster father Don: http://bit.ly/17PpXCF

Father, son and firm Gia Consulting use same address.

Payment to Gia Consulting (could be for petitioning, push polling or both) from Sam Fruscione from 32 day pre-primary report ($1k): http://bit.ly/1evdpY6

Anderson and Chooklokian also use Gia.

Payment to Gia Consulting from WNY Progressive Caucus from 11-day pre-primary ($4k): http://bit.ly/15PP738

3248 Seneca St.–same address as Turchiarelli used on petitions.

From prisoner locator website: http://1.usa.gov/18OD8Vl : Served two years and was fined $1,500.

In case you didn’t click any of them

A man who had been active in Buffalo politics was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison for threatening physical violence to collect a Rochester gambling debt.

Louis D. Turchiarelli, 38, of California Street, pleaded guilty to using extortion to collect an extension of credit. FBI agents arrested him last year after learning of threats against a Rochester man who owed $18,000 to bookmakers.

A former professional boxer, Turchiarelli had been a longtime Democratic Party activist in Buffalo before his legal problems. He resigned as the party’s West Side zone chairman about two months after his arrest. In September 2005, he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Erie County legislator in the 6th District. He also lost a 2003 primary contest for Niagara District Common Council member.

A federal judge in Rochester sentenced Turchiarelli to two years in prison and ordered him to pay a $1,500 fine, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey said.

The three responsible question-askers on the Niagara Falls city council are retaining the professional services of convicts. Good government, it’s not. 

Everybody’s Awful Everywhere (Niagara Edition)

Up in Niagara Falls, a deal with businessman Mark Hamister to build an admittedly boring and dull hotel in the beleaguered city is in danger of being killed by the city’s own council. One of the most vocal critics of a deal that has zero downside for the city is Sam Fruscione. Recently, an ugly mailer accusing Hamister of being a criminal has been hitting mailboxes. Who’s behind it? The usual suspects. What’s Fruscione got to say about it? Nothing; defamation is apparently his thing.

The Buffalo News’ Brink Blog has images of the mailer in question.

Image via the Brink Blog

A $25-ish million development in a city with little of it, and it would bring not just a hotel but retail and residential space, as well – it’s just this side of being aborted altogether. The state would be kicking in $3 million in incentives, and the city gets $100,000 for the derelict property, a new taxpaying entity, and a less horrible area around the state park. The city council, however, is holding out for a $2 million figure for the land parcel – pretty much the opposite of the NFTA selling the state most of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor for $2.00. The city, meanwhile, only owns the land because developer David Cordish gifted it on his way out of town. The development is so important to the the state that Governor Cuomo personally intervened to save it from what appeared yesterday to be imminent death. It should be noted that Hamister’s bid was selected pursuant to a request for proposals that USA Niagara put out.

The mailer above shills for councilman Sam Fruscione and calls a would-be Falls hotelier a “con man” – a criminal.

Pretty mild and simple questions from Mary Alice Demler sent Fruscione into a fit.

As you might have learned over the past week, when it comes to inflammatory and false, libelous mailers, the Mazurek/Pigeon/Kennedy “WNY Progressive Caucus” is likely behind it. A PAC created a week ago and miraculously generated over $100,000 in funding, forced by the media to disclose itself. Its spokesman is a failed candidate for Batavia city council who has been a protege of Steve Pigeon’s since then, where he parlayed a stint as an intern with then-Assemblyman Mark Schroeder into working a patronage job at the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

The Fruscione mailer Mazurek’s group produced, seen above, has a glaring typographical error, and as it accuses Hamister of being a criminal, one has to wonder whether they think Fruscione is running against Hamister? What the hell makes Hamister a “con man”? His company’s track record of developing and operating hotels?  The fact that his company will be ponying up $25 million or so for this project, and that it’s probably none of the city’s business how Hamister raises those funds? In what way is it a good idea for a PAC supporting a councilman – a councilman who would not denounce the likely defamatory mailer sent to support his re-election – to accuse a prospective developer of committing fraud in a city well-known for being a corrupt hellhole?

Also, one should make the connection that state Senator Tim Kennedy personally endorses calling Mark Hamister a “con man”, since his campaign account is one of the largest donors to the WNY Progressive Caucus. I wonder what Senator George Maziarz, who represents Niagara Falls, thinks of that.

Long ago, when Steve Pigeon went to war against then-Assemblyman Sam Hoyt during his primary battle against Barbra Kavanaugh, the advertisements against Hoyt were so outrageous and inflammatory that the entire attempt backfired. Instead of being angry at Hoyt’s dalliances with Albany interns, voters took pity on him and his family and he cruised to victory. I called it the “Kavanaugh Flip” – that moment when negative ads actually generate sympathy for their intended victim.

In 2008, Pigeon teamed up with billionaire Tom Golisano to form “Responsible New York”, and ask Kathy Konst, Joe Mesi, and Barbra Kavanaugh how effective it was. You could also ask convicted felon Pedro Espada and convicted girlfriend batterer Hiram Monseratte.

It’s the same as it ever was with Pigeon, though. Consider this exchange Jim Heaney published in 2008:

The attack flyer from Mothers and Fathers [Demanding Answers] uses the same bulk mail permit as … Responsible New York.

Sloppy, sloppy.

Pigeon did a lot of ducking and weaving when I called to inquire.

I asked him what he knows about Mothers and Fathers Demanding Answers.

“I’m not going to comment,” Pigeon said. “I’m sure they will file their independent committee status, if it’s not filed already.”

Gee, Steve, how do you know they’re required to do so?

“I would assume, I don’t know that they do.”

Pigeon then resorted to the mantra he repeated throughout the balance of the interview.

“Everything we’re doing is within the law.”

Followed by:

“We’re not coordinating with the [Barbra] Kavanaugh campaign.”

How does he explain Mothers and Fathers using the same bulk mail permit as Responsible New York?

“Independent committees can work together under the law.”

So, you’re working with them, right?

“I think it will all come out in the reports.”

Is this the dirtiest campaign he’s been involved in?

“I don’t think this one is dirty.”

OK, Steve.

Pigeon went to lengths to vent his outrage over reports that Hoyt had sex with a member of the Assembly staff. This is the same Steve Pigeon who has been an unwavering loyalist to Bill and Hillary Clinton through thick and thin, including the Big Dog’s sexual escapades with intern Monica Lewinski.

I guess you could say Pigeon is practicing situational ethics. Among other things.

There’s con going on in Niagara Falls, alright. But it’s not coming from the guy who is trying to develop a parking lot near a natural wonder.

Easy Money

niagara falls

Photo by William Smyers via Flickr AV Photo Daily Group

Dearest Friend,

My name is Mr.Samuel Frank; I am the son of the former minister of finance for the Lord Mayor of the City of Niagara Falls (USA). I am contacting you for a business transfer of a huge sum of money from a deceased account. 

Though know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that every document that will bring about the success of this transaction will be provided by an attorney here in Niagara Falls, and all will be well at the end of the day.  I decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction.

My father, the deceased person who died; died in a lorry accident while he held a cheque for US$89 millions in his personal pocket. I retrieved the cheque. 

Since his death, I have fled to Lome, Togo, but cannot cash the cheque in my possession because of the different modalities of bankings here. Your American NSA is tracking my every move and mobile phone activities.  We cannot release the fund from this cheque unless someone applies for claim as the next-of-kin to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines.

Upon this discovery, I now seek your assistance to stand as a next of kin to the deceased, as all documentations will be carefully worked to make you the beneficiary to the funds $89,000,000 USD which will be released in your favor as the next of kin, Because after twenty days the money will be called back to the bank bond treasury as unclaimed bills and the money shared amongst the directors of the bank.

So it is on this note I decided to seek for whom his name shall be used as the next of kin/beneficiary to this funds rather than allow the bank directors to share this money amongst them at the end of the year. It may interest you to know that we have secured from the probate an order of mandamus to locate any of the deceased beneficiaries.

Please acknowledge receipt of this message in acceptance of our mutual business endeavor by furnishing me with the following information if you are interested.

Your Full Name:_____________________
Your Complete Address:________________________
Name of City of Residence:________________________
Date of Birth (Day/Month/Year):__________________
Your occupation:____________________________
Direct Telephone Number: ____________________
Mobile Number: ____________________________
Fax Number:___________________________________

For our personal contact and mutual trust in each other I shall be compensating you with 50% of the above amount on final conclusion of this project for your assistance with bank modalities, and the balance 50% shall be for me, because I intend to retire after the conclusion of this transaction.

If this proposal is acceptable by you, please endeavor to contact me immediately. Do not take undue advantage of the trust I have bestowed in you, I await your urgent mail now to my private email richardson_frank@msn.co.uk

Best Regards,

Mr.Samuel.Frank

Niagara Falls Error Suspects

Friday in Niagara Falls, this happened


Two Guys from Massachusetts Drive to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned…

Storified by Alan Bedenko· Fri, Apr 19 2013 11:28:01

Falls and the State Police have shut down Elmwood and 19th in the city while the State Police’s "robot" checks out a suspicious car.Niagara Gazette
BREAKING NEWS – 2 RUSSIAN NATIONALS PULLED OVER IN NIAGARA FALLS, 4 SUSPICIOUS BACKPACKS IN THE TRUNK. BOMB SQUAD AND FBI HEADING IN! WGRZ.911 Operator
Latest WTF RT @WGRZ: Police: 2 Russian nationals pulled over in Niagara Falls; 4 suspicious backpacks in car, robot & bomb techs on scene.jimgeraghty
FBI joint terrorism task force working with NYSP in the Falls @WGRZ go to WGRZ.com for latestHeather Ly
Suspicious car with Mass. plates being investigated fb.me/23nxWmG6NNiagara Gazette
RT @WGRZ: Police source: 2 Russian nationals pulled over in Niagara Falls; 4 suspicious backpacks in the car, robot & bomb techs on scene.jmartpolitico
What’s the difference between a backpack and a suspicious backpack? @WGRZ @NiagaraGazetteAlan Bedenko
UPDATE: Large police presence around vehicle on Elmwood & 19th in #NiagaraFalls. Car has Mass. plates. Unsure if connected to #Boston.WGRZ
Police are interviewing two Turkish brothers who drove into Niagara Falls this morning in a vehicle with Massachusetts plates.The Buffalo News
Caution tan people with Mass plates: lay low today.Alan Bedenko
So, Niagara Falls car with "2 Russian nationals" "suspicious backpacks" & Mass plates is really 2 Turkish guys. @WGRZ @NiagaraGazetteAlan Bedenko
Source says activity in #NiagaraFalls is routine traffic stop. vehicle has Mass. plates. Extensive search out of caution. Nothing found yetWGRZ
Russian, Turkish. Same difference. @WGRZAlan Bedenko
Residents near Elmwood & 19th Ave. in #NiagaraFalls asked to stay inside as police search vehicle with Mass. plates.WGRZ
State Police has bomb detection unit at 19th & Elmwood in #NiagaraFalls. Nothing found yet. Scene remains calm.WGRZ
BEING SWARTHY, HAVING MASS PLATES TO GO SEE NIAGARA FALLS IS NOW PROBABLE CAUSE.Alan Bedenko
Scene from 19th and Elmwood in the falls @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/J2aCAt1l1DHeather Ly
Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said two men are being detained as Falls and State Police… fb.me/wvePZfGYNiagara Gazette
UPDATE: 2 men in custody as investigation into Mass. car continues in Falls fb.me/2DH3ygEJeNiagara Gazette
Troopers say two people in vehicle were NOT armed, are cooperating, pulled over by NFPD acting on tip from resident @WGRZHeather Ly
Turkish-American sightseeing brothers from Massachusetts arrested in Niagara Falls, police suspect they did not "click it".Alan Bedenko
Police in #NiagaraFalls telling residents to move 100 feet back from vehicle with Mass. plates. Scene remains calmWGRZ
Look! @WGRZ has found two more "suspicious" Russians! Here is a photo: img.ly/ueho @ChrisSmithAV @BuffaloPunditJosh Potter
BREAKING: Possible photo of Turkish man pulled over in Niagara Falls. api.monosnap.com/image/download…Alan Bedenko
This just in, @WGRZ has photos of Niagara Falls suspects. moviesmedia.ign.com/movies/image/a… @J_Potter @buffalopundit @trendingbuffaloChristopher Smith
Mayor Paul Dyster on the car investigation: "There are many rumors circulating, none of which are based on fact…. fb.me/2mmxFCPSmNiagara Gazette
Updated story from Niagara Falls, where two brothers of Turkish ancestry were stopped this morning: bit.ly/11qTsrOThe Buffalo News
tow truck pulled up to car in Niagara falls, command unit now blocking view. ATF NYSP NFPD all here. Public moved back a block .@wgrzDave McKinley
Robot now being used to approach suspicious car w/ Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls..@wgrzDave McKinley
State police "robot" is still investigating car from Massachusetts. Press and bystanders have now been moved down… fb.me/2Dzj22FCONiagara Gazette
UPDATE from #NiagaraFalls: Robot removed backpack, pillow & clear plastic bag of objects from suspicious car. Now opening passenger doorWGRZ
UPDATE: Bomb squad continues to investigate Massachusetts car as crowd is pushed back fb.me/2TQnEiPAGNiagara Gazette
#NiagaraFalls update: Robot removed 2nd backpack from vehicle w/Mass plates. Also took out a pillow & plastic bag of objects.WGRZ
.@wgrz robot drops 2nd backpack removed from car w/Mass plates in NF. Papers blowing all over. Earlier, robot ran over 1st backpack. WhoopsDave McKinley
Niagara Falls bomb robot cannot handle Kafka-esque municipal ennui, detonates itself, video at 11.Christopher Smith
Bomb Robot elected Mayor of Niagara Falls, promptly indicted. #niagarafallsbombrobotAlan Bedenko
Police say suspicious packages have been removed from the Massachusetts car on Elmwood. "I have seen at least 3 or… fb.me/zOETdAhRNiagara Gazette
Police add that the two men being detained are cooperating with authorities.Niagara Gazette
.@wgrz removed from stopped carw/Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls by police robot so far: 2 backpacks, 2 sleeping bags, 1 satchel, 1 plastic bagDave McKinley
Suspicious packages removed from Massachusetts car; detained men cooperating with authorities fb.me/yIFncGe5Niagara Gazette
#NiagaraFalls police say they have NOT found anything suspicious in the packages removed from car with Mass. plates. Still searching trunk.WGRZ
"So far, everything is going good," police at scene say of packages removed from Massachusetts car. Investigators… fb.me/2aP2nx2qsNiagara Gazette
.@wgrz fully donned bomb squad member now inspecting items removed from vehicle w/Mass plates in #NiagaraFalls. Put a device over one itemDave McKinley
A member of the State Police bomb squad is now investigating the Massachusetts car. He’s opened the driver’s-side… fb.me/AQqSznyaNiagara Gazette
PIC from #NiagaraFalls: Several items removed from car are on sidewalk pic.twitter.com/kqZcNNUe7SWGRZ
LIVE: News conference in #NiagaraFalls on car with Mass. plates stopped at 19th & Elmwood on.wgrz.com/17LAsuqWGRZ
Police officials say nothing found in Mass. Car in Niagara Falls but paper and clothingWGRZ
#NiagaraFallsRobot is now new spokeman for @WGRZ’s annual 2PackABackPack campaignChristopher Smith
Police only saying two men are in 20s, traveling to visit WNY, cited with failure to stop at stop sign, use turn signal @WGRZHeather Ly

The Niagara Falls Reporter and Gynophobia

Michael Calleri was, until recently, the film critic for the Niagara Falls Reporter. Last week, Roger Ebert published an eye-opening article that Calleri penned, explaining why his association with the Reporter had recently ended

As recently as five years ago, the Reporter was not just a well-respected paper, but one that outperformed the Niagara Gazette in exposing crime, graft, and scandal in the Niagara Frontier. The paper underwent a deep change in 2008 as it began becoming the story, rather than reporting stories. Its publisher was pushed out and at least one reporter – Dave Staba – left and the entire operation became clouded in accusations and countercharges of journalistic and financial irresponsibility.  That descent was further exacerbated by its founding editor’s alcoholism; he has since moved to California, gone to rehab, and rediscovered the joy of music.

The Reporter‘s transformation from a must-read into a trainwreck was completed when a new publisher acquired it a few years ago. Frank Parlato is no stranger to western New York political writing, nor to scandal. Former Buffalo-area columnist for the Buffalo Beat/Blue Dog and AltPress, Dick Kern, wrote numerous columns accusing Parlato of having run a massive house-flipping operation on Buffalo’s east side. Kern alleged that Parlato would buy dilapidated homes, make minor cosmetic improvements, engage in a bait-and-switch to a worse home, find lenders, and the new homeowners would be stuck with homes in need of serious repairs that they could ill afford.  

Parlato, Illuzzi, Tony Farina, and Glenn Gramigna were like the four nebbishy horsemen of paid advertorial phony journalism in the late 90s and early aughts, and they’re still at it. Illuzzi’s dead, but the other three are still, to this day, writing for each other’s various ventures. More often than not, they’re merely parroting others’ talking points, acting as useful idiots for different politicians’ agendas. Parlato, however, has become the story in Niagara Falls with his constant antagonism with the state, city, and Seneca Nation over his recent ownership and operation of the depressing “One Niagara” flashcube building near the Rainbow Bridge; Hooker/Oxy’s former local offices. He ran into trouble with taxes, and then complained that he was being treated differently than the tax-free Senecas. He wasn’t holding the tax money in escrow in order to make a legal point; he just paid them whenever he felt like it. 

Parlato’s opaque real estate experience aside, he now publishes and “edits” a weekly newspaper. In the short time Parlato has run the Niagara Falls Reporter, it has accelerated its descent into irrelevance; a shadow of its former muckracking self. For his part, Parlato holds archaic, shocking opinions about women in contemporary American society. To call it misogyny isn’t strong enough; it’s gynophobia. Calleri’s article highlights Parlato’s gynophobia, goes into some detail about Reporter founder Mike Hudson’s west coast whereabouts, and the paper’s slow devolution into an outlet for a group of people with money and hateful agendas. 

Back in July, the Reporter made national news by publishing what amounted to hate speech by its “sports columnist” Lenny Palumbo.

I wrote about that episode here, and explained that, “[t]he ways in which the passage above is offensive are many, but to suggest that gays are not manly, or are emasculated; and to contrast the desirability of fighting versus homosexuality are idiotic and ignorant. Chances are, there are plenty of gay guys who could beat the living crap out of the author, so I fail to see the validity of the argument.

Since that paper got a new publisher with a regressive attitude towards women and who expounds on “manliness”, this sort of thing is to be expected.

Expected, indeed. Calleri’s article details that Parlato began censoring his movie reviews; removing some, refusing to post new ones. Parlato explained why in a shocking email to Calleri (all [sic]). 

Michael; I know you are committed to writing your reviews, and put a lot of effort into them. it is important for you to have the right publisher. i may not be it. i have a deep moral objection to publishing reviews of films that offend me. snow white and the huntsman is such a film. when my boys were young i would never have allowed them to go to such a film for i believe it would injure their developing manhood. if i would not let my own sons see it, why would i want to publish anything about it?

snow white and the huntsman is trash. moral garbage. a lot of fuzzy feminist thinking and pandering to creepy hollywood mores produced by metrosexual imbeciles. 

I don’t want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta.

where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females. 

i believe in manliness. 

not even on the web would i want to attach my name to snow white and the huntsman except to deconstruct its moral rot and its appeal to unmanly perfidious creeps. 

i’m not sure what headhunter has to offer either but of what I read about it it sounds kind of creepy and morally repugnant. 

with all the publications in the world who glorify what i find offensive, it should not be hard for you to publish your reviews with any number of these. 

they seem to like critiques from an artistic standpoint without a word about the moral turpitude seeping into the consciousness of young people who go to watch such things as snow white and get indoctrinated to the hollywood agenda of glorifying degenerate power women and promoting as natural the weakling, hyena -like men, cum eunuchs. 

the male as lesser in courage strength and power than the female. 

it may be ok for some but it is not my kind of manliness. 

If you care to write reviews where men act like good strong men and have a heroic inspiring influence on young people to build up their character (if there are such movies being made) i will be glad to publish these. 

i am not interested in supporting the reversing of traditional gender roles. 

i don’t want to associate the Niagara Falls Reporter with the trash of Hollywood and their ilk. 

it is my opinion that hollywood has robbed america of its manliness and made us a nation of eunuchs who lacking all manliness welcome in the coming police state. 

now i realize that you have a relationship with the studios etc. and i would have been glad to have discussed this in person with you to help you segue into another relationship with a publication but inasmuch as we spent 50 minutes on the phone from paris i did not want to take up more of your time. 

In short i don’t care to publish reviews of films that offend me. 

if you care to condemn the filmmakers as the pandering weasels that they are…. true hyenas.

i would be interested in that….

Frank

Weird. Weirder still is that it’s an email that a newspaper publisher in western New York wrote to his film critic. But all the talk of eunuchs, weasels, hyena-men – “manliness“. That’s the central theme. Do you spend a whole lot of time worrying about your “manliness” or anyone else’s “manliness”? I don’t much consider whether society is friendly or antagonistic to “manliness”, and I’m not at all threatened by females or feminism. 

Not so, Parlato. In fact, demanding that females be subservient to man is his very ethos. 

A few years ago, I first became aware of a Parlato-run site called “Manmaking.com“. It went away for a time, but it’s back online now, with a bizarre image:

Click to enlarge

I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. 

But if you go into Archive.org’s waybackmachine, you can find what Parlato’s “Manmaking” site is really about. Parlato is a follower of a turn-of-the-last-century guru named Swami Vivekananda, who apparently wrote much about “manliness“, and who practiced a form of celibacy known as “brahmacharya“. This practice doesn’t just demand abstinence from sexual contact or activity; it more specifically prohibits any voluntary release of semen. Through mental discipline, the adherent is supposed to reach a state whereby he loses all sexual desire, and keeping his semen inside him is supposed to make him more spiritual or holy or some such nonsense. 

Like his hero Vivekananda, Parlato has a “condescending” “contempt” for contemporary women. Whereas the Swami was upset at Hindu women’s lack of independence, Parlato has more specifically adopted the “ideal of the de-eroticized woman as a mother figure and [condemns] the sexual female as an ogre and an exteriorizing and fettering element – an impediment to the realization of the divine.” 

 On the front page of the former Manmaking.com is the following introductory passage (all [sic]): 

Are you unmanly, cowardly, weak? This site may help you to be strong, to preserve the manly fire within, to look upward, to hold your breath, and gain strength, to go out into the world with absolute courage, to shut off that filthy television set which promotes effiminate behavior, to stop looking inordinately at the body of woman with greedy, weak and sickening lustful eyes and be a man, a giver of strength to one and all. Be chaste and come and rule nature, inner and outer.

Are you depressed, lacking in vigor, failing to succeed? Then stop your filthy habits at once. Stop groveling at the feet of woman. Banish this weakness of the knees. A brave man never bends the knees. Be celibate. Be chaste, and you’ll never be weak.

Parlato has a big problem with popular culture and the way in which it promotes “coward-dog” behavior over the “manly”. Here, Parlato compared song lyrics for their relative manliness. Some of the worst songs include “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones, James Brown’s “Sex Machine”, and especially the Kinks’ “Lola”. Parlato reprints some of the lyrics and then intersperses them with his own commentary. For instance, 

In 1996, he did a similar “analysis” of Green Day lyrics in the pages of the Buffalo News. By contrast, decent lyrics include “Jingle Jangle Jingle” (the protagonist likes being single), “I Love You” by Cole Porter, “Volare” by Domenico Modugno, and a few songs by the Beatles and Elton John.  The manliest man lyrics, however, include “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head”, and that’s it. B.J. Thomas’ 1970 hit is the manliest song in existence because the protagonist won’t cry or something

What is a man? The website merely contains two Schopenhauer quotes; one about women, one about fatherhood. On the issue of brahmacharya, Parlato explains why the voluntary release of seminal fluid is bad

Continence is the essence of spiritual life. ‘Of all austerities, the practice of continence is supreme. He who practices it is verily a god, not a man.’ The illumined knowledge of Brahman comes naturally to a person who practices continence for thirty-two years. He who wastes this energy falls from the spiritual path and becomes dissipated.

A walk through the anachronistic depravity of Parlato’s manmaking site reveals why he rejected Calleri’s review of “Snow White and the Huntsman”. Women are to be subservient and controlled by men. Parlato rejects any notion of a strong female who isn’t controlled and “beta” to her “alpha” male. Permitting women to exercise their rights, their brains, and their individuality isn’t “courageous” or “manly”. The “hyena” reference in Parlato’s email to Calleri? Manmaking.com explains what that means. Following this link, Parlato tried to use animals at the Buffalo Zoo to construct a metaphor for his thinking. Parlato was impressed by the lions’ patriarchy:

So little time has passed when men were pridefully compared to lions. But what the eviscerators failed to note as they came mincingly to our town, and to our nation and told how we are diminished, our manly strength of little purpose, our values: to be less of courage, than lust, the metro-sexual’s effeminate ideal: to trade dignity and freedom for safety and comfort – as they tried to tame the wild, there is a place beyond where it cannot be so. Where it is never so: There is a home for heroes.

In answer to the lioness’s last stupendous roar, he but looked it seemed to the tip of his nose.  This was after all a lion. Then he dropped his voice a full octave lower than her last and roared a lion’s roar that shook the night. Easily too it overwhelmed all the other roars before it and broke the stillness as if it was a bombshell exploding. The sound rustled through the trees, out into to the tame, and urban landscape — orderly, effete, dissipated — and called, “remember me? Remember?

At the Buffalo zoo at dusk, a lion roared lower and loudest, beyond what any lioness could have equaled. 
And if it were the silent night, in places where lions run free, it would have echoed across the windswept veldt, down the rushing river, to be carried to the sea where all things merge. It would have been known to the wild:  a lion is on the move tonight. 

Nothing complete until the king had spoken, the lioness seemed satisfied with his final roar. She was now silence, herself. There was no more roaring – as if he had given the final satisfactory answer.

But the Hyenas – they are ruled by the females:  

Earlier that day, I had seen hyenas in a pen where females rule. With final yelp they nip their weaker mates and bloody them. In the kingdom of the lion, there is no yelping. Nor does he tremble at noises. 

In the silence, below the clouds, obscured by darkness, obscuring the silver, lonely stars, and obscured in turn by leaves of trees, whether maple or the banyan, spreading branches blended into night, satisfied, I turned to go. 

Each is great unto himself, no doubt, yet to me, it is the lion. Never hyenas. Although gathering in packs around us, remember, it takes but one lion to stave them all off. 

I shall meditate on the lion’s heart tonight.

Pro forma: Parlato is free, of course, to believe whatever he wants. Absent physical or mental abuse, he is free to think whatever he wants of women and feminism, however archaic or offensive. Indeed, he is free to run his newspaper however he wants and to print whatever he wants in there. Certainly the Constitution prohibits the government from in any way interfering with what he prints, but the community in western New York should know who’s printing what “news” in the Niagara Falls ReporterHis conceit is so strong, he runs a website called “Journalism101”, consisting mostly of paid full-page advertisements he took out in the Reporter to advance his agendas before he bought the paper outright.

Parlato has completely taken over the Reporter, and has even begun printing certain Vivekananda writings each week. His latest issue prints some hateful non-sequitur about Lady Gaga, complete with made-up “quotes” from the singer, and the author’s fixation on semen. It should hardly come as a surprise that Parlato’s cover story last week included interviews with three crack-addicted prostitutes – women who are mentally and physically dependent on substances; on men. Women who are at the lowest societal rung where, as Parlato believes, they belong.

Within Ebert’s article’s comments section, Parlato (apparently) assails Calleri

I don’t know what any of this has to do with running a newspaper or journalism. It seems to me to be proselytization, using the Reporter‘s former good name and reputation as cover. Calleri’s revelations about Parlato and the Reporter may come as a shock to some. Unfortunately, Parlato’s gynophobia is nothing new, and deeply ingrained in his belief system. Now that he owns a newspaper, look forward to seeing him use it to proselytize against women, feminism, and “cowardly” “dog” men. He’s already begun.

Niagara Falls’ Last Ditch Effort

Rainbow II

Rainbow II by Flickr User Nykino

Attention recent college graduates: Niagara Falls wants you!

Desperate for its population to stay above 50,000, Niagara Falls is starting a modest pilot program – using Federal urban renewal funds – to attract 20 young recent college graduates to come live there for at least two years in a particular area of the city near the Seneca Niagara Casino.  After a year of residency, each would receive $3,500 for student loan payments. 

Industry has been leaving the city for decades, and economic activity on the American side of the Falls is hamstrung by a chicken/egg scenario: tourists don’t much leave the state park because of the blight, and the blight won’t improve unless people go downtown or leave the casino and spend money. The News article about this program says city leaders want to create an “Elmwood Avenue North” relying on recent grads to attract the sorts of business at which they’d spend money.

Niagara University is considering opening a downtown branch, and the NCCC Culinary Institute is under construction, ready to bring another 500 students to downtown when it opens. 

It’s an innovative subsidy, and perhaps a sign of desperation, but Niagara Falls, NY has been in desperate straits for a very long time indeed – a city known now as the dowdy American comparative to the attractive, bustling, gorgeously maintained Canadian side; an America paved not with gold, but with depleted uranium

Attracting young employed people to, in essence, jump-start a gentrification of Niagara Falls may very well be that city’s last, best hope. 

After all, as much as any place in western New York, this place truly matters

Niagara Falls' Last Ditch Effort

Rainbow II

Rainbow II by Flickr User Nykino

Attention recent college graduates: Niagara Falls wants you!

Desperate for its population to stay above 50,000, Niagara Falls is starting a modest pilot program – using Federal urban renewal funds – to attract 20 young recent college graduates to come live there for at least two years in a particular area of the city near the Seneca Niagara Casino.  After a year of residency, each would receive $3,500 for student loan payments. 

Industry has been leaving the city for decades, and economic activity on the American side of the Falls is hamstrung by a chicken/egg scenario: tourists don’t much leave the state park because of the blight, and the blight won’t improve unless people go downtown or leave the casino and spend money. The News article about this program says city leaders want to create an “Elmwood Avenue North” relying on recent grads to attract the sorts of business at which they’d spend money.

Niagara University is considering opening a downtown branch, and the NCCC Culinary Institute is under construction, ready to bring another 500 students to downtown when it opens. 

It’s an innovative subsidy, and perhaps a sign of desperation, but Niagara Falls, NY has been in desperate straits for a very long time indeed – a city known now as the dowdy American comparative to the attractive, bustling, gorgeously maintained Canadian side; an America paved not with gold, but with depleted uranium

Attracting young employed people to, in essence, jump-start a gentrification of Niagara Falls may very well be that city’s last, best hope. 

After all, as much as any place in western New York, this place truly matters

On the Wings of Chickens

 

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

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