Paladino Homophobically Politicizes 419 Scam Letter

Here is the text of an email to supporters that Carl Paladino sent Wednesday evening: 

(See email from Glenda below)

Glenda, thank you for writing.  I would like to refer you to Congressman Brian Higgins.

Brian is the Congressman who was the first to jump on the bandwagon of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama to pass Obamacare.  He readily admits that he didn’t read the bill or understand the particulars of its terrible impact on his constituents.  He felt it was more important to illustrate to his moderate constituency that he had evolved to be his own man, arrogant, condescending and blindly allegiant to every and any liberal elitist cause.

Brian knows that people tend to forget his omissions because he is a dupe of the Buffalo News and they “take care” of him.

Of course Brian takes credit for removing the Thruway tolls on the I-190.  So what if he had absolutely nothing to do with it?  He’s a politician and for them it’s ok to lie and make stuff up.  He has to show his constituents that he does something for his paycheck.

Sure he was the motivator behind the unsightly paving of the entire outer harbor.  Too much green attracts bugs and he was trying to deal with the mosquito problem in his own simplistic way.

Many of his moderate constituents, including family members believe that he should be excommunicated for his acceptance and promotion of partial birth abortion, but why pick on him?  Others like Andrew Cuomo and Tim Kennedy also believe that it’s ok to kill a baby at birth.  He believes that a woman has a right to choose murder.

And as for the nonsensical talk that he killed the Bass Pro Project that would have brought an economic boom to downtown retail, he wasn’t alone.  Cowards like Brian have had a tough time facing down the likes of Stan Lipsey, Howard Zemsky and Jordon Levy, especially as in this case when they want to control the State subsidy money and use it for their own ends. For Stan Lipsey the thought of having rednecks with gun racks on their pickup trucks in his area of downtown was too much for the lame and arrogant liberal power broker.  Brian needs the Buffalo News to be on his side to get re-elected and Jordon Levy’s money to pay for his special desires. 

Glenda, Brian likes dancing on the edge for people of your persuasion. He likes to show people that he is not the cowardly planarian that one may think and that he does take responsibility for his actions and those of the stooges that work for him.  I’m sure he will love to hear from you.

– Carl Paladino

It’s typical vicious Paladino, spraying insult and invective every which-way with no real logical thread. Bass Pro, abortion, the Buffalo News, the Thruway, Obamacare – it’s a compendium of fairyland talk-radio outrages. The angry right-wing Buffalo id in all its glory. 

It also drips with a humorless, angry sarcasm. 

What did “Glenda” send to Carl that prompted this dull and predictable outburst? 

From: Glenda KessIer [mailto:glenda.kessler@hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 11:06 AM
Subject: hello

I am Mr. Glenda Kessler I was directed by your friend at gay site, I am gay, I am from United Kingdom and I want to relocate to your country for an investment project but I did not know how things is done in your country, because I am new, Please can you assist me, just to be my partner in the investment project and get 10% from total sum 1million USD. All I want is your guardians, kindly reply and I will give you more details. Waiting for your swift response.
Glenda. 

That’s right. It’s the opening missive of a 419 advance-fee scammer

Why would a 419 scam letter from someone who claims to be gay and to have been referred to Paladino from a “gay site” prompt Carl to immediately invoke Congressman Higgins’ name? Remember in an earlier post I asked, “What do you think Is the genesis of Paladino’s acute hatred and fear of homosexuals?” 

Seriously, this is getting ugly. 

Carl’s non-sequitur lunge at Higgins: is he accusing the Congressman of being gay or something? There is no other reasonable explanation. 

This is a person who gets glowing coverage in Buffalo media, and has actually been elected to a position of trust and authority over a troubled city school district. WTF are we doing? 

Gia Arnold’s Bizarre Wednesday

Gia Arnold is a 24 year-old wife and mother who decided in February to run for State Senate against George Maziarz. Introducing herself in her first Facebook post, she explained, 

That’s a nice introduction. She’s got a young family and a hard-working husband. Certainly, Ms. Arnold’s statements regarding high business taxes and “insurance” rates resonate with a lot of people, especially in the more economically depressed parts of the state.  Is this self-proclaimed libertarian suggesting that government intervene to affect private companies’ insurance rates, or is this about tort reform? Who knows? 

In her second post, she self-identifies as “working class” and laments the fact that the incumbent has been in office for 19 years, yet the burden on families and businesses continues to worsen. But it didn’t take long for this kind of crap to become the overarching – almost sole – focus of her campaign: guns

By March, she received the clown endorsement: 

And a few weeks ago, she showed up at an event wearing jewelry I haven’t seen at Reeds-Jenss. 

You get the idea. She knows her audience and she’s become expert at the fine art of pandering.

Maziarz’s Moreland Commission problems put SD-62 into play, and she suddenly found herself with a decent shot in a primary race against the mayor of North Tonawanda, Robert Ortt. She came out of nowhere, and her grassroots effort seemed to be paying dividends. 

Then, suddenly, she issued a bizarre statement in the middle of the night. She revealed that she had an extramarital affair that began less than two weeks ago, and made no apologies for it. She declared that she was quitting the race and gave out her personal cell phone number so that “constituents” could talk to her directly. (Ms. Arnold had never been elected to any public office and has no constituents). She was admitting to the affair out of sense of “integrity” and “honesty”. Laudable, but an answer to a question no one asked. Perhaps she was being blackmailed? Pressured? Or maybe she was just trying to wrest control of the narrative before anyone else got a hold of it. 

But quit the race? Who told her to do that? This isn’t a “people make mistakes” scenario – this is a “failed marriage ending”, and she doesn’t owe anyone any explanation about her personal affairs. If she wanted to control the message, then issue a press release at 4:59 on a Friday and let the news sink in over the weekend. Gauge the reaction and see whether you need to pivot on Monday. Instead, she threw the baby out with the bathwater, walking away from the campaign even though no one demanded that she do so. Her erstwhile supporter Rus Thompson’s reaction was to essentially say, “good riddance”

Albany, however, is a notoriously fetid cesspool. Gia Arnold – failed marriage and all – is small potatoes compared to what goes on there. She’s downright saintly compared to a lot of what goes on there. 

I don’t question her judgment viz. her extramarital affair because who cares; however, I think the hasty amateur-hour way in which she released the news and abruptly quit is evidence that her judgment is poor, and she’s not ready for prime-time. (As for the substance of her poorly articulated platform, let’s not even go there.) 

The news hit Wednesday morning. By mid-afternoon, she was on WBEN telling Tom Bauerle that she might reconsider dropping out, and, in an effort to further justify her new relationship and its affect on her campaign, spent extraordinary time and breath smearing her estranged husband. It went from odd to bizarre, as she explained how she started her affair on August 1st and decided to end her marriage by the 5th. 

A few weeks ago, when the Maziarz news hit, I paid some attention to her and found some ugly stuff on her Facebook page that she hadn’t called out; namely, one guy going ballistic because she appeared somewhere where they had gold fringe on the flag (there is a wackadoodle conspiracy theory that fringe means we’re under martial law or some bullshit), and this on her campaign page, in a discussion about a White House announcement regarding disappearing bees: 

To her credit, she addressed it and deleted the nonsense. So, I don’t think she’s malevolent – just very wrong on the issues and very, very inexperienced. 

She didn’t have to quit the race, and she should have been more diplomatic about her husband Wednesday on the air. I think those two things call her judgment into question and disqualify her from public office, at least for now. The flip-flop on “I’m quitting the race!” to “Never mind!” was simply comical. 

I think back to when I was 24 – I was in law school – and I hand it to her for having the courage to run and put herself out there. But it’s just too early, I think. Go run for town board or county legislature. Gain some experience. Build a support base that’s deeper than “guns”. Learn. Teach. Build up your resume. Don’t rely just on ideology, but also on accomplishments. 

We need more people like Gia Arnold getting involved in politics – on the left and right. But please, recruit some professionals to help you with strategy, messaging, and policy and don’t just wing it.

Second-Generation Americans Against Refugees

Once again, Tony Fracasso from the long-running broad-comedy show “SpeakupWNY” weighed in, this time on immigration, in my most recent Kathy from Williamsville thread

So Alan,

Do you support mass migration of people from other countries to the USA? Yes or No.

Do realize this cost the net tax payers tens of millions of dollars?

80 years ago when people immigrated to the USA they still followed the rules on the books plus we didn’t have the costly social programs we have today.

Like Derek Noakes loves animal videos on YouTube, Fracasso loves to demand “yes or no” answers and to use the phrase “net tax payers”. My response

Do I support “mass migration of people from other countries to the USA”? Absolutely. Immigrants like the Fracasso family helped make this country what it is today. Never mind that Italian immigrants found it hard to assimilate, were discriminated against, subjected to hatred and bigotry, and tended to live amongst each other in homogeneous neighborhoods, now Italians are considered to be just like our WASP founders.

Of course, it’s also a complete lie that immigrants are a net drain on the economy. For instance,

Via Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Immigration grows the economy and helps enhance local cultural vitality. Immigrants also create jobs for native Americans here in WNY:

Via Buffalo Niagara Partnership

So, if you’ll notice above, I pointed out to Fracasso that, 100 years ago, Italians were treated rather horribly by native-born Americans, and like new immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, they found it tough to assimilate and kept to themselves in insular communities. Fracasso responds

That was then and this is now. To different scenarios. When are families came over a 100 years ago the country was in a different economic state. We also didn’t have the social programs we have now compared to 100 years ago. This has nothing to do with bigotry or hatred. Is that a tactic in the Democratic Playbook? When someone doesn’t agree with you call them a hater or a bigot?

I’m also rather sure the mass of immigrants that came over 100 years ago came into the states by following the laws.

Why do we have borders and laws Alan?

So, here’s my response: 

Right. YOUR playbook is to shout about how YOUR ancestors came here “legally” at a time when immigration from Europe was essentially unrestricted, save for the “not an anarchist” box that needed to be ticked before you could get tested for syphilis on your way through Ellis Island.

But when it comes to brown, Spanish-speaking tweens from Central America who are escaping social, economic, and political problems that are not dissimilar from, say, turn-of-the-century Italy, all of a sudden it’s an “invasion”. Yet you want to sit there and tell me that’s not bigotry or hatred – or that the bigotry and hatred that was hurled at Italian and Irish immigrants 110 years ago was not just as disgusting and sordid.

We do have borders, Tony. When was the last time you actually crossed the southern border? Have you ever crossed the Rio Grande or taken a day trip to TJ? Ever? Have you ever witnessed the interminable lines, super-tight security, and state-of-the-art anti-drug and human trafficking measures put in place at even remote crossings in the desert Southwest? Have you seen the miles and miles of barren wasteland out that way?

Yes, we have borders and they are reasonably protected, and here’s the reason why this is all about bigoted hysteria and not at all about facts:

While illegal immigration of kids 12 and under has shot up by 117%, theoverall number of people of any age crossing illegally is at a 40 year low, and even the number of kids crossing has dropped.

Most of the anti-immigrant hysteria stems from a conscious or unconscious belief that Obama is a foreign Manchurian candidate who is here to destroy America as we know it. If you don’t believe me, just look at Weppner’s own birtherite hysterics.

Furthermore, the kids are mostly from Honduras: “The fact that Hondurans represent the highest percentage [27%], followed by Salvadorans, makes clear that the major push factors are violence,” said Susan Terrio, an anthropology professor at Georgetown University who has interviewed dozens of unaccompanied immigrant children.”

“Invaders” my ass.

Yes, we do have borders and they’re being reasonably defended, and we also have laws. I don’t know why you’d so quickly invalidate your own argument, but the law states that undocumented unaccompanied minors cannot be deported before they have a court hearing – due process.

What you’re really saying is, “why won’t Obama disobey the law?

Here is a Forbes list of 7 myths about immigration

Myth 1: There are more immigrants than ever and these immigrants break the mold of previous waves.

Between 1860 and 1920, fourteen percent of the population was foreign-born. The average for the 20th century is 10-plus percent. The proportion is not different today—about 13 percent. Until the 1880s immigration originated in northern and western Europe but in subsequent decades they came from southern, central and eastern Europe, which was culturally, politically and economically different. Not to mention Asians, who arrived in significant numbers.

The difference seems to be national origin, not numbers. 

Myth 4: Present-day immigrants do not assimilate, unlike previous waves.

About forty percent of newcomers speak reasonable English anyway, but the three-generation pattern echoes that of previous immigrants: the second generation is bilingual but speaks English better and the third generation speaks only English. By the third generation, out-marriage is strong among immigrants. A century ago, seventeen percent of second-generation Italian immigrants married non-Italians while 20 percent of second-generation Mexicans marry non-Hispanics today (even though, given the numbers, it is easier for them to marry another Mexican.) Second-generation immigrants do better than their parents, as in the past.

That proves my point about Italians, supra

Myth 5: Low-skilled workers take away jobs, lower salaries and hurt the economy.

As producers and consumers, illegal immigrants enlarge the economic pie by at least $36 billion a year. That number would triple if they were legal—various studies point to a $1 trillion impact on GDP in ten years. Low-skilled workers fulfill a need by taking jobs others do not want, letting natives move up the scale. Without them employers would need to pay higher salaries, making those products and services more expensive. They have a tiny negative effect on wages at the lowest end that is offset by a rise in the wages of those who move up—the net effect is a 1.8% rise.

That’s right – even undocumented immigrants help to grow the economy

Myth 7: Immigrants don´t pay taxes and cost more than they contribute. 

Immigrants pay many local and state levies, including real estate and sales taxes, and about $7 billion in Social Security taxes. Between the 1970s and the 1990s they represented $25 billion more in government revenue than what they cost. They would contribute much more if they were documented. Most immigrant children have at least one parent who is a citizen, so counting all of them as part of the cost of immigration is deceptive. The welfare state was never a “pull” factor: until after World War II immigrants were not entitled to relief programs. Immigrants did not cause government spending to grow by a factor of 50 in one century.

These myths are further confirmed and expanded upon in this Washington Post article, and this article from the Southern Poverty Law Center

If people like Fracasso are so concerned about facts and the law, then it would likely behoove them to educate themselves not only about the facts about immigration – legal and not – and what laws apply. 

Immigrants do not harm or destroy America – they make America stronger. 

Weppner Campaign Seeking “Not So Nice”, Incidental Blight Photos

Blight. It’s a problem throughout Buffalo, WNY, and much of upstate and the rust belt. You can literally go anywhere in North America and encounter some abandoned buildings, ugly graffiti, vacant properties, and blight. 

But now a woman running for Congress against Brian Higgins wants to turn blight into a campaign issue. 

On Wednesday, Laura Yingling, the tea party “activist” and Glenn Beck “9-12” acolyte running Kathy Weppner’s campaign sent out a mass email to her entire list, entitled “Brian Higgins the Waterfront Czar”: 

That’s literally only about half of the “to” list. 

Here is the body of the email: 

Interesting, right? It’s a great way for Weppner to stoke class and racial fear and hatred. Also, it ignores and exploits the fact that Higgins now happens to represent the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls – places that have more than their fair share of blight. Hell, even Grand Island has that dilapidated and creepy old Dunlop office building near the north bridge. 

The current NY-27 couldn’t be more different from what it looked like before 2013, when it had a much larger suburban and rural component. Indeed, I’m willing to bet that the picture that Yingling sent around was not part of NY-27 before 2013. 

The current boundaries are also +13 Democrat, so you know, good luck. 

This is dumb politics and dumb campaigning. Showing off blight resulting from decades of regional economic failure isn’t relevant to Higgins’ time in office.  But dumb campaigns play to dumb people and know only the lowest common denominator. 

You get the idea. This parody account on Twitter captures the dumb beautifully. 

I’ll issue a challenge to all outlets in WNY: Every single time Weppner tries to get you out to an event for free media, ask her why she scrubbed her entire web and radio history from the internet, and when we can expect to see it back online

Maziarz Out, SD-62 Up For Grabs

Here is the statement that soon-to-be-former State Senator George Maziarz issued in order to explain his very sudden and unexpected decision to resign*: 

It is no secret to my family and close friends that I have been considering retirement from the State Legislature for the last five years. And as I geared up for another long campaign season, I realized I just did not have the passion and commitment that I have had in the past to see it through.

People will ask me why now and the simple answer is there is never the perfect time to step away. I had the honor of following the late John Daly into the State Senate. I remember him telling me when he left the Senate it was simply time for the next generation of leaders in the Legislature. After nearly two decades in office, I fully understand what he meant and feel that way today.

My second daughter gets married this summer and that is a much bigger priority for me than another grueling campaign. My family has sacrificed enough for my public service through the years and I cannot ask for any more.

To the people of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties who I have had the pleasure to represent since 1995, I extend my heart felt appreciation for your continued support. I always told people that being your Senator was the greatest job in the world, one I dedicated myself to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We accomplished great things and I did my best to help my constituents with any problem…big or small. Thank you for giving a kid from North Tonawanda the chance to fulfill his dream of serving in the State Senate.

Gee shucks, that’s swell. 

But not so fast. 

People just finished collecting petition signatures to get Maziarz’s name on the ballot. He could have easily announced a planned resignation earlier this year. You don’t just drop out of your career politicianship because you’re bored and you need more time for your kids. You don’t simply bow out from the “greatest job in the world” suddenly on a Sunday night. 

Mike Caputo’s PoliticsNY broke the story this weekend, and noted that the resignation comes quickly on the heels of the abrupt resignations of two of Maziarz’s top staffers. On July 11th, the Niagara County Democratic Committee issued a press release demanding a state investigation of Maziarz’s campaign spending

This week we learned Maziarz’s Chief of Staff Alisa Colatarci and Office Manager Marcus Hall both resigned. Given the U.S. Justice Department’s increased focus on public corruption in Albany, if there are reports of senior staff members resigning it should raise some eyebrows.

Eyebrows have indeed been raised ever since City & State revealed in May that two WNY Republican senators – Maziarz and Pat Gallivan – were coming under scrutiny for campaign spending

State Sen. George Maziarz shelled out more than $140,000 in campaign funds over a six-year period without identifying what exactly he purchased, according to an investigation by the now defunct Moreland Commission on Public Corruption—by far the most of any state lawmaker. State Sen. Patrick Gallivan was found to have about $80,000 in unreported campaign credit card expenses, including hundreds of dollars spent on cigars, tanning, and at salons and casinos. State Sen. Greg Ball laid out around $23,000 at retail stores, including Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic and Amore Clothing.

This must be why the Republicans haven’t been making much noise about the disbanding of the Moreland Commission as part of the overall budget deal earlier this year. Keep stumm and don’t kill the job. 

But the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan said, in effect,  “not so fast”. 

To date, there has been considerable speculation about what exactly the Moreland Commission’s investigations team probed over the months it was in operation, but few specifics have been disclosed to the public. Several legislators and critics have openly dismissed the Commission’s work as a “witch hunt.” Conversely, Moreland Commissioner Makau Mutua said earlier this month that the Commission had unearthed potential criminality by 10 to 12 state lawmakers.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was interested enough in finding out what the Commission had discovered that he has launched an inquiry, in part, to get to the bottom of whether “investigations potentially significant to the public interest have been bargained away as part of the negotiated arrangement between legislative and executive leaders,” as he wrote in a letter to the Commission’s members on April 3—a reference to the ethics deal struck between the governor and the Legislature as part of their budget agreement at the end of March, which coincided with Cuomo’s announcement that he was shutting down the Commission.

How does this all play into Maziarz’s resignation? Well, take a look at Binghamton-area Republican state senator Tom Libous – the second-highest ranking GOPer in the Senate- who was just indicted for lying to the FBI about getting his kid a job, and promising to direct work to that firm as a quid-pro-quo. The son was indicted for tax evasion and embezzlement. Libous was also out in front to try and block an extension on the fracking ban, mostly because his wife and a big campaign donor stand to benefit financially from a lifting of the ban

Is Bharara poised to indict Maziarz for corruption that the Moreland Commission uncovered and then simply stopped doing anything about to placate Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos? Consider what City & State uncovered

The legislator with the most number of entries about him is state Sen. George Maziarz, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate leadership. According to the documents, Maziarz amassed more than $140,000 in unitemized campaign expenses in filings reported between 2008 and 2013—which averages out to more than $23,000 a year, or nearly $2,000 a month. The senator’s campaign also had “over $67,000 of charges and expenditures to Chase and Chase Card Services,” identified broadly as “office” expenses. The total sum, which exceeded by tens of thousands of dollars the amount of unspecified expenditures by each of the other lawmakers flagged, is broken down in depth within the documents and includes details not included in the senator’s public campaign filings.

The Commission found that the Maziarz campaign doled out more than $125,000 at retailers such as Target and BJ’s Wholesale Club, including $56,250 in expenditures that investigators concluded had not been reported. Another $10,000 from the senator’s re-election funds went to specialty chocolatiers, a florist and wineries and wine stores. The campaign committee also paid for $7,850 worth of reading materials at Borders, Readers Digest and Barnes & Noble, with $2,000 labeled as “unreported” by the Commission.

The Commission also tabulated the Maziarz campaign spending $12,000 at arts and crafts stores like Michaels and Oriental Trading; $7,000 at the now-defunct online gift boutique Southern Living at HOME and its successor, Willow House; and $4,000 on purchases related to children, including from Toys ”R” Us and Mud Pie, and payments to Do-do, the clown.

A company called MEM Enterprises also received a cumulative $39,000 from the Maziarz campaign. A Commission document notes that the company has only one employee, brings in $54,000 a year and is based at a residence owned by a person who appears to be the senator’s relative. Efforts to reach MEM Enterprises were unsuccessful, however, based upon inquiries made by City & State, it appears that the company’s address is the same as that of the senator’s brother, Marvin Maziarz, a retired Niagara County Community College professor.

As for Pat Gallivan, 

The next highest total was run up by Gallivan, who had about $80,000 in “unreported credit card expenses.” In Gallivan’s case, records for a Capital One card revealed $1,200 spent at casinos, $1,000 on cigars and $300 on “tanning beds and at salons.” The senator also had approximately $4,000 in unreported charges to AT&T, $3,500 in unreported charges to Verizon Wireless, $4,000 in charges to the DeLacy Ford dealership in Elma, N.Y., and almost $3,000 in unreported loan payments to M&T Bank. The Commission was apparently unable to obtain records for an American Express card that had $47,000 in unreported campaign charges.

Generally speaking, lawmakers are forbidden from converting campaign finances to personal use. This sort of analysis of campaign spending is unprecedented, and for decades, no one has bothered to look into any of this. 

It’s quite clear that Maziarz’s unforeseen and hurried exit has to do with something much more grave than a general feeling of political ennui and a sudden desire to focus on his daughter’s nuptials. 

Another corrupt lawmaker in a hypercorrupt Albany? Big surprise, and the way in which this unfolded reveals the degree to which no person or party in Albany has a desire to clean up that city’s act for the good of the people in this state. Thankfully, the people working on the Moreland Commission’s investigations were disgusted enough to forward their investigations to law enforcement. 

About two years ago, Carl Paladino and his cult following tried to unseat Maziarz by spreading rumors that he was gay. It was an especially disgusting campaign – just as you might expect from Carl, Rus Thompson, and any other right-wing homophobe you might encounter. 

It was so ugly and hateful, that I endorsed Maziarz because of it, and also because Paladino was openly backing Maziarz’s primary opponent, Johnny Destino (who is now a Democrat and running for Maziarz’s now-vacant seat).  Consider, then, that Paladino and Rus Thompson could have – but didn’t – pushed instead an argument that Maziarz was corrupt. That would have been a tougher argument to make, and by no means as much fun to a couple of gay-bashers, but at least it would have smacked of factual accuracy. 

But most importantly, recall Governor Cuomo’s agreement with the Working Families Party to start backing the idea of a Democratic Senate in exchange for its fusion endorsement. With Libous’ indictment and Maziarz’s departure, that’s two Republican seats up for grabs. (Libous and Maziarz, incidentally, were not backbenchers – they were quite powerful). The Republicans have a de facto majority in the Senate thanks to a small group of breakaway Democrats led by Jeffery Klein, the “Independent Democratic Conference”.

Right now, the Senate is made up of 29 Republicans, 24 Democrats (2 formerly Democratic seats are vacant), 1 Democrat caucusing with the Republicans, and the 4 members of the IDC. If the IDC decides to abandon its Republican ties the Democrats get a majority.  

The NYS Board of Elections reveals that Democratic enrollment in the 62nd District is almost 63,000 Democrats and just under 60,000 Republicans. 4,000 are enrolled Conservative, 1,200 are enrolled in the WFP, and 8,200 are in the Independence Party. The Greens have fewer than 400 enrollees. With a slight Democratic enrollment advantage, this seat is wholly up for grabs. 

* I use the word “resign” not to denote an immediate Maziarz withdrawal from public office, but merely to connote the fact that he’s choosing to not seek re-election to his Senatorship-for-life. As of right now, Maziarz is expected to complete his term of office. 

Ballot Access & Fusion: Keeping New York Corrupt

It’s petition day throughout New York State, and we’ll learn soon enough that Governor Cuomo will have a primary challenge from the left, and that locally, the Democratic race for the 63rd Senate District (Tim Kennedy, incumbent) is going to be especially fun, as will the Republican challenge to Mark Grisanti, as perennial party-switching candidate Rus Thompson clumsily attempts to manipulate the corrupt fusion system to try and oust the sane guy. 

But it’s not only electoral fusion that’s corrupt and awful, so is the petition process itself. It’s hypercomplicated and deliberately designed to be a minefield for the unwary. It’s not only time to abolish the electoral fusion system and shut down the Wilson Pakulas and backroom deals, but also to simplify the ballot access system to make it easier for candidates to run. The rules for petitioning should be simplified and written in plain English, and there should be an alternative whereby a candidate simply pays a fee (set on a sliding scale, depending on the scope of the office).  Hey, if the state needs another source of revenue, there you go. 

As it stands now, our petitioning process should rightly be named the Election Law Attorney Full Employment Act

As for SD-60, where Grisanti will possibly face off with Rus Thompson, here’s the entire campaign in a nutshell.  I don’t know about you, but I’d choose the calm, professional man in the suit over the wildman in a sweatshirt. 

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Tim Kennedy’s Just Desserts

Tim Kennedy sold out his principles, his party, and his constituents when, in 2010, he executed a Steve Pigeon-brokered deal to align the majority Democratic county legislature with Republican County Executive Chris Collins. The figurehead leader of that coup was Barbara Miller-Williams, who has since returned to the legislature, and Kennedy was happy to let her take the brunt of criticism at the time. 

Through his actions, Kennedy handed a de facto legislature majority to the Republicans and to Collins, leading to devastating harm to the most vulnerable members of our society and a wide variety of policy decisions that were penny wise but pound foolish. The “reform coalition” reformed absolutely nothing, and merely served as a springboard for Kennedy to run for the state Senate against a guy who had been there forever and was just as toxic. 

When Kennedy last ran for re-election to the senate, County Legislator Betty Jean Grant – who had been among the most vocal and fearless critics of the “reform coalition” coup – launched what seemed a quixotic write-in campaign against him. In the end, she lost by only 139 votes, according to the Board of Elections. (Grant maintains that she won). 

Last cycle, Kennedy donated $85,000 in campaign funds to the Pigeon-Mazurek “AwfulPAC” or “WNY Progressive Caucus” (which was hardly “progressive”, and is now defunct). His obvious purpose was to punish Grant, and although she won re-election, Miller-Williams defeated Grant ally Tim Hogues. 

We now come full circle, as Kennedy flips and flops on abortion, and Grant’s effort against Kennedy becomes more organized. 

Last night, the county Democratic committee endorsed Grant over Kennedy. And of course it did – why reward someone who has worked tirelessly against the committee and its candidates with an endorsement? But as you read the press release shown below, note that county chair Jeremy Zellner’s last paragraph is Kennedy getting cockpunched. 

The Erie County Democratic Committee’s Executive Committee today overwhelmingly endorsed Legislator Betty Jean Grant for New York State Senate, District 63. 

The Executive Committee, which includes leaders from each town in the county and the City of Buffalo, credited Grant with her long history of standing up to powerful interest groups on behalf of the average citizen.  “Betty Jean Grant has shown unwavering support for the Democratic Party’s platform and philosophy,” said Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner.  “There is no second guessing when it comes to her commitment on jobs, education, health care and social issues.  Legislator Grant has always consistently supported the issues that are the bedrock of the Democratic Party.”

Grant’s support on the committee extended far beyond her base in the City of Buffalo, “I am proud to note that I received endorsements and nominations from suburban towns and among leaders in the pro-choice community.  I look forward to campaigning throughout the district and talking with voters from all backgrounds and points of view. I vow to work closely with Governor Cuomo to continue the momentum that Western New York has achieved.”

Zellner dismissed criticism that the endorsement amounted to insider support from party bosses. “Our Executive Committee is designed to represent a cross section of our community. In addition to representatives from each town and city in the county, we have seats for labor, education, the private sector as well as the LGBT community and African American and Hispanic leaders.  Legislator Grant’s support comes from the grassroots up. The public has grown cynical of politicians who trot out substance free, feel-good initiatives at home, while running back to Albany to surround themselves with the worst elements of our political system.

This will absolutely be a race to watch. 

 

Revisiting the Tea Party Schism

There was once a listserv called “ReformNYS” that, for some time, was a collection of outrages and calls to action shared among the Ron Paul libertarian wing of the local tea party. It never really had many ideas about reforming New York State, and it’s managed to reform exactly nothing.

By contrast, the Palinist wing of the tea party has found multiple causes celebre about which to agitate, thanks in large part to the NY SAFE Act, which places restrictions on people’s ability to massacre, e.g., almost 2 dozen schoolchildren in a matter of seconds

Now? The Ron Paul wing’s listserv has devolved into this:

The author of that garbage (he posts something almost every day along these lines, always ending with a demand that the reader “wake up”, was a leader of the tea party movement back in 2009 – 2010. Chris Smith and I wrote extensively about Allen Coniglio’s weird obsessions and his sudden political activism that began around January 2009. With stuff like this:

Buffalo Tea Party organizer Allen Coniglio told me that Paladino is a “decent person” and that this story is a smear.

Coniglio made it clear that he and the Buffalo Tea Party denounced the content of the e-mails and “do not support any racist positions of any kind. ” This story, he said, was the kind of thing he’d come to expect from the media and liberal activists.”…

…People are different (ed. from the 18th and 19th century) because there are many more unproductive slackers due to big government, new slaveholder interventions and slave breeding programs. People of the type created by these programs would not have existed in any measurable quantity as there would have been little possibility of survival prior to the advent of the modern welfare state.

Slacking is now in the genes of the people who have been on welfare for 3 or 4 generations or more and these people are now, for all intents and purposes, societally worthless, ineducable and probably beyond redemption.

Yes, they are different because they have been bred to do nothing but slack and vote for Democrats by their slavemasters Jackson, Sharpton, Farrakhan, Reid, Kerry, Kennedy, the Clintons, etc..

Sounds eerily like what got cowboy hat welfare queen Cliven Bundy in trouble this past week.

Suffice it to say that one of the guys who was instrumental in bringing the Tea Party Express travel write-off to Buffalo is now circulating the crap reproduced above.

A Farewell to Mr. Burke

The timing was somewhat tragically apropos.

On Saturday, my best friend from middle school and college called to tell us that his dad had died. When we got the call, we had just reached the 6th floor of the Newseum in Washington. My friend’s dad had been, at one time, the Vice President of ABC News and the President of CBS News. My love for politics and journalism is due, in large part, to David Burke. He led an incredible life and welcomed some sarcastic, obnoxious fat little Republican Croat into his home as if he was a member of the family. 

Mr. Burke was brilliant and inspiring. He attended Tufts University, and later received an MBA from the University of Chicago. He came from a blue collar background, and had a great passion for labor issues. He worked with later Secretary of State and of Labor, George Schultz, to produce “The Public Interest in a National Labor Policy” for the Committee for Economic Development. This report laid the foundation for national labor relations policy. His work on these matters led to Mr. Burke being named to President John Kennedy’s Labor Advisory Council in 1960. 

He led a life that could fill volumes of memoirs. After working for the White House, Mr. Burke became Chief of Staff to Senator Edward Kennedy.  Interviews that Mr. Burke gave in the 1970s about his time working with President Kennedy and with Robert F. Kennedy are available here and here

He spent time at the Dreyfus Corporation in New York before becoming Chief of Staff to Governor Hugh Carey, and was instrumental in saving New York City from an imminent bankruptcy in the late 70s. In the 90s, President Clinton appointed Mr. Burke to be the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseeing the Voice of America, and he was named to the New York Daily News’ Board of Directors during the paper’s bankruptcy, and helped save it. 

The Broadcasting Board of Governors gives an award in journalism in Mr. Burke’s honor every year, and Tufts’ Tisch School has a Media and Public Service internship named after him. 

Mr. Burke helped to spark my interest in news and journalism. My friend, Terence’s birthday party in December 1980 involved us kids sitting silently on the floor next to Sam Donaldson doing the nightly news – the top story was John Lennon’s murder a week earlier. I was staying with the Burkes on the Cape when ABC correspondent Charlie Glass was about to be released from captivity in Lebanon. Mr. Burke arranged for me to meet with the executive producer of World News Tonight when I was considering a career in broadcast journalism. He was a big believer in the importance and power of journalism in a free society. When CBS started to cheap out on its news division, he left. When Senator Kennedy faced a tough re-election campaign in the mid-90s against some Romney fella, he arranged for me to meet the Senator, and I watched a barn-burner of a speech in a Waltham IBEW hall. 

Mr. Burke was most recently a member of the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library, where he was also a member of the Profiles in Courage Award committee. 

Mr. Burke led a life that was intimately intertwined with his roots and the turbulent times.  He was talented and fortunate enough to have intimate involvement with the political and social upheaval of the 60s, the economic stagnation of the 70s, the international turmoil of the 80s, and was an elder statesman by the 90s. He was the behind-the-scenes negotiator, leader, and fixer.

My family and I send all our love to the Burkes as they say good-bye to this giant of a man.

Shorter Everything

1. Dennis Gabryszak is a creep who is accused of doing creepy things to at least 7 women, who have the courage to come forward and publicly air the ways in which this schmuck humiliated them. Gabryszak has not denied or otherwise addressed the allegations and is unfit for public service. 

2. It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up was the lesson learned during Watergate, and on Thursday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took 2 hours to explain how he was completely in the dark about some really despicable things that his very close advisors and confidants were doing. When his appointee to the NYNJ Port Authority, David Wildstein, resigned in December – a month ago – over September’s politically manufactured bridge debacle. For Christie to suggest that this is all news to him strains credulity. For him to suggest that he was completely in the dark about these things seems unlikely. Ultimately, if you surround yourself with petty, vindictive people, and you maintain a public demeanor that is, at times, petty and vindictive, you can hardly stand there with a straight face and claim that you are, like, totally shocked that people in your employ behaved in a petty and vindictive manner. 

3. Yesterday, GOP gadfly Michael Caputo was sitting in for Tom Bauerle on WBEN, and he had legendary dirty trickster Roger Stone call in – that’s quite a get. They talked about a meeting Friday put together in an effort to convince billionaire birther Donald Trump to run for Governor of the state of New York. Stone got it exactly right – Trump doesn’t have a chance. Ultimately, New York State is as blue as it gets, and while Democrats and left independents might consider a Republican who portrays himself as a centrist who is liberal on social issues (see: Pataki), there’s no way in hell any self-respecting Democrat would support a Donald Trump for governor – not after his dramatic and absurd lurch to the very fringes of the right wing in the last few years. For all the Freudian bleating about the NY SAFE Act, the metropolitan area around the five boroughs – how did Glenn Beck phrase it? Oh yeah, “they surround you”. 

4. Declared dead several years ago, it turns out that shared border management still has a pulse. Because Canadian border agents are now armed, like their American counterparts, one of the big obstacles to pre-clearing traffic on the Canadian side and eliminating the inspection booths on the American side has been eliminated. For now, it’s a pilot program and it’s only for commercial traffic, but if it’s successful there’s no reason why it couldn’t also be used for passenger vehicles, too. If that happens, all of the alarmist talk about the adverse health effects from idling traffic at a bridge crossing that has existed for 100 years can stop. I never quite understood how adding lanes to alleviate traffic congestion would aggravate health problems on the west side of Buffalo, nor did I understand why the anti-bridge rhetoric was effectively arguing for the complete removal of the bridge altogether. But hopefully the saga of the Hundredyearbridge will make a millimeter’s worth of progress. 

5. If your town government decides to hold a “public hearing” about a local controversy at 4:30 pm on a weekday, and doesn’t bother to invite representatives of the locality’s regional governmental entity, then it’s safe to say that the town government isn’t interested in dealing with conflict or problems. The one-party system in the town of Clarence is not showing itself to be particularly responsive or concerned about legitimate gripes from people in the northern flood plain.

Unbelievable. 

6. Chris Collins (NY-27) is playing to type

7. Subset cars: 

– did you know that it is perfectly legal for any American to import any car from anywhere in the world, provided it is 25+ years old? Not only legal to import, but legal to put on the road. Here’s a cool story about a dream come true

– I told you a few weeks ago to get yourself a set of snow tires. That’s not all. When it’s snowing and sloppery out, you should also (a) keep your washer fluid topped off; (b) keep an extra gallon of fluid in your trunk; (c) physically wipe the slop off your wipers every once in a while to keep them clean and clear; (d) take a squeegee to your front headlights at every fill-up to get the road sludge off of them and enable you to actually see at night. To that end, if your local Noco or whatever doesn’t keep a proper squeegee bucket around with some form of unfrozen cleaning solution, stop going there or complain. It is inexcusable in a cold climate. 

Have a good weekend!

 

 

 

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