Jill Terreri has taken some good-natured abuse on this site, but we've also given her credit when deserved. She may have gotten to the dance a little late with her story in today's paper, but it's one heck of a story, including allegations of harassment and Rivera wanting LaBarbera out. Good stuff, Jill.
TOWN OF NIAGARA: A political storm over DWI arrest
LaBarbera alleges harassment, files police report
By Jill Terrerifirstname.lastname@example.org
A political feud in the Town of Niagara that one candidate thought warranted police attention has created unlikely allies. Niagara County Legislature candidate Robert LaBarbera told police Tuesday night that he received a harassing phone call from Gary Parenti, a fellow Democrat and former state Assembly candidate.
Parenti was urging LaBarbera, who recently was arrested for driving while intoxicated, to leave the Legislature race. Parenti said he was calling as a Democratic committeeman and the call wasn’t harassing in nature; LaBarbera disagrees.
He says that Parenti was angry with him back in January 2006 when he wouldn’t support Parenti in Parenti’s race against Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, another Democrat. “I just think he’s looking for an opportunity to drill me because I wouldn’t flip for him,” LaBarbera said.
LaBarbera told police that during Tuesday’s night’s phone call, which came in after he arrived home from his appearance in Wheatfield Town Court, Parenti said the DWI arrest gives Parenti the “silver bullet” he needs to destroy LaBarbera’s campaign.
Parenti, a Town of Niagara native, said he never said “silver bullet” and he isn’t sure if he’ll be working against LaBarbera’s campaign because he’s “active doing other things.” “I urged him not to run,” Parenti said. “He’s irresponsible. ... He hurts the Democratic Party.” Told that a police report was filed, Parenti said: “Good for him. That’s fine.”
The situation puts one-time rivals Parenti and county Democratic Chairman Daniel Rivera on the same side, as they are both urging LaBarbera to leave the race.
Parenti just settled out-of-court with Rivera’s insurance company but wouldn’t say how much money he won. Parenti had sued the Democratic chairman for $4.35 million for defamation, among other things, during the campaign against DelMonte, the endorsed Democrat.
LaBarbera said “political people” have asked him to drop out.
Rivera said the Democratic executive committee unanimously voted Wednesday night to revoke its endorsement of LaBarbera. Rivera had called a committee meeting to discuss the DWI situation as soon as he heard about it. Before removing its endorsement, the committee had voted to ask LaBarbera to drop out of the race, but LaBarbera declined.
“I’m going to go until the primary and see if (the voters) want me to continue,” LaBarbera said.
LaBarbera had to turn in his driver’s license Tuesday evening in court because he refused a chemical breath test to determine his blood alcohol level at the time of his arrest.
The DWI, which occurred at 1:40 a.m. July 19, was LaBarbera’s first. His next court appearance is Aug. 28.
The Legislature seat in the 6th District is now held by yet another Democrat, Danny Sklarski, however Sklarski is more friendly with Republicans than those in his own party.
Sklarski and LaBarbera will face off in a Democratic primary in September.