July 29, 2007


The Democrats have pulled the endorsement of recently arrested Niagara County Legislature candidate Bob LaBarbera. Does that mean the party will commit to providing no financial assistance to his campaign as well?

Speaking of LaBarbera, I had the opportunity to watch him on PULSE this week. He stated that he will still be able to represent his constituents if elected. Does a conditional license allow travel to and from Leg meetings, or is it only to and from work? And if it is only to and from work, would Leg meetings qualify as work?

I caught the FAIR Government forum on LCTV this weekend. Kudos to Tom Christy for a much more productive forum than the initial one. Other than several amazingly off-the-wall comments offered by Al Wroblewski, it appeared to be successful. Instead of a metal detector at city hall, would it be inappropriate to install a breathalyzer?

With nine of the county's 76 school board members resigning mid-term over the past year, so many political races going uncontested and volunteer organizations struggling for new members, have we seen the end of community service?

Long time Lockport Alderwoman Phyllis Green tried to have newcomer Richelle Pasceri thrown off the ballot in the race for First Ward Alderwoman. It appears that Phyllis is in favor of new blood running for office, except if that new blood is challenging her. What kind of message is that sending to prospective new candidates?

On recruiting new candidates for office, Lockport's Fifth Ward Alderman John Lombardi reiterated a point made on this site several times when he stated, "Maybe people just don't want to put themselves in a position to be beat up all time." Is it possible to offer elected officials constructive criticism without beating them up?

Watching a tape of last week's Leg meeting, I, as well as anyone who's seen the meeting, witnessed County Manager Greg Lewis blow a gasket over an innocuous question on sales tax. Is Lewis that insecure that he loses his mind over something so petty?

WLVL's Dialog host Scott Leffler all but called Legislator Rick Updegrove a liar on-air when Updegrove stated that the number one issue residents discuss during Updegrove's door-to-door campaigning is resolution of the Wal-Mart issue. With Town of Lockport Supervisor Marc Smith's statement that the number one concern of voters is getting the supercenter deal accomplished, does Leffler have an on-air apology in him?


Tee2Green said...

I have no problems with Scott Leffler calling out Rick Updegrove. Watching the Mt. View and AES debacle shows that he might be a pretty good liar.

I can't stand watching Rick at the NC Legislature meetings. His arrogance just burns me up. He stands up there and uses all of his "lawyer" talk until everyone gets bored and forgets what the real issue was. His comments just go around and around...like the carousel at the circus! At least the analogy fits, Niagara County politics is like the circus.

If the Wal-Mart issue is the number one issue in Niagara County, people have not been paying attention to the news. Mt. View, AES, highest taxes ring a bell to anyone? It's time for a change people, get the circus ringleaders (we know who they are) and the rest of the Republicans out!

Larry S said...

Tee, if you go ask 100 people outside of Barker their opinion on the AES PILOT, 98 of them will have no idea what you're talking about. That is the reality of the situation.

As for Mt. View, the state dictated the closure of teh facility, not the county. The county had the sold, the Berger Commission derailed that. If Updegrove has as much as power as you portray him to have, I'm damn glad he's my legislator.

And this highest county tax thing we've heard about is garbage, and anyone with half a brain knows it. Instead of touting our low property values, people like you focus on the tax rate as compared to NYC and Boston. It's a value to buy a house in WNY, and everyone knows it.

Scott Leffler said...


I do not believe that the majority of people don't know about the AES/IDA issue. It is not just a Barker issue. Each property owner will pay higher taxes because of AES' tax break. Not just in Barker - although it it worse/higher there.

While I don't doubt that the Walmart issue is a big deal in the Town of Lockport, I don't believe that people are going to talk with their COUNTY legislator about this town issue. Unless, of course, they're ignorant (as you, Larry seem to think they must be).

To sum it up, I have no plans to appologize to Rick. I don't buy his story. Politicians like to tell you what they want you to hear. And Rick and the GOP want you to believe that no one cares about AES. They're too busy caring about WalMart. Bull. Plain and simple.

Lastly, if can't realize that high taxes are part of the reason we have low property values, then you just don't get it. Lower the taxes and we could afford more house. Meaning the property values would rise. And the county would still get just as much property tax coming in ... we'd just have more value to show for it.

Larry S said...

Scott, your basing your opinion on what your callers say, but that is far from representative of the vast majority of the public. Send someone to Tops or Wal-Mart for an hour or two and have them ask 100 people ther opnion on the AES Pilot. Just like that, no prodding, no opinions, just "How do you feel about the AES PILOT". I absolutely guarantee you that 98 of them will have NO idea what youre talking about.

William Wallace said...

Regarding this part of the article: "With nine of the county's 76 school board members resigning mid-term over the past year, so many political races going uncontested and volunteer organizations struggling for new members, have we seen the end of community service?"
...Isn't this telling us something? Time to CONSOLIDATE!!!! Fewer positions for politicians, school board members, and other boards of directors. The world is full of enough power happy, self-driver people, no need to promote it by giving more and more people 'positions' that don't even need to exist.

Big Daddy said...

Lots here:

First, I believe in the big brick building theory of government. Most people think that the town councilmember, county legislator, senator and assemblymember and member of Congress all work in one big brick building.

Therefore, whatever issue is hot...no matter it's a local, state or federal issue...a person will rant about it to whatever elected they come across.

I had an old friend from college who worked in the State Legislature during the Clinton/Lewinsky days. He used to take calls from constituents all the time urging that him to tell the State Senator he worked for to get off Clinton's back. When he'd say that the State Senate had no voice in this and it was a federal issue, callers would say "c'mon, you all know each other an work together. I know you can influence this."

I think Sail Away is correct. AES is a non-issue across the county. I don't believe my county taxes will go up because of this. It's a scare tactic by Fast Eddie Shoemaker who doesn't want his gravy train to come to an end.

And I think this is related to the school board issue. Who wants to be put under the microscope and beat up for volunteer service. I've heard Leffler do a pretty good job on the Newfane board over the years and now we're left with the nutty zealots from CARES running the show.

They pissed away all the reserves and next year the district is screwed. People used to move to this district because of the schools...now a nutty board, all the bad press involving sex scandals and teachers and porn sites on computers...no one wants to live in Newfane.

Last, this Leg Majority might not be the be all end all, but as an Eastern Ender, there's no way I'm turning over the keys to the car to a new majority that puts Dennis and Renae in leadership positions.

Scott Leffler said...

Two quickies ...

I agree with William Wallace WHOLEHEARTEDLY. Consolodate like crazy. Five legislators. One school district. Village boards should be merged into their surrounding town. And the same should happen with city/towns.

Second, your taxes WILL go up from the AES thing. The county's budget office has said the effect will be $30 per year for the average homeowner. That might not be a huge jump, but it is nonetheless an increase ... so an ENERGY company could get a tax break.

Oh, and one more thing. Should I have gone easy on the Newfane School Board? They've made some boneheaded decisions over the years and they deserved to be brought to light. I haven't given the current board a pass, either ... in case you hadn't noticed. I truly think you are required to surrender your brain when you get elected to a school board.

Big Daddy said...

Leffler makes a good point. Maybe the old Newfane Board deserved it, but these CARES nuts will tear it to the ground.

The problem with our small communities may be there just isn't enough talent to serve on the board.

As for AES and taxes, if Greg Lewis wasn't such a bungler, our taxes would go down irrespective of AES. AES, like the rest of us, is overtaxed.

I ask you this: name one progressive idea for reducing costs Lewis has put forth since he came to Niagara County?

William Wallace said...

Big Daddy, is it that there isn't enough talent to serve on the school boards? Or that the large majority of boards are wasteful and useless and therefore can't attract good people because they spread the good people too thin? My wife is a teacher and I know for a fact that the school boards could be consolidated, but don't say that too loudly, or the unions will assemble and crush you, your job, or your run for office. There has to be a better medium between job security and the ability to get rid of lazy teachers while rewarding good ones.

The same goes for village governments...sad but true.

cg466 said...

Rick Updegrove is bush leauge hack.Way to go Scott

Larry S said...

CG, You hate Sklarski, you hate Updegrove, and have pretty much slammed all Republicans. A little objectivity goes a long way in life. You should try it.

Scott Leffler said...

Larry, I agree on the objectivity thing. That said, a lot of people here like to regurgitate the GOP line. But you choose to call out CG instead. Where's your objectivity? I - on the other hand - don't think the majority caucus is ALWAYS wrong. Only when they're awake. (and occasionally when they're sleeping) :)

clemenza said...

It doesn't matter who is in charge any more. The Legislature has ceded all of its authority to Greg Lewis and he is a disaster.

Greg has been good at managing our slow, painful decline. No new ideas, no true costing measures, no consolidation.

And his little blow up over the sales tax was priceless.

Both sides of aisle should be called out for not holding this guy accountable.

Anonymous said...

Why don't more people run for office? Yes, they get bashed a lot....the same people who seem to find nothing positive to focus on. But I think most people aren't truly intimidated by the whackos. I think it's mainly a lack of knowledge on the part of people who may want to run. They are interested in what's going on in their city/town/county and want to help. But now what do you do? Even once you get elected, what exactly do you do? There really needs to be some type of class or seminar (run by a non-partisan person) on what to do.... The inner workings of holding a political office.I thought Tom Christy with Pulse was kind of headed that way, but he's back to having it be just like Legislative Journal. Maybe there are a lot of people out there who would run, but just don't know how to go about it. Then you've got Phyllis scared of a race anyway...scared she'll miss some door time while she's on vacation for months at a time!And then you've got people like LaBarbera...are you kidding me??? I don't care if you think you have principles...go hang your head in shame inside your house and drop out..don't go pretend to hang your head on Pulse and have your friends call in for you. Aren't there requirements for running for office? I don't think you can even work at McDonald's with an arrest record!

Anonymous said...

Remember, the County Manager works on behalf of the legislature. Greg Lewis has largely been declawed by the Republican caucus. Lewis' philosphy is all the governement you really need, none that you don't.

Many significant cost cutting measure have been thwarted by Mal Needler and his gang. The first thing Lewis wanted to cut was non-mandated subsidies to non-profits or what some would call "culturals." The Republicans said no. Wanted to take over duties of the Legislative Clerk, a non-essential patronage position which has been occupied by various political hacks over the past decades. Republicans said no. Don't touch Republican pork. Lewis wants to consolidate essential county public works operations into a single central locus, the Republicans are looking to diversify the delivery of essential services by spreading highway maintenance among the towns. How does this comport with the idea of consolidating services? If anything, the County should be looking to take over town operations to reduce the overall size and costs of operations of government. An idea that has gained some support on this and other good government forums.

Now I didn't see the dustup over sales taxes that has been mentioned, but for all you AES deal defenders, the sales tax increase has almost single-handedly funded the so-called $20 million+ fund balance which allows the incumbent Republicans to claim that AES will not result in a property tax increase. It will also allow for a deep cushion against property tax increases in this election year. So with the pressure on Lewis not to attack his bosses in public, the very same bosses who want to speak out both sides of their mouths on the tax issue, it is perhaps understandable that Lewis would get a bit bent when the sale tax is questioned.

cg466 said...

CG, You hate Sklarski, you hate Updegrove, and have pretty much slammed all Republicans. A little objectivity goes a long way in life. You should try it.

Demorats Repubs.I hate em all.No mater who you vote for the government always wins.What Part of Government do you work for?

Larry S said...

CG, I don't work for the government. Just because I disagree with you and don't hate all elected officials, you assume I work for the govt. Since you hate the govt so much, I'll ask you: Is your welfare check not big enough? Didn't get your disability claim approved fast enough? Have a relative in jail? I mean, what's your problem?

And don't come back with the old "theyre all crooks...blah blah blah". I'm so sick of that cop out. Give specifics if theyre all so evil.

cg466 said...

And don't come back with the old "theyre all crooks...blah blah blah". I'm so sick of that cop out. Give specifics if theyre all so evil.

Lets see a surplus in Niagara county and my Taxes go up.I stand by my statement they are crooks.I cant think of anything that your idols have done to improve my life.You see I am in the private sector I work for the money I earn.You see the difference between me and your boys Larry,I earn my large salary!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Scott Leffler is probably the biggest idiot i have ever listened to on the radio. If he is so smart then why does he deliver pizzas on the side ??. I think i would want Updegrove representing me than Leffler who is the arrogant one (that to you tee2green). Obviously you only care about yourself and not the good for the rest of the county.