September 13, 2007

Retired Supervisors Jump Into Fray

The previous thread is hot and heavy. Some are calling it one-sided. Mr. Bender asked why we aren’t discussing the letter to the editor from some retired town supervisors that presented another side. I couldn’t get the letter on-line but did get a hard copy. If someone has the full article, I’m happy to post it.

Here’s the gist: John Connelly, J.O. Thompson, Lloyd Westcott and Ray Beiter signed a letter to the editor in support of Wright Ellis, John Sweeney and Richard Lang.

Here are some excerpts:
“Recently the system has broken down with the Republican Party – run by State Sen. George Maziarz and NC Rep. Chairman Henry Wojtaszek among others – pre-empting political discourse and attacking candidates in their own party with whom they don’t agree. Clear examples of this are Republican attacks against Wright Ellis in Cambria and John Sweeny in Somerset.”

They then mention several issues they take exception to including:
1) AES Pilot
2) The fiasco of dealing with Niagara power and county power coalition resulting in losses of million of dollars
3) The attack against the integrity of town government by attempting to transfer control of sewer and water authorities to the county
4) Taking control of the Independence and Conservative parties
5) Use of state funds and grants to benefit their own interests, not those of local governments"

I'm always happy to respond to issues raised by our readers. Let the comments begin.


Steve M said...

They're defending the same Wright Ellis that fought vehemently to continue to line the pockets of Bob Roberson and Frank Nerone at taxpayer expense.

The fact is that all of them:Ellis, Nerone, Shoemaker et al are scumbags feeding at the public trough, and they're disgusting and disgraceful.

Truth Detector said...

It's clear that the old fossils had Rivera ghost write this piece for them write from Dan's own talking points.

Hell, I didn't know John Connelly was even around any more. I figured he must be eating peas threw a straw and wetting himself at this point.

He should be the last guy in the world crying politics...he got himself pretty fat and happy on taxpaers.

Joey said...

I thought Dan Rivera was arrested for insurance fraud??

Scotty: I know bender had a slight problem with an insurance claim a few years back. In addition to vast sums of cash from Rivera, does he provide insurance advice?? Since you guys are best buds a reply is most welcome.

Mr. Pink said...

It's clear that politicos from all sides are opening the floodgates for attacks. Sail Away, I think you need to enforce some decorum here.

I'm not surprised that those particular retired supervisors signed that letter. They all employed Shoemaker at one time in their town and clearly, this is a battle between old guard Republicans from the Floyd Snyder/Shoemaker days versus the new leadership under Wojtaszek.

It's a story repeated many times over. The old guard is pushed out but before they go, they make one last stand. Sometimes they're successful, most often they are not.

Pirate's Code said...

A bit off topic, but are the websites of Greater Niagara Newspapers perhaps the worst in the history of the internet?

A letter from four former elected officials attacking other elected officials gets printed, but you can't get in on the web? Pitiful.

Scott Leffler said...

Joey, I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be best buds with, but I regret to inform you, I can't answer your question.

Pink, you're right on the decorum issue ... and it's only going to get worse the closer we get to the election.

On the topic ... I think the supervisors hit the nail on the head. The local GOP is controlled with an iron fist, which is not only bad for the party, it's bad for the county as a whole.

Mr. Pink said...


Hopefully things will go back to our normal level of discussion after Tuesday.

I disagree on the iron fist stuff. There is always this back and forth within parties. The Democrats have gone through it for years; now it seems to be the Republican's turn. That's the nature of the business.

And there will always be outsiders versus insiders, old guard versurs new guard.

Quite frankly, I'm was a big proponent of the Charter Commission in 2001 that would have significantly improved governance in this county and shrunk the Legislature. The old guard town supervisors worked hard to kill that effort using many of the same claims they make in this letter.

They are anti-consolidation. They are the best examples of cronyism. And they act as if this is 1950 Niagara County. The more of them who are pushed out to pasture, the better for all of us.

Scott Leffler said...


The legislature killed that themselves by poisoning the referndum to the point where no one would vote for it ... and they knew it.

I'm ALL FOR consolidation. Consolidate the 11 school disctricts into 3. Consolidate all villages into their surrounding towns and consolidate Lockport with the Town of Lockport ... and Niagara Falls with the Town of Niagara. Consolidate legislative districts. We could easily run with 11. We could suffice with 5.

But DO NOT consolidate ANYTHING into county government itself. County government is already too bloated. If we give them more, they'll just get worse. Especially if there's 19 legislators looking for jobs for their friends and family.

Mr. Pink said...


I've always thought we needed a reshuffling of responsiblities. Turn all parks over to local governments. Push all road maintenance up to county. Consolidate 911 at the county. Fix the inequity in assessment across the county by consolidating that.

Water and Sewer are interesting. It's a retirement plan for town supervisors. Hasn't every single head of the water authority been a town supervisor, including the current one, Herbie Downs.

You're telling me the best and brightest for this job all happen to be former town supervisors?

Steve M said...

Get your facts straight, Scott. The Legislature didn't kill that referendum, Brad erck, the sponsor of the resolution did by stipulating that the reduction of the Legislature be tied to putting a county exec in place.

Stop your half-truths. I see your crap all over the US&J message board and it's a joke, something you're quickly becoming with your obviously slanted point of view.

Mr. Pink said...

Brad Erck didn't suggest the county executive. It was part of the orignal document put forth by the Charter Commission.

Scott Leffler said...


I've never claimed not to have a slanted point of view ... but it's probably not slanted in the way you think it is. Toss out your two-dimensional view of politics and realize there's more than Democrat and Republican. I'm slanted in my own best interest. Anyone who isn't is a fool.

Scott Leffler said...


I like the way you think.

I agree on everything ... with the exception of the water and sewer bit. It is a strange conundrum, though, with the "retirement plan for supervisors" bit. That said, the county would likely do the same ...

Damned if we do. Damned if we don't.

Think Pink!

Mike said...


Was it in your best interest as you sat back and watched Somerset attorney Ed Shoemaker rob the Town of Lockport of more than $150 million. The Lockport power plant represented by Shoemaker pays $0 in property taxes - over the remaining life of the plant the sum is a loss of greater than $150 million to the local taxing jurisdictions. AND - he did this right under your nose. How did you miss this one? This one REALLY hurt Lockport. Makes one wonder who pulls the strings at WLVL.

Big daddy said...

I really love the "taking over" the minor parties charge. You recruit people in those parties, organize them, get them to run for committee slots and if they win, you can elect a slate to party leadership. Isn't that the electoral process?

Did Henry and Dan takeover the GOP and Dem parties? I guess in a manner of speaking.

If you play by the rules and win, you've done nothing wrong. The other side will wish they were as good.

In Erie County, the Dems control the minors. It's the nature of the beast.

If you want to change it, ban candidates from running on one than one party line. Until then, it's fair game.

Steve M said...

Pink, you're wrong on the county exec, read the resolution. Erck sponsored it. Regardless, the issue was killed by the town supoervisors because they believed theyd lose power.

Most of them are power hungry old men who haven't been laid since the 60's.

Scott Leffler said...

Was there a county-wide call to arms by conspiracy theorists and general wackos? Welcome to the blog, Mike, Steve and Joey.

Am I correct in understanding, Mike, that you believe the owner of WLVL, Richard Greene, takes orders from Ed Shoemaker? And then passes them on to the news department as well as myself?

And Steve, are you suggesting that the chairman of the legislature makes policy without the votes of anyone else?

And Joey is either saying that I'm best buds with Dan Rivera ... or Merrill Bender.

Boys, the folks who frequent this blog have a good grasp on the English language and reason. We might disagree, but at least we make sense.

Maybe you should go to the Union Sun & Journal blog and practice before posting here.

Pirate's Code said...

Pink --

I think the ideas you proposed (road maintenance, parks, etc.) are solid, but will be seen by some as simply shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Which is a shame. Parochialism is our number one industry in WNY, practiced to precision in Niagara County.

Scott --

Your derision of the county legislature is somewhat understandable, but that is not reason enough to dismiss consolidation and efficiency ideas that make economic sense. You seem to assume that if functions were consolidated into a single government entity, it would automatically be the same group of 19 that controls it. Think Pink, to be sure, but also think broader. If the citizens demand changes that result in consolidation, would it be too big a leap to imagine that voters would also demand different (and better?) leadership?

Finally, Scott, I will grant you that the GOP is tightly controlled. Some view that as a negative, some don't. One could argue that it is a sign of a well-management organization. I have both worked and volunteered for organizations that did not have tight controls. The phrase "inmates running the asylum" leaps to mind.

But my question to you is this? Do you really believe that the Dem party is any less "controlled?" I have little use for his tactics and, in most cases, his politics, but I would be disappointed and surprised if Mr. Rivera was not attempting to exert strong and consistent control of that organization. And, I suspect that if the Dems had the upper hand in terms of seats, caucuses and the like, the "iron fist" charge would be lobbed his way.

Ebb and flow, Scott. Ebb and flow.

Scott Leffler said...


I agree with almost every word of your post. Specifically on the Dems. You'd be hard pressed to find me suggesting that they've been any better historically than the GOP.

In fact, I've never said I want the Dems to win. I just want it closer than 14-5 so there's some semblance of checks and balances.

The one thing that I might disagree with is the "control" issue. What you call organization, I call control. Would Rivera and the Dems be better? Likely not ... but the definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Pirate's Code said...

Scott said..."the definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." On that, Mr. Leffler, we agree. But, what to do about it?

Is it the party leadership that is to blame? Perhaps not, since the Dems have relatively new leadership but, as you acknowledge, are cut from the same cloth.

Can a truely independent voice win an election these days without backing from one party or another?

Is the candidate pool in a county our size simply too small, especially in light of the massive number of elected positions in our little slice of Heaven?

Wish I had an answer to any of these, but I don't. I have a couple of suggestions, some of which may or not be unconstitutional, but here they are:

-- Nobody currently working for government can simpltaneously hold elective office.
-- Term limits for all elected positions, including school boards. The number of terms can be debated depending on the job and the term of office, but I'm thinking no more than three terms for any of them.
-- Staggered terms for all layers of government. Never should all 19 county legislators be up for election at the same time, for instance.
-- Minimum residency of at least one year in the district for which you are seeking office, prior to seeking that office.
-- And, if you really want to strike fear into the hearts and minds of the current political class...ballot initiatives at all levels of government.

Again, some of this may not be practical (or legal) but it sure would create some fun debates at the leg, the town halls, school board meetings and so on.

becky said...

Blah, blah, blah. Now we have posters telling the blog what to do. Everyone's got a lot of great ideas. I guess this blog-reading crew could do a better job running the county...probably even the counry. I have four words for all you generals: run for elected office. Put your name on the ballot and fix the county with all your great ideas.

the clerk said...

Hey pink and scott -- You are both great!! Unfortunatly -- you both are forgetting one huge point. The Water and Sewer athority is the last remenant left of the old board of supervisors. This is why they are fighting so hard -- it is all that is left. The real issue should be consolidation of the water and sewer districts throughout the county. I envision a West zone and an east zone with 2 plants. This system would include all users on the system with one billing and collection department-- rates would vary amoung users and oversight would be done by an indepaendant board. Say what you will about Erie county and Buffalo -- their rates on average are lower than ours.