September 12, 2007

The Somerset Food Chain

Received from a concerned Somerset resident via email:

Point of Fact: The Somerset Town Board appoints the Somerset Town Attorney.

1. In 2006, the challenger for Town Supervisor runs a campaign largely on the issue of the amount of money that the town pays the appointed Town Attorney.

2. "Coincidentally", the appointed Town Attorney Ed Shoemaker reviews, signs and files objection to ballot signatures on behalf of the incumbent against the challenging candidate for Town Supervisor.

3. "Coincidentally", when asked, the incumbent says that Shoemaker is the "longtime family friend" of the incumbent. The incumbent loses by a 65% - 35% margin, thus says the voters.

In 2007, the former incumbent runs again and allies with two incumbent Councilmen to mount round 2!

1. The issue about the amount of money given (on an hourly basis) to the again appointed Town Attorney is still unresolved due entirely if not largely to the actions (votes) of the two incumbent Councilmen.

2. Guess who supports the trio? You guessed it, the appointed Town Attorney.

3. In return for their support of him, he makes a disclosed monetary donation of $500 to their re-election fund and the Lockport Energey Association (of which he has close ties and influence) donates $1000 to their re-election fund!

4. Those are the disclosed amounts directly to the re-election fund of the "leave the town attorney alone gang".

5. Additionally, the well-paid "consultant business manager" for the Barker Schhool district also contributed $150 in disclosed donations to this group. Many other undisclosed donations amount to a significant fund by standards for a typical race in Somerset.

So, the food chain goes like this.....the board will appoint the town attorney....the town attorney eats away at the town tax dollars....the town board continues to appoint the town attornety....the town attorney continues to eat....someone comes to challenge the town attorney and his eating habits....the board comes to the defense and aid of the town attorney and accuses any opposition as being "controlled"....the town attorney returns some of the town tax dollars to the incumbent board to keep them elected....the town board re-appointes the town attorney...and the town attorney continues to EAT!

We can only hope that the food chain (with lots and lots of gravy) will end for the current town attorney. Thus will say the voter!


big daddy said...

The Somerset Board is a joke. Newfane and Lockport knew years ago that Shoemaker was crooked and canned him. But it appears things take a little longer to reach the outpost of Somerset.

Regardless of the outcome of elections, it's time for the Attorney General to look into the graft in Somerset.

Larry S said...

Fast Eddy has been the conductor on the gravy train for way too many years. You know he's going to do everything he can to stay on it.

Does this guy have any clients besides munis and rip off victims?

Fed Up said...

Pigs that the trough. They should be ashamed of themselves.

These guys in Somerset cry poor and then LaRock retires and gets hired back at $500 a day. Why?

Where's the outrage from Bender and the anti-AES crowd over that nonsense.

becky said...

bender, larock and leardini are best friends feeding each other....bender was on the school board until he was kicked off due to scandal

Doug said...

how does a town of around 2,500 have 75 town employees?

Dave said...

OK - I get it. shoemaker runs the town; shoemaker takes donations from Lockport Energy Associates; Lockport Energy Associates is run by Lou Staley; shoemaker is the attorney for Lockport Energy Asociates; shoemaker and Lou Staley conspired to get a PILOT of $0 for the Fortistar power plant; lou staley is the executive director of the Lockport IDA; Lou Staley also is a highly paid consultant for the town of somerset;soemaker ans staley have taken more than 1,000,000 in each of the last 4 years according to recent reports.


Scott Leffler said...

I think it's amazing that "no one" cares about the AES deal because it "only affects Somerset," and at the same time, there's all these people coming out of the woodwork to comment on the Somerset town attorney.

Are there talking points that I should have been emailed? I'd like to follow along.

Doug L said...

Hey Scott,

If AES is paying $18 million per year in property tax, why are we paying any tax at all. I have been a resident in the Town for almost 5 years and I never realized that company was paying that total. I just assumed Delphi was the big dog. Why the hell are we paying any tax at all in Somerset? Where have all these payments gone??

Mark said...

I thought the Falls was bad...sounds like a third world country in Somerset.

wally said...

Mark I am troubled by your comment. Have you ever been to this town? It is very nice and afforadble. I only pay about $300 year in property tax and I have a nice view of the lake. go back to the falls you city slicker.

Dan Engert said...

Scott and Wally,

I didn't get the talking points either, but the support for our town is appreciated, nonetheless.
Regardless of how "nice and afforable" Somerset is or the outrage over the AES PILOT, Ed Shoemaker is still a fact of life that (fortunately for the rest of the county) is "only a Somerset issue"!

Count your blessings and keep watch with a close eye for when your town attorney starts wielding his power, money and connections to influence elections in your town. At that point, you've probably already got a big problem.

Merrill Bender said...

Scott has it right these are AES talking points.

AES continues to have their proxys attack the Town Attorney to hide the fact that AES has yet to bring to court their own expert assessment of the coal plant that they say will dispute the fair full market value of over $1 billion set by NYORPS and others.

AES has delayed the courts in the Hope of taking control of the Town of Somerset and changing the Town attorney that is winning against the AES busload of attorneys.

This alleged control by Ed Shoemaker is a myth.

The one exercising control with money and endorsements is attorney Henry Wojtasek - Chairman of the County Republican party.

As one Republican Committeeman told me. "Henry gets what Henry wants" Where Henry can get Ed Shoemaker out in "his" towns who becomes the attorney and who are they tied too?? Harris Beach firm advisess NCCC, Harris Beach advises IDA. HMMMM

The true puppet masters are Henry Wojtasek and George Maziarz.

Letter from former Town Supervisors said that very clearly in the US&J just the other day.

Lets see that posted and discussed here?

Lets see a discussion on a $95 mIllion dollar tax giveaway to AES that will cause a 3.5% tax increase to all county tax payers from Niagara Falls to Newfane and Wilson to Wheatfield.

Somerset Town Board are well respected members of the community and men of their own minds.

The connections of town board challengers to Henry Wojtasek and Henry Sloma should be the true concern for Somerset and the rest of the county.

One Challenger was part of Leadership Niagara and they voted Henry Sloma "Man of the Year" after Sloma brought a $95 million dollar loss to the county.

Lets be smart and focus on the the train wreck of AES trying to roll through the Town and the County with candidates carrying water for AES by repeating the AES talking points that Henry Wojtaszek distributes.

Fat Tony said...


I disagree. AES has been beat to death over and over. But this Shoemaker conspiracy affects Lockport, Cambria and has its tentacles in almost every town.

Here's one I know you don't know Scott. There is a feeling that Eastern Niagara got screwed in the Power Relicensing. Their Alliance did nothing other than ring up legal bills. However, "people in the know" told them that they had no standing to go down the road they were going.

However, they thought they knew better and hired a high priced attorney from Virginia named Paul Nolan. Nolan promised the Eastern Niagara Power Alliance the world and all they got was his big legal bill and bag of nothing.

But there's more. Nolan was a consultant to North Tonawanda when they gave the comapny represented by Lou Staley/Ed Shoemaker a pretty sweet tax deal.

In that EXACT PERIOD OF TIME, Nolan & Staley were both brougth in by Shoemaker in his role as Somerset Attorney to fight AES.

Think about, at the same time, their on opposite sides of the table negotiating they then sit on the same side of the table as consultants later in the day.

Connect the dots. This isn't about the taxpayers, this is about one company using the public process to gain a competitive advantage over another.

And Attorneys Paul Nolan and Ed Shoemaker are making a mint off of all of it.

This permeates into Water, Sewer, school boards.

You want to know why your taxes are so high...there's your answer.

Truth Detector said...


As someone who has been involved with Leadership Niagara over the years, I find your cheap shot at the organization outrageous.

Whether you agree with AES Pilot or not, Henry Sloma has done a lot for this community, most notably his stewardship of the Niagara Falls Terminal project, which is hugely important to this community.

If we are going to judge people by singular actions in their distinguished careers, then your bankruptices make you totally unfit for office.

Is that judge you based solely on that?

And how come you have failed to file financial disclosures on the PAC you started?

And why is Lockport Energy Associates contributing to you, Sweeny, et al?

And why aren' you outraged that LaRock is getting $500 a day as a consultant?

You see conspiracies in everyone else and act as if you are so pure and honest.

You know what my experience tells me...above everything else, votes dislike hypocrites.

I thought the mail piece giving you a pinnocio nose was a little over the, I realize it was dead on.

Anonymous said...

Seems like the Republican attack machine is out in full swing today. After reading all of this, I'm starting to wish I had more choices.

Near as I can tell:

1) I can vote for those aligned with Maziarz/Wojtaszek

2) I can vote for those supported by Ed Shoemaker

3) I can vote for those controlled by Rivera who may also be backed by Shoemaker.

Is there a candidate out there aligned with taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

Isn't it possible that both AES and Shoemaker are not exactly friends of the taxpayer?

Why does Bender continue to defend Shoemaker. Answer this Bender: Shouldn't those legal bills be made public?

Sail Away said...

To honor Mr. Bender's request, I would be happy to post the letter to the editor from the Supervisors. Unfortunately, the letter is not posted on the US&J website, so I cannot copy & paste it.

Therefore, if someone wants to re-type the letter or email me the letter, I'd be very happy to print it.

becky said...

FACT - shoemaker was hired to handle the bender bankruptcy. both have a good handle on how best to stiff the locals

Doug L said...

Please stop taking shots at Ed - he is a very generous man. When I worked for the Town he paid for some townies and board members to visit him at his condo in Florida. I really enjoyed the stone crabs.

Anonymous said...


somerset residents pay $16/1000 of assessed value. THIS IS ALMOST HALF OF WHAT THE REST OF THE COUNTY PAYS.

Get the facts correct dumb ass.

Frank DeGeorge said...

Some many of you on thise site are hypocrites. You lament the lack of people who run for office when someone with an issue like Mr. Bender steps forward, you attack like pitbulls. Maybe this is why more people don't run for office.

Elections are supposed to be about ideas and debate...instead much of this is petty and not very thoughtful.

Dan Engert said...


You can throw cute labels and innuendo about AES proxy and my participation with Leadership Niagara all you want. It doesn't fit with your message but I must say that I have absolutely no ties or agenda with respect to AES at all. I have friends and relatives who make their living and earn their wages from the plant but that is the extent of the relationship. I have never set foot on the property and have been in the same room with representatives only once at the Barker School auditorium during a public hearing about the PILOT. As far as my involvement with Leadership Niagara, you would have no idea about this but I will enlighten you since you took a cheap shot a me because I graduated from the program.....During my class of 2006, we and I included (although we had no say in the final decision) ACTUALLY voted for and recommended a BOCES teacher whose class under his leadership won a national award at a competetion in Kansas City, if I recall. There are hundreds, if not more, who have "ties" to LN becasue we participated and graduated in the program.

Leadership Niagara is a wonderful organization that promotes interaction with and exposure to a myriad of issues that impact Niagara County through day long interaction and discussion. That experience largely impacted my decision to run for office in Somerset. It's disappointing that you care less about facts and truth than you do about throwing innuendo and supposition around to be misconstrued. The next time you want to make such charges, please feel free to refer to me as Dan Engert and not a challenger. I will continue to be honorable in my race. Diversity in views is not a horrible thing in a community, it usually leads to cooperation and compromise. Such concepts can go a long way to avoid the situation we find ourselves in currently. Or we can continue to bully pulpit, alienate and be divisive about solutions and not look for the best interests of the whole.......

Anonymous said...

Bender and shoemaker should pack it up and move to the Falls where thr rest of the crooked politicians and lawyers are.

Anonymous said...

Bender: maybe you should call maziarz and henry to help you clean up your terrible public image. After I received that mail piece I would rather stay home on election day than vote for a bum like you. Tough to live in a glass house when you are constantly throwing stones ah Bender?

Merrill Bender said...

Always and interesting mix of views on this Blog.

Some fit right in with the political smear campaign run by Henry Wojtasek against me and against Ed Shoemaker in and effort to avoid the true issues in the campaign.

Becky has it wrong on my School board record. The scandal was over the Superintendant at the time on his conduct. A majority of the board fought to remove him and succeeded. That superintenedent tried to make a big issue of it and got some in the community to support him. Most in town know those facts from 10 years ago and know that the board in the end did exactly the right thing.

To the accusation on the PAC.

Tax Reform Niagara chose to file as an unincorporated association and not a PAC. Total Receipt are under $1,000 with only $600 being spent on the Tax Reform Niagara Float in the Olcott Pirate parade, web site development and printed Action Guides.. THat's it. Another Smear dispelled.

My Campaign committee is called "Save Somerset" all filings have been made with Board of Elections. No money from Ed Shoemaker or any power group.

Another smear I have heard in the feeding frenzy of anonymous posters is something to do with my house burning 15 years ago and or insurance. Another smear with no foundation in fact. I was out of town with a hundred witnessess at a campout in Ellicotville. National renowned Fire Insurance Adjusters ( NFA) documented all property lossess and had all payments approved by State Farm Insurance. End of another smear tactic by friends of Henry.

To Dan Engert, people from your leadership Niagara Class say you were close to Sloma; and you have told residents of Somerset before you decided to run for office that you were close to Henry Sloma and Henry Wojtaszek.

Your mailings also echo the same lines about the Town Attorney that are talking points from Wojtasek and Meyers letters form last year.

I hope you can seperate yourself from them and be your own man and not become one of Henry's boys.

But you can't minmize and downplay the #1 issue in Somerset and say you will fight litigation costs or just settle.

I am sure you do not know the history of the 7 year fight with AES and like Henry Sloma you seem to support the claim that AES has paid too much.

so please clarify.

Answer some of the facts on AES and what you support.

Should AES pay their fair share of taxes?

Is an Assessment of $1.149 Billion for AES as set by the gold standard by the state NYORPS - a fair Assessment or not - if so why not? It cost over $1 billion to build and has had millions in upgrades?

Did you know that there were 23 meetings with AES Attorneys trying to negotiate after the first AES lawsuit was settled and AES always came to the table demanding they be assessed at 10% of their value or $100 Million ? School officials attended 19 of those meetings and then gave up on AES wanting to negotiate at all.

Is $100 million for AES the number you would accept? or would you fight the Busload of AES attorneys and protect the taxpayers ?

Did you know that AES was supposed to drop all lawsuits against the Town when they got the PILOT but they have refused?

Did you know that after getting the PILOT they filed another assessment lawsuit against the town for 2007?

How do you feel about Judge Kloch delaying his decisions on not only the Pilot lawsuits but the Assessment lawsuits pending in his court?

Or is he waiting for your team to get in so you guys can "settle" litigation costs???

Did you know that an editor from the US&J asked several Municipal Attorneys if what Shoemaker was charging for Litigation was about
right and that they all agreed $300,000 in a year was about right for what he had to deal with?

Settlement has been tried repeatedly with AES and they demand to pay only 10% of true value, if AES wins That means we all pay more not just Somerset but all of Niagara County.

Other good attorneys agree with Ed Shoemaker and the Town of Somerset that the AES PILOT was "illegal" and each of the 3 lawsuits cite over 20 causes of action against the IDA.

So the County Attorney and the outside firm - Phillips Lytle must be in the same conspiracy along with the attorney from Downstate that the School had to hire. From some of the conspiracy posts that is what must be believed.

Final comment - and this is where I agree with Becky on a post made elsewhere. For all the complaining going on you would think more people would take this energy and run for office and not just slander personally the ones that at least try.

Dan Engert deserves credit for both running and putting his real name to his posts. I disagree with his poliitcs and where his published focus is and that it is not focused on the big and obvious issue - AES PILOT and taxes.

I disagree with anonymous postcards being sent on behalf of candidates for the Town of Somerset that slander in such a vile way. Engert, Degnan Meyers and Syracuse have the right and I think the obligation to tell Henry Wojtaszek to stop.

That's the poliitcal discussion.

I apologize for the length.

Joe B. said...

At least Mr.Bender gives Dan Engert some credit, which he deserves, but I don't agree with his assertion that AES is the key issue in Somerset. The focus should be on attracting new business and ridding itself of a greedy, self-serving town attorney.