November 30, 2007

Niagara County Public Works Facility

Based on a recommendation from the County Manager, the Niagara County Legislature is moving forward with a plan to merge county operations into three buildings. Under this scenario, the approximately 35 buildings the county currently owns or rents space in would be consolidated into an east campus, a west campus and a public works facility.

This is a good idea. Right now, the county has too many antiquated buildings that are inefficient. Consolidation of county operations would also go a long way in eliminating the duplication that exists from maintaining so many locations. In addition, the county will examine the benefits of constructing "green buildings", which are more efficient, environmentally friendly buildings.

The problem is this: When County Manager Greg Lewis initially proposed the campus idea, he stated that the cost for a public works facility would be in the $12-15 million range, which would be paid for over 20 years. The east and west campuses were estimated to come in around $20 million each.

The county's engineering firm, Wendel Duchscherer, recently estimated that the public works facility in itself would cost between $40-42 million. How could Lewis be so far off in his initial projection of $12-15 million? We're not talking about a couple million dollars here, we're talking about $30 million. And if the estimate for the public works was so horribly erroneous, what will that do to the projection of $20 million each for the east and west campuses?

From what I recall, there was some apprehension on the part of the Legislature to move forward with Lewis' plan for consolidation, but Lewis sold it well. But now, knowing the massive cost difference between what was initially stated and what we now know, would the Leg have given Lewis' plan the initial go ahead if they had known the correct numbers?

The consolidation is certainly worth pursuing. But at what cost? Are we as a county, and thus, the taxpayers, willing to spend what could easily be $100 million for it? The Legislators cannot blindly follow Lewis on this. We need to know both the short term and long term implications of moving forward with the campus concept. I hope they do their homework.

November 29, 2007

Vanity Fair Story

This link is to a story in Vanity Fair entitled "The Year of Governing Dangerously". It details Eliot Spitzer's first 10 months in office. It is fascinating reading, regardless of political ties. Simply copy & paste the following into your browser:

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/01/spitzer200801?printable=true¤tPage=all

Immigration Laws

There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools.
***************
There will be no special ballots for elections.
**************
All government business will be conducted in our language.
***************
Foreigners will not have the right to vote no matter how long they are here.
**************
Foreigners will never be able to hold political office.
***************
Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers.
***************
No welfare, no food stamps, no health care or other government assistance programs. ***************
Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage.
***************
If foreigners do come and want to buy land, that will be okay, but options will be restricted. You are not allowed to buy waterfront property, that is reserved for citizens naturally born in this country.
***************
Foreigners may not protest. No demonstrations, no waving a foreign flag, no political organizing, and no bad-mouthing our President or his policies. If you do, you will be sent home.
***************
If you do come to this country illegally, you will be hunted down and sent to jail.

Harsh, you say? The above laws happen to be the Immigration Laws of Mexico.

I'm thinking no one in Mexico's government is advocating driver's licenses for illegals either.

November 28, 2007

Breaking News - Changes in Leg Leadership

Niagara Times has learned that changes are on the horizon for certain leadership positions within the Niagara County Legislature.

Former Chairman of the Legislature, Bill Ross, appears poised to once again hold the Chairmanship. Current Administration Committee Chairman Jason Murgia will apparently become the new Majority Leader, and Keith McNall will Chair Administration.

There are several perspectives on this. Firstly, Niagara Times is obviously viewed as a credible source of information. We very much appreciate the information which has been provided to us and encourage our readers to continue to do so.

Secondly, this is not the first time that Ross and Clyde Burmaster have switched roles. There seems to be a strategy on the part of the Majority to have a Chairman that will guide them through certain phases of the two-year term. More specifically, it seems that Ross navigates the Legislature through the issues and uses his consensus building abilities to get initiatives through the Leg. Burmaster seems to have been chosen by the Majority to lead them through the election cycle. Based on the outcomes of the 2007 Leg races, Burmaster has been effective in that role.

Thirdly, one cannot ignore the party affiliations of the leadership. Ross is a Conservative, Murgia is a Democrat and McNall is a Republican. Will this bipartisanship in those roles be effective in moving the county forward?

Lastly, based on the information that we have received, other committee chairmanships will remain unchanged: Smolinski will retain Community Safety and Security, Sklarski will chair Community Services, Farnham will head Public Works and Updegrove will retain Economic Development.

November 27, 2007

2008 County Budget

The Niagara County Legislature is preparing to approve the 2008 budget that has been presented to them by County Manager Greg Lewis. Lewis initially stated that his budget would include a tax increase not to exceed three percent. He noted that the budget calls for a reduction in the property tax levy, or the total amount to be raised by taxes, of 6.8 percent, and that county spending will be reduced by more than $9 million from current year operations.

Under the plan, the 2008 average tax rate will increase by five cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This means that the average projected County tax on a property assessed at $100,000 will increase by $5.00. This will vary based on equalization rate established for each town and city.

Approximately 200 employees from Mt. View will no longer be on the county payroll and the Social Services Department have more than 60 fewer jobs than it had in 2000.

This is all good news. As I have said before, the county appears to be addressing the label of the highest taxed county in the country, but few of the other taxing jurisdictions are doing the same. Unfortunately, when the label was placed on the county, some placed the label on the County. There is a distinct difference.

The study labeled all taxing jurisdictions combined as the highest taxed. School districts, town, city & village governments, special districts, and the County. I'm not sure why this is such a difficult concept to grasp, but as recently as November 18th, Lockport Union Sun Journal Editor Tim Marren, in his column, stated, "The last time a billboard made the news in Niagara County was when Lee Bordeleau decided to boast — or lament — the fact that Niagara County was No. 2 in taxes. All that did was lead Niagara County’s electorate to vote the same people into office again."

Tim, are you unable to comprehend the truth or do you simply choose to ignore it? Either way, when you make comments like that, you're doing a disservice to the community, and letting the other taxing jurisdictions off the hook for their portion of the tax burden.

Why not call out the school districts? Why not call out the special districts and the Town Supervisors that use the water and sewer districts as a haven for political patronage? Why not call out Frank Nerone, who retired from the Sewer District in 2001with a pension of $5,500 a month, only to be brought back as a consultant at $5,000 a month. He's getting 10,500 per month to work at the Sewer District. He, by the way, wants a raise.

What about attorney Bob Roberson, who submitted legal bills to the district with no records that the work was done. When the county auditor refused to pay the bills, Roberson sued the county.

These are but two of the abuses of tax dollars that you choose to ignore. You focus on "County" taxes because it's easy. It doesn't take any actual reporting to say that "Niagara County was No. 2 in taxes. All that did was lead Niagara County’s electorate to vote the same people into office again." It's downright pathetic.

I don't know where you got your journalism degree, apparently, Cracker Jack still has some decent prizes, but wherever you got the degree from, you should demand a refund because they didn't teach you squat about being a reporter.

As for Niagara County, keep up the cost cutting measures, and keep doing your part to address taxes. People of reasonable intellect are well aware of the misguided views of our local periodical.

November 26, 2007

Spitzer CNN's Turkey of the Year

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2007/11/21/schneider.political.turkeys.cnn?iref=videosearch

CNN’s Bill Schneider named Gov. Eliot Spitzer “turkey number one” - ahead even of Sen. Larry Craig of toe-tapping fame who promised to step down and then didn’t - for his driver’s license plan that tripped up Hillary Clinton during a presidential debate.

Politicos make Schneider’s turkey list by, as he puts it, “doing something foolish.”

The top five this year: Spitzer, Craig, FEMA (for its fake news conference during the California wildfires), former US AG Alberto Gonzonles(for his “amazing memory lapse” about the eight US attorney firings during Congressional hearings), and John Edwards (for spending $400 on a haircut).

November 23, 2007

Black Friday

You'll have to pardon me if I am a little off today, but I am suffering from slight sleep deprivation this Friday. After waking up Thanksgiving morning, I didn't go to sleep until 7 A.M. Friday morning. You see, I participated in the great American tradition of insanity, Black Friday.

Having scoured every ad possible, both in the newspapers and online, I had my heart set on a new TV. Not just your regular TV, I wanted the flat panel, HD, plasma 52" one. Best Buy was my target. Having arrived at just before 3 A.M., I was somewhat disillusioned to find that they did not open until 5, though they were to start handing out tickets for selected items, such as my TV, at 3.

To make a long story short, after over two hours standing outside, I got in the store, got my TV and few other goodies and headed home.

However, not before experiencing the craziness of the day. One would certainly have a hard time making the argument that WNY is in difficult economic times. The stores were jam packed. Best Buy was packed, Target was amazingly busy. There was a line of traffic to get into the Transit Road location, and in the parking lot, nary a space to be found. All the way down Transit, the traffic seemed like rush hour. Car after car heading to experience Black Friday.

The problem? The line of cars was headed out of Niagara County. Not that this is surprising, those of us who live in the eastern end of the county don't have any place to shop. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Sure, there's Wal-Mart, but in reality, it's a dump that sells garbage.

Town of Lockport Supervisor Marc Smith is devoting a significant amount of time to his Transit North Corridor initiative. Sounds great, but what is a new facade going to do for me? Honestly, I could care less about any initiative that has to do with Transit Road that doesn't involve more shopping and more competition.

In addition, we're going to have a massive empty building as soon as Wal-Mart relocates. Apparently they need more room to peddle lead-filled products from China.

Black Friday was a great experience, albeit the three days it's going to take my body to re-adjust. But the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, that will be lost in sales tax revenue to Erie County, today alone, is cause for concern.

The Town of Lockport is one of the fastest growing communities in WNY, and all we have as a shopping choice is Wal-Mart. Mr. Smith, you need to be putting all of your efforts into creating a decent shopping district. We all know how much effort you've been putting into the Super Wal-Mart.

If that's what you want to be your legacy, a Super Wal-Mart and nothing else, you're well on your way to getting your wish.

November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

In the immortal words of Erma Bombeck, "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence".

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Niagara County's Fiscal Stability

Kudos to Niagara County for a recent report that indicates that the county is on firm financial footing. On Tuesday night, the Legislature was presented with a report from Moody’s Investors Services, a firm that assesses the credit worthiness of public and private borrowers. Moody's upgraded the county's bond rating for the third time in less than two years.

The report also highlighted some other interesting observations, including Moody’s indicating that it expects the county’s tax base to remain stable in the coming years and possibly improve as a result of ongoing economic development initiatives.

Moody's also noted savings related to employee health care coverage, the influx of revenue and low-cost power from the New York Power Authority’s re-licensing agreement and countywide reductions in spending.

These are positive steps for Niagara County. Unfortunately, the local media tends to ignore the positive and focus on the negative. For a change, let's embrace some good news, not twist it to turn it into a negative, and accept the reality that Niagara County is not all that bad - despite what the naysayers preach. Congrats to the County.

November 20, 2007

Breaking News -- Meyers Wins in Somerset

After losing the Republican Primary by a handful of votes in September and running on only the Conservative and Independence lines in November, Somerset Supervisor Rich Meyers was declared the winner today by 10 votes.

All paper ballots in the race were opened and counted, which is a credit to both Mr. Meyers and Mr. Sweeney for not trying to disenfranchise voters by challenging the ballots.

Meyers, who has been a lone wolf on the Somerset Board, will be joined by fellow reformer Dan Engert. As I said in a previous post, politics in Somerset is pretty interesting these days.

The Comptroller Invades Somerset

If I asked you, politically speaking, what is the most interesting locality in Niagara County, what would you say? Niagara Falls? North Tonawanda? Maybe the Town of Lockport? Well, you’d be wrong. Right now, the most interesting place is the tiny Town of Somerset.

As all of you know, Somerset is the home of the AES Powerplant and the issues around that have been well-documented. So too have the issues with local attorney Ed Shoemaker and his ironclad grip over the town, the town’s refusal to release Shoemaker’s legal bills and the bottom line that suing AES has been a cottage industry for Ed.

Well, right now a recount is going on that could determine whether the pro or anti Shoemaker forces control town board. A dozen votes one way or the other could mean a monumental shift.

But that’s tomorrow’s story. The real news – AND SOMETHING YOU’RE HEARING HERE FIRST – is that the state comptroller’s office has invaded Somerset Town Hall and have begun pouring over those secret legal billings. That’s right, this powder keg that has been simmering for a while could very well explode and change the face of town politics forever. Who knows where the comptroller’s investigation will go, but anyone who is part of the old guard in Somerset must be nervous.

November 19, 2007

Help Lockport Win an MRI

Lockport Memorial Hospital does not have an MRI machine but they'd like one and you can help them win it.

Go to www.winanmri.com and scroll down to the LMH video. Watch the 30 second clip and then vote. Whatever hospital receives the most votes wins. Right now, LMH is second in the nation.

You only need to watch the video this first time and then every day you can revisit the site and vote again.

Let's all band together and help LMH win this important piece of equipment.

November 17, 2007

Christy's Slang

Watching Legislative Journal at 9:35 this Saturday morning, I heard what is likely the most offensive comment ever uttered from host Tom Christy. It wasn't about Mount View, it didn't have to deal with taxes, and it wasn't a reference to the Business Council.

No, this comment was about masturbation, and it was made by Christy.

While talking to guest Bob Anderson from Niagara Falls, Terry from Wheatfield called in. Terry asked what the Water District does. Before Anderson could answer, Christy chimed in with the following: "I'm sure they do something, I'm sure they don't sit around diddling themselves".

In case you did not know it, "diddling" one's self is a slang term for masturbation.

If the comment isn't offensive enough, my eight year-old daughter was in the room. Fortunately, she was playing a game on the computer and didn't catch it. Not that she would have known what it meant to begin with, but hell, could you imagine trying to explain that one to an eight year-old?

What great TV for a SATURDAY MORNING!!!

This is another shining example of how Christy has gone over the edge. Where is the LCTV Board of Directors? Their names are on the LCTV website, therefore their reputations are on the line as well. Are they going to allow one individual to continue to drag down LCTV? Sadly it appears so.

November 16, 2007

Need a Pair of Cement Shoes?

I don't know why the article below from the US&J caught my attention today regarding a little spat between a concrete company and the YWCA. I think this interests me because I can't make up my mind if I agree with the YWCA that it's probably offensive or with the owner who says it was tongue and cheek.

LOCKPORT: American Concrete billboard stirs controversy
By Joyce Miles/milesj@gnnewspaper.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal


— A business owner is standing his ground, and the women in his family are standing with him, after a YWCA of Niagara official charged his company’s advertising is gender insensitive.
Richfield Street-based American Concrete had a new billboard erected Monday on West Avenue. Over the image of a wrapped gift, the solicitous catchline, “Wife need new shoes?” is accompanied by the American Concrete logo and a greeting, “Happy Holidays.”
The humorous inference to “cement shoes” or “concrete shoes” as a method of doing away with one’s wife is at the heart of the controversy.
What company owner Kevin McCabe sees as risqué spoof, YWCA Executive Director Kathleen Granchelli condemned as ignorant.
“I’m sure it was considered to be a joke, or something cute, but with the number of fatalities we see in the domestic violence field, it’s not a joke,” Granchelli said Thursday. “It’s in very poor taste.”
No, it’s not, countered McCabe.
“I think the mainstream understands it,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that some people are reading much more into it than they should.”

Read the whole article at: http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/gnnlocalnews_story_320020911.html

November 15, 2007

Spitzer's Arrogance

The local Greater Niagara Newspaper group often prints editorials from other newspapers. While we have no interest in emulating GNN, here is an editorial with a very different perspective of Governor Spitzer from what one usually gets with GNN:

ELIOT'S ARROGANCE DOOMED BY HIS CONTEMPT

The best you can say about Gov. Spitzer's now- scrapped plan to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens is that it emerged out of a (profoundly confused) idea that it would somehow make Americans safer. That's the best you can say.

Less kind is that it was the product of testosterone-charged cynicism, hubris and self-righteousness - which led to a stunning miscalculation of how folks would react.

Spitzer is no dummy - a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law, he managed a 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs and a perfect score on his LSATs. So the correct explanation should be obvious: This scion of power and privilege has utterly no regard for the common man's ability to think for himself.

What he has is contempt: People will believe what he tells them to believe - to hell with the facts. To hell with logic and sound reasoning. The public just needs to be spun. And opponents, bullied.

That's what the Dirty Tricks campaign - where his communications director, Darren Dopp, had the State Police dig up "dirt" on state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, the gov's political foe - was all about.

To Spitzer, it didn't really matter whether Dopp acted on his own initiative or in response to media requests. (Albany DA David Soares now appears to be probing whether Dopp's claim that he was merely following up on requests amounts to perjury.)

To Spitzer, it made no difference that the accusation against Bruno - that he wrongly used state helicopters for personal political purposes - was groundless, since the Ethics Commission had blessed the practice for years. (Indeed, Spitzer himself had used state aircraft for political purposes.)

What mattered to the gov and his people was getting a negative headline out of the charge - so that people would think ill of Bruno. That's all that counted - it was all for the greater good, you see.

That same reasoning seems to have been at work in many of Spitzer's cases when he was attorney general. He'd threaten Wall Street firms with civil or even criminal charges, and count on the firms to settle with him to make the headache - and the bad publicity - go away. That strategy generally worked - even if the charges were baseless.

But in the driver's-license scheme, the facts mattered - and bullying couldn't get the gov his fix. Let's be honest: Spitzer couldn't truly believe that the proper response to 9/11 - when foreign terrorists infiltrated our borders and used driver's licenses to help carry out their bloody plot - is to issue more driver's licenses to foreigners who've already broken the law by being here illegally.

Yes, he might have convinced himself that his plans' high-tech security measures would provide sufficient protection. He might even have a genuine soft spot for immigrants - "like all four of my grandparents," as Spitzer put it yesterday, who do "hard and sometimes back-breaking work."

He may truly want to find ways to address the fiasco of 12 million illegals "living in the shadows" - a million in New York alone. But his claims still didn't add up. One of his chief arguments for his plan was that licensing illegals would put their names and addresses on file - so authorities would know who they are and where they live.

Gee: Would Spitzer suggest giving guns to felons or mob suspects on the theory that they'd have to fill out forms, thus helping cops track them? Not likely. No, illegal immigrants aren't necessarily felons; most probably aren't dangerous. But all of them have broken the law. And some of them are dangerous.

Far more likely is that Spitzer thought he could rally the pro-immigrant community and liberals to support him at a time when he was bleeding politically, thanks to the Dirty Tricks scandal.

Oops. Fully 70 percent of New York voters weren't buying it this time - and, worse, he was losing support even from fellow Democrats (particularly after the issue put Sen. Hillary Clinton on the spot and apparently cost her support).

So yesterday, he withdrew the plan. But he stuck to his delusions of righteousness: "In New York," he said, there are "1 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom are driving without a license and without insurance."

He claimed he continues to believe his plan "is principally the right thing to do to make our roads safer and our state more secure." And he again blamed "hyperpartisanship" and fear-mongers for attacking the plan.

Spitzer doesn't learn.

Back in August, he gave a remarkable speech - on "the need for both passion and humility in politics." In it, he essentially admitted that his own confidence in the correctness of his views and policies may have led him and his staff to cross the line - for "the greater good."

But in pushing a cynical license scheme that would've exposed New Yorkers (and the nation) to greater risk, he may have deluded himself yet again.

Fortunately, he failed to delude the public.

NY Post

November 14, 2007

Spitzer Backs Down

All the major media outlets today are reporting that Governor Spitzer will pull the plug on his plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Given his plummeting poll numbers, this probably is not a major surprise. It will be interesting to see the spin his team tries to put on this retreat.

What I find interesting in all of this is the timing. Had Spitzer not done this originally or backed off sooner, he could have avoided this being an election issue that many Democrats in local races had to deal with. Instead, he pulls the plug a week AFTER the election. So much for being a team player.

November 13, 2007

Exclusive: Barker School District Fires Outside Counsel

Sources have told us that the Barker School District has fired the high priced attorneys they imported from Syracuse to fight the AES PILOT agreement. This could mean that the Barker School District knows they are going to lose the case and are tired of flushing hundreds of thousands of dollars down the toilet on lawyers fees.

Of course, the Barker School District's regular law is the infamous Andrews, Pusateri, Brandt, Shoemaker & Roberson gang...the same ones who have been bilking the Town of Somerset right along. Maybe the Barker folks thought if we're going to piss away tax dollars on an appeal, may as well do it with a local firm.

Plus, I imagine Ed Shoemaker could use a few extra taxpayer dollars in his pocket with the holidays coming up.

Seriously, with the county apparently rejecting the idea of appealing and this move by Barker, plus the election results which show no public outcry about the PILOT, maybe this saga is coming to a merciful end.

And while we're on Barker, has anyone else heard that former Barker Superintendent Steve LaRock, who whined poverty during the PILOT discussions, is on the Barker payroll as a $500 a day consultant? It's good work if you can get it.

Mount View Closure

Kudos to the Niagara County Legislature and the County Manager for taking the proper steps to finalize the recommendation of the Berger Commission regarding the closure of the county-owned Mount View Health Care facility. The current plan has Mount View closing it's doors by December 28th.

Although the county was looking to divest itself of the facility through privatization, the Berger Commission trumped the county's plans to sell Mt. View and directed the county to move towards closure.

Since the closure of the facility will eliminate approximately 200 county workers from the payroll, those who believe that Niagara County has too much government must be elated. Coupled with the assertion that Niagara County is the second highest taxed county in the country, as misguided as that assertion is, the closure of the facility will save the county millions of dollars.

Many of the candidates for office this year condoned the closure. There was political piece after piece accusing the majority of "evicting" the residents of Mt. View. Obviously, this was a less than effective strategy. In fact, it was right up there with hammering AES - no one cared. By the way, not a single resident of Mount View has been evicted.

I believe that the private and public sectors should never compete. Whether it's a nursing home, a golf course, services for seniors or meals for the indigent, the private sector will always provide the service more effectively and efficiently.

Even though we are giving the Leg and County Manager kudos for moving forward with closing Mt. View, we hope that this is only the beginning of further analysis of all county services and a determination of what other services may be privatized.

November 12, 2007

Shoddy, Shoddy Journalism

In the course of catching up on some weekend reading, I came across Joyce Miles' column regarding the formation of the Libertarian Party in Niagara County, something we touched on last week. So I'm perusing through, reading Scott Leffler's reasons for starting it and Bob Confer's comments (side note: are Leffler and Confer attached at the hip these days?)and then I come across this:

By and large, Republican candidates for office this year proclaimed all is well when it’s not, and Democratic candidates simply declared everything stinks without suggesting how to make it better.

OK, I'd expect a comment like that from Leffler or Confer in conveying their rationale for starting the party. But they DID NOT SAY IT. It's actually body copy. So either Joyce is expressing an opinion in the midst of her reporting or the editors at GNN failed to attribute it properly.

It's this type of shoddy journalism that I am growing tired off. To say in the body copy, which should be factual, that Republicans say everything is fine and Democrats say everything stinks is a ridiculous oversimplification and quite frankly not true.

It might be fine rhetoric if attributed to someone being interviewed, but it's poor journalism when the reporter makes that a factual statement in the article. Makes you wonder how many other subtle editorials make it into GNN stories.

Here's the link, judge for yourself: http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/local_story_315230905.html

Welcome Back, Mark Scheer

With the departure of Jill Terreri, Greater Niagara Newspapers has filled the position with Mark Scheer. I say this is good news for we political junkies.

Based on Mark's previous stint with the paper, I am confident he will have a depth of politics and government that Terreri just never achieved. And Mark is a reporter, not just a note taker who takes the comments from politicians and treats them as fact.

Mark, we're putting faith in you. Good luck.

November 9, 2007

Tom Christy

I've got a problem with Tom Cristy. You know Tom, he hosts Legislative Journal on LCTV. For us political junkies, his show is sometimes entertaining, sometimes volatile and sometimes worth changing the channel. But that's not where my problem with Christy surfaces.

In his recent GNN column about his FAIR Government group, he made the statement that "since FAIR is non-political, non-editorial and educational in nature, it has no concern with who the particular players are". What complete and utter bullshit.

Firstly, Tom Christy is a die-hard Democrat. He worked for the New York State Assembly for, I believe, 12 years under the Democratic Majority. While he sits there railing elected officials for their actions, he conveniently forgets to mention that for 12 years, he sucked off the public teat. Tom, you had 12 years to make a difference, and did nothing to make New York State a better place to live and work. You were a political appointee. I guess while you're getting that paycheck from the taxpayers of this state, the dysfunction is okay. Amazingly hypocritical.

Secondly, in regards to FAIR being "non-political" and "non-editorial", I cannot even begin to comprehend how he could make such a statement. He has become so overtly political, alienating anyone and everyone along the way, that he is having serious trouble getting guests on his show. County Manager Greg Lewis, possibly the least political person in Niagara County's government, will not go on Christy's show. By the way, Christy recently stated that Lewis is no longer welcome on his show, insinuating that he, Christy, made the decision. That is an absolute lie. Lewis informed Christy that he will no longer appear on the show via email. I am attempting to get a copy of that email.

His personal attack on a county legislator's father was disgraceful. Apparently management at LCTV agreed, because after the fiasco aired live, it never aired again.

Lastly, I would like to know how the hell this guy can have three hours every Thursday on LCTV, in addition to the numerous reruns all week, to push HIS agenda. In case you did not know it, LCTV is funded by a portion of the cable bill of City and Town of Lockport residents. Yes, if you live in the city or the town, YOU are paying for this blatantly biased pitchman to throw out his personal agenda.

Maybe this is within the rights of LCTV to allow this, maybe it's not. Next week, I will be contacting Town of Lockport Supervisor Marc Smith and Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker to get a copy of their agreement with LCTV. We are going to find out exactly how that portion of my cable bill that funds LCTV is supposed to be allocated.

For the record, LCTV as a whole is a phenomenal organization. They offer an amazingly diverse slate of programming, 95% of which is beneficial to the community. But giving one person three hours a week to pitch his personal agenda crosses the line of serving the community, and it needs to be addressed.

The Libertarians Are Coming

Radio talk show host, and old friend of this site, Scott Leffler, made the announcement below. I wonder if this impacts his ability to continue hosting his radio talk show.

From today's Buffalo News:
POLITICS
Libertarian Party forms Niagara County chapter

Updated: 11/09/07 7:11 AM


LOCKPORT — Radio talk show host Scott Leffler has been named temporary chairman of the new Niagara County Libertarian Party, he announced Wednesday.

Leffler, who calls himself a “reformed Democrat,” said the state Libertarian Party authorized formation of the Niagara County chapter Sunday.

The chapter has set up a Web site, www.niagaralp.org,which includes a link to a 10-question quiz that visitors can use to discern their political beliefs. “I believe that many Niagara County residents are Libertarians but don’t know it,” Leffler said.

Leffler, host of “Dialog” on WLVL-AM in Lockport, is planning to call a convention in January or February to elect party officers.

November 8, 2007

Recap of Our Election Prognostications

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to take a look at some of the more interesting races, and in some cases, predict the outcome. One of the comments yesterday asked how we did, so let's take a look.

In Lewiston, we said "the race is too close to call". Newlin won with 53.5% of the vote.

In Lockport, we predicted that "Tucker crushes Pillot 68% - 32%". We were right about the crushing, but Tucker actually pulled 72%.

In the 7th Legislative District, we said "Farnham wins with 64% of the vote" against Chenez. Farnham won with 60%.

In the 16th District, we predicted that "McNall takes home the trophy, 58% - 42%". McNall tallied 59% of the vote against McDonough.

In the 11th District, we said "Wojtaszek wins 55% - 45%" against Schultz. Wojtasek pulled a whopping 66.5% of the vote.

In the 18th, we stated that "Syracuse cruises to a 69% - 31% victory" over Bender. Syracuse pulled 65.5%.

For Family Court Judge, we said "Judge Batt holds off a spirited challenge from Maria DiPasquale". Batt currently holds 50.67% of the vote, with just under 2,000 absentee votes yet to be counted. Batt has a lead of 529 votes.

In the race for Niagara Falls City Court, we said "Robert Merino cruises to victory over Maria Massaro". Merino won with just under 60% of the vote.

In the race for Mayor of Niagara Falls, we believed that "Candra Thomason has fought a valiant fight for Mayor of Niagara Falls, but a lack of funds and sheer numbers in the city work against her. Dyster pulls 60%". Dyster cruised to victory with 79%.

In the 2nd, 4th & 5th Legislative Districts, we said "Renae Kimble, Sean O'Connor and Dennis Virtuoso all win handily". Kimble won with 76%, O'Connor pulled 58%, and Virtuoso won with 72%.

In the 15th District, we said "The shocker of the Leg races will be Tony Nemi upsetting Harry Apolito. (Nemi)pulls out a 125 margin win over Apolito". Nemi did win, but his margin of victory was over 400, nearly 60% of the vote.

In the 16th & 17th Districts, we said "Updegrove and McNall also win, shifting the balance of power in county politics back to Lockport". Updegrove won with 60% of the vote. McNall won with just under 60%.

In the 10th District, we stated that "Smolinski narrowly wins". He won with just under 59%.

For Somerset Supervisor, we said "The one race still too close to call is Somerset Supervisor. Logic says that Sweeney, with both major lines, should win handily. But Meyers has stepped up his game in recent weeks and may snag the win on the minor lines". As of now, Meyers holds a 15 vote advantage, with about 70 absentees out. Meyers currently holds 50.8% of the vote.

November 7, 2007

Reflections the Day After

Well, one of the most contentious and expensive campaign seasons in Niagara County history has come to an end. Below are my reflections and observations. I would love to hear what stood out for many of you...and let's not make this stuff personal. It's post-election now, and the community should come together to move forward at least for a few months.

1) Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants was a major campaign issue.

2) Supporters of the AES PILOT, particularly Henry Sloma, should feel very vindicated today. The voters have the last word on the issue and the message is pretty loud and clear.

3) While I'm a little surprised at the GOP success in County Leg races, I'm completely blown away by their margins of victory. Candidates like Andrea McNulty, Paul Wojtaszek and Pete Smolinski crushed their opposition in N.T. And that's Dan Rivera's backyard. Same thing in Lockport. Harry Apolito was demolished by Tony Nemi and McNall and Updegrove rolled. Jerry Farnham takes 60 percent of the vote when he ran close for so many years? Amazing.

4) Paul Dyster should be reminded that Vince Anello had a huge election night victory once. Seriously, good luck Paul, we hope you break the mold of failed one-term mayors.

5) Big win for Mike Tucker...can he move on to higher office?

6) That Family Court Judge race is very close.

7) Rich Meyers' victory may or may not hold on once the paper is counted, but winning off the I & C lines against an R&D opponent? Could it be the people of Somerset are tired of Ed Shoemaker bilking the town?

8) Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin is one savvy politician.

9) Clyde Burmaster's race was too close for someone in a leadership position...could there be a new chairman on the horizon for the County Legislature?

10) Maybe trying to vilify a man who regularly wins his own election with 70 percent of the votes (Senator Maziarz) isn't exactly the best campaign strategy for the Democrats.

November 6, 2007

Election Day

Today is of course, Election Day, so regardless of your political ties or affiliations, it is not only your right to vote, but your responsibility. So head out before the snow flies and support your candidates.

Since we didn't have the opportunity to look at all of the races, we'll cover a few more here.

Judge Batt holds off a spirited challenge from Maria DiPasquale for Niagara County Family Court Judge.

In the race for Niagara Falls City Court, Robert Merino cruises to victory over Maria Massaro.

Candra Thomason has fought a valiant fight for Mayor of Niagara Falls, but a lack of funds and sheer numbers in the city work against her. Dyster pulls 60%.

Also in Niagara Falls, Renae Kimble, Sean O'Connor and Dennis Virtuoso all win handily.

The shocker of the Leg races will be Tony Nemi upsetting Harry Apolito. With four lines and literally tons of mail to go along with Nemi's strong name recognition, he pulls out a 125 margin win over Apolito.

Updegrove and McNall also win, shifting the balance of power in county politics back to Lockport.

In NT, Smolinski narrowly wins, and Wojtaszek wins comfortably.

The one race still too close to call is Somerset Supervisor. Logic says that Sweeney, with both major lines, should win handily. But Meyers has stepped up his game in recent weeks and may snag the win on the minor lines.

Any way they fall, remember, you can't bitch if you don't vote. Good luck to all of the candidates.

November 5, 2007

Somerset (con't)

Received via email from Somerset Supervisor Rich Meyers:

I have been somewhat of a topic in a few of the postings on your blog. I have a couple topics of my own that may be interesting to some folks. They have to do with FOIL requests and the legality of an elected Town Supervisor and Chief Financial Officer being denied access to records concerning legal bills.

Becky Connolly, Somerset's Town Clerk, blacked out 80% of legal documents that were FOIL'd prior to my winning the Supervisor's seat, refused to release them to me for review after I took office, and proposed the eventual change to the Town Law that stated that all rejected FOIL request would be appealed to the Town Supervisor. They are now appealed to the Town Board.

Mrs. Connolly recently sent a letter to the fine folks of Somerset accusing me of lying about her and of trying to get her to break the law by issuing this request. Her accusations are humorous at best and slanderous at worst.

What was the basis for all of these decisions? According to Clerk Connolly, Robert Freeman, Director of the Committee on Open Government and personal friend of hers, is the authority behind all of these decisions. Ironically, Mr. Freeman wrote an opinion (FOIL-AO-14270, September 30, 2003) that contradicts redacting most of a legal billing for anyone, let alone a Town Supervisor.

I am not going to accuse anyone of hiding anything, but it is odd that such drastic efforts are being undertaken to protect a bill for services rendered. I ask you why?

Thank you for your time and I truly appreciate such a high quality BlogSpot.

Richard J. Meyers

Supervisor, Town of Somerset

November 4, 2007

County Leg 18th District

This race has former Barker School District Board President Merrill Bender challenging incumbent John Syracuse. Unfortunately for Bender, this one is a no-brainer.

While Syracuse has focused his campaign on what he can do for the people of his district, Bender has apparently appointed himself the campaign manager for every single candidate in Niagara County who is not in the majority.

Watching the Niagara County Concerned Taxpayers (again, I can't type that without laughing out loud) forum, Bender repeatedly lobbied, not for himself, but for every single candidate there. If he put as much time into focusing on his own campaign, he might have slightly more than a snow ball's chance in hell.

What is simply amazing is that Bender never changed his message after the Primary Election in which he was completely pummeled. Simple political logic says that if you are touting a specific message prior to a primary, then you get crushed in that primary, you need to re-think your message.

Bender hasn't, and that will be evident Tuesday when Syracuse cruises to a 69% - 31% victory.

November 2, 2007

County Leg 11th District

The race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Niagara County Legislator Mal Needler pits former school board member Scott Schultz against Paul Wojtaszek.

Wojtaszek, a law clerk, is the brother of Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek.

Both candidates seem to have a reasonable grasp of county issues. We have some concern with Schultz's role in bringing in NT Superintendent Vincent Vecchiarella. As we've covered before, Vindictive Vince has a less than pleasant history which doesn't seem to have improved with time. Since Schultz obviously had not conducted a thorough background check on Vecchiarella before hiring him as the head honcho for the school board, what other "details" will he overlook?

Wojtaszek has deep political roots in the community, which depending on your perspective, may be a good thing or a bad thing. His plan to create a "medicaid watchdog" is intriguing, in that we have repeatedly heard members of the Leg talk about the burden of Medicaid.

Frankly, the problem is not the recipients, it's the providers that are responsible for the massive fraud in the system, so if Wojtaszek is going to promote attacking that end of the problem, we are all for it.

In a tightly contested race, Wojtaszek wins 55% - 45%.

November 1, 2007

County Leg 16th District

This race pits two former Lockport City School District board members against each other. Current Legislator Keith McNall is being challenged by Beverly McDonough. McNall is seeking his first full term in the Leg after being appointed to fill a vacancy last December.

McDonough seems focused on the AES issue as the basis for her platform, while McNall is touting his record as a consensus builder and the improvement of the Lockport School District's in the Business First rankings under his leadership as Board President.

Watching the forums on LCTV, McDonough appears to be a nice woman, but seems to harbor a tremendous amount of anger towards Republicans. In a district in which Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 400, I'm not sure bashing the hell out of Republicans every time she speaks is a wise strategy.

Although this is a sprited race, McNall takes home the trophy, 58% - 42%.