July 14, 2008

Niagara County Politics

The past week has been a very contentious one in Niagara County politics. Much of what has transpired has played out all over local and statewide media outlets. Over the past few years, politics in the county has gotten somewhat nasty. There have been accusations by both sides of dastardly deeds, from anonymous political mailings to flat out slanderous accusations. But how did we get to this point, and is this the new face of politics?

Shortly after assuming the role of Niagara County Democratic Party Chairman, Dan Rivera stated that politics is a "blood sport". Does it need to be? Are the days of political bosses getting together in the back room at Cammarata's to work together gone?

When local media outlets talk or write about political happenings in the county, are they helping or hurting the political environment? Scott Leffler, who hosts Dialog on WLVL, despises many of the local, state and federal politicos. With Leffler, his disdain is primarily directed at the GOP, who have been very successful over the past three election cycles in Niagara County. So when Leffler goes on the air railing the incumbents, is he moving politics in the county forward, or is he setting them back?

When the editors of local newspapers actively seek out negative stories, or worse yet seek to create negative stories about local politicos, are they doing the community a service?

This website is often is a source of political ongoings. Despite the perception, we try to present information in an unbiased manner. True, we rarely harp on political leaders such as GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek, but Wojtaszek keeps his name out of the headlines. And he wins most of the time. So are we doing the community a disservice by publishing the Roberts resignation letter? We didn't write it, we didn't instigate the actions which lead to the letter. In reality, we'd never heard of her before the letter was provided to us. So by printing a letter that a supposedly "loyal" Democrat decided to leak, did we impede or promote the progress of politics in Niagara County?

I've had email conversations with US&J reporter Mark Scheer. I told him the old cliche of newspapers having great power and with great power comes great responsibility. That's true for all media outlets to some degree. Can the media help re-shape politics in Niagara County, or are we destined to continue down the path of negativity?


Joe Niagara said...

We have some good people on both sides of the aisle, but hobbes you seem to just hate anyone who doesnt carry water for the GOP.

Punctual Pam said...

That was well thought out Hobbes. Wojtaszek's name is rarely in the paper/on this blog...is it because he is always on the straight path or because he knows media outlets that print these stories we don't know...but for someone in their own party to lak a personal letter or story shows disfunction within the party. I am one to always comment on the blog to look for positive things...because everyone always takes every post as negative. But when you ook at the current trend of politics in the country with the election...even news sourcs such as CNN always look for negative stories to publish. Maybe if people would have a positive outlook on politics, it could help change the entire outlook of people on their life in general.

craig said...

I'm not sure about that Joe. I think it appears that way because, as alluded to, the GOP leadership isn't out there creating headaches for themselves. I saw Wojtaszek on the news Saturday. You know what for? He held a fundraiser at his house for the surviving children of Larry Lakeman, a State Trooper who died last year. Put that in perspective against the TV coverage Dan Rivera got this week, and it's no wonder the GOP has such success under Wojtaszek.

That being said, I'm not sure that politics needs to be a blood sport. But negativity sells, and the media eats it up. Does the media enhance it? I don't know, but they sure don't try to quell it either.

Joe Niagara said...

Craig, I am just trying to say that once Wolfgang was removed from the party, he is treated like yesterday's diapers. And he also does fundraisers for good causes. But hobbes only wants to kiss the feet of people who currently are in charge, just to get his kid a job is my guess.

Anonymous said...

Is everyone totally disillusioned? Both Henry and Dan are both scum, they will both lie to your face and stab you in the back when you’re not looking. They are Committee Chairmen one hiding behind a law firm the other behind an insurance company, but here is the difference.

1) Henry is a gentleman in public – Dan isn’t.
2) Henry is articulate – Dan isn’t.
3) Henry lies convincingly – Dan doesn’t.
4) Henry supports and embraces the public – Dan doesn’t.
5) Henry covers his tracks – Dan doesn’t.
6) Henry is smart – Dan isn’t

Is everyone getting the picture? And Hobbes everytime you get a letter or e-mail about the GOP you don’t print it so yes you are bias. And yes I am a Dem and embarrassed by Dan, but I don’t want Prince Charming either.

Sorry to say but this whole county politics has to change otherwise it’s just status quo and negative like normal. The media can only help if they decide to be unbiased and fair also.

Larry S said...

Anon, do you know for a fact that Hobbes has received information regarding the GOP that he has refused to publish or are you assuming that he has received information and refused to publish it?

As for the media, both mainstream and unconventional, they have a responsibility to give people both sides of an issue, not twist a "news" story to fit their agenda. Unfortunately, I'm probably pissing into the wind with that thought.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you're doing a disservice to the community by publishing info such as the resignation letter. It makes for interesting fodder, giving people an inside look that we normally would not get. I say keep it going.

Anonymous said...

Where is Larry?

He is said that he would never return to this blog.

I thoughthe'd be back by now, Hobbes did you really have to delete his post.

I'm have trouble getting to sleep now - I need 10 insightful paragraphs on this subject.


rob clark said...

Hobbes I will say it because no one else will. Is this another "witch hunt"? Is Leffler your new target? Let the flame war begin.( not that it is really needed) But I do agree with the idea that local politics shouldn`t be called a "blood sport". We all just make it that way.

Anonymous said...

No one else will say it because no one else took it that way. Go take a reading comprehension course.

rob clark said...

"Tanks for advice there anonymous. Im a much gooder reader now cause o that". (unreal)

Yimmy said...

Rob, get out of here with that witch hunt bullshit. Go look at your own party's blog on their website, and you'll see a witchunt/propoganda at its best. Sometimes you make less sense than the Morman religion.

pirate's code said...

Now that we've read the made-up post about Francine for what seems to be the 100th time...a couple of comments on this issue:

-- I would argue that the degree of nastiness in politics in Niagara County these days is, unfortunately, not unique to Niagara. I don't believe it has to be that way (blood sport comments notwithstanding), but am at a loss as to how to rein it back in.
-- I WANT media outlets to talk or write about politics. Relying solely on the politicians gives only a certain view, and we have long depended on the media to help fill in the gaps. What we need to understand is that media today is not what it was even just a few years ago. This blog is a perfect case in point. As media continue to develop and evolve, so too will the political debate.
-- While I tend to agree only rarely with Scott Leffler, I have no issue with him expressing his opinions about elected officials and issues. However, if the Scott Lefflers of the world (and the Hobbeses, for that matter) want to be taken seriously, they need to be informed. They need to be accurate. And, they need -- from time to time -- to allow the opposing view to get a word in. Otherwise, conversation becomes a rant and, at that point, I begin to assign less credibility to the ranter (rantor?). Not that they care, necessarily, what I think, but there you have it.
-- Hobbes, I worry sometimes that you are a bit fixated on the idea of mainstream media "actively seek(ing) out negative stories." Right or wrong, that's what the reporters do. Walter Cronkite supposedly once said that it's not news when the cat comes home. Yes, one can argue that doing something positive or noteworthy is also news, but it is the nature of that business, I think, to ferret out what one thinks is wrong and, by shedding light on it, trying to either stop it or correct it. I have bigger issues with exactly how that gets done around Western New York, as my belief is that quality of journalism generally in this area has slipped badly over the last two decades.

But that's a discussion for another time...