March 31, 2009

DelMonte's Bizarre Behavior Baffles

As if New York State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte's antics of late aren't bad enough, her latest display of odd behavior recently left attendees at a Lewiston Democratic Committee Brunch stunned.

A reader of Niagara Times shared with us the embarrassing display: While addressing the group, DelMonte held up a pair of slippers in one hand, and a picture of Paychex & Responsible New York founder Tom Golisano in the other and stated that Golisano is as slippery as the slippers. HUH? This is so bizarre on so many levels, one really has to wonder what makes this woman tick.

Now, it's bad enough that DelMonte is saying "go screw yourselves" to the people who live in the towns of Lewiston, Porter, Cambria, Niagara, Wheatfield, Wilson, Newfane and Hartland by taking away their share of the casino revenue (which IS in the state budget and will occur).

DelMonte has now chosen to publicly humiliate herself by attempting to denigrate a man who just cut a check for $10 million to Niagara University, which is in DelMonte's Assembly district!!! Is there a staff psychologist on hand in the LOB, because someone in 553 needs deep, intense analysis.

Not that Golisano would be as vindictive as me, but if I were him I would call Joseph Levesque, the President of NU, and tell him that the money is off the table. You want to play hardball, I'll show you hardball like you've never seen, sweetheart.

We're not done with you yet, Fran. We're waiting for Wednesday to see how you vote on the Rockefeller Drug Laws changes. We know how you've voted before, we're just waiting for your flipflop.

Meanwhile, do you best to keep your mouth shut. It seems every time you open it these days, your foot is more than willing to fill your gaping pie hole.

March 30, 2009

Paterson, Smith & Silver Stick It To Upstate

Well, there are many who live north and west of the Tappan Zee Bridge who voted to shift all power in New York State to NYC Dems. And you're going to get exactly what you deserve. This story from the New York Times articulates just how screwed we all are now. If we haven't had a mass exodus before, get ready for one now.

Concluding the most secretive budget negotiations in recent memory, Gov. David Paterson and leaders of the Legislature outlined a $131.8 billion agreement on Sunday that would close the state’s gaping deficit with billions of dollars in new taxes, financing from the federal stimulus and a substantial slowdown in the growth of health care spending.

The final days of negotiations between Mr. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith have been conducted under a veil of secrecy so profound that even well-seasoned Albany cynics were taken aback.

And despite the enormous fiscal pressure the state faces, the budget contains $170 million in financing for pet projects — an amount unchanged from last year — suggesting that Albany’s appetite for with what critics call pork-barrel spending appeared to be undiminished.

Listed in the budget were grants to gun clubs, an upstate museum dedicated to bricks and brick-making, the Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta and an organization known as the Urban Yoga Foundation.

With the stimulus money and other federal grants, total spending would rise over the next year by $10.5 billion, or 8.7 percent, a major expansion, though the state’s direct spending, which excludes federal funds, would rise by about $3.3 billion, higher than the rate of inflation.

The rest of the story appears here.

March 27, 2009

Will Thompson Support Accused Slasher?

We've posted about this scumbag Monserrate before, who now is seeking financial help from within his caucus as he faces assault charges. In our eyes, any Senator who gives this piece of garbage a dime is condoning the actions. The question begs to be asked: Will Senator Antoine Thompson, Monserrate's colleague who has remained silent on this issue, assist Monserrate with his legal fees? We'll be watching you, Antoine.

Colleagues of State Senator Hiram Monserrate, who has been indicted on six counts of assaulting his companion, have discussed setting up a fund to aid his legal defense, senators said on Thursday.

The idea of helping Mr. Monserrate cover his legal expenses came up during a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats this week. Though senators were not directly asked to contribute, Majority Leader Malcolm Smith told them he would not stand in their way if they wanted to assist Mr. Monserrate, who is accused of slashing his companion in the face with a drinking glass.

“He said, ‘If you want to help out a colleague, you should feel free to do so,’ ” Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Mr. Smith, said on Thursday.

He said Mr. Smith also told the senators that he had contributed to the legal defense of another senator, Efrain Gonzalez Jr., who was charged in 2006 with stealing more than $400,000 in state money.

Mr. Shafran had no further comment and declined to say whether Mr. Smith planned to give money to Mr. Monserrate’s legal defense.

A spokesman for Mr. Monserrate, Davidson Goldin, could not say how Mr. Monserrate is paying his legal bills.

“Senator Monserrate is complying with the advice of his election law attorney in paying his bills,” Mr. Goldin said, adding that he could not elaborate.

The State Board of Elections has ruled that public officials can spend campaign funds to defend themselves, but it has limited such use to cases in which the charges arise from the official’s campaigning or “office holding.”

The board’s position has allowed indicted public officials like former Senator Guy Velelle to use their campaign accounts to pay their lawyers.

Mr. Monserrate’s case is different; he is accused of crimes that have no obvious connection to his role as a public official.

Courtesy of the New York Times

March 26, 2009

Let Us Have A Voice, Albany

This legislation has recently been proposed in the New York State Senate. It is asking for our state elected officials to allow this issue to go to a referendum so the PEOPLE of this state can decide.

If any legislator decides that this issue is not worthy of allowing the people to have a voice, they don't deserve to be in office. At the end of the post, I have included the phone numbers of the entire WNY state delegation. Call your Senator and tell them to support bill number S.3526. We all complain about the injustices being brought upon us by Albany. Get up and make your voice heard or don't complain. Of course, Volker and Ranzenhofer are sponsors, so implicitly they'll be supporting their own bill, but call them anyway and let them know you support their efforts on 3526.

The bill does not appear to have a mirror in the Assembly yet, but we posted the phone numbers of our Assembly people as well. The following is language directly from the bill:

Introduced by Sens. ROBACH, LARKIN, RANZENHOFER, SEWARD, VOLKER

AN ACT to provide for a referendum on the question "Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?"; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. At the request of the county legislature or other similar governing body of any county, there shall be submitted by the board of elections of such county to the voters of such county at a general election held on or before December 31, 2010 the following question: "Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?"

§ 2. Such question shall be submitted in the manner provided in the election law, and the provisions of such law, not inconsistent with this act, relating to the submission of and to the taking, counting and returning of the vote and canvassing the results upon a question submitted pursuant to law to the voters of the state shall apply to the question herein required to be submitted. The ballots shall be in such form as prescribed by such law. When a board of elections shall have completed its canvass of the results of the vote upon such question, it shall forthwith certify the results of the vote upon such question to the secretary of the senate and clerk of the assembly.

§ 3. This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire January 17 1, 2011 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed repealed.

Senate:

Catharine Young - 372.4901
Bill Stachowski - 826-3344
Dale Volker - 656-8544
Antoine Thompson - 854-8705
Mike Ranzenhofer - 631-8695
George Maziarz - 731-8740

Assembly:

Steve Hawley - 585-589-5780
Robin Schimminger - 873-2540
Francine DelMonte - 282-6062
Crystal Peoples - 897-9714
Jane Corwin - 839-4691
Sam Hoyt - 885-9630
Dennis Gabryszak - 686-0080
Joe Giglio - 373-7103
Jim Hayes - 634-1895
Mark Schroeder - 826-0152
Jack Quinn - 826-1878

March 25, 2009

DelMonte Action Will Screw Niagara Falls

The legislation that has been proposed by Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte to take away the county's share of the casino revenue has caused some old wounds to open.

When the city of Niagara Falls, the County of Niagara and the state were working on the initial distribution formula for the casino revenue, the county had filed a lawsuit seeking a greater percentage of the revenues. The case was dismissed, not because it did not have merit, but because the formula had not yet been determined when the suit was filed.

Subsequently, an agreement that was deemed acceptable to DelMonte, State Senator George Maziarz and Governor George Pataki was passed, eliminating the need for the lawsuit.

With the legislation that DelMonte has recently brought before the Assembly, coupled with State Senator Antoine Thompson's "mirror" legislation in the Senate, there is a very real possibility that this change to the distribution formula will happen.

And you know what the spin off will be? A re-filing of the lawsuit by the county seeking a higher percentage of the casino revenue, possibly as much as 75%. And you know what else? The county will win. The county unequivocally has standing.

In essence what has transpired here is this: Because DelMonte is a petty tyrant seeking revenge for the series resolutions the county leg has brought forward questioning the actions of the New York Power Authority, DelMonte is looking to punish the county by taking away their share of the casino revenue; revenues that have totaled about $900,000 compared to $50,000,000 the City of Niagara Falls has received.

If the DelMonte/Thompson legislation does in fact pass and Governor Paterson signs it, there will be litigation. DelMonte is putting millions of dollars that flow to the city at risk because of a political vendetta. When this ruling comes down and the city gets screwed, every single resident of Niagara Falls needs to remember how you got to that position.

March 23, 2009

Casino Revenue Debate Spurs Virtuoso Hypocrisy

Enjoying a quiet moment to myself this morning, I openly laughed out loud while reading a story in the Buffalo News about the distribution of casino revenues. The story, which focuses on the introduction of a bill into the State Legislature that would re-allocate the county’s share of casino cash to Niagara Falls, has several quotes from various elected officials.

What drew open chuckles was the idiocy that flows from the mouth of County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso when he thinks he's being clever.

State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, whom as we stated last week has forgotten that she represents towns other than Niagara Falls, reinforced our opinion by sponsoring this legislation. She stated that she is doing so because "the county’s never developed a policy [on how to spend the money] that I believe is consistent with the law."

DelMonte claims that the county has not used the casino proceeds in accordance with the 2004 law that says that the local casino share is supposed to be used for "economic development, including but not limited to marketing, tourism and development, to facilitate private investment and private sector job creation".

Virtuoso agreed, saying, "there should have been a policy in the first place". County allocations have included the support of different projects and festivals, obviously drawing the ire of DelMonte and Virtuoso, as they claim that the projects don't qualify under their interpretation of economic development. Virtuoso added "I would say a lot of it is questionable".

Virtuoso apparently assumed that no one would remember that he sought some of those "economic development funds", to the tune of $10,000, toward a new monument in Niagara Falls. I'm thinking that a monument is not a big economic stimulus.

It truly is amazing that people, such as Virtusoso, will sell their soul to make a point. He has the audacity to question and criticize the actions of his colleagues, while he himself is doing the exact same thing.

On second thought, this isn't worth a laugh. It's just too pathetic.

March 20, 2009

Maziarz Lights Up Power Authority

The following is testimony given by State Senator George Maziarz to Trustees of the New York Power Authority in Albany on March 19. At least we know there's one state elected official in Niagara County standing up for the people of this community. We certainly won't expect that from sellout Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte or State Senator Antoine Thompson, who cast the deciding vote to allow the $750 million sweep of NYPA profits generated primarily in Niagara County.

March 19, 2009

DelMonte, Thompson Should Resign

State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte represents the city of Niagara Falls and the towns of Lewiston, Porter, Cambria, Niagara, Wheatfield, Wilson, Newfane, and Hartland. So why is she only concerned about one part of her district? DelMonte, along with State Senator Antoine Thompson, is looking to change the distribution of casino dollars, absconding every dollar that is devoted to projects outside of Niagara Falls, to fix roads in the city.

Union Sun & Journal writer ( I won't use the word journalist because it doesn't apply) Mark Scheer, who wouldn't know the meaning of the word "objectivity" if it bit him in the ass, makes the assertion in his distorted version of events that the county has received about $977,000 in casino cash, with roughly $124,000 having been doled out.

What Scheer neglects to tell you is that the city of Niagara Falls has received over $50,000,000 in casino revenue to date. Yes, that's 50 million dollars. So despite the fact that the city has received this massive influx of cash, they've been unable to make a dent in their crumbling infrastructure.

Francine DelMonte's solution is to steal the county's share, the 1/50th of what the city has received, and give it to the city. Dollars that have been allocated to organizations such as the United Way of Niagara, the Niagara Military Affairs Council, Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier, the Historic Palace Theatre in Lockport and the Das Haus museum in Bergholz, as well as various community events, including Canal Fest in the Tonawandas, a barbecue contest held by the Eagles Club in Wheatfield, Youngstown’s “Save Field Days” event and several festivals in the Town of Lewiston.

It's not difficult to discern that a number of the groups that have received these dollars are in DelMonte's district. And she wants to take that away and give it to a city that has little hope of recovery. Nice. If anyone outside of Niagara Falls ever pulls the lever for Francine DelMonte again, they need a lobotomy.

This is once again nothing more than a money grab by DelMonte and Thompson. We as a community should not tolerate it for one second longer. If DelMonte does not want to represent all of her district, she should simply resign and turn the seat over to someone who actually gives a damn about Lewiston, Porter, Cambria, Niagara, Wheatfield, Wilson, Newfane, and Hartland. Any other outcome is a disservice to the residents of those communities.

And take Inept Antoine with you before he stands up on the floor again to speak against a bill that he sponsored.

March 18, 2009

Broderick Allegations Demand Further Investigation

Niagara County Treasurer Dave Broderick has been an excellent public servant for longer than I can remember. However, recent allegations that Broderick abused his authority as a public administrator of estates raises some serious questions. The allegations come from Amherst lawyer Teresa Snyder, who has accused Broderick of overstepping his bounds as public administrator by allowing his wife, Jane Broderick, to serve as the realtor of a property formerly owned by Snyder’s mother.

Two prominent county judges, Sara Sheldon Sperrazza and Matthew Murphy, this week made an audit request of Broderick, and all 19 county legislators have signed on to the request. Kudos to the judges and the Leg for taking action on this.

We're not saying Broderick did anything wrong as it relates to the handling of the estate work. What sticks in our craw is the very real likelihood that Broderick conducted this "private" business on county time, using county resources and county employees. Best case scenario, this is offensive. Worst case scenario, it's downright illegal.

County Attorney Claude Joerg has stated that the Leg has no standing to form a board of inquiry, as requested by the minority caucus, in the Broderick matter. He said the statute covering the formation of inquiry boards covers only situations involving the mishandling of public money by county officials. In this case, he again argued that Broderick’s duties as public administrator, while assigned to him by state law, do not involve the handling of any public dollars and are, in essence, a side job for the treasurer.

Fine, we'll go along with that determination; we don't like it, but we'll accept it. But it does not address whether or not county resources were utilized for, as the county attorney has labeled it, Broderick's "side job".

We find the prospect of using county resources more offensive than allegedly handing a real estate deal to his wife. Why? Because that means county tax dollars, MY tax dollars, were used for Broderick's side job....allegedly. That's unacceptable.

The Leg needs to follow this investigation to fruition. If the allegations are found to be true, someone needs to fired or removed from office. Any other outcome will be construed as condoning of this type of behavior.

March 17, 2009

Thompson An Embarrassment

While Buffalo News reporter Tom Prohaska does a decent job of covering politics in Niagara County, he has no future as a prognosticator of how the political winds will blow.

In a story he wrote on January 25, Prohaska indicated that because of the flip in the Senate majority, Antoine Thompson "is likely to emerge this year as a force in Niagara Falls", adding that Thompson "now is a serious player".

Obviously Prohaska never heard Thompson open his mouth. If we in Niagara County, and more specifically Niagara Falls, are now to rely on Antoine Thompson to be our advocate in Albany, we're screwed. This guy is a complete disaster.

From his standing up on the floor of the Senate last year to speak against a bill that he himself had sponsored to his most recent humiliation at the hands of WGRZ and WIVB, one is forced to wonder: Is this man the stupidest person on the planet?

In addition, Antoine Thompson cast the deciding vote on the legislation that swept $750 million from NYPA, dollars that are generated right here in Niagara County and are supposed to be used for economic development projects in the county. This is so offensive on so many levels.

Thompson has a long, long way to go in rehabbing his image. If I were contemplating a run against this guy in 2010, I would be collecting every idiotic interview he gives and every moronic vote he casts.

And by the way, whomever Thompson is relying on for political advice should be fired immediately.

March 16, 2009

Senate Dems Plan To Raise Taxes

We've done several posts over the past 18 months about the Upstate/Downstate disconnect and the problems that may arise when one political party in the state controls the Senate, Assembly and the Governor's seat.

As if the current state budget mess isn't enough, the Senate Democrats, now in control of the Senate after 40 years of GOP control, are moving forward with their agenda of higher taxes.

Congratulations to any idiot west of Rockland that pulled the lever for a Democrat for Senate or Assembly. By putting them in control, you've allowed the New York City-based interests to get exactly what they want: Everything. You'll now get exactly what you deserve: Nothing.

The following is a story from the New York Times that details the Senate Dems plan.

Senate Democrats Pushing to Raise State Income Taxes

ALBANY — Democratic leaders in the State Senate will seek income tax increases on at least some affluent New Yorkers and a sales tax increase of a quarter of 1 percent to help balance the state budget, a Senate official with knowledge of the plans said in an interview over the weekend.

"The hole is too deep to dig ourselves out by cuts alone," said the Senate official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the details of the proposal were still being hammered out. "The debate now is over where to start."

The move by Senate Democrats, who have a slim majority, will significantly increase pressure on Gov. David A. Paterson, who has said he would consider raising income taxes only as a last resort and only after the Legislature had agreed to steep cuts in state spending.

Mr. Paterson’s original budget blueprint called for increased sales taxes on specific items, including theater tickets and non-diet soda, though he backed away from many of them last week.

Democratic lawmakers, who hold a majority in both houses of the Legislature, broadly support new income taxes on high earners.

Read the rest of the story: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/16/nyregion/16taxes.html?_r=1

March 13, 2009

Friday Ruminations

Kudos to the Niagara County Legislature for moving forward with a bi-partisan resolution that calls for an investigation by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office into the so-called “sweep” of several hundred millions of dollars of authority money into the state’s general fund. We've questioned the legality of such a move for some time, and we as a community deserve an answer.

How the hell does State Senator Antoine Thompson get elected to any office? In the middle of a recession, he is presenting legislation that would give state workers an additional two days off every year per child. The most sickening part of the story was when Thompson was asked him if it was going to be paid leave or unpaid leave, he said he didn't know because he didn't have the bill in front of him. He's the freakin sponsor of the bill!

What happened to Patty Parete is horrific. She is entitled to every benefit that she is eligible for. But the deal the city of Buffalo and the city’s police union have worked out that would pay Parete’s life partner, a registered nurse, more than $60,000 per year in salary and benefits is incomprehensible.

State Senator Carl Marcellino left little to the imagination when he compared what the Senate Democrats are doing to the budget process to what "Client 9 did to that young lady." Thanks for the visual. Ick.

Kudos to county IDA Chairman Henry Sloma for telling it the way it is on the Hoyt-Thompson IDA bill. The bill, which would mandate that companies receiving IDA aid pay their workers local prevailing wages, will significantly drive up expenses for employers. Sloma responded with, "If [Hoyt] did a little work up in Albany and made New York a more business-friendly place, we wouldn’t need IDAs, but that’s not the reality we face." Goddamn right.

The NAACP is accusing Wells Fargo and HSBC of forcing blacks into subprime mortgages while whites with identical qualifications got lower rates.

The state has identified $10.7 billion in projects over the next 20 years to improve rail service in New York, including a high speed rail that will shave two hours off the trip between Albany and Buffalo. Really? Who the hell does this affect, lobbyists? What a distorted sense of priorities.

Lastly, have a safe & happy weekend.

March 11, 2009

North Tonawanda Treasurer Does Right

I haven't met North Tonawanda Treasurer Rob Ortt, but from what I've seen of him, he seems like a young man with a bright future ahead of him. He recently returned home from a tour in Afghanistan, quietly going about his business serving the people of NT. He certainly doesn't seem the type of person who seeks publicity, but in this day and age when politicians are always accused of only looking out for themselves, I believe it's only fair to give Ortt his due.

North Tonawanda has a policy that allows city employees on military leave to be paid the difference between what they earn from the city and what their military pay is. Ortt, while serving his country abroad, declined to accept the additional compensation from the city. This likely amounted to a relatively significant amount of money that Ortt chose to forego.

Ortt put defending his country before all else, but has no interest in taking advantage of a policy that would have put thousands of dollars into his pocket. That, ladies and gentleman, is an elected official who is not only looking out for himself.

At a time when so many of us in the private sector are being asked to do more with less, it's unusual to see someone in the public sector who actually is willing to do the same. No fanfare, no publicity and no grandstanding. Just a good ol' desire to work for the people without making headlines. How refreshing.

Allegations Levied Against NW Super

We did a piece on Niagara-Wheatfield School District Superintendent Carl Militello on June 25, 2008 detailing the the controversial circumstances under which he left the Carthage School District, his previous stop before arriving at NW. It now appears that Mr. Militello's controversy extends far beyond the public relations debacles he encountered at Carthage.

According to a report from Watertown's WWNY, Militello was accused Monday of trying to buy an employee's loyalty with a deal for health care and retirement.

In a news release from the School Administrators Association of New York State, the Carthage School Administrators Association is challenging in court the conduct of the school district and its former school superintendent, Militello, who the association believes negotiated special deals with individual members in return for their support of his agenda.

The full piece from WWNY appears here.

We had our doubts about Miltello when the district announced his hiring, apparently rightly so, because of the cloud surrounding him upon his departure from Carthage. While this situation likely has a long way to go before a resolution to these allegations is handed down, it is imperative that the Niagara-Wheatfield board closely monitor this situation and its potential impact on the students, faculty, taxpayers and their own reputations.

March 10, 2009

The Sheriff Could Learn a Few Things From the DA

District Attorney Mike Violante has been doing a tremendous job as DA since being elected two years ago. By all indications, Violante's office is non-political, he himself stays out of local political battles and the result has been a DA's office that is respected and admired.

This isn't to say that Violante doesn't give financial support to candidates he likes. Quite frankly, we don't know if he does or not and we don't care. The point is he doing anything overt that would make people later call into question any motivations of his office.

We bring this issue up because newly-elected Sheriff Jim Voutour talked much the same way during the campaign about running a non-political Sheriff's Office....something that is sorely needed in that department. And now, we see invitations all over town that Voutour is being honored as Democrat for the Year in Lewiston and is raising money for candidates, etc. etc.

This is a very bad move for the county's top cop. Again, if Voutour wants to do some quiet support for candidates he likes, that his business. But getting so publicly involved in political campaigns in a local election year sends the message that the Sheriff's Department is not above politics but mired in them just like everybody else.

For example, now, that Voutour is the prince of the Lewiston Dems Ball, the next time he has a policy disagreement with someone like Lewiston Republican Legislator John Ceretto over something like homeland security, questions will arise over whether this is really about politics and elections and not public safety.

It was often said during the sheriff's campaign that Niagara County was fortunate to have two outstanding candidates in Jim Voutour and Ernie Palmer running and we couldn't go wrong with either one and that after the elections, politics would be put aside. Now, we see that's not the case.

Sheriff Voutour, you're making a mistake here. Take a page from DA Violante and remember that the public wants their law enforcement officials to stay clear of politics.

March 9, 2009

Should NCCC Ban Tobacco on Campus?

The NCCC Faculty Senate passed a resolution calling for a complete ban of tobacco products on campus. The recommendation has gone to the Board of Trustees who will have final say over this.

I have to admit that my own view on smoking has become much less tolerant over the years. I was an occasional "bar smoker' in my earlier years, enjoying one occasionally while have a few beers. So while it was never really my thing, the libertarian side of me said live and let live.

But through the years, I've begun to change. The health costs from smoking are huge. I enjoy leaving a tavern not smelling completely disgusting or eating dinner in restaurant where the aroma from the food is literally not smoked out.

But beyond all that, when I see a mom or dad puffing away in the family truckster and then some poor little kid strapped in their car seat inhaling the same crap, I realize that "live and let live" attitude really means non-smokers shouldn't be punished by those who can't kick the habit.

So, against that backdrop, I hope NCCC follows through and bans tobacco on campus. I feel a little guilty of promoting the big brotherism I so abhor, but when I have to walk over the dirty cigarette butts or cross through a cloud of smoke at the entrance to a building, I realize that their impinging on my rights.

March 6, 2009

Falls Residents Should Be Ashamed

Governor David Paterson visited Niagara Falls this week to provide us with the opportunity of a lifetime: to ask questions directly to the Governor of the State of New York. Unfortunately, too many in the audience responded by acting like belligerent little children.

The worst of the bunch was Ric Marasco, a politician himself. Did he want to know why the Governor’s budget includes an increase in welfare benefits? No. Did he want to know why he swept $750 million dollars from the NY Power Authority? No. Did he want to know why the Governor is directing the lion’s share of federal stimulus money to state fiscal relief? No. What was the input Marasco wanted to provide to the Governor during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? He chastised the Governor for “buying” a $200 toaster.

There is very little Governor Paterson has done right, but he is still the Governor of this state and what I saw was an embarrassment to our community. The Governor failed to realize that the crowd packed into that community center on Wednesday had no respect for him or his position. It is possible to disagree on an issue and ask a difficult question without being obnoxious. Obviously some people are incapable of this.

Governor Paterson reached out this community to hear our concerns and was badgered, berated and demeaned. After the way Paterson was treated by the people of Niagara Falls, what do you think his mindset is coming out of the meeting? Do you think he's heading back to Albany saying, "Gee whiz, I really wanna help those great people of Niagara Falls"? No, morons, he's heading back to Albany saying, "I've never been so disrespected at a meeting in my file. Screw them, they won't sh*t from me".

Back to Marasco. After his rush to the microphone, despite being out of order, he failed to ask the Governor what he is doing about our largest source of county property taxes, which is our school taxes. He also failed to ask the Governor how he is planning on addressing the looming pension crisis and massive legacy costs of public employees.

The rub? Marasco is a school teacher. Members of a public sector union like Marasco, whose sole mission is to secure compensation packages for its members that drive up our property taxes, are disgustingly hypocritical when they blame others for their property taxes.

I can't even imagine what Mayor Paul Dyster was thinking. He must have been so humiliated by what was going on in his city. One thing is for sure, though. Securing aid from the state to fix the pot holes in the city just got a whole lot tougher. Good job, folks.

March 5, 2009

Golisano, GOP Courting?

While our friends at Buffalo Bean speculate that Gov. David Paterson may help the GOP usher in a comeback in New York state, it seems that another prominent supporter of the Democrats may be re-considering his alliance with the party.

Although it received little play locally, except for a piece from Buffalo News columnist Tom Precious, the impact of the meeting Tueday between Tom Golisano and four Republican members of the State Senate cannot be underestimated. It was Golisano who dumped more than $4 million of his money into the Democrat's efforts to win back the Senate majority, which they did, due in no small part to the financing Golisano provided them.

Golisano apparently reached out to Senator George Maziarz to arrange the meeting. Maziarz attended, along with Republican Sens. Joseph Griffo, James Seward and Andrew Lanza. It's no surprise that Golisano would reach out Maziarz, as the two have worked together recently, including banding together in an attempt to get the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission to open up its books.

On a side note, we've learned that Golisano was in Albany on Monday for the specific purpose of meeting with the staff of Paterson on the Bridge Commission. That issue is about to take a whole new turn, but we'll have more on that next week.

If Golisano is indeed re-thinking his alliance to the Dems, Golisano pulling his money out of the Dems coffers and re-directing it to the GOP could have a major impact on the outcome for the race for control of the state senate in 2010.

This scenario combined with Paterson's plummeting approval ratings, which are the lowest of any governor in decades, bodes well for a reclaiming of the state senate by the GOP. That being said, I'm going to reiterate that I am hopeful of this based not so much on parties, but on the ongoing upstate/downstate disconnect that we've touched on so many times.

Factor in Rudy Giuliani on the ticket next year, and it might just be the comeback the GOP is looking for.

March 3, 2009

Fear & Loathing In North Tonawanda

We haven't heard much out of North Tonawanda lately, but a couple of recent occurrences caught our attention. The first is Soos' choice for the city's plumbing board. On the surface, it would appear that this would be a relatively innocuous issue. But what has some folks in the Lumber City up in arms is the fact that Mayor Larry Soos has gone outside of the city to pick a new board member, going with an Amherst resident.

Resident are expressing their concern over this move based on two issues. The first is obviously the fact that Soos went with someone who is not a resident. Is there not a single person within North Tonawanda that is capable of filling this position? Many NT residents do in fact believe that there are enough qualified individuals to fill the position, at least when it comes to the actual technical knowledge needed to fulfill the responsibilities of the board.

Unfortunately, that is not the only qualification that Soos was looking for. Sources have told us that Soos went with this individual because nobody in NT would play "political" ball with him. Frank Grandinetti, the Amherst resident who now serves on the city's plumbing board, is an old pal of Soos and is more than willing to serve as Soos' political appointee.

As if this mess isn't enough, sources have told Niagara Times that North Tonawanda Democratic Committee Chairman Mark Houghton is getting unemployment while serving as the Market Clerk in NT.

Now, I don't claim to be a lawyer or to even play one on TV, but it was my interpretation of unemployment law that recipients of benefits are not permitted to earn any outside income while collecting those benefits.

We would hope that, should this indeed be the case, someone with the authority to investigate this situation take a look at the benefits Mr. Houghton has received while on the city's payroll.

March 2, 2009

NY Post Cartoon

Odds are that you've seen some reference to the below cartoon that appeared in the New York Post on February 18. The political cartoon has been the subject of much debate. Many believe that it is racist in nature, that any comparison of Obama to a chimp must be racist. Conversely, there are many who believe that it is simply inferring that the stimulus bill is so moronic, that a monkey could have written it. We tend to agree with the latter.

Is it prudent to be cognizant of the feelings of other people? Absolutely. Our country has been marred by centuries of racism, and despite the fact that massive strides have been made, we all must be sensitive to the feelings of others.

That being said, there is a contradiction with those who believe that it is racist in nature. There has been a website in existence for years that compares George Bush to a chimp. The site openly states on the front page that "this is a little project I decided to start once I realized how much George W. Bush looks like a chimpanzee." And this is acceptable?

No one knows what the author of that cartoon was thinking. Many people have stated that the only ones who think that the cartoon is racist are the ones who are racist. I wouldn't go that far, but I also wouldn't immediately jump to the conclusion that the author is saying that Obama is a chimp. Personally, I believe that those who are so enraged by this cartoon are simply trying to deflect attention from the fact that the stimulus bill is a complete disaster.

Let's get focused on how we're going to pay for these trillions of dollars in new programs that will be plaguing us with debt for years to come.