October 30, 2009

Election Preview

Another election season is nearly complete, so we're going to offer up some analysis and maybe a prediction or two.

What has stood out to me is the fact that too many county legislature candidates in Niagara Falls, including incumbents, have come out against downsizing of the Niagara County Legislature. Dennis Virtuoso, Nick Melson & Ric Marasco have all stated that they do not support it because Niagara Falls will lose representation.

Look - this is a byproduct of consolidation. Residents of Western New York have resoundingly stated their desire for smaller government. Yes, Niagara Falls will likely lose some representation, but that is because the city has lost population. The irony of Virtuoso crying out against consolidation is that he has done nothing in his nearly 20 years in the county legislature to make Niagara Falls a more attractive place to live, work and do business. If Virtuoso had spent 1/100th of the time he plays politics working for the betterment of the city he allegedly represents, maybe the city wouldn't be talking about a shrinking population and loss of representation.

The race for Wheatfield Supervisor has certainly taken a pleasant turn after a nasty primary election. Tuesday's race will feature former Town Justice Bob Cliffe against union rep Sam Conti. It seems both Cliffe and Conti are gentlemen and the only ingredient missing is the contentiousness of soon-to-be former supervisor Tim Demler. He started the mud-slinging in the primary against Cliffe when he revealed Cliffe's confidential personnel records to the media and hasn't stopped his nasty mud-slinging yet, despite the fact that he is completely irrelevant. A write-in vote for Demler is a wasted one. Cliffe wins with 57% of the vote.

In Lewiston, incumbent Supervisor Fred Newlin is facing a strong challenge from Highway Superintendent Steve Reiter. Kathryn Lake Mazierski is also on the ballot on the I line. Newlin has gone on the defensive, accusing Reiter of doing favors for political allies, allegations which Newlin subsequently withdrew and apologized for. Reiter is well-known and well-liked. The 37% pay raise for Newlin and the huge jump in homeowner's utility bills over the past month are extremely problematic for Newlin. Reiter wins with 54% of the vote.

The race for North Tonawanda Mayor pits incumbent Larry Soos against current City Clerk/Treasurer Rob Ortt. Soos had a back-door victory for the position last election when two other candidates split the vote allowing him to sneak in. He won't be so lucky this time. Ortt is young, vibrant and will take a more aggressive approach to solving the city's problem. Ortt takes 60% of the vote.

We'll look at some of the county legislature races Monday. Have a nice weekend.

Should you be out and about tomorrow tonight, I'll be dressed as Barack Obama. Hell, he masquerades as a leader every day of the the year, I can pull it off for Halloween.

October 29, 2009

How Can We Miss You If You Won't Go Away

We here at your favorite blog have always had mixed feelings about former Niagara Falls Superintendent Carmen Granto. On one hand, he seemed to do a good job keeping taxes down where possible and managing a school district that, given the socioeconomic situation of Niagara Falls, isn't easy to manage. And the Niagara Falls High school project is clearly a crowning achievement.

At the same time, Granto didn't exactly run a transparent school board. Nor did he seem to do anything significant when he sat on major boards like NCCC, IDA & NFTA. He seemed more interested accumulating power on these boards than doing anything.

But the stinging comptroller's audit that blew the lid off the Niagara Falls School District really showed Granto's true colors. Credit card spending run amok, accumulation of time off that led to a huge payout when he retired, bookeeping beyond shoddy.....and it goes on and on. How he was able to operate the school board in that manner for so long really tells you something about governance in Niagara Falls.

When Granto mercifully retired and handed the superintendent's job off to his sister (only in NF can you pull that off as well), much of the stink from the school district left with him.

Which brings us to today's point: Who the hell on the Niagara Falls Library Board thought that appointing Granto to a vacant position there was a good idea? Given everything we know about a school district run amok, how can any public or quasi-public board that has any fiduciary responsibility at all, justify this appointment?

Granto was better served (as were we all) when he simply faded from the scene with a mixed legacy. Now, how can we miss him when he won't go away.

October 28, 2009

A Happy Ending In Niagara Falls

After spending most of a lifetime here on the Niagara Frontier, nothing out of the Cataract City should surprise me anymore. I mean, this is a city where corruption is shrugged at and it’s sometimes hard to know who to root against when a political brouhaha flares up.

But I still managed to be shocked when I read that Mayor Paul Dyster’s Tourism Advisory Board is about to urge spending city funds on pole-dancing GoGo girls, a “lingerie show” and a VIP gentlemen’s lounge.

That’s after the promoter of an event being called the “Dream Toys Show” pitched his “economic development” plan to Niagara Falls officials. The article also notes that the Dream Toys Show will feature a “children’s play area with bounce houses.”

Maybe they should invite James McKinney.

Look, ol’ Hobbes is no prude. I mean, you can’t spend your formative years just across the Rainbow Bridge from Lundy’s Lane and not have a somewhat jaded view of adult entertainment. And, honestly, I found myself laughing far more than cringing when the swingers descended on Grand Island. (Not that I plan to ever stay at the Grand Island Holiday Inn ever again, mind you.)

But this article is really disturbing.

Now, in any other city this side of San Francisco, such a proposal would be laughed out of town. But the event’s promoter, Carmen Toromino, has already secured the venerable Niagara Falls Convention Center for his smut show, and the Tourism Advisory Board seems close to urging a green-light for public funding:

“Such a draw would be a welcome sight downtown during one of the slowest times of the year tourism-wise, said board member Vince Mameli.“‘I think there’s going to be a lot of money flying around,’ said Mameli, who was among those encouraging Toromino to bring the show to Niagara Falls.“In the past year, the city has allocated $175,000 to sponsor or support various events, festivals and concerts. Tourism Board Chairman Jerry Genova chose his words carefully when asked Monday if he supported making a financial contribution to the Dream Toys Show.“‘I’m not in agreement with all of what will be going on but I think you always have to look at things across the board before drawing a conclusion,’ he said. ‘You have to see the process through.’”

And this is the city that needed everyone else’s casino money to fix its streets.

October 27, 2009

Fallout From Lobbyist Memo Continues

When we first broke the story detailing a memo sent to the Niagara County Legislature and County Manager Greg Lewis referencing the New York Power Authority's refusal to meet with the county's lobbyists on the proposed wind-farm project because of a win by the county in their suit against NYPA, we figured there would be some fallout. Legislator Renae Kimble took the ball and ran with it by questioning Lewis, and we commend her for that.

Subsequently, there are have been several articles referencing the issue (here, here & here). They contain statements like "We absolutely want Niagara County to be part of the offshore wind project", "I am 100 percent in line with having the Niagara County Legislature and Niagara County participate fully in this project", "that litigation is irrelevant to our relationship with that Legislature". All of these quotes came from NYPA CEO Richard Kessel.

We're going to make this real easy on everyone. If the memo is erroneous, which everyone from NYPA adamantly states, why hasn't the meeting been scheduled?

October 26, 2009

Soos Short-Circuits At Neighborhood Cleanup Event

Last week, Niagara Times encouraged candidates and party officials to email us with information relevant to the 2009 elections. We didn’t, however, anticipate hearing interesting election tidbits from ordinary citizens.

That’s why, when this email arrived in our inbox following yesterday’s Bills game, we were a bit surprised. Out of fairness to the email’s author, we’ve omitted names and email addresses; we’ll let you be the judge, though, of what it says about the fitness of North Tonawanda Mayor Larry Soos to continue holding office:


Dear Niagara Times,

I wanted to take you up on your challenge to the public to provide information about the candidates running for office this year. I have a story about something that happened this morning in North Tonawanda that I think you and your readers will find very interesting.

As you may have heard, every year for the past three or four years, several city aldermen have organized an event they call a “Clean Sweep.” The aldermen get some volunteers together and go and clean up one of our neighborhoods. This year, Alderwoman Nancy Donovan of the 3rd Ward was responsible for organizing the event, and the aldermen picked Oliver Street (which I’m sure you know is North Tonawanda’s historic business district).

The volunteers all met up at 11:30 this morning at Oliver and Sommer Street. Mrs. Donovan was there, along with two other alderman (Mr. Pasiak and Mrs. Schwandt). They began to hand out garbage bags, brooms, and rakes to everyone.

Just then, Larry Soos, the mayor of NT, and his wife pulled up in their car. Mrs. Donovan welcomed them both, thinking that they had come to help out.

Instead, Mr. Soos attacked Mrs. Donovan and the other two aldermen! He was swearing at them and saying the whole Clean Sweep was a “political stunt.” He then hollered at them for not attending some clean-up he said he’d held earlier in the year, and kept repeating that this was just “typical republican politics.”

What he didn’t realize was that he managed to draw quite a crowd. About four volunteers were standing behind him the whole time, and they all later said that they hadn’t been committed before but now are going to vote for Robert Ortt. Apparently they like “typical republican politics” if it’s the opposite of what Mr. Soos was offering and it cleans the streets.

I hope you find this informative. I was an eyewitness to this event, and am still surprised and saddened. Mrs. Donovan, Mr. Pasiak, and Mrs. Schwandt tried to do a nice thing, and Larry Soos had to come out and attack them for it. I really hope that things are different, and better, in January.

Yours truly,

[Name Withheld]

Well, there you have it, folks. You stay classy, North Tonawanda.

October 23, 2009

What Are We Paying Lewis To Do?

As regular readers of this space know, Niagara Times broke the story Tuesday morning that the New York Power Authority was throwing a tantrum and refusing to meet with Niagara County’s lobbyists following the Power Authority’s courtroom loss to the county in the ongoing lawsuit over David Paterson and Francine DelMonte’s sweep of $550 million from the Authority’s coffers, so we were prepared for the story to gain some traction in the press.

We were not, however, prepared for what happened Tuesday night. Legislator Renae Kimble of Niagara Falls must be a Niagara Times reader, because she pounced on County Manager Greg Lewis and Legislature Chairman Bill Ross to demand answers about why, precisely, NYPA was refusing to even talk to Niagara County’s lobbyists.

Kimble would have received a copy of the troublesome memo from the lobbying firm that informed county leaders in no uncertain terms:

1. Discussed NYPA wind farm proposal with NYPA staff for the purpose of scheduling a meeting with NYPA officials to discuss next steps. (Note: Scheduling of this meeting has been delayed due to the ongoing litigation between NYPA and Niagara County.)

Lewis received a copy of that memo by email at 9:44 a.m. Monday morning, 34 hours (and one blog post!) before Tuesday’s meeting. Plenty of time to make a phone call or send an email.

So, maybe Renae Kimble actually expected the county manager—a guy who, after all, makes $115,000 a year—to know what was going on. To be able to answer her questions, even.

And maybe that’s why Ross asked: “Mr. Lewis, do you have any idea why our lobbyists would bring up that point about litigation?”

Lewis’ response?

“Um, no I don’t…That was simply on the report that they supplied the Legislature.”

That’s right, folks. Lewis has 34 hours to make a simple phone call, ask a few questions, and get control of what would seem an important issue. I mean, a quasi-governmental state agency just slapped the county’s lobbyists around, after all. You’d think he’d care, especially since our lobbyists are making $5,000 a month to be able to approach state agencies.

(Oh, and by the way, Greg—nice attempt to squirm out of ownership of this one, but judging by the header of the memo, the section called “Recipients,” the memo wasn’t actually “supplied” to the full Legislature—but it was “supplied” to you.

For $115,000 a year, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect the county manager to at least have a clue what’s going on in his county.

But, hey, see for yourself. There’s video and a copy of the memo from the county’s lobbyists below:

October 22, 2009

Election 2009

We at Niagara Times are often emailed various tips, stories, leads and information. Since we are just under two weeks away from the 2009 General Election, we'd like to encourage candidates and party officials to feel free to send us any information that may be relevant to this election season.

Should candidates themselves like us to publish a bio, campaign platform or simply why he/she is the best person for the office sought, please feel free to send it to us. We will do our best to print said information unedited, so please take into consideration length and content.

Our email is niagaratimes@hotmail.com. Do not send any attachments as they will not be opened due to virus concerns.

Over the next 12 days, we will print information received, as well as publish our election prognostications.

October 21, 2009

Legislature Must Say No To Muscarella

Congratulations to Niagara County Legislator Pete Smolinski for taking what is likely a difficult position in the discussion on paying Undersheriff Sam Muscarella an extra $5,080 on top of his salary of $87,172. Smolinski, who is Chairman of the county's Community & Safety Committee, opposes a resolution by spendthrift legislator Jason Cafarella to pay Muscarella the bonus for performing duties that are already outlined in his job description.

Let's call this what is is, folks - it's an attempt by Muscarella to bump up his pension. As we know, pensions of employees in the state retirement system, like Muscarella, are calculated using the employee's top three income earning years. The $5,000+ bump in salary will likely equate to another $3,000 a year in Muscarella's pension. For Cafarella to even think of bringing this resolution to the floor for consideration is a huge slap in the face of taxpayers who will foot the bill for Muscarella's pension.

Cafarella is trying to justify this moronic legislation by stating that Muscarella assumed the responsibilities of the Sheriff when Tom Beilein left the post to become the Chairman of the State Commission of Correction. What Cafarella doesn't tell us is that in the event of the Sheriff not fulfilling his term, the Undersheriff assumes those responsibilities. No questions asked, no additional compensation.

If he wanted additional compensation at all, he should have asked for it when the situation first came to light, not a year later. And if he knew then that he wouldn't be getting the extra cash, he could have abdicated his responsibilities or he could have just quit. Bringing this bullshit request to the Legislature now is pure garbage. It's just so sad that Cafarella is willing to make the taxpayers dig deeper to fund what we all know is nothing more than a money grab by Muscarella. Classy, guys....real classy.

October 20, 2009

NYPA Thugs At It Again

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just a few days ago, this blog reported that Niagara County had scored a huge win in its lawsuit to reverse the state’s sweep of NYPA’s “excess” funds, and get to the bottom of how an agency charged with producing power at the lowest possible cost to consumers could possibly have an extra half-billion dollars laying around.

Well, sources report to us that in the days since that win, the Power Authority has gone about freezing Niagara County out of the application process for wind turbines on the Great Lakes.

This blog has detailed concerns in the past over whether our county’s stimulus-fund lobbyists were getting access to key state agencies, and now we can most definitely report they are not.

Apparently, last week, when the lobbyists tried to set up a meeting with NYPA staff to discuss “next steps” in the application process, they were put off quite rudely and told that, as a result of the county’s lawsuit, there would be no further meetings. Up until the county’s attorneys beat NYPA’s state-paid lawyers in court, of course, these meetings were proceeding on track and everything was just hunky-dory.

Now think about that: One of the counties with some of the most Great Lakes frontage in New York State has been frozen out of the application process for a taxpayer-funded wind-power initiative because the big babies at NYPA’s headquarters in White Plains are throwing a tantrum. Brilliant.

This gives lie to so many things, of course: all the “green” talk about “green energy” and the like, for starters. Apparently, green energy isn’t bigger than politics.

It also blows a big hole in Richie Kessel’s promised change in tone in NYPA and Niagara County’s relationship.

Mostly, though, it peels back any pretense that NYPA is anything more than a politically-charged quasi-governmental agency. Of course, so do press releases like this, that quote every Dem politician in Western New York (frankly, we’re surprised they didn’t manage to quote the mayor of Wilson while they were at it).

So, we have now seen the new era of “my way or the highway” Democrat governance of New York. If we stand up to them, it’s cute and they send in Richard “Call Me Richie” Kessel to charm the County Legislature. If we stand up to them and win, they’ll try to cut our throats.

October 19, 2009

County Democrats Once Again In Turmoil

Though it's been a common occurrence at election time under Niagara County Democratic Committee Chairman Dan Rivera, the internal fighting within the party has now flared to new levels.

Party insiders have told us that Rivera's tunnel-vision focus on certain races while virtually ignoring other contests has refueled what had been a simmering animosity towards Rivera from other party leaders and Democratic elected officials.

More specifically, party insiders are concerned with:
  • Rivera allowing 11th District County Legislator Paul Wojtaszek to go unopposed. Anyone and everyone who follows local politics knows that Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek, Paul's brother, has beaten and humiliated Rivera for years. The fact that Rivera allowed Wojtaszek's brother to go unchallenged, especially in North Tonawanda, Rivera's home turf, has more than a few Dem insiders chuckling at Rivera's incompetence.
  • The refusal of Rivera to assist Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin, who is engaged in the most challenging race of his political career. Facing a double threat from Steve Reiter and Kathryn Mazierski, Rivera has refused to put aside his personal differences with Lewiston Dem Chairwoman Diane Roberts to provide aid to Newlin.
  • Rivera's obsession with winning the First Legislative District seat currently held by Jason Murgia. Rivera dumped a dozen pieces of mail, costing thousands of dollars, into the district prior to the September Primary Election. Granted, Marasco did win the election, but many are perplexed by the action since the seat will in all likelihood be part of the consolidation/downsizing of the county legislature when they re-district next year. With Niagara Falls likely to lose two seats in the county legislature, Rivera likely set the stage for a 2011 primary between two Dems, Marasco and Renae Kimble, instead of simply waiting for the downsizing to occur and allowing Kimble to challenge Murgia straight up.
  • Allowing North Tonawanda Mayor Larry Soos to flounder. Once again, in Rivera's backyard, Rivera has done little to help Soos combat the serious challenge from Republican Rob Ortt. Many Dem insiders are saying that Rivera's inability or unwillingness to provide Soos with the resources he needs to fend off Ortt is indicative of Rivera's "my way of the highway" approach.
  • Rivera pulling party resources off the campaign of Nick Melson in the Fifth Legislative District. After Melson, who works as an aide for Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, lost his Working Families Party primary to Vince Sandanato through a write-in campaign by Sandanato, Rivera was so infuriated with Melson that he pulled two campaign workers who had been solely dedicated to Melson and reassigned them to Marasco. (One Dem commented that Rivera dumped Melson quicker than he did two years ago after county legislature candidate Bob LaBarbera's DWI arrest). This has left the Melson campaign in a serious lurch and some even greater hard feelings between Rivera and DelMonte.
On top of all of this, the fact that there are seven county legislature seats currently held by the GOP majority which are unopposed is not sitting well with many Dems in the county.

What does all of this mean? That remains to be seen, but in all likelihood it means the GOP will continue to hold a very comfortable majority in the county legislature, and a very real possibility of the GOP picking up wins in both the North Tonawanda mayoral and Lewiston supervisor races, two of the Democrats last bastions of success in the county. As for Rivera, he has a lot of work to do in order to get back into the good graces of those in his own party. If election night plays out the way it's shaping up, that effort may be futile.

October 16, 2009

A Little Levity - Though Quite Appropriate

A guy from Buffalo dies and is sent to Hell. He had been a horrible man his entire life.

The devil puts him to work breaking up rocks with a sledgehammer. To make it worse, he cranks up the temperature and the humidity. After a couple of days, the devil checks in on his victim to see if he is suffering adequately.

The devil is baffled as the guy from Buffalo is happily swinging his hammer and whistling a happy tune. The devil walks up to him and says, "I don't understand this. I've turned the heat way up, it's humid, you're crushing rocks; why are you so happy?"

The guy from Buffalo, with a big smile, looks at the devil and replies, "This is great! It reminds me of August in Buffalo. Hot, humid, a good place to work. It reminds me of home. This is fantastic!"

The devil, extremely perplexed, walks away to ponder the remarks of the guy from Buffalo . Then he decides to drop the temperature, send down a driving rain and torrential wind. Soon, Hell is a wet, muddy mess. Walking in mud up to his knees with dust blowing into his eyes, the guy from Buffalo is happily slogging through the mud pushing a wheelbarrow full of crushed rocks. Again, the devil asks how he can be happy in such conditions. The guy from Buffalo replies, "This is great! Just like April in Buffalo. It reminds me of working out in the yard with spring planting!"

The devil is now completely baffled but more determined to make the guy from Buffalo suffer. He makes the temperature plummet. Suddenly Hell is blanketed in snow and ice. Confident that this will surely make the guy from Buffalo unhappy, the devil checks in on him. He is again shocked at what he sees.

The guy from Buffalo is dancing, singing, and twirling his sledgehammer as he cavorts in glee. "How can you be so happy? Don't you know its 40 below zero!?" screams the devil. Jumping up and down, the guy from Buffalo throws a snowball at the devil and yells, "Hell's frozen over! This means the BILLS won the Super Bowl."

Have a nice weekend.

October 15, 2009

State Senate Dems Continue To Spend Recklessly

Western New York's own Bill Stachowski and his fellow Senate Democrats have just hired a “Director of Upstate Relations,” and tapped a controversial ally of ex-Erie County Democrat Chairman Steve Pigeon to fill the post.

David Pfaff now works as the $70,000-a-year “director of upstate relations” for Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., a Democrat. The new position reports directly to Espada, the Bronx-based Senator that Stachowski helped install as Senate leader this summer.

This position is in addition to the directors of all of the other Senate Democrat's directors of the Senate’s upstate offices, including offices in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. They are controlled by the president of the Senate, Malcolm Smith, who hails from Queens. But since neither Smith nor Espada recognize the authority of the other, they both need to create these offices across the state.

What's sickening is that the state is facing a $4 billion deficit, but the Senate majority leader does not want to go without his own director of upstate relations.

All of the people from Upstate who have put people like Stachowski and Antoine Thompson, who may be the dumbest person on the planet, in office are getting exactly what they deserve. Unfortunately, those of of us who know better are also paying the price.

We're said it before, and we'll it again - if you vote for a Dem at the state level, you are voting to send all of the power and money to New York City. Get your collective heads out of your asses people, this is not about parties, it's about Upstate getting our fair share and ending the tyranny bestowed upon us by New York City Dems.

Once again, watch idiot Senator Kevin Parker give his take on how invaluable Upstate is. If you think he's in the minority with his thinking, you're dead wrong.

October 14, 2009

Put The Animals Away Forever

I've noticed that as I've gotten older, I've become immune to certain societal acts, and that's sad. I guess the more exposure one has to just how evil man can be, it gets harder and harder to sympathize. It's not that reading or seeing a story about murder, rape, arson, assault or whatever one person can so easily do to another doesn't bother me, it just seems so prevalent in our society that it's hard to get a handle on it.

This story out of Palm Beach really struck a nerve. How people can do this is beyond me. The story goes into some of the most graphic details, but the actions of these four animals against a 35 year-old mother and her 12 year-old son include gang raping and sodomizing the mother, forcing her and her son to have sex with each other and then dousing the two victims with cleaning solutions in an attempt to destroy DNA evidence.

How can people such as these four get so much pleasure through the suffering of others?

Rape is a horrible, life-altering crime that no one should ever go through. But to make the mother perform oral sex on her own son is so far beyond sadistic, these animals need to be locked up for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, the families of the defendants don't see it that way - a melee ensued after the animals were sentenced to life in prison.

And of course, during the trial, the defense attorneys and the defense psychologists lined up to portray these animals as poor, poor products of their environment. The defense attorneys and two psychologists who testified for them argued that the youths were products of troubled upbringings. One was born cocaine addicted, another lost his father at a young age and another was constantly beaten by his grandmother.

On defendant's mother testified that she had been treated for mental illness and alcoholism, and herself was raped twice. His father testified that he had been in and out of recovery for drug addiction. The father went on to say, "I'm asking you to give him a second chance and take into account what he has endured."

Are you fucking kidding me? You raised this animal to be just like you, and you want him to get a second chance? What about what the victims of his crimes have endured, do they get a second chance to get their lives back? The answer is no, they don't, and neither do these four animals that perpetrated this hideous crime.

Let's hope these four get what they've given a thousand times over in prison.

October 12, 2009

Best Wishes To Ric Marasco

We've been critical of Niagara County Legislature candidate Rick Marasco of Niagara Falls for a variety of reasons over the years, including his actions during Governor David Paterson's visit to Niagara Falls earlier this year, the details of which we won't rehash here today.

That being said, although we have very different political philosophies from Mr. Marasco, we want to wish him all the best in his ongoing health battle.

As many of you know, Ric was rushed to the hospital three weeks ago. Shortly thereafter, he underwent emergency brain surgery to remove a portion of a brain tumor, though we understand doctors were unable to remove the entire tumor due to its proximity to the brain's memory center.

We are told that Ric is home resting now.

Once again, very best wishes to Ric in his battle. Politics certainly pales in comparison to what he is enduring and what he will likely face in the future.

October 9, 2009

Friday Ruminations

As military officials are preparing to ask Obama for as many as another 60,000 troops to add to the 68,000 already serving in Afghanistan, the level of hypocrisy from B.O. and his supporters is sickeningly astounding. Wasn't it Obama who said he would be bringing our military personnel home shortly after he took office? Wasn't it the supporters of this fake who crucified Bush for leading out country into war to in the name of preserving freedom? Not only is Obama sustaining Bush's military policies, he's augmenting them. What a fraud.

Speaking of Obama, I wonder if he thinks it's too much to ask of the Niagara County Democratic Party to spell his name right on their "Elected Officials" page. Once again, nice job Dan. You do such a fine job representing your party.

So the State of New York is facing a multi-billion deficit, and what do the NYC Dems that control that State Assembly & State Senate do? They raise their per diem by nearly 7 percent.

The resolution by the Niagara County Legislature opposing the proposed expansion of the CWM landfill in Lewiston because it will impede the county's economic development efforts is nothing more than pandering to one loud-mouth, overzealous opponent of the project. The attempt to connect the economic development efforts of the county with the proposed expansion is, at best, a stretch.

As Lockport Mayor Mike Tucker said, an arbitrator's ruling that the city's fire department must have a minimum of 10 men on each shift is "absurd". The ruling will cost the city's taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's time the city took a serious look at the privatization of it's ambulance and fire protection services.

So we have our own local version of the Octomom. Look, I guess everyone has the right to procreate, but that doesn't mean I should have to pay for it. This couple looks like they have a very loving and caring family, and that's great. But the fact of the matter is that they both work at Wal-Mart, and the reality is that they will likely end up on some form of social services. It sickens me that the mainstream refuses to acknowledge this fact.

We're hearing that the budget that outgoing Wheatfield Supervisor Tim Demler has proposed has some serious problems in it, including a revenue line of $400,000 from the Oz project that will never materialize. This is the type of smoke & mirrors garbage that drove voters to boot him out of office.

Lastly, how pathetic is your city when people would rather lose their jobs than live in that city? Obviously for the folks who chose to get fired rather than live in Niagara Falls, it's extremely pathetic. It's all good, though. Falls Mayor Paul Dyster has things in the Cataract City flowing so smoothly that he has time to go to the Hardrock to give a toast to a fictional TV couple that spent one day in the city. God, it's just so pathetic. Why not give them the damn key to the city since they spent one day in your city like idiot Byron Brown did with Terrell Owens?

October 8, 2009

County Gets Huge Win In NYPA Lawsuit

In a decision that will surely create serious concern within the New York State Power Authority, State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Boniello has rejected an effort by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to change the venue of the county’s lawsuit against NYPA.

As you may recall, Niagara County is suing NYPA to reverse the sweep of $544 million in NYPA overcharges by Governor David Paterson and the State Legislature. The monies were diverted to the state’s general fund as part of this year’s state budget.

The attempt to change venues was a smart one by DiNapoli. Changing the venue to Albany, which DiNapoli was seeking to do, would have surely led to the case being dismissed. After all, Albany politicians and their downstate brethren view us as little more than a fly in the ointment. Well, that fly just became the elephant in the room with Boniello's decision.

Considering that this blog has been as critical as anyone, any organization or any media outlet of the actions of NYPA, we're ecstatic with this development. As we told NYPA CEO Richard Kessel in our September 4 post, we've had enough of NYPA taking advantage of this community and our resources. By the way, Kessel still hasn't responded to our invitation to respond to that post - so much for keeping those lines of communications open that Kessel likes to talk about.

NYPA and Kessel are going to have a hard time with this lawsuit. It's going to force them to open their books and we're going to get a real nice look at how all of those tidy NYPA profits are derived. More importantly, we're going to see where those profits are going because I can assure you, they're not staying in Niagara County.

This county overcame a significant hurdle with this ruling. If NYPA wants to continue to battle, we say "bring it on". The county has been screwed by NYPA for so long, they have nothing to lose. Take this battle to the end, boys - we're counting on you.

October 7, 2009

Virtuoso Has No Soul

Dennis Virtuoso is an asshole.

I thought about writing something less strident, less combative this morning, but I kept coming back to that first sentence because it was just so…well, so accurate.

For those of you just catching up, last night the Legislature confirmed a new member who will hold the 9th District seat in North Tonawanda, which has been vacant for a month. At the time the seat became vacant, Virtuoso was among the loudest voices demanding that the Legislature’s Majority Caucus act quickly to fill the seat.

So, they did just that. They sought applications, they held interviews, and they settled on a candidate. Actually, by “they”, I mean a bi-partisan panel that included Democrat Jason Cafarella. That panel then made a unanimous recommendation of a Democrat named Barbara Zellner, a 41-year-old former PTA president, homemaker, and waitress.

Now, I’ve never met Ms. Zellner, and doubt I ever will. Her political career is only guaranteed to be three months long. But I can assure you right now, Barbara Zellner has a lot more class than Dennis Virtuoso.

Why do I say this? Because Virtuoso is a back-stabber who doesn’t have the balls to insult someone to their face, that’s why.

Last night, the Legislature confirmed Zellner unanimously—following in the steps of the hiring committee (the one that Cafarella sat on) which, as I mentioned, recommended her unanimously. A friend who witnessed the spectacle in the chamber actually was impressed by the Democrats’ willingness to support the nominee unanimously. Maybe common sense, or human decency, or just the realization that Zellner would only be a legislator for three months had settled in.

Of course, Virtuoso didn’t mind blasting his new colleague for “reporter” Mark Scheer of the Niagara Gazette. Because Zellner decided to caucus with the Majority, Dennis called her a “turncoat” and much worse. And, he decided to make himself the arbiter of what constitutes a “real” Democrat. But most despicably, he decided to unload on a colleague who’s going to spend all of three months in the Legislature—three months!

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what Virtuoso expected. If you’re a legislator, and have all of three months to make an impact, are you really going to go sit in a minority that only holds a quarter—a pathetic QUARTER—of the seats in the chamber? Or are you going to go where the power is and where you just might get to make an actual difference and take care of your constituents?

Of course, maybe the fact the Dennis showed absolutely no interest in this process had something to do with it. A friend in the Legislature tells me that Majority Leader Rick Updegrove from Lockport attended the interviews with both candidates for the job, while Dennis was nowhere to be found. (Incidentally, the interviews were held in Sanborn—closer to Virtuoso’s house than Updegrove’s.) If you were Zellner, you might conclude that Updegrove actually gives a damn about the Legislature and the business of governing and decide he’s the leader you want to follow, since Dennis couldn’t even show up.

What’s really sad, though, is that Dennis Virtuoso—a man with plenty of political enemies—had a chance to open a door and start off a new relationship with a new colleague with whom he had no history, no fights, no baggage…but maybe, just maybe, some common ground. And by this morning, he had already slammed that door shut.

It’s no wonder he can’t even get Democrats to join his caucus.

What a tool.

October 6, 2009

Sedita Story a P.R. Disaster, Politically Intriguing

If you're a political junkie and have not yet read this story from the Buffalo News, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to look at the piece. I can assure you, you're not going to feel any better about politics after reading it.

As you undoubtedly heard if you live in Western New York, former Assistant District Attorney Mark Sacha was terminated from his position earlier this week by District Attorney Frank Sedita for going public with his assertion that political insider Steve Pigeon should have been prosecuted for election fraud. Sedita says that as a "cooperating witness," Pigeon received the "functional equivalent of immunity" from then- District Attorney Frank J. Clark in a case involving the 2007 campaign for county executive by former West Seneca Supervisor Paul T. Clark.

The problem for Sedita is that Clark says no such arrangement was ever made. Clark acknowledges that Pigeon was indeed a witness, but for all intents and purposes, is saying that Sedita is using him as a way out of this mess. Clark isn't going for it.

The story goes through a multitude of he said/she said/he said scenarios.

We're not talking about some rinky-dink community here. We're talking about one of the largest counties in the state, some serious political players and huge allegations of improprieties. It's quite obvious to anyone who's been following this debacle that it is not going to be resolved anytime soon, and certainly not by local officials.

It is time for the Attorney General to jump in. Of course, considering the fact that all of the players in this fiasco are Democrats, the state will likely proceed with extreme caution as any findings of misdeeds will likely burn of of their own. But that shouldn't matter. It does, but it shouldn't.

Stay tuned for more of politics at its worst. This situation is far from over.

October 5, 2009

Gillibrand Continues To Disappoint

New York's junior Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, has caught a significant amount of heat for being one of just seven United States Senators to reject a Senate plan to deny federal housing dollars to the left-wing radical group ACORN.

The group has been accused of voter registration fraud during last year’s presidential campaign and recently was cut off from assisting the Census Bureau during the next census because of repeated allegations of misdeeds by the organization. Inflammatory undercover videos that show ACORN employees counseling people posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to pay workers under the table and evade taxes have crushed the credibility of the group.

Gillibrand is unapologetic of her support for the group, saying they do good work that should continue. Shockingly, ACORN endorsed Gillibrand earlier this year. Gillibrand is likely to face a stiff challenge from former governor George Pataki in 2010.

In addition, Gillibrand is steadfast in her support of Employee Free Choice Act, also known as check-card. If you don't know what this job-killing legislation is, you should probably take a moment to read this piece.

It is believed that the enactment of the incredibly misnamed legislation check could destroy millions of jobs – including 600,000 in 2010 alone – by “eliminat[ing] secret ballot organizing elections” and “mandat[ing] government-directed arbitration.” House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) says the bill “is not about workers’ rights. It’s about meeting the demands of special-interest allies who helped Democrats take control of Washington.”

Still there is Gillibrand standing firm in her support of of EFCA. And ACORN.

It's interesting because there are mixed feelings about Gillibrand within her own party. When she first took over for Hilary Clinton, Dems labeled her too conservative on many issues, including guns and immigration.

She's worked hard to buck that image because she knows she will need all of the resources that labor can bring to the campaign if she is to win the election next year.

Personally, I had high hopes for Gillibrand when he was first appointed, thinking she may be moderate enough to bring a bi-partisan approach to the Senate. Unfortunately, she has proven me wrong, big time. She is in bed with labor and doesn't care one iota about bringing jobs to New York.

Even though this election is over a year away, I've already cast my vote - for whomever is opposing Kirstin Gillibrand.

October 2, 2009

Friday Ruminations

Thank God that everything in this country is in such fine shape that Obama can take time away from his Presidential duties to fly to Copenhagen to lobby for the Olympics for Chicago. Of course, him being out of the country may impede his weekly Leno/Letterman appearances.

Speaking of Obama, since he's in Copenhagen, he may not have heard that the country- THIS country - lost 263,000 jobs in September as the nation's unemployment rate soars to nearly 10%. How's that "Change You Can Believe In" thing workin' out fer ya?

The testimony of two witnesses who stated that they wrote in Steve Reiter for Supervisor in Lewiston on the Working Families line may heavily influence the outcome of the November election. Reiter is represented in court by well known GOP attorney John Ciampoli while Fred Newlin is represented by First Amendment rights expert & Lewiston Dem Committee Chairwoman Diane Roberts.

Former Governor and likely U.S. Senate candidate George Pataki had his official portrait unveiled at the State Capitol yesterday. Eliot Spitzer has yet to have his portrait commissioned. I gotta tell you, I think it's a real stretch to have his portrait hanging in the Capitol. He was a disgrace before he was Governor, he was a disgrace while Governor and he resigned a disgrace. Why would he want his picture there, to be the subject of ridicule everyday?

Kudos to Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour for his utilization of technology and social media to keep the public informed and to receive tips. Keep up the good work, Jimmy V.

Get ready to kiss a little but more of your freedom goodbye - Obama has banned texting while driving for federal workers and is setting the stage of a nationwide ban.

Defense attorney Andrew LoTempio apparently thinks that threatening Niagara County with a big bill will get his scumbag client off. LoTempio and his client deserve each other.

The Sabres open the regular season tomorrow night. Hopefully they'll give us something to cheer about - the Bills certainly haven't. I think my Bills prediction of 5-11 may have been a bit optimistic.

Tragedy has once again struck the community of Wilson. God bless the friends and families of these two young men whose lives were taken much too young.

October 1, 2009

Barker Rapes Taxpayers, Klatt Unapologetic

Well how about those Barker Central School District administrators just sticking it to the taxpayers. In just a sickening revelation of the district's finances by the state comptroller's office, the Barker Central School District has been stashing millions of dollars in overstuffed reserve funds for the past five years, to the tune of nearly $9 million in accumulated surpluses from 2004-05 through 2008-09.

District Superintendent Roger Klatt said the district was using the reserve funds to protect itself from the possible results of litigation over the property assessed value of the AES Corp. power plant in Somerset. Here we have another overpaid bureaucrat who has done nothing to cut costs in a district that has among the highest paid teachers in Western New York and the best facilities taxpayer's money can buy.

Since this AES issue became so prominent a few years back, the Barker School District has cried wolf to anyone and everyone who would hear their cries. They cried when AES fought for a lower assessment and they cried when the Niagara County IDA granted AES a PILOT. What were they crying about? They were crying about how devastated the school district would be from the loss of revenue they would incur from the reduced assessment.

Now we come to find out that the whole thing was just one big hoax perpetrated upon the people of the school district. What a disgrace.

When the Tax Foundation releases their study showing the highest taxed counties in the country when taken as a percentage of home values, Niagara County is right there. But as we've said before, this tax burden is fed by city taxes, town taxes, village taxes, county taxes, special district taxes (water & sewer) and school taxes. Any idiot knows that the overwhelming majority of the basis for the Tax Foundation's findings are school taxes. To think that the people of this community, just ONE community in Niagara County, have been overtaxed to the tune of millions of dollars by the taxing jurisdiction of the Barker Central School District is unconscionable.

Despite the fact that the audit said the reserve funds were not properly used and that the district should consider cutting taxes, Klatt is unapologetic. And that is what is so infuriating about the situation. People like Klatt who have spent their entire lives feeding at the public trough have no regard for what those of us who work in the private sector must do to pay our health insurance, save for retirement or simply have enough money to take a vacation. They take and take and have no remorse for the burdens that they place on taxpayers.

Until that mentality is changed, and true consolidation is implemented (not this Kevin Gaughn garbage), we, the taxpayers, will get screwed and screwed over and over again.