September 24, 2010

Friday Ruminations

About That Poll

Not long after our post yesterday morning, Siena College’s polling operation released a poll whose numbers were radically out-of-whack where the Cuomo-Paladino race was concerned. At first, after hearing the Siena numbers, our hearts sank (and here, we will freely admit to rooting for our fellow Western New Yorker in his bid for governor). However, as the morning wore on, it became more and more apparent that the Siena poll was a bad poll.

There are several problems with Siena’s numbers. First, Siena used the questionable methodology of “registered voters” as opposed to “likely voters.” Now, veterans of both the political world and the polling world have told us in the past that the results of polls of registered voters might as well be printed on toilet paper, for all that can be gleaned from them. And indeed, when elections often see far fewer than half of eligible voters turning out, it seems absurd to poll people who have no intention of voting.

A second problem with the Siena poll was its inclusion of Rick Lazio as an option. Pollsters rarely include third-party candidates by name or by party. They just don’t get all that many votes on Election Day. And, if a pollster actually does include minor-party candidates, they’ll usually ask the question twice, once with just the two major-party candidates, and once with the full field of candidates, to see if any has the ability to influence the race more than others.

Pollsters also rarely ask issue questions before they ask straight-up “horserace” questions. If you plant a bunch of seeds in voters heads about issues, this can bias their quick, gut-check answer—which is much closer to what they’re going to do in an actual voting booth.

The Siena poll also was stretched out over a number of days, and over a weekend, with a day taken off on Saturday. This is not only unorthodox, but it’s the kind of stuff that gets legitimate pollsters in trouble. Polls are supposed to be snapshots, often done over three days in a row. The Siena poll broke that rule.

We could go on and on, pointing to the questionable claims of the poll (e.g., a commanding Cuomo lead in Upstate New York), but we think you get our point. This poll was garbage, and one has to question what Siena’s real goal was in releasing it.

Crash and Burn

Paul Dyster’s efforts at re-electing himself have really hit the skids in recent days. First, his protector and political matron, Francine DelMonte, imploded spectacularly. Then, inept City Comptroller Maria C. Brown unveiled new revenue numbers that forecast a multi-million shortfall in the city budget—something that correspondents of this blog have been warning would happen for weeks.

No doubt that fact is what is motivating Dyster’s comical efforts to get on the Accardo bandwagon, now that DelMonte has been relegated to the ash-heap of history. Dyster is probably holding out hope that Accardo will be able to return from Albany with cash in hand to bail out the Cataract City. Of course, we think that Lewiston Republican John Ceretto has at least as good a chance of winning come this fall, and frankly, we can’t see either Ceretto or Accardo doing very much at all to save Dyster from a political oblivion of his own making.

Let’s be clear about Dyster: He has pissed away the public treasury on things like hideous public art in traffic circles, a poorly-attend concert series to promote the Hard Rock Café, and a veterans monument. And, when that money ran out, someone was always there to clean up Dyster’s mess: Francine DelMonte stealing hundreds of thousands of casino dollars from volunteer fire companies in Lewiston and Wilson, Louise Slaughter cutting him a big “stimulus” check to repave his road paid for by the hard work of Texans and Missourians and Idahoans, you get the idea.

With Slaughter bound for the House minority, DelMonte begging for a state job, and neither Accardo nor Ceretto likely to rush to return his calls, 2011 is shaping up to be a very bad year for the man dubbed “Dysaster” by his fellow Democrats.

Enron Lives

Despite vastly different outlooks on the proper role of government in individuals’ lives, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. George Maziarz do, from time to time, share similar contempt for the piggy behavior of New York’s out-of-control utility companies.

We were pleased to read, earlier this week, that both senators are taking aim at National Grid, which has proposed an obnoxious $400 million rate hike for its customers—even as the company pays for a lavish lifestyle for its top brass, a scandal that deserves more public scrutiny than the media has given it thus far. That being said, we suspect that such scrutiny is coming:

Sen. Maziarz plans to hold hearings on the matter before the Senate Energy Committee, which he chairs, on Oct. 19. National Grid’s leaders are unlikely to find any friendly faces in the room, for reasons that Maziarz sums up with his customary economy of words:

“Private school tuition for executives’ children, shipping wine overseas, expensive holiday parties—there is no way ratepayers should be forced to subsidize these things while they are struggling to pay their electric bills,” Maziarz said.

We agree, although if National Grid’s executives want to ship some of that wine to Hobbes Manor, we may be open to reconsidering.

Another Day in Buffalo

We can’t emphasize enough our increasing disgust with the Queen City. Bad as Niagara Falls has become under Paul Dyster, the mustachioed mayor of Niagara Falls must feel like an unqualified success story whenever he looks to the dying metropolis to his south.

Byron Brown has been a total and complete failure. No doubt, his administration will cheer recent raids that led to the arrests of 30 violent thugs and drug dealers. But we just find ourselves wondering how Brown and Buffalo’s incompetent police force leadership ever allowed things to sink to this level:


As long-time admirers of the fine art of barbecue, we expect to head over to Clarence this weekend for Western New York’s premiere -cue cookoff. The weather looks promising, so we suggest you do the same.

See you back here on Monday.

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