March 31, 2010

An Open Letter To Democrats

At the federal level, the Democrats are ramming through an agenda based on socialist principles, despite the objections of an overwhelming percentage of Americans. At the state level, the Democratic-controlled Senate, Assembly and governor are spending our tax dollars at such an alarming rate, the state is facing a $9 billion deficit.

As if you'll need another reason to think long and hard about the direction of our country and state, this video is a warning to Democrats that if they do not change their course, we will remember in November.

March 30, 2010

Medicaid - The "Untouchable"

The state of New York is facing a $9 billion shortfall as the April 1st budget deadline looms. Nearly 15,000 teachers are likely to lose their jobs. Everyone and their mothers are touting "their" budget plan as the best way to address the state's financial woes.

But once again, no one in the state leadership, that would be the Democratic-led Senate, the Democratic-led Assembly and the Democratic governor, are willing to touch the one budget line that is crushing the taxpayers of this state: Medicaid.

New York State offers the most comprehensive Medicaid program in the nation. We spend more than the next two states, Florida and California, combined. Everything is covered. Got a limp dick? Medicaid will provide you Viagra. Need a cab ride to your doctors two hours away? Medicaid will pay the bill - excuse me - taxpayers will pay the bill. There's a generic version of the drug you're taking? No worries, the state allows you to get the most expensive prescription on the market.

Despite the fact that New York spends far more on Medicaid ($2,283) per capita than any other state and twice the national average ($1,026), statistics show patients still aren’t getting the care they deserve. New York ranks first in cost, but 30th in health care quality, 21st in the percentage of uninsured adults, and 39th in avoidable hospital use.

But no one is the state's leadership will dare touch it. Why? Because their constituency, which is heavily centered in and around New York City, will not tolerate it. In addition, the health care unions will not allow it. Any Democratic legislator who would even think about bringing legislation that would bring about substantive reforms to Medicaid will find himself or herself on the outs with the unions and Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver so fast he or she wouldn't know what hit 'em.

Even if no changes were made to the program itself, simply implementing a six or 12 month residency requirement would save the state billions. As it stand now, any person who moves into the state can be on Medicaid, or welfare, within 24 hours. 24 HOURS! That's why the Dems from NYC won't change it. Their constituents can bring all of their friends and families to New York and have them on the public's dime in a day. We've all heard the stories of government officials from Louisiana shipping busloads of residents to New York after Katrina, because they could not handle subsidizing them through the disaster. They just shipped 'em off to good ol' New York, who welcomed them with open wallets.

Of course, despite the massive financial crisis the state of New York is facing, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte isn't letting up on her complete disdain for the taxpayers. Nope, she's going to right on spending right up until the day the state goes bankrupt.

In her latest act of complete disregard for the taxpayers, DelMonte is proposing a bill that would increase the Medicaid reimbursement rates for hospitals across the state, including the always money-losing Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Obviously, she, along with her Democratic brethren, don't give a damn about the financial burden that is continuously placed upon the taxpayers in this state. Their only solution is to continue to reach into the nearly-bare pockets of you and I, hoping that we're too stupid to do anything about it on election day. Are they right?

March 29, 2010

Bush Threats Ignored For Years

Congresspeople are having bricks thrown through their windows and threatening voice mails left on their answering machines. And the media is covering these incidents like someone was gunned down on Main Street.

But where was the media when G.W. Bush was threatened on virtually a daily basis? And we're not talking some subtle reference to doing Bush harm - we're talking overt, direct threats against the President of the United States. And where was the Secret Service? Is it not their responsibility to investigate threats against the President?

This piece goes in-depth about the fact that death threats against Bush were ignored for years. Now we have cowards like Louise Slaughter, who didn't know that she actually had an office in Niagara Falls until someone tossed a brick through the window there, playing the victim. It's contradictory, hypocritical and indicative of just how low these people will go to play the sympathy card and just how willing the media is in allowing them to succeed at it.

The pictures below are just a small sampling of the widespread threats that were made against Bush. Something tells me that if the name "Obama" were to be substituted for the name "Bush" on these signs, the outcome for those carrying them would be very, very different.

March 26, 2010

Who Said It Best?

The liberals are asking us to give Obama time. We agree - and think
25 to life would be appropriate.
Jay Leno

America needs Obama-Care like Nancy Pelosi needs a Halloween mask.
Jay Leno

Q: Have you heard about McDonald's' new Obama Value Meal?
A: Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it.
Conan O'Brian

Q: What does Barack Obama call lunch with a convicted felon?
A: A fund raiser.
Jay Leno

Q: What's the difference between Obama's cabinet and a penitentiary?
A: One is filled with tax evaders, blackmailers and threats to
society. The other is for housing prisoners.
David Letterman

Q: If Nancy Pelosi and Obama were on a boat in the middle of the
ocean and it started to sink, who would be saved?
A. America.
Jimmy Fallon

Q: What's the difference between Obama and his dog, Bo?
A: Bo has papers.
Jimmy Kimmel

Q: What was the most positive result of the "Cash for clunkers"
A: It took 95% of the Obama bumper stickers off the road.
David Letterman

March 25, 2010

Klein's Actions Mirror Those Of Blagojevich

Just about a year ago, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was indicted on a slew of corruption charges that included allegations that Blagojevich demanded $50,000 and $100,000 campaign contributions from companies simply wanting a chance to do business with the state, according to the indictment.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the Chairman of the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Senator Jeff Klein, sent a letter to labor leaders across the state informing them of the creation of the 2010 Labor Advisory Council. The letter goes on to say that "the council will be an opportunity for labor leaders from around the state to engage in direct dialogue with members of the Senate Democratic Majority Conference". At this point, the communication looks relatively innocuous.

The letter goes on to invite the reader to join the Labor Advisory Council as an Advisory Chair. This invitation is extended to a "core group of leaders in the labor community". As an Advisory Council Chair, participants "will have the unique opportunity to advise the Senate Dems on the structure and focus of the Labor Advisory Council. In addition to all meetings, conferences and events that are included with Advisory Council membership, the Advisory Chairs will be invited to an exclusive meeting with the Senate Democratic Majority Leadership".

The correspondence also details a schedule of private meetings, briefings, receptions and galas that Council members will be invited to attend.

By the way, General Membership in the Labor Advisory Council will cost the council member a campaign contribution to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee of $25,000. An Advisory Chair position requires a $50,000 campaign contribution to the DSCC.

What Klein has done with this solicitation looks eerily familiar to what Blagojevich is accused of doing. No matter how you slice it, this stinks of demanding a payoff for access to state "leaders".

Blagojevich demanded campaign contributions from companies looking to do business with the state, and he's likely going to jail for it. Now, unions aren't companies per se, but they are organizations that have an unquestioned interest in doing business with the state.

Klein's actions show a complete and utter disdain for the law and must be investigated. They are "pay to play" in its most basic form. Unfortunately, the one person who will make the decision as to whether or not an investigation is warranted is State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The odds of Cuomo, who continues to lurk in the shadows as the presumed Democratic gubernatorial candidate, taking on this task are virtually nil. After all, that would entail investigating his Democratic brethren.

If nothing else, the state's Commission on Public Integrity needs to look at this solicitation by Klein as a possible ethics violation. Anything less will be construed as condoning this type of activity - and that is unacceptable.

March 24, 2010

County Dem Chairman Rivera Has A Short Memory

A reader forwarded us a recent statement from Niagara County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Rivera condemning the recent brick-throwing incidents at the offices of Louise Slaughter in Niagara Falls and the Monroe County Democratic Party in Rochester. In the release, Rivera goes on to ask elected Republicans to speak out against the use of violence as a form of political expression.

"I am calling on...elected Republicans from the local to the national level to publicly repudiate the use of intimidation and violence in politics,” Rivera said. "One thing that’s clear is that attempts at physical intimidation have no place in our democratic system. For over 200 years we have built a democratic political system based on the right of everyone to express their views free of fear of physical intimidation from anyone. If there are some who are now violating those principles, certainly I am willing to publicly repudiate them."

Rivera has obviously got an extremely selective memory. It was less than two years ago that the Lewiston Dem Chairwoman tendered her resignation from the Dems county executive committee for what she described as "physical and verbal abuse" from Rivera.

The allegations made such a splash that the New York State Senate Minority Leader at the time, Malcolm Smith, refused to cross a picket line of Rivera protesters outside of a Niagara County Democratic Party fundraiser at The Red Coach Inn in Niagara Falls.

Now, less than two years later, Rivera has the audacity to spew rhetoric about a "political system based on the right of everyone to express their views free of fear of physical intimidation". Obviously that view does not apply to members of his own party who question his failed methods and strategies.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Rivera has been an unmitigated disaster for the local Democrats and a dream come true for the GOP. After the county legislature appoints a replacement for new county treasurer Kyle Andrews, the Republicans will have an astounding 15-4 majority in the legislature. Nearly every town supervisor is a Republican and two of the county's three mayors are Republican. Never in the history of Niagara County politics has one party seen such dominance. Through it all, the one constant for the local Democrats has been Dan Rivera.

With this latest statement, he has once again shown that his hypocrisy knows no boundaries. Unfortunately, no one from within his own party will dare question Rivera because they fear retaliation from him. That, my friends, is far from the "democracy" one would expect from the Democratic Party.

March 23, 2010

Marasco Shows His Disregard For Taxpayers

This piece in the Buffalo News was a pretty innocuous story, covering the county legislature's recent actions on some bonding projects and their appointment to fill a vacancy on the county Industrial Development Agency.

But buried deep down in the article is a reference to the body's vote on the raise of Social Services Commissioner Anthony Restaino.

The piece reads, By a 14-1 vote, the Legislature confirmed the reappointment of Anthony J. Restaino to his third five-year term as social services commissioner. He will receive a 1 percent pay raise for the rest of this year, to $88,573. His salary will rise to $90,344 in 2011; $92,151 in 2012; $93,994 in 2013; $96,814 in 2014; and $99,719 in 2015. The “no” vote came from Legislator Richard A. Marasco, D-Niagara Falls. “I don’t think Mr. Restaino is being paid enough,” he said, noting that the state reimburses the county for 75 percent of the salary.

Ric Marasco voted no because he doesn't think that Restaino makes enough money - and he actually said this publicly. Of course, no one from the idiotic local media was willing to call him out on this outrageous statement, but that's a whole different issue. But rest assured, if it had been a member of the Majority Caucus making that statement, the proverbial shit would have hit the media fan.

Marasco believes that because the state reimburses the county for 75% of Restaino's salary, the legislature should pay him more. Newsflash for the newest legislator from Niagara Falls: those dollars that you so freely are offering up for compensation are....say it with me....taxpayer dollars!

The sickening irony is that Marasco's entire campaign last year was based on the premise that taxes in the county are too high. This despite the fact that, as any educated voter knows, county taxes have gone down for four straight years. His hypocrisy obviously knows no boundaries.

Even more amazing is the fact that Marasco is a teacher. Yes, Marasco is part of the body that has been the single greatest contributor to the state's financial woes. And he has the audacity to stand up on the floor of the legislature's chambers and tell the people of this community that he cannot support the raise because it does not go far enough.

Considering that with his legislature salary, Marasco is now likely earning above $100,000, combined with his health insurance and his pension, all on the backs of the taxpayers, it is unfortunately no surprise that Marasco his such disregard for the sacrifices that we in the private sector are forced to manage each and every day. The fact that he is willing to publicly articulate that disregard is an unequivocal slap in the face to every taxpayer in the county.

March 22, 2010

Lockport School Board Members Show Their Cowardice

Living in the Lockport School District, I cannot even fathom the level of cowardice that is being shown by the nine individuals who somehow managed to get elected to the school board. (Actually, I do know how they were elected - with the support of the teachers' union - we now know why.)

Facing a 12% school property tax increase and the reduction of 40 district employees, the board's perspective on the impending crushing of the district's taxpayers was summed up by board member Edward Sandell. When approached by the Buffalo News about the situation, Sandell was quoted as saying, "We’ve been in lockstep with [Superintendent Terry Carbone] all the way".

Well, Ed, if we wanted an automaton in that seat, we wouldn't have elected you to represent us, the taxpayers. Unfortunately, he's just one of nine who are sickeningly incapable of thinking for themselves. They kowtow to Carbone and the teachers' union with such vigor, they expect the taxpayers to bend over and take it in the ass without any justification of their actions. They either don't know or don't care what they're actions will do to the community. They're in lockstep with the superintendent.

The oddity is that Sandell thinks his statement is a show of strength. He thinks that showing that the board is in unison, they're complete and utter failures will be justified. He's wrong - it shows just how weak each and everyone of them are. Nine members - a 12% tax increase - 40 staff cuts - and not a one has anything to add other than "we agree with Carbone". Not one of them has the courage to say that we cannot continue to burden the taxpayers with such a massive increase. None of them will acknowledge the fact that after years of zero percent increases, they're mismanagement is finally paying dividends in the form of a raping of the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, it seems eerily familiar to the county legislature's actions in the late 90's and early 2000's, when after six years of touting zero percent increases, the legislature was forced to raise county taxes by 22%.

We're going to go out on a limb and say that none of the nine members of the school board have the faintest understanding of revenue and expense forecasting. If they did, they never would have allowed the district to get into this position. Then again, what the hell am I thinking? None of them can speak for themselves, why the hell would I think they actually have the ability to understand revenue and expense forecasting?

One thing's for sure: with this tax increase, the value of my home is going to go down. As soon as the district's budget passes, I'll be making the trip the assessor's office to ask for a reduction. Hopefully the taxpayers of the Lockport School District will be in lockstep with me.

March 19, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

“As we open the curtain on 2010, I’m thinking a lot about achievements of the past and goals for the future. There’s a lot to be excited about in Niagara Falls.”
—Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, the Niagara Gazette, January 20, 2010

“BUST: Police Hit Niagara 'Gang House'"
—Headline, the Niagara Gazette, March 18, 2010
“I and many other elected officials have long agreed, ‘as goes Niagara Falls, so goes Niagara County.’”
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, in a press release from Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte dated March 13, 2009
In an effort to stem an epidemic of shootings and gang violence in Niagara Falls, federal authorities have arrested two reputed gang leaders and a gang member and charged them with weapons and drug counts.
—The Buffalo News, March 18, 2010
“I am proud of all that we have accomplished in the past two years, but we still have decades of decline to overturn. I intend to keep pushing as hard as I can for a stronger Niagara Falls, and I am eager to work with the City Council to make this a year of unrivaled progress.
—Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, the Niagara Gazette, January 20, 2010
“Meanwhile, in a nonfederal case, another Eighth Street Boy is accused in the shooting of a 20-year-old man Saturday on Pine Avenue, after a fight in a cell phone store.
—The Buffalo News, March 18, 2010
“If you are a violent criminal that thinks you are going to take control of our streets and drive our citizens cowering into their living rooms–guess again. We’re not going to let that happen. If you are a drug dealer who is making a profit selling out the future of our young people, watch out. Even if you work for the City of Niagara Falls. Even if you’re a cop. If you think you’re above the law, guess again. We’re going to arrest you. If you are a gang member who thinks that you can make your own rules to live by and ignore the ones that we as a society have set for ourselves, guess again. We’re going to round you up, and take you off the street.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, dedicating the Niagara Falls Public Safety Building
“Falls police say a city street gang leader has dodged death for the second time in two months. The search for a suspect in the late-night shooting outside the Elks Club, in the 3200 block of Highland Avenue, on Wednesday also is being hampered by the victim’s refusal to cooperate with investigators.
—The Niagara Gazette, March 18, 2010
“By dedicating this portion of casino revenues to repair or reconstruct streets in Niagara Falls, this initiative strikes a blow for economic development not just in the City, but throughout Niagara County.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, in a press release from Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte dated March 13, 2009
“Last year, we invested $145,000 of casino funds on a series of concerts in partnership with the Hard Rock CafĂ©, including our first-ever New Year's Eve guitar drop.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, 2010 State of the City Address
“With the ascension of the Rapids Theater and multiple other exciting projects, Main Street is on its way back.”
—Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, the Niagara Gazette, January 20, 2010
“NIAGARA FALLS — The once-elegant Hotel Niagara, within sight and sound of the American falls, was condemned Tuesday. The city Department of Inspections warned, ‘It is unlawful for any person to use or occupy this building.’”
The Buffalo News, March 10, 2010

March 18, 2010

Did Rahm Emanuel Have A Vendetta Against Eric Massa?

The following post comes to us courtesy of our friends at Monroe Rising:

This video really makes you wonder if there’s something to disgraced Democratic former Congressman Eric Massa’s claim that President Obama’s pit bull attack dog Rahm Emanuel did in fact have it out for Massa. I mean, how would you like to find out someone you were having a private conversation with was mic-ed up and secretly taping you and that the conversation would end up in a documentary film for the world to see?

Now don’t get me wrong. In my opinion, Eric Massa is a freak of nature who by his own admission thinks it’s perfectly fine to act inappropriately with those who work underneath him. I also found it hysterical when Massa said, “I am who I am” and “I’m not very refinable.” Unfortunately Eric, we’ve come to learn who you really are and wish you had been refinable.

That said, after watching this video I am inclined to go back to my thinking that there really was a bigger fish getting fried with his ouster. How ’bout that veteran, former Senator saying Emanuel should go F*** himself? I wonder what happened to THAT guy?

Someone should go check up on him.

March 17, 2010

Don't Be That Guy

Memo to former Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Tim Demler: You don't hold that office anymore. There's no need to wear your "Office of the Supervisor - Town of Wheatfield" jacket to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Buffalo, two and a half months after your term finished.

Sadly, this reminds me of the guy - come on, you all knew one - who insisted on wearing his varsity letter jacket for months, if not years, after graduating high school. Don't be that guy, Tim.

Oh, and by the way, if that jacket was paid for with taxpayer dollars, maybe you should consider slipping it under the door of Bob Cliffe's office-where it belongs.

March 16, 2010

The Lure Of The Cookie

Well, it seems that Niagara's lame-duck county manager Greg Lewis is intent upon providing the pages of Niagara Times with fodder right up until he departs for Minnesota, Kansas or wherever the hell his type reside. This time around, after sitting at the Brooks Building for the better of seven years with virtually nothing to show for the time, Lewis has taken the bold step of implementing a no solicitation policy. Sources have told us that the inspiration for the action was....prepare yourself...someone actually having the gall to sell Girl Scout cookies on county property!!

We've all seen the sheets around the workplace that allow you to sign up to purchase your favorite cookies, whether they be the scrumptious Peanut Butter Patties, the classic Thin Mints or the just plain addictive Samoas. Girl Scout cookies have been a staple of the office environment since I can remember. Apparently Lewis finds this offensive.

Of course, we have our own theory on what has lead to this ban on solicitation by Lewis. It's no secret that Greg has a bit of a weight problem. Temptation is a powerful, compelling force. We believe that in order to eliminate the vast temptation that Greg is faced with throughout the Girls Scout's selling season, he has implemented the policy in order to eliminate the lure of the cookie.

As someone who has a bit of a sweet tooth, I can understand the overwhelming inducement of a Dulce de Leche. But why now? Why does he feel it is necessary to punish those sweet, little girls who are just trying to raise a few bucks for their cause? I ask you - IS THIS NOT AMERICA? IS THERE ANYTHING MORE AMERICAN THAN GIRLS SCOUT COOKIES? NO, I SAY! NO!

There is only one solution to this issue: Rescind this vicious attack on America, Mr. Lewis! Now!

No Solicitation Policy

Employees are prohibited from engaging in solicitation for any purpose if such activity occurs during their working time or the working time of other employees. Solicitation on Niagara County premises and solicitation using Niagara County resources including internal mail, through the use of any electronic mail system or the internet/intranet is prohibited.

"Solicitation" includes approaching any person or persons for any of the following purposes: offering items for sale, requesting donations, collecting funds, canvassing, or seeking to promote, encourage or discourage participation in or support of any organization.

The only exception to this policy are sanctioned drives that are sponsored by Niagara County such as the annual United Way Campaign.

If necessary, please contact the Manager of Labor Relations or Human Resources Director for further clarification.

My best,

Greg Lewis
Telephone 716.439.7006
Fax 716.439.7212

March 15, 2010

Breaking News: Niagara County Treasurer

Sources have told us that Niagara County Legislator Kyle Andrews will be sworn-in within the next hour or so as the next Niagara County Treasurer, replacing Dave Broderick who resigned in disgrace a few weeks ago.

This appointment was solely the Governor's call and shows the power that former Sheriff Tom Beilein still wields in Democratic circles. It had been expected that Assemblywoman DelMonte would push through either Niagara Falls Bridge Commissioner Pat Brown (who lost to Broderick) or former Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin for the gig, but it appears that Beilein trumped her efforts with Andrews. The appointment is only good until November, when Andrews must run for the full-term.

Given that Andrews, a former attorney at Harris Beach, which is also home to former Niagara County GOP Chair Henry Wojtaszek, has strong ties on both sides of the aisle, it will be interesting to see what candidates emerge from either party to challenge him.

In addition, the County Super Majority Caucus gains a seat as Andrews will stop down from the Legislature to assume the Treasurer post. Expect the process to begin almost immediately to pick his replacement. This will mean the Majority grows to 15-4.....a number unheard of in these parts.

DiNapoli Brings His Dog & Pony Show To Niagara

This piece by Mike Hudson of the Niagara Falls Reporter asks some extremely relevant questions about the recent hullabaloo surrounding former Niagara County Treasurer Dave Broderick. Specifically, was there any criminal activity undertaken by Broderick in his handling of estates. Despite being asked the questions repeatedly, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who made the taxpayer subsidized trip from Albany to reveal his great findings, never answered the question. Instead, he used ambiguous terms like "he (Broderick) cut corners" to accentuate the need for this 300 mile trip east.

Look....we could care less about Broderick. For 37 years, he served at the will of the people of Niagara County. They are the ones who deemed him worthy of the position of Niagara County Treasurer. If there were improprieties in his work, he needs to answer for them. But this dog and pony show put on by DiNapoli was a complete joke. It was politically motivated by a man whose name recognition is so low that he will do anything and everything he can to get his name ID up. DiNapoli, who like David Paterson is unelected, is going into the election season with a slew of opponents lining up against him within his own party.

The lone announced Republican, Harry Wilson, just happened to be in Niagara County on Thursday, meeting with party leaders and serving as the guest speaker at the county GOP dinner held at Suzanne's Fine Dining in Wheatfield. Wilson's scheduled appearance in Niagara County had been advertised on the GOP's website for weeks. Does anyone in their right mind actually think that it was a coincidence that DiNapoli just happened to show up in the county the day after his GOP rival made an appearance? If you do, you'd probably want to keep that to yourself.

The bottom line is that if Broderick did anything illegal, which has not been determined, appropriate actions must be taken. But for the people of this community and this state to be subjected to what amounted to nothing more than an unsubstantiated political hit job on a long-serving Republican at the hands of a grandstanding, non-elected Democrat hoping to do score political points is an unacceptable and blatant misuse of taxpayer funds.

March 12, 2010

Steal This House

Here at Niagara Times, we’ve always taken an active interest in the long-term plans of our beloved county manager, Mr. Gregory D. Lewis. Greg’s provided us so much material these past few years, that frankly, we think of him as a part of the Niagara Times family.

For that reason, and because of what a community-minded guy your old pal Hobbes is, we wanted to appeal to our vast readership to help Greg out with a situation looming in his future. As many of you know, the Niagara County Legislature won’t be renewing Greg’s contract as county manager. We mean *cough cough* Greg won’t be seeking another term as county manager. And that leaves him in a bit of a pickle.

You see, when Greg came to Niagara County, he bought a pleasant little home in the City of Lockport, at 99 Carolina Avenue. Actually, it’s quite a nice address to live at inside the Lock City. It’s surrounded by homes with nicely-manicured yards. We all know what a stickler Greg has been about projecting a professional image, so we imagine it must be quite nicely decorated and well-maintained.

We’re told that the house is a 3-bedroom, 1,940 square-foot Dutch Colonial, built ca. 1977. It’s…er…blue. It has a tree in the front yard. What can we say, it’s a nice, all-American kind of house.

Now, surely, someone among our readership can take an active interest in Greg’s plight. We doubt he’s going to want to stay around Niagara County, never mind continue living in the county seat, driving past the Philo J. Brooks County Office Building every day, knowing someone else is sitting in his old office. Lewis’ house at 99 Carolina will soon be going at fire sale prices.

So, as a civic service, we appeal to you, our Dear Readers, to find it in you to take stock of your own housing situation, or your families’ and friends’. Call Greg. His number is on the county webpage. Make him an offer.

It’s time for Greg to move on, and we want to do our part to help. And since we’re so nice, we won’t even charge Greg a realtor’s fee if one of you buys his house. We’ll just take pride in having helped Greg move on to the next step in his career.

March 11, 2010

Ross Takes The First Step, Now Take The Next One

Kudos to Legislature Chairman Bill Ross for empaneling the committee to being the process of hiring the next county manager. This is an important decision that impacts every facet of Niagara County Government.

I also applaud both Ross' choice of Niagara USA Chamber President Deannan Brennen and Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso's choice of NU Professor David Reilly as the at-large citizens on the panel. These both appear to be sound choices.

I am particularly pleased to see Ms. Brennen on board as the business community needs to become a much louder voice in Niagara County. The only issues that really matter to people are jobs and taxes and in that regard we need a business organization that is leading the charge. Quite honestly, the business community has not been effective enough in speaking out in the past, but with Ms. Brennen's initial letter getting the ball rolling on this search process, hopefully we will see more from them going forward.

Now, with Ross taking this step, it is also time to negotiate a buyout of Greg Lewis' contract and send he and his I *heart* Niagara County button packing. For a lame duck, Lewis is doing all he can to protect his cronies. He tried to ram through a huge contract for his chosen homeland security consultant and he wants to make appointments to fill vacancies that would saddle the next county manager with Team Lewis losers.

Greg, did you ever hear of letting the next coach pick his own team? The fact is you have spent the last two years trying to get out of Niagara County and we have spent the last two trying to push you out. Let's do each other a favor and end this failed marriage pronto.

To Bill Ross, it's time to let go and move on. Delaying the inevitable will only make the next county manager's job that much harder.

March 10, 2010

Legislature’s Soft Hiring Freeze Right Step

Word reaches us this morning that last night’s meeting of the Niagara County Legislature’s Administration Committee was testy—and in a way that should make county residents happy.
Apparently, Administration Committee Chairman Keith McNall, a fairly conservative Republican from Lockport known for his quiet but direct style of management, put county department heads and our old pal, County Manager Greg Lewis, on notice, announcing what can best be termed a soft hiring freeze.
Under McNall’s directive, no new hires, transfers, or personnel changes will be allowed on the Administration Committee’s agenda unless mandated by the state. As chairman of the committee, McNall alone controls what is placed on the agenda, so he has the power to carry through on this directive.
McNall told department heads and fellow lawmakers that this new policy is needed because of uncertainty about the county’s budget situation as Albany drops its funding of one state mandate after another in response to its own fiscal crisis, as well as a desire by several Majority Caucus lawmakers not to tie the next county manager’s hands with the final actions of an embittered Lewis playing Santa Claus for his loyalists.
We’re told this isn’t just fanciful thinking, and that a recent spate of personnel moves being greenlighted by Lewis had raised concerns within the Majority Caucus that Lewis, now having nothing to lose, was going for broke to stick it to the county’s taxpayers and reward his allies.
Apparently, though, McNall’s directive, as well as a newfound ballsiness by several Majority Caucus legislators, didn’t set well with some of our local bureaucrats.
When the Administration Committee’s members grudgingly took up a few departmental transfers being proposed by the county’s Mental Health Department, since they were already on the agenda, 45 minutes of hilarity ensued. We hear that Antoinette Lech, the bloated director of the Mental Health Department—a woman who has made a career out of running taxpayer-funded methadone clinics and providing taxpayer-financed head-shrinking for Niagara County’s non-working population—actually objected to questions posed by Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, who asked her to justify her personnel moves. A bemused Updegrove was forced to remind her that the elected representatives of the county’s taxpayers—and not the bureaucrats—run county government. This is not the first time Ms. Lech has run afoul of county lawmakers, but maybe it should be the last. Maybe she should be keeping Greg Lewis company in his forced retirement.
Despite the umbrage of county department heads, we’re really pleased with McNall’s action, and applaud it heartily. We only hope county legislators have the guts to make it stick at least through the end of Lewis’ run.

March 9, 2010

Massa Should Be Commended, Not Condemned

Resigning Congressman Eric Massa has got a plethora of issues. No one will dispute that. But the amazing insight that he is providing on his way out paint an extremely disturbing picture of the arm twisting taking place at the hands of Barack Obama and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Massa has given three different versions of the circumstances surrounding his departure. First he said it was for health reasons, then he said it was for inappropriate remarks he made to a member of his staff and most recently he stated that he was forced out by congressional Democrats because he voted against health care reform last year and would likely do so again. The reality is that all three scenarios likely play some role in his decision to depart, but it is the latter that drawing the most attention.

In a radio interview that Massa gave on WKPQ, he stated, "Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill. And this administration and this Democratic leadership have said they will stop at nothing to pass this bill. Now they've gotten rid of me and it will pass. You connect the dots."

He also slammed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, calling him "devil's spawn" who "would sell his own mother."

Massa went on to say, "It makes me weep to know that our country is being destroyed from within, with the absolute BS I have to live with for the past five days, the attempted destruction of my family and the slurs." Wow. Remember, this is a die hard Democratic congressman giving his perspective on the inner workings of the Democratic White House.

Some are labeling his comments as "bizarre". What's so bizarre about them? He has had personal interaction with Emanuel and his citing that interaction. Is it better for him to put his tail between his legs and slink away into obscurity while his name is tarnished? We think not. He is saying that our country is being destroyed from within. That is his perception from being in the trenches of D.C. politics. Instead of being criticized, Massa should be commended for having the courage to go where no man in his position has been willing to go. He knows that Obama is an unequivocal disaster, leading this country down a path to destruction, and he will not sit idly by while it happens. Bravo, Mr. Massa.

What's most disturbing about Massa's comments is that they highlight the lengths that Emanuel and Obama will go to in order to see their unpopular and unrealistic health care agenda forced upon the American people. If one of their own dare stand in the way of the "change", they will go any and every extreme necessary to remove that person from the equation. That should be cause for concern for every person in this country, regardless of political party.

March 8, 2010

Virtuoso Again Praises Union's Biggest Enemy

The Buffalo News had a piece yesterday about the search committee the Niagara County Legislature is putting together in order to find a new county manager. The current placeholder, Greg Lewis, has informed the legislature that he will not be seeking another appointment. His current contract expires (as if any regular reader of this blog needs to be reminded - see the clock to the left) on November 30 of this year. Of course, we all know that the only reason that Lewis came out publicly with this announcement is that he knows full well that there isn't a chance in hell that his contract will be renewed. But, we'll revisit Lewis' impending departure at a later date.

What stuck out from the story is what Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso had to say about the legislature committee that was formed to find the county's first manager back in 2003. In recommending David Reilly, a political science professor at Niagara University as a citizen member of the search committee, Virtuoso is quoted as saying, "Last time we had a county manager search, we had a professor from Niagara [Sean Q. Kelly] and he was a political science professor, and I thought that worked out very well".

"That worked out very well". Now putting our own opinions of Lewis aside, let's take a look at that assessment of Lewis by Virtuoso from the perspective of the county unions.

Lewis came to Niagara County and immediately set his sights on closing the Mount View Health Care Facility. In December of 2007, Lewis was successful in shuttering the eighty year-old building, putting 200 full-time and part-time county employees out of work. I wonder if Ed McDonald, President of the AFSCME union that was most heavily impacted by the cuts at Mount View, would agree with Virtuoso's statement that Lewis has worked out very well.

During his nearly seven years in Niagara County, he has overseen what has likely been the most contentious period of relations between that county and its employees in history. He's fought the unions at every turn, creating a work atmosphere that is less than conducive to improving employee productivity and morale.

From our perspective, that's probably the only thing he's done right. Our feelings on public sector unions are no secret. But Dennis Virtuoso is a diehard Democrat who is supposed to be fighting to protect the interests of the unions. Instead, he once again publicly praises the person who is most directly responsible for the loss of approximately 350 county jobs over the past seven years, Greg Lewis.

The irony is that the unions continue to support Virtuoso. They tossed thousands of dollars to him during last year's elections, despite Virtuoso's unwavering support of Greg Lewis. How the hell is this possible? Is the union's blind faith in their Democratic elected officials so strong that they refuse to actually hold them accountable for their actions? In this case, it certainly seems so.

We'd have thought that Virtuoso would have recommended someone with stronger union ties to the search committee to, if nothing else, give at least the appearance of taking the concerns of the unions into consideration in the choosing of the next county manager. Then again, why would he even be concerned about it? He does what he wants, continuously and consistently showing his support for Lewis, and the unions still endorse him and fill his campaign coffers. Obviously the word "accountability" doesn't appear in the union's dictionary. All they see is a "D" after Virtuoso's name. Apparently that's all that matters. No wonder the unions are becoming more extinct by the day. If they've got a guy like Virtuoso fighting for them, their days are surely numbered. It's just too bad, for them, that they are unable to realize it.

March 5, 2010

Dems Hall Of Shame

Yes, it's blatantly political, but it's dead on point. Scandal after scandal have plagued the Democrats in this state, and the voters have already taken notice. I'm sure that the Lazio's camp's only disappointment is that they didn't wait a few more days to compile the footage so they could have added Eric Massa to the video.

March 4, 2010

NYPA's Curley Doesn't Get It

Critics of the Niagara County Legislature's repeated calls for a resident of Niagara County to be named to the New York Power Authority's Board of Trustees have conveniently used the excuse that there are currently two Western New Yorkers on the board representing the interests of our community, and that another appointee from WNY would simply redundant. Yes, Elise Cusack from Eggertsville and D. Patrick Curley from Orchard Park serve on the board, but exactly whose interests they represent remains cloudy.

Throughout the repeated injustices that have been bestowed upon our community at the hands of NYPA, Curley and Cusack have sat idly by without uttering so much as a peep. Rates have been raised, requests for power have been disregarded, economic development initiatives have been ignored and half a billion dollars in NYPA revenues, primarily generated right here at the Niagara Power Project, were swept right out of Western New York to help fill that great, big black hole that is the Albany budget. Still, not a word out of Curley and Cusack. If that's representation, I'll stand alone.

This week, however, Curley finally found the inner fortitude to make public comments about the role of NYPA in the community. Did he finally come to the realization that the time is right to actually step up to the plate and address the multiple inequities in the disbursements of NYPA resources? Nope, he whined like a little girl about the continued efforts of the Niagara County Legislature to fight for what is rightfully ours.

As this Buffalo News piece details, Niagara County officials are pursuing a billion-dollar Great Lakes wind power project. If it does happen, it will likely be developed on Lake Erie or Lake Ontario. That detail has yet to be determined by the Power Authority. Curley, on the other hand, has prematurely made his own determination as to which county which will be NYPA's choice for the project.

The News article goes on to mention "an incident at a Power Authority event Wednesday in Buffalo, where D. Patrick Curley, an authority trustee from Orchard Park, said he was “looking forward to the offshore initiative in Lake Erie.”

Because of Curley's comments, the Niagara County Legislature passed a resolution at Tuesday's meeting calling for a fair bidding process. Members of the Leg were expressing their concern that NYPA had already made its choice, and that Curley had simply let the cat out of the bag early.

When Curley heard that the Niagara County Legislature had passed the resolution at Tuesday's meeting calling for a fair bidding process, his response was, "I don’t know why this Legislature has it in for the Power Authority". I'm sorry what? Pat, we've never met, but I have a question for you: Are you a complete freakin' moron? Never mind, it's a rhetorical question.

Niagara County has been short-changed, ripped off, taken advantage of and pretty much screwed at every turn by NYPA, and you don't know why we have it in for the Power Authority? Actually I think I will answer the question - you are a complete freakin' moron. You are Western New York's representative to the New York Power Authority. The Niagara Power Project is the sole reason that NYPA is able to exist in the form it does. We don't get what we are rightfully entitled to and we're fighting for it. Where's the confusion?

Curley obviously doesn't get the frustration with NYPA that is so prominent in Niagara County and across our region. So, in hoping to help him see the light, we're going to encourage as many people as we can to contact Curley to help him understand exactly what the role of a Board Trustee should be. He can be reached at (716) 662-3231. Have a nice day.

March 3, 2010

The Rat Fights For Survival

Because the odds of someone reading of Hiram Monserrate in any other local media outlet besides this blog are virtually nil (Lord know that none of the local rags will cover it - of course, if The Rat was a Republican, they'd be having a field day with it), we figured it would be relevant to point out the fact that the recently expelled former Democratic Senator from Queens is not quite done fighting for his political life.

Because of the Senate's expulsion, the 13th Senate District seat now sits vacant. Governor David Paterson has called a special election to fill the seat, which will be held on March 16. The odds-on favorite is Assemblyman Jose Peralta. His opponent? Hiram Monserrate. While continuing to fight his expulsion, Monserrate has gathered enough signatures to earn a spot on the ballot - no small feat in itself. And nobody is counting him out, despite the fact that he is forced to run on a minor party line, he has no money and he has no endorsements. But in district with deep religious roots, Monserrate's anti-gay marriage could heavily sway voters.

The bottom line is that the Senate did the right thing by throwing him out. The injustice is that he is even on the streets, not behind bars where he belongs. That being said, because he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and not a felony, he is well within his right to seek the seat. If the people of that district believe that he is the right man for the job, despite the baggage that he brings with him, he may well be sitting right back in Senate chambers on March 17.

March 2, 2010

Where's Antoine?

In what can only be described as an affront to women, our slimeball senator Antoine Thompson (D-Niagara Falls) has apparently given $1,000 from his campaign coffers to a legal defense fund established for his disgraced former colleague, Hiram Monserrate. You surely remember Monserrate, as we've discussed this piece of shit many times on this blog. In case you need reminding, he was recently convicted of misdemeanor assault in a case that involved the slicing of Monserrate's girlfriend's face by The Rat, a wound that required 40 stitches to close.

This piece by Tom Precious is an absolute must-read for anyone who missed the story earlier in the week. Of course, the Precious story asks some extremely relevant questions about this issue, but we'd like to add our own twist.

First of all, when someone donates to Thompson's campaign, conventional wisdom states that they donate with the intention of supporting him, a specific piece of legislation or some variation thereof. I would love to know how many people or groups wrote a check to this fuckwad knowing that he was going to turn around and donate that money to the legal defense fund of some piece of shit from the Bronx who nearly went O.J. on his girlfriend.

As if his ineptitude didn't shine through enough during the vote to expel Monserrate ("I didn't vote to expel - Yes you did - No I didn't - Yes you did - Well, I did, but I didn't mean to - I was tired and sick") or the day on the floor of the Senate during which he stood up to oppose a bill that he himself had sponsored, Thompson has amazingly reached a new low.

Thompson, once again, was nowhere to be found when it came time to explain himself. Precious made repeated calls to Thompson's office, only to get the proverbial blank stare from Thompson's staff, whose incompetence is only surpassed by their boss. Look....there is absolutely no freakin' way that his staff does not know where he is at all times -no chance, no how. They knew where he was when Precious made his repeated calls and they were unequivocally, blatantly lying to the media, obviously at the direction of Thompson. What a role model.

He needs to come clean on this one and answer the question: Did you or did you not give $1,000 to the legal defense fund of a convicted woman abuser? If you didn't, then explain what the HON Legal Fund is. If you did, you should resign your position immediately. That type of conduct may fly in the Bronx, but in Western New York, we have respect for our women.

March 1, 2010

Dyster Puts Vanity Ahead of City

This weekend’s Niagara USA Chamber Honors was the place to be for the business and political sets in the Niagara Frontier. The annual dinner brought in nearly 500 top local and state government leaders, the upper crust of business leadership, top financiers, and top economic development officials for the business community’s networking event of the year.
Actually, the Chamber Honors is one of the year’s top business networking events for all of Western New York.
So, it came as no surprise to us to hear that the local political stars in attendance included the entire upper tier of the County Legislature—Legislature Chairman Bill Ross, Majority Leader Rick Updegrove, and Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, along with several of their colleagues—as well Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte and Senator George Maziarz. Various other local leaders, from recently-departed Lewiston Mayor Dick Soluri to Lockport’s workaholic chief executive, Mike Tucker, were present. So was a candidate for governor and a representative of the man who is departing that post.
One name was noticeably absent, however: Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. Heck, it’s not like he had to drive that far to get there.
Why in God’s name would the chief executive of what can best be described as a quasi-Third World economy miss out on the opportunity to network with FIVE HUNDRED business leaders, political brass, and economic development officials?
Well, we’re glad you asked. Sources tell us that Dyster originally planned to go. However, Dyster thought his presence at the event was such a high point for everyone else, that his aides called and demanded Chamber officials make him the keynote speaker. When the Chamber explained they had the only declared candidate for governor to fill that role, Dyster pulled the plug on his own attendance and sent City Administrator Donna Owens. (Incidentally, we’re also told that Owens “kept to herself” and departed shortly after the main program was over. Way to work the room, Donna.)
Had any of the other local elected leaders been invited to the podium to speak, Dyster might have had a point. (Well, not really, but hey, we’re trying to be big about it.) But no one—not even Senator Maziarz, arguably the most powerful figure in the room absent gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio—had a turn at the podium. It was a short, tightly-scripted program. And still, Dyster felt like he deserved, more than anyone, to be the star.
Now think about that. Most of the bright lights in Niagara County are gathered in one room—the men and women who control the direction of local economic development policy and dollars, all breaking bread together in one place. They even came right to Niagara Falls. And Dyster couldn’t be bothered to show up. But hey, it's not like Niagara Falls needs economic development or anything.
You stay classy, Niagara Falls.