September 30, 2010

Dicker Crosses The Line

Journalism is a tricky business. Reporters are expected to be dogged in pursuit of a story, and to be above partisan shading. They’re expected to break news and uncover scandal and wrongdoing, and yet to be evenhanded in their treatment of their subjects. Above all, though, they’re expected not to cross certain lines.

Unfortunately, for far too many reporters these days, that line is something to be ignored, or even run over roughshod. And so it was last night with the New York Post’s State Editor, Fred Dicker.

The truth be told, we don’t enjoy writing these words. We long had a certain degree of respect for Dicker’s ability to break news stories that other journalists managed to miss. He was, at one point, a giant in his business.

But that stature has eroded, as young upstarts like Daily News reporter-turned Capital Tonight host Liz Benjamin showed themselves to be both more resourceful and more adept than Dicker. And so, in the last few years, his coverage of state politics has slipped. Grossly.

Unfortunately, so, too, has his judgment. Dicker has been trying, for days, to turn an old story—one that dates to at least April—into political hay. Other reporters long ago exhausted the issue of Carl Paladino’s fathering of a child out of wedlock. Dicker, meantime, sent out Post photographers to photograph the ten-year-old girl as she was minding her own business.

Look, nothing is as convoluted as marital relations and childbearing here in the 21st Century. And, Carl Paladino’s own family affairs are complex. But the subject of such a news story should be Carl Paladino, not a ten-year-old girl. What Dicker did was gross. It violated the special trust that the public places in journalists. And, it exposed an innocent child to ridicule and shame that shouldn’t be hers.

We write these words because last night, Carl Paladino and Michael Caputo, Paladino’s press secretary, had a heated war of words with Dicker after learning of the Post’s photographing of Paladino’s daughter. In all honesty, we respect Dicker’s right to pursue any line of inquiry he wants, and that the facts will support. But photographing innocent ten-year-olds is beyond the pale. It’s creepy. It’s stalkerish. It’s the kind of thing that, if the rest of us did it, would likely lead to, at the very least, a police investigation.

Dicker and the Post owe Paladino an apology. We doubt it will be forthcoming, but anyone watching the video below can’t reach any conclusion other than Paladino has a lot more class, and a lot more guts, than Dicker:

September 28, 2010

Dyster Bracing Public for Bad Budget

We’ve been observers of the political game for a while, and we are able to translate political double-speak at will. Reading this pronouncement from Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, we are very confident that bad news is on its way:

“If people have been following what’s happening with the state in Albany they know there’s a lot of factors out there that are beyond our control and that we are going to have to somehow address with this budget,” Dyster said.

If you live in the City of Niagara Falls, be afraid. Be very afraid.

But don’t let Dyster buffalo you. Niagara Falls has long been playing a shell game with its finances. Earlier this month, City Comptroller Maria Brown, who appears to be in over her head, tried to pawn off coming financial hard times on the Indian tribes’ angry reaction to the Paterson Cigarette Tax, in a statement released by Dyster Spokesman Mark Scheer:

Brown said the city’s 2010 budget relies on 2009 casino cash revenues to cover a debt service increase of roughly $4.5 million. Brown said the city was still awaiting payment for its share of the 2009 casino revenue when Seneca leaders agreed on Monday to withhold future allocations because they felt state-approved gambling operations threatened their Western New York casino operations. Brown said the city has enough cash reserves to cover its debt service obligations through the end of the year, but would not have sufficient funds to do the same in 2011.

“You are looking at a $4.5 million cash-flow hardship that is put on the city,” she said.

Aside from the potential debt service problem, Brown said delays in payment of casino revenue would force the city to suspend activities supported with casino cash, including various road repair projects, Zoom Team cleanups, some demolitions and future concert series, including those produced in partnership with the Hard Rock Cafe. When it comes to those items, Brown said the city simply would not have enough revenue to cover them in the absence of casino cash.

“These are the things that the taxpayers can see and the things we benefit from,” Brown said. “These are the things I would advise the mayor that there’s no money for.”


Note that Building Inspector Dennis Virtuoso’s Saturday-overtime “Zoom Team cleanups” are part of the problem.

That being said, we can at least stomach the costly building inspections. What we can’t stomach is a city government whose finances are imploding paying some French guy $14,000 taxpayer dollars to walk on a tightrope. And mind you, this wasn’t an old-time death-defying stunt over Niagara Falls—this was over Old Falls Street. Not exactly awe-inspiring.

The problem for Niagara Falls residents, however, is that Dyster and Brown’s high-wire act is awe-inspiring, and, up until now, has been death-defying. When Dyster releases his budget (on a Friday, which is when politicians always release bad news) we have a feeling Falls residents are going to realize Dyster and Brown are working without a net.

Happy landings.

September 27, 2010

Paterson On SNL

This is just too good to pass up. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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 CafĂ©, 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:




Oinktoberfest

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.

September 23, 2010

Things Just Got Interesting


When Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino won a stunning upset in the GOP gubernatorial primary last week, we knew it would be a game changer. After all, voters viewed Rick Lazio, long the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, as one of the faces of a two-headed hydra that was going to pretty much move the same direction over time, no matter who was in charge. He was heading for a thumping at the hands of the “inevitable” Andrew Cuomo.

That “inevitable” billing was the last thing Boy Cuomo needed. In essence, it allowed him, as Attorney General, to occupy the role of the incumbent—in a year when incumbents are getting steamrolled around the country. (There’s an old saying that A.G. stands for “Almost Governor”—again, virtual incumbency.) It was only a matter of time before Cuomo’s blowout projections blew up in his face.

In the past 24 hours, we’ve seen, first, a
Quinnipiac College poll that put the Cuomo-Paladino contest at six points, and another from SurveyUSA, that put the race at nine points. The problem for Andrew is that, in both polls, he’s at 49%.

When you’re “inevitable”—again, essentially the incumbent—being below 50% heading into the final weeks of the campaign is considered deadly. And, as Cuomo was at 54% in an earlier
Rasmussen poll, this is an incredible collapse. In very simple terms, Andrew Cuomo’s numbers are going the wrong direction, while Paladino’s are going the right direction.

Add to that the old saw of the polling world that says that voters who are undecided on election day (and, frankly, those who are undecided 10 days before election day) always break for the challenger, and Cuomo’s in real trouble. Francine DelMonte-sized trouble. If he continues to fall further below 50%, this race will end with Cuomo on the wrong side of the finish line.

(Note to Andrew: When your numbers Upstate are incredibly weak, an
endorsement from the liberal mayor of New York City is not the best way to change your standing outside the Five Boroughs.)

All that being said, the Cuomo-Paladino War may not be the most exciting gladiatorial spectacle set for the days ahead.

Buried in all that polling data was some even more stunning data on the contest for the Senate seat currently occupied by David Paterson’s handpicked replacement for Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand. And no matter how hot Harry Reid thinks she is, voters are apparently underwhelmed by the appointed Senator. According to SurveyUSA’s numbers,
she and Republican challenger Joe DioGuardi are essentially tied, at 45%-44%, well within the survey’s +/- 4.2 point margin of error.

What we said about Cuomo being in trouble applies doubly here. The incumbent—the real, honest-to-God incumbent—is at 45%. Those numbers mean voters are ready to fire Gillibrand. If the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the NRSC, starts making ad buys in New York for DioGuardi—or if influential conservative groups like the Club for Growth do so—Gillibrand is history.

Expect the Cuomo-run New York State Democratic Party to start slinging the mud. Oh, wait, they've already started, and they've returned to the last refuge of a doomed Democratic campaign: calling the other guy a racist, a bigot, etc., and
mobilizing the Sharptonite marchers.

Stay mad. It’s gonna be one hell of a bumpy ride.

September 22, 2010

No Love For DelMonte From County Dems

Thankfully, we don't anticipate too many more posts related to outgoing Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte. That is, at least, until she begins the next phase of her life at the New York Power Authority or some other state agency. As a side note, DelMonte has yet to concede, despite the fact that she has better odds of hitting the lottery, getting struck by lightning and finding Jimmy Hoffa's body all in the same day. This farce about waiting until the absentee ballots are counted is nothing but a charade. We say she never concedes.

Back to the next phase of DelMonte's life. While Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and NYPA's chief blowhard Richie Kessel are busy figuring out where DelMonte will land, it seems that the local Dems are more than ready to kick DelMonte to the curb.

Sources within the Niagara County Democratic Party have told Niagara Times that the last two remaining Dems in the county, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Niagara County Legislature Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, have been very quietly plotting together to abandon DelMonte and to make sure that any chance DelMonte may have of retaining her seat is destroyed.

In fact, Dyster and Virtuoso are secretly reaching out to members of the county Dem committee in an attempt to get the committee members to endorse (gasp!) John Accardo for State Assembly at their re-organizational meeting next week. This will no doubt come as a shock to DelMonte, as she has not announced publicly or privately what her intentions will be for the next six weeks. Considering the fact that she will remain on the ballot in November on the Working Families Party line, she may decide to press on. Dyster and Virtuoso are working behind her back to take away her choice.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling any sympathy whatsoever for DelMonte; she lost, deservedly so. But if this is what they believe is their road to retaining the seat, undermining the incumbent who will have plenty of support on November 2nd, they're dead wrong. At least have the common courtesy to be upfront with her. Unfortunately, that's not how the slimy Virtuoso and the politically-inept Dyster maneuver.

In the end, it all comes back to Niagara County Dem Chairman Dan Rivera. This whole scenario could be avoided if he showed one ounce of leadership. Unfortunately for the county Dems, he is nowhere to be found. Actually, he can be found - in Buffalo working on the campaign of Catherine Panepinto. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto. Get used to it.

September 21, 2010

An Open Letter to the Senecas, Tuscaroras, et al.:

If you’re going to plan a protest, actually hold one. Having a dozen and a half people standing around waving signs isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. In fact, if David Paterson saw you (or more accurately, if his aides saw you and relayed what they saw to him) he probably went back to Albany laughing his ass off and vowing to push ahead with his insane scheme to tax you—and your customers.

Look, here at Niagara Times, we’re completely simpatico where your cigarette sales are concerned. We think you got a raw deal for a long time, and the least New York can do is leave your handful of smoke shops alone. I mean, the State of New York effectively stole your ancestral lands, and your birthright. That should count for something.

You should be mad as hell—madder than the average Paladino supporter, actually. You should be ready to march on Albany.

Instead, the Governor of the State of New York showed up in your own neck of the woods. I mean, you could have walked to the Yahoo data facility from the Tuscarora Reservation. And the best you could muster was a
dozen and a half protesters to greet David Paterson.

To make a very crude and no doubt politically-incorrect comparison, you looked like Custer and Reno out there. And that's a problem, because those of us who support you in this fight were expecting you to come on like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. (That's our non-PC way of saying you didn't exactly bring your "A" game.)

Please, for the sake of your efforts to beat back the Paterson Cigarette Tax, don’t do it again. Really. Unless you’re willing to commit some real numbers and make real nuisances of yourselves, don’t bother going this route, because you’ll just embarrass yourselves and make Albany go after something else we like to buy—like your cheap gas.

Unless you are committed to winning this fight, don’t bother showing up in the ring.


Sincerely Yours,


Hobbes

September 20, 2010

Lewis Racks Up the Frequent Flier Miles...


We’ve honestly started to pity County Manager Greg Lewis, here at Niagara Times.

Over the past few months, he’s accumulated quite a few frequent flier miles, jetting from interview to interview—and missing a lot of work.

Lewis’ job searches, of course, all tend to follow the same pattern:

1) Greg sends in his resume. 2) The hiring committee whittles its field down to five or so finalists, and Greg almost always makes the cut for this group. 3) Someone else, usually with a much shorter resume, gets the job.

And then, the headhunters who are handling Greg have to make that phone call to him. “
They really liked you, and you gave a strong interview. But they’re going to take a pass. It’s just that…well, they just can’t visualize you in that role with their organization. They don’t think you’re a fit.

A few weeks later, the process starts all over again.

This, of course, is how it all
played out down in the Florida panhandle over the past month.

We long ago stopped attempting to count the number of counties where Greg’s name turned up. Between information gleaned from newspaper accounts of Lewis being named a finalist, and friendly tips that telephone calls “checking up” on him from counties as far apace as
Florida (again and again), Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan—even Arizona—were coming in, we’ve watched Greg bounce from interview to interview without success. (He's even now reduced to applying to manage cities the size of Lockport.)

A common thread in many of the articles about Lewis has been statements like this:

While all had experience in government, and in large, complex organizations, only one came with county experience. That was Gregory Lewis, currently the manager in Niagara County, New York. Previously, he was administrator in Lyon County, Minn., and Beltrami County, Minn.

And yet, despite that fact, Lewis keeps getting passed over.

Why is that? Well, while some would suggest Google searches linking to this blog are killing Greg’s job hopes, honestly, we’re too modest to take all the credit. And, we still remember Lewis’ appearances on LCTV, and we think that may be part of his problem as well. Counties are looking for a certain kind of leader at the helm—one with a commanding presence, and a certain grace. Greg may be coming up a tad short in that category.

Regardless, Greg must be starting to sweat. We see by the Countdown Clock that he’s down to 71 days. That’s not a lot of time to land a sweet new six-figure gig to navel-gaze and draw up unsolicited plans to restructure government that save no money, but increase your personal power. Yeah, come to think of it, Greg’s personality may be part of the equation here, too.

Of course, we’d be remiss to note that one man has been fighting hard to give Greg a job. We are told that, at the last meeting of our own county’s county manager search committee, our old pal, Dennis F. Virtuoso, minority leader, implored his fellow legislators to give Lewis a per diem contract while we sought a candidate of Greg’s caliber.

But, um, no, Dennis, like damn near every other county in the United States, we’re going to take a pass. He’s just not a fit...

September 17, 2010

Friday Ruminations

They’re Just Not That into You

Local media seem to have missed one very important aspect of Francine DelMonte’s political implosion, and we must say that it’s an angle we’d love to see them report on more fully.

The indispensible
New York Sun reports that, on Tuesday night, only two members of the New York State Assembly actually lost their party’s nomination. Think about that. Only two. We’ve heard some members of the DelMonte camp—those not trying to lay the groundwork for a laughable legal challenge to a five-point blowout—dismissing Francine’s defeat as part of an anti-incumbent wave.

The problem is, Tea Partiers didn’t take Francine out. Her fellow Democrats did. The narrative offered by Francine’s supporters might have worked if her big defeat happened on election night. But it didn’t. No, Francine lost the support of the rank and file of her own party. And, except for her friend, the equally grating
Assemblywoman Ginny Fields from Long Island, no other member of the Assembly can say that.

And that’s got to sting.


Niagara Falls Scares Off Travel Channel Show


We have to confess to what has become a near-addiction for us when we’re channel surfing: the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food. The show, which features the best belly-busting coronaries-on-a-plate in a given U.S. city, recently came to Niagara Falls. And, their advertising has been hyping the visit for weeks. So, when the episode premiered on Wednesday night, we were keyed up to watch.

We never thought we’d see Niagara Falls, N.Y., humiliated on an episode of a show actually devoted to them.

Understand, the whole show was supposed to be Niagara Falls. Instead, they
went to Grand Island, and then Lewiston, and then Niagara Falls, Ontario! (And mind you, they only ever go to U.S. cities.) To make matters worse, all of the exterior establishing shots for Niagara Falls showed either the waterfall, or the Ontario skyline.

Now, we’ve said it before, and we will repeat ourselves. The only redeeming thing about Niagara Falls, N.Y., is that it is home to the best Italian restaurants in Western New York. So, when host Adam Richman went to Niagara Falls, Ontario, to eat an Italian meal, it was even more humiliating.

We want this to completely sink in: On a show devoted to restaurants that are typically dives, on an episode titled “Niagara Falls,” where Italian food featured prominently—they never set foot in Dyster’s Dystopia. How pathetic has Niagara Falls become under Paul Dyster that they actually scared off the Travel Channel?


In Buffalo, Failure is Always an Option


First off, the header above is not a reference to
the Bills.

No, instead, we are referring to the absolute inability of city government to fire bad employees. Apparently, however, even an appointed department head who cost the city $2 million by continuing to pay for health insurance for long-dead city employees is entitled to full civil service protections. The grossly-incompetent Karl Thomas, Byron Brown’s totally-unqualified human resources commissioner—and former political ally—turned a hearing into her future with the city into a three-ring circus yesterday. And that hearing will continue well into October:



She even is requiring Byron Brown to sit through the tedious proceedings.

Think about that: the mayor of the City of Buffalo can’t fire an employee without tying up his own schedule for weeks. And then, in the end, his executive decision might be reversed.

No one can say WNY’s long history of unionization hasn’t had a lasting impact.


Eleanor Holmes Norton, GOP Political Ad Writer

You may have already heard it, but if you haven’t, the following is priceless. It’s audio of DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton shaking down a lobbyist for a contribution.

That a sitting member of Congress would do this is, of course, distasteful. But that she’d do it in a voicemail is laughable. Didn’t Watergate teach the crooks in Washington to not record their criminal activities?



Remember when Democrats were complaining about a Republican “culture of corruption” because Idaho Sen. Larry Craig had a wide stance in a bathroom stall?


The Three Stooges

Buffalo News columnist
Donn Esdmonde’s column today is a splendid piece of writing. He takes slimeball former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, creepy former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, and incompetent former State Comptroller H. Carl McCall to task for a “letter” they wrote blasting Western New York’s favorite son, Carl Paladino. Esmonde’s description of the trio as “the Three Stooges,” however, is what really set us to laughing this morning.

The truth is, especially with Koch and D’Amato, you can actually see them doing the whole routine: the eye-pokes, the nose-grabs, the ear-claps, the “Ooooh, a wiseguy…”

That being said, Moe, Larry, and Curley would never have written these words, because even they didn’t have D’Amato, Koch, and McCall’s gift for comedy: “
This state has a long history of electing highly qualified, forward-looking statewide candidates.



We’ll see you back here on Monday. In the meantime, it looks like it's going to be a good weekend to take take in the
Celtic Festival.

September 16, 2010

September 15, 2010

The Witch Is Dead

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of Niagara Times that today's blog post focuses on the defeat of Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte. I was going to label the defeat as "stunning", but the reality is that anyone who has followed the three-decades long career of DelMonte should not be surprised.

Too many missteps by DelMonte led to this. Her unwavering support of Sheldon Silver. Her vote to send $550 million in NYPA revenues generated in Lewiston to Albany. Her taking away of the county's share of the casino money. Her inability to address the massive economic woes plaguing Niagara Falls. Her refusal to condemn NYPA's screwing of Niagara County. She has failed her constituency at every turn.

She should have seen this coming. Last year, her protege and Legislative Director Nick Melson was demolished by an unknown 23 year-old named Vince Sandanato in Melson's bid for a county legislature seat. Melson had run on a platform of being DelMonte's "inside man". He told voters that he had all of the Albany bigwig's phone numbers on speed dial. They weren't impressed.

That race was a referendum on DelMonte. Despite Melson's resounding defeat, DelMonte didn't get the message. She didn't change her ways. Her arrogance is as much to blame for her loss as any single factor. She got what she deserved.

Sandanato was instrumental in the outcome of this race. He owns LaSalle. He was an animal in driving out the vote against DelMonte. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster should be very worried about Vince Sandanato. If Sandanato should decide to take a shot at Dyster next year, he could win. Don't laugh, I'm not joking. I don't care if he is 24 years-old. This guy has the political acumen, the work ethic, the connections and the drive to win a race against Dyster.

Dyster should also look at his role in DelMonte's loss and analyze what that means for him, like DelMonte should have done after Melson's loss. Dyster lobbied hard for DelMonte. He dropped personalized letters on behalf of her into Niagara Falls. She lost Niagara Falls. That is not a good omen for Dyster.

The bottom line is that DelMonte is gone. I'm sure she'll be well taken care of by Silver, likely landing some patronage job paying six figures with the state. That's the payback for undying loyalty to Silver. But Dyster is now on an island. County legislature minority leader Dennis "Weave" Virtuoso has lost a huge ally in Albany. When the dust settles, all they have left is each other. Frankly, they can have each other. Our state and this county are better places without Francine DelMonte in the Assembly.

September 14, 2010

Primary Day Ruminations


Finally, Francine Says Something We Can Agree With

Words to remember today:

I’m the incumbent in this race, so the frustration is directed at me.”
Assemblyperson Francine DelMonte

Sometimes, a candidate is absolutely eloquent in summing up what an election is truly all about. We don’t think anything we can say could possibly top Francine DelMonte’s own words.

If you’re a Democrat, and agree with Francine, and want to direct your frustration at her, please do so. And, if you don’t know where to go to cast your primary ballot, feel free to call the good people at the Niagara County Board of Elections at 438-4041. We’re sure that they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.


Pissing on the Pansies

A friend who attended Carl Paladino’s heavily-attended get-out-the-vote rally in downtown Niagara Falls yesterday afternoon related an amusing anecdote.

It seems that the one-time dark horse likes to bring his dog Duke to campaign rallies. Well, when Duke arrived at Paladino’s Giacomo Hotel, he promptly strained at his leash and made his way into a bed of flowers, where he vacated a very full bladder.

According to our friend, several in attendance got a big kick out of this because they saw in it confirmation of the old saw about dogs coming to resemble their owners. As our friend put it, “When Carl Paladino gets to Albany, he’s going to piss on a lot of delicate flowers and little pansies that have been getting watered and fertilized a little too well by New York’s taxpayers for far too long.”

As with Francine, we really can’t improve upon our friend’s succinct eloquence.

September 13, 2010

Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Ten Years Ago?

The title of this post is aimed primarily at residents of the City of Niagara Falls, though we suspect nearly everyone in the 138th Assembly District would answer it the same way. Of course, that stands in stark contrast with the positively optimistic views of Assemblyperson Francine DelMonte in a recent interview with her campaign spokesman, Mark Scheer, where she details how she's going to finally pull Niagara Falls out of its malaise:

DelMonte believes investments by the city and the state in downtown Niagara Falls have resulted in change for the better. She pointed to ongoing road repair projects and the recent multi-million redevelopment of the western end of Old Falls Street as concrete efforts that have paid dividends. She believes a stalled effort to build Niagara County Community College’s culinary arts center inside the vacant Rainbow Centre Mall building will still come to fruition...

“It’s all about creating a synergy here for tourists to compel them to visit Niagara Falls and Niagara County,” she said.


Um, let’s see. What part of the
Rainbow Centre deal is dead don’t you understand, Francine?

Still, Francine’s plucky optimism about that doomed project is kind of contagious. No doubt, soon she’ll be telling us about her grand plans to resurrect the
Wintergarden, or perhaps to restore the “Flight of Angels” tethered balloon rides over the city—or any of the myriad other things that have completely failed in the Falls in the decade since she took office, like the few remaining businesses on Main Street.

We’re just waiting on her to create that “synergy.”

Problem is, we've been waiting for 10 years.

Politicians routinely spend election season recounting their successes. But in all honesty, the last time we remember a politician telling us that we should re-elect them because they were really, really going to do a better job next term was in 1980, and it came from the man Francine has cited on numerous occasions as her personal role model:




We only hope Francine soon has something else in common with her role model.

September 10, 2010

Friday Ruminations


The End of an Error

We’re positively thrilled that the County Legislature’s search committee charged with finding a replacement for County Manager Greg Lewis has performed the task it was charged with fulfilling. We, of course, maintain our usual position of detached disgust where Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso is concerned: the sheer delusional madness that drives this petty tyrant from a dying city is simultaneously pathetic and sickening.

It seems that, in the end, Dennis Virtuoso would actively seek to destroy the county government, and the man charged with administering it, before he’d allow his ally Greg Lewis to depart the scene. Unfortunately, Virtuoso’s crybaby petulant child routine has real implications for this county in the future.

Of course, here at Niagara Times, we will shed a few tears for Lewis as well. The man had a real gift for comedy, and we were glad to provide him a forum for some of his best howlers. He will be missed.


All You Need is a Dollar and a Scheme

While we’re on the topic of the County Legislature, kudos to Majority Leader Rick Updegrove of Lockport. We happened to finally catch the Leg meeting the other night, and got a chuckle out of Updegrove’s skewering of the inept, and possibly corrupt, director of the New York State Lottery, a man named Gordon Medenica.

Updegrove had planned to introduce a resolution calling on Medenica to resign after a Dateline NBC piece exposed him aiding and abetting lottery clerk who were cheating winners out of tens of thousands of dollars. That seems reasonable to us.

But, apparently not to Dennis Virtuoso. Using a bizarre procedural move, Virtuoso prevented Updegrove’s resolution from coming to the floor—even after watching video of Dateline catching Medenica red-handed. Why would Virtuoso do such a thing? Well, this is pure speculation, but we’re guessing it’s because Dennis Virtuoso never met a corrupt or incompetent Democratic gubernatorial nominee he wouldn’t defend. (If Richie Kessel is reading this, yeah, we were talking about you.)

But don’t just take our word for it. We did a little searching around and found the video Updegrove showed Virtuoso. If you can watch this video and still think Gordon Medenica deserves to keep his job, then Dennis Virtuoso could use you in his caucus:




Toxic Treachery

Francine DelMonte’s road to re-election hit another stumbling block yesterday.

In short, Francine was caught talking with a forked tongue by Democrat challenger John Accardo. It seems that Francine has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from toxic waste dump CWM’s chief lobbyist—but she’s really, really against CWM!

So, how did Francine prove her green street cred? Well, she trotted out Nils Olsen, the pudgy UB law professor who has been feeding from the public trough for years, conning county taxpayers into paying his legal bills to (unsuccessfully) take on CWM. And, lo and behold, Olsen, who owes his whole existence to Francine, told every reporter who would listen, as well as Mark Scheer (who we stopped calling a “reporter” a long time ago) what a great Toxic Avenger Francine is, deep down.

So, if you’re listening kids, don’t follow the money. Listen to the people who Francine has personally enriched instead.


The Case Against Antoine Thompson

Here at Niagara Times, we pride ourselves in having done a pretty damn good job of making the case mentioned above. That being said, we’re rank amateurs next to John Duke. Duke writes a scathing piece in, of all places, ArtVoice (!). We won’t bother quoting from it; it’s so good, you’ll just want to read it all.

Trust us.

See you Monday.

September 9, 2010

Downtown, Where All the Lights are Bright...


The candidates facing each other in next Tuesday's primary for the 138th Assembly District are actually talking about the same place, the place in the photo at right. We'll let you decide who's living in reality and who's living in a mansion on River Road:


“Millions and millions and millions has left this area and not much of it has come back here. We need more of it to come back here. I sat back for nine years now and I watched Albany view the City of Niagara Falls as either an ATM machine or a dumping ground.”

John Accardo, candidate for 138th District, New York State Assembly



“The state has made significant investments downtown.”

Francine DelMonte, Assemblyperson, 138th District, New York State Assembly



The lights are much brighter there, you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares

September 8, 2010

Primary Day Looms

With Primary Election Day less than a week away, we'd like to remind readers that our disdain for incumbents like Francine DelMonte is not driven by party affiliation, but by the repeated failures of legislators like DelMonte to act in the best interests of Niagara County. DelMonte is not alone. Useless piece of shit Antoine Thompson is just as bad.

These two Democrats don't care about Niagara County, and their voting records reflect this. They vote with New York City Democrats with painful regularity.

Fortunately, both have Democratic primaries; DelMonte with John Accardo and Thompshit with Rory Allen and Al Copolla. We can only hope, as unlikely as it is, that people will get the hell up off their collective asses and vote for a change.

If not, we can be rest assured that people like Kevin Parker, in the following video stating his sickening perception of Upstate, will remain in power.

September 7, 2010

Poolgate, Mongielo Style

We recently posted a Youtube video that's been floating around these parts showing former Town of Lockport Supervisor candidate Dave Mongielo's true character; a video in which he mocks the developmentally disabled members of our society. Before showing us what a true slime he is, as he did in the video, he made a name for himself breaking local zoning laws, then forced the town to spend thousands of dollars in taxpayer dollars defending those same laws because he believes that the laws don't apply to him.

Mongielo is to be sentenced on September 14th, which ironically, is Primary Election Day. You see, Mongielo is running for the Town of Lockport Republican Committee. In fact, he's found a few sheep along the way to run for the committee as well. Their goal is to take over the committee so when next year's elections come around, they can endorse Mongielo over incumbent Marc Smith. They obviously have a severe lack of knowledge when it comes to the endorsement process; local committees don't make endorsements, they make recommendations. The county committee makes the endorsement.

Be that as it may, the bottom line is that Mongielo is once again angling to run for town supervisor. But in addition to his multitude of other problems, Mongielo still thinks he's above the law.

It seems that earlier this year, Mongielo connected a hose to a town fire hydrant and proceeded to fill his pool with the illegal connection. While we don't have the exact numbers, sources have told Niagara Times that Mongielo tapped the town's water supply to the tune of about 22,000 gallons of water. Now, where I come from, stealing is stealing - there is no gray area.

The town, after having been made aware of the situation, billed Mongielo for the water in question. We've been told that although the town contemplated charges against Mongielo, they chose not to due to already pending legal action against him.

I'm not sure what qualifies someone to run for public office these days, but I sure know what disqualifies him. Laws of society, no matter how relevant or significant, exist for a reason. For anybody to disregard those laws, especially someone like Mongielo who likes to portray himself as some type of community advocate, is unacceptable.

September 3, 2010

Friday Ruminations


Francine and Hobbes, By the Numbers

Francine DelMonte’s Facebook Friend Count: 393
David Klein's (aka Hobbes) Facebook Friend Count: 630

We knew Francine was unpopular, but...damn.


One Unqualified Community Organizer Down, One to Go…

We read with absolute delight that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown had finally terminated incompetent Human Resources Commissioner Karla Thomas.

You may recall that Thomas managed to piss away $2 million, paying for benefits for 170 dead city employees—all while pulling down a sweet $91K a year.

We’re happy because Thomas' sole qualification for her job was—and here, we’ll quote the Buffalo News directly: “Thomas, 54, is longtime ally of Mayor Byron Brown who, until her appointment as commissioner, headed Grassroots, a political group that Brown helped build and that helped launch his career in elective office.”

Wow. An unqualified community organizer getting elected to high public office and surrounding himself with unqualified community organizers-turned-czars. Where have we heard that before?


Can You Hear Me Now?

We’re fast becoming fans of NT’s first-term Mayor Rob Ortt. He seems to view piggy public-sector unions with nearly the same level of disgust we do. And that’s saying something.

We have, in recent weeks, documented Ortt’s willingness to take on the unions’ public-trough feeding. But nothing we’ve discussed so far impresses the hell out of us the way Ortt’s actions to rein in taxpayer-funded cell phones used by city employees does. Apparently, when Ortt came to office eight months ago, he discovered the city was providing 51 city workers with free cell phones.

Yesterday, he announced plans to eliminate 34 of those lines, which he deemed “unjustified.” The cost savings are $3,000 per year, a drop in the bucket compared to the costs associated with the unions’ obscene prescription drug benefit. But it’s $3,000 that taxpayers earned, not bureaucrats.


Timeless Words

For those of you who were too young to watch Ronald Reagan being sworn in, and for those of you who just remember the moment fondly, here’s the high point of Reagan’s address—words that ring just as true today. And, we might point out, heading into an election that will reject Obamunism just as surely as it reaffirms Reagan’s view of the proper role of government:




Enjoy the Weekend

We’ll see you back here on Tuesday. Enjoy the weekend—or whatever portion of it Hurricane Earl doesn’t drown.

September 2, 2010

Bill Davignon to NT Taxpayers: Drop Dead

Few things are as pathetic as failed politicians grasping at whatever straws they can to remain relevant and settle old political scores. That’s why news we received out of North Tonawanda made us laugh—until we considered the costs to taxpayers.
Once again, we find a NT public-sector union boss digging in to continue government employees’ outrageous benefits—even if it means screwing the taxpayers.
A friend who’s a city worker sent us an agitated email, along with a couple of attachments. It seems that failed politician William Davignon, who once held the 9th Legislative District seat now held by the popular Legislator Phillip Russ Rizzo, has personally declared war on the administration of new NT Mayor Rob Ortt, and he’s using CSEA resources to fight his fight. Our friend suspects it’s because Davignon is still bitter about being booted out of office by the local GOP; we’ll call that conjecture for now. The crux of the matter is an effort by Ortt to rein in city spending that ballooned in his predecessor’s final budget, and a novel approach Ortt took to saving the city on its insurance costs—saving $100K a year while not harming city employees’ very rich benefits in any way.
Our friend’s email read, in part:
Hello [Hobbes]!
I am sneding you two notices that city employees received in the past week. One is from the Mayor and the other is from Bill Davignon….our CSEA Local’s President. I think you remember Bill. Well, he is at it again.
I get really good benefits. All of my scrips are $5.00 co-pay. That’s the generics and the name brands. That does come in really handy with [name withheld]’s allergy medications. [Hobbes], I know that a lot of people have worse prescription benefits than me, and a lot of them are the ones paying the taxes. I don’t want to lose them.
From what I was told, the Mayor is trying to save costs because we are all facing a tax increase here. Part of the problem is the insurance companies are playing games, and it costs more money than it’s worth to give us our $5.00 co-pay directly….so we would have to take a worse co-payment from the insurance company, but the city would reimburse us for the difference. We’d still have a $5.00 co-pay for all intents and purposes.
Personally, I realize that’s going to be added work, and I really wish there was some other way. But it’s supposed to save the city $100,000.00 every single year. And I’d rather they did that than lay off any more city workers.
A lot of us are worried that if Bill keeps this up, the next time our contract gets re-negotiated, the council will come after our prescription benefits because we wouldn’t work with them now. We really need to flush that turd and get a new union Pres. Bill is still mad because he was beat in that election by Henry [Wojtaszek] and the Republicans, so he’s going to get into a pissing match with an all-Republican council. It’s almost like he’s so angry he’s blinded by it all and can’t think long term strategically.
We can’t speak for William Davignon’s reasoning, of course. He’s being true to form, if nothing else. When he was a county legislator, he did far more to represent the unions than the taxpayers of the 9th District, and it looks like he approaches his job with the City of North Tonawanda the same way.
It’s just too bad that city taxpayers are going to get screwed in the process.
Oh—Ortt’s and Davignon’s letters are below, for your reading pleasure:

September 1, 2010

Time to Turn the Page, Indeed

"We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, 'Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters.' Alexander Hamilton said, 'A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.' Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second: Surrender."
Ronald Reagan, endorsing Barry Goldwater in 1964

Last night, Barack Hussein Obama did his best to sell America's allies in the War on Terror out to Islamofascist slave masters. He told us it was "time to turn the page" on the War in Iraq
the kind of brazen Vietnam-style political surrender that America hasn't seen since, well, since Vietnam.
In 2008, we counted ourselves among those who "held our noses" and voted for John McCain, a veteran of that war that the politicians lost. Since then, the Arizona Republican has done much to retroactively earn our vote, and we're grateful for his very lucid rebuttal of Obama's surrender valedictory. If you didn't happen to see it, it's well worth a couple minutes or your time today:



We long ago concluded Barack Hussein Obama was uninterested in preserving America's greatness
—if he even believes there is such a thing. Last night's address was just more of the same drivel. When we stop and remember the reassuring figure of Ronald Reagan leading this great nation what seems like just a few short years—yet a lot of lifetimes—ago, we are truly saddened.

But there is something to Obama's chosen metaphor, that of turning pages. Just as America "turned the page" on the failures of the 1970s
—the political surrender in Vietnam and the weeping international weakness of the Carter Presidency—America has the opportunity to turn the page on Barack Hussein Obama's failed presidency in just 61 days.

Let's just hope that 61 days is soon enough for our international allies, now painfully exposed to incoming fire.