November 30, 2010

"I Don't Do Freakin' Exit Interviews"

Today, of course, is the last work day of outgoing County Manager Greg Lewis. Now, here at Niagara Times, this is not, despite rumors to the contrary, a day of celebration. No, we view today as a day of mourning.

We’re mourning the passing of a giant—the man who guaranteed us comedy material on a regular basis. Even when he said nothing, he managed to do so in a way that kept us—and you, our Dear Readers—rolling in the aisles.

But Greg, being the kind of guy he is, saw fit to leave us all with one of his howlers on the way out—a gesture we both respect and appreciate. You see, when the dean of the Niagara County press corps, Tom Prohaska, approached him last week for his parting thoughts, Greg was—well, Greg was Greg:

Still looking for his next job, he declined to be interviewed for this retrospective.

“I don’t do any freakin’ exit interviews,” Lewis said. “I’m a man of the future, not the past.”

That’s vintage Greg Lewis, right there: “I don’t do any freakin’ exit interviews.”

Of course, the problem with Lewis was, any time he wanted to push an agenda contra the one being advocated by the elected Legislature, Lewis was all too happy to talk to the press. It’s only when such communications required a certain grace that Greg could never be found.

But Greg’s exit interview didn’t require grace, or even delicacy. Heck, this was his big chance to sound off on all the bogeymen he regularly complained to county department heads about: Sen. George Maziarz, County Legislators Rick Updegrove, Tony Nemi, Keith McNall, Vince Sandonato, and John Syracuse (all of whom he denounced to department heads by name at one time or another), the clerk of the Legislature, the county auditor, County Attorney Claude Joerg (who he once forbade department heads to talk to), the county public information officer, various Maziarz staffers, County Treasurer Kyle Andrews, North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, and the latest burr in his side, Assemblyman-elect John Ceretto—not to mention a certain blogger, whom, we’ll note, Prohaska was kind enough to cite in his article. Every last individual on this list, reliable sources tell us, was derided by name by Lewis at meetings with his little band of loyalist department heads, a group he called “the A Team.”

And yet, given this opportunity by Prohaska to connect all the dots and show the evil conspiracy against his grand vision, Lewis fell mute. Why?

Well, we’re pretty confident the Man of the Future no doubt would have much to say, if it weren’t for the fact that Prohaska very bluntly assessed: Lewis’ next job hasn’t exactly landed in his lap yet. So, rather than leave with a bang, he leaves with a whimper. Prospective employers might be turned off reading in print the things Lewis said out loud so many times before.

It’s a pity, really. It would have been one very entertaining piece of copy, the Man of the Future’s freakin’ exit interview.

November 29, 2010

Virtuoso Takes On County Unions

To this day, it boggles my mind how Niagara County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso continues to get a free ride from the county unions. This guy has been the biggest anti-union Democrat in the county legislature that I can recall. It started with his hiring of outgoing county manager Greg Lewis, and continues to this day with his recent statements about the county budget.

In this Buffalo News piece, which details the legislature's challenge of closing a $4 million budget gap stemming from huge increases in the county's mandated Medicaid and state pension contributions, Virtuoso states, "I’m certainly not going to vote for a tax increase. The people of Niagara County can’t afford it. We’re going to have to make some serious cuts".

Serious cuts. Virtuoso is like the Bill Murray character in Groundhog Day. Every year he comes to the table with his pathetic political posturing, seeking cuts in positions like the legislature clerk, the conflicts attorneys (who were hired because of a judicial mandate) and the county auditor.

For the sake of argument, let's say these positions are eliminated or reduced. The auditor and the clerk are about $100k. You can't dump the conflict attorneys, you can only reduce them. Although anyone with half a brain knows that reducing the number of conflict attorneys will actually increase county costs, let's say we find some magical way to save $100k on conflict attorneys. That leaves the county with a $3.8 million budget shortfall.

Virtuoso said that we need to make "serious cuts" and that he is "certainly not going to vote for a tax increase". The county is facing a $6.9 million increase in Medicaid and state pension costs this year alone. That's not the total, that this year's increase. Considering that 79% of the county's budget is mandated, and that the single biggest variable that is under the control of the legislature is personnel, Virtuoso's threats of needing to make "serious cuts" and his vow not to vote for a tax increase leaves one option: personnel cuts.

Because he is incapable of keeping his piehole shut, Virtuoso's tough stance puts him in a real bind. If he insists on enacting these alleged "serious cuts", he can only do it by screwing the county unions; if he refuses to vote for a tax increase, he screws the unions. The only way he appeases the unions is to support a tax increase - thus the predicament.

It will be interesting to see how he attempts to manipulate his way out of this one - and if the unions continue to give him a free pass after he sticks it to them once again.

November 26, 2010

DelMonte's Job Hunt

For the past two weeks, we've been sitting on a rumor that outgoing Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte had been appointed to a $90,000/year job with the New York Power Authority. We haven't run it because, despite multiple attempts, we have been unable to confirm it.

Now we've learned that she has her sights set somewhat higher.

Sources have told Niagara Times that DelMonte has been involved in discussions with state officials to assume the position of President of USA Niagara Development Corporation. There's just one problem: that job is currently held by Chris Schoepflin. Odds are that Schoepflin is not quite ready to vacate the position.

According to their website, USA Niagara Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corporation, is solely dedicated to the support and promotion of economic development initiatives in Niagara Falls by leveraging private investment and encouraging growth and renewal of the tourism industry in the City of Niagara Falls.

I think we can all agree that USA Niagara has completely failed at their mission. Schoepflin, during his tenure there, has not created a single private-sector job. He's also pulling in a hefty six-figure salary. The opportunity to make good for Niagara Falls while maintaining some relevance with a nice paycheck is very appealing to DelMonte.

Historically, DelMonte has had a decent relationship with USA Niagara and Schoepflin. But she is still very, very bitter about her loss, and she is not going to allow anyone to stand in the way of the desperately needed redemption that she seeks.

Make no mistake about it, DelMonte will be taken care of with a job. It's just a matter of where and when.

November 25, 2010

So Much To Be Thankful For

It's Thanksgiving Day, a time to reflect upon our lives and to appreciate just how well off must of us are. Of course, when you bring family together, toss in some bird and add some football, it makes for a great day. It's also important on this day to thank the men and women who are serving our country both near and abroad for their military service.

Personally, I'm thankful for so many things; a great family, terrific friends, good health, a job I love, a nice house and all of the fixings. Of course, I'm thankful for those things every day. It's a few other things this Thanksgiving Day that I am thankful for, things that will never occur in unison again.

When you think about it, it's somewhat astounding. Within a few short weeks, we will no longer say any of the following: Niagara County Manager Greg Lewis, New York State Senator Antoine Thompson and New York State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte.

In case you haven't noticed, the Greg Lewis countdown clock has just five days left. Although we could spend hours rehashing his disastrous seven-year stint in Niagara County, we're just going to say "peace out, Greg".

What can we say about Twan and Fran? It's been a helluva ride watching these two screw Niagara County time and time again. The fact that the voters are kicking them to the curb should make them look inside themselves to analyze the people they became during their time in office, not blame anyone and everyone around them for their losses.

This Thanksgiving Day, we at Niagara Times are thankful that the Niagara County Legislature had the foresight to deny Lewis another contract and we're thankful that the people of the 138th Assembly District and 60th Senate District said "enough is enough" and voted out Thompson and DelMonte. Onward and upward to better days in Niagara County.

November 24, 2010

Where's Pauldo?

Each year, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership hosts an event to launch their Regional Agenda. This document is a collaboration between Erie County, Niagara County and the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. It identifies the top economic development priorities of the region and outlines the rationale for moving forward with each of them.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is the leading business advocacy organization in Western New York, with over 2,500 employer members. They lobby elected officials at every level in an effort to keep Western New York relevant in a state that is more concerned with taking our assets and resources away from us.

So one has to wonder why Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, for the second year in a row, saw fit to snub the BNP at the unveiling of their 2011 Regional Agenda earlier this week. Leaders from all of the other entities that contributed to the compilation were there. Chris Collins from Erie County, Bill Ross from Niagara County and Byron Brown from the City of Buffalo all understood the importance of this event. Not Dyster, he skipped it - again.

One truly has to wonder where Dyster's priorities are. Obviously with DelMonte and Thompson gone, he does not have a single political ally left in Albany. You would think that he would be willing to show just a little bit of respect for one of the few organizations that actually takes Niagara Falls seriously and is willing to lobby on behalf of the city. Apparently that is too much to ask of him.

With Dyster at the helm, the city will continue on its path to oblivion. Thankfully, the election for mayor is less than 12 months away. In the meantime, we'd like to alert all citizens to keep an eye out for Dyster. He may be right under your nose.

November 23, 2010

Twan Begs For Bucks

Speaking of Senator Antoine Thompson, we're going to do our second favorite do-nothing, outgoing state legislator (Francine DelMonte will always be number one in our hearts) a favor.

It seems that Twan is a few bucks short on cash. Despite the fact that he spent more time fundraising during his time in office than actually working for the betterment of this state and his constituency, Thompson is appealing to everyone and anyone he can to muster up more bucks from to keep his overpaid, albeit ineffective, lawyers employed through his Quixotic attempt to change the outcome of his Senate race.

In fact, Twan recently sent out the following email solicitation to quite a number of individuals, organizations, PACs and special interest groups:

From: Antoine Thompson [mailto:antoinemthompson1010@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2010 4:57 PM
Subject: Request for A Critical Contribution

Hello,

I am reaching out to you in hopes of your support. There is an aggressive recount underway for my re-election to the State Senate. Recounts require the mobilization of staff, volunteers, and lawyers to ensure that every vote is counted. This is very close race with more thousands of absentee and affadavit ballots must be counted. Your contribution will make a huge difference. Please contribute today online at www.senatorantoinethompson.com or Supporters of Antoine Thompson, P.O. Box 714, Buffalo, NY 14201.

Sincerely,
Antoine M. Thompson
Senator, 60th District

Reply Form
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Name_____________________________ Company__________________________
Address________________________ City ____________ State ___ Zip _________
Phone _________________ Fax ___________ Email __________

Please contribute online at:
www.senatorantoinethompson.com or by mail
Supporters of Antoine Thompson, P.O. Box 714, Buffalo, NY 14201


Where do I begin? The spelling errors? The grammatical missteps? How about the outright butchering of the English language? I would be absolutely mortified if my name was attached to such a communication. For Christ's sake, hit the damn "spell check" button before you send it out!

Anyways, Twan is still needin' a few bucks. I truly hope that this communication serves as reason not to send a dime to this moron. I hope he and DelMonte are very happy together in irrelevance.

November 22, 2010

Today's Post is Sponsored by the Number 951...

...and the letter "Duh."

Calling Antoine Thompson the dumbest member of the New York State Senate is like calling the Pope the most noteworthy Catholic. It's kinda pointless after a while.

Still, we ask you, our readers, to ponder something: Had Antoine Thompson manned up and conceded on Election Night, he'd be remembered as having lost a squeaker, less than 500 votes.

Now, though, incoming Senator Mark Grisanti's lead has swelled to 951. He's closing in on a 1,000-vote margin of victory.

And the longer Antoine delays, the worse it gets. It's almost like Karma.

Keep fighting the inevitable, jackass.

November 19, 2010

November 18, 2010

Glick Criticism Of Schroeder Off-Base

I don't know who Assemblywoman Deborah Glick is, and frankly I don't care. What I do know is that her assertion that the Assembly cares about the "big 5 Cities" shows just how ignorant she is.

In this piece from Capital Confidential, Glick has the audacity to criticize Buffalo Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, her Democratic colleague in the lower house, for Schroeder's demand of Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver to pay more attention to Western New York.

Schroeder is doing what any good elected official should do: look out for the best interests of his constituents. She is the one who needs to shut her big pie hole and get off of Schroeder's back.

Schroeder is rightfully pissed off that Silver and his downstate minions killed UB2020 and SUNY Empowerment, and he called Silver out on it. Glick responded with "I don't understand how you (Schroeder) can mischaracterize those issues as being ignored. We engaged in several Democratic Conferences, which you attended, where these items were very thoroughly discussed."

These items were thoroughly discussed? I suppose that must be some type of rationalization for killing UB2020 - they "discussed" it.

It also exposes just how out of touch Glick is with the real world. Here in the private sector, we don't try to pass off "discussions" as productivity. We need to show results. Although, maybe I'll try that tomorrow - maybe when my client asks me how things are moving forward on an issue he needs resolved, I'll tell him that I discussed it, but didn't actually accomplish anything. I'm thinking he'd likely go Trump on me.

The most disgraceful aspect of Glick's actions is sending this communication to every member of the Assembly. If she truly felt this way, she should have taken her concerns to Schroeder directly and addressed them with him privately. The fact that she attempted to humiliate and intimidate Schroeder in front of his colleagues is truly shameful. Unfortunately, this is the power that Silver wields. That being said, don't shed a tear for Glick - there is no doubt that she will be handsomely rewarded for her loyalty to Silver - and for doing his dirty work for him.

November 17, 2010

Bidding Us Adieu

We were as surprised as most yesterday morning when we read of Niagara County Manager Greg Lewis’ final budget, which includes a 5.4% tax hike for county residents. We would have commented yesterday, but we wanted to make a few discrete inquiries to friends in county government.

First off, we will accept the premise that this year’s budget environment is tougher than years past. That being said, after speaking with several sources in county government, we are confident that Majority Caucus lawmakers will be able to drop Lewis’ proposed tax hike significantly. Our contacts are sounding a note of caution about eliminating the tax increase all together, which they warm could hamper future years’ budgets, but they reassured us that Lewis has left plenty of stones unturned.

We’ll leave it to you, our readers, to decide if this is a kiss-off by a soon-to-be-former employee of the county, angered at not being offered a new contract, or if this is just, as Lewis asserted, a consequence of mismanagement by Albany’s bureaucrats.

November 16, 2010

Rizzo v. Verizon

Welcome to the spotlight, Mary Ann Rizzo of Amherst, NY. In case you missed it, Rizzo has filed a lawsuit to block the construction of a $4.5 billion Verizon data center in Somerset.

Now, we're not going to spend a whole lot of time on this one. But have you ever wondered why Western New York has such a difficult time attracting and retaining employers? Yes, there are stifling taxes and burdensome regulations, but you'll find that across New York. Still, businesses invest billions of dollars in this state every year - but not in our region.

Now we have a company that is willing to invest in our community, creating hundreds of permanent employment opportunities and thousands of construction jobs, and one woman is going to try to stop it because it will block the view of Lake Ontario from a piece of property that she doesn't even live in. Brilliant. By the way, this same property that Rizzo claims will lose value if this project is completed also houses the AES coal-burning plant - hardly Utopia.

While there has been much discussion on the investment asked of local and state development agencies to make this project happen, make no mistake about it: this project is good for Niagara County. Our region has lagged behind other parts of the state and country when it comes to the economic recovery.

With companies like Edwards Vacuum, Globe Metals, Yahoo! and Verizon investing in Niagara, we are finally taking advantage of our two greatest natural resources, hydropower and fresh water. Let's hope our other greatest resource, our people, don't stand in the way of much-needed economic development.

November 15, 2010

DelMonte Recruits Restaino

On October 14th, Tom Prohaska of the Buffalo News wrote a very interesting article about the refusal of certain Niagara Falls Democrats to publicly support either Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte or her primary challenger John Accardo after their ugly primary, which Accardo won.

Post-primary, Prohaska attempted to reach Mayor Paul Dyster, City Council Chairman Samuel Fruscione, County Legislator Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso and County Legislators Jason Cafarella and Renae Kimble for their respective positions on who they will be supporting in the General Election, Accardo or DelMonte. Virtuoso and Cafarella were non-committal and Kimble was supporting Accardo. Dyster and Fruscione didn't respond to Prohaska and never publicly declared who they'd be supporting.

Dyster made his position on the 60th Senate District clear, as he endorsed Antoine Thompson. With DelMonte, however, his position was much more ambiguous. He had DelMonte's yard sign up, he had her sign down. He dodged the question. Maybe he figured no one would notice. Therein lies what's become a big problem for the county Dems. Someone did notice - DelMonte. And she is mighty pissed.

Not one to sit idly by while her supposed friends abandon her, whether they're right or wrong doesn't matter, DelMonte has set her sights on Dyster.

Sources have told Niagara Times that DelMonte has had multiple conversations with former Niagara Falls Judge Bob Restaino in an effort to persuade Restaino to run against Dyster, who is up for re-election in less than 12 months. Remember that it was Restaino, before Accardo, who gave significant consideration to running against DelMonte. Once Restaino did DelMonte the favor of bowing out, Accardo jumped in. (As a side note, how do you think Bobby is feeling about that decision these days?)

Frankly, it makes perfect sense; DelMonte is a vindictive witch who is wild with anger and wanting revenge, Dyster is vulnerable and Restaino could win. The fact that it will inevitably divide the hell out of the county Dems doesn't matter to DelMonte.

Stay tuned - this one is bound to get very interesting.

November 12, 2010

Protesters Unite Against Taxpayers

In politics, especially during campaign season, we get inundated with messages from challengers and incumbents alike of their intentions to reduce taxes and cut spending. I'm sure the vast majority of them are well-intentioned, but the reality is that very few are successful in their efforts to cut spending.

The reason local, county, state and federal governments are so hesitant to make the necessary cuts was made abundantly clear in this Buffalo News piece, which focused on Erie County Executive Chris Collins' correct attempt to prioritize county spending. I know this statement will come as a shock to some, but government cannot be all things to all people. The role of government, at least on the county level, is to provide core services to the residents of that county.

In this case, Collins is proposing to cut funding to all but 10 cultural agencies in the county and reduce the county's subsidy to public libraries by $4 million. His efforts to control spending and not raise taxes were greeted with hundreds of protesters, including those below (from the Buffalo News):

Collins understands the role of government and he understands how the seemingly unending burden of taxes negatively impacts both residents and businesses, and he's trying to do his part to control county taxes. No matter what he proposes to cut, he's gonna piss someone or some group off. Therein lies the problem.

These groups and organizations have become so reliant on the taxpayer's subsidy of them, via the county, that they expect it. If they don't get it, they raise holy hell. Most elected officials will then run for the hills because a public protest is too much for them to handle. That's why we see protests like the one above. Fortunately for the taxpayers, Collins is not going to be threatened or intimidated.

There are hundreds of groups asking for money, yet they each serve a minute fraction of our community. While I'm sure they serve a purpose, it is not the role of government to ensure their existence. Let's hope Collins sticks to his guns and the rest of the county legislature backs him. After all, if we're serious about addressing the region's tax burden, difficult decisions must be made.

November 11, 2010

What Today is All About



We doubt we will ever see a photo that captures what today is all about so poignantly as this one, snapped six years ago in Dallas, Texas.

Pictured are Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James and Iraq War survivor Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. Graunke was a member of an ordnance disposal team who lost his left hand, his left eye,his right leg, and the thumb and forefinger from his right hand while attempting to defuse a bomb in Iraq in 2003. James, on the other hand, still clearly bore the psychological wounds of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor all those years later.

Incidentally, for those who care to look beyond this stunning photograph, a bit more about James' experiences in Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941 can be found here:

“I thought every one of those airplanes over Ford Island was personally trying to seek me out. I was trying to time my runs between buildings to get down to the hangar between airplanes flying over me,” James says. “I was scared to death.”

We don't think calling this two men heroes is at all a stretch. But we suspect they'd settle for a simpler word, like "comrades."

Today, here at Niagara Times, we offer a respectful bow of the head, the closest thing we can offer to a much-deserved salute, not just to Graunke and James, but to veterans everywhere, so many of whom gave all for their country—so that we wouldn't have to.

November 10, 2010

Schroeder Stands Tall

Buffalo Assemblyman Mark Schroeder is a man on an island. Yesterday, he once again stated that he will not support Manhattanite Sheldon Silver for Assembly Leader. From our perspective, we love it. Schroeder has shown that he will not be intimidated into making a decision that he knows is bad for Western New York and New York State as a whole.

Hand-delivering a letter to Silver's office stating his intention, Schroeder stated in a press release:
"In a disastrous, scandal ridden year for state government, it has become obvious that Upstate New York has no voice in the Capitol."
"When another late budget was finalized without UB2020 and SUNY Empowerment, it became abundantly clear that those of us who live north of New York City have no say in how we are governed, and have no power to save our struggling cities."
"It is impossible for me to support Silver for another term as speaker if the needs and priorities of my constituents, and millions of New Yorkers across Upstate, continue to be ignored. This is an opportunity for the speaker to demonstrate that he is genuinely serious about addressing the issues that are plaguing Upstate New York."

Outstanding, Mark. We just wish you had some company. Where are the other Western New York Democrats in standing with you in your fight to bring proper representation to our region? Sam Hoyt, Crystal Peoples, Robin Schimminger and Dennis Gabryszak all represent Western New York as Democrats in the Assembly (DelMonte, not so much, though she surely would have rubber-stamped Silver's retention of power and stranglehold on New York as one of the "three men in a room"). What do you see that they are incapable of? Don't they also believe that Western New York is getting short-changed?

Of course, there are those who will say that Schroeder will be punished through the multitude of mechanisms that Silver has in place to penalize anyone who would dare to question his leadership. That's okay, Mark. While the size of your office is somewhat relevant in the Albany culture, there are things that are much more important - like honor, integrity and standing up for what you believe in.

There are people in Western New York who believe in what Schroeder is fighting for, even if his own Democratic colleagues in the Assembly don't. It's too bad that they refuse to put the interests of this community above all else. Then again, the voters just put Hoyt, Peoples, Schimminger and Gabryszak right back into office. Who's really to blame?

November 9, 2010

Conservatives, WFP Movin' on Up...


There’s a nasty battle brewing between two minor parties: the Independence Party, product of Tom Golisano’s past runs for high office, and the Working Families Party, which is little more than a ballot line for the union bosses—and a corrupt organization under investigation, at that.

The latest figures from the Working Families camp shows the left-wing party a little more than 2,000 votes ahead of the Independence Party in votes cast on its line in last Tuesday’s elections.

Why is this important?

Because in New York State, the number of votes cast for governor determine, first, if a party gets a permanent spot on the ballot for four years, and second, where the party is positioned.

If the 2,000-vote lead holds, the Working Families Party will leapfrog ahead of the Independence Party on the ballot, giving them Row D and dropping the Independence Party to Row E.

Incidentally, a very good piece of news in all of this: the New York State Conservative Party positive crushed its third-party rivals, winning well over 200,000 votes in Tuesday’s elections. (This is no doubt a reflection of the Tea Party movement, Carl Paladino’s run, and massive support for the line in Erie, Niagara, and Nassau counties.) This gives the Conservatives Row C, which they held for decades before losing the row to the Independence Party a few years back.

These lines will have significant implications in future electoral contests. Consider the importance that the Working Families line played in the 138th Assembly District race this year.

Stay tuned.

November 8, 2010

State GOP Could Learn Much From Niagara

While the Republican Party enjoyed a multitude of regional successes across New York, statewide GOP candidates fared much worse. In fact, not a single statewide Republican candidate won last Tuesday. Now, I understand the huge Democratic overlay in the state, but that's an unacceptable excuse. Republicans won in areas that the concept of electing a Republican was once as inconceivable as the Cubs winning the World Series.

I have subsequently heard a multitude of excuses for the failures of the statewide ticket, but they're garbage. It wasn't voter apathy and it wasn't Carl Paladino's comments. It was the failure of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox to properly lead the organization.

From his misguided attempt to get his kid elected, to his drafting of a Dem to run for governor, to his absolute failure to raise sufficient funds for statewide races, Cox has been an unmitigated disaster.

What I find most bothersome is how quick he is to take credit for Tuesday's regional wins, while refusing to acknowledge any responsibility for the same night's statewide losses. These are not the actions of a man of honor. A man of honor is humble in victory and learns from defeat. I'm not saying that one must accept defeat, but you must learn from it. Cox won't learn from it because he hasn't acknowledged any responsibility for it.

What Tuesday night's outcomes do tell us is that the Niagara County Republican Committee is unequivocally the best Republican organization in the state. Every single statewide GOP candidate in New York won Niagara County on Election Day. And yes, there are more Democrats than Republicans in Niagara County.

The win by Republican John Ceretto over incumbent Francine DelMonte in the 138th Assembly race was an amazing win, but it pales in comparison to the impending defeat of Antoine Thompson at the hands of Mark Grisanti. Political pundits have said that a win by Grisanti would go down as one of the greatest political upsets in the state's history. While this race was a fantastic collaboration between the Erie and Niagara County GOP organizations, this win, if/when it is confirmed, is due to an absolute thumping of Thompson in Niagara.

The credit for that goes to the entire GOP organization in Niagara. From Chairman Mike Norris, to the town & city chairs and committeepersons to all of the volunteers, this is a motivated and impactful organization.

In addition to Tuesday's regional wins and strong showings for statewide candidates, the Niagara GOP already has an unprecedented 15 of 19 county legislature seats, 11 of 12 town supervisors and two of three mayors. That is simply astounding in this state. That level of continued success doesn't happen by accident or luck. Of course, Cox & Co. will likely downplay the local GOP's success, passing it off as, "Oh, it's just Niagara County". Well, winning is winning, a concept Cox is painfully unfamiliar with. Winning is contagious. Obviously for Cox, so is losing.

Another person that deserves much credit for Niagara GOP's years of successes, and Tuesday night's phenomenal showing, is Henry Wojtaszek. Although he turned the reins of the party over to Norris earlier this year, after nine years as Chairman, Wojtaszek remains an integral part of the Niagara County GOP organization. He and Norris form the best one-two combo in the state. All they do is win elections - and they do it with honor.

November 5, 2010

Friday Ruminations

Thompson Effort at Electoral Theft Despicable

News that defeated 60th District Senator Antoine Thompson is planning courtroom shenanigans to invalidate the election that ousted him is disconcerting to anyone who believes in the democratic process.

It’s doubly disconcerting, though, to those of us who know Antoine. We could rehash all the ridiculousness of the past year—Thompson’s efforts to “find jobs” in Jamaica, his personal enrichment from the AEG scandal, his making taxpayers pay for a 102-page campaign mailer/coffee table book, his making taxpayers pay for birthday cards for his constituents

But what really galls us, more than anything, is that even before absentee ballots that most observers expect to break for Grisanti are counted, Thompson trails by 598 votes. That would be a difficult deficit for anyone to overcome with just 2,500 absentee ballots out. But to us, the really galling thing, is knowing that Antoine Thompson can’t count to 598—and still, is intent on paralyzing the state government in a pathetic effort to hang onto a job he was hired from.


Three Cheers for Updegrove

This blog has never been particularly impressed by the Niagara County Community College’s proposed Culinary Arts Institute, and we remain skeptical. Frankly, we worry that the college will be flooding an already-saturated labor market—hospitality and cuisine—with well-trained, but underemployed workers.

All that being said, we acknowledge that the project is likely to move forward, and in light of that, we hope it succeeds at all of its goals.

Despite our misgivings, however, we must applaud the Majority Leader of the County Legislature, Rick Updegrove of Lockport. Local media missed it, but watching the recap of Wednesday night’s meeting on LCTV, we got a chuckle out of Updegrove’s grilling of NCCC President James Klyczek, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, and USA Niagara Development Corp. President Chris Schoepflin. The trio essentially gave away the farm to secure the County Legislature’s blessing to build the institute, with Dyster and Schoepflin vowing that Niagara Falls would take over maintenance of the Rainbow Centre Mall—and its decrepit parking ramp “in perpetuity” and that the city would surrender any and all sales tax revenues raised in the mall, which county taxpayers now essentially own, to county coffers.

Not a bad outing for Updegrove, who, as we’ve noted before, is reputed to be a pretty good lawyer in his day job. And not such a good outing for Dyster, who, as we’ve noted before, is reputed to be Niagara Falls’ mayor in his day job.


Who Ya Gonna Call?

We’ve always admired and respected the governance that Town of Niagara Supervisor Steve Richards has brought that once-dysfunctional town over the past two decades.

But we never knew about his unusual hobby.

For those of you who missed it in the white-hot heat of Election Day, Richards is an amateur ghost-hunter. Rather than delve too far into the story, we just offer it up here for your entertainment.

Don’t cross the streams, Steve.


An Idea We Can Endorse

We read this morning that outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thinking about staying on—both as a Member of Congress and as leader of her party.

Given our own general preference for Republican-leaning policies, we think this is a fantastic idea.

While we’re at it, may we also suggest that Niagara County Democrats follow Pelosi’s lead and keep Dan Rivera around, too?


Salt in the Wound

We know that we should be offering soothing, conciliatory words to our Democratic brethren after their annihilation at the polls.

And yet, we found this video clip from an old Bob Hope movie far more pertinent:



See you Monday.

November 4, 2010

Election Day Re-Cap II

Because we presented a not-so-thorough analysis of Tuesday's election returns yesterday, we're going to take a bit further look at the results from a couple of races.

First off, the 138th Assembly District. The race, which featured a three-way contest between John Ceretto, John Accardo and Francine DelMonte, ended with Ceretto winning with just over 45% of the vote and DelMonte finishing a distant third with about 20% of the vote.

In the 138th, there are 97 election districts. Of the 97 districts, DelMonte won exactly zero. Despite the fact that this race was an overwhelming rejection of DelMonte and her failure to properly represent the the people of Niagara County in Albany, she has shown that she is incapable of understanding why she was annihilated Tuesday.

In fact, her post-election comments show what a vindictive, angry woman she is. While it is customary for an election loser to call the winner to express congratulations, DelMonte articulated to the press, "Voters in Niagara County decided in my race to go from effective representation to ineffective representation. That should bother people." Ineffective representation? He hasn't even taken office yet! Who the hell are you to say that he will be ineffective? Did you look into your crystal ball, witch?

In the days leading up to Election Day, she showed her true colors. In an interview with the Niagara Gazette, she repeatedly referred to Accardo and Ceretto as "idiots". Ceretto has a Masters degree and Accardo owns and runs a very successful insurance agency; DelMonte has worked in Albany for 30 years. As if the repeated use of the adjective wasn't offensive enough, these comments show how classless she is.

She did robocalls in the days leading up to the election slandering Accardo, knowing full well that her statements were false. And her conduct at the Niagara Falls Block Club debate was utterly reprehensible. (As a side note, the failure of the debate moderator to properly maintain decorum was disgraceful.)

In the end, DelMonte was soundly rejected by the voters of the 138th. They saw her for what she is and voted accordingly. In fact, she lost her base, Niagara Falls. For her to think that she will be back in two years is laughable. Of course, when you spend your entire adult life sucking off the public teet, as she has, it's not surprising that her first thought is that she will be back. After all, the thought of actually having to take her sorry ass out into the private sector to make a living has got to be an inconceivable thought for her.

A final note on this race: since the results of this race came in, DelMonte has repeatedly blamed Accardo for her loss. The reason? Because he challenged her in the Primary Election. I find it truly disgusting that her sense of entitlement to this seat is so great that she would have the audacity to criticize Accardo for running against her. It is incredibly unfortunate that DelMonte hates democracy and the right of any individual to run for public office.

The other race that we'd like to take a further look at is the 60th Senate District, where incumbent Antoine Thompson is currently down to challenger Mark Grisanti by about 500 votes.

This race is the epitome of being caught off-guard. You can chalk that up to one thing: Thompson's arrogance. His failure to empathize with voter anger is astounding. He has repeatedly been the face of Albany incompetence and dysfunction. But his arrogance, in a district in which Dems outnumber Republicans by 85,000, is the reason why he will find his ass out on the streets come January 1st.

His sickening attempts to justify actions that cost the taxpayers of his district millions of dollars would have been comical if they weren't so offensive. From his trip to Jamaica to spur economic development initiatives to his spending millions of taxpayer dollars to promote himself, he has been an unmitigated disaster.

Most recently, he spent most of the same Block Club debate bashing Sen. George Maziarz, instead of focusing on the issues that are important to his constituency. The theory of bashing an incumbent senator like Maziarz, who consistently maintains an amazingly high approval rating of 70, shows what a moron Thompson is.

In fact, Thompson went as far during the debate to assert, in attempt to demean Maziarz and prop himself up, that "there is a new sheriff in town". Yes there is, Antoine - and his name is Mark Grisanti.

I hope you and DelMonte are very happy together in the unemployment line.

November 3, 2010

November 1, 2010

Election Eve Ruminations

Those Who Know Her Best…

As Niagara Falls Reporter Editor Mike Hudson is
fond of pointing out, once upon a time Francine DelMonte was a young cub reporter for the Niagara Gazette. Hudson often attributes DelMonte’s frequent past kid-glove treatment by that publication to her former-employee status; given Hudson’s uncanny record of gaining accurate insights into all things Niagara Falls, we won’t second-guess his wisdom here.

That’s why this weekend was positively delicious for those of us who’ve long viewed DelMonte as a spiteful harridan whose tenure in office has done more harm than good to the very people she swore an oath to represent. First, on Saturday, the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal chose to endorse Republican John Ceretto in the 138th Assembly District; then, on Sunday, the Gazette chose to endorse Democrat John Accardo.

We’re not ones to keep score, but we’re pretty sure that means Francine went 0-2. It’s almost as if
Chan Gailey were her campaign manager.

In all seriousness, though, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Gazette and the Union-Sun have very different readerships, varied by geography, dominant political composition, ethnic backgrounds, and employment sectors. That they would break over Ceretto and Accardo is not a surprise to us. But what is a welcome development here is that both newspapers agree on one very simple point: for whatever problems ail us, here in Western New York, Francine DelMonte is not the answer.

As the Union-Sun put it, in their endorsement of Ceretto: “We want lawmakers representing us who have the stomach for cutting taxes and have the wisdom to build bipartisan support for better government. Ceretto has the temperament, ideas and experience to make a difference in Albany.”

Indeed, that requirement is the antithesis of anything DelMonte has to offer. From her
shameful performance at a debate last week where a group of her last remaining political allies showed up to heckle Ceretto—who stoically ran their gauntlet and stared her down over issues and substance—and her earlier display of derision for Accardo, who left in disgust and anger, DelMonte came across as the politician who long ago earned the moniker “Wicked Witch of Western New York.”

We never dreamed it would be the editorial writers at her hometown newspaper—and former employer—who threw the bucket of water on her.


Surf’s Up

Ever since last fall, when the Tea Partiers arrived on the scene to protest Washington’s obsession with controlling our lives and picking our pockets, it’s been apparent to us that the Democrats were going to take some pretty heavy incoming fire this election.

We had no idea, though, until sometime in September, that the GOP tidal wave would be so massive.

Gallup, the prestigious polling firm, has a model for Tuesday night’s elections that promises to be positively catastrophic for the Democrats, and will ensure the end of Nancy Pelosi’s political career. Perhaps even more damning, the Politico has a story that says top Democrat operatives are now speaking in terms of massive losses, with GOP gains well past the 60-seat mark. Realclearpolitics.com shows the House completely lost for the Democrats and a lot of seats still in play, meaning the size of the GOP’s win is the only question mark. Political prognosticators Larry Sabato and Charlie Cook are offering similarly grim predictions for the Dems.

Add to that the truly exceptional mathematical model over at
electionprojection.com—one of our absolute favorite websites—that says the same, and the only question going into Tuesday is how many more Dems will be swept away when the wave comes crashing ashore.


Wilson on the Cusp

While Democrats will likely retain the governorship of the State of New York, continuing the successful policies of Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson in the person of Andrew M. Cuomo, there is reason to be optimistic about one race: the battle for New York State’s comptroller job.

This job, which has been performed dismally by the unqualified Sheldon Silver-backed appointee, Tom DiNapoli, for nearly four years, is crucial. Among other things, the comptroller manages the state’s pension fund—something DiNapoli has done extremely poorly.

A spate of Wilson endorsements by newspapers across New York State that don’t normally tend to break for Republicans, including
The New York Times, the Buffalo News, the Syracuse Post-Standard, and the Albany Times Union, has made this contest interesting—and unusual.

Now, a
Siena Poll shows the race all tied up and the incumbent Democrat well below 50%. Given Siena’s pro-Democrat polling bias, we have to believe this is a good sign for Wilson, and frankly, it’s a good sign for a healthy democracy.

Harry Wilson is one of the most qualified candidates running for any office anywhere on Tuesday, and we wish him well. We hope that, like us, you’ll give him your vote.


Man is Not Free, Unless Government is Limited

Tuesday is a time for choosing—and there have been other such points in American history. The battle, as always, is the same: a choice between government bowing to our will, or we the people bowing to the government’s.

We leave you with Ronald Reagan’s stirring words:




See you at the polls.