December 30, 2010

Union Thugs

News in this morning's New York Post basically validates everything we've ever said about creepy, thuggish public sector unions and their slimy bosses:

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.

Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

"They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important," said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department -- and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan -- at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

The snitches "didn't want to be identified because they were afraid of retaliation," Halloran said. "They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file."

New York's Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process -- and pad overtime checks -- which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The result of these thuggish tactics?

Well, headlines like this:

Woman Waits 30 Hours for Ambulance in Blizzard

and

Death of Newborn Baby Among Several Blizzard Tragedies as City is Accused of 'Dropping the Ball'

and, of course, this delightful video:

December 29, 2010

Riester Leaves Pendleton Residents Under Water

The failure of Pendleton Supervisor Jim Riester to protect the financial interests of residents of his town isn’t exactly news to those of us who’ve been watching the badly-flawed efforts by federal FEMA bureaucrats to force more area residents to buy costly federal flood insurance, but it is a lesson in the value of good local leadership.

In Lockport, Supervisor Marc Smith, a smart businessman who understands the danger of costly government mandates, immediately moved to hire an engineering firm to challenge FEMA’s efforts—and ultimately protected many Lockport residents from being forced to buy the costly insurance. In Wheatfield, the battle was even more direct, with anti-FEMA signs dotting the roadways and engineering consultants challenging FEMA parcel-for-parcel.

In Pendleton, Riester did little, publicly, to challenge FEMA, even as 2009 Republican supervisor candidate Dave Leible was trying to sound the alarm on this issue. This was a time to commit town resources to fight a menace facing hundreds of town families, and Riester looked the other way. Marc Smith, Bob Cliffe, and yes, even Tim Demler were visible in this fight. Honestly, this morning is the first time we’ve even seen Riester acknowledge there was a problem.

Worse still, it appears that FEMA used maps more than 20 years out of date to decide who should be socked with a flood insurance bill—all while Riester was publicly silent.

And now, the fruits of Riester’s non-labor are in full bloom: 330 Pendleton families will be socked with flood insurance bills from the federal government—bills that will average those families $150 a month.

Today, Pendleton’s families are learning the hard way that elections have consequences.

December 28, 2010

Obama to Bo: Drop Dead

Sometimes, life hands you a news story that would have seemed a bit ridiculous even in the hallowed pages of The Onion.

And so it was last night, when we encountered this article in Politico, which we reproduce in full because, well, because it makes Barack Obama calling the Cambridge, Mass. police "stupid" seem downright politically smart by comparison:



OBAMA IS GLAD EAGLES SIGNED MICHAEL VICK

By Karin Tanabe

Everyone deserves a second chance was President Barack Obama’s message when he called Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie last week to congratulate him and the team for giving quarterback Michael Vick a take two.

NBC’s Peter King reported the call during “Football Night in America” on Sunday.

“I talked to Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Eagles this week, and he said he was surprised to pick up the phone one day and Barack Obama calls him to praise the Philadelphia Eagles for signing Vick and giving him a second chance,” King said from NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza studios. “Lurie told me that the president was passionate about the fact that it’s rarely a level playing field for prisoners once they leave jail. And he said the message was, what the Eagles had done with Vick was important for society,” said King.

A spokesman for the Eagles confirmed to POLITICO that King’s statement was accurate.

King later tweeted, “Yes, Obama called Eagle owner Jeffrey Lurie to praise the Eagles for giving Vick a chance. Said too many prisoners never get fair 2d chance.”

Vick signed on as the Eagles quarterback following an 21-month stint in prison and two months in home confinement after being convicted of running a dog-fighting ring in Virginia.

While some are praising Obama for reaching out and making a statement about the stigma former prisoners often face, others argue that Obama’s call came more than a year too late, since Vick was picked up by the Eagles in August 2009. Now that Vick is playing well and enjoying a resurgence in popularity, the timing of the call could be deemed safe.

Obama may have had nothing but love for the Eagles last week, but Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell felt differently on Sunday when he told FOX 29 News that he was fuming over the postponement of the Eagles-Vikings game due to snow. "I think it is a joke," said the governor of the NFL’s decision to cancel. "This is no way, shape or form a blizzard!"

FOX 29 reported that “In the end, more than 12 inches of snow fell in Philadelphia with wind gusts over 40 miles per hour.” The game has been rescheduled for Tuesday.

Update: The Huffington Post reported on Monday that it connected with White House spokesman Bill Burton about Obama's phone call, and Burton issued the following statement:

"The President did place a call to Mr. Lurie to discuss plans for the use of alternative energy at Lincoln Financial Field, during which they spoke about that and other issues. He of course condemns the crimes that Michael Vick was convicted of but, as he's said previously, he does think that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again."

Really? We mean, look, we're all for reformed criminals being allowed to return to society, but somehow we think the average guy who gets convicted of the sick shit Michael Vick was convicted of won't be in line for a multi-million-dollar contract. So, this is kind of insane.

Reading this latest insanity from the White House, we can't help but wonder what First Dog Bo must think. And, come to think of it, it's pretty damn stupid politically. Last time we checked, there were a lot more dog lovers out there who vote than convicted felons.

Some weeks ago, when Rush Limbaugh called the president a "jackass," it became a minor kerfuffle, something that one doesn't say about the Commander in Chief. We're starting to really agree with Limbaugh.

December 27, 2010

One Helluva War Story

We had really expected to blog today about Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster's whining and, frankly, humiliating interview about the departure of his economic development czar, Peter Kay. We found lines like this one to be hysterical:

Dyster praised Kay’s dedication. “It’s very gracious of him to continue working through this week,” the mayor said. “He’s trying hard to make sure the transition moves smoothly.”

But it’s a transition to—what? Dyster said he met with City Administrator Donna D. Owens and other municipal officials to discuss who could take over the city’s Office of Economic Development and under what circumstances. He said they have yet to come up with an answer.

Ah, yes, Kay is collecting the final days of his bloated, six-figure salary out of "graciousness."

Still, we honestly were more drawn to another article in the Buffalo News, and think that many of you will find it a much more fascinating study in will power than the ministrations of Dyster, Owens & Co.

A story of World War II bravery, it reads like a Hollywood script, like something out of U-571:

Ditcher’s most memorable honor, which earned him the Bronze Star, took place on dry land in Japan.

As the war was coming to end and most of the enemy’s ships had been sunk or docked in port, the number of targets had been drastically reduced.

“There really weren’t many targets, so the skipper decided to blow up a train. We’d been in an area off Japan for several days, and every night we saw a train go by. The skipper sent six of us out on a raft with machine guns and explosives.

“We left the submarine at midnight July 22, 1945, and we were on the raft maybe 10 or 15 minutes before we made land. We felt edgy because as we went through people’s backyards to get to the train trestle, dogs started barking. That was the last thing we expected.

“When we got to the edge of the trestle, a couple of the guys dug under the tracks and set the explosives, so that when the train came by, it would push the rail down and ignite. The rest us served as lookouts...”

Which kind of puts Dyster's travails in perspective, doesn't it?

December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas

With Christmas nearly upon us, we're going to take a few days off. We'd like to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. We'll leave you with the below video, which has had over eight million hits on Youtube. Talk to you next week.

December 21, 2010

Niagara Fails, New York

With the race for Mayor of Niagara Falls already begun, we're going to hear all the buzzwords for the next 11 1/2 months: taxes, economic development, jobs, responsibility, accountability, leadership, experience, etc, etc, etc.

Everyone focuses on the how bad the economy is in the city, including us, but maybe there's a deeper problem. Maybe the absolute culture of corruption that has permeated every aspect of the city over the past 50 years lies at the heart of the city's inability to crawl out of its hole.

Anyone who has even an inkling of the city's history knows that it is filled with a vast array of problems. Strangely, it seems that officials in the city think that if they ignore their history, it will go away. Even current one-term mayor Paul Dyster, in his re-election announcement, condemned those who would look to the city's past and not its future. As the famous saying goes, "Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it". If people like Dyster refuse to acknowledge the city's past, how can they learn from it? Sadly, they can't.

Yesterday's sentencing of former mayor Vince Anello for filing false statements, though far from the worst offense in the city's crooked history, is just another black eye on a community that can never seem to get out of its own way.

What bothers me the most is that no one from within the city says a word about it. Where is Dyster? Where are the members of the City Council? Do they truly believe that this does not reflect on them? Granted, Anello skated on the more serious charges, but people must be reassured that corruption is being addressed and the city is taking steps to ensure that the highest of ethical standards will be demanded of all city officials.

Unfortunately, it appears that it's easier to talk about how great things are going; how the city is turning the corner; how now only 85% of Third Street is boarded up; how a train station is going to revitalize the city. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, boys.

December 20, 2010

"The Day of Reckoning"

It's funny...when you talk to members of public sector unions, you've either got to be with them or your against them. Considering that we regularly tee off on them, I guess it's safe to say we're against them. But we're not against them as people - I'm sure they're very nice on an individual basis. What we have a problem with is the never-ending sense of entitlement that they collectively have.

They're never willing to budge an inch in negotiations. Even locally, I can recall when the county legislature asked the unions for $600,000 in concessions in order to keep Mt. View open. Not only did they refuse to come up with the $600k, which essentially amounted to a two-year wage freeze, they came back with an offer that required an even greater subsidy from the county. Subsequently, as we all know, Mt. View closed and 200 union jobs went with it. The only ones who caused Mt. View to close were members of the union leadership who failed to properly represent their employees.

Across the country, public sector unions are putting local and state governments on the verge of bankruptcy. Within New York State, the Empire Center estimates the New York State and Local Retirement Systems are $71 billion short of what is needed to fund pension obligations, while the state retirement system for teachers has a funding shortfall of $49 billion.

If you think this isn't affecting you, you're dead wrong. In Niagara County, the tax rate is going up 1.9% in 2011. That equates to about $1.5 million. This year alone, Niagara County's contribution to the state's pension is increasing $3 million, for a total of $11 million for 2011.

Local governments are being forced to subsidize an out of control and unsustainable pension system. Why? Because state officials have been unwilling to challenge the all-mighty public sector unions and their lavish benefit packages. To make matters worse, state pension costs are expected to double over the next five years. You and I will be paying that bill.

We are talking billions of dollars. Now, I understand that because Obama tosses around the term "billions" like it's nothing, the word has been severely watered-down. But the reality is that these dollar amounts are staggering. If states don't start getting a handle on them, local governments, after taxing homeowners right out of their homes, will face bankruptcy.

The below video from last night's 60 Minutes is entitled "The Day of Reckoning". It talks about the the costs associated with public sector unions and the inability or unwillingness of states to deal with them, as well as the future ramifications of not addressing the impending disaster. It is an amazing segment that is well worth your time.

December 17, 2010

BREAKING: We're Just Wild About Larry


A hearty Niagara Times congratulations to former North Tonawanda Mayor Larry Soos, who, sources inside Niagara County's government tell us, will be starting his highly-anticipated patronage gig at the Niagara County Board of Elections on Monday.

This is, of course, a big promotion for Larry, who has spent the past 11 months begging, desperately, for patronage somewhere, anywhere. Regular readers of this blog know that back in August, Larry was knocking on NYPA Boss Richie Kessel's door in the hopes of landing a low-level patronage job at the Power Authority. We are told that NYPA brass found Larry, um, lacking. It seems that one Democratic appointee at the Authority even insinuated he doubted whether Soos was equipped to be the agency's shoe-shine boy.

And, apparently the image of one their former top officials begging for the opportunity to shine Richie Kessel's shoes was too much for some Niagara Democrats to stomach. So, odious Democrat Party Chair Dan Rivera leaned on Democrat Elections Commissioner Nancy Smith to end Soos' humiliation.

Anyway, congratulations to Larry Soos. His new gig comes just in time for the holidays.

But remember, Larry, Nancy Smith likes to be able to see her own reflection in her shoes. And she wants two coats of polish on the pumps. Get busy.

Florida School Board Shooting

By now, you've likely seen the below video of the shooting at a Florida school board meeting. If you haven't, prepare yourself - it is shocking. Thankfully, none of the board members were injured; at least not physically. The gunman ultimately took his own life after being wounded by a school security resource officer.

December 16, 2010

Cafarella Plan To Slash NF Library Funds Nixed

People who know me have often said that I'm too analytical. They're probably right, but I'll need some time to thoroughly scrutinize that statement. Nevertheless, I do try to look for the little things that often get overlooked in a bigger picture.

Take for instance yesterday's piece in the Union Sun. Now, I didn't watch the recent county legislature meeting at which they voted on the 2011 budget, so I can only go by the media reports. In the US&J report, Joyce Miles did an excellent job of encapsulating the key components of the budget debate and its subsequent vote.

What caught my eye was the debate about funding literacy training for the Niagara Falls Library through NIOGA. Granted this is a minuscule portion of the $310 million budget, but it's worth noting that Niagara Falls Legislator Jason Cafarella sought a 5% reduction in that line item.

Now, we've repeatedly written about the woes of Niagara Falls. Poverty is sky high and unemployment is even higher. Much of the city's woes can be directly attributed to the fact that a significant portion of the city is uneducated, or simply put, illiterate. The last thing the city needs is a reduction in programs that can help people find jobs. The fact that this budget cut recommendation came from a legislator elected to represent the people of Niagara Falls is pretty astounding.

Personally, I don't get the logic. I've tried to evaluate the move from every possible perspective, and I'm not seeing it. It's certainly not politically prudent for Cafarella to advocate cutting literacy programs in a community as downtrodden as Niagara Falls. If there's some logical rationale behind the move, I'd love for someone to enlighten me as to what it is. Then again, maybe I'm just being overly analytical.

December 15, 2010

Random Thoughts

It's always satisfying to see the old saying "karma is a bitch" at work. In 2008, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte removed then-Lewiston Village Mayor Dick Soluri from the Greenway Commission, a committee that Soluri loved serving on, purely out of spite. On January 1st, Soluri will be serving the people of the 12th Legislative District while DelMonte tries to find her place in the world.

The Niagara Falls City Council cut the salary of the city's economic development director Peter Kay from $100,000 a year to $1 a year. He's worth every penny of it.

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada released a 34-page taxpayer-funded report detailing all of the great things he did while serving in that capacity. Oh, he was also indicted on federal embezzlement and theft charges for stealing money from health clinics that he runs in the Bronx to fund his lavish lifestyle. Gives new meaning to the term "robbing Peter to pay Pedro".

Barry Obama pledged to eliminate earmarks throughout the 2008 presidential campaign. Yesterday, Senate Dems presented a bill to Republicans that contains $1.1 billion in earmarks. Harry Reid called the bill "a very good piece of legislation" and vowed to fight for its passage. I'd actually like to see it pass the Senate just to see what Obama does with it when it's time for him to sign it.

Matt Damon is a douchebag. This video of him lobbying for the New York arm of ACORN, otherwise known as the Working Families Party, makes me want to punch him in his smug little face. Stick to your bad movies and bad accents and stay the hell out of New York. He fell 16,293 votes short of having to don the Yankees cap - as if anyone who has a life actually gives a shit.

In a move likely to send shockwaves across the country, we're going to give kudos to outgoing State Senator Antoine Thompson. At one point, the Niagara Gazette criticized Thompson for not conceding the race. Not only has he conceded, we hear that he's scheduled to meet with Mark Grisanti to facilitate the transition. The problem is, not once has the Gazette called out DelMonte for never calling John Ceretto or at least conceding the race. Come on, guys - a little consistency please.

Kudos to board member Johnny Destino for trying to break through the army of incompetents who've run the Niagara Falls school district into the ground for decades. As the Gazette reported, "the hiring practices of the Niagara Falls School District have constantly been called to question with more than two dozen immediate relatives of (Superintendent Cynthia) Bianco, her brother and former Superintendent Carmen Granto and five school board members currently employed by the school district." The sickening sense of entitlement that these people have makes public sector unions look grateful. And they will contend to their graves that they were only acting in the best interests of the district.

Lastly, while it's not exactly right for the season, we'd like to share this card that a reader sent along. I suppose this could be a collector's item since Thompson, and taxpayers, will no longer be footing the bill for this sickening waste of our money. Having never received one almost makes regret never having lived in Niagara Falls. Okay, maybe not.

December 14, 2010

Cuomo vs. Unions - Round One

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is saying all the right things when it comes to property taxes. He has vowed to implement a two-percent property tax cap, recognizing the fact that the burden of taxes in the state is crushing homeowners and is the single biggest impediment to private sector investment within the state. Cuomo is so intent on enacting a tax cap that he is using his leftover campaign funds to wage a public relations battle against the unions that oppose such a cap.

Make no mistake about it - this will be no easy task. While the new Republican-controlled State Senate will likely go along with it, the Sheldon Silver-led State Assembly will balk at the idea. Cuomo will also have to fight the onslaught of unions and special interest groups that will surely come out in full force to oppose the proposal.

Case in point, yesterday's statement by the New York State School Boards Association. "The long-term health of our state demands limitations on the growth of taxes and a sound educational system," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy Kremer in a statement. "But a hard tax cap would clearly threaten the quality of public education by forcing drastic cuts in classroom teachers and academic programs."

The long-term health of our state demands a sound educational system? The long-term health of our state demands that our elected officials get their collective heads out of their asses and start addressing the crushing tax burden. If they don't, this state will be filled with welfare recipients who don't contribute a dime to society, while those of us who don't feel the government owes us a living get the hell out.

And what "sound educational system" is this guy talking about? New York spent $17,173 per student for public education in 2007-08, more than any other state and 67% above the national average. SIXTY-SEVEN PERCENT!

$14.8 billion worth of property taxes went to education that year. Despite the state's massive spending, New York consistently fails to crack the top ten in performance. What's even more disturbing is the assertion that more spending will equate to better results. "The Report Card on American Education clearly shows there is no correlation between educational dollars spent and student achievement in our traditional public school system," said Andrew T. LeFevre, author of the report and executive director of the REACH Foundation. "At some point, state policymakers must ask themselves if more of the same is going to produce a different result."

I think we've reached that point.

The one thing that the NYSSBA does have right is that there must be a reduction in spending if there's going to be a tax cap. Unfortunately, this is New York. The concept of reducing spending is as far-fetched as a Beatles reunion. That being said, we're going to continue to hold out hope for Cuomo's tax cap plan. While we'd rather see him advocating for a reduction in taxes as opposed to just a cap, we understand the dynamics of Albany. Nevertheless, it will not be dull watching him battle the very unions and special interest groups that supported his candidacy.

December 13, 2010

The Power & Danger of Iconography

Since I took a marketing class in college, I've always been fascinated with the concept of branding. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, branding is defined as "the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand". We know the companies and their brands just by looking at a logo - Nike, Polo, Pepsi, Marlboro, Budweiser, Mercedes Benz - we can identify any of them by their respective logos. In politics, we've never seen a better job of branding than Obama did two years ago with his "O".

The below video provides a fascinating analysis of the branding of Obama, in 2008 through today, analyzing both the positive and negative effects of the branding. Whether you're interested in politics or business, this video is worth the eight minutes.

December 10, 2010

Lee Gets Ways & Means

We'd like to congratulate Congressman Chris Lee on his appointment to the House Ways & Means Committee yesterday. Ways & Means is the very powerful committee that writes U.S. tax law, laws on trade, Medicare, Social Security and unemployment benefits.

In just his second term, Lee continues to impress. He has shown an excellent ability to familiarize himself with the complexities of his position, while articulating the issues to his constituency in a clear and concise manner. His ascension in such a short time has been no accident. He possesses the rare combination of private sector experience and strong political acumen that we need more of at all levels of government. That combination has been both recognized and rewarded by his colleagues in Congress.

As New York continues to lose population, and thus seats in Congress, it is imperative that we in Western New York have a strong voice in Washington advocating on our behalf, especially when you see things like this, which highlight just how ineffective Louise Slaughter and Brian Higgins are for New York. We're confident that Lee will be that voice, especially as his star continues to rise in D.C.

December 9, 2010

Maybe a Peter Kay Countdown Clock?

Now that County Manager Greg Lewis has moved on, we have been thinking about others who might qualify as addition by subtraction....meaning their departure from our community actually helps make things better. We think Niagara Falls Economic Development Guru....ok, we're laughing out loud as we write that phrase... Peter Kay might qualify.

Kay earns a fat six-figure salary and has absolutely nothing to show for it. When Dyster talks about the two hotels being renovated as an accomplishment, he forgets that he and Peter Kay fought the NCIDA package of incentives that were critical to making it happen.

When Dyster highlights the Cordish donation of the mall that makes the NCCC Culinary School a possibility, he conveniently forgets that he had nothing to do with it. Cordish hated the city, and as we recall, talks with the city on the Rainbow Center fell apart. It was NCCC President Jim Klyczek who resurrected this by talking Cordish into donating the mall to the NCCC foundation. No one needed Peter Kay to make that happen.

Quite frankly, we think the NF Council has it right when they eliminated funding for Peter Kay's job, as they did last year as well. Hopefully, they'll have the gumption to override the Mayor's veto, unlike last year.

Hmm...maybe Peter Kay's job should be de-funded but he should spend the next year working gratis. After all, he has earned hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars do nothing, so he probably owes the community a little something.

Then again, let's dust off that countdown clock....it's time to for Peter Kay to join Greg Lewis as nothing more than a bad memory on the scrap heap of local history.

December 8, 2010

Parker Faces Jail Time

You remember the State Senate's Chief Thug, Democrat Kevin Parker. He was the one who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, called Governor Paterson a "coke-sniffing, staff-banging" governor, openly supported former state senator turned slasher Hiram Monserrate, compared the Tea Party movement to the KKK, punched a traffic ticket agent, underwent court-ordered anger management and lashed out at colleague John DeFrancisco with a racial tirade.

Now the law has caught up with Parker.

Yesterday he was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief after being charged with beating up a NY Post reporter. Of course, Parker didn't just toss a few punches; he beat the crap out of the photog, tore the door off his car, destroyed the interior of the vehicle and broke the photographer's finger. Being the sociopath that he is, Parker probably wears the conviction as a badge of honor.

It will be very interesting to see how the Senate deals with Parker. Having already set a precedent with the expulsion of Monserrate after he plead guilty to slashing his girlfriend's face, one would think that Parker would face the same discipline. Unfortunately, Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson is already backtracking, stating that there is no comparison between violence against a woman and violence towards a man.

Senator Ruben Diaz, formerly a close ally of Monserrate, opposed his expulsion to the end. He now expects Parker to receive the same punishment from the Senate that Monserrate did, and rightfully so.

I'm going out on a limb right now and saying that Diaz flips to the GOP conference, if they'll have him, if Parker doesn't get the boot. The racial divides run so deep within the Democratic Conference that Diaz will split-off if equivalent punishment is not levied. Carl Kruger, the only Dem to hold a Chairmanship the last time the GOP held the majority, may join him.

Of course, what would a Kevin Parker post be without the below video of Parker showing just what an ignorant prick he is. I still get goosebumps watching Jim Wright giving Parker a verbal beatdown on the floor of the Senate. The only surprise with the video is that Parker didn't get up from his chair, walk up to Wright and punch him square in the face. Of course, we don't know what happened once the cameras were turned off.

Parker, who faces two years in prison, will be sentenced on January 27th. He easily won re-election in November, defeating his opponent 35,426 to 5,950.

December 7, 2010

Edwards Must Be Part Of State GOP's Future

One aspect of this year's elections that hasn't been closely analyzed is the performance of former Lieutenant Governor candidate and current Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards.

As you recall, Edwards was initially the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio while Tom Ognibene was the running mate of GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. On Primary Day, Paladino overwhelmingly took the GOP nomination while Edwards won the Lieutenant Governor primary. This dynamic created what was ultimately the Paladino/Edwards ticket.

But the showing of Edwards cannot be underestimated. Despite the massive Paladino wave, the voters rejected Paladino's running mate and chose Edwards. By the numbers, Paladino won the Primary Election with 295,336 votes to Lazio's 184,348. That's a margin of 110,000 votes, a spread that most thought would have been more than sufficient to carry Ognibene to victory - but it wasn't. Edwards won the state with 227,093 votes to Ognibene's 202,081. Interestingly, Edwards won New York City 20,175 to 18,550 over Ognibene. Conversely, Lazio won New York City 24,538 to 19,649 over Paladino. Edwards also won areas outside of New York City 206,918 to 183,531.

What this means is that voters find Edwards very appealing. At 50 years-old, he is a relative political newcomer, winning his first county executive race in 2005 against a two-term incumbent and re-election in 2009. He has quickly developed a reputation as a politically astute and professional executive who's built a solid political organization.

More importantly, he has positioned himself as someone who must be factored into the discussion when the Republican Party in New York State analyzes its future. Look...we've said it before and we'll say it again: Ed Cox is not the right person to lead the GOP. He failed miserably at the statewide elections while trying to take credit for regional wins that he had nothing to do with; these are not the characteristics of an effective leader.

Edwards is someone who's shown that he can raise money, deliver a message that resonates with voters across the state and, most importantly to the state GOP, build the necessary consensus and unity that has been so glaringly absent in the recent past. The New York State Republican Party would be well served to welcome Edwards into the organization - let's hope they're able to put their petty internal squabbling aside for the betterment of the party by welcoming him.

December 6, 2010

Paul Dyster: Rebuilding Niagara Falls' Image

When a local municipality is featured prominently in a national publication with a large readership, you expect local media to pick up on it.

That’s why we were a bit surprised that local media seemed to be AWOL in reporting on BusinessWeek’s fantastic article about Niagara Falls and its mayor. The article, a brutal—and lengthy—exposé of life in Niagara County’s own Third World hellhole, read like an indictment. That the article's title was "The Fall of Niagara Falls" indicates just how bad a shellacking Dyster's Dystopia takes throughout.

We got a kick out of the article's first few paragraphs: Niagara Falls Reporter editor Mike Hudson—arguably the best journalist in Niagara County, and certainly among the most talented in all of Western New York—gave an unabashed analysis of life in the Falls, calling the Cataract City “a godforsaken place” and “a slum.”

Frankly, we didn’t think the article could get any better than that. Boy, were we wrong.

One of our favorite sentences in the entire article had to be this one:

"Precisely because the community was so excited by the promise of an enormous amount of development over a decade ago, I think today many people in our community feel let down by their inability to build something," said the city's mayor, Paul Dyster.

Let’s see, you’ve been mayor for three years…and you’re still blaming who for the failure of your city to move forward? Vince Anello? Irene Elia? Jim Galie???

But Dyster was just getting started:

"One of the things that I said that I would do as mayor would be to try and rebuild the city's image," Dyster said, "and to be a mayor that the people of the city wouldn't be ashamed of."

Let’s see by a show of hands how many people think he succeeded on either count. Dyster seems to think that by not currently being under investigation by the FBI, he's truly accomplished something. Meanwhile, only a lunatic, or Ric Marasco, would say that the image of Niagara Falls has improved in the last three years.

Of course, the article isn’t entirely snarky about Dyster; in fact, it devotes several paragraphs to extolling his background as a professor and the fact he has yet to be indicted. But, despite that, perhaps the best line in the entire story—aside from “godforsaken place”—is that uttered by indefatigable Hudson, poking a lethal hole in any efforts to inflate Dyster: "He's a wonk, for sure, but he hasn't produced any results."

Honestly, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves, so we won’t even bother to try.

December 3, 2010

Tonko's Twisted Diatribe

Congressman Paul Tonko (D-Albany) needs a serious reality check. In this op-ed, Tonko asks the question, "where are the jobs"? The problem is, he's asking it of former President George W. Bush. I've got a little secret for freshman Congressman Tonko: GWB isn't the President anymore - hasn't been for two years now. The President is Barack Hussein Obama.

Now, I'm not defending Bush. He did some good things and he did some bad things. As someone who voted for him, I am man enough to acknowledge this. That being said, this continual blaming of Bush as the reason for the country's woes is sickeningly pathetic. Obama has had two years to enact his own policies. I take responsibility for my President's failures and successes, Tonko should learn to do the same.

When Obama was running, he promised Hope & Change. Millions of people bought this garbage. They didn't ask for specifics or action plans, they simply believed. Now that their savior has proven to be an unmitigated disaster, they are scrambling to deflect attention away from him. Thus we get moronic propaganda pieces like the one from Tonko.

This would be the same Paul Tonko that spent 24 years in the New York State Assembly, from 1983-2007. He presided over the most dysfunctional state government in the country during a two-decade era of massive decline in the state's prosperity. Obviously he's well qualified to speak about governmental failures.

Tonko's misdirected diatribe reminds me of the scene in Silence of the Lambs when, after Hannibal Lecter verbally dissects Clarice Starling's psyche, Starling retorts, "You see a lot, Dr. Lecter. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? How about it...? Look at yourself and write down the truth. Or maybe you're afraid to".

How about it, Paul...are you strong enough?

December 2, 2010

Twansong

Okay, one more Twan post. Purely for entertainment purposes, take a few minutes to follow this link to audio which features some of AnTron Thompson's best/worst sound bites put to music. Simply priceless.




December 1, 2010

Thompson Reluctantly Concedes

Senator Mark Grisanti - DAMN that has a nice ring to it!

In case you missed it, outgoing Senator Antoine Thompson threw in the towel yesterday on his silly attempt to drag out the election for the 60th Senate District. Of course, Thompson went out just as we expected - classless. Not once did he even acknowledge Grisanti, let alone congratulate him on the win.

One can only assume that Thompson begrudgingly ended the recount farce. With the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee facing a $2.4 million debt from this year's elections, the well had run dry for Twan. In addition, while we know that Thompson had $147,000 left in his campaign coffers at the time of his last campaign finance disclosure report, we don't know what he has in there as of today since he failed to meet the deadline for the legally-required filing of campaign finance disclosure reports. Thompson simply couldn't afford to continue to pay for lawyers and DSCC doesn't have the cash to continue to litigate the outcome.

Thompson now lives with the fact that he was on the losing end of one of the greatest upsets in New York politics. He also lives with knowing that because of his incompetence and arrogance, Democrats lose control of the Senate. The ramifications of this loss will reverberate throughout this state for the next 10 years.

I'll say what Thompson was incapable of: congratulations to Mark Grisanti and his team for a great race and a great win. We're confident that Grisanti will be a true voice for Western New York. His statement that he will vote in the best interests of WNY regardless of who sponsors the legislation is what we're most enthusiastic about. Too bad that Twan never understood that concept (see UB2020).

And while some say that we're purely partisan in eschewing the virtues of the GOP, we've always said that representing the interests of Upstate New York is not about parties, but about Upstate vs. Downstate. With Grisanti in the 60th and the GOP back in control of the Senate, Upstate will once again have the representation that has been so lacking.