December 23, 2011

Schimminger's Problem

This piece in the Buffalo News a few days ago highlighting Assemblyman Robin Schimminger's bucking of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor Andrew Cuomo on two key policy votes touches on the possibility of repercussions against Schimminger by Cuomo in the 2012 election cycle. Cuomo had supposedly threatened to campaign against members of the Assembly GOP caucus if the group didn't vote unanimously for Cuomo's budget bill. Schimminger ended up being one of just two Assembly Dems to vote against the measure.

The vote, as the piece depicts, was quite out of character for Schimminger, who's primarily been a "go along to get along" type of guy during his 35 years in the Assembly. This anomaly, however big or small in the eyes of the beholder, has not gone unnoticed by the governor's office.

For the record, we like Cuomo - so far. He's gotten a handle on the state's budget woes and we like his take no prisoners approach to getting things done. Sort of like Eliot Spitzer and his "I'm a fucking steamroller" approach, but with a certain flair and panache that Spitzer severely lacked. Given the state of the state, we need drastic measures to be taken by people with the will, fortitude and vision to turn around the most dysfunctional state government in the country. That's why we know that, even with Tom Precious highlighting a potential election problem for Schimminger from Cuomo, the issue runs deeper than that.

Niagara Times has learned that some folks quite close to Cuomo have participated in discussions with North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, the popular Republican, about challenging Schimminger in 2012. While that news may come as a shock to some, it frankly isn't all that surprising given Cuomo's penchant for reaching across political aisles to accomplish what he wants.If Schimminger isn't with him, he's against him.

With New York State is going through a redistricting process that will see most Senate, Assembly and Congressional districts take on different shapes, the timing works. Schimminger currently represents most of North Tonawanda and the city and town of Tonawanda. With Silver controlling the Assembly redistricting, and Schimminger on the outs with him, there's a strong likelihood that Schimminger's district will look a whole lot different come petition time. Given the run Kevin Stocker took at him in 2010, combined with a much less politically-friendly district, Schimminger could be very vulnerable next year. Don' think for one second that these facts have escaped Mr. Cuomo's attention. 

December 14, 2011

Random Thoughts

Memo to headline writers at the Niagara Gazette: The use of the headline "NU shooting off target in loss to Drexel" is probably a little insensitive since it was run less than a week after a Niagara University student was shot and killed.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster dodged a bullet (see above) when the city council failed to garner enough votes to slash the salaries of City Administrator Donna Owens and City Engineer Jeff Skurka by $20k each. Dyster should get whatever he needs to get done before Jan.1st, when the dynamic of the council will change significantly.

We are very saddened by the death of Rocky, a Niagara County German Shepard police dog who fell to his death while searching an abandoned building in Niagara Falls on Dec. 4th. Condolences to the department and Deputy Craig Beiter.

Western New York got over $100 million in economic development funds and tax credits from the state, which is certainly good news. That being said, am I the only one who thinks there is WAY too much emphasis being put on the Buffalo Medical Campus concept? I hope I'm wrong, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Speaking of Buffalo, the city is getting $15 million in federal funding to return cars to a section of Main Street that had been blocked off for pedestrian-only traffic in the 80s. Rank that decision right up there with Urban Renewal. If you've ever walked that section of Main St, you know what a decrepit hole it is.

The Buffalo Bills suck. Now officially eliminated from the playoffs, that makes 12 consecutive seasons without a post season bid, the longest streak of futility in the league. But you keep BILLieving, Buffalo fans. Maybe someday the team's focus will be putting a competitive product on the field, not only their marketing efforts.

Speaking of Buffalo sports, Ryan Miller blows too. If Terry Pegula were dead, he'd be rolling over in his grave at the performance of this team.

Oh, and is anyone surprised that former Sabre Matt Barnaby has been arrested twice in the last month? He was a nutbag on the ice - do you honestly believe that his on-ice behavior and antics stop when he unlaces his skates? Domestic abuse and drunk driving. Of course, Buffalo sports fans will continue to cheer this scumbag wherever he goes, despite the fact that he likes to beat up women.

The Seneca Nation is currently holding back $350 million owed to NYS because the Senecas believe the state has violated their casino compact by setting up racinos at area racetracks. We agree with the Senecas and hope they hold out however long it takes to get the state to understand the meaning of the word "agreement".

If the GOP doesn't get a consensus-building candidate, Obamination will win another term. Romney sucks and Gingrich can't beat Obama.

Former NJ governor, US Senator and MF Global CEO Jon Corzine still can't explain where $1.2 billion in company funds went. This guy is so crooked, he almost makes me want to become an OWSer. Yeah....nevermind, I prefer employment, showers and to not be surrounded by the slime that has infiltrated this supposed OWS "movement".

December 12, 2011

Comptroller DelMonte?

Well placed sources have told Niagara Times that the former State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, who lost to John Ceretto in 2010, is poised to become the next Comptroller on the City of Niagara Falls. This news, of course, will likely come as a shock to current Comptroller Maria Brown.

After losing to Ceretto, DelMonte has searched high and low for a job, to no avail. She's tried to call in every favor she possibly could, but no one has shown any inclination to help her. Frankly, this speaks volumes about DelMonte. Her adversarial and divisive ways of interacting with people have always been her Achilles heel, and that was proven in last year's election. Even since the election, she has shown what an petty tyrant she is, from wiping out all of her public files and computer records to her refusal to ever congratulate Ceretto to her most recent unintelligible rants on social media outlets.

Nobody wants to be associated with her, so no one has given her a job - thus the nearly 12 months of unemployment. That being said, the one ally she has kept close is Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, who barely squeaked out a win over Johnny Destino last month. While Dyster's own political capital is virtually non-existent, he does control a few jobs here and there, including Comptroller. That's where DelMonte comes in.

"Paul Dyster does like DelMonte, but more than that, he's afraid of her," said a source within the county Democrats. "He knew that if he didn't make this deal with her to appoint her Comptroller, she would not support him in the election. Given how close his race with Destino was, it looks like he made the right decision."

"The problem now for Dyster is that it's time to pay the piper," said the source. "Given the strength of Maria Brown's political connections, he will undoubtedly face some political pressure to leave Maria in place or find another spot in his administration for her." Brown is married to Pat Brown of Brown & Company, an accounting firm who has donated generously to local Democrats.

It will be interesting to see if DelMonte's postpones her retirement, which she filed a few months ago. Given her age and 30 years working off the public teet, DelMonte is poised to rake in about $60k a year, state-tax free, along with free lifetime health insurance. Would DelMonte have the audacity to take the city's six figure salary on top of the bounty she'll be reaping courtesy of the state? We'll likely know soon enough.

December 9, 2011

Dyster Fails to Deliver on Economic Development Funds

You'd be hard pressed to find many people in Western New York who aren't extremely pleased with yesterday's announcement that our five county region will reap over $100 million in state government cash and tax incentives for economic development. As we've stated many times, our region has failed to see the economic boom that much of the country has enjoyed over the past couple decades. While these funds are far from a panacea, they could give Western New York a nice little boost.

That being said, we believe we have found someone who is far from pleased with yesterday's announcement of funds for Western New York: Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. In a nutshell, Dyster got squatoosh.

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council made the pipedream Niagara Experience Center (NEC) in Niagara Falls a significant focal point of their presentation. Clearly that was to appease the incessant whining of Dyster to see this ridiculous $100 million waste of time, energy and resources come to fruition.

In the end, the NEC didn't make the cut, but Dyster's woes don't end there. From what we estimate, 22 different projects in Niagara County were approved for funding or tax credits. Of the 22, only one project submitted by the City of Niagara Falls was approved: $102,440 for LaSalle Waterfront Park. Frankly, that's pathetic.

That doesn't mean that Niagara County as a whole didn't make out quite well; we did. Three projects applied for by the City of North Tonawanda were approved for over $1 million. The City of Lockport was awarded over $900,000. Even Newfane got $63,800 to upgrade marina facilities. But it doesn't end there. NCCC got $2 million for its culinary school. Artpark got nearly $400,000 for improvements. The Niagara Wine Trail got $30k for marketing. The NFTA got $970k for a master plan for the Niagara Falls International Airport (which is in Wheatfield). The list goes on and on. Niagara Falls got dick. We're really starting to get the feeling that someone in Albany doesn't much care for the overbearing Dyster.

Other than the NEC, we don't know is what else the city applied for, and thus, what was rejected, if anything. Frankly, it wouldn't surprise us one bit if Dyster put all of his eggs in one basket, the NEC. He's just that arrogant and foolish.

As the Buffalo News piece states, a total of 720 projects were funded statewide, totaling $785.5 million in cash and tax breaks. Niagara Falls got one project for $100k. Coincidence? Doubt it.

December 8, 2011

Kudos to NY on Millionaire's Tax

I'm a Republican - always have been and always will be. I adhere to virtually every facet of the Republican mantra, including lower taxes and less government intervention in our lives. That's why some of my friends, both Republican and Democrat, seem very surprised that I would support the millionaire's tax in New York.

The measure, which passed the state legislature, will raise about $2 billion dollars in revenue for the state while implementing a minicsule tax increase on couples earning over $2,000,000 (a bracket I'll never see).  Those in my range, between $40k and $300k, will see a tax decrease. More than four million New Yorkers will see their taxes go down.

I've often said New York doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. While the increase on the wealthy would seem to contradict that premise, the state must take steps to alleviate the tax burden on homeowners and small business. This measure is a step in the right direction, buying Cuomo and the state legislature a little more time to address other, larger issues, such as pension costs and Medicaid.

That being said, we're still waiting for Cuomo to take a hard line on those issues, as well as mandate relief, Taylor Law, Triborough Amendment, Wicks Law and Scaffold Law. If you don't know what they are, take five minutes to educate yourself - you might gain a better understanding of why New York is among the most expensive states to do business and raise a family.

We've said it before, we like the direction Cuomo is going - anyone that can neutralize Silver the way Andrew has must be doing something right. However, like Denny Green of the Arizona Cardinals once said, we're not quite ready to "crown his ass" just yet. We are cautiously awaiting Andrew's next move, but skeptical of his willingness/ability to get the aforementioned abolished or even changed. Here's to holding out hope.

December 2, 2011

Schumer Absent on Baum/Pillar Closures

The news that Steven Baum Law Firm and Pillar Processing will lay off nearly 700 Western New Yorkers is a huge blow to an economy that has already taken more than its fair share of huge blows. For those unfamiliar with the situation,  Baum, who runs one of the largest foreclosure firms in the country, recently fell out of favor after pictures of employees mocking the homeless during a Halloween party showed up on the Internet. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subsequently stopped referring business to the firm, forcing the shut down.

We do not for one second condone the actions of the employees; most of us are very fortunate to have stable employment and a roof over our heads. The actions of the employees was tasteless and insensitive to say the least. They should have been disciplined for the actions and provided sensitivity training in order to gain a better understanding of the difficulties millions of Americans face every day.

The bigger problem is the decision of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to pull their business from Baum and Pillar, sending 700 hardworking Western New Yorkers packing just in time for the holidays. This action is reckless and irresponsible, and will severely damage the WNY economy.

And where the fuck is Chuck Schumer? This guy, who manages to find his way in front of a camera with 200 miles of wherever he is, hasn't done a goddamn thing to rectify this problem.

Look....Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are FEDERAL agencies - Schumer is OUR United States Senator, and supposedly one of the most influential members of Congress. It's time he stop placating Liberal OWS  fakers are start taking real action to address the woeful WNY economy and this blistering decision by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to put yet another dagger into the heart of Western New York. Step up or step out, Chuck.