February 27, 2012

Houghton's History Lesson Gone Awry

We all agree that the decision by the Niagara Falls Republican Committee to host a going away party for John Gross, who is facing 33 months in federal prison for rigging bids and evading income taxes, was very poor judgement. In fact, this blog was one of the first to jump on board to condemn the choice.

David Houghton, chairman of the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee, finally jumped on board with this letter to the editor in yesterday's Buffalo News. Frankly, we don't have a problem with Houghton trying to capitalize politically on the flub, that's part of living in the political world.

What struck us is the amount of space Houghton devoted to reliving the story of Mark Scott, a former Niagara County Legislator who was convicted of taking thousands of dollars in bribes from businessmen looking for special favors from Niagara County government. Scott admitted that he took bribes for almost his entire nine year tenure as a legislator.

When U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara sentenced Scott to six months in federal prison, he called Scott one of the worst examples of political corruption in Western New York. The judge told Scott he would have been hit with a much harsher sentence if he had not served as an informant against other politicians for the FBI, State Police and Internal Revenue Service. 

I'll give you three guesses who Scott served as an informant against, but you'll only need one. John Gross. 

This snippet from Houghton's letter caused me to laugh out loud:

Possibly the worst damage he (Gross) caused was helping corrupt our government by bribing a Niagara County legislator, thereby stealing from all of us our right to open and honest elected officials.
They (Republicans) have no qualms with the fact that the man they so readily honored was previously convicted of bribing a public official, as well as other felonies. The position that this official held was that of Niagara County legislator, a position that this same Republican Party endorses candidates for.
This is where Houghton can't leave well enough alone. Instead of simply sticking to the topic at hand, Houghton thought he'd get cute and give us a history lesson. The problem is, the person that he repeatedly refers to as the recipient of the bribes, Mark Scott, was a Democrat. 
Yes, Gross did some bad things. As a businessman, he gave bribes and engaged in bid rigging. He clearly deserves to go to prison. Scott, who was the majority leader of the legislature, took the bribes. That is a violation of the public's trust that dwarfs the actions of Gross. For all of Houghton's rhetoric about honesty and openness from the Republicans, it's very convenient for him leave out the fact that the beneficiary of Gross' ill gotten gains was a Democrat. Sadly, it's emblematic of Houghton's incompetency. 
Houghton wraps up his letter with this nugget:
For too long, the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara County as a whole have earned a reputation for corruption. Perhaps sometimes it has been earned, perhaps sometimes not. However, for one of the two major political parties to so blatantly choose to honor a repeat felon is not only embarrassing to our whole community, but it also helps to further an image of corruption in our city and county. 
We agree with Houghton on one point, Niagara Falls has earned a reputation for corruption, and rightly so. Mike Hudson at the Niagara Falls Reporter has covered and exposed that corruption time and time again. What Houghton fails to acknowledge is that the overwhelming majority of corruption in this county has in fact been initiated in Niagara Falls, a city that has been dominated by Democrats for as long as the city has existed. 
Houghton is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. Did the NF GOP screw up? Yes, they did. But don't all of the sudden claim to get religion when your party, the Democratic Party, has been at the helm of the massive decline of what was once one of the greatest cities in the world. It's hollow, it's shallow and it's a million miles away from accurate. 

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