Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins today challenged Governor Andrew Cuomo to come to Buffalo's Montana Avenue and explain his Buffalo Billion program. Intrepid WNYPolitics reporter Jeff Bidenko caught up with Hawkins as he toured the real world which has been created by the Governor's economic program. Watch the video:
ATTENTION! ATTENTION!!!! Buffalo School Board and Congressional petitions are being filed as we speak. Once again this year as he has done for years, Lou Turchiarelli, circulated and witnessed nominating/designating petitions. Lou circulated for school board candidates Patricia Pierce and Larry Quinn. He also passed Congressional paper for Eddie Egriu. It's time for you political pundits and your drooling followers to point out that Lou is a convicted felon. Probably best to just dust off your old story from last year. The standard tactic is to somehow imply that Lou threatens people to coerce them to sign his sheets. Obviously you have no evidence of this, so clever innuendo is the tactic of choice. Check this link for some good material to freshen up your old tattered copy. Target Of Libelous 'Mafia Enforcer' Attack Ads Works Hard, Lives Clean
So let's get going hate merchants, beat up this poor old guy once again for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed rights. So what if he paid his debt to society and turned his life around? Kick him while he's down and make yourself feel like a big man! Pour it on. How about a nice anonymous mailed hit piece? What about a robo call? Mouth to mouth back stabbing is always good.
Wonder if these weasels would have gotten into the ring with Lou the boxer?
Buffalo attorney Peter Savage III handily defeated the only substantial challenger, Michele Iannello, at a meeting of Democratic committeemen last Saturday, convened to recommend a replacement to fill the vacant Erie County Third Legislative District seat. Following interminable foot dragging and unnecessary delays by Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner, Savage polled 62% of the votes on the first ballot. Zellner had intentionally delayed calling the meeting for months, wailing about situational "gridlock" and claiming that it would somehow be disastrous to have a vote with no leading candidate in sight. "Nobody controls this endorsement," he said. "There is going to have to be a consensus to put this together." See BNews When he finally complied with the party rules and convened the committee members, Savage dispatched all challengers with ease. More details on the meeting have been reported previously.
Amazingly enough, most of Savage's supporters were women, blissfully unaware of the Alan Bedenko mandate to select a female legislator. It's likely they were led astray by the fact that only Savage and Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang had any real grasp of the functions, scope and economics of county government. Or perhaps they had heard vacuous phrases like "helping the community", "forgetting the divisions of the past and working together" and "Democratic values" so many times that they just wanted to run out of the room screaming. Maybe they were just overwhelmed by Peter's rugged good looks and animal magnetism?
Who knows. Women are such frail and fickle creatures, Miss Scarlett.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy "Wonder Boy" Zellner, Democratic Election Commissioner Dennis "The Fixer" Ward and Erie County Executive Mark "Emperor" Poloncarz got their butts kicked Saturday afternoon. After more than two months of needless delay and obfuscation, attorney Peter Savage was recommended to fill the vacancy in County Legislature District 3 by the committeemen of the district. This decision followed seemingly endless gamesmanship by the Stooges and dealt them a humiliating defeat. When the seat became vacant in January, these schemers got together and decided that their best interests would be served by filling the vacancy with Ward's rubber stamp wife, Michele Iannello. Even though the Democrats suffered a series of catastrophic defeats 2013, the Stooges could thereby at least claim control of the impotent minority vote in the county legislature. There are now five Democrats against a Republican/Conservative/Independence majority of six. Although the Dems are largely powerless, control of the minority requires 3 votes and can be useful to prevent overrides of Poloncarz vetoes.
Unfortunately, everyone knew that Ianello lacked the support on the Democratic Committee to defeat Savage in a head up contest. Therefore, the Stooges plotted to paint a deadlock scenario, with each appearing to back a different candidate, hoping to somehow sneak a win out of the resulting artificial confusion. Wonder Boy backed Jennifer Diagostino, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Justice, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation which is long on rhetoric and short on accomplishments. Polo picked Amber Small, the head of the Parkside Community Association of Buffalo, another not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, which is supposed to be providing services to the Buffalo Parkside neighborhood. In the final event, Small wasn't even nominated and Diagostino had to second her own nomination just to get into the balloting. Clearly, Small and Diagostino were merely dupes used by the Stooges in their scheme. As tax exempt entities are supposed to refrain from political activity, one has to wonder whether the paid leaders of such organizations should be seeking elected offices while still on the payroll.
Following a senseless beauty pageant meeting in February, Wonder Boy finally figured out how to call a meeting:
At the event, Wonder Boy suddenly produced another crudely typed contradictory agenda:
Commissioner Ward acquiesced in the popular demand that he absent himself from the meeting, thus avoiding a humiliating floor fight to eject him from the assembly. Following a rigid script, Wonder Boy insisted on reading the original meeting notice, despite a motion to dispense with the reading, apparently wishing to dispel rumors that he is illiterate. The new agenda is clearly absurd on its face, but Wonder Boy rejected all attempts to dispense with unnecessary foot dragging. There followed a bizarre spectacle, with candidates who weren't even nominated needlessly addressing the bored multitude, followed by unessential nominating speeches. After almost three months of letters, emails, and phone calls, we all knew the candidates and which one we were supporting. At least my repeated attempts to streamline the proceeding clearly rattled Wonder Boy and he forgot to call for the multiple seconding speeches. It was obvious that Zellner lacks the basic level of intelligence necessary to run an efficient meeting.
After an eternity of mincing and dithering, the motion for a secret ballot passed almost unanimously, much to Wonder Boy's surprise. Actually the motion was for a paper ballot. State law requires that committee members vote on a weighted basis determined by voting patterns in their respective election districts, thus rendering ballot secrecy nearly impossible. For instance, my weighted vote is 227. I cast my ballot for Savage, and anyone who witnessed the results knows exactly how I voted.
Once the motion for a paper ballot carried overwhelmingly, it appeared that Savage supporters would carry the day, as Zellner clearly didn't have the bodies to control the meeting. In the final result, Savage got 62% of the first ballot vote and walked away a clear winner. The meeting took 1.5 hours and would have been over in 30 minutes if Wonder Boy had stayed home. Since the vote of the committeemen is merely a recommendation to the County Legislature Democrats who fill the vacancy under the Erie County Charter, it remains to be seen whether they will appoint Mr. Savage to serve until a new election is held in November. Stay tuned for more entertaining Democratic Party hijinks.
The other night I attended Michele Iannello's fundraiser on a complimentary ticket. Since we don't take ads here, I can't give her free space in return. So I thought I would ladle out some free campaign guidance. I fancy myself as a political genius, but it must be remembered that the only winning campaigns I have ever been involved with resulted in me waiting 32 years in vain for my big patronage job. See Richiazzi Destroys My Political Career. Therefore these recommendations need to be viewed with some caution. Caveat Emptor is always good to keep in mind, and free advice is usually worth what you pay for it. Anyhow, here goes:
1) Make sure you and your family members actually live where you are registered to vote.
To do otherwise invites embarrassing media revelations.
See Old Av Article and WIVB report.
Fortunately, Michele's husband, Erie County Democratic Election Commissioner, Dennis Ward, registered where he actually lives soon after receiving my sage counsel in 2012. See Ward's Registration below:
2) Just say no to racism.
The Third Legislative District is a City of Buffalo dominated precinct. Michele's native Town of Tonawanda is only about a third of the population. Unlike TTON, we have lots of African American voters in Buffalo. Therefore newspaper reports of African American campaign workers being ejected from the campaign and the resulting withdrawal of union support won't play well in the Third. Having a float in the Juneteenth Parade is a good idea.
3) Win somewhere.
In 2009, Michele took a 2800 vote beating from popular Canisius Professor, Kevin Hardwick. She lost in Grand Island, the Town of Tonawanda and every ward of the City of Tonawanda. Michele lost in 65 of 75 election districts (EDs). When she won an ED, it was usually by a slim margin; when she lost, she lost it big. It can be shown with mathematical precision that, if you lose in every city, town, ward and ED, you will lose the election.
4) Don't run at the same time as someone else in your household.
Voters don't like it when more than one person in a household runs for office. I guess that's just too greedy for common tastes. This is a stumbling block, as Michele's husband Dennis expects to receive a cross endorsement for Supreme Court Judge and effectively be appointed to a fourteen year term which will carry him to a high paid retirement.
5) Stay away from Bruising Fight for Control of the ECDC
There will be another big battle for control of the Erie County Democratic Committee this year. That means committeemen races galore. This should spur a big turnout in Buffalo. A corollary is that candidates should keep their distance from polarizing political figures. Once again, this is problematic. Michele's hubby Dennis is a major general in the intramural party wars and is busily working to rig the election again this year via weighted vote gaming using quirks in the laws governing ED redistricting. Perhaps it would be better if Dennis moved back to Amherst for a while?
Several Federal officials were invited to attend a special session of the Buffalo Common Council to respond to Council Members’ inquiries on Peace Bridge construction projects and residents’ related health issues. They chose unusual attire for their appearance, coming dressed as empty chairs.
Community Development Committee Chairman, Joe Golombek, was not pleased, nor were other Councilmembers, or assembled citizens. Golombek seems to feel that the Feds have something to hide. Hopefully the Council will decide to exercise its subpoena powers to compel attendance at a future session. Read more here.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz' appointment of a well traveled patronage hack as a supervisor in Child Protective Services, (Buffalo News) brought back memories of an interesting Democratic Plumbers scheme from 2006. That caper involved the efforts of then County Legislator, now Poloncarz' Commissioner of Environment and Planning, Maria Whyte, Deputy County Attorney Jeremy Toth, Buffalo attorney and political operative Marc Panepinto, now CPS supervisor, then county legislature employee, Brian Bray, and then county legislature employee, now state Assemblyman, Sean Ryan. These intrepid party reformers ran a slate of Democratic Committeemen against incumbents allied with North District Councilmember, Joe Golombek, in apparent retaliation for Golombek challenging their pal, then state Assemblyman, now Empire State Development Regional President, Sam Hoyt, in the 2004 Assembly Democratic Primary contest. (These liberal talkers can be very vindictive.) While it's OK for anyone to run for the committee, you only get to run in one election district (ED) at a time. In 2006, Whyte was running in nine EDs, Panepinto in five, Toth in three and Bray in two.
Since 1974, simultaneously running for two inconsistent elected positions is per se voter fraud. See Lufty v Gangemi, 35 N.Y.2d 179 (1974) “Since this multiplicity of inconsistent candidacies has been properly recognized as injurious to the rights of the electorate, and described as fraudulent and deceptive, and because here the multiplicity of inconsistent candidacies for the County Committee was intentional, the dissenters at the Appellate Division were correct in concluding that respondents’ designating petitions should fail entirely.
With this practice, and absent acceptable excuse or justification, the voters who signed the offending petitions must be assumed to have been misled as to the candidates’ intentions to serve as their representatives if designated and subsequently elected at the primary. Moreover, the petitions were misleading in suggesting that the various candidates listed intended to run together. These irregularities were also harmful because those who signed were precluded by law from signing petitions for other candidates for the same office (Election Law, § 136, subd.). Thus, the petitions must be considered to have been permeated with the defect intentionally introduced into them by the circulators and those candidates who participated in the circulation.”
In 2006, the clear intent was to have Whyte resign in eight of her races, Panepinto in four, etc., so that the committee on vacancies (Toth, Panepinto, Bray and Ryan) could appoint other, as yet unknown, persons who would actually be the candidates on election day. Thus voters could have been induced to sign a designating petition for Whyte or one of her pals without knowing the identity of the actual intended candidates. The scheme was replete with fill-in-the-blank forms which were to be used for petitions, declinations, replacements by the committee on vacancies, and acceptances of candidacy by the replacements. Whyte's petitions can be reviewed here:
Soon after filing the petitions, Whyte promptly declined in eight of the EDs where she was running. The declinations were all executed on the same day and notarized by Marc Panepinto.
Sample vacancy filling forms follow:
This was a mass production effort of little subtlety. When the plot was exposed, Golombek held a press conference in front of the Erie County Board of Elections where he was met by a large gang of Whyte supporters, including numerous county legislature employees. Leading the charge were Assemblyman Hoyt, and Panepinto's attorney wife, now Supreme Court judge, Catherine Nugent-Panepinto, who both vehemently and vociferously defended this effort to deceive voters. When suit was threatened, Whyte and the gang folded like a deck of cards. Whyte declined to run in eight EDs and the vacancies went unfilled. It is fun to see the other players involved. Michelle Marto, union heavyweight and wife of John Maggiore, assistant to Lt Governor Duffy, passed a petition. Jennifer Hibit, executive assistant to County Executive Mark Poloncarz was a co-candidate with Whyte on one of the fake petitions. Mark D. Cornell, another Poloncarz staffer, passed fake petitions in two different EDs. There was a Debora Hayes who was a leader in a local nurse's union. Don't know if this is her. Who are Joshua Sanders and James Scondato? If you can identify any of the other players, please send me a line.
With this type of background, who can doubt that Brian Bray's history demonstrates his manifest qualifications to supervise case workers in their efforts to save children's lives at CPS? Notice how well all of these folks are eating at the public trough? Why is it that people like me who put hundreds of hours into stopping this kind of crap always end up shivering in the dark, old, tired, sick, cold, and hungry? Wonder if I will get my reward when Satan calls me home?
Councilmember Golombek and his little friend
Official Invite with County Seal
Mark's Campaign Web Site
As you can see, County Executive Mark Poloncarz has been improperly using the official seal of Erie County on his campaign web site. If you make a contribution to Mark, will he misuse other official powers to help you?
Now he has found a another way to raise some quick cash. Want "to discuss the future of our community" with Mark and "senior members of his administration"? Just pony up some more dough. Selling access to himself and his senior staff. This is truly shameless. Smells like something rotten which washed up on the beach.
Does Erie County have an Inspector General?
Buffalo Rising writer Matthew Ricchiazzi has destroyed my political career with a single story. In a post put up today on the Buffalo Common Council's failure to subpoena five federal officials concerning environmental issues at the Peace Bridge, Ricchiazzi quotes me as saying:
“This body is the closest level of government to the people, and they have a responsibility to take action,” said Peter Reese, noted attorney, election law expert, and political operative. “We know that poor people tend to be most victimized by pollution; environmental justice may be a slogan, but it’s not a reality. If we had a competent government that cared, then we would be figuring out how to move cross boarder freight on electric trains. But the PBA wants more trucks and higher toll revenues. Contracting, being the ‘new-patronage,’ drives these grandiose expansion projects.”
Reese argues that the Cuomo Administration is interested in little more than political photo-ops in which the governor can demonstrate his successes. But Reese wonders why Cuomo assumes that perceived success must come in the form of massive construction projects and at the expense of public health.
“Cuomo is not warmly received on the left,” Reese said. “There would be enormous upside for Cuomo to carry the torch on environmental issues, especially in a city like Buffalo, with all of the vestiges of our industrial past and our elevated rates of asthma, cancer, stroke, and other environmentally-linked diseases.”
While not tape recorder accurate, this is what I said. I also called the Common Council "gutless" for failing to issue the subpoena, but that will be our little secret. The last time I know of that the Council actually dragged someone in under subpoena was 1982, when a young and ambitious Niagara District Councilmember named Joel Giambra was investigating waste and mismanagement at Western Region Off Track Betting.
After nearly killing and bankrupting ourselves supporting Mario Cuomo in 1982, I was named a person most likely to benefit from patronage in the new administration, one of only three lawyers who were on board early. In the Democratic Primary Election, my wife and I purchased every lawn and polling place sign used in Western New York, because, otherwise, there wouldn't have been any. When we got on the bus, Mario was 39 points down in the polls and going nowhere. "The first shall be first," said Cuomo the First, and for the past 32 years I have been waiting patiently by the phone for my call from the governor with that big job I was sure was on the way. When Cuomo II was elected in 2010, I was certain my ship would come in at any moment. Four years later, still no call. Now Matt's reckless reporting of the truth has shattered any hopes I have harbored. Thanks a lot, Pal.
Democrats are beginning to resist the whimsical ways of Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy "Wonder Boy" Zellner. Last Thursday, Michelle Innello, wife of Democratic Elections Commissioner and Party Secretary, Dennis Ward, said she would run for the vacant Third District County Legislature seat, even if she was not selected by the Party or the remaining Democrats on the legislature. Zellner and Ward ran as a team in 2012, and it is doubtful that either would have been elected without the manipulation of committeemen weighted voting engineered by Ward.
Now Democratic Supreme Court judge candidates are openly defying Wonder Boy and holding fund raisers to fuel their campaigns. Seems that Zellner has ordered them not to raise campaign cash until his pal Dennis Ward can declare as a candidate. Once Ward declares, he must resign as Election Commissioner, and he is in no hurry to give up his part time plum which pays six figures plus and comes with a built in bundle of patronage jobs for campaign workers. The issue is also complicated by the way in which New York political parties nominate Supreme Court judges. Judicial candidates are not free to run in party primary elections, but must be selected by judicial convention delegates who are themselves elected in primary elections. This leads to a readily corruptible, party boss driven selection process. The NYU Law School Brennan Center for Law litigated this matter all the way to the US Supreme Court before losing (see http://www.brennancenter.org/press-release/plaintiffs-counsel-supreme-court-decision-lopez-torres-v-nys-board-elections and Lopez Torres v NYS Board of Elections http://www.brennancenter.org/legal-work/lopez-torres-v-nys-board-elections). This year, independent Democrats intend to run non-Zellner judicial delegate slates, raising the distinct possibility that Wonder Boy won't have any puppet delegate votes to trade when he tries to cut cross endorsement deals with Republican Chairman, Nick Langworthy. Furthermore, with five judge slots open and a desire to boost Democratic voter turnout, Governor Cuomo is said to be favoring an open election free-for-all with no cross endorsements of Republicans. It seems that savvy judicial candidates realize they are being suckered by Zellner and placed at a dollar disadvantage to their Republican opponents. This is just one of many examples of the ECDC levers of power being pulled for the personal advantage of a few trough feeders at the expense of electing Democrats.
On another front, even lowly committeemen are trying to force Zellner to comply with the party rules and allow democracy to break out in the Democratic Party.
An even bigger problem is brewing. Rank and file Democrats have become so disenchanted with Wonder Boy's antics that his early removal as Chairman is being actively discussed. A draft petition calling for rules changes and election of new officers has been circulating. If 650 committee members sign such a petition, they can force a meeting and a vote for party reform.
The Independent Republicans are holding a Waffle Breakfast to honor Democratic County Chairman Jeremy Zellner on March 15, 2014. The event is a thank you to Zellner for his faithful service on behalf of the Republican cause. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children with, Jeremy admitted free. Breakfast starts at 7 A.M. at the Woot Snoop Firehall on Harem Road in East Cambagia. For tickets and donations of door prizes and table favors, email BfloBillionaires@aol.com
Update on the Status of the Third County Legislative District Vacancy Fill:
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy "Wonder Boy" Zellner, continues to waffle as to whether he will comply with the rules of the County Committee or just try to pull another fast one like he did last year in the three legislative districts which cost the Democrats the majority in the County Legislature for the first time since 1977. See http://www.wnypolitics.net/1/post/2013/11/how-wonder-boy-lost-the-erie-county-legislature.html This is Wonder Boy's tried and true method for insulting and antagonizing all the committeemen and ensuring a nasty primary with subsequent long term ill feelings. At the conclusion of Monday night's waste of time candidates night meeting, Wonder Boy said he couldn't see how the committee could reach consensus.
This in spite of the fact that the meeting was sparsely attended (Who is going to get a baby sitter for a meaningless meeting where no vote is to take place?) and there was no indication of relative candidate strength. Somehow he cannot wrap his head around the idea that committeemen can openly vote to reach a consensus or decide not to endorse anyone or recommend that the vacancy not be filled until after the Democratic Primary in September or make any other intelligent decision. When people vote, chaos doesn't follow, democracy does. I guess Wonder Boy is so personally accustomed to blindly following orders from Syposs, Lenihan, Poloncarz and Ward, that he doesn't understand that there are other people in the room just as smart, or brighter than, he is. The day after the Monday night meeting, Bob McCarthy reported that Wonder Boy was a quivering bowl of jello, paralyzed by "gridlock", stating, "Nobody controls this endorsement. There is going to have to be a consensus to put this together." http://blogs.buffalonews.com/politics_now/2014/02/gridlock-rules-marinelli-replacement-process.html
If Zellner can just pull himself together enough to call a meeting of the committee, adults will be able to show him how it's done. We can also show him how committeemen cast a weighted vote based on the results obtained recently in General Elections in their respective election districts.
Last Thursday, I encountered two former county chairmen, Joe Crangle and Steve Pigeon, breaking bread together at the local pub. They both asked why Zellner doesn't just have the committeemen vote. I guessed that Wonder Boy wasn't certain a vote would break his way. Failing to follow the rules when they don't work the way you want is as good a definition of tyranny as I can come up with. Kind of makes you wonder when the Jeremy Toth righteous indignation article in Artvoice will appear, castigating Zellner. Where are Dennis Ward's impassioned pleas for party reform now that we need them? The hypocrisy of the current ECDC leadership is flowing like our local sewers in a cloudburst.
And while we're talking about arbitrary rules violations, the county committee rules grant every committeemen the right to a list of all committeemen with their addresses. So far, Wonder Boy has ignored numerous requests from committeemen not in his favor, while willingly turning lists over to his pals. A recent example follows.
Something tells me ignoring this request will result in Wonder Boy being dragged into court.
In deep fiscal trouble, Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy "Wonder Boy" Zellner, is openly talking with former County Executive Joel Giambra about ways to betray Democrats. http://blogs.buffalonews.com/politics_now/2014/02/giambra-floats-democratic-backing-for-republican-grisanti.html?ref=bmh It seems that incumbent Republican Senator Mark Grisanti is in trouble with his party base and fears a Primary Election defeat by fellow Republican Kevin Stocker in the 60th Senate District. The 60th includes Grand Island, the Tonawandas, parts of Buffalo, Hamburg, Orchard Park, Evans and Brant. http://www.nysenate.gov/district/60 Like Giambra, Grisanti is a former Democrat who opportunistically swapped parties to narrowly beat former Democratic Senator Antoine Thompson in 2010. Giambra has been widely touted for his political skill in running the campaign that beat Thompson in an impossible race, but Grisanti's votes for gay marriage, the SAFE Act and close ties to Governor Cuomo have angered his Republican base. The 60th is heavily Democratic, by a ratio of almost two to one, but defeat in the Republican Primary could leave Grisanti without a major party line. Grisanti could have switched back to the Democratic Party last October, but it's too late now, and Republicans can't run in a Democratic Primary without an authorization (Wilson-Pakula) from the party. ECDC rules place the power to authorize Senate candidates in the hands of the Zellner controlled Executive Committee. Such an authorization is essentially an endorsement. If Zellner authorizes Republican Grisanti, there will be a huge Democratic blow back. A Primary battle from a real Democrat, such as North Buffalo Councilmember Joe Golombek, is sure to follow. Why would Wonder Boy authorize? He's broke and he needs cash to keep the party afloat. Lobbyist Giambra can raise lots of money to buy an authorization for his pal, and he has already contributed $1000 to Zellner as a New Years present. This will be fun to watch.
Meanwhile, the filling of the vacancy in the Third County Legislative District is being dragged out in a suspicious manner. The vacancy arose when Lynn Marinelli quit for a Cuomo job after serving a full 15 days of her term.
(Q: Who saw that coming? A: Everyone.) A no vote beauty pageant meeting is scheduled for tomorrow night in North Buffalo.
Unlike a State Senate endorsement, the rules of the ECDC place the power to endorse candidates for the county legislature with the committeemen of the legislative district. Given this obvious foot dragging in holding the committeeman vote, it's clear that Wonder Boy doesn't have the votes to endorse his pick (Jennifer Diagostino) and Buffalo Corporation Counsel attorney, Peter Savage, appears to be the favorite of the committee. In the time honored tradition of the Lenihan/Zellner "reform" movement, Wonder Boy is likely to ignore the rules, usurp the power of the district committeemen, and choose to endorse from his puppet Executive Committee. In any event, the party endorsement is merely advisory and the vacancy will be filled by three of the four remaining Democratic County Legislators (Grant, Loughran, Miller-Williams and Burke). Grant and Miller-Williams will never vote for the same person. Loughran is roughly aligned with Grant, and Burke supported Grant for minority leader in exchange for a staff position. But should Burke side with Grant and Loughran, he runs the risk of being an instant minority of the legislature Democratic minority. This third vote is important, as it will determine the replacement for the Democratic Elections Commissioner, Dennis Ward, when he runs for Supreme Court Judge later this year. If Zellner can get a third vote in the Democratic minority of the legislature, he can have them name him Elections Commissioner, a $100,000+ plum part time job. That would be a real life saver, as his unemployment insurance may have run out by then. There is a real possibility that no one will get three votes and the legislature seat will remain vacant at least until the Primary Election. Not much harm in that, as legislators really don't do much except approve the county budget at the end of the year.
Rules? We ain't got no Rules. We don't need no Rules! We don't have to show you any stinkin' Rules!
When last we reported on the madcap fiscal reporting high jinks of Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman, Jeremy "Wonder Boy" Zellner, our hero was twelve grand plus in the hole in his party finance account. Always willing to help out a fellow Democrat in distress, your writer sent the following note to the New York State Board of Elections, requesting their assistance in rescuing Wonder Boy from his peril.
The State Board, in its inimitable way, never acknowledged receipt of my plea, but suddenly, and without prior warning or fanfare, new financial reports have appeared online. See: http://www.elections.ny.gov:8080/plsql_browser/getreports?filer_in=C21125&fyear_in=2014&rep_in=J
Well knock me over with a feather, Wonder Boy is now $4500 in the black! Who would think I could render such service to the party, merely by sending a letter? Seems like I should be a leading contender for the 2014 Democrat of the Year Award. A cursory review of the new report reveals that Individual/Partnership contributions have increased from $19,743.99 to $34,798.99. Since these are historical reports of past receipts and expenditures, this unexplained 76% increase is truly remarkable. Similarly, corporate contributions have risen from $3,347.00 to $4,946.00 (48%), while other monetary contributions went from $4,794.00 to $5,242.00 (9%), accompanied by an astonishing decrease in expenditures from $37,818.63 to $27,821.01 (-26%). These are breathtaking results. Income is way up AND expenses are way down. What an incredible turnaround! If it were not for a sudden 400% increase in transfers out by $10,000, the ECDC would be floating in loose cash. The previous filing is available below, and analysis of reported differences is left to the interested student.
What are we to make of this fiscal miracle? Has ECDC treasurer, Gayle L. Syposs, been hanging with Philip Seymour Hoffman? Tens of thousands of dollars of income and expenditures obviously misreported. People have been convicted of crimes for less. How does anyone know that these new numbers are accurate? Where is the "...audit of financial records, including the income, expenditures, and outstanding liabilities of the party,..." which Article XI of the ECDC rules states "...shall be conducted by an outside independent firm, on an annual basis, with the report to be submitted to the Executive Committee" ? Why isn't the State Board of Elections conducting an inquiry into this magic bookkeeping? So many questions, so few answers.
According to the latest reports filed with the New York State Board of Elections, Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy "Wonder Boy" Zellner has run the Party broke. The January 15, 2014, filing indicates the Erie County Democratic Committee has a closing balance of minus $12,549.38. This is rather amazing in view of Wonder Boy's claims that he has raised $700K and had more than 200 attendees at his December Christmas party.
According to recent conversations with state Board of Elections personnel, it's also impossible. These periodic financial reports of income received and expenditures made cannot logically have negative balances. The reports are on a cash (not accrual) basis, and a negative balance would therefore indicate the expenditure of money which does not exist. Think about your bank account. It really cannot go negative. If it does, your checks bounce. It is likely that this discrepancy is due to a computational error or a failure to report financial data properly.
In any event, being twelve grand plus in the hole is no way for Wonder Boy to greet the new year, jobless and winless during 2013. In the immortal words of Dean Wormer, " Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son..." This is fueling speculation that Zellner will be given a job in the City of Tonawanda where his mentor, Gayle Syposs, has just elected a mayor. Pity the poor fools of a city of barely 15,000 people who will have to carry the massive dead weight of Wonder Boy's political failures.
So what's to be done? Before we start blaming the Pigeons and the naysayers and the malcontents and the Fifth Columnists and the saboteurs within the party, maybe it's time for the people who put Wonder Boy in power to step to plate and take responsibility for their self created fiasco. Where are the Poloncarz', Lenihans, Wartlings, Wards (Dennis and Michele, not Dan), Connollys, Schads and Kogans? Isn't it time for those who have benefited the most to dig deep to keep the Zellner Titanic afloat? An analysis of the big hitter contributors in the last reporting period is instructive. The ECDC reported raising $27,884.99, but more than half ($15,100) came from eleven people who coughed up $500 or more:
MICHELE IANNELLO-WARD and DENNIS WARD $3,600
Friends of WYNNIE FISHER $3,000
JOHN P FEROLETO $2,000
ROBERT M. GRABER $2,000
Friends of MIKE LOCURTO $1,000
Friends of JOEL GIAMBRA $1,000
RAMONA D. POPOWICH $500
BRYAN SMITH $500
JOHN J. DELMONTE $500
ROBERT LANNON $500
JOHN B. LICATA $500 $15,100 (54%)
MIKE AMODEO $250
MARGARET OLSZEWSKI SZCZUR $250
FRANCIS WARTHLING $250
R PAC OF NY STATE $250
EC DEMOCRATIC TOWN CHAIRMAN'S ASSOCIATION $250
Friends of MIKE QUINN $250
PHILLIPS LYTLE LLP $250
Friends of TERRY MCCRACKEN $250
Friends of THOMAS P. AMODEO $250
HIGGINS FOR CONGRESS $250
MICHAEL L. MCCABE $200
BETTY JEAN J. GRANT $200 $18,0000 (65%)
Notice the big dip from Joel Giambra? Furthermore, twenty three entities provided almost two-thirds of the total. Review of this list reveals a domination by candidates and other favor seekers. This doesn't look like a grass roots community effort. Seems like 2014 is going to be a fun year.
The New York Office of Children and Family Services ripped the performance of the County CPS unit yesterday. OCFS reviewed almost 900 open case files. It appears that case workers do as little as they can within regulatory requirements for investigation and documentation so they can close cases quickly, often within 10-15 days.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz humbly accepted full responsibility for this debacle stating, "Expecting a contemporary CPS worker to respond to a call and solve an issue immediately is akin to expecting law enforcement to respond to a 911 call and instantly resolve the problem." He went on to express his belief that the state has out-of-date policies and procedures. http://www.wivb.com/news/local/agency-issues-scathing-report-about-cps When the County Exec and Andy Cuomo chat, you have to wonder if they have time for anything but blaming each other for policy and program failures.
So what's a guy to do? Maybe the County Exec should spend less time on intraparty Democratic politics and more time on his job?
Perhaps his pal, Michael Szukala, who Poloncarz appointed to the newly created job of Medicaid Inspector General, could take time out from coloring maps showing where Medicaid recipients live and do something productive. General Mike, here's a clue: Medicaid recipients are poor people. They live in poor neighborhoods. And we have the second poorest city in the country in Erie County. It's called Buffalo. I'll bet lots of Medicaid recipients live in Buffalo! Unless we decide to move them to McMansions near your trendy Amherst home, colored maps won't be of much value will they? But, on behalf of taxpayers, I want to thank you for all you do as President of Poloncarz's personal political club, The WNY Democrats for Progress. http://www.wnyprogress.org/officers.html I'm sure abused children appreciate your work as President too.
In the midst of all the whining about the purported illegal activities of Steve Pigeon's Western New York Progressive Caucus, it's fun to look at financial reports filed by those doing the complaining. For instance, since October 16, 2012, the Erie County Democratic Committee has reported receiving $175,000 from " VOTE-COPE COMMITTEE ON POLITICAL EDUCATION OF THE", 800 TROY SCHENECTADY RD, LATHAM, NY 12110. Unfortunately there is no such committee. However, there is a "VOTE-COPE UNAUTHORIZED COMMITTEE" of the United University Professionals listed with the same address, but it hasn't given the ECDC any money during that time period. How fascinating.
In order to find out who is actually sending Wonder Boy Zellner this loot, one has to turn oneself inside out and search the NYS Board of Elections database for anyone who has given money to the Erie County Democratic Committee. Fortunately this sleight of hand retrieval reveals that a committee named "VOICE OF TEACHERS FOR EDUCATION / COMMITTEE ON POLITICAL EDUCATION OF THE NEW YO" controlled by the New York State United Teachers is the source of this bonanza. If this NYSUT political committee had misspelled the name of the ECDC, we would never know the source of $175K in political loot. You have to wonder, if someone gave you a $175,000 political contribution, wouldn't you at least know their name and report it properly?
This is a very large contribution for NYSUT to a county committee. By comparison, NYSUT gave the "BRONX DEMOCRATIC COUNTY COMMITTEE HOUSEKEEPING" entity $5100, the " DEMOCRATIC COUNTY COMMITTEE (RICHMOND)" $4000, and the "KINGS COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE" $8000, during the same time period. Kings County includes Brooklyn and has about 2.6 million people. Bronx County has 1.4 million people and Richmond County (Staten Island) has about 500,000. So NYSUT gave $17,100 to Democratic committees representing 4.5 million people and $175,000 to the ECDC representing 920,000 in Erie County. Furthermore, this NYSUT political committee gave the "DEMOCRATIC SENATE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE" for the whole state (19.6 million population) $155,000 in the same time period.
What gives here? Why would NYSUT invest this kind of money in the ECDC? What teacher/education issues have been forwarded in the last year? Which teachers have been supported as candidates? During this time period, Wonder Boy lost a congressional seat (Hochul to Collins), the county comptroller (Mychajliw, twice), the Grisanti state senate seat in a heavily Democratic district, and the Democratic majority in the county legislature (first time since 1977). What kind of return is this on a political investment? If you belong to NYSUT, call your union PAC representative and ask them WTF is going on.
It's that magic time of year when three lame duck county legislators (Mazur, McCracken and Hogues) get to show their true character and prove how much they care about the citizens of Erie County. Chris O'Brien was ordered to resign to make way for a Democratic Party hack, but we're sure the three musketeers will show them a thing or two. In order to guide them and the rest of the big six Democratic legislators who will make this monumental decision, all our avid readers should call their elected representative and tell them to vote for the following:
First Choice) Peter A. Reese
After due deliberation I am the clear best choice. Some might claim I'm biased, but in the words of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, "but since it's me, I have to support myself..." My goals are clearly stated in my resume submitted Friday:
Goals as Water Authority Commissioner
The purpose of the Erie County Water Authority is the improvement of the health, welfare and prosperity of the people of Erie County by operating water treatment and supply facilities. See Public Authorities Law §§ 1053, 1054, and 1058. There is nothing in the statute to indicate that the Authority is to serve as a source of jobs for the relatives of public or political officials.
My primary focus as commissioner will be on the effective and efficient operation of water facilities without regard to irrelevant external political concerns. The first step is an analysis of all Authority functions, including facilities and staffing to determine whether the current configuration is the best possible. Following this review, I will attempt to make improvements to ensure that the Authority fulfills its goals in the best interests of the citizens of Erie County. I will also attempt to implement performance based budgeting methods to provide transparency and accountability for Authority activities. My background in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research makes me well qualified for this appointment.
I intend to contribute any salary I receive as commissioner to local animal welfare organizations.
How you gonna top that? Kind of gets you all verklempt. Even the non-Democrats love me.
Third Choice) Daniel Ward/Paul Wolf (tie)
This one is a tossup next best selection if I get rubbed out in the next few days. Both are attorneys in good standing and outstanding citizens of excellent character. But Ward is already elections commissioner (or is that his brother Dennis?).
Q: How many patronage jobs does one guy need? A: None
Wolf seems like a nice enough guy, but can we trust someone who runs The Center for Reinventing Government (http://reinventinggov.org/)? For God sake, the guy is a lawyer. They invented government. Did he get it wrong the first time? Why does he get a Mulligan? And why is he "Challenging the Status Quo!"? The status quo is working fine for the local glitterati.
Fourth thru Next to Last Choice) Who Cares?
The fix is already in suckers.
Last Choice) Jerry Schad
This guy is Amherst Democratic Town Chairman place keeper for Party Secretary and Elections Commissioner, Dennis Ward (or is it Dan?). He already has a $40K per year patronage job as counsel to the Democrats on the county legislature. And he doesn't have to account for his time.
Q: How many patronage jobs does one guy need? A: See above.
It's not our fault that he has to "volunteer" as lawyer for Zellner, the Democratic Committee and Betty Jean Grant. You take the gain, you feel the pain.
Prediction: This is the last guy the county legislature is ever going to appoint as ECWA Commissioner.
Coming articles to look for: Wonder Boy Meets NYSUT and The Man Who Would Be Judge: Cleaning Up Dennis Ward
Everyone has an opinion as to why Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy (Wonder Boy) Zellner managed to lose the Democratic Party majority on the Erie County Legislature for the first time since he was born in 1978. Something which has been overlooked by other commentary is a fact well known since the salad days of Joe Crangle: The chairman of the ECDC doesn't need to win any general elections to retain power. All that is necessary is to keep an iron grip on the Committee by winning the biennial reorganization meeting following the even year primary election. The rules of the Committee do the rest, as the chairman gets to name enough executive board members to give every boot licking yes man in the county a push button vote under the chairman's control. The rules give the votes of these supplicant puppets equivalent weight to the vote of the chairpersons from the largest towns, thus producing an impossible to overcome majority for whatever the chairman wishes. Once in control of the Committee, patronage, power and favor seeking soft money will normally come flushing in like the action of your butt activating the infrared sensor on the toilet seat in the bus station rest room. As New York is dominated by downstate population power, most Albany leaders just go along with whoever manages to be in charge here. Erie County looks like Eastern Ohio from Manhattan and Albany leaders seldom want to pay any attention to what is actually going on here.
This results in a view of the chairmanship as a final destination to be plundered rather than a post from which to serve the party faithful. In Wonder Boy's case, this rewards structure is enhanced by the fact that he has a patronage plum job as chief of staff of the legislature, to the tune of $80K per year. (Not a bad gig for someone barely qualified to work at Walmart.) Retaining this job requires support of a majority of the county legislature. Since the legislators who employ him depend on the party endorsement which he controls, Zellner has a screaming conflict of interest which has somehow gone unchallenged and unexplained. As his personal enrichment is more important than electing Democrats, Wonder Boy can only back Democrats who will blindly obey his whims. That's where the crux of the issue lies. Zellner cannot allow a Democrat to be elected who will not back him without question as chairman and chief of staff. As a result, he openly violated the rules of the ECDC, intentionally failing to reorganize town and zone committees or hold endorsements in districts he didn't control. This robbed he ECDC members affected of their rights to participate in party decision making and allowed Wonder Boy to misapply ECDC resources to support his boot licking candidates without the support of district committee members. This is a formula for disaster in a close race, and Wonder Boy struck out three times.
1) Independent newcomer Pat Burke snuck down the middle between committee member backed Rick Zydel and Zellner's unendorsed candidate in LD-07 (Cheektowaga, Buffalo Lovejoy and South). It is unlikely that Burke would have run or won if Zydel had been endorsed. The future path of young Burke is uncertain, as only one other independent Democrat has ever been elected to the county legislature and she only lasted one term.
2) LD-08 (Cheektowaga, Lancaster, Alden) was a special circumstance. When it became clear that Republican Ted (Money Bags) Morton was going to run, it so frightened the incumbent legislator that he decided not to run for re-election and reportedly applied for a job out of town. Morton had spent lavishly on a prior run for Cheektowaga Supervisor in 2011 which he narrowly lost. He can apparently spend whatever he wants on politics. Had the committeemen been allowed to exercise their right to endorse, Wes Moore was considered a favorite. Wonder Boy never scheduled an endorsement meeting and went with the troubled Alden Town chairperson who was widely viewed as a weak place keeper while a more viable candidate was sought. After Wonder Boy's pick beat Moore in the ensuing low turnout Democratic Primary Election, she was unceremoniously trounced by Morton in the general election. Morton's win cost Democrats the majority in the legislature, but Morton's victory was way too easy, and he is rumored to be nominating Wonder Boy as Republican of the Year.
3) The endorsement votes in LD-10 (West Seneca and points southeast) are concentrated in West Seneca. This is not Wonder Boy country, so he again chose not to schedule an endorsement meeting and decided to support an unknown recent law school graduate. She was beaten like a rented mule by former Democrat turned Conservative incumbent Joe Lorigo. Three auto endorsements by Wonder Boy, three train wrecks.
In another key contest, insurgent political veteran Barbara Miller-Williams took back her seat from ineffective first termer Tim Hogues in LD-01 (Buffalo). The Miller-Williams vs Hogues battle was unavoidable, as Hogues had been nominated by the ECDC executive committee in 2011, denying Miller-Williams any opportunity to enter a primary election and give the Democratic voters a choice. Hogue's unanticipated loss to Miller-Williams probably cost Wonder Boy the votes necessary to remain as chief of staff, even if Democrats had held the legislature majority.
In one of the more comical contests, school teacher William Conrad was reported to be staging a competitive race in LD-04 against popular incumbent Canisius College professor Kevin Hardwick. That's when Zellner sent out a personal letter to voters in the district, which began, "Two years ago I earned your support when I ran for the Erie County Legislature...." Apparently Wonder Boy suffers from amnesia, as he was clobbered by Hardwick in 2011 by nearly 4000 votes. However, Zellner's 2011 race was notable for the fact that he spent nearly $54,000 to garner 9543 votes, an astronomical cost of nearly $6 per vote! This is Ted Morton level spending and much of his financial support was garnered while Zellner was employed as Executive Director of the Democratic party, well positioned to strong arm the faithful to the detriment of other more viable Democratic candidates. Clearly, his voters would have been better served if he had bought them each a pizza. This year, Zellner's attempt to capitalize on his self-perceived popularity failed miserably and Conrad was beaten so badly by Hardwick that it probably wasn't even a good lesson.
Coming articles to look for: Wonder Boy Meets NYSUT and The Man Who Would Be Judge: Cleaning Up Dennis Ward.