Friday, February 29, 2008

Texas and Ohio Resolve Nothing

Hillary Clinton won't quit the campaign, even if she loses both Texas and Ohio.   Bank on it.

Those whom George Will calls "seasoned decoders of Clintonisms" will have recognized the signs.

Bill, kept tightly under wraps in recent weeks, said the day after Wisconsin that his wife must win both Texas and Ohio to keep her campaign alive.  More recent pronouncements from precincts near Hillaryland drop the Texas qualification, saying it's over if she can't win just Ohio.  This because Clinton insiders know, better than anyone, her campaign's trajectory in Texas.   The latest Rasmussen poll shows Obama ahead.   But they're not giving up on the Lone Star State.  The Clinton campaign now has threatened the Democratic Party in Texas with legal action to invalidate the party's caucus rules, just days before the primary.   It's earned her a rebuke from the Texas party, but no matter -- Obama has done particularly well in caucuses.

Recently Ms. Rodham asked all superdelegates to remain uncommitted.  Her campaign continues to signal its intentions regarding fighting to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan -- where Obama didn't campaign, relying on the Democratic National Committee's decision, prior to each state's primary, to not seat delegates from either state.

These are not actions of a campaign about to wave the white flag.

Yesterday the candidate herself reacted to news that she had raised $35 million in February:   "When people found out that I didn't have the resources to compete and I did put my own money in, it just set off a chain reaction across the country.   Hundreds of thousands of people saying, 'Wait a minute. We want this campaign to go on'" (emphasis added).

Can't you hear it even now?   If Texas and Ohio go badly, the refrain will be "hundreds of thousands across the country want this campaign to continue."

There's nothing in the career or temperament of either Clinton to suggest they'd give up until defeat is absolutely final, or that either would put party ahead of self.   (That's for the "little people.")   And if, in the end, Clinton doesn't win the nomination, she and Bill quietly will help McCain, so the Mrs. can run again in 4 years.

With the Clintons it's never over until they get what they want.   A circumstance recognized widely, in an amusing way that we'll discuss in an upcoming post.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Experience? You?

Finally someone makes the point that bugs us every time Ms. Rodham-Clinton talks about her "experience," as compared to Barack Obama's:

When Hillary tells you that she has lots of experience, she doesn’t really tell you what the experience is, but you’re supposed to imagine what it must have been.  She must have been sitting in the Situation Room when the Joint Chiefs of Staff were making their judgments about how to proceed in Iraq and elsewhere.  She never says that but that’s what you’re supposed to fantasize ...  Hillary’s claim to have had a lot of experience in government is [BS]; she doesn’t have any experience.  She’s been a senator for [a few] years but she’s not talking about that; she’s talking about sleeping with the president for eight years as if that’s prepared her to run the country.

This from Dr. Harry Frankfurt, author of On Bullshit, in the Psychology Today blog.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Governor's Moment of Opportunity

Understand the political landscape in the State of New York in consequence of Democrats picking up a State Senate seat yesterday.

If your attitude is that Democrats now have an excellent prospect of taking the Senate in this Fall's election, you don't get it.   It's far more useful to the student and analyst of New York politics to grasp the essential reality:  

Democrats have, in fact, won the Senate.   They formally take office next January 1, at the latest.
This is so because it's impossible to imagine circumstances in which Republican Senator Serph Maltese gets re-elected down in Queens.   And prospects of yesterday's winner being defeated in November are too negligible to be regarded seriously.   Even if Democrats pick up no seats other than Maltese's, it means a tied Senate -- with the Democratic Lt. Governor casting the tie-breaking vote.

The point of this observation is not to rub it in to Republicans, but to make clear that the key political dynamic we discussed yesterday -- Governor Spitzer's having a friendly Democratic Senate to work with, to win compromises from the Dear Leader Sheldon Silver -- is in motion as of now.

The moment of opportunity has arrived.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Democrats Win Special Election

Shelly will be sulking tonight.

Unofficial results:

Aubertine (D) 52.4%
Barclay (R) 47.6%


The Velvet Fog

Here's your Tuesday morning puzzler.   Which prominent New Yorker, more than anyone else, wants Republican Will Barclay to win today's special election for State Senate in the North Country's 48th Senate District?


  • It's not Senate Republican Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

  • It's not the State Republican Chairman.

  • It's not any other Republican State Senator.

Give up?

It's The Velvet Fog himself -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

This has nothing to do with the business about how, before Spitzer, Silver was the top Democrat in the State, has been bumped by the Governor, and if the Senate flips he'll then be just one of three.

Silver is neither that petty nor in any sense insecure.   Whoever the Governor or the Senate leader, Silver holds political power more complete, and far more secure, than the most absolute ruler of a third-world autarchy.   His amazing public-speaking style reflects this brilliantly.   That stupefying baritone played at half-speed -- the Velvet Fog (with apologies to the late Mel Tormé) -- as if to say,
"Listen . . . or don't listen.   It doesn't matter.   Neither does the subject.   Whatever it is, if I don't want it to happen, it doesn't happen.   It's not about what's right.  It's not about what makes sense.   It's about what I want.  I'm not in any hurry about any thing, because I don't have to be."

This blog has made no secret of its support for Elliot Spitzer as the best hope for meaningful change in this State.   Or of the role of the State Assembly as the most troubling obstacle to that change.

Last spring we introduced our reaction to Spitzer's first budget ordeal with a friend's quip:
"Spitzer said, 'On Day 1 everything changes.' What he didn't say was, 'On Day 38 it all changes back.' "
Day 38 being when the Assembly tore up its agreement with the Governor about appointing a new State Comptroller and appointed one of their own instead.

Actually that friend was wrong.   As Speaker Silver knows better than anyone else in the state, the reality is that on "Day 1" -- nothing changed at all.   There is no more dedicated tribune of the status quo in New York than Speaker Silver.   He smiled knowingly, as the new Governor spoke of anything changing, much less everything.

Governor Spitzer knows this.   He brings the Assembly to heel or he accomplishes nothing.   The first step to doing that is to control the State Senate.  With the Senate in the hands of Democrats sympathetic to Spitzer, he can begin to get power back from the all-powerful Assembly.

For Elliot Spitzer, the road to the Assembly runs through the Senate.

If Republicans lose today's election, they're down to a 1-vote majority in the State Senate.   That vote could evaporate instantly, with a single Republican defection that could be very likely, for reasons detailed in a spot-on piece we recall seeing (we think) at Rochester Turning, although we can't find the piece to link to it.   (If we're misattributing this, or if someone can supply the reference to the specific piece, we'd be grateful). Its point was that there would be massive incentives offered to flip, with the highest premium for the first Senator to do so, since each subsequent flipper becomes successively less valuable to the new majority.

Spitzer must flip control of the Senate.  It's that or spend the forseable future as a figurehead Governor like Pataki.

That's why The Velvet Fog quietly will be rooting for the other team tonight.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Yet Another Thing that Makes Obama Unique

Our last post, about attitudes of conservatives in the Republican Party toward John McCain, noted how conservatives are viscerally repelled by Hillary Clinton, while they respect and even like Barack Obama, although he won't get their votes.

That leads us to a further observation.   The attitude toward Mrs. Bill Clinton by dyed-in-the-wool conservatives is so profound that most of them want Obama to win the Democratic nomination even though they think Republicans could more easily defeat Hillary.   That's how much they want the prospect of Hillary in the White House eliminated even as a possibility.

Conservatives see her as the political equivalent of Hannibal Lecter.

What this means is that if Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination, he will be in the curious position of having a reservoir of goodwill toward him personally even from a group -- Republican conservatives -- who are not going to vote for him.   For being "the guy who saved us from Hillary," Obama will be the beneficiary of a sense of "we owe him one" from conservatives.  

Again -- that's not going to translate into votes on election day.   But it means that, if actually elected President, Obama could begin with a breadth and depth of goodwill across the political field, including even his opponents on many policy matters, that no president has had during the lifetime of any American living today.

And though it won't mean votes at the ballot box, it would help a President Obama, somehow.   At very least it might actually take us past the era of personalizing politics, and being able to have policy debates -- even battles, when necessary -- over the merits of the policies themselves.


Right's Rally to McCain Not Just Temporary

The New York Times's Public Editor (or as he would be called at mere mortal newspapers, "Ombudsman") suggests that the rally of conservatives to John McCain, in reaction to the Times's story on McCain last Thursday, may only be "for the moment."

That appeared as a passing comment in his article in this morning's Times criticizing the newspaper for the original story.

We don't think it's just temporary.   Especially after the Democratic nomination was resolved, conservatives would have coalesced behind McCain, if only because there's nowhere else for them to go.

The consensus among conservatives seems to be that they like Barack Obama as a person and find many things about his candidacy appealing.   But on major policy matters their differences with Obama are too great to permit them to vote for him.   Interestingly, the very fact that Obama is a stand-up guy about his positions on those policy questions is one of the things conservatives admire about him.   They recognize him as an honest man.

As for the other alternative, Ms. Rodham-Clinton provokes in conservatives a revulsion so visceral they recoil at the sight of her.   "When Hillary comes on, my TV goes off," notes one friend, whose reaction is typical.   If Hillary promised to repeal the income tax and appoint Robert Bork to the Supreme Court (which she'd glibly promise, if she saw it as a path to the most votes), she wouldn't get a single conservative vote.   They recognize her as dishonest.

For those reasons we disagree that the rallying of the Republican right to McCain is only temporary.   It was starting to happen already.   The Times article merely accelerated the process.   That's why we think it helped McCain.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Has The New York Times Helped McCain?

As predicted here yesterday, it does seem that yesterday's New York Times story on John McCain has had the effect of rallying the recalcitrant conservatives of the Republican Party around him.

. . . the reaction may have said as much about the mindset of the conservative movement on the brink of the general election as it did about McCain and his team.

“Even if they want to quibble within our own tribe, they’ll circle the wagons when we’re attacked by the Times,” said McCain campaign senior adviser Charlie Black.

That's from The Politico, which also says "Rush, Right, Rally to McCain."

At least one commentator on the Democratic side, Jay Rosen, is critical of the New York Times for the article, wondering why the Times would endorse McCain, as it did in January, while working on this very story, which it deemed serious enough to put on page one.   Rosen observes that, despite the separation between the news and editorial sides of the paper, the publisher, Arthur Sulzburger, Jr., was aware of what was happening on each side.

A commenter to our post on this subject, Dragonfly Eye, whose blog is on our recommended list, and the intellectual integrity of whose own writings we admire, has suggested that there may yet be more to come out on McCain.

And undoubtedly there will be some negative fallout for McCain as a result of the Times story alone.   But to the extent that the story worked to rally conservatives around the presumptive Republican candidate, it provided substantial help for him.   Help of a magnitude, perhaps, that could not have been provided, or provided more effectively, from any source other than The New York Times.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cui Bono?

Turning away, for the moment, from strictly local matters, we're wondering this morning who may benefit and who may come out losers as a result of this morning's big story about John McCain.   Now, you never know what more may come from stories like this.  But just on the basis of this morning's impressions . . .

Winners:   Michelle Obama and her husband.   The McCain story may, we hope, knock out of the news the controversy, such as it has been, over Ms. Obama's recent comments on pride in country.   Those comments, we believe, were taken out of context, then grossly and unfairly overblown, in an effort to contrive something negative about the Obamas.

Losers:   The Clintons.   At the very moment when every day counts in Hillaryland to be able to stop Obama's momentum by reaching the public in Texas and Ohio with something to turn things around, the McCain story dominates the news.   The longer it has legs in the media, the longer it competes with the Clintons' efforts against Obama.

Winner:   John McCain.   Although his party seems to be coalescing, slowly, around his candidacy, it's hard to think of a more effective way to rally the remaining recalcitrant conservatives in the party's base than by going to war with the New York Times.

Just a few initial impressions.



Monday, February 18, 2008

Nunsense: Hate Masquerading as Religion

Consider the word "Nun."

Through cultural conditioning and your own experience, maybe you think of someone like this:

Or this

Or this

Or this

Or for some older readers, this:

Or for some even older older readers this:


And, of course, many -- maybe most -- real nuns don't wear habits these days, but even so ...

We bet that when you think "nun," you wouldn't think of this

That's "sister " Grace Miller.

We have criticized the idea of clerics exploiting the deference so many of us were taught from childhood to show them, in order to push left-wing politics from the pulpit.

There are "nuns" who do it too.   Today we saw a letter to the editor at the Democrat and Chronicle, from a "Sister" Grace Miller.   She stated that Gantt, the man who said this, deserves respect, instead of the contempt he's worked so hard to earn.

Our contributor, Lucy, saw this particular specimen in action last Tuesday at the County Legislature meeting, and had this to say:

"A badly-behaved woman was led out, and actually was arrested, I was told. Seemed like someone living on the streets.  Somebody said she might be a nun, named Grace Miller.  If this is a real 'nun,' then Britney Spears is the Virgin Mary."

In the spirit of "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find," we learned that Miller has a history as director/producer/actor in political street theater, and is known as a perennial shrieking harridan in civic meetings and on the doorsteps of government buildings.

A legitimate member of Holy Orders in a meaningful sense?  Maybe, as our own Lucy wondered, just someone off her medication.

So, to all the ministers, nuns, bishops, priests, vicars, deacons, canons, curates, archdeacons, rectors, monks, deans, reverends, suffragans and all other 57 varieties:   Act like a member of holy orders and you'll get that special respect we accord such people.   But when your "gospel" is no different from this week's talking points from Democratic headquarters, you're entitled only to the respect due a political shill.   Which means none at all.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Story They Won't Report

More about the full story on last Tuesday's County Legislature meeting. Since Tuesday I've been deep in research and contact mode. Here's the story our local press and broadcast media won't report.

  • Harry Bronson is Democratic Leader in the County Legislature. At the Public Safety Committee meeting the Saturday before Tuesday's meeting of the whole body, Bronson worked sincerely for a compromise with the majority Republicans.

    The Republican legislators agreed to every one of Bronson's proposals, without negotiation. Everybody wanted an end to the nonsense. Except one person.

    Bronson then took the Democratic compromise plan -- now agreed to by Legislature Republicans -- to David Gantt, who was present at the legislature. Gantt vetoed it instantly.

The Democrats then fell into lockstep with Gantt. But why? Democrat and Chronicle editor Tom Tobin asked a related question on Friday:
Here's another question about the PD thing: why was David Gantt, a state official, leading the opposition ... How did it come that Democratic county legislators were sideline players in this?
Well, Tom, maybe these factors have something to do with it:
  • Democratic Leader Harry Bronson is an employee of the New York State Assembly. Gantt could have him fired at will.

  • Democratic Legislator Glenn Gamble's day job is with the Baden Street Settlement, whose funding comes from State Assembly grants from -- David Gantt.

  • Democratic Assistant Leader Calvin Lee holds the "Gantt seat" on the Democratic leadership team in the county leg and is a long-time Gantt loyalist.

  • Democratic Legislator Carrie Andrews is an employee of the United Teachers union, the State Assembly's siamese twin. They'd fire her in a heartbeat if Gantt ordered it. They can't afford to upset him.

  • Almost all the Democratic Legislators have districts in the City of Rochester. Gantt could easily stage primaries against every one of them if he wanted to, and they know it.

  • Several Democratic legislators privately told their Republican colleagues that they knew the new Public Defender had excellent credentials for the job, but apologetically said that when it came to talk in public, "You know how it is." They simply had no choice but to hold to the party line dictated by Gantt.
So, Mr. Tobin, the Democratic County Legislators were "sidelined" throughout this process because they had to be, or risk losing either their jobs, or their office, if primaried by Gantt-sponsored candidates. In answer to your question, David Gantt appeared to be "leading the opposition" because . . . he was !

In fact, I heard it said that David Gantt hasn't been in Albany for three weeks, neglecting his duties during the most important part of the Albany calendar, budget time, because he's been so tied up here, staging guerrilla theater and acting as de facto Minority Leader of the County Legislature.
  • Gantt also held leverage over the County Bar Association. As Mustard Street has already noted, Gantt got the Monroe County Bar Association a $150,000 grant a couple of years ago. And just recently, during this controversy, the Monroe County Bar Association received a $100,000 grant from the State Health Department -- a funding that Gantt, as an influential State lawmaker, could hold up at any time, for any reason he wanted.

  • And finally, I didn't want to say this in my blogging from the meeting on Tuesday, until I heard others confirm the same thing, that many in Gantt's mob on Tuesday smelled heavily of alcohol.

    So now we can avoid worries over security at future meetings. Forget about police, metal detectors and checkpoints. We now know that if you want to keep "the community" mellow . . . just provide an open bar.

The Community

UPDATE -- 2/20/2008

This post has been updated to correct an error in the original, where I said that Legislator Calvin Lee is employed by the Baden Street Settlement. The source for that later contacted me to state that she was incorrect. Legislator Lee is employed by the Southwest Rochester Early Enhancement Program.


Friday, February 15, 2008

It's About Disruption, Not Just Violence

David Gantt "apologized" yesterday for this.   His unindicted co-conspirators at the Democrat and Chronicle today morphed Gantt's superficial contrition into a headline that the County "made up" claims of threatened violence at Tuesday's legislature meeting.   In reality, the very words for which bad publicity compelled Gantt to "apologize" reveal that violence was in the front of his mind.

Yet let's suppose that threats of violence, whether real or perceived, were not an issue, in any way, in planning for Tuesday's meeting.   Even so, the County Legislature did exactly the right thing with its security measures.

New York's Open Meetings Law creates the right to attend a public meeting.   It does not create a right to disrupt a public meeting

Disrupting is just what David Gantt and his rent-a-mob did last Saturday at a legislative committee meeting.   That made it reasonable for leaders of the legislature to think that Gantt and Co. would try the same thing again.

Which is precisely what the Abominable Assemblyman did at the Legislature's meeting on Tuesday, shouting down the presiding officer as the meeting was being gaveled into session.   He could have spoken at the public forum, but the autocrats of our state Assembly aren't used to things like waiting, or not getting their way.   (That's for us little people.)

So even if threatened violence had not been an issue -- and, of course, it was, big-time, as Gantt's parting remark demonstrated so extravagantly -- County Legislators did the right thing by having enough deputies present to prevent or stop disruption of the meeting by a crowd.   A reasonable preparation, since a crowd had disrupted its meeting three days before.

Our fellow blogster, Lucy, on Tuesday made a point about complaints over the security arrangements .   And surely it's somewhere in Rules for Radicals :  

Create the need for a high level of security, then complain bitterly about the security.
If Gantt, his mob, and the leftist flotsam at Tuesday's meeting demonstrated one less shred of integrity, they'd be eligible to write for the Democrat and Chronicle.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

“You wonder why a guy go into Missouri and shoot some damn body.”

The words of David Gantt, while led from the County Legislature meeting he disrupted on Tuesday.

And the Democrat and Chronicle whines about the security arranged for that meeting.   At this point they're no longer journalists, but unindicted co-conspirators.

See and hear Gantt's signature utterance for yourself, below.

This from the man called "a distinguished citizen" by Legislator Paul Haney.   Was Haney smoking something that night?

The Gantt Rant also appears at the 2:00 minute mark in a longer video from Channel 13, that at about :38 seconds includes Legislator Paul Haney's priceless hysterics.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Freak Show Follow Up

Filling in on observations in the middle of things when I was trying to figure out the posting/liveblogging thing on my own (sorry, I'm new to this).

1. Not only Sandy Frankel, but also Rick Dollinger and Willa Powell -- all three candidates for the nomination to run against Robach, were there. Dollinger and Powell unloaded same empty pandering as Frankel.

2. Demo. leader Harry Bronson acknowledged he signed on to the selection process put forward by Wayne Zyra -- before Gantt got to him. Bronson is an employee of the State Assembly. Gantt can have him fired any time.

3. Gantt was NOT arrested, just escorted out as I posted. He must think if he was arrested for the same thing within a week, maybe he'd face some actual penalty.

Note: What is this about people "deciding" whether they're going to get arrested or not? Like deciding which shoes to wear with an outfit? Don't police decide that? (And what was that stuff on Saturday about "discussions" about who was going to be arrested. Isn't the answer to that question that it's the people who break the law get arrested?)

4. A badly-behaved woman was led out, and actually was arrested, I was told. Seemed like someone living on the streets.  Somebody said she might be a nun, named Grace Miller.  If this is a real "nun," then Britney Spears is the Virgin Mary.

5. Quatro quotes from letter from 1977, from somebody criticizing the process back then, saying Ed Nowak, who was appointed in the 1977 process, was too young and didnt have experience to be good PD. Legislator Ted O'Brien pipes up that, "If we're talking about individual candidates' credentials, we need to go into executive meeting" (meaning kicking the public out.) Legislator Jose Cruz quickly tries to calm down O'Brien, recognizing stupidity of his comment. Quatro then says, we don't have to go into executive meeting to talk about credentials of the candidates of 30 years ago. Duh.

6. Funniest moment. Legislator Carrie Andrews said she was "trembling with rage" over public defenders' selection. Later, Majority Leader Dan Quatro says he and Andrews are "trembling together." Andrews giggles coquettishly.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blogging from Gantt's Freak Show at Leg.

Intended to do liveblogging from the Monroe County Legislature Meeting, but didn't get the knack down, so here's a report on the whole meeting.

5:50 pm County Legislature Room jammed with David Gantt supporters. Looks like they arrived very early to pack the room.

Also, a lot of County Sheriff's deputies, something like 15 to 20. Looks like legislature gave up on City police after City powers that be told RPD members here on Saturday to sit on their hands ...

6:10 pm Deputies scanning Gantt's crew on legislature floor. There's said to be an audio feed at the City Place building, across the street from County building.

6:12 pm Gantt bickering with deputies. Shouting.

6:15 pm Gantt escorted out by security. Also strange woman. Somebody says a nun.

6:30 pm Speaker denouncing process. He was on panel 30 years ago. Spoke over time allowed and escorted from podium.

6:44 pm One of the "Reverends" spoke, then led a walkout of the Gantt contingent. Public section now only a few people

Gantt protesters and Reverend's comments now reduced to just playing the race card. Complained about security. Right -- you disrupt meetings so that security is needed, then the next meeting, when security prevents you from disrupting things, you call it "racist."

No shame. No integrity. No class.

Sandra Frankel, Brighton Supervior speaking. Very negative. OK folks -- Sandy's definitely running for State Senate. But I thought she had more class than to be as divisive as this for the sake of posturing for her next political run.

6:55 pm More people coming into public area.

8:04 pm Dem. leader Bronson says the meeting disturbances weren't orchestrated by the Legislature Democrats. Again with the Big Lie. Their role in all of that should be investigated.

8:19 pm Majority Leader (Republican) Dan Quatro talking about the original screening committee that Bronson and Dems approved. Why then dis they suddenly back out? Makes them -- the Dems -- beholden to politics.

8:22 pm Quatro said selecting a candidate locally is good for the community. All the candidates were worthy.

8:26 pm Danaher confirmed by vote of 15 R to 14 D.

8:38 pm Meeting adjourned.

Note to County lockup: use Gantt and "nun" for taser practice.


Political Interference With City Police

On Saturday David Gantt and his followers illegally disrupted a committee meeting at the County Legislature. Rochester City Police were present to aid Sheriff's Deputies.

But, we have learned that just at the point the RPD officers were needed to help restore order, they received a call from a higher up, telling them to do nothing to assist in arresting any lawbreakers. Some say the higher up was the Chief of Police.

And who gave the Chief, or whoever made the call, his orders?

It's a sad day when the City plays political favorites in upholding the law.

Another piece of news you won't be reading in the Democrat and Chronicle, which gets more openly partisan by the day.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gantt Breaks the Law; County Legislature Obeys It

Assemblyman, blowhard and public nuisance David Gantt this morning achieved the office for which he's best suited by character, conduct and intellect:   prisoner in a jail cell.

This for deliberately disrupting this morning's public meeting of a County Legislature committee and breaking the law by refusing to leave when legally required to do so.

If you don't think getting arrested was exactly what Gantt wanted, you haven't read Rules for Radicals and don't know how political street hustlers operate.

The Legislature's Public Safety Committee met this morning to interview candidates who applied for the position of Public Defender.   Interviews for positions like that are always done in "executive session" -- meaning by the elected officials, and without anyone else present -- in order to protect confidentiality of the applicants and their identity.  Exactly as it was done under the process used 30 years ago, for those who consider that process sacrosanct.   (We checked it out -- that's how it was done.)

Democratic Legislators refused to participate in the interviews, alleging the executive session is "illegal."

They musn't have very good lawyers.   We checked with our lawyer and golfing pal, who steered us to New York's Open Meetings Law and explained it.   The Open Meetings Law lists permissible reasons for public bodies to go into "executive session."

One of the specifically permitted reasons for going into executive session is to discuss:

". . . matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation . . ."
It's in Section 105 of the New York Open Meetings Law, which you can read here.

The Legislature Democrats know this, and here's how you can tell they're faking:   if the executive session really were illegal, they'd file for a court order requiring that public defender interviews be held in open session, not executive session.   (Our lawyer friend says this is called "an Article 78 proceeding" and is commonly done when elected bodies don't follow the rules.)

The Democrats would probably be willing to file one for posturing purposes, but know it would be thrown out right away.   Their goal is to tell the Big Lie -- not to do something that proves they're lying.

But don't expect to be reading about what the law says on this subject in the Democrat and Chronicle.   The law punishes small-time hustlers like Gantt for breaking the law, but not his enablers on editorial boards.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sleaze Out, For a While

Schlock radio curiosity Alan Levin got the boot today from Entercom, owner of radio station WCMF.

Yeah, yeah, he's a Rochester institution, etc.   But so's a high murder rate and we'd be better off without that, too.

Here on dear old Mustard Street we listen to public radio.   So we only get to hear about icky stuff like the presidential campaign, while over at CMF "Brother Wease" wanks on his microphone, or does whatever it is he does, to bring a little ray of morning sunshine into the lives of the tatooed.

Wease only swam onto our specimen slide last fall, when he shilled for a sleazy candidate for local office, trashing his opponent on the air as a "douchebag" and worse.

The victim of Wease sleaze on that occasion runs a restaurant, so it's kind of fun to think of Wease's next job as sweeping up behind the restaurant's dumpster.  Or on a little AM station in the sticks with a 4-mile signal.

However, for whatever it is that he does, Wease has a following, which means commercial value.   Another well-established station in Rochester will pick him up eventually.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Don't Worry. It's For The Children.


The Greece Central School District, a leading F.A.I.R. Plan critic, has been busted for wasting millions in taxpayer dollars.

These are the same people who have been blasting County Executive Brooks’ F.A.I.R. Plan for what they describe as its devastating blow to the school district’s budget. (Oops! Sorry. We mean, its devastating blow to the children.)

Here are excerpts from the Democrat and Chronicle reports. (All are from the paper’s February 3 edition unless otherwise noted.)

  • A draft audit of the Greece Central School District paints a scathing portrait of overspending, lack of financial controls and wasted tax dollars.

  • The confidential draft audit, obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle, detailed years of financial waste and abuse, including officials overspending on a building project and then hiding the excess while keeping the Board of Education in the dark about the project’s status.

  • . . . the district overspent $2.5 million on a building project that was supposed to be complete in 2004, but has yet to be finished. The district then allegedly hid the excesses by shifting the expenses to the budget's general fund . . .[February 4 edition]

  • "The school) board did not protect the district's financial interests from waste and abuse," the document states. "The board's failure to develop sound policies to manage district resources, its unwillingness to monitor district finances and its acquiesence to the demands and practices of a powerful superintendent resulted in a poor control environment in the district."

  • The draft audit alleges district officials made a deliberate effort "to avoid public scrutiny of project activities," thereby raising "ethical concerns about the actions of the board and district officials."

  • Auditors also found that the project's construction manager was paid an extra $1 million as directed by two change orders issued in May 2004, and the district could not provide auditors with documentation showing why the payments were made, other than "ambiguous language" in the manager's contract.

  • Examples of wasteful spending auditors found include nearly $23,000 for each of six custom-built wheelchair lifts that were never installed because the "former superintendent objected" to where they were going to be placed.
    • • •
    Putting the lifts elsewhere in the buildings would have required complex construction changes, so the lifts now sit idle in off-site storage, costing taxpayers an additional $2,600 per year.

  • Also, the draft audit states, more than $60,000 was spent on risers that the director of arts never wanted and are still not being used.
    • • •
    According to the report, staff hired by the board to oversee the project were never properly trained in their jobs and were unable to carry out their duties. A clerk of the works hired to help manage the project quit in August 2004 after not being allowed to attend meetings to talk about the project.

  • The draft audit also faulted the district for paying out more than $127,000 in compensation to employees without board authorization and alleges the board generally gave superintendents the freedom to grant employees extra benefits without oversight.
    • • •
    For example, the audit said that in January 2005, [then-Superintendent Steven L.] Walts allegedly made an agreement to provide some employees with free lunches at district cafeterias and more portable health benefits. According to the draft, which did not explain how the two were linked, the actual cost for the program was $6,000 per year but had a potential liability of about $55,000.
    • • •
    And, in March 2007, the draft audit alleges a district official was granted a $20,000 lump-sum retirement incentive, which was approved by the board in an executive session out of public scrutiny. Boards may not vote to spend district funds during executive sessions.

So now we wonder……will the lock-step Greece PTA now screech the same abuse at the Greece School Board as it did towards the County Executive over the FAIR plan? Will it express outrage at how the school district’s negligent leadership and incompetence will lead to higher school taxes?

Don’t hold your breath.


Democratic Bloodbath in Fight to Face Robach?

What is it that would cause not one, but two local public figures with political smarts to announce important candidacies for office at the worst possible time from a public-relations perspective?   At the very moment when media domination by Super Bowl afterglow is overtaken by media domination with news anticipating Super Tuesday primaries?

Because one was worried the other would announce first, and therefore couldn't wait.   Thus forcing the other to announce right away, too.

We think this explains back-to-back announcements, on Monday evening by Rick Dollinger that he's quitting as Brighton Justice "to consider" running for State Senate against incumbent Joe Robach, and on Tuesday afternoon by Brighton Supervisor Sandy Frankel that she's running for the same seat.

Both Dollinger and Frankel have well-deserved reputations as people of good character and spotless ethical conduct in office.  That alone will make the race for this nomination one of the most interesting of the year.   It's a curiosity of human nature that political contests between sleazy hacks often attain but an echo of the full-blooded savagery of races between honest candidates of high character and noble intent.   (Hence the remorseless brutality of ecclesiastical politics).

Supervisor Frankel told the Messenger-Post papers that she was "disappointed with the short-term notice" of Dollinger's resignation and that "He's been a good judge but I wish he had filled out his full term."   In context, some might find these comments rather arch.   Together with the back-to-back announcement flurry, they may offer a mild foretaste of what is to come.

As Monroe Rising was first to report, within hours of Frankel's announcement, she and Dollinger were joined in battle for the Democratic senate nod by the irrepressable Willa Powell, the Dennis Kucinich of Rochester politics, minus the shagadelic English wife.

Let the games begin.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Queen of Mean

The late Leona Helmsley famously was reported to have said, "We don't pay taxes.   Only the little people pay taxes."   Because the rules that apply to the rest of us, like the one about paying taxes, don't apply to truly superior people like the Helmsleys.  Now comes America's current and equally repellent Queen of Mean with the same attitude.

Last August the Democratic National Committee stripped Florida of its delegates to the 2008 convention, for setting an early primary date violating DNC rules.   The Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton, signed pledge to not campaign in Florida, as the DNC requested, and none challenged the national committee's ruling taking away the state's delegates.   But that was then.

This is now.   After her South Carolina embarrassment by Barack Obama, Clinton showed up in Florida anyway, to give a full-blown "victory" speech in what was no more than a "beauty contest" primary.   Speaking to the crowd, Clinton vowed "to do everything I can to make sure . . .Florida's Democratic delegates [are] seated."

A classic Clintonian move.   All of the candidates pledge not to campaign in Florida, and don't.   So Obama and Edwards forbear from any campaign against Clinton.   Then, only after Clinton wins the beauty contest, she announces she'll pull out all the stops to seat the Florida delegates.   If the nomination is still unresolved by convention time, whether or not Florida's 210 delegates get to vote could make the difference.

As ever, concepts such as pledges, rules and truth are meaningless to the Clintons.   That nonsense is only for the little people.