Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sheldon Silver The Only One Of The Three Men In The Room That Mattered

So Much For The Promised Reform

The New York Times has a scathing piece on Sheldon Silver's role in the new state budget. I've heard from several well placed Albany sources that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is running Albany -- but to have the Times do an analysis piece cements it.

From the Times:

ALBANY — It’s Sheldon Silver’s Albany now.

Mr. Silver, the powerful and cagey Assembly speaker, achieved what he wanted in the budget that emerged from the shadows of the statehouse this weekend, cementing his newfound role as the capital’s center of gravity.

He won the policy fight, forcing Gov. David A. Paterson to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, an idea that the governor decried as potentially disastrous three weeks ago. The $131.8 billion budget, which could hardly be called austere, is largely a reflection of the liberal tilt of Mr. Silver, and the Assembly’s predilection for big spending on social programs, no matter the economic climate.

Mr. Silver also dictated the process, turning back the clock to the most secretive budget negotiations the capital has seen in years, casting aside the open government that Mr. Paterson and other Democrats once said would follow the party’s sweeping victories in recent state elections. He argued that technicalities in recently passed budget reform legislation allowed the Legislature to circumvent requirements for open meetings among those negotiating the spending plan.


Critics say Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side who has been speaker for the last 15 years, is the symbol of all that is broken in state government, a man who long ago forsook principle for power. They also say that he lacks the fiscal discipline to prudently manage the state’s escalating future deficits.


“I can’t see what the governor got out of it, or what the Senate majority leader got out of it,” said Kenneth Adams, the chief executive of the Business Council of New York State. “If it’s done by three people and two of them didn’t get much out of it, it certainly sounds like the third person gets the spoils.”


“The message hasn’t hit home yet that the state is in an enormous fiscal crisis,” said Elizabeth Lynam, the deputy research director of the Citizens Budget Commission, adding of the new budget: “It’s a disgrace.”

Let's hope Malcolm Smith was right when he said having one party control everything in Albany will bring greater accountability.

With a budget like this, New York voters may realize the importance of Republican influence on an out of control state government!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


he Democrat and Chronicle has reported that its staffers, including editors and other senior staff, will be taking additional unpaid "furloughs," at the direction of Gannett's corporate command in Virginia.

This in addition to the furlough from ethics and intellect that Democrat and Chronicle editors have taken for the last dozen years or more.

We suggest that Gannett go all the way, and also put publication of its Rochester comic book on furlough for a week.

Think of the improvement in quality of the ordinary citizen's understanding of public issues, and of local government, in a week free of the Democrat and Chronicle's miscomprehensions, manipulations and deceptions.

A sweet foretaste of the day the D&C goes the way of Seattle's Post-Intelligencer.   For the D&C the question no longer is whether, but when.

Gannett's next quarterly conference call occurs next month.   We should all phone in to ask when they're going to pull the plug on their continuing farce in Rochester.

That day will mark a triumphant moment for journalism, and for democracy.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Murder Suspect Comes Close to Garretson's Vote

I don't know much about Corfu, NY. I think you go through it to get to Darien Lake. Last week, Corfu voted for Mayor. An interesting election, because Republican candidate Scott F. Doll was arrested last month for murder.

According to R News:

At the end of January, the 46-year-old Doll accepted the Republican nomination for Corfu Village Mayor. Two weeks later, he was arrested and charged with [Joseph] Benequist’s death. It was too late to take Doll's name off the ballot.
Doll received 31% of the vote.

Which means that Corfu voters hold accused murderers in only slightly less esteem than 134th Assembly District voters hold candidates who don't pay their taxes.

Astute followers of local politics will remember Dave Garretson, who ran for Assembly against incumbent Bill Reilich last November. It was revealed that Democratic candidate Garretson had repeatedly failed to pay his taxes. He finished with about 35% of the vote.

Even though New York City political boss Sheldon Silver pumped over $300,000 into Garretson's negative and untruthful campaign.

Even though Democrat Garretson ran in the year of the Obama sweep!

Accused murderers and recidivist tax cheats should think twice before running for office.


We Welcome Fat Tony

We welcome the newest arrival here on dear old Mustard Street -- Fat Tony.

I join Lucy, the Archbishop and our behind-the-scenes partner Ms. Rivington, in welcoming Tony to the neighborhood!


Saturday, March 21, 2009

AIG Campaign Cash to Morelle

Filings with the New York State Board of Elections show that insurance giant AIG contributed $1,500.00 to Assemblyman Joe Morelle on April 18, 2008.   Morelle is Chair of the Assembly's Committee on Insurance.

You'll find it on page 5 of the report; 18th item down.

As of his most recent filing, Morelle had not returned the contribution.

When it comes to buying influence, AIG spends wisely.   This week it was publicized widely that AIG donated $100,000 to the state Democratic Committee just before the state launched marathon sessions to prop up the embattled insurer.

The contribution was made Aug. 29.  Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo started negotiating with AIG and federal officials within about two weeks.

On Sept. 16, Mr. Paterson announced the "great news" that New York officials helped the giant insurer strike a historic loan deal with the Federal Reserve.

The Associated Press story went on to note:   "It was the biggest campaign donation AIG has made within New York state since electronic record keeping began in 1999, records show."


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Democrats Lose Big in Village Elections

Morelle and Gumina take it on the chin in Webster

Democrats lose seat in Pittsford

Joe Morelle and Carmen Gumina are having a bad day!

The County Democratic Boss and the Webster Democratic County Legislator made a full court press to win two trustee seats in the Village of Webster in yesterday's election. They came up woefully short.

Our source in Webster, a Democrat angered by Democrat High Command in the City blatantly interfering in a small community's local election, told us the Democrats did no fewer than six mailings (including one piece featuring Barack Obama) and conducted robo calls for the Dem candidates.

Even more embarrassing to Morelle than losing despite an extravagant effort, was Gumina’s failure to pull off a win on his home turf. Gumina sent residents a personal endorsement letter, was featured in mailings, and made personalized robocalls -- that's right, those annoying prerecorded messages -- to village residents.

Typically, village elections come down to just a few votes. Voter turnout for them trends especially low, with 5 to 20 votes usually deciding the winner. Yesterday in Webster, voters thumped Democrats by over 60 votes.

Review of the Democrats' mailings provided to us raises concerns over unauthorized use of photos and mailing lists. Here are examples:

1. A photo and and a quote by Barack Obama in one mailing created the impression of a Presidential endorsement of candidate. Did the White House authorize this use for village candidates in Webster, New York? We wonder whether Obama staff would have approved this use if asked.

2. We noticed a Gumina endorsement mailing included a photo of children in a classroom. Did the parents authorize this photo? Does the Webster School District approve of classrooms being used for political photos? Did the Webster School Superintendent give permission for Mr. Gumina to use a classroom for political photos?

3. Word from Webster is that Mr. Gumina used PTA (Parent Teacher Association)lists for political mailings -- specifically, to recruit residents to join Webster's Democrat Committee. Did the school district's Superintendent consent to this beforehand? Would she allow a misuse of a PTA list for partisan political gain?

Boss Morelle sustained a second loss yesterday in the Village of Pittsford, where Democrats lost the only seat they've held there since the Civil War -- a two-year seat they won narrowly in 2007. The incumbent, Dem Trustee Mary Beth Cleary, did not run for reelection. Running for the open seat, Democrat Stacey Freed lost to incumbent Republican Paula Sherwood and to Republican Trip Pierson, also seeking the open seat. Word from Pittsford village is that Pierson did not even campaign much.

Tough luck, Joe!