Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Indict First -- Figure Out Why Later

The good folks at Monroe Rising raise an important issue:   Democratic District Attorney Mike Green and Assistant DA William Gargan have indicted Andrew Moore, a Republican Party official, on the flimsiest of pretexts, for what we believe to be political purposes and self-interest.   But when asked for a bill of particulars -- in other words, precisely what it is that Mr. Moore is alleged to have done -- it's been a month. And they haven't come up with anything yet!

Check out the details at Monroe Rising.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Talent to Annoy

Governor Paterson said on Sunday's Meet the Press that he's "taken on the special interests."

Actually, what he did was to talk about doing things, such as cutting state spending, guaranteed to antagonize the main special interests in New York.

Then he caved in to those same special interests, thereby antagonizing everybody else as well.

That, we think, more than anything else is the principal cause of the Governor's unpopularity.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Trading Judgeships for Political Proscutions?

Smugtown Beacon now asks about the possibility of a connection between the indictment of the Executive Director of the County Republican Party and District Attorney Green's rumored interest in appointment to a federal judgeship.  An indictment described by a law professor as a joke, except to the person indicted.

We fault the Smugtown piece only in presenting the proposition to the DA in easily deniable form:   "Were you promised a judgeship in exchange for this indictment?"

It never works that crudely, people.   At most, an offer to help get the judgeship, a promise to use best efforts -- that kind of thing.

Our take at Mustard Street is that it's bad enough if Green initiated this farce even if it were just to curry favor with his party, to help get the judgeship.   That's all we here have had to say about it so far, and it alone is scandal enough.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Primary Punditry

We can't let September slip away without a few notes on the party primaries earlier in the month.

1.   Best Performance in a Comedy

Jerri Kaiser, endorsed by the Democratic Party as candidate for County Legislator in the 20th Legislative District, lost the Democratic nomination -- to her incumbent Republican opponent, Robert Colby.

Kaiser is press secretary to Congressman Massa and was a member of the Democrat and Chronicle's editorial board.   Her candidacy for County Legislature was important enough to the party that Chairman Joe Morelle carried her nominating petitions himself, with chief errand-boy Vinnie Esposito in tow.   A State Assembly staffer working for Morelle, Esposito's also a legislator in Irondequoit.

2.   Reversal of Fortune

Speaking of Irondequoit, John DiMarco, Republican Town Justice who lost the Independence Party primary in a previous bid to become a County Court judge, nailed it this time.   DiMarco scored a 2-to-1 win to take the Independence line on the November ballot.   His Democratic opponent in this year's County Court race is Brian McCarthy, who returned from retirement in Texas for the county judgeship, as we reported back in April.

3.   Former Legislators Do Well.   Except in Chili.

Former county legislator Pete McCann clinched the GOP nomination for Parma Supervisor with a primary win over incumbent Richard Lemcke. Former legislator Karla Boyce emerged as top vote-getter in the Republican primary for Mendon Town Board.

McCann and Boyce continue an apparent trend. Former legislator Stephanie Aldersley easily transitioned to Irondequoit's Town Board when term-limited from running again for legislature. Former legislator Tony LaFountain seems well on his way to becoming the next Supervisor in Penfield, whose current Supervisor, George Wiedemer, also came from the County Legislature. Wiedemer became Supervisor by defeating then-incumbent Channing Philbrick (no relation) in a primary.

The exception to the rule seems to be in Chili, where former Republican Supervisor (and before that, County Legislator) Tracy Logel lost her party's primary for a Town Council seat. In addition, incumbent Chili Supervisor David Dunning beat a challenge from former legislator John Ferlicca, whose campaign closed with a sorry echo of a tactic in an earlier race that earned attorney Ferlicca a reprimand from the state bar.

4.   Biggest Win

The biggest margin on primary day was won in an Independence primary for Pittsford Town Justice, where GOP incumbent John Bernanke whacked Democrat Christopher Ciaccio with 85%.   Wins like this are rarely seen outside of staged votes in third-world despotisms.   On top of the Kaiser-Colby debacle, it was another cringing embarrassment for county Democrats.

5.   Most Significant Win

In Henrietta, Democratic candidate for County Legislature Mike Condello took the Independence line, defeating Republican candidate John Howland by 2-to-1 -- as a write-in candidate, no less.   Followers of local politics will recall that in 2007, Carmen Gumina did exactly the same thing, in a milestone step toward ultimately defeating incumbent Republican county legislator Dave Malta.

For Democrats the real prize this year is taking the County Legislature.   We'd say they wisely were willing to sustain a primary day embarrassment or two in order to focus their efforts and resources on the one that mattered the most.   Had she won her own party's primary, Jerri Kaiser would have lost the Ogden-Riga district to Republican Colby anyway.   For county Democrats, getting the Independence line for their candidate for the open legislative seat in Henrietta was Priority "A" for Primary Day.   For county Republicans, Robert Colby may have given them the last thing to smile about in regard to the legislature for the foreseeable future.

Little Joe's keeping his eye on the ball.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Seen and Heard (Especially Heard) in Webster Town Hall Yesterday

A bunch of senior citizens screaming at the clerk over their property taxes.   Demanding their tax receipts be stamped "Paid under Protest."

The weary clerk observed, "It's been like this all day."

Way to go, Granny and Grandpa!


Now We Understand How the Liberals Feel About Castro

A foreign leader you like better than most leaders of your own country:

Benjamin Nehtatyahu's majestic denunciation of the United Nations, for giving a forum to Holocaust-denier Ahmadinejad, makes him a moral giant among the Lilliputians of the U.N.   Bibi's the Man.

And well done, President Obama, for giving the U.S delegates the nod to walk out on Ahmadinejad's speech.   Here's the rest of the honor roll of countries that did the same:   Britain, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and New Zealand.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Local GOP Bigwigs to Meet With Cox

News has reached Mustard Street that Ed Cox, who seems about to be elected State Republican Chairman, will meet tonight in a private dinner with local Republican movers and shakers. Group to include key GOP financial supporters and influential political insiders.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Mike Green Must Want that Federal Judgeship REALLY Badly

... to curry favor with his party by indicting a man he knows to be innocent.

We've been looking at the story behind the indictment of Monroe County GOP Executive Director Andrew Moore.

It's well known in political circles that Democratic District Attorney Michael Green badly wants the federal judgeship that's open in Rochester.  He's campaigned for the position with both U.S. Senators.

Green's a former Republican who flipped parties when he couldn't get the GOP nomination for DA.   He's always been somewhat suspect among Democrats in the party heirarchy, on "Not really one of us" grounds.   He lives in that most Republican of places, Pittsford, where his wife is a Republican member of Town Council.   To his new party, Green still had something to prove.


The Robutrad investigation is a case of federal origins. It was a federal complaint that was filed against former county employee Robert Morone.

The feds, being professionals, had no interest in Andrew Moore.   They said so.  Here's their complaint against Robert Morone.   Look at page 27, where they allege it was Morone who pressured fellow-worker Chris Gorman into signing an endorsement letter.   Not Andrew Moore.   Moore is mentioned in the federal charge against Morone only as an afterthought, as a campaign volunteer who wrote a draft of an endorsement letter.

That's why the feds indicted Morone -- not Moore.   As the feds said on page 27 of their indictment of Morone:   it was Morone who pressured another County empoloyee into signing an endorsement letter.   Not Moore.   The feds recognized Moore was innocent of wrongdoing.

Yet now -- months after the feds left Moore alone because he had done nothing wrong -- our Democratic District Attorney indicts Mr. Moore.   An indictment described by a former prosecutor teaching criminal law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice   -- in the Democrat and Chronicle no less --   as not fitting the charge brought against Moore, and as " ... funny, except for the fact that the person indicted has to go through this ordeal."

The charge brought against Moore is a local claim, originating in the County DA's office.   Not federal.   The feds knew better.

According to the Democrat and Chronicle article, Moore took a polygraph test.  It showed he was telling the truth.   He said he hadn't pressured anyone to sign any letter.   (The DA's case against Moore is based on an allegation of such pressure.)   The polygraph backed Moore up completely.  District Attorney Green, and the Assistant DA involved in the case, William Gargan, who's looking to become a City Court judge and needs the Democratic nomination, didn't want to hear about it.

Trivialities like truthfulness and innocence are irrelevant to a couple of ethically flexible prosecutors on the make.   Their job was to provide the pretext for Joe Morelle to be able to say that Robutrad wasn't just the brainchild of one low-level county employee like Robert Morone, but an act of the Republican organization itself.   They delivered.

Up to this point, Robutrad had been a bust for the Monroe County Democratic Party.   Some rogue County employees who stole from taxpayers were indicted.   But there was no link to Republican headquarters.

In this regard there would have been no more potent symbol than an indictment of the man who built the GOP organization here, Steve Minarik.   But Minarik managed one last time to poke the County Democratic organization in the eye, by dying before the DA got around to contriving an indictment against him.

Minarik's successor as GOP chairman, Bill Reilich, had only recently become GOP chairman.   Nothing to indict there.   The feds, it is rumored, might be interested in a former GOP staffer, but any federal charges might not come before this November's elections, in which Democrats are making their big push to take over the County Legislature.

That left only Andrew Moore.   If Moore had held any job in the world except Executive Director of the Monroe County GOP, Mike Green never would have sought to indict him.   He, better than anyone else, knows Moore to be innocent.

District Attorney Green's Democratic Party credentials are now stamped "Paid in Full."   Maybe he'll get his judgeship, as reward for an act of corruption.

Whether he does or not, for the rest of his days may his conscience ask him, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just Like in America, You Mean

In South Africa, "the education system is often failing the very children depending on it most to escape poverty."

-- N.Y. Times


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Penfield Post Supports Victim of Political Prosecution

The Penfield Post, a reliably liberal voice, devoted the lead editorial in its issue of September 16 to supporting Andrew Moore remaining on the Penfield Town Council:

Moore ... is innocent until proven guilty. That's why we hope residents will give him the opportunity to continue to serve.
. . .

... Moore has repeatedly spoken publicly and has made himself available to the people he is answering to, which includes talking to the media.

For that we commend him. Too often, when public officials find themselves faced with tough questions, they dodge the spotlight and prefer to remain elusive in hopes the furor will subside.
Moore, you may recall, is the person wrongfully indicted by corrupt prosecutor Michael Green as a political offering to the local Democratic Party, whose favor Green seeks in order to obtain appointment as a federal judge.

The editorial quotes Moore addressing a meeting of residents and officials:
"I choose to defend my character and my integrity against these false allegations."
Good for him.

We'll have more about the whole story in a report to appear shortly.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

No One Seemed Worried About Civility

Yours truly went slumming on Tuesday, attending a meeting of the Monroe County Legislature.

High point seemed to be when a speaker during the public comment portion, accompanied by two fake "nuns" of an ilk we've described before -- Sisters of Saint Stalin? -- distributed what they called "smores" to the legislators, announcing during their time at the podium that the "smores" were made not of chocolate, but of Ex-Lax, to "clean the pipes" of the members of the august body.

Can you imagine the press coverage if this had been done by conservative activists at a meeting of the City Council?   Whose your-2-minutes-are-done-so-shutup-one-hour-only public comment section compares so anemically to the full-blown open-ended comment period provided to the public by the County Legislature?

The commenters made a point of labeling their laxative confections with a word spelled "smoores" -- an open mockery of an innocent man, a Republican party official, unjustly arrested last week by corrupt prosecutor Michael Green, as part of Green's campaign to show enough Democratic party loyalty to get a federal judgeship.

And this by "nuns" and their collaborator who probably have joined public demonstrations for every murderer from O.J. to Mumia-Babu-Cop-Killer.

No wonder the "consent of the governed" in this country sometimes seems to be hanging by a thread.   It can't snap too soon.


Friday, September 4, 2009

So It's Come to This

Since 1992 Monroe County Democrats haven't been able to make the sale to voters on the basis of their principles or policies.   Actually, they haven't offered much in the way of policy other than proposals that would benefit themselves politically, or that implicitly criticize successive Republican County Executives.

As a last resort, they're now criminalizing ordinary political activity.

We're not talking about "Robutrad," which should be fully prosecuted to the extent of criminal activity involved.

But arresting someone because, as a campaign volunteer, he merely wrote a piece of campaign literature?

An arrest, moreover, timed for Labor Day weekend, the traditional political campaign kick-off date.

Imagine if Andrew Moore held any job other than Executive Director of the County GOP.   The Democratic District Attorney would have fired for incompetence an Assistant DA who sought an indictment on a junk charge like this.

Even the Democrat and Chronicle felt obligated to include this in its report:

David Shapiro, a former prosecutor who teaches forensics accounting at New York City-based John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he was surprised to see a political endorsement letter at the center of a criminal charge of rewarding official misconduct. The crime requires the accused to knowingly “confer” — or help others confer — a “public benefit” upon a public servant who violates his or her duty.
• • •

“It must have been a great letter,” Shapiro said. “It almost makes (this allegation) seem kind of funny, except for the fact that the person indicted has to go through this ordeal.”

Maybe Professor Shapiro can tell us how the law deals with a District Attorney corrupt enough to abuse his office in this way.

At least we now know the Democrats' strategy to take the County Legislature, in order to be able to cripple the County Administration for the next two years.

Will we see a succession of political arrests between now and November?   Perhaps.

Moore, like the others who may be arrested in the weeks ahead under the Democratic campaign plan, will be acquitted easily.   But none will go to trial until after the November elections.   That's why the arrests didn't start happening until now.

Maybe the voters won't fall for it.   If they do, they will have voted in their own punishment.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where Were The Calls for "Civility" ?

This photo is from a "Code Pink" protest in February, 2008.

Funny thing.

Back then neither the Democrat and Chronicle, which today editorialized about the need for "civility" in public discourse, nor the rest of the traditional media, seemed to be worrying about it.

Just thought we'd point that out.


We Thought the Left Only Wanted to Eat Us Alive with Taxes ...

Obamacare dissenter loses finger to leftist protester.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wegmans is Rationing My Food!

Who knew? But it's true! Wegmans let me walk out of its East Avenue store today only with groceries I paid for. Not one thing more!

That's rationing, right?

Only if you believe Obamacare supporters, who claim that government rationing of medical care would be no different than Blue Cross "rationing" your medical care by only giving you the coverage you pay for.

The argument is dishonest.

"Rationing" means government restricting the availability to you of a good or service, regardless of your willingness to pay for more.

Wegmans has never told anybody, "Only one can of tuna fish for you." It sells you all the food you pay for.

Government rationing means your money's no good beyond the rationed limit. In World War II, Americans couldn't buy more than the rationed amount of food or gasoline each month. Ability to pay for more was irrelevant.

That's how nationalized health systems work. You're limited to the medical care the government allows. Beyond it, you're out of luck. You're not allowed to pay for more.

And if you find a way to pay for it on the black market, then instead of dying on the government waiting list, you die in jail.

Congressional Democrats must really be on the ropes to be making this argument.

When the Left wonders why so many Americans distrust government and don't believe explanations of the Democrats, it's because of transparently dishonest arguments like, "it's being rationed already."

Food's just the tip of the iceberg. I drove past a car dealership tonight and -- would you believe it -- they're rationing cars, too!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Strange Death of Renaissance Square

An Investigative Report

Former Mayor Johnson's essay in City News reminds us again of how Mayor Duffy torpedoed Renaissance Square at the eleventh hour, squandering a prime opportunity to improve a part of the City the private sector won't touch.

We supported Renaissance Square. That doesn't prevent us from asking the question:   Why didn't the County administration and the Regional Transit Authority see this torpedo coming?

We also wondered, what motivated the Mayor and City Council to act as they did?

In looking for the answers, here's what we learned.

Not On Our Turf, You Don't

Remember how the City needed to take action involving a strip of land in the project footprint, in order for the project to proceed?

We've learned from sources on both the City and County sides that nobody at the City, the County or the Transit Authority knew until about March of this year that action by the City was required, and, if denied, would end the whole project.   This is why the Mayor had been such a passive participant in Ren Square through all the years of its planning.   His understanding was that the City couldn't do anything to stop it, so he smiled for the cameras and went along for the ride.

Then, this Spring, the Mayor learned that the project could proceed only if City Council took action.   Duffy, who at one point phoned Assemblyman David Gantt for help in killing the project, only to be rebuffed by Gantt, now needed no help other than City Council's.   Neither Duffy nor Council liked the idea of Maggie Brooks getting credit for improving part of the City, even though that credit would be shared with the Mayor.   As Gore Vidal said, "Success is insufficient.   Others must fail."

All the public posturing about details of the design were just camouflage for the underlying motivation that, despite the project's obvious merits, and the time and money invested, City politicians weren't going to allow a project that could give Maggie Brooks credit for an improvement on their turf.

So strongly did they feel on this point that it had an effect substantially broader than the fate of Renaissance Square.   It became a unifying catalyst, bringing back together and reconciling City Council and Mayor Duffy, whose relationship had been troubled ever since Council passed the Rural-Metro ambulance contract over Duffy's veto.

In the last stages of negotiation, the County and the Transit Authority finally offered the City this:   we'll clear the property, build the bus station and the MCC campus and give the City -- as in give, for free -- the land reserved for the performing arts center, to do with as you wish.   Environmental and related issues make the clearing of that property a major impediment, even a showstopper, for private development on the site.   Here the City was offered a parcel much more likely than otherwise to attract private investment, because it already would be cleared.   And, significantly for the the City, cleared at someone else's expense.   But to the politically motivated, such considerations are trivial compared to a larger purpose such as denying a triumph to Maggie Brooks.

Persona Non Grata

Or to Mark Aesch.   He's chief executive of the Regional Transit Authority.   Opinion on Aesch is divided.   On the one hand, apparently, are people who passionately detest him.   This group includes half the City Council and half the County government other than Maggie Brooks.   On the other hand are people who regard him with white-hot hatred.   This includes the other half of City Council and the other half of the County government, except for Maggie Brooks.   Each camp claims Mayor Duffy as its own.

The reasons for this are unclear to us, but even supporters of Ren Square have said that if its demise has a silver lining, it's that a prize was denied to the transit chief.

We've been able to confirm the story that about the middle of July, Duffy offered to approve Ren Square if Brooks would fire Aesch, but Brooks turned him down.

The episode raises some tantalizing questions, to which we have no answers.   In any event, they're beyond the scope of this report.

Transit Authority:   Asleep at the Switch

After all the years, all the planning, all the public dog-and-pony shows, all the architects, consultants and lawyers, how could both the County government and the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority have missed the fact that the City had to take action on that troublesome strip of land?

It was a failure that hung Maggie Brooks out on a limb and left her dangling.   Brooks's popularity is a central pillar of Republican political success in Monroe County.   Even in last year's big anti-Republican, pro-Obama tide, Monroe County Republicans took nearly all of the seriously contested races county-wide.   A lot of that has to do with Brooks's political strength.   That's why the Democrats' Holy Grail is to force Brooks into having to raise property taxes.   It's why Joe Morelle understands that his job is to try to undermine her popularity.

Of course it is.   He's the Democratic chairman.   He's supposed to cause his party's candidates to win.   Making Maggie Brooks look bad is an important part of that job, in an environment where her popularity impedes his candidates from winning.   That's what an intelligent and conscientious party chairman does, for heaven's sake.

Morelle's Republican counterparts and their staff understand this well.   Had they known the entire Ren Square project depended on the City's approval, they'd have assumed it would be DOA.   Neither they nor their top office-holder would have invested such political capital as they did.

Instead, uninhibited by the discipline of the (unknown) political reality, County Executive Brooks was free, under every rubric of intelligent governing and politics, to adopt Renaissance Square as her own project.   In this regard, Brooks was fully committed.   Her investment in Renaissance Square was political, personal, emotional and deep.   Even in the face of skepticism and a certain bewilderment on the part of her core constituency -- suburban Republicans -- she persevered in the project.   In retrospect, it seems to some to have become, in the words of one observer, "Maggie's 'Bridge On the River Kwai' " -- a massive personal and emotional investment in a project that, despite her best efforts, was frustrated by forces outside her control.

It turns out that the Transit Authority took the leading role in the planning of the project.   The County administration depended upon it for all aspects of planning.   It was the Authority, for instance, that hired nearly all of the consultants and lawyers engaged on Ren Square, either directly or through Main and Clinton Development Corporation, the entity established as the owner of the project, and which the Transit Authority effectively operated.   It will be interesting to see if changes are made at the Authority in light of this monumental error.  However, if such changes were to be made, we think they'd have been made by now.


Mayor Duffy walks away from the debacle unscathed, perhaps with a marginal uptick in suburban support.   Once cities degrade to permanent one-party rule, decay accelerates without political consequence.   Improving Main and Clinton would have given Duffy no better prospect for continued election than failure to improve it would decrease that prospect.   Suburban Republicans who paid enough attention to Ren Square to get to the point where it baffled them may think better of Duffy for killing the project.   Also, Duffy's congressional ambitions are well-known in political circles.   It won't hurt him to have earned Louise Slaughter's gratitude for spiking a project she opposed all along.

RGRTA Chief Aesch might pay the price for his agency failing to identify the need for City approval of Ren Square.   We'd bet against it, though.   If Brooks wouldn't fire him to get the project through, she won't fire him for this.   Aesch is now writing a book, perhaps about this experience.   Precisely why City Council and the Mayor have taken such a burn to him we didn't learn, but they have.   RGRTA is about to ask the City for permission to build a parking lot on vacant land next to its bus facility on Main Street.   Anybody want to bet on the outcome?

County Executive Brooks also walks away unscathed, though no doubt disappointed and saddened to watch a real chance to improve life in the City destroyed so recklessly.   The urban electorate wouldn't vote for her or the Republicans whether she built Ren Square or not.   In that regard its failure changes nothing.   Suburban Republican voters continue to like and trust Brooks.   All along they viewed her devotion to Renaissance Square as a tolerable, harmless eccentricity.   They never really cared.   To most of them, its demise is meaningless.

(Mustard Street's Lucy, the Archbishop and the undersigned all contributed to this report.)