Monday, November 30, 2009

"Working Families" Party's Matrix of Deception

The New York City-based publication City Hall has unearthed the complex structure that the state's "Working Families" Party uses to evade the law.

There are, in fact, four arms:   a political party, a for-profit and two different ... non-profits. ...[T]hrough these four arms, ... Working Families has the benefits of a political party (legitimacy in voters’ minds, ballot line), a non-profit (tax-exemptions, uncapped donation limits and tax deductions) and a for-profit (no disclosure requirements, ability to collect fees backed by taxpayer-supported matching funds from candidates).

Working Families has non-profits groups and a for-profit entity that lack donation caps, disclosure requirements ... and other regulations that political parties face.
City Hall obtained internal Working Families documents revealing a straight pay-to-play policy for the party's backing:
...a system of weighting votes based on money for endorsements and nominations.   These indicate that the more money a union contributes to the legally separate non-profit (the Working Families Organization), the more votes the union gets in ... deciding which candidates to back.
An important and revealing investigative piece.



Our Vigilant Watchdogs at Work

The report that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo took campaign cash from lawyers with matters before him seems to have disappeared down the memory hole.

No mainstream press follow-up on this story whatsoever.   Another example of the media protecting a favorite son by suppressing negative news?

There seems to be an awful lot of that going about.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving's Eternal Lesson

Human nature.   A constant through the ages.   As in the timeless lesson of the first Thanksgiving.

"Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner."

(A reprise of our Thanksgiving weekend posting a couple of years ago.   Run again this year as a public service to humanity.)


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just Do It, Dave

Governor Paterson's heroic effort to persuade our regrettable State Legislators to face fiscal reality represents a pearls-before-swine moment if ever we've seen one.

The Guv had a great idea in proposing he get power to cut the budget unilaterally.

His mistake was in asking the Legislature to give it to him.

Of course they'll never do that.   If a legislator can't protect the funding entitlements of the teachers' union and the health care employees unions, that legislator is useless to both.   And all the donations and other goodies the unions provide to guarantee continued incumbency then disappear.

So, Dave, just go ahead and do it.

Order your budget director to make the cuts.

Everyone, including the State's Attorney General, said you couldn't constitutionally appoint a Lieutenant Governor.   But you did it anyway.   And the Court of Appeals said, "OK."

So do it.   At least it gives you a chance to make it happen.   Versus the certainty of it not happening if you cave.

You're a brave and good man.   Right now it's you alone, standing up for the people against the public-sector labor aristocracy and its bought-and-paid-for legislature.

Do the right thing.   Go for it.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fiddling While Rome Burns

The Albany crisis continues. State spending's up 9% since last year. Albany slapped on 138 new taxes and fees. The state legislature meets in special session to reduce the deficit. The responsibilities of the Governor and state legislators have never been more critical.

And where do we find Monroe Democratic Chairman and State Assemblyman Joe Morelle last night?

Just where you'd expect a New York state legislator to be under the circumstances -- at the Syracuse vs. Cornell basketball game!

Joe:   Do you get that per diem for service at the Carrier Dome?


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Case of the Missing Judicial Ratings

What happened to the Monroe County Bar Association's ratings for this year's Democratic candidates for New York Supreme Court?

For all judicial elections, the Bar Association rates each candidate's qualifications.   It interviews each candidate, surveys hundreds of attorneys, conducts research, then confers one of three possible ratings:   "Highly Qualified," "Qualified" and "Not Qualified."

In May the MCBA rated all candidates running at the time.   This was before the two people who ran in November as Democratic candidates, Paloma Capanna and Lamarr Jackson, announced their candidacies.

Once they did, the Bar Association went through its customary ratings process.   And the ratings of the Democratic candidates were ...  ?

No one knows.   At least, no one other than Bar Association staff and the candidates.

The Bar Association never released the results.

• Did the MCBA suppress "Not Qualified" determinations?

• Did the candidates withdraw from the vetting process?   Is that even permitted?   What would be the point of a supposedly impartial ratings process if candidates could avoid disclosure by "withdrawing" before a rating is made public?

• Did the candidates receive favorable ratings, but withdrew out of some principled objection to the ratings process itself?

Probably we'll never know.   Certainly no one in the local media ever reported on the strange case of the missing bar ratings.   Given the issues it might have raised regarding qualifications of Democratic candidates for judicial office, who'd have expected our local media to even ask the question?

The County Bar Association, an ostensibly neutral institution, seems well down the path of corruption by partisan influence.

Two years ago the MCBA shilled shamelessly for Democrats by breaking an agreement it made with the County regarding its participation in selecting the Public Defender.   It willingly aligned itself with David Gantt's street thuggery that turned the entire process into a circus.   But then, of course it would.   The Bar Association receives grants of state money from Assemblyman Gantt.

Now the MCBA appears to have suppressed information intended to be public, regarding Democratic judicial candidates.

Lawyers talk about avoiding "even the appearance of impropriety."   We think some lawyers who mean it should get active in the Monroe County Bar Association.   And take it over.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Gargantuan Disgrace -- Part II

There's a judicial vacancy coming up in Monroe County.   It's the County Court seat that current judge Alex Renzi will vacate at the end of the year, to take up his new duties on the state Supreme Court bench.   Renzi's election to Supreme Court was regarded as a virtual certainty by leaders of both parties.   The Governor will appoint his replacement.

We view this as related directly to the prosecution of former County GOP Executive Director Andrew Moore, instituted by Assistant District Attorney William Gargan.   It's a prosecution so flimsy that Gargan's boss, DA Mike Green, overruled his subordinate and withdrew the most serious charge, the felony claim.

Timing has been central to this prosecution.   It was brought shortly before the recent election, to help local Democrats tar their Republican opponents with the brush of Robutrad, in support of the Democrats' failed bid to take control of the County Legislature.   Timing continues to drive it.

Last week, Assistant DA Gargan contrived a postponement of a long-scheduled hearing to consider Moore's motion to dismiss the charges.   He contrived it by filing his responses to Moore's motions late, not producing them until the hearing itself.

Judge Richard Keenan asked why the prosecutor was so late with his response, but the damage was done.   The judge had little choice but to postpone the hearing.   An attorney with Gargan's experience knows this.   A judge needs time to read both sides' papers.   Court calendars are busy.   With the holidays in the mix, the hearing was postponed to January.

Gargan knows his charges against Mr. Moore are junk.   DA Green's withdrawal of the felony charge raises questions about just what Gargan told the grand jury about the remaining misdemeanor charges as well, throwing the entire proceeding into question.

The delay to January can spare Gargan from further professional humiliation in the form of the judge throwing out the remaining charges, or having them pulled by DA Green, in anticipation of such a ruling.

Because Mr. Gargan won't be holding the bag as prosecutor if, by January, he's Judge Gargan, appointed by the Governor to the County Court vacancy, on advice of Monroe Democratic Chair Joe Morelle.

As reward to Gargan for abusing his office in service to the Party.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Gargantuan Disgrace

Assistant District Attorney William Gargan distinguished himself recently for questionable conduct and incompetence.

Both were prominent in his bringing a fraudulent felony charge against former Monroe County GOP Executive Director Andrew Moore, then suffering the almost unheard of professional disgrace of having the charge pulled by his boss, DA Mike Green, following Green's review.

True to character, Gargan yesterday made excuses for submitting the bill of particulars in the Moore case substantially late and for his unusual delay in submitting filings for yesterday's court hearing.

Gargan said he didn't want to file papers describing evidence claimed against Moore in order to avoid pre-election media attention:

“The last thing our office would want to do is to inject politics into a prosecution.”
  If you didn't want to inject politics into a prosecution, Mr. Gargan, then why, in the first place, did you bring this prosecution just before an election?

  If you delayed the filings that describe the very basis for your prosecution in order to avoid pre-election media attention, then why didn't you file the day after the election, instead of half a month later?

Surely you knew why you were indicting Moore before you did it, right?   Or is it that, as we've suspected all along, you decided to indict first, and figure out why later?   When you have no case and are making it up, it's hard to contrive something that looks like more than a joke, isn't it?   Creative writing takes time.

  And Mr. Gargan:   If politics has nothing to do with it, why were you boasting last summer that you really wouldn't want to be a Republican running this year, after what you were going to drop on them before the election?

These things get around, dear boy.   You need to be more discreet.

Next up:   The political payoff for this indictment, and how it relates to the prosecutor's deliberately late filings.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

If It Ain't Broke ...

Learning an acquaintance had surgery for a tumor found to be benign, author Evelyn Waugh famously quipped:   "It was a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it."

We recalled this last week, reading a story in USA Today describing residents of towns near Buffalo so frustrated with government in New York that they want to reduce the size of their Town Councils.

It's yet another poignant, maddening irony of the farce passing for government in this state that the levels of government that citizens actually have power to change are the levels that work best.   (Maybe that's why they work best.)

Those levels of government that cry out to be changed -- the State government and that 80% of County government functions dictated by the State -- citizens can't touch.

In New York, it's the town and village governments that work best, irrespective of party control.   They're the most responsive to citizens, and the most fiscally responsible.   Surely the very worst town government in the state looks exemplary compared to the Albany regime.

It is a symptom of the frustration and despair to which the worst state government in the country drives its beleaguered subjects, that they target the only part of government they can affect, even though it works well.   Apparently around Buffalo they've found the one part of government in New York that's not malignant -- and want to cut it out.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New York State Legislators: Not As Stupid As We Think!

Testimony in the trial of former State Senator and uber-sleazebag Joe Bruno has  brought out this stupefying, but completely believable, information:   State legislators for years have deliberately hand-delivered their financial disclosure forms, because false information contained in the forms could be prosecuted as a federal crime if the documents were sent through the mail.

The noble legislators received advice to this effect from legislative legal counsel!

Again we say, "Bring on the Revolution!"


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jack the Ripper says: "Reduce the Murder Rate."

That was our first thought on seeing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's essay in Sunday's Democrat and Chronicle, with the risible headline, "Protect Families from Higher Taxes."

Is there any more determined, intransigent, immovable tribune of the status quo supporting New York's aristocracy of public employee unions and their dependents than Sheldon Silver?

It's immediately apparent in his essay, pretending to support budget cuts to protect taxpayers.   The Speaker can read the recent election returns.  He understands the mood of New York's electorate toward taxes.

So Shelly attempts some serious posturing, because he, his union masters and his allies don't want anything to change.   Silver makes it clear that the biggest spending items, the ones driving the State's brutal tax environment, are off the table.   After detailing some trivial cost-cutting proposals, he continues:

[W]e must continue to invest in ... public schools ... and health care."
"Invest."   Right.   The day this stunningly dishonest piece ran in Rochester, The New York Times called for cutting spending in precisely those areas, to bring them into into line with other states, and with reality:
New York spends twice the national average on Medicaid at $2,283 per person.  That is the highest average in the country, with Rhode Island a distant second at $1,659.  Mr. Paterson wants to scale back the health care budget by $471 million.  That seems the least the state should do.  Education is even more costly.  The national average per student is $9,138; New York spends $14,884.  Mr. Paterson’s plan to cut education costs by about 3 percent, or $686 million, is clearly in line with what’s necessary.
New York's status quo is unique and debilitating.   The aristocracy it supports, like all oligarchies, will not, as we noted last month, relinquish its privileges easily.

Bring on the Revolution!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Sore Losers

The Democrat and Chronicle is not accepting gracefully its side's massive loss in recent local elections.

Yesterday the paper belatedly gave some prominence to the fact that falsely-accused GOP Executive Director Andrew Moore passed a lie-detector test, showing he was telling the complete truth about the events used as the basis for his indictment in a Robutrad-related matter.

The headline ran, "Moore 'truthful' on test".

That must have been too much for someone at the D&C.  Maybe it even prompted an annoyed phone call from the District Attorney's office.   By this morning, the paper had changed the headline in its online edition to "Polygraph results expected to be part of Robutrad case."

The D&C forgot to make the change in its online index of archived stories, which still carries the original headline that shows Moore's innocence.  (We wonder, who at the D&C's going to get chewed out today for this slip-up?   Not to mention the slip-up on the original headline.)

Leave aside quibbles about the quotes around the word "truthful" in the original headline, which never would have appeared had this been about, say, a drunken Democratic City Council member trying to beat a rap on DWI.   In that case of course, the successful lie-detector test would have been front and center, in repeated articles appearing before the election, not after.

In order to not lose the original headline to posterity, we've scanned the print edition of the story below.

Reading it, we savor all over again one of the sweetest moments of election night:   Andrew Moore's successful reelection to Penfield Town Council, despite everything the Democratic Party - Democrat and Chronicle machine threw at him.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

We Welcome Joshua to Mustard Street

An overdue welcome to new contributor Joshua.   Josh describes his idea of fun as "finding injustice and wrongdoing and spotlighting it for all to see."

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Justice Louis Brandeis famously observed.   Glad to have on board an acolyte of the great Justice.   Thanks to Joshua for shining the light on questionable conduct of the Rochester Business Alliance and on the need for an integrated, countywide 911 database for law enforcement.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Compulsive Tax Increase Disorder

An Islamic terrorist murders 13 soldiers and wounds dozens more.  National news media and the administration can not bring themselves to call it an act of Islamic terrorism so they invent a psychological ailment to excuse it:   the poor chap had “Pre” Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PPTSD.   Excessive lap dances at the local strip club exacerbated the condition.

As it's now fashionable to contrive psycho-medical conditions to excuse bad, inept, even homicidal behavior, my entry in the medical lexicon is CTID:   Compulsive Tax Increase Disorder.

This terrible disease strikes elected officials.   It is pandemic in the Federal, State and even local governments, with School Districts showing the highest rates of affliction.

A debilitating malady, CTID attacks the central nervous system, preventing reason from entering the cranial cavity.   In a typical progression of the disease:  (1)  You watch a recession destroy business income, consumer confidence, economic vitality, jobs, and sales tax revenue.  (2)   You fall substantially behind in your budget, because the previous year you caught a case of BADD (Budget Analysis Deficit Disorder).   (3)  You desperately seek a new source of revenue instead of cutting your budget.  (4)  You are blinded to the reality that an increase in tax, especially property tax, will contribute to negative economic growth, thus reducing your overall tax receipts.  That is to say, you think the serfs who pay the tax will continue to fork it over, without consequence.   (5)  You increase taxes.   This is the final and most deadly stage.

If you suffer from these symptoms and hold elective office, you have CTID.   Immediate treatment is required.

Effective therapy for this disease involves a brutal, two-step treatment.   First, read the entire text of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  After grief counseling, pour three fingers of Glenlivet in a glass and add a splash of hard-boiled reality.   Drink and repeat.   Repeat again if needed.   If treatment is fully effective, you will be cured.   You will at last understand that constantly increasing taxes depresses an economy and erodes the tax base.  You will realize that lowering the tax burden stimulates growth and investment and increases net tax receipts.   Even a partial cure should at least relieve the urge to vote for a tax increase.  This is just as good.  

An emergency treatment kit is in development, consisting of an inhaler and a pocket-sized coloring book featuring inspirational quotes from Robert Mugabe, visionary architect of Zimbabwe’s stone age economy.   Once available, it is recommended that local officials take preemptive treatment before budget meetings.

Show concern and support for elected officials afflicted with CTID by wearing an awareness ribbon on your lapel.   The proper color scheme is red ink fading to black.

Be vigilant for symptoms of this disease and its related affliction, TPBRS, Tax Payer Bewilderment and Resentment Syndrome.   I think I feel symptoms of that one coming on right now.   The Glenlivet anyone?


Friday, November 13, 2009

Here's An Even Greater Tragedy: A General Who Thinks This Way

The U.S. Army’s Chief-of-Staff, General George Casey, says the mass murder of soldiers at Fort Hood is preferable to compromising the Army's politically correct obsession with "diversity."   "As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

Does Casey get his talking points from The Onion?

"As a crazed Palestinian gunman, I feel hurt by the negative portrayal of my people.  None of us should have to live with stereotyping and ignorance."

He then began screaming and firing into a busload of Israeli schoolchildren.

Al Hamad  . . . stressed the importance of understanding and celebrating the cultural differences between crazed Palestinian gunmen and non-crazed, non-Palestinian non-gunmen.  . . . "Our diversity is our greatest strength."
Bill Clinton was years ahead of us, but with Generals like the unworthy Casey, we're beginning to loathe the military ourselves.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

City Needs to Join Countywide Public Safety Data System

The Monroe County 911 center is upgrading its field data base system. This is the database police access from their cars for information on a car they may be following, or may have pulled over. The database is comprehensive, and every police department in the County should be on it.

Imagine that the Rochester Police Department police didn't use it, but instead set up a parallel system that couldn't interface well with the countywide database. Imagine somebody pulls an armed robbery in the City. The City police have a car description and plate number. It's entered in their separate system, but the 911 system doesn't get the information accurately, or in real time. The car then enters an adjoining town, where it's pulled over for speeding. The town police officer has no idea what went down in the city 30 minutes before   --   and is now in a very bad situation.

The City needs to join the 911 system so this, and events like it, couldn't happen. If the City joins, access to information as needed becomes seamless. In the scenario described, the Town cop accesses the info, knows the whole story, calls for back-up   --  and makes it home to his family. The criminal doesn't.

Which leaves me wondering why the City doesn't want to join the 911 system. Some say that the City P.D. is really run by its IT department, that's not very good and doesn't want to come near anything it can't fully understand. Maybe another possible explanation is that the City doesn't want to make access easy to its crime stats, which may be heading in the wrong direction.

In financial terms, the 911 system, consolidated with all police departments countywide, is by far the least costly option for the City. It would cost about 25% of the expense for an independent system for the City P.D.:   $500,000 to join 911, versus $2-3 million for an independent system. (The City's estimate of $1.5million for their own system is unrealistically low).

Let's hope that when the decision reaches Mayor Duffy's desk, he understands the need for his force to be on the 911 system -- and the public's need for it as well.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All the King's Horses and All the King's Men

Here's just one indication of how bad a drubbing Democratic candidates for county legislature took last week.

The 7th Legislative District includes part of Greece and part of the City of Rochester. Incumbent Republican Rick Antelli faced Democrat Mark Coon. This was one of the districts Democrats thought they could take.

Mayor Duffy himself walked door-to-door with Democratic candidate Coon in election precincts in the the City portion of the Legislative District.

Republican Antelli carried the entire City portion of his Legislative District, notwithstanding the popular Mayor's help for his opponent.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where Would We Cut?

The Democrat and Chronicle asks readers to say where they'd cut the State budget.

My two cents:   Look at a truly progressive state, meaning one that's prosperous and that people are moving to.   Like Texas.   Find out what Medicaid benefits it offers.   Then cut back New York's Medicaid benefits to match.

Bet we'd cut NY Medicaid spending in half.   That would be an 8% cut in state spending right there.


Politics in the City Doesn't Matter

The City matters a lot.   But politics in the City of Rochester doesn't matter.

Just suppose.   Suppose Mayor Duffy and City Council succeed brilliantly.   In the next four years, business moves in and thrives, refurbished neighborhoods attract thousands from suburbs, restaurants and night life flourish, crime is negligible, taxes are cut, the budget's in surplus and there's loads of free parking.

Result:   Duffy and Council get re-elected.
Now suppose the City's next four years make the last four look like the Golden Age of Pericles.   Taxes compete with the murder rate as to which jumps higher or faster.   Big business exits.   From new headquarters in Birmingham, Kodak orders its State Street building dynamited, rather than pay the property tax.   Small business collapses.  Restaurants shut as crime drives remaining patrons away from the City.   The School Superintendent quits, finally acknowledging, "It's hopeless."
Result:   Duffy and Council get re-elected.
Analyzing the death of Renaissance Square in September, we noted, "Once cities degrade to permanent Democratic rule, decay accelerates without political consequence."

A letter to City News recalled the idea.   In the issue of October 21-27, a Tom Elston, recently moved from the City to Georgia, responded to a City News essay comparing Rochester to Austin, Texas.   Among Elston's points about Rochester:   "... [T]he city school system is seen as an intractable failure and waste of money."

We take exception only to the "seen as" part.  

It doesn't make one bit of difference who is elected to the City School Board.   You could have all Cynthia Elliots, or all people of wisdom and vision.   The State wouldn't allow either group to change any one of the fundamentals that need changing to make the schools work.   The result's the same:   another generation of illiteracy and failure.   Moreover, whether wise or clueless, the Democratic candidates get elected regardless of outcome.

With the School District as with the City government.   Each a sanctuary for policy failure free of consequence to elected officials.   Unchallenged by an opposition party, because it's pointless, or by press scrutiny.

An e-mail asked us yesterday, "Why don't you follow politics in the City like you do in the Towns?"

This is your answer, Heather:   because politics in the City doesn't matter.   That's why.

It's why people vote, instead, with their feet.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Local Elections 2009

On Saturday, we began our analysis of general election results in Monroe County with a look at the Ciaran Hanna  -  Nora Bredes race for County Legislature in Perinton.   In the weeks ahead, we'll be updating our Almanac of Monroe County Politics to discuss all the significant races.

Until then, the best succinct take we've seen on last Tuesday's local results is a reader's comment at Rochester City News:

Maybe voters looked at Joe Morelle's votes in the Assembly, and the Assembly backgrounds of the Democrats in the county legislature (at least 5 of them basically work for Sheldon Silver, directly or indirectly) and concluded they didn't want the Monroe County legislature to raise the budget and taxes quite as fast as the Assembly does.   Or maybe they don't want their towns run with the same quality schools and low crime rate as the City of Rochester, which the Democrats have done such a fine job with over the past 20 years.


"Workers of the World, Unite!" -- Karl Marx

On November 9, 1989, they did.

"Soviet communism might not have endured for 70 years had it not been for enablers in academia, religion and journalism."


Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Kiss of Death in Webster?

In March, 2009, Monroe County Legislator Carmen Gumina publicly endorses two Democratic candidates for Village Trustee.   Both endorsed candidates are trounced.

More recently, Legislator Gumina endorses Patrick Christopher for Webster Supervisor.  
Christopher loses by 34%.

For Webster Town Board, Mr. Gumina publicly endorses Democratic Town Council candidates Tammy Gurowski and Michael Garbin.   Both get wholloped by Webster voters.

Webster voters, largely Republican, are telling the legislator that they're not buying his party's brand.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bambi Meets Godzilla

The race that really surprised us this year was the contest for County Legislature in the 18th Legislative District, in Perinton. It wasn't surprising in the result, which the politically sophisticated anticipated, but in the unexpected trajectory of the campaign that, as it proceeded toward election day, made the ultimate result apparent.

Republican politicos have kept a nervous eye on Nora Bredes ever since she moved here from Long Island ten years ago.  
It could not have been happy news to incumbent Republican Ciaran Hanna to learn that Bredes would be his opponent.

A former Suffolk County Legislator and one time Democratic candidate for Congress, Ms. Bredes became a public figure in the New York City area years ago, as leader of the citizens' group that fought for nearly a decade to stop operation of the Shoreham nuclear plant.   She stopped it.   A graduate of Cornell, Ms. Bredes directs the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership at the University of Rochester.   She has won numerous state and national awards for accomplishments in environmentalism and public health.   Smugtown Beacon described her as "ridiculously overqualified" for the county legislature.

Legislator Hanna, a businessman in Fairport, has a low profile outside of his district.   Political insiders in both parties consider him one of the smartest and best members of the County Legislature.   Hanna's gentlemanly, modest demeanor accompanies a towering sense of responsibility to his constituents and a steely resolve to protect their interests.   Hanna's bolting of his own party on a point of principle got him stripped of a committee chairmanship a few years back.   This won him even higher respect in his district.   He continues the tradition of his admired family, the Hannas, whose members have distinguished the family name through high-minded public service spanning decades.

Ordinarily, a candidate of Hanna's quality would have little to worry about, especially in a Republican-leaning district. It does not in the least disparage his record or abilities to acknowledge the noteworthy accomplishments of his opponent, or her strong experience.   It's as if the winning yacht in the America's Cup found itself facing the Battleship Missouri, with all guns blazing.

One nervous Republican wag chose a different metaphor.   In a nod to Hanna's soft-spoken manner, he worried that this race had the potential to be "Bambi meets Godzilla."

As we now know, he was right.   Except that the roles were reversed.

All along we thought Hanna had the ability to defeat the challenge from Bredes, but we felt that Bredes's strengths as a candidate were daunting.   It's rare to see someone with a resume of her quality running for local office, rarer still someone of such accomplishment.

On Tuesday Hanna didn't just beat Bredes, he humiliated her:   62% Hanna to 38% for Bredes.   The Democrats' brightest hope  --   not just for getting elected but for her obvious capacity for forceful, articulate leadership once elected  --   held to under 40%.   She won little more than the base Democratic vote.

How did this happen?   Especially in a district which, though it leans Republican, voted routinely for Louise Slaughter and for David Koon?

From start to finish, Ms. Bredes ran the wrong campaign. Local elections in towns and districts with populations of the size found in Monroe County are won by door-to-door campaigning by the candidate.

Legislator Hanna understood this well, starting a vigorous door-to-door schedule as soon as Bredes announced her candidacy and never stopping until election day.   He canvassed every neighborhood in the district.

Bredes thought she could win with mailings, literature drops and coffee gatherings in people's homes.   She did little or no canvassing.   Nor did she participate in the parades and similar public events comprising part of the routine schedule for a local candidate.

Walking door-to-door, a candidate can visit 50 or more homes in the two hours it takes to meet a dozen people at a reception in someone's home.   Inevitably such gatherings tend to involve people who already are disposed to vote for you, since they're friends of the candidate's friend who arranges the gathering.   The only finite resource in a campaign is the candidate's time.   Home-based meet-and-greets are sucker bait for the inexperienced.

Yet Ms. Bredes is no inexperienced candidate.   Years ago the New York Times told her story as an example of how a candidate succeeds in getting elected for the first time.

We have to believe that a campaign for public office on Long Island, with an appreciably larger population for each county legislative district, is a very different proposition from a similar campaign in Perinton.   Probably it involves broadcast media as well as mailings.   Home-gatherings may well complement the mix in a useful way, where population size makes meaningful door-to-door campaigning impractical.   Such a campaign probably looks a lot more like our county-wide campaigns here.

However, in races for legislative districts in Monroe County, if one good candidate goes door-to-door and another good, even astonishingly accomplished, candidate does not, the candidate who goes to the door wins, absent overriding issues.

Commenting in Rochester Turning on Tuesday's result, Ms. Bredes blamed a "lack of civic culture" in the Rochester area, among other factors, for her loss and for the loss by fellow Democrats, suggesting most citizens aren't engaged in thinking about political matters.   Now, as people interested in politics ourselves, we'd say there's much truth to her observation, though not as a reason for her big loss.

But that's the equivalent of an unsuccessful Monroe County Republican candidate complaining, for example, that he lost because the local press is hostile.   Of course it's hostile if you're a Republican.   That's just part of the deal when you run for office under the GOP banner in Rochester.   You didn't know that before you ran?   Didn't factor that into your planning?   What were you thinking?

In addition, the Bredes campaign suffered from the defect of all the Democratic legislative campaigns, in that it criticized Republican management of the County but offered no solutions whatsoever.

It is at least possible that Ms. Bredes's instincts, or the character of her social and professional circles, led her to run what could be viewed as an elitist campaign.   We give her the benefit of the doubt, going no further than observing that she misread the constituency insofar as assessing what was necessary to win.   Maybe the general expectation on the Democratic side that they could indict their way into office had something to do with it also.   We confine our conclusions to the fact that she didn't campaign door-to-door as her opponent did, a failure representing a fundamental misreading of the voters.

Perhaps the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership can offer a course on getting to know your constituency before you run for office.


Friday, November 6, 2009

A Guy Who Understands the Election Returns

Congressman Eric Massa, according to Rochester Turning, announced this morning he'll vote against Pelosi's currently proposed health care bill.

Did some posturing as to reasons, in order not to alienate his liberal base, but looks like he got the message.


Rochester Business Alliance: Undermining Its Own Cause?

What was with the Rochester Business Alliance endorsing Democrats Mark Coon and Frank Muscato, a liberal educator, over incumbent County Legislators Rick Antelli, a business owner, and Steve Tucciarello, also a business owner?

The two candidates the RBA chose to not endorse are in fact business people -- part of the RBA's constituency. Election of Muscato and Coon would have flipped the County Legislature to the Democrats. That's the party whose core constituencies insist on the status quo of anti-business policies that have made New York the business equivalent of a toxic waste dump. A Democratic-controlled local legislature would raise taxes and dismantle what little county government can do to offset the poisonous effects of state policies on business.

"Unshackle Upstate" is an RBA effort to get Albany to change its business-killing policies. So why would RBA want to put into power locally the minions of Albany political bosses Morelle, Gantt and John? These are the same people who have helped create, and work to preserve, the unbearable tax and spend government that is New York State.

Sandy Parker, the RBA's CEO, has been a willing stooge for various anti-Republican / anti-county government efforts in the past, in mostly behind-the-scenes or low-profile roles.

Why did she let RBA endorse the Democratic candidates in two of the most competitive races? Word is she was buying favor with Joe Morelle, in hopes of the Democratic nod for a future run for political office.

She should stick to RBA's business. After all, despite all the talk, we haven't seen much unshackling going on, have we?


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Irretrievable Loss

Tuesday's big loss by Monroe County Democrats will resound to their detriment for years to come.   Its implications extend well beyond one election cycle.   Democrats didn't lose just that.   Far more significantly, they lost what would have been the ability to finish Republicans politically at the county level, and to control county government for at least a decade.

The County Legislature elected on Tuesday is the body that will draw new county legislative districts after the 2010 Census.   These will be the districts that legislative candidates contest two years from now, in 2011.

Democrats would have drawn districts slicing up the City like a pie, extending each slice as far into the suburbs as possible without jeopardizing each district's majority-Democratic makeup. Think of Susan John's Assembly district, extending from the City into Chili, or Joe Morelle's Assembly district, that includes the City and Irondequoit.

That opportunity now has been lost to them, come what may in future elections.   The next chance comes in 10 years.

Thus did voters avoid on Tuesday yet another aspect of the Albanization of Monroe County, that would have occurred had Democrats picked up just one more seat in the County Legislature.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Red Dawn

New Jersey .  .  .  Virginia .  .  .  Monroe County Legislature .  .  .  Irondequoit .  .  .  Mendon.
Not bad for a rump party of disaffected Southern whites.


To the Editors of the Democrat and Chronicle

Re:   Monroe County Legislature

Eat your hearts out.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Jersey, Virginia and NY-23

All we can say for sure about these races is that, if Democrats do well, the mainstream media will declare the vote a referendum of affirmation for the President and his policies.   If Republicans do well, the media will say the outcomes were determined by local factors, and it's no reflection on the President.

With some polls suggesting Republicans have reason to be hopeful about all three races, this morning there's already anticipatory punditry in the national press to the effect that it's not a referendum on the Obama Administration or its policies.

No matter what the outcome of NY-23, national media will get it as wrong on the implications for the Republican Party as they have already.

The reality is that, whatever the outcome, it's more complex than referendum on the President vs. non-referendum.   It's a combination of dynamics both national and local.   We'll comment tomorrow on the results in these races.


Barbarians at the Gates

Whither the Monroe County Legislature?   A largely obscure institution, but interesting now because party control is at stake today.   If Republicans lose even one seat, the Democrats take over.

If so, the fun starts immediately in a Democratic-occupied Monroe County.  The Brooks administration may think they have a year before too much damage can be done, because it's the current legislature that will vote on the next year's county budget next month.   What no one's talked about are the contrived "investigations" that will begin immediately.   Watch for fishing expeditions by Democrats that make Captain Ahab look like an dilettante.

The prime directives for a Democratically-controlled legislature:

• Force Maggie Brooks to raise property taxes.

• Soften up Maggie Brooks for the kill two years from now.

• Follow orders from the county's new overlords in the State Assembly.
In the minority, Democrats have demonstrated a disciplined focus on these goals.   If they prevail today, they'll be able to do something about it.

As for the Legislature's Republicans, if they win today, they can't interpret that as a mandate to continue, politically, as they have.   They need to become more aggressive:   on policy initiatives, on message, and on taking the fight to the Democrats.   Start with message.   That's where you have the most work to do.

If news of interest reaches us as the day goes on, we'll share it with you.

Meanwhile, to the barricades!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Mike Condello: Party Animal

Memo to Democratic County Legislature Candidate in Henrietta, Mike Condello:

Mike: Didn't Joe tell you to be careful about Facebook?

Republicans have made full use of photos of candidate Condello in less-than-dignified poses. Photos courtesy of Condello himself, via Facebook.

Hope to have scans up later.


Why County Democrats Ran Up So Many Ethics Violations

Short answer: because the Republicans trained them to think they could get away with it.

Have done a little digging, and learned that former Monroe County GOP Chairman Steve Minarik didn't like taking ethical violations by opponents to the Fair Election Practices Committee. Insiders say his response to GOP candidates who wanted to file a complaint was: Suck it up and take it and give as good as you get.

County Democrats became used to Republicans not pursuing these things too often.

With control of the County Legislature at stake, Morelle and his crew decided to push the ethical envelope, and then some, in the last weeks of the campaign. They figured Republicans wouldn't call them out on it.

However, current GOP Chairman Bill Reilich thinks about this differently than Minarik. Reilich's view: These people are committing fraud. Let's hold them accountable.

Morelle & Co. only found this out when they were hauled up before the Fair Elections committee early last week and received the first ruling against them for fraud on Wednesday, to be followed a few days later by a string of further rulings against them for campaign ethics violations.


Strangers in the Neighborhood

Working Families / ACORN is out in force in Monroe County.

As was done in 2007, Joe Morelle has bussed in unemployed unionists from parts unknown to hit the ground in the competitive Legislative races, courtesy of the shady "Working Families" party. As they walk neighborhoods they are handing out and lit dropping custom printed pieces.

What they are able to do is cover a Legislative district in 2 days time and give a somewhat personal touch. Not only have they been in Monroe County for the past few weeks covering the Legislative Districts over and over again, but they are successful in turning a 2 mail piece weekend into a 2+1 mail weekend. This ability enabled Morelle to increase his candidate’s presence this past weekend by 33% with no postage necessary.

No predictions on wins and losses of County Legislative races due to the use of these “guest workers” from parts unknown -- except they're not from Monroe County. But you have to credit Chairman Morelle with being able to put so many boots on the ground in the very important last few days to shore up his candidates' mediocre ground game. Even so, a visit by the candidate is the best form of contact with the voter.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

CD-23: National Press Doesn't Get It

"A struggle for the soul of the Republican Party."  --  Baloney.

As usual, the press doesn't get it.   Scozzafava's dropping out doesn't have to do with that, except collaterally.   It has to do with grassroots New York Republicans fed up with choices their party leaders make for them.

Scozza was chosen by the eleven county GOP Chairmen in the 23rd.   The typical business-as-usual Republican leadership crowd that for decades has cranked out regulation-issue Albany Republicans, whose first and highest thought is about their cushy political jobs and how to keep getting elected.   Then jumping into bed with the public employee unions in order to do it.

If Dede were a fiscal conservative the GOP rank-and-file would have stuck with her regardless of what she thought about gay marriage, abortion or other social issues.   It's her fiscal record that makes her part of the Albany disgrace and therefore unacceptable to grassroots Republicans.

This, by the way, is the same factor that contributed to Randy Kuhl's lukewarm support and outright non-support among the Republican faithful, which ended up costing him his job.   Another Albany-style Republican straight out of Central Casting.