Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Republican Senators: Support Mayoral Control!

Given the raging torrent of legislative effluent that roars through the open sewer known as the New York State Legislature, you'd think State Senators of character, if there are any, would want to take the rare opportunity to vote for something that will actually do some good, for some people who need it.

So why are our Republican State Senators so stand-offish about voting for the bill on Mayoral control of Rochester's schools?

Senators Alesi, Robach, Nozzolio and Maziarz:   You should be lining up to support this bill.   Its passage easily could be the single most beneficial and useful thing you'll do in your entire Senate careers.

Don't blow it.

And don't expect continued automatic support from your Republican constituents if you do.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Does Dan Maffei Know What He's Spending Our Money On?

A friend just gave me a copy of Congressman Dan Maffei’s recent taxpayer-funded mailing.

Checking out the accomplishments Maffei boasts about, I see a blurb about a grant for $500,000 for repaving a runway at the Williamson Airport in Wayne County.   Next to the blurb is a photo of a commercial passenger airplane on a runway.

Does Dan Maffei know what he's talking about?

The Williamson Airport is a tiny airport owned by the Williamson Flying Club, a private social club for local pilots.   I asked my cousin in Sodus, who's a pilot (not a member of the club) about the airport.   No commercial passenger plane could land or take off there, because the runway's too short!   Internet research confirmed this.   And the proposed repaving won't lengthen the runway.

Makes you question whether Mr. Maffei has actually been to the Williamson Airport, whether he ever reviewed his taxpayer-funded mailing, or whether he reviewed what he was funding in the first place.

Or maybe the idea was just to throw a wad of money at anything at all in the district, to have something to talk about for re-election.

It certainly attracted the attention of the CBS Evening News, which used the Maffei funding of the airport as Exhibit A in a report on questionable uses of federal stimulus funds.

Maffei's largesse with our money also made the "Oh, My Gov!" website, devoted to chronicling "governments's wonders and blunders:"

One such airport is Williamson Flying Club in Upstate New York.   The private club, whose members must be approved by a country club-like vote and pay a $345 membership fee plus $30 in monthly dues and fees, recently received $555,000 in stimulus money to repave its runway.
Congressman Maffei:   Who are you trying to fool?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Chairman Reilich at Two Years

It's been nearly two years since Assemblyman Bill Reilich succeeded the legendary Steve Minarik as Monroe County Republican Chairman.   Minarik had a long track record of success.   He built the Monroe County Republican organization, won all the top county-wide offices for his party other than DA, won Republican control of the County Legislature in 1993 and retained it continuously thereafter.   A tough act to follow.

In Republican circles, Reilich had always been popular and respected. Yet, after the long Minarik reign (many GOP elected officials had never known another Chairman), it was a leap into something completely new.   It's probably fair to say that Monroe County Republicans were optimistic about Reilich, and had reason to be.   That's different, however, from being assured.

Today they're very solidly assured.   The successes of Monroe County Republicans in the last two years have matched those attained in the highest moments of the Minarik era.   Many would say they've surpassed them.


Chairman Reilich's first test as party leader.   A tremendous national Democratic tide, fueled by the unpopularity of George W. Bush and by the popularity of Barack Obama threatens even local Republicans.   A presidential election year, meaning stronger than usual turnout by Democratic voters, made stronger still by the excitement of the Obama candidacy.

Locally, the State Democratic Party, hoping to capture the State Senate, pulled out all the stops, mounting serious and well financed challenges to Senators Joe Robach (facing Rick Dollinger) and Jim Alesi (facing David Nachbar).   Local Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle followed suit, pouring $200,000 of State Democratic Assembly Campaign money into the effort to defeat Reilich himself.

The Democratic candidate for County Clerk, challenging incumbent Cheryl DiNolfo, ran an unimpressive campaign; otherwise there was Democratic strength across the board for almost every office.

Outcome:   As Republicans took a nasty beating nationally, Monroe County Republicans won every competitively contested race, save one.   (Incumbent Supreme Court Judge Lunn blew his campaign, wasting $75,000 on billboards, and spending only $25,000 on television, allowing Democrat Joanne Winslow to take his seat.) Alesi beat back the aggressive campaign from Nachbar; Robach succeeded against the formidable former Senator Dollinger, through a disciplined, positive campaign.

The achievement of Monroe County Republicans, under Reilich's leadership, stood out conspicuously from among the national and statewide Republican wreckage.


We could sum it up verbally with two words, "County Legislature," and visually by the look on Joe Morelle's face on TV on election night, which looked like the dog just died.

Democrats in the County Legislature were measuring for curtains in the County Legislature Majority Office, Democratic Legislator Paul Haney was contemplating life as the Legislature President, and the champagne was iced and waiting in the editorial offices and newsrooms of the Democrat and Chronicle, when election night brought them the unwelcome surprise that Reilich's Republicans had held the line.   In numerous hotly contested races for seats in the Legislature, Republicans held every seat, denying Democrats the single seat they needed to sieze the majority.

The story repeated across the County.   Republicans took over Morelle's home base of Irondequoit, electing a Supervisor and two Town Board members.   In Reilich's home base of Greece, with all of the publicity over problems in the police department there, Supervisor John Auberger successfully beat back the most concerted and well-funded Democratic effort in years, denying Democrats even a single seat on the Town Board.   Of all the competitive local elections in 2009, Republicans lost but one, a town Board seat in Mendon, at the same time they picked up the Mendon Supervisor's seat.

Elections aren't won by a Party Chairman alone.   Reilich came into the Chairmanship with a talented group of operatives on board, most notably the renowned "Hannibal" and his A-Team, as it's said they're known among GOP insiders.   They knew what the strategy should be and how to implement it.   But it was Reilich who made the decision to keep the Team together, and who ratified the strategy and its implementation.   Ultimately, it's the Chairman's responsibility.   He's the one Republicans would be blaming had things gone the other way.

The 2009 Republican victory, against all expectations, will be remembered for a long time by political types in Monroe County.   Together with the local GOP sweep on 2008, it constitutes a remarkable record of success for Bill Reilich.

Republicans picked the right guy.

Happy 2nd anniversary, Mr. Reilich.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


What an embarrassing and awkward press conference it must have been for Democratic Chairman and State Assemblyman Joe Morelle when State Senate candidate Mary Wilmot went on a tirade about the dysfunction in Albany.

Poor little Joe, an Assemblyman for almost 20 years and part of the entrenched Democratic Assembly leadership under Shelly Silver, had to stand next to his endorsed candidate and endure her rant about Albany politicians and the need to throw them out.

With Morelle standing at her side and looking uncomfortable (so I’m told), let’s take a quick look at three parts of candidate Wilmot’s announcement speech (according to reporter Sean Dobbin from a 6/20/10 D&C article):

(1) Mary Wilmot officially announced her campaign for the 55th state Senate District on Saturday morning at a ceremony in Schoen Place in Pittsford. Standing with U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, and state Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Wilmot railed against the current culture in Albany, calling the state a "national embarrassment."

Hey, can someone please remind these two that Joe Morelle has been in the Assembly for almost two decades, is a sitting committee chairman and according to his website - "one of the Assembly’s most senior members." This sounds to me like Joe is a part of the “current culture in Albany” that she referred to as a “national embarrassment.”

(2) She (Wilmot) referenced the state's budget crisis and uncontrolled government spending as evidence of Albany's dysfunction.

Now, that was a classic statement!

Please, someone remind them that Joe Morelle and his Democratic colleagues control all of Albany and state government, and thus are responsible for the budget crisis and the uncontrollable government spending that Wilmot criticized so stingingly.

Let’s not forget that Morelle, one of the Assembly’s most senior members (so says his website) and Democratic colleagues still can’t agree on a state budget and pass it on time.

(3) "Some current state senators have simply been in office too long," said Wilmot, a Democrat who formerly ran Gov. David Paterson's office in Rochester. "A train wreck on autopilot, they are more interested in sustaining their status quo and the perks of their job, and they've lost sight of what serving their constituents really means. It's time for them to go."

Let’s see…. Last time I checked, Morelle has been an Assemblyman longer than Jim Alesi has been a Senator and Democrats have controlled the Assembly for what seems an eternity. So, if we analyze Wilmot’s remarks as also relevant to the State Assembly establishment, we then could certainly apply them to Joe Morelle. Can anyone prove me wrong here?

In summary-
Really Joe, didn’t you have someone review her remarks before she blasted you and your fellow Democrats who control the Assembly, Senate and Governor’s office?

Also, just as a point of reference and for a good laugh, Morelle’s candidate Mary Wilmot formerly ran both Governor Paterson’s Rochester office and the Senate Democratic Majority operations based in Rochester… Yes, the very same contributors responsible for a culture in Albany she calls a “national embarrassment.”


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Team Lazio: Blowing the Message

The recent communique from Rick Lazio's camp denouncing anti-Semite Helen Thomas underscored a problem with the Republican gubernatorial campaign.   They're off message.   They lack focus.   Thomas deserved the denunciation, but it was coming in plentifully from all quarters.

Lazio's job is running for Governor.   Running -- effectively -- means zeroing in on the two or three issues that matter most to voters and talking about nothing else.   In New York, those issues are taxes and jobs.   Period.

It's the Lazio campaign's weakness in this regard that, as much as anything, is letting Andrew Cuomo get away with portraying himself, an Albany insider for nearly three decades, as an outsider, and a reformer.   Andrew Cuomo's own party has to believe he's faking it on issues of spending and taxes, and reforming Albany in a meaningful way.   They wouldn't have nominated him if they believed he was on the level.   But Team Lazio's lack of focus is helping Cuomo pull off the deception.

Lazio need only look to Monroe County for an example.   Take Assemblyman and County Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle.   As he runs for re-election this year, and positions himself for his race for County Executive next year, Morelle has to overcome twenty years of voting for ever-higher taxes and spending.   And so, for months now, nothing has come out of Morelle's mouth that doesn't have to do with ... jobs and taxes!   It's a campaign discipline that's practically channelling the spirit of the late GOP Chairman Steve Minarik.   It has that focus.

Lazio should take the example.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Reflections on the Brockport Vote

Readers may recall our views on eliminating, or formally consolidating, units of local government such as villages:   do so if you have good reasons, but don't expect it to be the answer to relieving New York's sky-high tax burden.   It won't, because school taxes and state taxes comprise most of that burden.   Remember, depending on where you live in Monroe County, school taxes make up anywhere from 70% to 80% of your property tax bill.

However, you may have other reasons to favor a dissolution or consolidation.   Notwithstanding our take on the issue generally, had I lived in Brockport I probably would have voted last mTuesday in favor of dissolving the Village.   Brockport has had a troubled history with village government.   As we know, actual Brockport residents thought differently, and voted ovedrwhelmingly to retain their village form of goverment.

A few final observatons on the Brockport vote.

First, it demonstrated how hard New York's public employee aristocracy fights any change to the status quo.   In Brockport, the biggest potential losers, had the village been dissolved, would have been the Police Department.

There are eleven Brockport village policemen.   Six make over $100,000 per year.   No wonder the police did their best to throw a good scare into residents, about disastrous consequences for their safety if the village government were scrapped.   Even though, with no police force, the Sheriff's office would take over.   And even though the Town of Sweden might well have retained the department.   But when you're making the big bucks, you don't leave anything to chance.

Secondly, the vote underscored once more the irrelevance of the Democrat and Chronicle's editorial page to people's values, concerns, and to what's going on in their lives.   With myopic determination, the D&C has been beating the drum of dissolution and consolidation for years, and came out directly and strongly in favor of dissolving Brockport, hammering the issue in the weeks before the vote.   Their arguments didn't impress the voters.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Small People

So the Chairman of BP (boo - hiss) is a native Swedish speaker.   English is a second language for him, and it shows.   He does it well, but seems a step removed from being easily fluent.

Yet the brave new world of rigid political correctness makes no allowances.   In a spoken statement clearly meaning (whether he's sincere is another matter, but this was the meaning) that even a big company like his cares about individuals, he used clumsy English.   The concept was the individual, in contrast to a large organization.

And to state that idea, he used words that a well-educated native speaker of English wouldn't use, referring to the "small people."

Meaning the contrast of the big, like a corporation, with the (comparatively) small, like an individual person.

Those words, or words close to it -- "the little guy" -- are often used by many Americans, even American politicians, to refer to the individual citizen, in the context of discussing the actions or influence of large institutions.

But making the effort in his second language brought Carl-Henric Svanberg face-to-face with what passes for thinking in this country today.

Actually, there are small people.   They're the people with small enough minds and small enough character to make this petty criticism of a foreign-speaker's attempt to convey a note of sympathy.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Brockport Vote

If any village we know should have been dissolved, it should have been Brockport.   A long legacy of bad government.

Tonight, the residents said "No" to dissolution of the village government.

For the rest of us, the important point is to keep our eyes on the ball.   Maybe local dissolution or consolidation makes sense in certain circumstances.   But when it comes to reducing governmental costs, it's almost always a false option.   No matter what the Democrat and Chronicle says.

Even if all the savings of dissolution were realized, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the two big tax drivers:   state taxes and local school taxes.

Consolidate your butt off.   New York remains a high-tax state until the state's take and the schools' take are trimmed way back.


Where Are the Demands for "Civility?"

By now you've probably seen video of Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge assaulting a student, in response to the student asking Etheridge whether he supports the policies of President Obama.

There's a second view, from a different angle.

So where are the strident denunciations, and demands for "civility" from the mainstream media and its favored elected officials?   Remember last summer, when those demands came fast and thick, after ordinary citizens attended town hall meetings and ... and ...

What was it those irksome citizens did again?   ...   Oh, right.   They expressed political views diverging from liberal orthodoxy.

For that, we were told, ad nauseam, they were a threat to democracy, they had debased public discourse by rendering it uncivil, they were intimidators, they were hate-mongers.

Then it reached a fever-pitch right after the health-care vote in March, with unproven accusations of violence against dissenters.

But a Democratic Congressman is caught on video assaulting a student and ... no complaints.

No surprises here, of course.   But it reminds us of the "brick through the window" incident at Monroe County Democratic headquarters last March, that made national news.   Had that turned out to be the work of a Tea Partier or someone sympathetic to the cause, it would have been all over the media.   Instead, we've had complete silence since the event was reported.   No media follow-up at all.

Probably the clearest sign, amid all the others, that it was a staged hoax:   an inside job, contrived to cast discredit on protesting citizens, to win sympathy for Democrats and deflect attention from their unsavory methods in ramming through the health-care bill.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Wishful Thinking

Democratic County Legislator Paul Haney tells the newspaper today that he expects the county will have "a fiscal control board" in five years.

This in an article highlighting the County's continuing benefit from opting for the "sales tax intercept" to pay for Medicaid.   Local Democrats derided the intercept at the time, no doubt believing, correctly, that it would improve the County's fiscal position, make the County administration look good, and stave off the day when they could finally box in Maggie Brooks so she would have to raise property taxes.

The D&C also grudgingly noted that the County government received the highest rating from its auditors for its financial controls, during the past fiscal year.

Haney is no stranger to fiscal disaster, as architect of the County's $40 million deficit, and orchestrator of the coverup of the same, when he served as chief financial officer of the last Democratic county administration in the early 1990s.


Friday, June 11, 2010

WHY Are You Reading a Blog on a Great Day Like This?

Get out and have some fun.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ugly License Plates Explained

I got my new license plates the other day.   The colors are hideous.   If that weren’t bad enough, they clash with my burgundy car.   The overall look is dreadful!  It made me wonder about the reason for a change in plates and what color car I would have to own to appreciate these terrible colors.

I think I've figured it out.   So there's Governor Paterson and his budget advisors discussing cost-cutting measures and why it is necessary to take money away from our children and their schools.   The Governor agrees that school cuts must be made so that welfare recipients won’t be harmed in any way.   Paterson then laments that something must be done to compensate the schools for their loss. Overhearing this conversation, a staffer says “I bet that they would just love to have license plates that match the school buses!”

There you have it.   The schools are happy and won’t sue the state.   The welfare crowd is happy because the checks keep coming.   All I have to do is make sure my next car is school bus yellow, to match the new plates.

In farce, as in other dramatic forms, everybody plays his part.


Monday, June 7, 2010

The Morelle Channel

All Joey, All the Time

Sunday marked the second conspicuous appearance, in recent weeks, of a Democrat and Chronicle's opinion piece co-authored by Assemblyman, Democratic Chairman, and next year's Democratic Candidate for County Executive, Joe Morelle.   This follows a story in the same week of a new business locating here, with Morelle's smiling face in the story.

We've noted before that if there were a year in which even an entrenched Albany hack like Joe Morelle could lose a bid for re-election, this is the year.   We've made note of the Assemblyman's notably close relationship with the Democrat and Chronicle.   The paper now seems to be pulling out all the stops to give its favorite son free public face time equivalent to tens of thousands in paid advertising.

The paper has shown no hesitation before in heavy-duty pimping for its preferred candidates in contested elections.   Its editors must share our -- and Morelle's -- sense of political risk to him this year.

David Gantt and David Koon are both incumbent Democratic Assemblymen running for re-election, but somehow we haven't been treated to a minor torrent of creative writing in the editorial page, or photos accompany various pieces of happy-news, as we have for Shelly Silver's number one errand-boy in Rochester.

Back when the fare on The History Channel consisted mostly of World War II documentaries, wags dubbed it, "The Hitler Channel -- All Adolph, All the Time."

The D&C now has openly adopted the same approach for its choice for County Exec. next year.   We're going to have fun keeping track.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Ridiculous Criticism of the President

We don't know whether to laugh or cry over criticisms of the President, voiced in the media, that he's somehow not "showing enough anger" over the oil disaster in the Gulf.

What's he supposed to do?   Fly down to New Orleans and throw a temper tantrum?

As with any other political figure, there's plenty in President Obama's policies, and conduct in certain situations, that invites criticism.   So criticize it.

But why criticize him for his personal deportment?   One of the appealing things about this President is his great personal dignity.   Thank goodness it's well on display as he copes with the oil spill.

I know, I know, the Left was far less principled, and much more vicious, in its attacks on President Bush.   But why sink to their level?

Understand that this has nothing to do with how Obama or his administration have responded to the situation.   That response seems wanting in many respects.   Also, there are political risks in what a President does while a sustained crisis rolls on and on.   Partying with Paul McCartney may open him up to criticism.   On the other hand, Jimmy Carter paid a political price by seeming to be held hostage himself, when he basically holed up in the Oval Office for the duration of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 - 80.

It does no good for anybody for the Prez to a stage a photo op holding an oil-soaked pelican and bawling his eyes out.

Once again we observe the strikingly curious Obama Paradox:   given a free ride on so many matters, he is subject to unusually ridiculous criticism on others.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hiding in Plain Sight

City Council held its budget hearing yesterday, kicking off promptly at 9:00 am and running until 5:00pm.

9 to 5?   Isn't that when most of the residents of the City are at work?   So they're unable to go to the budget hearing if they're interested in attending?

What a convenient way of avoiding that pesky "public input."   Especially from the taxpayers who work in order to feed the government beast.

Maybe the City could do what the County government does -- the County budget hearings are held in the evening, beginning at 6 pm.   That gives people who work a chance to participate.   Which is how you do it when you want them to participate.

Meanwhile, the Democrat and Chronicle runs editorials demanding "more public input" into the County budget.   But not a word, of course, on how the City shuts the working public out.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Duffy's Convention Claims vs. the Truth

So Lt. Gov. - candidate Duffy brags to the Democratic State convention about his record on taxes as Mayor of Rochester:

"Duffy said too many New Yorkers are suffering and noted how the median household income in Rochester is about $29,000. He said government should not put more burdens on New Yorkers, saying he was able to lower taxes in Rochester during his nearly five years in office."   -- Joe Spector, Gannett Albany Bureau Chief
Let’s see what Mr. Mayor doesn’t tell the crowd about the five City Budgets he has been responsible for:
Source: City of Rochester Budgets 2005/06 – 2010/11

1.   City spending increased 3 times totaling $55 million;

2.   Typical Homestead (residential) Burden Increased 4 times (Property Tax and Service Charges)

3.   Typical Non-Homestead (businesses) Burden Increased 4 times (Property Tax and Local Works Charge)

4.   Property Tax Rate
•   Homestead tax increased 2 times
•   Non-Homestead tax (i.e., on businesses) increased 3 times
5.   Typical Homestead Service Charges (Water, Refuse & Local Works) increased 4 times
Maybe Duffy was talking about Rochester, Minnesota.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who Should Succeed Mayor Duffy?

A wise man once told me that the smartest people are those who understand their own limitations.   I present to you the converse of that statement:   Willie Lightfoot Jr.   County Legislator Lightfoot, a man who doesn’t realize he's not capable of running the office of the Mayor of the City of Rochester, has said he's interested in becoming Mayor if the Cuomo/Duffy ticket wins in November.

Qualifications aside, in the interest of what is best for our entire community, we need a Mayor who can work in the best interest of all City residents.   Lightfoot is too much of a David Gantt footsoldier, with everything that implies.

The person who could be and should be the next Mayor, if Duffy is elected as LG, is current Deputy Mayor Patricia Malgieri.   She is smart, capable and understands the problems that face the city.   She has the ability to maintain a smooth transition and not miss a beat.   She's the person in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city government.   There is no Democrat living in the city today that with the knowledge, ability and experience do what Malgieri could do as Mayor.