Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Crumbs from Shelly's Table?

From Capital New York today:
Morelle is a prodigious fund-raiser, outraising every other Assembly candidate in the last election cycle despite having no opponents. 
• • • 
His largest donor was real estate developer Leonard Litwin . . .  Litwin has been widely identified as “Developer 1” in the criminal charges that led to Silver’s pending removal as speaker.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Et tu, Joey?

Photo tweeted by Patrick Dodson, Schenectady Daily Gazette

The sleazy deal put together over the weekend by Sheldon Silver and a handful of loyalists, including Rochester Assemblyman Joe Morelle, appears to have collapsed.  Its purpose was to make it appear that Silver was "stepping back," while keeping him in control through a committee of five front-men, including Morelle. 

This was too much even for many Assembly Democrats.  First, Democratic Assembly members from downstate districts outside of New York City rejected the deal, which they described as "dictated" to them.  The photo above shows Morelle accompanying his patron to an appearance at yesterday's meeting of Assembly Democrats. Most of the meeting took place without Silver in the room.  According to the Albany Times-Union, by the time it ended, the consensus was that Silver should resign.  If not, he'd face a potential vote to oust him.   

Manhattan Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh commented,“He should understand that he’s lost the confidence of a majority of our conference.”

Today's New York Times reports:
On Monday night, the Assembly majority leader, Joseph D. Morelle, a Democrat from the Rochester area, went into Mr. Silver’s office to tell the speaker of his colleagues’ feelings, other Democratic members of the Assembly said. They gave him until Tuesday to make a decision on whether to step down, or risk being ousted from his position.
Publicly at least, Silver has responded with defiance:  "I am the Speaker."   A simple, true fact.  We'll be watching to see if  it remains so at the end of today.

Assembly Democrats meet at noon to consider the matter further.  Will Silver resign by then?  Possibly, but in our view unlikely.  Somebody who considered the fig-leaf proposal to exercise power through a committee of five loyalists to be acceptable to the public will look for another way to hold on to power while appearing to relinquish it.  Yet it doesn't seem that his Democratic colleagues will go along.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Damage Control

Democrats in the State Assembly have given in to political necessity.  To avoid the outrage that would greet the visual of Sheldon Silver, out on bail, gaveling the body to order today, they've cut a deal with the Speaker whereby he "delegates" his power to a panel of five.

So instead of Silver running the Assembly directly, he does it through five Silver flunkies, including Joe Morelle.

Window-dressing to escape bad PR.

Also, an unnatural arrangement in the political world.  We'll see which of the five emerges as the real power.  Or if any of them do, with Shelly still pulling the strings if this plan goes through.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Morelle, Explained

Today's New York Times explains a local political career.
“Shelly excelled at creating a governing style that would encourage ambitious, intelligent people to leave,” one former member of the Assembly said.
• • • 
That Mr. Morelle himself is not considered an obvious successor is indicative of the sometimes fragmented nature of the Democratic caucus. In the Assembly, the downstate delegation is particularly powerful, occupying about 60 percent of the Assembly’s 150 seats spread across Long Island and New York City’s five boroughs; most are held by Democrats.
Accordingly, members from the city have typically dominated the speakership, while majority leaders like Mr. Morelle and Mr. Bragman came from upstate. That was in part a salve for upstate legislators who were effectively locked out of the leadership of their chamber because of its city-centric makeup.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Race for County Executive: The Democrats

Cheryl DiNolfo's announcement today got us thinking about the potential field of Democratic candidates for Monroe County Executive.

Vincent Esposito has been a protege of former Democratic County Chairman, and Sheldon Silver apologistJoe Morelle.  Esposito would have Morelle behind him if he ran.  In 2012 Governor Cuomo appointed Esposito, then a Morelle staffer and County Legislator, as Regional Director of Empire State Development.  Esposito holds that position still.  Therein lies at least one of the problems making a race for County Exec problematic for him.  It's a six-figure job, with substantial autonomy, that he conceivably could hold as long as Cuomo holds office, which could be another eight years or more.   If he won, he'd have to leave it, taking a big pay cut. Esposito has a young family and might well be disinclined to spend every morning, evening and every weekend away from them for much of a year.

Electability is a big question.  Esposito has run for and held but one political office, County Legislator for Irondequoit, a race for which Morelle pulled out all the stops for him, even cutting a deal to get him the Conservative nomination.  Esposito served loyally as Morelle's proxy in the County legislature. Otherwise, his resume is completely that of  a political staff appointee.  To ordinary voters it likely won't impart the kind of gravitas they often find important.

Sticking with Morelle proteges for a moment, Adam Bello is another person whose name comes up in discussing Democratic contenders for the County Office Building.   Bello is a year into his first term as Irondequoit Town Supervisor -- a race for which Morelle, as he did for Esposito, went to the wall to get his proxy into Town Hall.

For Bello, the County Exec's office would mean a large increase in pay. Much of the local Democratic talent has had little or no private sector, for-profit, experience beyond student jobs. Whatever political job they can land is going to be the best-paying gig they can expect in this life, until the next better-paying political slot opens up.  If Bello is in that category, the pay could be a big motivator.

On the down side, going for County Exec this year would force Bello to forgo running for re-election as Town Supervisor.  He'd be promised a Governor's appointment to some lucrative State sinecure, like Esposito's, if he ran for Exec and lost, but that might prove small consolation if he likes being Supervisor.  As for electability, Bello presents a profile like Esposito's, with even briefer experience in one elected office.  Bello's career has been spent mainly as a political staffer at, or for, Democratic Party headquarters.  Further handicapping his entry in the gravitas sweepstakes is his relative youth.  There may not be available enough Grecian Formula "Distinguished Grey" to get Bello into the Executive's chair.

One name that percolated for a while was former District Attorney Michael Green.  However, the faction of the County Democratic Party loyal to David Gantt has no time for Green and won't support him. Green has never been a favorite of Joe Morelle, for many reasons, some of which we've recounted before.  That eliminates the Party's other faction as a source of support.

Other relevant factors may dissuade Green.  First, he should scarcely wish to place himself under close public scrutiny, lest the public learn the reasons why his own party refused to renominate him for the federal judgship he abused his office to try to obtain.  The Democrat and Chronicle will cover up for him as it does for its favorites and did for Green, but we have local television journalists, such as Sean Carroll,  Berkeley Breen and Rachel Barnhart, for example, whose game these days seems better than ever and who pursue questions that get to the core of things.  Green can't be sure  he'd slip past scrutiny as in the old days.

Second, Green's state appointment pays substantially more than the County Exec's job.  He'd take a big pay cut.  He must be thinking that a better bet would be for him to run for a judgeship.  Fourteen years at a high six-figure income.  Less scrutiny than a race for County Executive.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, Green's current State job gives him a reason to be out of town most weeks.  As those will know, who are familiar with the reasons why the U.S. Senate Democrats cut Green loose, that's how Mikey likes it.

We've also heard County Legislature Minority Leader Carrie Andrews mentioned, as well as current Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle, but not frequently enough to cause us to think at this point that either has interest substantial enough to have stepped into contention.

That brings us to the most credible potential Democratic candidate: former Brighton Supervisor Sandra Frankel. Personable, smart, tested as a candidate in numerous elections, including one statewide and one county-wide, Ms. Frankel brings to the table years of experience successfully administering a large Town.  She had a bad result running against Maggie Brooks in 2011, not because she was a bad candidate, but because her core message -- that the County government is corrupt and it's Maggie's fault -- just didn't sell.  To an extent her campaign was reminiscent of Bob Dole plaintively asking during his 1996 presidential run, "Where's the outrage?"  She has the benefit of having tried it that way once and seeing that it didn't work. She has stated publicly her interest in running again and is working to secure the necessary support.

Ms. Frankel comes across as a person of substance and wisdom and would bring to the campaign a good track record running a municipal government and enormous personal likability.  She's the one Republicans need to worry about.  Monroe County Democrats could do much worse, and based on the names in play to date, if they nominate someone else, they almost certainly will.


Parliament of Whores

“I’m continuing to support the speaker," says Shelly Silver's Number One toady in the State Assembly, Joe Morelle. “We have every confidence that the speaker is going to fill his role with distinction.”

Morelle says this while admitting he hadn't even read the criminal complaint -- and before the U.S. Attorney's news conference explaining it all.

Another embarrassing black eye for Rochester.   


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Free Pass

Is there anyone who thinks that Robert Duffy’s coronation as head of the Rochester Business Alliance resulted from a fair and unbiased assessment of candidates?

This has been a slam-dunk insider deal since last year.  But back then, rumors leaked out and, just by coincidence, as she told us at the time, RBA CEO and Joe Morelle flunky Sandy Parker announced that she’d hang on for another year.

Then, yesterday, Parker admits that she was lying.  She did it as part of a preordained plan to bring in Duffy.  No doubt wondering when to announce things officially, the RBA siezed the moment, making the announcement while the Buffalo snow storm commands the headlines.

What process did the RBA Board use to select its new leader?
Who were the members of the Selection Committee?
Who appointed the Selection Committee?

Did any of these people run or own businesses that received largesse of any kind from the “Enterprise Panels,” or whatever that sham was called, to which Gov. Cuomo rusticated his Lieutenant to get him out of the way and let him spin his wheels?

We all know better than to expect the house organ of the local Democrats' Morelle faction to ask these questions.

So is there anyone out there in local media willing to ask them and pursue the answers?

Rachel Barnhart, whose B.S. detector is one of the best around, has raised relevant concerns.  Will her inquiries migrate from Twitter and her blog to the much larger audience of the airwaves, for a televised investigative report?

How about you, Brett Davidsen?  Sean Carroll?  Berkeley BreenAnybody?  Why not start calling members of the RBA Board to ask some questions?  They're all listed on the Alliance's website.  Seems like there’s a story here, people.

A story about an inside deal that leaked out about a year ago.  All participants then fell back and regrouped, until the coast was clear, in the cause of appointing Duffy to lead Rochester’s principal professional business organization.

Bob Duffy has never run a private business. Apart from possible high school and college jobs, he’s never so much as held a job in the private sector.  As Mayor he raised taxes on businesses and residents.

Where was Duffy as Lieutenant Governor, when Buffalo got $1 billion from the State and Rochester got bupkis?

We’ve had some minor issues before with Brian Samson, long-time Executive Director of the RBA's Unshackle Upstate project.  Yet he genuinely advocated for business and he’d seem to be a likely successor for the top spot.  Together with Parker, he was one of the two most prominent faces of the RBA.    But the fix was in.  Now we understand why he left RBA earlier this year.  They never gave him a fair shot.

The whole farce is a black eye for the Rochester Business Alliance.  It’s now run by a politician.  Is it anything more than a de-facto arm of the faction of the Monroe Democratic Party that resents and opposes Mayor Warren?

If it’s not, let the RBA prove it.  Let them appoint a Republican as Chairman of the Board.  Not some politically clueless country-club type who happens to be a Republican, but someone with a political pedigree, like Duffy.  Jack Doyle is tanned, rested and ready.

Will people who call themselves journalists and news editors pursue the questions around the Duffy coronation?  We'll see.

Meanwhile, we can all wait to find out what high-level position Mollie Clifford gets from the new head of the RBA.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Funke 51 - O'Brien 42

Siena Institute poll released today.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

One-Way Ticket to Funke Town

Candidates who lose sometimes get a court order after the election to impound voting machines and absentee ballots.  Winners don't do this, because they have no interest in questioning the vote.

State Senator Ted O'Brien isn't waiting for election night.  As if admitting it foresees Tuesday's outcome, O'Brien's campaign didn't wait.  It filed this week for court orders to impound machines and absentee ballots.

A final Sienna poll on the Funke-O'Brien race is expected tomorrow.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Local GOP proves once again it could care less about the City of Rochester

Today Maggie Brooks came out to endorse Lovely Warren for Mayor. I find it odd that the top Republican Executive in Monroe County is quick to endorse a Mayoral candidate from another party when she wouldn't even endorse the Republican candidates for City Council during her last run for County Executive, to include Andy Rau and myself. Further proof that Republican leadership in this County could care less about the City of Rochester.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Odd Mentality in the City of Rochester since Primary

All we learned this week is that registered Dems voted for a certain slate of candidates to represent them in the November election.

What we don't know is how the WFP's, I's, R's, G's and Blanks are going to vote. Anyone suggesting that candidates should drop out, who lost the Democrat primary and appear on another party line, only shows that they are worried their candidate can't pull it off in the BIG election this fall. Any Democrat with another party line who drops out only shows they were never concerned with representing city voters; they were only willing to run on the path of least resistance. If these candidates drop out, they're essentially telling their supporters: You wasted your time.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Upset Night

In Rochester, Lovely Warren beats Mayor Tom Richards for Democratic nomination, 58% - 41%. Warren focused on campaign fundamentals, bringing her campaign to the door. Turned out her base. Richards didn't; relied on TV instead. Also, Warren offered vision and a new approach to education in the City. Those trapped in the Rochester City School District had to find it appealing. More power to her for that.

Result makes Democratic Party Chairman Joe Morelle look politically hapless.

Smugtown Beacon's Aaron Wicks foresaw this, in his excellent analysis on Sunday, which helps explain tonight's result.

In Henrietta, Jack Moore beats Supervisor Mike Yudelson for Republican nomination, 66% - 34%. Moore's people saw this coming; no one else did.