Ladies and gentlemen, in the spirit of "Obama is your new bicycle", I present to you:
Yesterday, the Seneca Nation of Indians held a rally in downtown Buffalo's Niagara Square to protest against the state's possible move to tax sales of cigarettes and gas to non-Indians on Nation territory. It's a hot button topic here, and people with long memories may recall a similar move by then-Gov. Pataki in 1997, in response to which the Senecas shut down the New York State Thruway. A video from WNYMedia.net:
Hey. How's it going? Everyone settling in nicely now that Pataki's gone? Congrats, too, on adding another Democratic State Senator. Slowly but surely, eh?
Anyhow, I want to talk with you a little bit about this whole Hevesi replacement situation.
See, I like Governor Spitzer. I voted for him. I am hopeful about his agenda to reform the way you guys all do business on the Hudson. I didn't vote for Shelly Silver. I didn't vote for Joe Bruno. Neither of those guys represent me, neither of those guys represent anyone in WNY, and none of them are particularly interested in what goes on out here in the stix, right? I mean, Silver is from the lower east side of Manhattan, and Bruno has a nice horse farm near Saratoga. I don't mind Silver running the Assembly or Bruno running the Senate. After all, they're elected to do so by their membership. What I do mind is that they see themselves as co-Governors of the state along with Spitzer.
I you find politics in the least bit entertaining, you ought to watch the long version of WGRZ-TV's(Buffalo) Scott Brown's interview with State Senator Dale Volker (R), and the wild interjection by Volker's aide, J.R. Drexelius.
I prepared a transcript of the exchange because it contains so many interesting tidbits. It's quite interesting how Volker frames his replies.
At a State Senate hearing on the Berger Commission hospital closing report, Channel 2's Scott Brown pulled Volker aside to ask about the possibility that the state legislature, which meets on the 13th in special session, will vote to raise its pay.
Reynolds is up and Davis is down in a new SurveyUSA poll; Reynolds is at 49% and Davis is at 46%. That swing back in Reynolds' favor, given everything that's gone down in the last couple of weeks, isn't necessarily a surprise. After all, Reynolds has taken the October storm as an opportunity to beat a path to every microphone and camera within 50 miles of here. Between his grandstanding and credit-taking and Pataki naming Reynolds the designated contact for FEMA (an appointment that FEMA itself said was bullshit), a bounce for Reynolds makes perfect sense. The poll, however, comes with a caveat:
The media here in the dog's nose of New York State have been atwitter over Tom Reynolds' involvement in the PageGate scandal involving Mark Foley. As has been widely reported, we know that the 16-year old recipient of Foley's inappapropriate emails was troubled enough to bring it up with Rodney Alexander (R-LA), who then took it to Tom Reynolds.
Why? Because Reynolds is in charge of the NRCC.
Reynolds, in turn, did not engage in any sort of investigation into the matter, but instead claims to have informed his boss, Denny Hastert about the matter. There was no ethics probe of Foley; no censure, no reprimand.
Geoff Kelly has a great piece in Buffalo's alt-weekly, Artvoice, reviewing the book “Three Men in a Room”, written by former Democratic State Senator Seymour Lachman.
Combining personal anecdotes, historical background and a dismaying collection of statistics, Lachman makes the case for a sweeping revision of the way state government does business, by means no less dramatic than a state constitutional convention. His account also explains why, after four successful re-election bids, he resigned his seat in disgust in 2004. He had first won the seat in a 1996 special election. What he found in Albany was a legislature whose members had little or no say in crafting legislation; whose members traded obedience to their party and house leaders for perquisites, pork-barrel projects and easy re-election; which was in the sway of powerful, largely unregulated lobbyists; and which routinely failed to accomplish anything of substance, even its most basic responsibility to pass an annual budget on time. In short, he found a government that was controlled almost entirely by three men in a room, who run New York State with little accountability to most New Yorkers. A government, Lachman notes in the book, which in 2002 managed to pass only 4.4 percent of the 16,892 bills legislators introduced—the lowest achievement record of any statehouse in the country.
There's a statewide gubernatorial town hall meeting taking place next week.
Evidently, Buffalo isn't part of the state anymore. We don't have concerns worth considering.
Getting down to brass tacks, every single candidate comes on over to Western New York and tells us how he or she really really cares about revitalizing our economy and reversing the population hemmorhage. The City of Buffalo operates under the watchful gaze of a state-appointed, state-empowered control board. The County of Erie has a soft state control board that is itching to turn hard. We have an enormous interest in who occupies the governor's mansion in January 2007, because there is so much at stake here.
KT McFarland will be appearing on Buffalo's premiere weekly public-affairs radio show this coming Sunday. At 10:00 a.m., even you downstaters can tune in at WBEN's website and listen online. The host of the show is Canisius College Political Science Professor Kevin Hardwick. Hardwick is a Republican who ran unsuccessfully a few years ago to unseat a 20-year county legislator incumbent (he lost thanks to electoral fusion and the IP line).
I'll be calling in to ask KT a question at 10:30 and can't imagine what to ask her. Her website touts her foreign policy expertise, which is nice, but I'd like to know specifically how she'd be a different Senator than Hillary Clinton.
Another debate. Another debate for a statewide race - albeit this time for a Senate campaign - and the second-largest city in the state didn't get to see it. We don't get NY1 up here, and I'm finding it somewhat interesting that NY1 is hosting these things, since it essentially guarantees a tri-state only focus.
However, based on Ben Smith's description of one exchange, it looks like we didn't miss much, after all.
Freshman Assemblyman Mark Schroeder wrote a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver asking him to step aside in anticipation of a Spitzer victory in November.
Schroeder, who believes Spitzer will be elected in November, said the attorney general will have a difficult time getting through his reform ideas with what he calls the "accumulated power" of Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. He also said Senate Republicans should also consider replacing Bruno. Spitzer is running against Democrat Thomas Suozzi and Republican John Faso.
I heard a vicious rumor that the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates held a debate in Manhattan this evening. Is it true?
Seriously, not one television station or cable channel in the second-largest city in the state bothered to carry it. It was available only at NY1's website, or on one of our local NPR affiliates. The one on the AM side of the dial.
Apparently, gleaning what I can from some liveblogging efforts over at Newsday, upstate New York came up one time.
Evidently, candidate for the 60th Senate District Democrat Eddie Egriu may have zero - zip - nada valid petition signatures.
Mr. Egriu's campaign apparently used photocopied petition forms from 2004, which state that the 60th Senate primary takes place on September 14th.
Except the next one is on September 12, 2006.
Although this is still a matter for the board of elections (and maybe the courts), it would appear that all 116 pages of petitions contain fatal flaws, invalidating the lot.
For the record, Mr. Egriu needs 1,000 valid petition signatures to qualify on the ballot.
Buffalo's main shopping thoroughfare is Elmwood Avenue. It's the place to shop, the place to see and be seen, and is home to Buffalo's hipsters, yuppies, and intelligentsia.
At the corner of Elmwood and Forest, a developer wants to take 4 somewhat dilapidated structures housing thrift stores, and construct a 4-story, 72-room hotel. The design of that hotel has been vetted through the City's planning department, and the developer has been extraordinarily receptive and open with the Elmwood Avenue neighborhood, and made several changes to its plan in response to local concerns.
As the Erie County Legislature debates and considers whether to change the county charter to create a "hybrid county manager" form of government (whereby the county executive would be a CEO setting policy, and a county manager would be a COO running the day-to-day county ops)...
...perhaps someone from Long Beach could tell us why that may not be the best situation?