Speculation and rumors for the new year

Many people do retrospectives at this time of the year. I rather prefer a line in a song from A Chorus Line, “kiss today goodbye and point me toward tomorrow.”

This post falls under the category of “what we have heard.” Speculation and rumor are baked into politics like flour in bread. Take everything you are about to read with a grain of salt – but don’t be surprised to see some of these things come true in 2016.

So here goes:

  • What about Pigeongate? Will the U.S. Attorney or State Attorney General play out their hands on the issues concerning Steve Pigeon, Steve Casey and Chris Grant, or will the whole thing go away? There seem to be significant legal issues involved. (As Alan Bedenko points out  on The Public today, there are also two liens Pigeon must contend with; one for the IRS in the amount of $65,806, the other to his condo association for $4,486).  “Justice delayed is justice denied.” It’s time to fish or cut bait.
  • 5th District Erie County Legislator Tom Loughran will be selected in January as the new leader of the Democratic caucus, succeeding Betty Jean Grant. A footnote: Legislator Ed Rath’s attempt to take the Legislature Chairmanship away from John Mills was rebuffed.
  • Tim Franczyk will resign his County Court seat early in 2016 to run for District Attorney against interim DA Michael Flaherty. Franczyk will get the Democratic endorsement. The only room for speculation here: will Governor Andrew Cuomo appoint an interim DA for 2016 to serve the final year of Frank Sedita’s term, or will he be content to have Flaherty serve in that role; and will the Republicans come up with one of their own candidates, or will they endorse Franczyk or Flaherty? In a presidential election year with Hillary Clinton likely as the head of the ticket, a Republican running countywide will be facing a strong headwind.
  • Sixtieth District Senator Marc Panepinto won a Democratic primary in 2014 by a very narrow 389 vote margin over former Senator Al Coppolla. And then Panepinto was elected senator over Mark Grisanti and Kevin Stocker by another narrow margin. Panepinto was elected with less than 33 percent of the vote in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 46 to 27 percent. Panepinto has conducted a poll already, and reports on the street indicate that he has his work cut out for himself to retain the Senate seat. Some Democrats speak about Senator Coppola or former County Legislature Chair Lynn Marinelli as potential primary opponents for Panepinto. Kevin Stocker has continued his relentless door-to-door effort for the Republican nomination. County Clerk Chris Jacobs, off his success in two countywide elections, is a strong potential Republican candidate.
  • What will happen with the Assembly Ethics Committee investigation of 143rd District Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak concerning sexual harassment charges? Regardless of how that comes out, if Wozniak runs for re-election she will have trouble holding that Assembly seat in a presidential election year.
  • Speculation about former Senator George Maziarz landing a six figure executive appointment with the Western New York Off Track Betting Corporation sometime this spring continue to circulate, (which would also probably indicate that his legal problems have been resolved). But what about his former staff?
  • Assemblyman John Ceretto of Niagara Falls, who switched from the Republican to Democratic Party in 2015, will have the support of the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee (DACC) in his 2016-re-election campaign. But will George Maziarz, who at last reports was sitting on a campaign treasury of more than $900,000, re-assert his party role by helping to finance a challenge to his former ally, Assemblyman Ceretto? And if he does that, how would it play considering that he may hold a major political patronage position?
  • There is only one State Supreme Court seat up for election in 2016, that of Justice Joseph Glownia who must leave the office at the end of the year because of the state’s age limit for judges. Republican Mary Slisz and Democrat John DelMonte are two names in the mix at the moment, but a decision on party nominations is months away.
  • The resignation of Tim Franczyk will open up his County Court seat in 2016. Governor Cuomo could give someone a leg-up on that office by making an interim appointment, or he could leave the seat vacant. The activity in the Family Court election in 2015 suggests that if the County Court race attracts more than one person, those persons better have very deep pockets or relatives with lots of money to finance a campaign.
  • Speaking of court seats, Surrogate Court Public Administrator Acea Mosey is already circulating at political events in anticipation of running for Surrogate in 2017 when incumbent Barbara Howe becomes 70 years-of-age and must retire.
  • Deputy County Budget Director Tim Callan is being appointed to a seat on the Erie Community College Board of Trustees, replacing Ray Gallagher. Callan is talented and able to contribute to the discussion of the serious upcoming financial problems at the college. While half the seats on the Board are County Executive appointees, Callan’s appointment while currently serving in a major county administration position is unprecedented at the school.
  • Big issues are coming up very soon at the college which will rile the institution in a very major way, likely impacting operations and personnel.

Enjoy the speculation and feel free to pass on other possibilities for 2016.

Happy New Year!