The Erie County Democratic Party’s annual Chairman’s Council event last evening at Templeton Landing was packed wall-to-wall with officeholders, party leaders, donors and a bunch of people from the Crangle clan, which was very appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day. They all assembled to honor former Erie County and New York State Democratic Chairman Joe Crangle.
The Party has started a tradition of honoring icons who have served. Last year’s honoree was State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dillon, who passed away in January. This year the Dems both recognized Crangle and named the party’s annual award in his honor: the Joseph F. Crangle Legacy Award.
Former County Clerk and State Motor Vehicles Commissioner Dave Swarts paid tribute to Joe, reviewing Crangle’s accomplishments and character. There were more than a few moist eyes in the room as Swarts spoke.
Joe also took to the podium and discussed his devotion to service.
This blog’s December 14th post about Joe outlined his record, and more importantly, his dedication to the people that he served through his party leadership.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli also attended the event and spoke about the success of the Party in New York State and about the activities of his office in managing and monitoring the state’s finances. After the turbulence of Alan Hevesi’s time as Comptroller, DiNapoli’s steady, dedicated performance does not get the recognition that it deserves.
Our wayward legislators
Senator Marc Panepinto’s surprise announcement this week that he will not seek re-election still leaves many unanswered questions.
Liz Benjamin’s Time Warner State of Politics yesterday reported a story that shows just how quickly the Panepinto matter came to a head.
Some Albany insiders are getting a good laugh over the timing of an email that landed in inboxes at about 1 p.m. on March 15 – about four hours before Panepinto’s retirement announcement – reminding recipients of a Monday, March 21 fundraiser being held for the senator at an Albany restaurant and headlined by none other than Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Tickets for the cocktail reception at The Grille at 138 were to start at $500-a-head and run to $5,000.
“We hope you will join us to show your support for Marc,” the email, signed by “Team Panepinto,” read. “Please let us know if you are able to join.”
Well, at least some lobbyists will save their money next week for more important things, like Easter candy. We will need to wait until new campaign financials come out in July to see who had already contributed and whether they got their money back.
Erie County’s other political scandal concerning Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak’s sexual harassment activities also got a shout out from Ms. Benjamin yesterday.
Erie County Conservative and GOP officials have declined to embrace Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak’s decision to continue seeking re-election despite being sanctioned by the chamber’s leadership for having an inappropriate affair with a former staffer.
Generally speaking, party bosses aren’t calling outright for Wozniak to reconsider, but they’re not rushing to embrace her candidacy either, saying she has to work things out with her family and her constituents, acknowledging that both tasks will likely be an uphill battle.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb echoed that sentiment during a Capital Tonight interview.
“I think that’s up to her and her constituents,” Kolb said when asked about Wozniak’s political future.”
The upshot of these two political messes is this:
- We have yet to learn about the details, and more importantly, the truth about what has really gone on in the Panepinto matter. The comments out thus far are very sketchy. Marc is correct that there is a process that needs to play out on this, and that will be a lot more official and forthcoming than anything he has said thus far. Many people, however, think that using his family and his law partner who is battling cancer as a shield on this issue is, at the very least, very tacky.
- Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy has criticized the lack of information on the Panepinto matter. He seems to forget that the Wozniak issue first publicly surfaced last August. The legislative Ethics Committee issued their report on Wozniak this month. In those intervening eight months Wozniak avoided and tried to minimize the facts. She was, as was her right, waiting for the process to play out. But please Nick, do not accuse Panepinto of hiding things now when you were apparently OK for eight months waiting to see how the Wozniak scandal was resolved.
- The Democratic Party immediately moved on when Panepinto dropped his bombshell on Monday. Several names are already being considered as the new Democratic endorsee for State Senate in the 60th District.
- The Republican Party, on the other hand, drags its feet about selecting a new candidate in the 143rd Assembly District. Wozniak’s last campaign financial filing in January reported that she had $1,915 in her campaign account. It appears from the receipts she reported that she had some sort of fundraiser in December that attracted about ten people. Time to move on. Time to escort Ms. Wozniak to the door, Nick.
It never ceases to amaze me, in an age where the internet and the media hover over everything in public life in order to fill 24-hour news cycles, that some politicians think bad behavior might somehow go unnoticed. Sometimes things pop up quickly; sometimes it just takes time. When will this basic 21st century political reality sink in?