Boy, this has been a fun and interesting week for politicos. Mostly in the same way that you cannot quite stop yourself from looking as you pass a car wreck.
All things Trump
Where to begin? How about the first session of the Republican National Convention on Monday?
The dust-up about Melania Trump’s speech and the plagiarism issue has encouraged dozens of memes on the internet. I enjoyed how the networks worked the plagiarized quotes into a split screen – sort of like one of the albums where they merge the vocals of current and former singers into a nice duet.
While the idea of quoting someone without attribution is pretty dumb, I think the more disturbing aspect of the Melania-gate matter is the repeated and consistent denials by the Trumpkins, from campaign manager Paul Manafort on down, including all the surrogates they could employ. See my June 23 post about Baghdad Bob and the Trump campaign.
The fish stinks from the head. Donald Trump is absolutely and totally incapable of admitting any mistake, no matter how big or small. He is constitutionally unable to say the words “sorry” or “apologize.” Most children learn such things before they finish kindergarten.
That inability would completely and absolutely prevent Trump from managing the government and directing foreign affairs.
Then, of course, there was Trump’s ego stepping on his own convention. He could not resist calling Bill O’Reilly for idle chitchat, which led Fox News to pre-empt one of Trump’s own convention speakers who was going after Hillary Clinton.
Aside from family members and the vice presidential candidate, the choice of speakers throughout the week was often bizarre. Washed up actors, an avocado grower, and employees brought in from the Trump Foundation and even the Trump winery, offered nothing to the American public about what Trump would do as president, aside from “make American great again.” Rudy Guiliani seemed just one or two more paragraphs away from having a stroke right on the stage.
Ted Cruz, of course, was the star of night three. Did they really think he was going to play nice? Why would they put him on right before Michael Pence instead of burying him in some early slot on Monday?
Cruz, whether he realizes it or not, has basically played the role of suicide bomber, taking down his targets and himself in one attempted act of veiled and self-defined egotism. That may also take care of 2020 for Ted.
And last but not least, of course, there was Donald Trump last evening, struggling to look presidential through those despised teleprompter screens. Except regardless of what was said on Thursday, all that has come before – all the vile, hateful, disrespectful commentary – is all preserved in digital form to re-play over and over for the next four months.
The Pigeonista gang re-forms and adds members
The men and women who form the core of the Steve Pigeon gang just can’t keep away. What is more amazing, however, is that they are signing up new recruits.
Assembly candidate Kristy Mazurek filed about 1,500 signatures on her petitions, which are no doubt being reviewed with a fine tooth comb. Alan Bedenko has highlighted some of the things that have come to light already.
It appears that Mazurek teamed up with Michael Flaherty and Al Coppola to gather petition signatures. There is nothing unusual about a group of candidates, particularly some who don’t have a party endorsement, working together to help one another out. But here is the issue: Michael Flaherty, interim DA and the boss of a new “Public Integrity Unit” in that office, has teamed up with some people from the infamous Pigeon-directed WNY Progressive Caucus. So even more clearly than his predecessor, Flaherty has signaled that he will not, because he cannot, investigate a member of his political team. He also seems content to allow Frank Sedita to skate over the requirements of the Election Law in Sedita’s campaign for State Supreme Court last fall.
Mazurek’s campaign financial report finally showed up yesterday, almost a week late. The report shows a balance of $600. Her major financiers are her father and David Pfaff. With a Pigeonista campaign all the sneaky stuff occurs at the end, so we will see what September brings.
Flaherty, who tried his unsuccessful best to make it look like he had been part of State Attorney General Eric Schneidman’s indictment of Justice Michalek and Steve Pigeon, is now incapable of pressing a case against Kristy Mazurek.
The members of the DA’s Public Integrity Unit have been previously identified as large contributors to the Flaherty campaign, so don’t look for any budding Mark Sachas in that crowd.
A lot of things motivate people in politics. Some actually try to do some good for the community. Campaign consultants prosper financially whether or not their candidates succeed. And then there are the Pigeonistas, who live on hate and revenge, and often put a few campaign treasury dollars from their candidates into their own pockets.
Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink
Erie County Water Authority Chairman Earl Gann, on WBEN yesterday morning, tried to explain what happened Wednesday evening when a large water main broke in Amherst. He said that the big blue water tower and a couple others were basically drained as the water leaked out. As an Amherst resident relatively close to the big blue landmark, this probably explains why we had some water coming out of our faucets with lower pressure while those in homes like a cousin in Cheektowaga had no water at all.
It took a while for the ECWA to identify the location of the leak and then hours more to fix it up. Water mains break. This is understandable. What is not understandable is how the Authority bungled the crisis.
Who would have known that if a large water main breaks that it also will knock out the ECWA’s website and customer telephone service? That is what happened Wednesday evening.
The Authority seemed to be scrambling, after the fact, to (poorly) explain what had happened and what was being done about it. Commissioners and staff were pressed (poorly) into service. It is almost like the Authority PR staff was in … Cleveland. Which actually was the case.
Michael Caputo last fall secured a $5,000 per month contract to provide PR services for the ECWA, something he does among his many and sundry other responsibilities. He was in Cleveland on Wednesday for the Republican National Convention, and reportedly still there on Thursday.
I don’t think that it is reasonable for Michael to be standing by waiting for the next large water main to break so that he can organize and control the flow (no pun intended) of public information in a crisis, particularly when he was having so much fun with the crisis 180 miles down Interstate 90. But having a crisis management plan in place is not unreasonable, and Caputo’s ECWA contract did indicate that he had lesser-paid “associates” assisting him with the Authority’s work. Where were they?
At 5:51 PM yesterday – about 20 hours after the event started – I received an email as an ECWA customer advising me to boil our water. Thank God for the Erie County Department of Health.
A little footnote to this story. Views of Politics and Other Stuff had a mini-spike Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with a nice-sized bunch of folks looking at the December 1, 2015 post that I wrote about big spending at the ECWA. Apparently people Googling the Authority wound up on the Politics and Other Stuff website. I zeroed in last December on the large number of high paying jobs. But with all that high-priced talent the Authority on Wednesday night could not manage their website, phones or public explanations. Speaking of that December post…
The News, 8 months late and a dollar short
On Thursday the News had a story about all those high priced jobs at the ECWA plus a reference to Caputo’s contract. Their story named names, mine deliberately didn’t. I am not saying that if you held up paper copies of my December post and the News’ July 21st story back-to-back and into the light that you would see all the same stuff, but it would be sort of close. This is not the first time such a situation has occurred.
The folks who buy ink by the barrel can certainly drown out anyone else who is writing about public issues these days, so there is nothing really to be done about this except to note it. Be assured, however, that Politics and Other Stuff will continue to do its humble best. You will usually read about it here, first.