Knowing when to leave, in politics and football; Caputo looking for partners

My daughter points out to me that I often quote a song lyric to make a point and that I do that more than most people. Guilty!

Recent headlines got me reviewing some lyrics in my head, from an old Burt Bacharach song. The lines that rang a bell: “go while the going is good; knowing when to leave may be the smartest thing anyone can learn. Go!”

I’ll avoid here referring to anyone located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Buffalo News a few days ago reported on the ongoing feud between two veterans of local politics, Amherst Town Supervisor Barry Weinstein and former Amherst Town Councilman Bill Kindel. Both of them have been around the block a few times.

20150526_Weinstein_GiambraWeinstein is finishing his second term as Amherst Supervisor. He previously served as a town council member and a member of the Williamsville School Board. He was also a member of the Erie County Legislature, serving as a supporter of the policies of Joel Giambra which led to the meltdown of county government in 2005.

Kindel, besides having served 20 years as a member of the Town Council, has for many years been the Chairman of the Amherst Conservative Party. He has also made some unsuccessful comeback attempts with the Town Board.

The current feud involves the upcoming race for a couple seats on the Amherst Town Board. Weinstein, who is term-limited as supervisor, wants to stay on the Board as a councilman. Kindel would like to return to the Board. The feud follows from Weinstein’s re-affiliation last year as a member of the Conservative Party, which would facilitate him running for the Conservative town board nomination in a primary as a member of the party. I guess he assumes that the Republicans will give him their endorsement.

While I have been a resident of Amherst for thirty years, I haven’t involved myself in town politics. I do think, though, some new blood would help a town government to spend less money and to cut down on the congestion that excessive development is creating. Transit Road, Sheridan Drive and Main Street, on any given day, are among the most traffic-jammed streets in Western New York. It’s time to call a time-out and re-evaluate where the town is going.

It’s also time to leave it to someone else, Barry and Bill. “Go while the going is good; knowing when to leave may be the smartest thing anyone can learn.”

There are new candidates on the horizon. Amherst Democratic Town Chairman Jerry Schad reports that at least three top-notch candidates are in the running for the two vacancies on the Board: Shawn A. Lavin, an accountant, Jacqualine G. Berger, an educator, and Matthew Clabeaux, an attorney.

Assemblyman Ray Walter’s Chief of Staff Erin Baker will seek one of the Republican nominations. I know Erin from the days when I was director of government relations at Canisius College and Erin worked in the Advancement Office as a student intern. She’ll make a fine candidate too.

It’s time for a change.

Football teams knowing when to leave

NFL teams are on the move. There’s never enough money where league owners are concerned. Cities keep throwing cash at them.

The Rams last season re-located to Los Angeles after a couple of decades in St. Louis; which was after several previous decades in Los Angeles; which was after a number of years in Cleveland, before the Browns joined the NFL for the first time. The Browns, of course, moved to Baltimore after the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis. Then, several years later, Cleveland got a new version of the Browns.

The San Diego Chargers are no more, having moved to Los Angeles – which is where they were originally for a couple years, before going to San Diego.

The League this week also approved the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in two or three years. It should be a fun time in Raider Nation, Oakland location, until then. The Raiders, of course, had previously re-located to LA for a few years before going back to Oakland.

Okay, I know, enough.

The Buffalo News reported this week that the Pegulas are letting things settle in Orchard Park before starting a conversation about a new stadium for the Bills. Evidently pressure from NFL bigwigs Jerry Jones and Bob Kraft has let up a little. How nice of Jerry and Bob to not tell Erie County what to do at least for a while. At the moment there don’t seem to be any cities left that are looking for an NFL franchise, so there’s no talk about the Bills moving.

The team’s ownership seems to think that they should “have some success” before coming to the county for a new home. That should keep the taxpayers safe for at least a few years.

Caputo branching out

Michael Caputo, locally-based political operative with an international reputation, is looking to capitalize on his connections with Donald Trump. Politico reports:

Michael Caputo is the latest former Donald Trump campaign staffer looking to parlay his experience into consulting work in Washington. Caputo, the managing director of Zeppelin Communications, a public affairs firm with offices in East Aurora, N.Y., Miami and Moscow. He worked as a senior adviser on Trump’s campaign before resigning after sending a celebratory tweet when Trump fired his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

— Caputo sent a letter to a number of Washington public affairs shops and trade associations earlier this month looking to strike up a partnership with Zeppelin and emphasizing his experience on the campaign. “After working closely with Donald Trump in recent years, we’re taking the initiative to be more active in Washington,” Caputo wrote in the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO. “From advising the billionaire developer on his potential New York Gubernatorial race to assisting him as he sought to purchase the Buffalo Bills, I learned how he works. … Understanding how Donald Trump ascended to the White House – and how he will likely operate — will be unique and vital counsel for your clients in the years ahead.”

— In an interview, Caputo said Zeppelin is looking to partner with other firms to take on more Washington work. “We’re looking for partners to help us in a much heavier lift,” he said. He’s hoping to open a Washington office, too. “My arena will be mostly public engagement,” he said. “I don’t intend to lobby. I’m a public relations guy.” But after working in Washington in the 1990s for firms such as Widmeyer Communications, he’s not planning on moving back down himself.

 With an office in Moscow already, Caputo seems to be all set up and ready to go with his new Trump-centered venture. And knowing “how [Trump] works… and how he will likely operate” is certainly a plus. How many people can there be who know how Trump works and will likely operate?

Does this mean that Michael Caputo will be leaving his gigs with the Erie County Water Authority and WBEN?

The creation of Trumpcare

“We’re going to deliver real change … That begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare … You’re going to have such great health care, at a tiny fraction of the cost – and it’s going to be so easy.” Donald Trump, October 25, 2016

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”   Donald Trump, February 27, 2017

“Doing big things is hard.”   Paul Ryan, March 24, 2017

For the past seven years, Republicans in Congress and most recently the White House have railed and wailed against the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.   Sixty times the House passed bills repealing the law. The House and Senate both passed a repealer two years ago, which was vetoed by President Obama. The party made the 2016 campaign a referendum of sorts on the law. Continue reading

Is Collins recruiting Trumpcare supporters or just setting up a smokescreen?

Congressman Chris Collins seems to be in his glory these days. He occupies the safest Republican-majority House seat in New York State.  His pivot from establishment presidential candidate Jeb Bush to anti-establishment candidate Donald Trump worked perfectly.  As the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, Collins achieved some preeminence.  Appearing on countless national television interviews, Collins has become the cheerleader-in-chief. Continue reading

The financial connection between ECMC and Erie County government — Updated

The Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) has been around for a long time. It originally opened in 1905 as the Municipal Hospital, then was called Buffalo City Hospital and in 1939 the facility was re-named E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital. Ownership was later transferred to Erie County government. Operated as a department of the county for many years, the institution in the 1980’s morphed into the Erie County Medical Center. In 2004 it received a degree of independence. Continue reading

New Democratic Leadership — still a long ways to go; local judicial politics

The National Democratic Committee last Saturday elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as its new chair following a spirited contest that included Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and several other candidates. Moving past the failed leadership of Debbie Wasserman Shultz and interim chair Donna Brazile, it’s a start, but only a start. It will be a long way back to relevance for the party. Continue reading