Influencing Albany — lobbying expenses of local businesses and organizations in 2016

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is charged with the responsibility of monitoring and enforcing the laws and regulations on public ethics. Yes, I know that seems like something that has not actually been happening in Albany. There certainly have been many transgressions.

Part of JCOPE’s role is to annually publish a report on businesses and organizations that pay registered lobbyists to try to influence state and local laws, regulations, spending, and purchasing. The 2015 Report was published in April 2016. The 2017 Report was published two months later than last year, on June 8, 2017.

Total statewide lobbyist spending rose slightly in 2016 compared with the previous year to a total of $242.7 million. Imagine that – nearly a quarter billion spent by businesses, organizations and individuals trying to direct, re-direct, start or stop some functions of state and local government.

The lobbying firm with the most business was Kasirer LLC ($10.4 million). The lobbyist client that spent the most on such activities was the Rent Stabilization Association of New York City ($3.7 million). The 4,960 statewide clients were, as might be expected, dominated by organizations and businesses in New York City.

This post focuses on the Western New York businesses and organizations looking to influence government action. This is the third year that Politics and Other Stuff is reporting on local lobbyist spending. You can see the 2014 and 2015 reports here and here. While regular readers know that this blog often discusses a partisan point of view on federal, state and local politics, when it comes to a post such as this one and others on campaign financials and election results, Politics and Other Stuff is your blog-of-record.

Total locally identified lobbyist spending in 2016 was $4.1 million, down $1.3 million or 24 percent from 2015. The local list continues to be dominated by the local powerhouse firm, Masiello, Calabrese, Martucci and Associates, whose principals are former Buffalo Mayor Tony Masiello, former Deputy County Executive Carl Calabrese and former Town of Tonawanda Republican Chairman Vic Martucci.

Other lobbying firms with local connections include:

  • Bolton St. Johns (Jack O’Donnell and Camille Brandon)
  • E3 Communications (Earl Wells III)
  • Park Strategies (Joel Giambra)
  • Richardson Management (Rick Winter)
  • Upstate Consultants (James Sampson)

Here is the list:

WNY Firms and Organizations That Employed New York State Lobbyists in 2016

Business/Org.                               Lobbyist                      $ Compensation

ALBRIGHT-KNOX ART GALLERY MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      53,000
ARTHUR (Sic) DANIELS MIDLAND COMPANY MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      33,000
BAKER VICTORY SERVICES BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      36,000
BUFFALO & ERIE COUNTY NAVAL & MILITARY PARK BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      10,000
BUFFALO & PITTSBURGH RAILROAD, INC. HARTER SECREST & EMERY, LLP      13,070
BUFFALO AND FORT ERIE PUBLIC BRIDGE AUTHORITY BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      46,147
BUFFALO CITY CEMETERY, INC MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        8,000
BUFFALO COMPUTER GRAPHICS, INC. LANDEN ASSOCIATES, LLC.        5,500
BUFFALO GAMES UPSTATE CONSULTANTS, LLC      10,500
BUFFALO NIAGARA ASSN. OF REALTORS, INC. BUFFALO NIAGARA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS    169,590
BUFFALO NIAGARA MEDICAL CAMPUS MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
BUFFALO NIAGARA PARTNERSHIP BUFFALO NIAGARA PARTNERSHIP      29,623
BUFFALO SABRES FOUNDATION PARK STRATEGIES, LLC      90,000
BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE      31,548
BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE LYNCH, PATRICIA ASSOCIATES, INC.      10,415
BUFFALO TRANSPORTATION, INC. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      12,000
BUFFALO ZOO MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      24,000
BUFFALO/LAKE ERIE WIRELESS SYSTEMS CO., LLC MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      42,000
CANISIUS COLLEGE CANISIUS COLLEGE            762
CATHOLIC HEALTH SYSTEM LYNCH, PATRICIA ASSOCIATES, INC.      30,000
CITY OF LACKAWANNA MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
COALITION FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      24,500
COUNTY OF NIAGARA MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      60,000
DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES, INC. BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC    142,500
DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES, INC. DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES, INC.        1,947
DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES, INC. MEARA, BRIAN R. PUBLIC RELATIONS, INC.    120,000
DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY ALLIANCE OF WNY DREXELIUS, JR., JOHN R.      35,002
DOUGLAS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION UPSTATE CONSULTANTS, LLC      15,500
D’YOUVILLE COLLEGE MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      82,500
ERIE COUNTY  ERIE COUNTY            185
ERIE COUNTY LAW DEPARTMENT (KEN-TON UFSD) MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      30,000
ERIE COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY HARTER SECREST & EMERY, LLP      36,750
FAIR COMMITTEE MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      18,750
FREY ELECTRIC RICHARDSON MANAGEMENT      30,000
GAR ASSOCIATES LLC MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      15,000
GAR ASSOCIATES, INC. LYNCH, PATRICIA ASSOCIATES, INC.        8,000
GARRETT LEATHER UPSTATE CONSULTANTS, LLC      10,000
GENESEE & WYOMING RAILROAD COMPANY HARTER SECREST & EMERY, LLP      13,070
GENESEE CO. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CENTER PARK STRATEGIES, LLC      51,000
GENESEE CO. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CENTER RICHARDSON MANAGEMENT      25,500
GLOBE METALLURGICAL INC. UPSTATE CONSULTANTS, LLC      39,020
GREENMAN-PEDERSEN, INC. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        9,000
HAMBURG BREWING COMPANY MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      12,000
HEALTHNOW NEW YORK, INC. MANATT, PHELPS & PHILLIPS, LLP      36,000
INDEPENDENT HEALTH ASSOCIATION, INC. INDEPENDENT HEALTH ASSOCIATION, INC.      89,800
IROQUOIS BAR CORP. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        3,500
JOHN W. DANFORTH COMPANY MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
JOHN W. DANFORTH COMPANY PARK STRATEGIES, LLC      60,000
KALEIDA HEALTH MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.    118,000
KCG DEVELOPMENT UPSTATE CONSULTANTS, LLC      38,465
LACTALIS AMERICAN GROUP, INC. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      25,000
LPCIMINELLI, INC. WHITEMAN OSTERMAN & HANNA LLP        5,500
MAID OF THE MIST CORPORATION LYNCH, PATRICIA ASSOCIATES, INC.      30,000
MCGUIRE DEVELOPMENT CO. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        7,500
MENSCH CAPITAL PARTNERS, LLC MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
METALICO BUFFALO MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        3,000
METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        6,000
NATIONAL FUEL GAS COMPANY & SUBSIDIARIES ASCENSION CONSULTING, LLC      30,000
NATIONAL FUEL GAS COMPANY & SUBSIDIARIES E3COMMUNICATIONS      24,000
NATIONAL FUEL GAS COMPANY & SUBSIDIARIES NATIONAL FUEL GAS COMPANY        4,993
NATIONAL GRID NATIONAL GRID      32,974
NIAGARA COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE RICHARDSON MANAGEMENT      30,000
NIAGARA COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, INC. PARK STRATEGIES, LLC      60,000
NIAGARA FALLS BRIDGE COMMISSION BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC    108,000
NIAGARA FALLS MEDICAL CENTER ASCENSION CONSULTING, LLC      35,000
NIAGARA FALLS WATER BOARD E3COMMUNICATIONS      10,000
NIAGARA FRONTIER AUTOMOBILE DEALERS ASSN. HARTER SECREST & EMERY, LLP      13,600
NIAGARA FRONTIER TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      72,000
NOCO ENERGY CORP. (FKA NOCO, INC.) E3COMMUNICATIONS      48,000
PARKVIEW HEALTH SERVICES MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        6,000
PEOPLE INC. BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      48,000
PHILLIPS LYTLE LLP MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        6,000
POSTPROCESS TECHNOLOGIES LLC MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      18,000
RIGIDIZED METALS CORPORATION BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      44,000
ROSINA FOOD PRODUCTS, INC. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE BROWN & WEINRAUB      90,000
ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE CORP.  ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE      84,305
SAVE ONTARIO SHORES, INC. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      30,000
SENECA NATION OF INDIANS MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.    120,000
SENECA NATION OF INDIANS SENECA NATION OF INDIANS        2,205
SHEA’S O’CONNELL PRESERVATION GUILD, LTD. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      30,000
SINATRA & COMPANY MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
SNYDER CORPORATION MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      18,000
SOLARCITY SOLARCITY      70,892
SOUTH BUFFALO RAILWAY COMPANY HARTER SECREST & EMERY, LLP      13,070
SPEED GLOBAL SERVICES MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      17,500
SUNY GENESEO COZEN O’CONNOR PUBLIC STRATEGIES LLC      10,420
SUNY GENESEO MILROY, JAMES        2,512
SUNY GENESEO,CAMPUS AUXILIARY SERVICES, INC. WHITEMAN OSTERMAN & HANNA LLP      14,584
TM MONTANTE DEVELOPMENT E3COMMUNICATIONS      60,000
TOSKI & CO. RICHARDSON MANAGEMENT      24,000
TOWN OF CHEEKTOWAGA BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      30,000
TOWN OF TONAWANDA WATER RESOURCES DEPT. E3COMMUNICATIONS      30,000
TROCAIRE COLLEGE E3COMMUNICATIONS      36,000
UNISYS CORPORATION BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC    120,000
UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO    308,262
UPSTATE NIAGARA COOPERATIVE, INC. UPSTATE NIAGARA COOPERATIVE, INC.        6,970
UPSTATE PHARMACY LTD. UPSTATE CONSULTANTS, LLC      10,500
VAZQUEZ, RAUL M.D. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      36,000
WE CARE TRANSPORTATION MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.        8,000
WESTERN NEW YORK ENERGY, LLC PARK STRATEGIES, LLC      24,000
WESTERN NEW YORK LAW CENTER, INC. BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      36,000
WESTERN REGIONAL OFF-TRACK BETTING CORP. JACKSON LEWIS P.C.      16,666
WESTERN REGIONAL OFF-TRACK BETTING CORP. LYNCH, PATRICIA ASSOCIATES, INC.      40,000
WESTERN REGIONAL OFF-TRACK BETTING CORP. RICHARDSON MANAGEMENT        9,000
WESTERN REGIONAL OFF-TRACK BETTING CORP. WILSON ELSER MOSKOWITZ EDELMAN DICKER      33,332
WESTFIELD AIRPORTS, LLC BOLTON ST. JOHNS, LLC      50,000
WILLIAM SCHUTT & ASSOCIATES, P.C. MASIELLO, MARTUCCI, CALABRESE & ASSOC.      18,000

The FBI and state troopers show up at your door (Part II); some political this and that and other stuff

A lot of information is floating around, some facts and some heard-on-the-streets:

  • So the FBI and state troopers show up at Grassroots founder Maurice Garner’s door(s). There is all sorts of unsubstantiated speculation going on about the latest news in the local political scandal scene. Among the theories: Garner’s political alliance with Steve Pigeon in various political campaigns has dragged Garner into the picture; or, Pigeon dropped a dime on Garner’s politics to help his (Pigeon’s) own defense against charges and potential charges, both state and federal; or Garner’s connections with Mayor Byron Brown were highlighted by former Deputy Mayor Steve Casey to help his (Casey’s) own defense against possible charges. Other theories?
  • Grassroots, Inc. campaign filings have been noted in Buffalo News reports, but there is more to it than just Grassroots. State Board of Elections filings indicate that over the past four years Garner’s Urban Visions consulting operations show income of $22,825 from: Brown’s campaign ($14,150); County Court Judge James Bargnesi’s committee ($7,500); former interim DA Michael Flaherty’s committee ($1,000); and Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams’ campaign ($175).
  • The direct payments to Urban Visions don’t reflect all of Garner’s political income. Garner Associates was paid $10,200 by the campaign committee of Michele Brown, a candidate for Erie County Family Court in 2015.
  • Garner’s Urban Chamber of Commerce, whose office was one of the raid locations last week, has received a number of payments from several political candidates including: Senator Tim Kennedy ($3,500); Michael Flaherty ($2,500); City Comptroller Mark Schroeder ($1,865); Mayor Brown ($1,500); Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes ($795); Michele Brown for Family Court ($500); Buffalo Council President Darius Pridgen ($500); County Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams ($500); County Court Judge James Bargnesi ($500); and City Court Judge Craig Hannah ($325).
  • The Buffalo News reports that Garner’s Urban Visions also collected $120,000 in fees from Ciminelli Construction Cos. as part of the one billion dollar Buffalo school renovations project.
  • Just wondering – what happened to the June 15th hearing that was scheduled on the Pigeon federal complaint?
  • And will Pigeon’s September 5th state trial that relates to the bribery charges go on as scheduled?
  • Petitions for this year’s party nominations are on the streets. In the Legislature’s 2nd District, which Betty Jean Grant is leaving to run for mayor, April Baskin, Charley Fisher and Duncan Kirkwood are circulating for the Democratic nomination. At this point Clayton Hoyt’s candidacy is still listed as “potential.”
  • The campaign account of Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo’s son, Legislature Majority Leader Joe Lorigo, stands to gain financially from a birthday party fundraiser on July 10th celebrating Ralph’s 70th birthday. Joe Lorigo, as of January 15th, already had $106,494 in his campaign account.
  • Lorigo faces his first real challenge for the legislative seat from Michelle Schoeneman, who is the person behind the anti-Chris Collins billboards that went up earlier this year.
  • At this point in time there is no Republican candidate for County Court against the Democratic endorsed candidate Susan Eagan. Given that Republican chances in off-year elections are usually good compared with even-year elections, this is a mystery. Could it be that Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy supports Eagan but is resisting an endorsement? Could this be part of the keep-the-vote-down–in-Buffalo program? What happened to the potential candidacy of Kelly Vacco for the court seat?
  • If Assemblyman Mickey Kearns does, in fact, take a pass on the Democratic primary for County Clerk, is that to help keep down South Buffalo votes in the Buffalo mayoral primary, which might otherwise benefit Mark Schroeder. Or perhaps is Kearns concerned that he cannot win a Democratic primary? Kearns will still have the Republican and Conservative party lines in November.
  • There are two State Supreme Court seats on the ballot this year, one occupied by incumbent Appellate Division Justice Erin Peradotto and the other by retiring Justice Sharon Townsend. Reports are circulating that there will be cross endorsements, with the likely candidates Republican Erin Peradotto and Democrat Lynn Keane, who narrowly lost a Supreme Court race last year.
  • There doesn’t appear to be any serious movement on Donald Trump nominating candidates for the Western District of New York’s vacant federal judgeship or the vacant United States Attorney slot. Word on the street is that Chris Collins’ former County Attorney Jeremy Colby, who has been mentioned as a possibility for either position, has signaled that he is not interested. Trump has only made a handful of judicial and U.S. attorney nominations (including two who are former bloggers!), but mostly there is not a lot of action on the appointments. Probably something to do with the fact that the Justice Department is busy with other things at the moment.
  • Everyone is saddened by the gun attack that occurred last week that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise seriously wounded and others also recovering from the attack. Here’s wishing for a quick and healthy recovery for all.
  • The attack brought both Democrats and Republicans together to say that they need to cool the over-heated rhetoric. Civility is always welcomed. Having members of Congress walking around with loaded handguns, however, is not a comforting thought.
  • And if we for the time being are having a kumbaya moment, then why did the Trump campaign organization, just a day after the shootings, send out this email:

Democrats have absolutely NOTHING to offer our country. After their BILLION-DOLLAR election loss, all Democrats have done is OBSTRUCT President Trump and maniacally scream the word “RUSSIA” until they’re blue in the face. They’ve sparked protests in the streets, refused to approve White House nominees, destroyed our health care system, and used the media to spew vicious rhetoric against the President.

ENOUGH!

Tell Democrats: It’s time to stop obstructing the AMERICAN PEOPLE’S MANDATE. 

  • And finally, now that Pegulaville has filled all their vacant general manager and coaching positions, we can go on with our lives until the fall.

The unchecked activities of the Erie County Water Authority

Here is a thumbnail history of the Erie County Water Authority (ECWA):  The organization was created by state legislation in the late 1940’s to provide water service to a growing suburban population in the county that was pushing out from the central city.  County government at that time was not much removed from horse-and-buggy days, so an authority was seen as the best vehicle for answering the needs of a sprawling community. Continue reading

Trump’s infrastructure plans could lead to re-installing Thruway tolls

I grew up in Kaisertown. I watched the Niagara Section of the Thruway built right before my eyes. The Ogden toll barrier was in sight of our front porch.

That toll barrier collected millions of dollars from drivers over a period of more than fifty years. It slowed traffic pouring into the city. What a crazy idea – charging people in a mid-sized metropolitan area a fee to enter the central city.

That barrier, of course had a sister location along the Niagara River, near Breckenridge. That was so that area residents coming into the central city from the north towns could also pay to enter. There was no fee to leave the city.

A few years ago those barriers came down after an aggressive campaign by local political and business leaders. Traffic finally, after more than fifty years, flowed freely into Buffalo. Continue reading

The adults in the Trump administration are morphing into enablers

When the Trump administration was being put together there were a whole lot of questions raised about the competency of certain nominees. In some cases there has already been evidence that those concerns were legitimate.

Take Dr. Ben Carson, for example. Dr. Carson is an eminent brain surgeon, but he was put in charge of Housing and Urban Development. Bad choice. Allowing Carson to pontificate about his philosophy of life – worse choice. Carson recently told the world that poverty is a “state of mind,” suggesting that poor people basically will themselves into being poor. There are some such people, much like there are some billionaires and multi-millionaires who inherited a ton of money but believe that they are self-made rich people. Education, housing, medical care, job opportunities – those are the drivers that affect someone’s ability to make a good life for themselves and their families. Continue reading