Some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets for the New Year

Welcome back to Politics and Other Stuff. Happy New Year!

Here are a few facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets to kick off the New Year:

  • The partial federal government shut-down is in its 12th day. All the key players seem to be dug in. Trump and company, probably influenced by Republican senators, seem like they might be blinking. The next paycheck for those affected 800,000 federal employees is due on January 11th and many federal facilities are shutting down today or tomorrow. Look for things to wrap up before then without any wall funding.
  • And if that happens, what will the Ann Coulters, Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of Trumpworld do? They threatened fire and fury, to coin a phrase, if Trump welches on his commitment to build his wall.
  • And BTW, for those keeping score on promises, Mexico isn’t paying for anything.
  • The positive side of this is that with Trump staying in Washington all these days, plenty of choice tee times have opened up at the Trump golf courses near Mar-a-Lago.
  • Democrats officially take over the House of Representatives tomorrow. Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker. It is time for the House Democrats to quickly develop new leaders, which might come through committee work. But for this time and place, it makes sense for Pelosi to hold the leadership. Going back 25 years, she has been the most effective speaker – one of the reasons the Reps hate her so much. She has a backbone, unlike the guy from Wisconsin who just left the job.
  • Quick quiz: name three of Trump’s original cabinet secretaries who haven’t been involved in their own scandals in 2017 or 2018.
  • Buffalo City Comptroller Mark J. F. Schroeder is being appointed as the State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Schroeder has had a good relationship with the governor and is well qualified for the job.
  • Schroeder might have gotten some form of assistance in this appointment from his nemesis, Mayor Byron Brown, who also happens to be the state Democratic Party Chairman. Brown might be happy to see a new and friendly face in the Comptroller’s chair.
  • Schroeder will be the fourth Western New York to serve as DMV Commissioner in the past forty years. The other Commissioners: Les Foschio, Nancy Naples and Dave Swarts.
  • Schroeder has been raising red flags about impending deficits in the Buffalo 2018-19 budget, pointing out overestimated revenues and underestimated expenses in the tens of millions of dollars. The Brown administration is saying, move on, nothing to see here. The numbers, however, are real.
  • All nine members of the Buffalo Common Council are up for election this year. The office of city comptroller will also be on the ballot in 2019. Will the fiscal crisis play a role in those campaigns?
  • With the City Control Board in a dormant state and the Common Council apparently not interested in the financial issues, Brown will be able to operate freely.
  • Another heard-on-the-street says that the Brown political team is looking to stay around for a while longer – “Strive for Five” [terms] is the catch phrase being thrown around.
  • State department heads, like the state legislators, will be getting raises in 2019. As DMV Commissioner Schroeder will make a minimum of $140,000, with further raises scheduled in 2020 and 2021. The salary of the Buffalo comptroller is $88,412.
  • Speaking of legislative raises, will those conditions attached to the raises concerning outside income by the Salary Commission survive or be challenged in court? Fully implemented per the Commission’s report, the limitations on outside income would result in many resignations in the Senate and the Assembly a year from now.
  • ECC starts its spring semester this month. An internal document reporting on enrollment indicates another big drop. No one connected with county government or the school’s Board of Trustees seems too interested in the dynamics of that problem. More on the ECC issues in a future post.
  • With Stefan Mychajliw out of the picture for the Republican nomination for Erie County Executive as he awaits Chris Collins’ felony conviction, a new name is surfacing: former Channel 2 reporter Laurie Lisowski Frey, who now pops up in TV commercials. What she may know about county government is anyone’s guess, but she could probably self-fund a campaign.
  • That being said, County Legislator Ed Rath reportedly continues to lobby heavily for the endorsement.
  • Whether or not County Legislator Kevin Hardwick becomes a Democrat will not matter this election year. A change in registration could not become effective until October 25th, so Hardwick will need Wilson-Pakula permission to run as Democrat. Might there be a Democratic primary?
  • There are eleven seats on the Erie County Legislature but only two or three of them will be seriously contested in 2019.
  • Well, no playoffs for the Bills this season, but there is a lot to be hopeful for with Josh Allen leading the team. Finally, Jim Kelly’s successor has arrived.

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