Some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets for the first week of April 2019

As candidates and parties file their 2019 nominating petitions, here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets for the first week of April 2019:

    • There are potential Democratic primaries for the following Erie County offices: County Executive (Incumbent Mark Poloncarz and Peter Reese); County Legislature District 1 (open seat); District 2 (Incumbent April Baskin); District 3 (Incumbent Peter Savage); District 9 (open seat).
    • Breaking: Savage is facing two other candidates (Cindi McEachon and David Amoia) in the primary, but it looks like he may be dropping out of the legislative race.  Word on the street is that Savage will decline the legislative nomination for an opportunity for a judgeship.  Tonawanda Town Councilmember Lisa Chimera could be the new endorsed candidate.  Former State Senate candidate Amber Small is also in the picture.
    • Republicans, as of April 4, were still struggling to settle on their candidates for the Legislature in the 5th and 9th Districts.  Perennial Republican candidate Shelly Schratz is seeking support in the 5th District, where incumbent Tom Loughran is retiring.
    • The Republican Caucus in the Legislature could be left with no more than three members next January.
    • In Buffalo there will be Democratic primaries a-plenty, with multiple female candidates trying to change the all male composition of elected officials in City Hall.  The races:  Buffalo Comptroller (open seat, three candidates filing — interim Comptroller Vanessa Glushefski, Scott Wilson and Barbara Miller-Williams); City Court Judge; Common Council Districts — Delaware (Incumbent Joel Feroleto); Fillmore (open seat); and Lovejoy (open seat); Masten (Incumbent Ulysees Wingo); Niagara (Incumbent David Rivera); University (Incumbent Rasheed Wyatt).  This almost looks like 1977, when pretty much all offices in Buffalo were contested in primaries.
    • These are all described as “potential” primaries because we will need to see how the various sets of petitions hold up under likely challenges.
    • The petitioning process was complicated somewhat by the mixed signals sent from Albany about changes in the Election Law as to the number of required signatures for qualification.
    • In January the State Legislature amended the Election Law in various ways, including a change in the primary election calendar, setting the primary election day for the fourth Tuesday in June (June 25 this year). Nominating petitions began circulating on February 26 and were filed up through April 4.
    • But petitioning, particularly in upstate, is pretty hard work in late winter. So the Legislature in February amended the Election Law to say that for 2019 the usual number of signatures required for valid petitions would be reduced by 25 percent.
    • Then in March, in the middle of the petitioning process, there was another change in the law which said that the reduction in the number of required signatures would not apply to New York City or the counties of Erie and Nassau.
    • Which then led to some party and state officials to state that the March legislation that reduced the number of signatures did not exempt Erie and Nassau County.
    • Word on the street is that Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes was responsible for inserting Erie County into the March bill that exempted Erie County from the reduced signatures requirement.
    • In other news, there is some news about the news. The Pew Research Center recently released the results of an exhaustive (nearly 35,000 interviews) survey about the way that Americans receive their local news.
    • Pew reports: The 41% of Americans who say they prefer getting their local news via TV and the 37% who prefer it online far outpace those who prefer a printed newspaper or the radio (13% and 8%, respectively).
    • Pew continued: 38% of U.S. adults saying they often get news from a local television station. That is followed by 20% who often turn to local radio stations and 17% who rely on local daily newspapers. Next come a range of less traditional sources such as online forums or discussion groups (12%), local organizations such as school groups or churches (8%), and community newsletters or listservs (8%).
    • When it comes to their own financial support of the industry, just 14% of American adults say they have paid for local news in the past year, either through subscription, donation or membership. When those who don’t pay were asked why, the widespread availability of free content tops the list (49%). Only 10%, on the other hand, said concerns about quality of coverage was the top reason for not paying.
    • Weather, not surprisingly, sits at the top of the list of topics seen as important for day-to-day life, with 70% expressing a daily need for information. That’s followed by crime (44%), traffic (41%) and news about changing prices (37%). Sports, on the other hand, has the largest segment (34%) who find it neither important nor interesting.
    • And now for a musical interlude from Simon & Garfunkel: I can gather all the news I need on the weather report…
    • Pew was also able to break down the survey results in 90 communities in the country, including in Western New York. Our local views parallel the national version.
    • Western New Yorkers prefer to get their local news from TV (48 percent); social media (17 percent); news website/app (17 percent); print (13 percent); and radio (4 percent).
    • Slightly more WNYers use social media than news websites/apps to get their local news.
    • The greatest news topic of interest of Buffalo area adults is (drumroll) the weather (78 percent); the top five are rounded out by traffic and transportation (44 percent); prices (43 percent); crime (39 percent); and government and politics (30 percent). Surprisingly, sports is only at 14 percent.Only 13 percent of Buffalo area adults have paid to acquire local news in the past year.
    • Speaking of sports news, the Pegulas say that if a there is a new stadium in Western New York, they want one that is “Buffalo-style” – like chicken wings, without the bleu cheese dressing perhaps.
    • The Buffalo News published a nice summary of the cost, methods of payment, size, etc. for ten recent football stadium construction or renovation projects around the country. The bargain basement price was in Kansas City — $375 million.
    • Erie County and the State of New York, over the past quarter century, have put about a quarter of a billion dollars into improvements and renovations at what we now call New Era Field. Team ownership has invested tens of millions more.
    • The fact is that we in Western New York will never be in the same proverbial league as Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York/New Jersey when it comes to stadiums. And most of us like it that way.
    • As a life-long fan and a previous 28 year season ticket holder, my own personal view of the question about a new stadium and what it might cost inclines me to think of a refrain from a song most frequently heard around Saint Patrick’s Day – “no, nay, never.”
    • Thinking about the Bills, they seen to be getting a lot more national political shout-outs after Trump investigations got into his doctoring of financial data to suit his purpose rather than the attention the team usually gets for their performance. The issue concerns Trump reportedly inflating his wealth to get his favorite foreign bank, Deutsche, to vouch for him when he tried to buy the Bills. Wonder if the Bills or the NFL have received subpoenas for relevant records.
    • And then there were these lingering questions about Trump wanting to buy the team:“I bid on that team half-heartedly because I really wanted to (run for president),” Trump said at the time. “I could not have (owned the team) and this, because it would have been too much.” So if he had actually bought the team, would the country and world have been saved from what we have gone through for two plus years? Would the team be in Los Angeles now? Would Jared and Ivanka be running the team? Who would the Russians have supported for president in 2016?
    • The Sabres tailspin continues, except this time it seems more like incompetence than deliberately tanking to get a better draft choice. It’s time to send Phil Housley back to Minnesota so that he can help his wife in her next election campaign – not that Coach Housley knows much about winning.




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