Some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets

Primary Day is approaching but there will be fewer contests than originally thought. There are some other things to think about. Here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets:

  • Mark Poloncarz won’t have a primary. Peter Reese can return the pile of money that he reportedly placed into a campaign account back into his personal accounts.
  • When Lynne Dixon files her next financial report on May 24th she likely will have a decent amount of cash available following an early May fundraiser. That’s pretty much inside baseball stuff. But what issues will she raise against Poloncarz that are likely to gain any traction among voters?
  • The selection of April Baskin as the new Chair of the Erie County Legislature (as I reported on Twitter last Friday) isn’t much of a surprise given that she was already Majority Leader. Collectively the seven members of the Democratic Caucus have a total of about 26 years of experience on the Legislature, but that includes 13+ years for Tom Loughran, who will be gone in December, and 9+ years for Kevin Hardwick, who at least at the moment is still a Republican.  Baskin has only been a member of the Legislature for 16 months.
  • The petition activity has still left us with primaries in Barbara Miller-Williams’ former district (Howard Johnson, Tara Craig, Kattrina Martin); Baskin’s district (Baskin and Duncan Kirkwood); and Peter Savage’s former district (Lisa Chimera, David Amoia, Cindi McEachon).
  • Kirkwood has released a statement complaining about the impending move of the county’s Child Protective Office from downtown Buffalo to “Trump Territory” – Cheektowaga. He does think, however, that “there are some really good people in Cheektowaga.”
  • Vanessa Glushefski has bowed out of the primary for City Comptroller due to her petition signature shortage. This appears to leave Barbara Miller-Williams as the new comptroller without a single vote having been cast. Ah, democracy in action!
  • In the six Buffalo Common Council district races where competitive petitions were filed Joel Feroleto (Delaware) and David Rivera (Niagara) will be unopposed. There are contests in Fillmore (Gerhardt Yaskow, Mitch Nowakowski, Tina Sanders, Pharoah Paige, with Mohammed Alam still pending); Lovejoy (Bryon Bollman and Esther Smothers); Masten (Ulysees Wingo, Nate Boyd, Jennifer Strickland and Veronica Golden); and University (Rasheed Wyatt and Kathryn Franco).
  • Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy has made official what he has been doing for many months – running for state Republican Chair. Incumbent Ed Cox has been there for ten years, just about as long since the party last won anything statewide (which was in 2002). Oh yeah, and the party lost control of the State Senate last November, which it had held for most of the past 80 years. Why, with that unbroken string of non-accomplishments, would the Republicans want to change leadership?
  • Cox has the support of the Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, Broome, and Chenango county organizations. Besides Erie, Langworthy’s backers so far are from Richmond (Staten Island), Onondaga, Saratoga, Albany, Montgomery, Livingston, Cattaraugus, Steuben, Delaware, Schenectady, and Allegany counties.  The meeting to select party officers will occur in July.
  • The first test of independence for newly appointed Buffalo Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams will come this week as we see how she reacts to Mayor Byron Brown’s proposed 2019-2020 budget.
  • Speaking of budgets, the Board of Trustees of Erie Community College has sent on their proposed new budget to County Executive Poloncarz. The cover letter from President Dan Hocoy admits that there are financial problems on the horizon, with the continued decline in enrollment and shrinking financial resources. But as a reader of Politics and Other Stuff, you already knew that.
  • The school’s Board, unlike in previous years, had little involvement in the preparation of the budget. Unlike previous budgets, the 2019-20 document does not detail the salaries of individual employees.
  • The budget asked the county for an additional $3.36 million in funding, which would be the biggest increase in history. The ask breaks down this way: converting $360,000 of what would normally be county bonded funding for college capital projects to a direct budget appropriation; $1 million as a “recurring maintenance of effort investment”; and $2 million to allow the college to offer early retirement incentives to college employees who are members of the faculty and administrators unions. There are no details on how the buy-out proposal would work.
  • It should be interesting to see if the unions representing county employees such as AFSCME and CSEA react to the college retirement buy-out proposal, since the county offers no such option to non-college county employees. For several years in the 1990’s the county offered its employees retirement incentives as part of a state-authorized program.
  • While the college’s intent on avoiding the use of fund balance for regular operating expenses is admirable, their four-year budget plan indicates that the continued use of fund balance for their new technology system will reduce the current fund balance by more than 50 percent over the next four years, leaving just about $9 million.
  • The college’s Board of Trustees is changing. Tim Callan has resigned and John Elmore reportedly plans to leave too. There is already a vacancy from the previous departure of Steve Boyd. Poloncarz recently appointed attorney Jeff Stone to replace Dennis Murphy. There are four seats on the Board that are gubernatorial appointments which are vacant or have terms expiring – Elmore, Susan Swarts, Kate Masiello and Boyd’s seat. Poloncarz has Callan’s seat to fill.
  • Masiello, at the Board’s April 25th meeting, proposed amendments to the Board’s by-laws that shrank the number of Board members needed for a quorum or to take action, potentially giving less than a majority of the full Board the authority to act on policy and financial proposals coming to them.
  • The by-laws proposals also included restrictions on how Board members can handle inquiries or complaints coming to them, and also creates a bureaucratic scheme for how Board members can even request information for themselves about college “data, records or other materials.”
  • When will the serious conversation begin about closing an ECC campus and/or merging with other Western New York community colleges?
  • Congressman Chris Collins has hit a dry spell in funding, collecting just $5,000 in the first quarter of 2019 and leaving him, after recent expenses that have included $42,147 in attorney fees, with just $167,449 in his campaign treasury. Of course, as he has done in the past, if Collins is a candidate for re-election in 2020 he can just write a large personal check.
  • Despite his impending February 2020 trial for securities law violations, Collins has nonetheless filed papers with the Federal Election Commission indicating that he will be a candidate for re-election next year. The only other candidate who has filed in the 27th District for 2020 so far is Libertarian Duane Whitmer. No Democrat has filed yet.
  • Unlike the “I’m suspending; I’ll get out; I’m running” fiasco of 2018, Collins, if he in fact chooses to run in 2020, will likely have one or more opponents in a Republican primary.
  • 2020 will be the last election run in the currently constituted 27th Congressional District. District reapportionment will occur in time for the 2022 election. New York will likely lose at least one congressional district. Western New York is losing population while other sections of the state are gaining. The Democratic majorities in the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo will be firmly in control of the process. So the upshot is, whoever is elected to Congress from the 27th District next year will only get to serve one term.
  • With Joe Biden now officially into the race for the Democratic nomination for president perhaps a motion to close nominations is in order. In the words of Donald Trump, “we’re full.”
  • The first Democratic presidential debate is just weeks away. The more the merrier at this stage, or should I say, stages? The field will start to narrow over the summer when the realities of money and lack of support become evident.
  • Last week Governor Andrew Cuomo, in an op-ed in the Washington Post, posed 35 questions related to national politics without providing any answers. Here’s one more question: why?
  • And finally, the Bills’ draft choices were kind of ho-hum, but maybe that’s okay. Training camp opens in about 11 weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly

One thought on “Some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets

  1. Just petty that Dixon and Rath voted against April Baskin on the vote making April the chair. Kind of a cheap shot, especially since April had all the other votes anyway. Says a lot that Rath voted against April this year, and also gave April’s opponent a nice campaign donation in the last election. What’s that all about? The guy running against April this year (same guy Rath funded) is whining that the county is sending workers out to Cheektowaga in new office space, “sending money to Trump country,” yet he took campaign money from Rath (a Trump supporter), and looks like a stooge for the biggest Trump supporter around, Carl Paladino, whose bedbug-infested building is why the county moved offices out of one of his downtown office buildings.


Comments are closed.