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

Welcome to the unofficial end of summer! The time when campaigns begin to ramp up activities and a sense of urgency starts to develop.

Here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets for the beginning of September:

  • All serious campaigns have already or are now finalizing their plans for mailings, advertising, and targeted campaigning. Oh yes, and raising more money.
  • On the other hand, Democratic candidates for president may be adjusting their approach now that the stage is set for the next debate on September 12th in Houston. We won’t be seeing all those desperate emails asking for one dollar because the candidates needed 130,000 unique donors, dispersed among several states, in order to qualify for the debate stage.
  • One of the failed candidates is New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Maybe now that she does not need to spend time in Iowa we might spot her occasionally in Western New York.
  • Unfortunately, the rules for the October presidential debate will give more time for some of the candidates who did not qualify for September to raise sufficient funds or to rise in the polls to qualify, which might mean more than ten candidates and debates again stretching over two nights – not a positive development.
  • We would all like an extra $1,000 to spend, although perhaps not from the deficit-ridden federal government, but why can’t Andrew Yang, who adds nothing to the primary debate, see the light and graciously depart?
  • Quote of the pre-Labor Day week from Donald Trump: “We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!” Wow! What is the world coming to when Fox News makes Donald Trump unhappy? Can this marriage be saved?
  • When will the Republican debates be scheduled now that Trump has two opponents? For those not paying attention, they are former Massachusetts Governor (and failed candidate for New York Governor) William Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh; and maybe former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford.
  • Trump clone Boris Johnson, new Prime Minister of the country formerly known as Great Britain, has prorogued Parliament for a month in order to hasten the country’s departure from the European Union. Prorogued is a technical term meaning “shut up and go away,” and is not to be confused with pierogis, which are a Polish delicacy. Trump would no doubt like to do the same thing with Congress and is probably even now checking to confirm that the Constitution permits him to do that.
  • Why not the Trump Doral Resort in Miami for the G-7? The sessions are held in August, which is the height of the hurricane season, so the place will probably be empty. If a storm were to strike when G-7 was there, Trump could go from bungalow to bungalow passing out paper towels.
  • As economic signs point more and more to an economic slowdown or maybe a recession, Trump is doing anything and everything to point the finger to anyone but the guy he sees in the mirror. The sugar-high benefits of the corporate tax cuts have worn off and his tariff shenanigans are a disaster.
  • And why so little reporting about the likelihood that Trump is really pushing for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates because the “king of debt” stands to benefit personally from lower rates on his failing properties?
  • In local political news, there is hardly any. Candidates are campaigning. There basically is no local political media coverage for anything below the countywide level, and even that is only occasional.
  • On August 27th this blog pointed out that the Erie County Board of Elections’ website had no mention of the dates and locations for early voting in Erie County this year, which begins on October 26 and runs through November 3. On August 28th the Board of Elections’ website provided information about early voting and the locations that will be available. Thank you.
  • The early voting could change the dynamics of the election – or not. It will come down to what the parties can make of it. Democrats usually do better with a larger turnout, and Republicans usually look for ways to keep turnout down. At the very least early voting will not keep turnout down.
  • Interesting factoid: during this year’s state legislative session, Senator Tim Kennedy sponsored the most bills passed in the State Senate, 65.
  • There have now been two State Supreme Court decisions concerning last year’s legislation that provided pay raises for the state’s elected officials while tying the second and third helpings of ten thousand dollar legislative raises to limitations on their permitted outside income. One of the decisions said that the raises could not be linked to the outside income limitations and that the second and third legislative pay raises could not occur. The other decision allows the additional raises but says that the Commission that linked the raises to the income limitations exceeded any authority to do so. The Court of Appeals will eventually weigh in.
  • So the question is, does the matter of legislative authority essentially being given to an unelected commission carry over to the 2019 version of a commission?
  • That body is charged with setting up procedures for public funding of statewide and legislative elections, and oh yeah, deciding whether fusion voting should continue in the state.
  • Public financing of state elections could be tremendously expensive. It could also significantly change the landscape of those elections by encouraging potential candidates who might not otherwise have the money to run, to jump in. In the New York City model that the commission might be following, lots of money is spent and wasted on fringe candidates.
  • The question of eliminating fusion voting, however, might in the end become the predominant matter coming out of the Public Campaign Financing Commission’s work. If they recommend the end of fusion voting and that recommendation is sustained, the political landscape in the state will change considerably. Statewide the Republicans opportunities for election will be damaged. The same will apply in some parts of the state such as Erie County where the Conservative Party has been of great assistance to Republicans.
  • The Commission has hardly started its work, but already it has created one of the strangest, though unofficial alliances in state politics. The left-leaning Working Families Party and the right-leaning Conservative Party are already working feverishly to prevent or defeat any effort to end fusion voting. Strange bedfellows.
  • The Bills kick off the new season next Sunday. Forgive me for not being too excited.
  • During the current millennium (which has run 19 years thus far) the Bills have had only three seasons where they finished with more wins than losses, and of course, just one playoff appearance. Go back to the team’s beginning in 1960 and you will see that there have been only 23 winning years out of 60.
  • That being said, my opinion is that Josh Allen can turn out to be a good quarterback. They have added some better receivers and have beefed up the offensive line. It is still hard to think, however, that they will go past another 9 win and 7 loss year and make the playoffs.

While Republicans stand by silently, Trump signals his willingness to break the law again; the Democratic primary

Donald Trump last week once again told the world that he is willing to break the law. Evil doers around the world smirked.  Republicans throughout the United States mostly observed the latest instance of Trump’s above-the-law attitude in silence.

As Paul Simon sang, “Fools” said I, “You do not know Silence like a cancer grows…” Continue reading

What’s happening (and not happening) with the 2019 elections in Buffalo?

The year 2019 really seems like a strange one in local politics. The state Election Law changes, which shifted the political calendar, seem to make everything a bit off kilter.

A June primary schedule is not new in New York. Such was the case for many years until the early 1970’s, when Albany changed things to set up a September primary. That, of course, means that practically no one involved in local politics today has any history about the rhythm of what an early summer primary means. Continue reading

Journalism in the 21st century; a footnote about changes coming at the County Legislature

You are looking at the future of journalism. Okay, I’m exaggerating – a lot. This humble blog is just a humble blog.

But take a few minutes to consider how you, personally, gather information you need or want about the region, the country and the world. More and more, we all have created or are creating our own individual versions of “the news.” Continue reading

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I would like to thank all the subscribers and readers of Politics and Other Stuff for another great year.  Your continued interest in the blog is much appreciated.

We certainly live in interesting times, and 2017 has been an incredibly eventful year.  2018 may prove to be even more challenging.

I have worked hard to deliver on my original intent for the blog:  to stimulate thought and discussion on public issues and to provide useful information to the readers.  I know that my Democratic leanings are something that occasionally bothers my Republican and other conservative oriented viewers, but they have nonetheless remained subscribers.  Subscriptions have continued to grow.  Thank you!

The blog will be on a break next week and will return after the New Year.  For those who haven’t read it before, or who may want to read it again, here’s a link to a heart-warming Christmas story written by Steve Banko.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Ken Kruly

Welcome to Politics and Other Stuff

Why another blog?

Welcome to Politics and Other Stuff!

So here goes. Your humble blogger has had a great interest in politics for nearly 50 years (dating myself here), since the end of high school. There were many years in my life when I was a very active participant in the world of politics. Everything from envelop stuffing to campaign management. From the local council level to presidential campaigns. On the Democratic side. A whole lot of politicians worked for, fought against, had a beer with. Continue reading