January 2019 campaign financials; Brown’s departure as state Democratic Chairman

Things start to take shape for the 2019 local elections with a review of the campaign committee financial reports required of all committees, due at the State Board of Elections. The most relevant of the reports are for elected officials or candidates who will be running for office in 2019, so this is a brief report on those people.

The reports reflect transactions through January 11th and were required to be filed by January 15th. Here is a summary of some of the major candidates’ committees:

  • County Executive Mark Poloncarz has $445,074 in the bank already for his upcoming re-election campaign.
  • One prominent potential Republican challenger to Poloncarz, State Senator Chris Jacobs, has $345,746 in his campaign treasury. Senator Jacobs has substantially self-funded his previous campaigns and would likely do so again if he decides for run County Executive.
  • Another potential CE challenger, County Legislator Ed Rath, has $46,085 in his accounts.
  • As for the rumored CE candidacy of Laurie Lisowski Frey, she so far does not have a campaign account created.
  • Here are the current campaign committee balances of the incumbent Erie County Legislators. All eleven seats will be on the ballot in November, although only three or four of them may face serious competition. Here are the incumbents:
    • 1st District – Barbara Miller-Williams – $1,449
    • 2nd District – April Baskin — $9,080
    • 3rd District – Peter Savage — $34,946
    • 4th District – Kevin Hardwick — $30,155
    • 5th District – Thomas Loughran — $3,976
    • 6th District – Edward Rath — $46,085
    • 7th District – Timothy Meyers – $1,013
    • 8th District – John Bruso — $3,980
    • 9th District – Lynne Dixon — $17,797
    • 10th District – Joseph Lorigo – No report on file as of January 17
    • 11th District – John Mills — $7,461
  • All nine Buffalo Common Council seats will be on the ballot. Here’s how the incumbents’ campaign accounts stack up:
    • Delaware – Joel Feroleto — $43,075
    • Ellicott – Darius Pridgen — $41,457
    • Fillmore – David Franczyk — $3,160
    • Lovejoy – Richard Fontana — $6,370
    • Masten – Ulysees Wingo – No report filed since January 2018
    • Niagara –David Rivera – No report on file as of January 17
    • North – Joseph Golombek — $35,320
    • South – Christopher Scanlon — $46,494
    • University – Rasheed Wyatt – No report filed since January 2018
  • There will be a race for Buffalo City Comptroller to replace the departing Mark Schroeder. Potential candidates have yet to come forward.
  • There will be several State Supreme Court seats on the ballot in November, but the shape of those races will take some time to develop.
  • This is the year when all at-large and district representatives on the Buffalo School Board will be on the ballot. There are always lots of issues to occupy those campaign agendas. The School Board elections are in May.

Brown departs state Democratic chairmanship without explanation

Last Monday the New York Daily News reported that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown had been replaced as New York State Democratic Chairman by Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs. Jacobs had a previous stint as state chair when Governor David Paterson was in office.

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave Brown the traditional pat on the back for his service to the party when he announced Brown’s departure and his replacement by Jacobs. Mayor Brown’s office, strangely, offered no explanation for what is going on or why the change is occurring now. Normally state party committees elect their leadership in September.

The Mayor reportedly was not in attendance at the Governor’s State of the State/2019 Budget presentation in Albany this week, an event Brown has regularly attended.

The Democratic Party State Chairmanship has for many years been primarily a figurehead position, with the real power held by the Committee staff, taking their direction from the governor’s office. The Cuomo announcement about the switch in chairs reaffirms that management arrangement.

There has been nothing publically revealed about why Brown is out, so one can only speculate: an impending appointment to some state position for Brown? A negative issue that has the governor looking to distance himself from Brown? Brown wanting to spend more time attending to the City of Buffalo’s fiscal crisis? Inquiring minds want to know.

The City of Buffalo’s fiscal crisis

It is the holiday season. There are decorations everywhere, likely even in Buffalo City Hall. Lots of red and green.

But I’m thinking here more about something familiar to many Western New Yorkers when they think about a crisis in municipal finance. The red and green I’m referring to is the Erie County government financial crisis brought on in 2004 when former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra presented two versions of a 2005 county budget. One would have cut spending in a draconian way – the red budget. The second was the green version, which would have balanced the budget by raising the sales tax by one percent – referred to as the “Medicaid penny.” Continue reading

As the dust settles, reviewing the 2018 elections and taking a small peek at what comes next

Poor Rick Scott. All those tens of millions of dollars of his own money, and it might not have been enough to buy a Senate seat in Florida. Maybe just $10 million more would have done the trick.

Or maybe he will wind up winning the re-count. It is Florida, after all, where they are pretty good at screwing up recounts and getting rolled by Brooks Brothers riots. The Supreme Court may be standing by to deliver another Republican victory if it gets to their desks. Continue reading

Eight weeks to go

So the national primary election season, which stretched from March through yesterday, is finally over. New York brought up the rear. (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not that is a pun.)

Andrew Cuomo’s campaign went through more than $21.4 million so far in 2018 (as of August 31st) to make sure that things came out okay for him. And they did. His 31 percent margin of victory would probably have been a little bigger if he didn’t get greedy by staging a grand opening for the new $3 billion plus Mario Cuomo Tappen Zee Bridge, only to have the bridge shut down the next day for safety reasons. Continue reading

Schroeder’s analysis points to a return to a hard control board for Buffalo

Over many years, going back nearly 50, the finances of the City of Buffalo have had a whole lot of ups and downs. Years with major deficits, years with comfortable surpluses. Sometimes, though, years of surpluses can lull a municipal government into a sense of complacency.

In the most recent version of financial roller coastering, the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority, aka the Control Board, was created by the state in 2003 following budget difficulties magnified by the financial turmoil that followed the terrorist attacks on the country in 2001. The board was put in place in a “control” or “hard board” status right from the get-go, and immediately set about imposing serious budget controls on the City government as well as the Buffalo Board of Education, including a wage freeze that extended for several years. Continue reading