The FBI and state troopers show up at your door (Part II); some political this and that and other stuff

A lot of information is floating around, some facts and some heard-on-the-streets:

  • So the FBI and state troopers show up at Grassroots founder Maurice Garner’s door(s). There is all sorts of unsubstantiated speculation going on about the latest news in the local political scandal scene. Among the theories: Garner’s political alliance with Steve Pigeon in various political campaigns has dragged Garner into the picture; or, Pigeon dropped a dime on Garner’s politics to help his (Pigeon’s) own defense against charges and potential charges, both state and federal; or Garner’s connections with Mayor Byron Brown were highlighted by former Deputy Mayor Steve Casey to help his (Casey’s) own defense against possible charges. Other theories?
  • Grassroots, Inc. campaign filings have been noted in Buffalo News reports, but there is more to it than just Grassroots. State Board of Elections filings indicate that over the past four years Garner’s Urban Visions consulting operations show income of $22,825 from: Brown’s campaign ($14,150); County Court Judge James Bargnesi’s committee ($7,500); former interim DA Michael Flaherty’s committee ($1,000); and Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams’ campaign ($175).
  • The direct payments to Urban Visions don’t reflect all of Garner’s political income. Garner Associates was paid $10,200 by the campaign committee of Michele Brown, a candidate for Erie County Family Court in 2015.
  • Garner’s Urban Chamber of Commerce, whose office was one of the raid locations last week, has received a number of payments from several political candidates including: Senator Tim Kennedy ($3,500); Michael Flaherty ($2,500); City Comptroller Mark Schroeder ($1,865); Mayor Brown ($1,500); Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes ($795); Michele Brown for Family Court ($500); Buffalo Council President Darius Pridgen ($500); County Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams ($500); County Court Judge James Bargnesi ($500); and City Court Judge Craig Hannah ($325).
  • The Buffalo News reports that Garner’s Urban Visions also collected $120,000 in fees from Ciminelli Construction Cos. as part of the one billion dollar Buffalo school renovations project.
  • Just wondering – what happened to the June 15th hearing that was scheduled on the Pigeon federal complaint?
  • And will Pigeon’s September 5th state trial that relates to the bribery charges go on as scheduled?
  • Petitions for this year’s party nominations are on the streets. In the Legislature’s 2nd District, which Betty Jean Grant is leaving to run for mayor, April Baskin, Charley Fisher and Duncan Kirkwood are circulating for the Democratic nomination. At this point Clayton Hoyt’s candidacy is still listed as “potential.”
  • The campaign account of Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo’s son, Legislature Majority Leader Joe Lorigo, stands to gain financially from a birthday party fundraiser on July 10th celebrating Ralph’s 70th birthday. Joe Lorigo, as of January 15th, already had $106,494 in his campaign account.
  • Lorigo faces his first real challenge for the legislative seat from Michelle Schoeneman, who is the person behind the anti-Chris Collins billboards that went up earlier this year.
  • At this point in time there is no Republican candidate for County Court against the Democratic endorsed candidate Susan Eagan. Given that Republican chances in off-year elections are usually good compared with even-year elections, this is a mystery. Could it be that Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy supports Eagan but is resisting an endorsement? Could this be part of the keep-the-vote-down–in-Buffalo program? What happened to the potential candidacy of Kelly Vacco for the court seat?
  • If Assemblyman Mickey Kearns does, in fact, take a pass on the Democratic primary for County Clerk, is that to help keep down South Buffalo votes in the Buffalo mayoral primary, which might otherwise benefit Mark Schroeder. Or perhaps is Kearns concerned that he cannot win a Democratic primary? Kearns will still have the Republican and Conservative party lines in November.
  • There are two State Supreme Court seats on the ballot this year, one occupied by incumbent Appellate Division Justice Erin Peradotto and the other by retiring Justice Sharon Townsend. Reports are circulating that there will be cross endorsements, with the likely candidates Republican Erin Peradotto and Democrat Lynn Keane, who narrowly lost a Supreme Court race last year.
  • There doesn’t appear to be any serious movement on Donald Trump nominating candidates for the Western District of New York’s vacant federal judgeship or the vacant United States Attorney slot. Word on the street is that Chris Collins’ former County Attorney Jeremy Colby, who has been mentioned as a possibility for either position, has signaled that he is not interested. Trump has only made a handful of judicial and U.S. attorney nominations (including two who are former bloggers!), but mostly there is not a lot of action on the appointments. Probably something to do with the fact that the Justice Department is busy with other things at the moment.
  • Everyone is saddened by the gun attack that occurred last week that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise seriously wounded and others also recovering from the attack. Here’s wishing for a quick and healthy recovery for all.
  • The attack brought both Democrats and Republicans together to say that they need to cool the over-heated rhetoric. Civility is always welcomed. Having members of Congress walking around with loaded handguns, however, is not a comforting thought.
  • And if we for the time being are having a kumbaya moment, then why did the Trump campaign organization, just a day after the shootings, send out this email:

Democrats have absolutely NOTHING to offer our country. After their BILLION-DOLLAR election loss, all Democrats have done is OBSTRUCT President Trump and maniacally scream the word “RUSSIA” until they’re blue in the face. They’ve sparked protests in the streets, refused to approve White House nominees, destroyed our health care system, and used the media to spew vicious rhetoric against the President.

ENOUGH!

Tell Democrats: It’s time to stop obstructing the AMERICAN PEOPLE’S MANDATE. 

  • And finally, now that Pegulaville has filled all their vacant general manager and coaching positions, we can go on with our lives until the fall.

New Democratic Leadership — still a long ways to go; local judicial politics

The National Democratic Committee last Saturday elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as its new chair following a spirited contest that included Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and several other candidates. Moving past the failed leadership of Debbie Wasserman Shultz and interim chair Donna Brazile, it’s a start, but only a start. It will be a long way back to relevance for the party. Continue reading

The O’Donnell for New York committee

Running for public office can be a difficult proposition. A potential candidate has to commit him or herself to the grind of the campaign – endless hours and public scrutiny. A campaign team needs to be assembled. And depending on the office, money, sometimes lots of money, needs to be raised.

Denise O’Donnell had by 2004 (and continues to have) a distinguished legal career that has included work in private and public practice. She served in the 1990’s as the Western District of New York United States Attorney, held a state criminal justice position and more recently has been a member of the staff of the United States Justice Department. Senator Charles Schumer recommended her appointment as a federal District Judge but the Obama White House never formally nominated her and she withdrew as a candidate for the position. Continue reading

The local political battles of 2017

As Tip O’Neill once famously said, “all politics is local.” Well, not exactly, but in 2017 it sure is.

Coming in 2017 there is a wide variety of local elections in Erie County and Western New York. Among them are races for Mayor of Buffalo; Erie County Comptroller; Erie County Sheriff; Erie County Clerk; two State Supreme Court seats; the Erie County Surrogate Judge; and dozens of town offices, some of which might rise to prominence during the course of the year. Here’s a more detailed review. Continue reading

The Trump administration is a big question mark

Where to begin?

I was blindsided as much as at least half the country Tuesday night. It is going to take an extended period of time to see what this election means. Elections have consequences.

I think the campaign, as a previous post noted, was rigged by some Republican-controlled state governments that worked to restrict voting opportunities. But the polls were open everywhere on Tuesday, with people free to come and vote. Fewer did so than four years ago. More people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. Imagine what would be going on today if Trump had more votes and Clinton won the Electoral College. Continue reading