May 7th - 11:40 pm
Former New York Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino was elected to public office, even if it is on a smaller scale. Paladino was elected to the Buffalo Public School Board of Education winning 79 percent of the vote in Buffalo’s Park District.
“Today the children of the City of Buffalo won a big, big battle,” Paladino told supporters at a rally Tuesday Night.
Despite being slammed by inflamatory mailers, Paladino defeated his opponent in the race by a 4-1 margin. More than 3,200 people cast ballots in the South Buffalo district Paladino was running in.
The increased media attention pushed voter turnout in Paladino’s race to an unoffical 14 percent. Voter particpation was literally 10 times higher than it was in the last school board election three years ago.
Apr 4th - 12:59 pm
Last week, Buffalo had two candidates for Mayor. Two-time incumbent Democrat Byron Brown and his Republican challenger Sergio Rodriguez.
With a 7 to 1 enrollment deficit in the city of Buffalo, even Rodriguez considers himself an underdog.
“Brown has strong support across the city, strong union support in the past, a strong war chest, a guy who is battle tested,” said Democratic Strategist Jack O’Donnell.
However, O’Donnell says Brown’s relationship with his own party could make him vulnerable to a challenge from within.
“It’s no secret that Byron Brown has always been an independent. He’s focused more on the city and what he’s done. You’ve got a new Democratic chairman who’s come out of the suburbs. He doesn’t really have a relationship with this mayor,” O’Donnell said.
Three other Democrats have considered challenging Brown. One of them is even testing the waters.
The former head of Buffalo’s FBI office, Bernie Tolbert filed paperwork Tuesday with the Erie County Board of Elections to establish a campaign treasury. Tolbert told YNN’s Ryan Whalen he has not yet decided whether he’ll run for Mayor.
“The fact that I filed should not be construed as an official announcement. It’s part of the process. It helps me to let those that want to support me do just that,” Tolbert said.
Tolbert says over the last year a number of people have approached him, expressing their desire to support him should he decide to run. The Erie County Democratic Party is watching these developments closely.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see them endorse Tolbert or endorse no one. It’ll be interesting to see if anybody else does take a serious look at this race,” said O’Donnell
Just the idea of an open Democratic primary had two other candidates reconsidering a run. A source close to City Comptroller Mark Schroeder says he was seriously considering entering the race but ultimately decided against it. Schroeder’s camp isn’t ruling out a run in 2017.
Buffalo Common Councilman Darius Pridgen’s name continues to be mentioned as a potential Mayoral Candidate. Pridgen continues to downplay his interest but sources say he was seriously considering a run and hasn’t completely shut the door on the idea of a Mayoral run.
“You never know what God has in store for me,” Pridgen said.
Meantime Brown seems unfazed when asked about the growing list of potential opponents.
“My focus is on doing the job as mayor and continuing the great progress that we’re seeing in the city ofBuffalo,” Brown said.
O’Donnell doesn’t expect the Erie County Democratic Party to be much of a factor in this race and, at this point, he doesn’t see the dynamics of this race changing.
“I still think you’ve got to make Byron Brown the overwhelming frontrunner in this race,” O’Donnell added.
Apr 3rd - 3:26 pm
The Queens Republican Party vice chairman caught up in the sweeeping bribery scandal to secure Sen. Malcolm Smith a spot on the Republican mayoral ballot in New York City has resigned, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Vincent Tabone informed Queens Republican Chairman Phil Ragusa he was stepping down a day after he and five others were arrested in a bribery scheme and now face federal corruption charges.
Both Tabone and Bronx Republican Chairman Jay Savino were acccused of accepting $40,000 in bribes in exchange to sign a Wilson-Pakula waiver so Smith, a Democrat and member of the five-member Senate IDC, could run on the Republican line in a mayoral primary.
Earlier today, state Chairman Ed Cox called on both Savino and Tabone to step down.
Tabone had been an aide for the mayoral campaign of supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis and also draws a six-figure salary at Catsimatidis’s company. Tabone was fired from his campaign role on Tuesday.
Apr 1st - 4:46 pm
From NY1′s Grace Rauh:
Republican candidate for mayor Joe Lhota raised an impressive $731,000 in less than eight weeks on the campaign trail. But his official filing with the city’s Campaign Finance Board raised some questions. That’s because Lhota did not list any intermediaries. Intermediaries are people who help a candidate raise money outside official campaign events. They are sometimes known as bundlers.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has told the Campaign Finance Board she has used 159 intermediaries to raise money for her mayoral bid. City Comptroller John Liu has named 147 intermediaries. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio says 88 intermediaries have helped raise money and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson says his campaign has had help from 28 intermediaries.
A spokeswoman for Lhota’s campaign says they will be updating the candidate’s filing to show that three intermediaries helped him raise money during this fundraising period. She said she did not have the names of the people who would be listed.
Mar 23rd - 2:18 am
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown will kick off his reelection campaign later today. The Democrat is seeking a third term in office.
For the first time since 2005, Brown will face a GOP challenge. With more than a million dollars in his campaign war chest, and a 7 to 1 Democratic enrollment advantage, Brown and his supporters have to be feeling confident.
Republican Sergio Rodriguez launched his campaign for Buffalo Mayor last month. The former Marine, and native of the Dominican Republic, told YNN’s Ryan Whalen on Friday he knows it’s a long shot.
“We know that were the underdog. We don’t in any way shape or form, think we’re out there and we’re the favorite. We know this is an uphill battle,” Rodriguez said.
According to Rodriguez he’s not the only one. He claims he was approached by members of the Republican Party, who encouraged him to drop out.
“There were incentives that were waived in front of me for me to reconsider my run.”
Rodriguez would not say who offered these “incentives” or what they were. The GOP did not challenge Brown in 2009. Rodriguez believes that was by design.
“I didn’t get into this because I wanted a better opportunity. I had a really good job at Medaille College as coordinator of Veterans and Military Affairs. I’m making a sacrifice here. I left that job. There’s no guarantee that I’ll be coming back.”
Two high-profile Republicans, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and Sheriff Tim Howard will be on the ballot this fall. Some analysts believe a race for Mayor will bring a larger share of theQueenCity’s 120,000 Democrats out to the polls.
“The responsibility of each party is to field candidates that they believe will make the city better and will address the issues that matter most to residents.”
Rodriguez is focused on his own campaign. And while running against Brown may be an “uphill battle” it’s one he says he can win.
“We’re grounding ourselves on focusing on issues that matter most to residents and if that’s the focus then it doesn’t matter who we’re competing against. Let the best man win, the best person for the job,” Rodriguez added.
Mar 21st - 1:31 am
Rochester City Council President Lovely Warren is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Mayor, but her bid did not get off to a good start Wednesday night.
Warren lost votes in two of the three city districts during a Rochester Democratic Designating Caucus. Warren even lost her home district to current Mayor Tom Richards by 14 votes.
Warren was able to tie Richards in committee votes in the city’s 29th district, but lost by 63 votes in the 23rd district. Monroe County Democratic Committee Chair Joe Morelle said the results do not bode well for Warren.
“She’s been campaigning for two straight months and Tom (Richards) has been doing his job as Mayor. To have such an overwhelming victory shows that the committee members appreciate Tom’s leadership and everything he’s brought to the city,” Morelle said.
Richards won a special election in 2011 to replace now Lt. Governor Bob Duffy. Warren supported Richards in the race.
When Warren announced she was considering a run for Mayor in January she said the city needed a new vision. Comments Morelle called puzzling.
“She really followed Tom’s lead on the city council. She voted for all of his policies and supported all of his ideas. It’s really hard to find a guy who is so well liked by the business community, labor groups, and non-profits,” Morelle said.
Warren would not confirm she was indeed launching a mayoral campaign but told YNN’s Scott Fairbanks that the media would hear from her later in the week.
Warren has represented the city’s Northeast District since 2007. She was elected Council President in 2010. Even if Warren does not win the overall vote, she could still try to force a Democratic Primary in September. Three more committee districts will vote on Monday.
Mar 6th - 1:50 pm
There was ample substantive policy discussion at this morning’s Crain’s NY Business debate between the five men vying for the GOP line in the NYC mayor’s race, but that was largely overshadowed by a verbal tiff between the moderator, Crain’s columnist Greg David, and former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, who took offense when David referred to his former boss, Rudy Giuliani, as a “jerk.”
Lhota, who served as a deputy mayor under Giuliani at City Hall, chastised David from the podium, saying it was inappropriate for him to “disparage the 107th mayor of the city of New York with the words that you used when you look at what he did during those eight years in office where you saw, you actually saw the economy expanding, jobs expanding, I imagine even…the number of Crain’s subscriptions actually increased very nicely in that period of time.”
And Lhota, who has spent a lot of time since he entered the mayor’s race trying to determine the right balance between embracing the Giuliani legacy and establishing himself as his own man, went still further after the forum, saying:
“Using a pejorative to describe Rudy Giuliani in a forum like this is unfortunate. But that’s what columnists do, they have the right to say whatever they want, and Greg did say whatever he wants. I think he was wrong.”
David, agreed that his choice of words was wrong, saying in a statement:
“”In retrospect, jerk was the wrong word because I offended some members of the audience and I should not be doing that. Just as important, the word allowed Joe Lhota to blast me rather than answer one of the important issues of the campaign – does he present the return of Rudy. So I failed on two counts.”
Incidentally, the Lhota/David dust-up wasn’t the only uncomfortable moment of this morning’s forum.
Adolfo Carrion was grilled about this morning’s Daily News story about a PAC he established during his Bronx borough president days that was funded by developers and others who had business dealings with his office and might have violated campaign finance laws.
Feb 28th - 10:22 pm
Multiple sources tell YNN that New York State Assemblyman Bill Reilich is running for Greece Town Supervisor. A formal announcement is expected Friday.
Our camera and reporter were kept outside of a meeting of the Greece Republican Committee Thursday Night. The meeting was held to designate candidates for the November elections.
Reilich and current Supervisor John Auberger were in attendance. Both left without talking to the media. Soon after the closed door meeting ended, a press advisory was sent out announcing Reilich would make “an important announcement regarding this year’s elections in the Town of Greece.”
The announcement will take place Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Greece Town Hall. Term limits prevent Auberger from running again. He did not return our calls Thursday night.
Reilich, who is also the chair of the Monroe County Republican Committee, could not be reached for comment Thursday Night. Reilich was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1992. His 134th Assembly seat covers the towns of Greece, Spencerport, and Hilton.
Feb 27th - 5:33 pm
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union today announced the arrival of its new political director, Leah Gonzalez, who has more than a decade of experience in the NYC labor world – much of that spent at the powerful health care workers union 1199 SEIU.
“As the RWDSU continues to grow and increase its visibility especially in political communities, we are excited to have Leah Gonzalez on our national team,” union President Stuart Appelbaum said. “We are very familiar with her work and talent with 1199 SEIU, so there is no doubt that her knowledge and professionalism will represent us well.”
This is actually Gonzalez’s second week at her new job. Her imminent departure from 1199 was originally reported earlier this month in Crain’s Chris Bragg.
During a brief phone interview this afternoon, Gonzalez, 37, told me her main goal is to build an “aggressive political operation” to match RWDSU’s impressive PR and policy operation, which exists largely thanks to Appelbaum’s savvy and aggressive outspokenness.
“I think I bring a lot to the table from my experience and work at 1199 to help build RWDSU through collaboration, increase their political capital and standing and the value of union support,” she said. “It’s about developing internal member strength and increasing member activism. Obviously going to take time, but it can be done.”
Because of Appelbaum, RWDSU has considerably more weight than a union of its size is entitled to, (it has just 45,000 members in New York and some 100,000 throughout the US and Canada), particularly considering the fact that it does not have a political machine to speak of, which is something Gonzalez aims to change.
Case in point: The coverage given to the union’s decision to give an early nod to NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s mayoral bid.
Not only was RWDSU’s nod considered a catalyst that could – and subsequently has – clear the way for other labor endorsements, but it also was significant due to Appelbaum’s strong opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s successful campaign for a third term in 2009.
Appelbaum was among the most prominent, and certainly the loudest, surrogates for Bloomberg’s Democratic challenger, former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, but now he has turned his back on Thompson, who is making another attempt at City Hall, to throw in his lot with the very woman critics have deemed Bloomberg “lite.”
(Worth noting: Gonzalez’s predecessor at RWDSU, Ademola Oyefeso, recently left his post to join Team Quinn).
There actually aren’t that many unions in New York that have a really robust political operation that not only includes the usual phone banking and member-to-member initiatives, but also visibility (mobilizing members to show up as rallies and other campaign events) and door knocking, which is a key element of the kind of GOTV/field work that can make the difference between a win and a loss on Election Day.
Arguably, 1199 has the best-oiled and largest political operation of the New York unions. That’s due in part to its size – 200,000 members in the five boroughs of NYC and on Long Island.
But size isn’t everything when it comes to building a political machine. The scrappy New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council has built itself into a significant player over the past several years by beefing up its GOTV efforts, and it only has 30,000 members.
Gonzalez is making this switch at a time when New York labor is in flux. (Although, to be fair, I can’t recall a year when that statement wasn’t true). Soon, there will be a new mayor in City Hall, and certain segments of the labor community plan to do all they can to assure a more union-friendly successor to Mayor Bloomberg.
In the press release announcing Gonzalez’s hire, Appelbaum made sure to note she worked with three big names in the New York labor world: 1199′s current political director, Kevin Finnegan; Patrick Gaspard, who went on to become President Obama’s political director; and his predecessor, Jennifer Cunningham, long seen as one of the most prominent women in the state’s labor and political circles, who is now in the private sector, but serves as an unofficial advisor to a number of elected officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Feb 26th - 10:59 pm
A Western New York State Senator has drafted legislation he hopes will encourage school districts across the state to invest in security upgrades.
“This would exempt security costs from the property tax cap,” said New York State Senator George Maziarz.
The Newfane Republican, who represents Niagara Falls and Niagara County as well as Orleans County and western Monroe County, told YNN Buffalo’s Sara Serafin Tuesday that he’s sponsoring a bill that would exempt the money schools spend on security from being calculated in the state’s two-percent property tax cap.
“Obviously with the tragedy we saw with the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut I think it’s important that school districts be encouraged to invest in security measures. There’s nothing more important than protecting children,” Maziarz said.
The cap was signed into law in 2011 to limit the level of rising property taxes in Upstate New York. But property taxes are also a main source of revenue for districts, so the cap can limit an important revenue stream. Maziarz says there are some expenses that are exempt to the cap like employee pension and health insurance costs. He hopes security costs will be added to that list.
“Hopefully encouraging districts to invest in things like school resource officers and other security measures like door locks and cameras and so forth,” said Maziarz.
The bill was sent to the Senate’s Education Committee. Maziarz expects it to clear committee sometime in March and be passed by the full Senate in April.
“Everyone wants to make sure that the children that are in school are in a safe atmosphere, and I don’t think there will be any opposition to that,” Maziarz added.