The BEAST - Buffalo's Best Fiend........www.buffalobeast.com.............Issue 59 9/30/04--10/14/04
Shady Start to Mayoral Race
By Eric Gauchat
When the polls open in a little over a month, voters are going to have a lot on their minds. Campaigns are kicking into high gear for the final stretch, and we're sure to see some fireworks before November. Already we've been treated to one hell of a circus, nationwide and back home. Certainly, we'll have plenty more to look forward to for this season and the year to come, before Tony goes up for reelection.
Recently, there's been a stir over Joel Giambra's game of cloak and dagger with Sam Hoyt. Unless you didn't read the last Beast, you already know that Mr. Giambra put 20 large into Hoyt's primary opponent Joe Golombek's pocket-in a Democratic primary. The County Exec made his big gambit by crossing party lines to support a Common Council member in a primary election-and it didn't work. I would feel better if I knew that Joel could at least make a solid investment with his own money; then again, if we could all make as much money as easily as he does, we might toss it around like it's confetti too. Golombek, defeated despite the skuldeggery, will be returning to his daily scam of a job at City Hall.
There is an emerging political philosophy New York that the right thing is to drive all the incumbents possible out of office. Not a terrible philosophy in and of itself, because it is very much true that the current cast of characters in Albany are an altogether inert mass of abysmal graft and incompetence. While many politicians will be running under such a scheme, who's to say anybody will manage to change what's been ailing our government for more than 20 years? Perhaps if we were to remove all the current senators and assemblymen, and elect all new morons to do the job, we would have a chance, albeit slight, that the situation would get better. But we have no control over what actually happens in Albany, and that's exactly why they can't pass a budget. The budget is already such an old and tired joke, it seems like we should be able to get beyond it. But we can't, and I don't think there's anyone, of any party, that could put together such a package of candidates as to solve the problem; much more likely the politicians will continue sucking our bones dry.
Sam Hoyt definitely has his problems. He's raised taxes, voted for the smoking ban, and has done a pretty much party-line job in the Assembly-as much as can be expected from a career politician. His strength, though, comes from his seemingly strong support of the "softer side" of government, supporting causes like the environment, AIDS, and ethnic diversity. He's even an honorary member of the Assembly Puerto-Rican/Hispanic Task Force. This is a little confusing, until you remember that his district includes the lower West Side. Hoyt is probably going to run for Mayor of Buffalo next year, which is why this election was so important to Giambra. Losing his old pal Tony would be a major blow for him, and he knows Hoyt has the boyish charm and name recognition to make it happen.
This is where it might get interesting. Should Hoyt return to office in November, which by most predictions he will, he'll have the strength of this year's victory running with him back into Buffalo's polls again. Ever since Masiello sold out to the Republicans and Pataki, he's been in warm comfy hands downstate, and both he and Giambra have cozy spots on the control board and have made it obvious that they want to make a go of regionalization.
Should the vote pass in 2005 to merge city and county, the Mayor elected next year will be the last one Buffalo will see. If Masiello wins, he'll be able to end his long tenure with the satisfaction of knowing nobody else will ever succeed him. He'll be well taken care of by his friends in County and State, and our city will slowly fade into oblivion. Hoyt seeks to puts something in the way of that. So far he has balked at the County Exec's talk over regionalizing city and county, and worked for bolstering the city with the funds the county doesn't want to share. Giambra would face a long term with such a tough opponent residing in the Mayor's office.
And what might happen then? Maybe a fair chance is deserved to anyone with a mind for change. Maybe next year, neither Hoyt nor Masiello will be mayor. Perhaps we can get our own city out of the political quagmire that is bogging down our state. It seems that when we send our reps on vacation in Albany, we never hear from them again until they want to be mayor. Griffin and Masiello both pulled such a maneuver, and both Hoyt and Byron Brown will be doing the same if they run. Perhaps some of the problems we've been facing for untold years come back to us from Albany. It hasn't been since the corrupt and patronizing Frank Sedita and his replacement Makowski that there's been a Mayor of Buffalo who wasn't first associated with State legislation. That was well over 20 years ago, and since that time, the state hasn't been able to pass a budget on time. This breakdown in government seems to be trickling back down to us from the schooling our Mayors get from their friends downstate.
On the other hand, Hoyt could prove to be the better choice, simply for his war with Giambra. It might serve us well to have anyone in the county or city that isn't cronied up to Giambra and his games. Naples turned out to be quite a thorn in his side, and the very well endowed grand jury report that unearthed the rampant adultery of our coffers into a corrupt highway department serves to tell us that we need someone to put this puppy down. It'll be several more years before we have a chance to vote him out, so we should start biding our time until the regionalization vote next year.
Ask yourself during the coming winter, when your street is so full of snow you can barely see the stop signs and you're exhuming your car from its snowy tomb, why a highway crew in East Aurora was making fat loot to sit around and drink coffee, instead of using those big county trucks to help out the county seat. Wonder why, in the depths of our financial nightmare, our county hasn't shared with us $120 million in "temporary" sales tax increases they've been raking in since 1984. When you see regional corporations like the NFTA and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the Peace Bridge Authority cranking down the thumbscrews on the budgets of the area, and our leaders squeal back at their buddies in Albany to shovel the money into our economic sinkhole, ask why our leaders shovel it into their own gaping furnaces, instead of easing our burdens in the region. When you see the stupefied and empty expression on our politicians' faces when they are approached with such issues as education and public services, ask yourself, "how on earth did these guys get here?"
With such rampant corruption, conflicts of interest, and foolishly planned investments going on each and every day, it seems like a foregone conclusion that something will be done. But as we've seen time and time again, that may not be the case. So far, election season this year has taught us a few very important things: First, that no charlatan is any better than the rest, a lesson of which we are reminded each and every year. Second, that in the end our President is mainly chosen by a handful of idiots in a few key areas of a few key states, and those of us in safe states are a foregone conclusion. Third, God hates Florida, and if you're a snowbird waiting to fly south for the winter, think again, cause there's a battle going on between the antichrist and a JFK wannabe, and Hell is springing up from the sandy beaches of paradise. Finally, we can also glean from our current political climate that we can expect our officials to backstab each other endlessly, with taxpayer support, in an endless bid to dominate the city like it's some sort of deranged board game being played by a bunch of geeky kids with big connections.
your eyes peeled for the Beast's mayoral candidacy race, and the exciting new
developments we have in store for the local political landscape. We hope to
come up with something that will shock, amuse, and perhaps change how some of
the people who run this town see their citizens. And please, for the love of
beer and wings, get out there and exercise one of the fastest-fading rights
we still have: vote. But don't vote for Masiello.
© 2004 The Beast