Hoyt caught my attention during the Democratic primary for the 144th
NY Assembly District. During that race, Hoyt, a 12-year incumbent in
the post, faced Joe Golombek, a Buffalo City Councilman. The race was
very close, with Golombek launching an intense campaign backed by a
number of people, including County Executive Joel Giambra. Hoyt managed
to take the nomination, almost assuredly locking a victory in the Democrat-heavy
the son of Bill Hoyt, a career assemblyman, and is descended from a
line that goes back very far in Buffalo. Hoyt Lake and Street are notable
examples of his family's influence. Hoyt was previously employed on
Senator Dennis Moynihan's staff.
reading about the heated race and the interesting backers behind Golombek,
I thought, "Hey, maybe these crooks want to make sure Hoyt can't
screw up the scams they run in Buffalo. Could Hoyt possibly stand a
chance to screw these crooks and help straighten out the region?"
Impossible, right? To think that a public official might help improve
our city. Well, for our last issue before the big election, I sat down
with Sam, and decided to ask him exactly why he was singled out by Giambra,
and if he might be worth a reelection, even perhaps a mayoral run next
offices, located on Delaware near Chippewa, were inauspicious enough,
with a lone secretary operating the headquarters on a dismal Wednesday
morning. There certainly wasn't the kind of activity you'd expect only
a few weeks prior to election. After 12 years, Sam seemed pretty comfortable
with his chances.
144th district is pretty much the entire city west of Main, including
Riverside, Blackrock, parts of downtown, and the West Side including
Delaware and Elmwood. Oh, and "Huge" Island, too. This district
represents a wide and varied region, especially in two areas: money
and race. Sam says he loves it, that it's the most diverse district
in the state. He also says that he tries to represent the underrepresented
people that need him most, focusing on the Latino population in Buffalo.
Could be he genuinely likes fighting for the little guy, or his white
ass has to do a lot of fishing for the minority vote in the area. Either
way, if a politician gets votes because he represents his constituency
or vice versa, the result is the same.
answer wasn't quite clear to me during the interview, but he has stood
out on minority issues in the past, including gay marriage. Plus he
likes to talk to Hispanic college students. He has been endorsed by
several gay and lesbian sources this year, which might point to something.
to why Hoyt would have you vote for him, he presents his record, which
he says should speak for itself. Again, it's not that clear cut. The
issue concerning New York's delinquent budget has been tossed about
in several campaigns against incumbent candidates; they haven't gotten
the damn thing finished on time in 20 years. Most people who miss legal
deadlines have something nasty happen to them. On the topic of budget,
Sam says, "I would rather pass a budget that is better for my constituents
than a budget that is passed on time."
would also like to revise this article a thousand times or more, but
a deadline is a deadline in the real world. On the other hand, everyone
swears the same rhetoric of change-that they will turn it around-and
we've got to choose someone, right?
Brennan Center at New York University School of Law did a study this
year claiming New York's state government to be the most tightly controlled
and dysfunctional in the nation. This includes disclosure policies,
which is how we read the records, and is a poorly lacking aspect of
our state's bureaucracy. Hoyt claims that he and 22 members of the Assembly
majority are sponsoring a bill to enact the reforms recommended by the
the burning question on my mind since before I even scheduled this interview
is, of course, about the primary election. He expressed his understanding
that the people of New York are indeed very pissed off at Albany. And
rightly so, by Hoyt's own admission. "My opponents in that race,
who include Byron Brown, Joel Giambra, Steve Pigeon, and Joe Golombek
to use the anger with Albany at me."
they didn't succeed. Even the Republicans, including Joel Giambra, won't
back their party-mate David Penna, because they know he can't win. Hoyt
was obviously pretty ticked at these guys. It all comes down to business
in the end, though.
is a representative, and so the conversation shifted from politics and
onto the blight we call a city. Not that I don't love the place-I mean,
you really have to love the place in order to live here. Hoyt played
the optimist, though. As for economic decline in general, Hoyt seems
to think that repairing our schools is a genuine fix for our financial
troubles. His plan for the city involves rebuilding our public schools
system, so as to lure some suburban runaways back into our glorious
and bereft-of-property value town, despite taxes on the rise. An idealistic
plan, but a plan nonetheless, and one that couldn't really do us any
harm, like mortgaging ECMC and firing all our cops. But the school system
needs more than a cavity filled-it needs something more than just some
more money. Even so, our Control Board and city officials have locked
our schools into a 4-year period of creeping death with their recent
of the Control Board, I asked Sam about that, too. He was there when
they made that thing, so why the hell did they put the criminal leaders
on the panel, and task them to save the ship they're currently sinking?
Apparently, Hoyt insisted they be involved, because the Control Board
only has fiscal enforcements. They're not making the budget, only mandating
that certain goals be met. Even if they weren't on the board, nothing
would be different. The same budget would be sent to the Board, the
same faceless businessmen would decide the fate of our youth and our
citizens' safety, and off they go again for another round on the carousel.
casinos? Hoyt is adamantly opposed. Sharp and to the point, his simple
answer was, "Nothing good comes from casino gambling, and it's
a quick fix to a larger problem." It was a point not worth beleaguering.
ban? Same thing. Steadfast, Hoyt denied that any business could be run
out of business because of the smoking ban. Jimmy Mac's owner Rick Naylon
is closing down for just such a reason, and Hoyt attributes this to
his inability to adapt. Hoyt claims that NY is following in a growing
trend and that there are entire nations, such as Ireland, that do not
allow smoking inside any place of work or public place.
brought up Buffalo's "public image" repeatedly, saying that
if Buffalo were able to change it's image, we would find ourselves enticing
the Bill Gates' of tomorrow to come to our "cool, hip city."
The Peace Bridge project could be used to this end as well, promoting
Buffalo as a world-class city with a nice big signature bridge. I'm
still skeptical as to how much a bridge would influence travelers the
world over. To this end, I asked him about the waterfront, the Inner
Harbor, a large piece of land that the NFTA holds all the rights to,
and is currently sitting dormant and useless. Cities like Pittsburgh
and Baltimore have shown that waterfront renewal initiatives have promoted
nightlife, business, economic growth, a general increase in culture
and, guess what, image.
pawned off the waterfront on Brian Higgins, his party mate, running
for US Congress against Nancy Naples. Sam says that Higgins has plans
for it and we should expect to see Buffalo "well on its way to
beginning to develop its waterfront in 5 years."
5 years? And I doubt Higgins has a plan for the waterfront that he'll
execute from Washington. A low point in the interview, the only party
stump, and I suppose mandatory, but still a copout of an answer.
said he was into drug law reform, medical marijuana policies, and tearing
down the Rockefeller laws. Maybe "tearing down" is a bit spirited,
but he does seem to have activist tendencies. He mentioned that leading
the effort to save Children's hospital and protecting Allegheny State
Park from logging were his proudest accomplishments as an activist.
Sounds like a Green Party member in the closet.
the subject of becoming Mayor, Sam was prepared. He said he was flattered
so may people have tossed his name around, but he's not announcing anything
yet. Still, he had a few ideas as to what it would take to be a good
mayor, including tough decision-making, the will and strength to fire
people, and the wisdom to surround oneself with intelligent counsel.
also vowed that were he Mayor, the cronyism and patronage would stop.
I've got it on tape. Big words, coming from someone who's obviously
used to the game and how it's played. It makes him the only candidate
to vote for, if it's not all bullshit. And even after an hour of straight
dope with Mr. Hoyt, I can't really tell. But that alone puts him head
and shoulders above Masiello.
seems to present a light, however dimmed by years of politics, but one
that might be worth a chance. I haven't the will to endorse someone
who's been in Albany for over a decade; there's something unconscionable
about it. But in this turbulent election season, this candidate stood
out to me, albeit for the slings and arrows of his opponents.
Hoyt says to have faith in government; that something may yet change.
Well, I don't believe in faith. But maybe Mayor Hoyt could bring us
a glimmer of hope.