The BEAST - Buffalo's Best Fiend ........................ buffalobeast.com
The BEAST 25 Most Loathsome Buffalonians, 2005
25. Tim Russert, talking head
Misdeeds: Russert is not the worst offender out there in the ethical wasteland of TV news, but that fact should depress us. His pre-election interview with Bush was so soft he should have ended it by spoonfeeding the president strained peaches while making choo-choo noises. Still Russert is always willing to give the administration the benefit of the doubt, even when their wrongdoing is clear, though not quite at Wolf Blitzer’s kneepads-and-lube level of dedication.
Aggravating Factor: Russert is considered “fair” and “hard-hitting” by viewers whose expectations have been dramatically lowered without their conscious knowledge.
Aesthetic: Randy Quaid ate a leprechaun, and was never quite the same.
24. Victor Getz, driver
Misdeeds: The most controversial chauffer since Driving Miss Daisy—but at least Morgan Freeman wasn’t packing heat. Getz’ patronage job came to symbolize all that is wrong with the favor-trading ways of not only the Giambra administration, but Buffalo and Erie County’s political history. When Giambra defended Getz’ position, as well as those of seemingly his entire family, it became a high watermark, beyond which we the people could stand no more.
Aggravating Factor: Had the balls to complain that it was unfair to single him out while 13 of his relatives were employed by the county, receiving more than half a million dollars a year collectively.
23. Anthony Masiello, Mayor
Misdeeds: Mayor Masiello's regime was perhaps the most corrupt in Buffalo's history. The amount of money squandered through political patronage and developer handouts is matched only by the hopeless indifference left behind in its wake. No one has the stomach to prosecute Masiello, because they're all a part of that way of doing business.
Aggravating Factor: Hits on your girlfriend.
Aesthetic: Abusive middle school gym teacher.
22. Airborne Eddy, comedian
Misdeeds: A phony beatnik who admires Reagan and makes racist jokes about Arabs, Airborne Eddy is living proof that the only requirement for local fame is utter mediocrity. An actually funny person would never make the cut for a local show because blandness is Buffalo media’s stock in trade. “Offbeat Cinema” is to the Beat movement what “Reefer Madness” was to authentic drug culture. We heckled Eddy once at the Tralf, but wound up feeling bad about it because it threw him so completely, perhaps because he secretly knows how much he sucks.
Aggravating Factor: Known to have stolen material from the very comedian he was opening for on at least one occasion.
Aesthetic: Don Rickles, minus the funny—and the looks.
21. Byron Brown, our next Mayor, like it or not
Misdeeds: Make no mistake; Byron Brown is of a piece with Buffalo’s history of machine politics. He comes fresh from the most inefficient and corrupt state legislature in the US, and has been cleared for landing in City Hall by the Democrats. Already a known liar, all Brown needs to do to please his benefactors is nothing, nothing at all.
Aggravating Factor: That’s just what he’s going to do.
Aesthetic: Old school phony.
20. Mark Croce, Buffalo restaurant baron
Misdeeds: If there’s a prize for restaurateurs that succeed by putting whipped cream on dog shit, Croce’s the winner. He has four establishments on Franklin Street, The Buffalo Chophouse, Darcy McGee’s, The Brownstone Bistro and Laughlin’s. Guess what? They all suck! Maybe it’s because the people that work for him say that Croce is a notoriously overbearing prick, or maybe it’s because they’re all overpriced and filled with clueless asses who all think they’re fabulous, or maybe it’s because the structures are garish monstrosities. Speaking of which, whatever happened to the Euro-fag Warehaus? We like to see money being spent downtown as much as anybody, but couldn’t somebody get this guy to at least have some respect for quality and taste? Guess not. This is America baby, big and flashy all the way—charge too much and the wealthy will come, just so they can avoid regular people.
Aggravating Factor: Owns those goddamned metered parking lots in the vicinity of his establishments which he monitors by peering down from his 12th floor City Centre condo and has your car towed if he spots you not feeding his private meter. They even hand out official-looking tickets.
Aesthetic: Scheming landlord/con-man Jerzy Balowski from “The Young Ones.”
19. Chris Jacobs, school board member
Misdeeds: Chris Jacobs is the political heir to throne of the Delaware North/ Jacobs family dynasty, which is involved in gaming and concessions through its well known subsidiary Sportservice. As one of the largest privately held corporations in the world, they could certainly invest a lot of money in Buffalo in a lot of positive ways. Instead, Chris Jacobs is acting as a point man in the right wing charter school movement. If you think there's a lot of money in gambling, and monopoly concessions contracts, think about how much money can be made through the privatization of public education. New Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams was brought to Buffalo by these interests to act on their behalf.
Aggravating Factor: Now related to Carl Paladino.
Aesthetic: Slightly elongated Baldwin brother.
18. Ray McGurn, Chief Housing Inspector
Misdeeds: McGurn is responsible for perhaps the most corrupt, inefficient, and worthless department in the entire city and that is really an achievement. There are a lot of housing inspectors in Buffalo, sixty or so, but reaching one is just about impossible—unless you piss them off by complaining to the press. As most of us know by now, McGurn is taking flack in the local media for exacting swift retribution against Harvey Garrett, who complained of McGurn’s backlog of over 500 complaints—all of which continued to collect dust as a brand new complaint against Garrett took precedence. That’s what you get for disturbing McGurn’s empire, as handed to him by Masiello for delivering the southtowns in his election.
Aggravating Factor: Despite the hubbub, Byron Brown didn’t mind taking McGurn’s money at a fundraiser Ray hosted a few days after the story broke.
Aesthetic: Big idiot.
17. John Roberts, Supreme Court nominee
Misdeeds: Yes, George Bush’s new nominee for the Supreme Court is from Buffalo—and while he hasn’t been around much lately, the guy’s loathsomeness outweighs his distance. Roberts was selected specifically for his short judicial record, but it’s entirely obvious he will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, ignore the first and fourth amendments, and choose corporate interests over individual rights. In other words, he is Bush’s man.
Aggravating Factor: Wife was Vice President of “Feminists for Life,” whose name is not a statement about the longevity of its members’ gender ideology.
Aesthetic: God took a break from the clay and made a man out of Wonder Bread.
16. Margaret Sullivan, editor
Misdeeds: Responsible for the Buffalo News, whose bland, tepid tone emanates directly from Sullivan’s putrid pen. In her tenure, Sullivan has never missed an opportunity to put a happy face on Buffalo’s woeful condition, as if forcibly cheerful denial will make the problems go away. After all, remember how those “We’re Talking Proud” ads saved us all and put our city on the right track? “Why not Buffalo?” can do that too! By the way, to answer the question: because there’s no jobs.
Aggravating Factor: It doesn’t matter how soft, fluffy and wealth-friendly Sullivan makes the News; you’re going to have to read it anyway, because there is no competition.
Aesthetic: Looked good last night; now you’re chewing your arm off just to get away without waking her up.
15. Frank Clark, District Attorney
Misdeeds: Under Clark's reign, unholy alliances between the developers and politicians were allowed to flourish, which is probably why both major parties endorsed Clark and he ran unopposed. His poor track record in acting as a community watchdog means that the sweetheart deals will probably continue. Although Eliot Spitzer has been aggressive at rooting out fraud on Wall St., his office has been quiet about numerous abuses of power by public officials in Buffalo, to say nothing of the handiwork of the power brokers that put them there. Clark could be making a difference; instead he’s making asses of all of us.
Aggravating Factor: Every time you ponder how local government criminals get away with this shit, you should be thinking of Clark, and wondering why he doesn’t prosecute any of them.
Aesthetic: Norman Rockwell painting subject, long after his moment.
14. Rocco Diina, Police Commissioner
Misdeeds: Under Diina’s stewardship, Buffalo’s Police Department has distinguished itself—by becoming one of the most corrupt and ineffective in the country. Diina’s private security firm, now run by his brother, presents an obvious conflict of interest, but that’s not a problem. Gets physically aroused over unconstitutional initiatives like “Operation Clean Sweep.” In addition to all of this, his own cops hate him.
Aggravating Factor: What kind of asinine bullshit idea was it to dissolve the homicide squad and keep vice? Under Rocco, homicides have gone up, but cleared cases have fallen. “Drop that joint, punk!”
Aesthetic: Brain damaged middle-aged Brando.
13. Brian Higgins, Congressman
Misdeeds: Came on like a nerdy liberal professor and then instantly transformed into an image-savvy cash hound upon election. So far, Higgins has voted against his party on alarming issues like the bankruptcy reform bill and renewing the Patriot Act. Of course, he has managed to bring home a bundle of bacon for the waterfront—probably what he traded those votes for in the first place.
Aggravating Factor: That new hairdo.
Aesthetic: Condescending Hamptonite with a record of men’s room indecency arrests.
12. Vincent Gallo, filmmaker
Misdeeds: Major cinematic achievements include a movie wherein the main character forcibly abducts a girl from a bus station and she subsequently falls in love with him, and getting Chloe Sevigny to blow him on camera. Gallo might be cool if he wasn’t so thoroughly convinced of how cool he is. As it is, he exists as a living caricature of the beatnik independent artist, except he’s a fucking Republican. Still hasn’t made a decent movie in or outside of Buffalo.
Aggravating Factor: Mentions deceased ‘best friend’ Johnny Ramone an average of 2.7 times per interview.
Aesthetic: Creepy uncle who will buy you beer, but only so he can feel you up later under the pretext of horseplay.
11. Wolf Blitzer, anchorman
Misdeeds: So loathsome, we had to put him on this list even though his connection to Buffalo is extremely thin. Blitzer’s continued employment at CNN is all that is required to dispel the myth that CNN is a liberal network. Day after day, Blitzer earns his pay as a shameless Bush apologist and rabid Zionist. Invariably downplays White House scandals, pooh-poohs dissenters, and presents matters of fact as partisan disputes.
Aggravating Factor: Real Name is Leslie.
Aesthetic: Overzealous Vice Chairman of the National Beard Grooming Society.
10. Susan Grelick, Amherst Town Supervisor
Misdeeds: As corrupt as any other politician, but Grelick’s truly loathsome quality is how disinterested she is in even avoiding the appearance of corruption. Last June at an official Town Board meeting, she openly stated that she needed the board to give Chris Drongosky a seat on the Planning Board, in order to secure the Amherst Independence Party endorsement, and an extra line on the ballot in the upcoming election. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, Grelick called a shady meeting with only two out of six board members (a number small enough to avoid inviting the press), the Police Chief and some town lawyers, regarding a criminal investigation into Amherst’s waste water facility—in which Grelick has been implicated. We know better than most that corruption and favor-trading is the name of the game in local government—but if Grelick wants to retain her dominion, she had better lay off rubbing it in our faces.
Aggravating Factor: “One of susangrelick.com’s special features is ‘The Blog’ which uses the latest in weblog technology, the same technology used by journalists to maintain a constant information flow.” How exciting!
Aesthetic: The secretary at your office with the phony, crooked smile who secretly hates anybody with a sense of humor.
9. Billy Fucillo, car dealer
Misdeeds: In Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany, Fucillo has not only taken a perfectly good word and made it into a sorry joke, but the fervor with which he blankets our media environment with his stupid voice and bloated image actually reduces the quality of our lives. A poorly kept secret about Billy is that he owns numerous dealerships across the country (we hear he’s known as “Billy Hernandez” in NM), and Tom Parks is a hired gun who does commercials for hundreds of ethically challenged car-sellers.
Aggravating Factor: HUGE! HUGE! HUGE! IT’S FUCKING HUGE! GET EXCITED TOM! I’M A GODDAMN BLITHERING IDIOT! A HUGE IDIOT! HUUUUUUUGE! YOU PROBABLY CAN’T EVEN AFFORD A CAR! BUT I’M HUUUUGE AND I’M GOING TO BE THERE EVERYDAY! ON THE TV! ON THE RADIO! LOOK! THERE I AM ON THE BUS! IT’S HUUUUGE! MY FUCKING FAT STUPID FACE WILL BE IMPRINTED IN YOUR MIND FOR THE REST OF YOUR NATURAL LIFE! HUUUUGE!
Aesthetic: Joey Buttafuoco’s dumber, less classy brother.
8. Mary Kunz Goldman, columnist
Misdeeds: The worst of the worst. Buffalo News columnists are a sorry bunch, but compared to Mary they’re all Pulitzer Prize winners. Her special brand of bubble-headed intolerance mixed with her love of the familiar and hatred of detailed analysis make Goldman the go-to girl for baseless arguments against dissent, and pointless, flatfooted drivel. Her pre-election statements of vapid Republican allegiance only served to reinforce liberals’ convictions about Bush-boosters being sheltered morons who can’t think critically. Famously lectured germ-artist Steve Kurtz that “now is not a good time” for freedom of expression.
Aggravating Factor: Honeymooned in Niagara Falls, and wrote about how comforting it was that she could see Buffalo from her hotel room.
Aesthetic: Carly Simon, after getting hit in the face with a bat.
7. Cellino & Barnes, injury attorneys
Misdeeds: Until Ross Cellino’s recent fall from relative grace, these two were the main polluters of Western New York’s collective psyche next to Billy Fucillo. Their commercials are painful, mainly due to the awful jingle and the excruciating spectacle of two soulless bottomfeeders artlessly mimicking caring, feeling human beings. But the billboards were the worst—all 150 of them featuring the unpleasant catchphrase “INJURED?” in giant capital letters, the lawyer-bots looming over you as if they themselves just beat you down in the street. Now it’s just Barnes, desperately trying to persuade us that his firm, which just took a beating for advancing loans to their clients at usurious interest rates and filing a false retainer, is ethical, decent, and really cares about the clients it’s been swindling.
Aggravating Factor: Bribed judges through campaign contributions to testify on their behalf as character witnesses, but apparently that’s not illegal.
Aesthetic: Bizarro Siskel & Ebert.
6. Joe Illuzzi, scam artist
Misdeeds: Only in the City of No Illusions does it make sense that a convicted bankrobber becomes a successful political ‘journalist.’ As detailed in these pages previously, Illuzzi runs an extortion racket for politicos called PoliticsWNY. There’s a website and a magazine, the common thread of which is that, for thousands of dollars in advertising, Joe will reprint your press releases and write poorly worded missives against your enemies. This political payola scam works despite the fact that it is illegal according to state election law. DA Frank Clark is, predictably, not interested. Illuzzi has retaliated to our coverage by accusing us of lying, threatening to sue and demanding an investigation, but failed to list any specific lies or actionable grievances, because it’s all true.
Aggravating Factor: The guy seriously can’t write. It’s like listening to a deaf palsy play the violin. Watch this; we’ll look at his site right now and find an example. Ah, here’s one: “There were a number of dead rats & rabbits found dead at Hoyt Lake.”
Aesthetic: A shaved Ron Jeremy with a much smaller dick.
5. Tom Reynolds, Congressman
Misdeeds: Proves a lifetime of bootlicking can put even the most dimwitted close to the highest seat of power in the country. A career bagman for the Republican Party, this insurance salesman has shown such a knack for sucking the chrome off a trailer hitch that it would make Heidi Fleiss blush. Dick Cheney and Tom Delay are his regular running buddies, who even personally saw to it that his redrawn Congressional district would prevent a challenge from long-time Congressional Democrat John LaFalce. Reynolds may be bracing for the worst with the closure of the Niagara Falls Air Force Base – or he may have lined up a major media event to portray himself as a savior. Either way, you won’t find a more partisan supporter of Bush than Reynolds. Supports free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA even though such agreements have ravaged his constituents’ economy.
Aggravating Factor: He even received campaign donations from Enron back when it was fashionable.
Aesthetic: Kevin James of “King of Queens” plays Karl Rove in a made-for-TV movie.
4. George Holt, County Legislature Chairman
Misdeeds: County Legislator Holt brokered an illegal deal in front of a TV news camera in the final minutes of passing the 2005 budget, diverting $3 million in county correction funds to a glorified answering service run by a crooked, connected campaign donor in New Orleans. Then he showed up at a news conference with State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who basically indicted Holt's leadership while standing right next to him.
Aggravating Factor: In what was supposed to be a fluff piece on Joe Illuzzi’s proto-blog, Holt made it clear yet again that he doesn’t understand the first thing about finance or government. Asked about the debt burden to future generations from Joel Giambra’s new tobacco settlement refi, Holt said: “Well, that’s true, but don’t forget that years ago, people paid 10 cents or 20 cents for bus fare and now we pay a lot more. So we are paying some of their debts too, aren’t we?” Uh, no George; actually, that doesn’t make any sense at all. That’s called inflation…whole different concept from eternal debt.
Aesthetic: Whitney Houston’s tour manager.
3. Carl Paladino, real estate developer
Misdeeds: Captain Parking Lot has a tendency to threaten litigation against critical publications (see N.F. Reporter, Sharp Review), but that’s never stopped us before. Essentially, the deal with Paladino is the same as the deal with Ciminelli and Benderson, the other big, politically connected local developers in town. These guys all operate by the same rulebook: campaign contributions for contracts. It’s really very, very simple. Recently, Carl “won” a contract to build suburb-style subdivisions downtown, which, of course, the Buffalo News applauded. Blocked a Cheektowaga casino, because he doesn’t own the ‘wag and won’t get paid to build it there.
Aggravating Factor: Pretty much always gets what he wants.
Aesthetic: 60% Monte Burns, 40% Al Bundy
2. Bob Wilmers and Andrew Rudnick, oligarchs
Misdeeds: Buffalo's business “dream team.” Wilmers took over M&T Bank in 1983. At that time he brought in his pal from Harvard, Andy Rudnick, for the purpose of reorienting the community towards M&T. Rudnick was greatly assisted in this mission by the S&L crisis of the eighties. Rudnick converted the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce into the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, giving Wilmers the regional hegemony needed to help take M&T to the next level. Investment from Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway didn't hurt, either. Wilmers connections to Wall St. GOP go back to his days working for the party there. His control boards for the region are good for his friends in the bond market. He can now also have a direct influence on city finances that could benefit his company and other friends in the banking community. Ka-ching!
Aggravating Factor: Not content with his power at M&T and the Control Board, Wilmers has installed his very own union-busting puppet, James Williams, as school superintendent.
Aesthetic: Wilmers—Ancient but powerful wraith. Rudnick—the unholy spawn of Mark Twain and Alan Dershowitz.
1. Joel Giambra, County Executive
Misdeeds: Regular BEAST readers know that Giambra has been a cherished target of ours for years now. Finally the scales have fallen from Erie County’s eyes and Giambra’s public image has caught up with reality. Giambra is Erie County’s George W. Bush. Think about it: Everybody hates this guy now, after reelecting him, because he depleted the revenue stream by lowering progressive taxes while not lowering spending, and taking care of all of his friends and donors. The ensuing budget crisis makes a great excuse to cut services to the poor. It’s the Bush plan, county league.
Aggravating Factor: His persecution complex. Joel still acts as though the county budget crisis is a sophisticated partisan attack on his nonexistent credibility.
Aesthetic: Fiscal vampire.