Tim Russert, talking head
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.
Factor: Russert is considered “fair” and “hard-hitting”
by viewers whose expectations have been dramatically lowered
without their conscious knowledge.
Randy Quaid ate a leprechaun, and was never quite
Victor Getz, driver
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.
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.
Anthony Masiello, Mayor
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.
Factor: Hits on your girlfriend.
Abusive middle school gym teacher.
Airborne Eddy, comedian
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.
Factor: Known to have stolen material from the very
comedian he was opening for on at least one occasion.
Don Rickles, minus the funny—and the looks.
Byron Brown, our next Mayor, like it or not
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.
Factor: That’s just what he’s going to do.
Old school phony.
Mark Croce, Buffalo restaurant baron
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.
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
Scheming landlord/con-man Jerzy Balowski from “The
Chris Jacobs, school board member
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
Factor: Now related to Carl Paladino.
Slightly elongated Baldwin brother.
Ray McGurn, Chief Housing Inspector
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.
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.
John Roberts, Supreme Court nominee
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.
Factor: Wife was Vice President of “Feminists for
Life,” whose name is not a statement about the longevity
of its members’ gender ideology.
God took a break from the clay and made a man out
of Wonder Bread.
Margaret Sullivan, editor
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.
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.
Looked good last night; now you’re chewing your arm
off just to get away without waking her up.
Frank Clark, District Attorney
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.
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
Norman Rockwell painting subject, long after his moment.
Rocco Diina, Police Commissioner
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
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!”
Brain damaged middle-aged Brando.
Brian Higgins, Congressman
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.
Factor: That new hairdo.
Condescending Hamptonite with a record of men’s room
Vincent Gallo, filmmaker
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.
Factor: Mentions deceased ‘best friend’ Johnny Ramone
an average of 2.7 times per interview.
Creepy uncle who will buy you beer, but only so he
can feel you up later under the pretext of horseplay.
Wolf Blitzer, anchorman
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
Factor: Real Name is Leslie.
Overzealous Vice Chairman of the National Beard Grooming
Susan Grelick, Amherst Town Supervisor
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
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!
The secretary at your office with the phony, crooked
smile who secretly hates anybody with a sense of humor.
Billy Fucillo, car dealer
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.
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!
Joey Buttafuoco’s dumber, less classy brother.
Mary Kunz Goldman, columnist
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.
Factor: Honeymooned in Niagara Falls, and wrote about
how comforting it was that she could see Buffalo from
her hotel room.
Carly Simon, after getting hit in the face with a
Cellino & Barnes, injury attorneys
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.
Factor: Bribed judges through campaign contributions
to testify on their behalf as character witnesses, but
apparently that’s not illegal.
Bizarro Siskel & Ebert.
Joe Illuzzi, scam artist
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.
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.”
A shaved Ron Jeremy with a much smaller dick.
Tom Reynolds, Congressman
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.
Factor: He even received campaign donations from Enron
back when it was fashionable.
Kevin James of “King of Queens” plays Karl Rove in
a made-for-TV movie.
George Holt, County Legislature Chairman
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.
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.
Whitney Houston’s tour manager.
Carl Paladino, real estate developer
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.
Factor: Pretty much always gets what he wants.
60% Monte Burns, 40% Al Bundy
Bob Wilmers and Andrew Rudnick, oligarchs
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!
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.
Wilmers—Ancient but powerful wraith. Rudnick—the unholy
spawn of Mark Twain and Alan Dershowitz.
Joel Giambra, County Executive
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.
Factor: His persecution complex. Joel still acts as
though the county budget crisis is a sophisticated partisan
attack on his nonexistent credibility.