Friday, September 23, 2005

A Primary Fight for Slaughter?

I do not have a subscription to the Capital Hill news magazine, Roll Call. Doing so would seriously damage my credibility as an "outside-looking-in beltway-outsider who is a double-secret-outsider" kind of guy.

However, since I don't have access, I have to do this the hard way and quote a quote from a second-hand source. It appears Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of the NY-28th has a primary challenger from Buffalo.

From Roll Call (subscription required)

And in the 28th district, which extends from Buffalo to Rochester, Buffalo City Councilman Antoine Thompson (D) is expected to challenge Rep. Louise Slaughter in the Democratic primary.(...)
At 35, Thompson is less than half the Congresswoman's age; Slaughter turned 76 last month.

Thompson also is preparing to run at a time when black politicians in Buffalo are ascendant; state Sen. Byron Brown (D) is the frontrunner to become the city's first black mayor in November's open-seat race.

"I think we're in for a very spirited contest," said Joe Illuzzi, publisher of, a Web site and monthly magazine on politics in Western New York. "Louise will have her hands full. There's no question about it."

In a phone interview this week, Thompson would not confirm that he is running.

"We're thinking about it," he said. "We'll give it some careful consideration."

But sources said Thompson is putting together fundraisers for a Congressional run and is telling acquaintances that he plans to raise $500,000 for the primary. He is scheduled to attend the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's legislative conference in Washington, D.C., later this week, where he is expected to huddle with party leaders.

Eric Burns, a spokesman for Slaughter, said the Congresswoman is focusing on her official duties these days.

"We've certainly heard the rumor [about Thompson], but it's way too early to speculate about who's running and who isn't," he said. "The one thing we know is Rep. Slaughter is running for re-election and that she is going to be re-elected."

Slaughter, ranking member of the Rules Committee, was sitting on $390,000 in her campaign account as of June 30.

But while she has the advantages of 10 terms in Congress, Slaughter's base has always been Rochester, and she's still not terribly well known in the Buffalo portion of her district, which she picked up after redistricting in 2002. What's more, minorities make up 38 percent of the district and probably an even bigger share of the Democratic primary vote.

Whether Thompson is trying to gain a leg up on other potential successors to Slaughter is hard to say. Slaughter shows no signs of slowing down, and it is widely expected that she will seek to stay in office at least until the next round of redistricting, when the Buffalo area could lose one of its three House seats.

I'm not surprised. Ms. Slaughter has served for years and must be considering retirement. I believe (and I have NO inside information on this) that this will be her last election. For a few months I've been looking at the field trying to see what could be bubbling up. I was even planning a post that fingered Joe Morelle as positioning himself to run for the seat, a move that I could enthusiastically support. However, like someone looking so far ahead they don't see what they're about to step into, I overlooked someone running against her now to get a jump on name recognition.

That's because name recognition will be key for this seat. That's why I figured Assemblyman Morelle was eyeing the seat when he took double duty as the Monroe County Chair. You've got Rochester and Buffalo that will be going head-to-head for this seat. It's going to make the Amo Houghton primary in the NY-29th look like a Junior Varsity affair. I have heard a whisper or two that it is half-expected that Rochester will lose this seat to Buffalo. I don't know about that. Buffalo has its own problems, and two years is a long time. As it stands, the only two Rochesterians I can see having a shot for this seat is Assemblyman Morelle and Mayor Johnson.

Then again, I'm not really in the know, am I?

I'd be interested to hear what you all think.

One thing is for certain. I will miss Congresswoman Slaughter. She has represented the region well and has done us a service for a very long time. I imagine there is a stretch of road somewhere that will get named after her. Too bad she wasn't an astronaut. Then we could name a school after her.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Monroe Republicans Prove They Are Republicans

In an attempt to solidify their ties to their national party, Monroe County Republicans distributed obfuscatory campaign material that downplayed the fiscal trouble of the county while insinuating that the budget had been balance without raising the tax rate.

The Democrat and Chronicle article can be found here does not really dig too deeply into the charges that Monroe Democrats have weighed against the Republicans. In fact, the Dems don't do much else about it on their Monroe County Democratic Committee homepage. I think they missed an opportunity to frame this with a press release that can really cut through the murky kind of coverage that the D&C gave it. As much fun as beating a dead horse is, I'm getting tired of pointing out the Monroe Democrats would be well served by starting up an official blog in order to put a voice on the local party.

All that is beside the point. This brochure is generally misleading while being fundamentally true. You may recall the tobacco settlement money? Yes, I'm referring to the $142.6 million that went up in smoke, as one may quip.

The D&C article concerning the campaign brochure contains this passage:

For new Republican candidates in this year's contests, the campaign handout includes a statement by County Executive Maggie Brooks that says, "I am proud that we are balancing the Monroe County budget without raising property taxes."

However, I find that statement to be misleading when contrasted with this quote from the latter tobacco settlement article:
But other projects that officials initially designated for tobacco money funding — a juvenile justice center, a soccer complex and a major expansion of the Seneca Park Zoo — were shelved in the face of the county's financial difficulties.

And $35.9 million of tobacco funds initially slated for projects were rerouted in 2003 to plug a gap in the county budget.

The point that Republicans are trying to make here is that they're responsible with the budget and found a way to make ends meet without hitting the voters up for more cash. And that is kind of true. True enough where they want credit for it that they can take to the bank and get votes out of it. However, they don't fill you in on the reality. They did a one-time deal. They cannot do it again, because they tapped that well dry. By balancing the budget with limited funds, they produced a golden egg by killing the goose without telling anyone that was the last one. This is like going out on a first date with a rented sports car, a hand tailored suit bought on credit, eating at restaurantnt you can never afford again; all done to position yourself for a second date. Nevermind the fact you completely fabricated who you are in order to get that second date. In this case, and for most of Steve Minarik's party, it is about fooling the voters and giving them half of the truth.

I don't know about Maggie Brooks and Steve Minarik, but my mom taught me that half a truth is still a lie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rochester's Nightlife

I can't believe I missed this article.

USA Today did a write-up on Rochester nightlife on the 15th. I liked it. I can't be the only one that has noticed that lifetime Rochesterians are the ones who more often overlook the unique and interesting things our city offers. I hope this gets included in the material that gets circulated when recruiting young people to area businesses.

Over $40 Billion

New York is number One with a bullet, when it comes to Medicaid expenditures among states. $40 billion is nothing to sneeze at. The second highest state is California with a little over $30 billion. We win by close to a quarter spread... Kind of hard to get your mind around that.

So, according to a Democrat & Chronicle editorial in today's paper, our legislators in Albany are taking it on in their usual manner. Namely, they rail the other party for whatever they can tacitly blame them for and do nothing to solve the problem.

I've blogged this before here, and I'm sure I will again in the future. In order to solve the problem, you need to identify the problem. That does not mean raking anyone over hot coals. So, no. These people, Democrats or Rebublicans, are not doing anything to reduce what we have to pay in our taxes in a healthcare system crippled by bloat.

I'm not too sure if anyone else blogs about the Medicaid problem in this state. One Western NY blogger can't do it. But maybe as I do it, I can get The Buffalo Pundit, NYCO, and Democracy in Albany talking about it more. And if our blogs start buzzing about it, maybe The Daily Gotham might pick up the torch. Who knows? Suddenly, NY conservative bloggers realize the progressive blogs are all talking about reducing a major state budget item that would profoundly reduce our tax rate, and they get in on the action. Then we have a watershed moment where people put aside their party in order to fix a major freaking problem that is killing the state economy.

Yeah. It's a pipe dream. Some say I'm a dreamer. I hope I'm not the only one.