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Pigeon is just a part of our political problems

Buffalo has four major centers of political power. The piece Bob McCarthy and Mike Beebe did Sunday on the failure of the district attorney to prosecute Steve Pigeon got me thinking about how well this community is being served by those in power.

Let's take a look, starting with the aforementioned Steve Pigeon and his sugar daddy, Tom Golisano.

As Bob and Mike's story Monday details, Pigeon has been the focus of scrutiny for some time - not that anyone has pulled the trigger on a prosecution.

Matt Spina laid out the details a few months back with regards to Pigeon's questionable use of political action committees.

Then the state Board of Elections referred the results of its review of Responsible New York's actions during the elections late year to the Albany County District Attorney.

Now, revelation that the former head of the Erie County DA's public integrity unit wanted to prosecute Pigeon is going to put pressure on Sedita to name a special prosecutor. 

Then there is the central role Golisano and Pigeon played in the Senate coup earlier this year that result in, among other things, Pigeon landing a $150,000-a-year job as Pedro Espada's counsel.

Enough said.

Let's move onto Erie County Executive Chris Collins, the major player in the Erie County GOP.

Two things strike me.

First is the belligerent manner in which Collins, his county attorney, Cheryl Green, and Sheriff Tim Howard, a fellow Republican, are responding to findings that the county prison and holding center are violating the rights of prisoners, among other nasty things. Rather than fixing the problems, Collins and Co. have dug in their heels.

They'd rather fight than fix.

Then there is the county executive's dalliance with the local Tea Party movement, as detailed by the Buffalo Geek and the Buffalo Pundit.

In short, the Tea Party crowd has endorsed the so-called Collins Four, which are challenging incumbent Democrats on the County Legislature, in addition to seeking the open seat created when Collins hired Kathy Konst and commissioner of environment and planning.

I don't necessarily have a problem with all of the Tea Party folks. But their crowd includes some real wing nuts, as both the the Geek and Pundit note. Their posts are well worth the read.

Next up: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

In a word - actually two words - "One Sunset."

Or many words. As in FBI investigations into the One Sunset deal and the mayor's role in the police department's decision to let Leonard Stokes walk after officers were prepared to arrest him on charges of possessing a stolen handicapped parking permit.

As in the investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel into, at a minimum, the arm-twisting of city employees via e-mail to work on Brown's election campaign.

As in the review by the state Department of Housing and Community Renewal into allegations by a Cleveland developer that Brown and Co. essentially tried to impose an outfit headed by one of the mayor's favored preachers as a condition of doing business with the city.

And while Brian Davis made his own bed that has resulted in an investigation by the State Police and DA, what was he doing on stage at Brown's re-election party on primary night?

Then came news Sunday that Brown and Collins are deep-sixing the deal to have the county run city parks, one of the few concrete consolidation arrangements the region's two largest governments have in place.

True, the county wasn't doing such a great job with some of the non-Olmsted parks.

But the mayor's comments about the Olmsted Conservancy's future role are making some folks nervous. Let's face it, dumping the conservancy, which practically everyone agrees has done a good job, would open up a lot of patronage jobs for the mayor, and we know what makes his administration tick.

Finally, there is the Erie County Democratic Party.

It's done just a fine job in the city, where Democrats hold all the elected positions, hasn't i?

It couldn't see its way to endorse either Brown or Mickey Kearns. Not exactly decisive. Common Council elections come around in two years and remind me again who is indispensable on that body? Is there a Gene Fahey or David Rutecki among them? I didn't think so.

On the state front, the Dems are the party that has given us senators like Bill Stachowski and Antoine Thompson, their ying to the GOP's yang of Dale Volker and George Maziarz.

Stachowski, Thompson, Volker, Maziarz. Isn't that shorthand for "Pack the car honey, we're moving to North Carolina!"

I don't see things changing unless and until "none of the above" step up.

And by "none of the above," I mean people who are genuinely interested in good government. People who don't want to be buddies with the party bosses and check-writing business interests and public employee unions. People who want to step beyond ideology and self-interest and get about the business of fixing this community.

Hello. Is anybody out there?


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