What does Niagara County’s record high taxes and high energy costs have in common? They come from our 18 year veteran of a Senator, George Maziarz.
Usually, when a sports team employs a veteran, the get a leader who can teach the younger players and lead the team. In politics, though, it’s quite different. Niagara County has a veteran Senator. For 18 years, Senator Maziarz learned the tricks of the trade, not to help the next generation of Niagara, but rather to line his pockets and build his own personal power.
As the third most powerful Senator in the entire State, Maziarz opted not to use his power to better Niagara. Rather, he used his power to place himself in a very lucrative position: Chairman of the New York State Energy Committee. One can ask: “What can he do as the Energy Chairman?” The answer is simple: He can do whatever the Energy Lobbyists want! Just look at “Queen” George’s campaign finance statements. Since he has taken control of the Energy Committee, Georgie Boy has raked in about $300,000.00 in campaign donations from Energy companies and lobbyists.
What has this meant for Niagara residents? Since 2008, Niagara residents have seen their electric bills increase over 20%. Since 2008, gas prices in the county have gone up over 40%. And of course, being the highest taxed County in the entire United States, our taxes bills have increased over 28%.
So what is Boy George doing in the energy committee? He will be quick to tout that he is trying to increase low cost power through “Empower Niagara”. But what does that mean to us hard working taxpayers? Not a damn thing. These grants of free or low cost power only go to businesses hand selected by Maziarz and his band of cronies. So our residents don’t benefit from the low cost power, only those businesses that kiss George’s ring and give campaign donations will benefit. But if Georgie Boy really represented all of Niagara, wouldn’t he be pushing for all of Niagara residents to receive low cost power?
And with all residents and businesses in Niagara receiving low cost power, maybe more people and business will move into our area. But George doesn’t care about that. He wants to control the system and rake in as much power and money from it that he can.
Just look at the Industrial Development Agency. Henry Sloma and crew, all appointed by Maziarz and camp, are actually in charge of doling out tax breaks to businesses. Wonder how those tax breaks are handed out? It is interesting to note, too, that when One Niagara requested a tax break before the IDA, a campaign contribution of $15,000.00 was very timely sent to Queen George Maziarz.
Unfortunately, that’s politics in Niagara. Maziarz has created an entire culture of “pay to play” in our own backyard. And for that reason, Niagara cannot prosper. We need new blood in our government that will actually put the people first…and not their own blood lust for power.
Have you ever wondered why Niagara County has the highest tax rate in the entire United States? It is actually an excellent question to ask your elected officials. But of course, the answer will always be politically charged.
Of course, the Niagara County Republican Majority will not take the blame for the high tax rate. The Republican politicos argue that New York State’s “Unfunded Mandates” are the cause of our local tax burden. Again, it’s easy to blame others for our problems instead of actually stepping to the plate and accepting blame.
But the Republicans are right, to a point. New York State sets the level of social services and our County has to pick up the tab. The cost of Medicaid is another popular complaint by the local Republicans. These are huge costs that our State County’s must absorb.
But there is another “Unfunded Mandate” that is being trickled down to the Niagara County taxpayers. The cost of secret settlement payments by our State Legislature in sexual harassment claims.
Over the past couple weeks, the New York Times has reported that Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez was charged in a civil lawsuit for the sexual harassment of a female employee of his. Would this be the first time that a politician abused his position by sexual harassing an employee? Of course not! But it may be the first time (we hope) that the government actually paid the sexually harassed victim hush money. Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, it has been reported, agreed to pay $100,000.00 of taxpayer’s dollars to the aggrieved woman in a secret settlement. Governor Cuomo, disturbed by this like the rest of us, called for an investigation. NY Times Article
But was this the last case of the State Legislature settling a sexual harassment case with taxpayer dollars?
Unfortunately, we do not thinks so!
Glenn Aronow, if it wasn’t for Senator George Maziarz, would likely be panhandling along Pine Avenue. But due to his undying loyalty to the good Senator, Aronow has never found himself in a bread line, let alone the unemployment line. Aronow, who is the mastermind behind Queen George’s attack blog, Niagara Times, has found himself the beneficiary of multiple patronage positions. In 2007, Aronow was working, thanks to Georgie Boy, at the New York State Senate Majority Office in Albany. While employed there, he was alleged to have sexually harassed a female employee at that office. In fact, in the lawsuit that was filed by the victim, it was alleged that Aronow repeatedly subjected her to a daily campaign of sexual harassment that included unwanted sexual comments and inquiries, physical contact, gestures, threats, and unwanted exposure to pornographic materials.
Aronow was permitted to voluntarily resign from the Senate Majority Office in Albany. However, with a lawsuit against Aronow and the State Senate still pending from the victim, Aronow found himself another job. Again, the good Senator Maziarz helped “grabby” Glenn Aronow land on his feet. This time, as a staff member in the Senator Maziarz Wheatfield Office.
So why would Queen George hire a man that caused a sexual harassment lawsuit against the entire State Senate? Or is Georgie Boy laughing in the face of all female sexual harassment victims?
Sources have informed the Niagara Post that this sexual harassment claim has been settled in the last couple weeks. The terms of the settlement have not been made public. But the real question is: Is this secret settlement being paid by our tax dollars again?
Could Senator Maziarz, currently the third most powerful Senator in the State, authorize a secret settlement payment to the victim like Sheldon Silver did in the Assembly?
Regardless, take heed of our warning Wheatfield fathers: Hide your daughters! Grabby Glenn Aronow is on the loose.
Loyal members of the Niagara County GOP seem to be quite disgruntled with the Maziarz “pay to play” and patronage scheme of leadership. In fact, the Niagara Post is in receipt of numerous emails from concerned members of the Grand Ole Party. Most have expressed their sincere appreciation that the Post has dedicated itself to expose corrupt politicians, but have asked to remain anonymous with their tips. However, we would like to mention our appreciation for those willing to openly object to the Republican machine as it currently stands.
Below please find two letters from a Niagara County Committeeman Paul Black:
Paul R. Black
August 4, 2012
TITLE: The Fox and the Hen House; and your Committeeman
If a fox were found to be guarding your hen house, would you believe him if he informed you that he’s there to protect the chickens? And further, would you (later) believe him if he told you, he doesn’t know what happened to your missing chickens?
I think not—you’d be (rightfully) “mad as hell” and determined to upset his game.
So it is that “We the People” need to upset the game being played on our franchise. Think you’re voting for your party’s best and brightest—think again. In all likelihood, you’re voting for a party servant—not a public servant. Like the fox guarding the hen house, it’s all a pretense; party politics controls party Committeemen which controls party endorsement—which in turn controls voter choices (or not), at the ballot.
Behind every run for elective office lies the unseen hand of endorsement by (party) Committeemen—and a candidate’s “want of endorsement”.
In simplest terms: A Committeeman’s job is: 1) To know the will of his constituents within his election district. 2) To represent that will, when vetting candidates for political offices. 3) To fight for an “open and honest” vetting process, for all candidates. And 4) at the close of vetting, to grant those that survive a (Full) Committee interview and vote the prize of “endorsement”.
Control Committeemen, and you control political theatre.
Presently, control is “strong arm” top down. As a party’s County Executive Committee goes, so goes the (closed-mouth) majority of Committeemen who risk loss, should they “step out of line”; it’s a game best called “conflict of interest”. Consider: Committeemen 1) hold elected office, 2) work for government, 3) do business with government, 4) owe favors, or 5) have family and/or friends in one of these circumstances. And, this is by design; a Committeeman who is his own person is a rare find.
In light of this (suspect) setup, all party “endorsements” are suspect—at best.
So, where has this “strong arm” brought us? 1) A less than stellar (endorsed) incumbency and 2) an entrenched (endorsed) party elite that would rather fight for failure than switch. Consider a sad truth: Elections are little more than a “team sport”, in which one party attempts to outplay the other party; not for the benefit of community and country—but for the benefit of a privileged few.
And, nothing seems to change.
None of this is lost on most voters. However, what is lost is the link between your Committeeman and your choices at the ballot; and further, how by unseating the “conflict of interest-ers” (the foxes, if you will) you can restore your rightful influence in your party and your franchise.
As you prepare to vote on September 13th, consider upsetting the game being played at your expense, by the “conflict of interest-ers”, by electing the following reform-minded candidates:
City of Lockport, by ward/district: Timothy Glaser 1-1; Richard Hickman 1-3; Theodore Saraf 2-1; Glen Miller 2-1; Lawrence Bentley 2-3; Dave Mongielo 2-4; Douglas Chapman 3-1; Diane Phelps 3-1; Richard Clark 3-2; Donald Enzinna 3-3; Andrew Chapman 4-1; Jean Kiene 4-1; Kristy Miller 4-2; Keith Stebbins 4-4; Phyllis Green 5-1; David Scranton 5-2; Thomas Blythe 5-3; Salvatore Angelo 5-4.
Town of Lockport, by district: Paul Black 12; Amy Fricano 13; Katherine Fricano 13.
See you at the polls.
–Paul R. Black
August 25, 2012
Board of Elections; Niagara County, NY
111 Main St #100
Lockport, NY 14094
Commissioner Mary Ann Casamento:
Commissioner Nancy L. Smith:
In researching the leaving of Theodore E. Saraf (petition 000264 of 7/12/12) off the Republican Committeeman Primary ballot of 9/13/12, I believe the Board of Elections has failed to follow its written procedures in this action; and thus, has adversely influenced the Committeeman ballot in ward 2 district 1 of the City of Lockport..
1) Per § 6215.7, why wasn’t Saraf notified by the BOE so that, if possible, he could cure his designating petition?
§ 6-134: 2….When a determination is made that a designating petition does not comply with such regulations [on the face of it], the candidate shall have three  business days from the date of such determination to cure the violation.
2) Why wasn’t I, as a member of Saraf’s “committee to fill vacancies”, notified of the declination/disqualification of his designating petition?
It’s clear that Saraf’s “committee to fill vacancies”, as listed on his designating petition, is entitled to make a “substitution” of candidate, upon declination.
§ 6–148: 1. A vacancy in a designation or nomination caused by declination, where a declination is permitted by this article, or by the death or disqualification of the candidate, or by a tie vote at a primary, may be filled by the making and filing of a certificate, setting forth the fact and cause of the vacancy, the title of the office, the name of the original candidate, if any, and the name and address of the candidate newly designated or nominated.
§ 6–148: 2. A vacancy in a designation or independent nomination, or in a party nomination made otherwise than at a primary, may be filled by a majority of the committee to fill vacancies shown upon the face of the petition or certificate of the designation or nomination in which the vacancy occurs.
If you won’t permit Saraf to cure his designating petition for Republican Committeeman, then, at the very least, permit his “committee to fill vacancies” fill the vacancy left by his declination.
I await your swift notification that Saraf’s “committee to fill vacancies” should immediately fill his vacancy: Ronald C. Hohle, Jerry K Chapman, Paul R. Black, Dave J. Mongielo.
Paul R. Black
Maziarz is at it again. His love for sensationalism and scandal provoked him again to take a dig at the City of Niagara Falls. The question resonates: In an area that desperately needs our leaders to work together to promote progress, how does Maziarz continually get reelected with his divide and conquer mentality?
Let’s look at Boy George’s latest endeavor. The City of Niagara Falls was “gifted” a large parcel of land downtown near Hard Rock Café. The land, which was the former site of the Hot Air Balloon, is coveted as one of the most valuable pieces of property available to be developed on.
To date, despite an “RFP” (Request For Proposals) issued by the City, there is no actual agreement for any developer to begin a project there. However, it is believed that the Hamister Group out of Buffalo is very close to enter into an agreement with the City to build an upscale boutique hotel on the plot of land. Did I mention that this is the first (non-casino) hotel to be built in downtown Niagara Falls in forty years.
Anyone that has actually spent some time in the City during the summer months realizes that there is a real need for more hotel rooms. But for someone to know that, they will actually have to spend some time in the City.
In this week’s Niagara Falls Reporter, Maziarz announced that the plot of land should be reserved for his hero, Nik Wallenda’s temporary circus. Maziarz also stated that he plans to send a letter to Empire State Development president Sam Hoyt to learn of the status of the Hamister deal. So again, and I know I say this a lot, what am I missing here? Maziarz announces that he wants Wallenda to have the property instead of Hamister BEFORE he actually knows the status of the Hamister development. Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?
Even worse, why would we even consider turning down the development of a six story 124 room hotel in exchange for a temporary circus? How many jobs will the temporary circus create? Will the circus be open in the winter? Will Wallenda pay living wages to his band of Circus Carnies?
But all joking aside, Wallenda has not even committed to developing anything in our City. The only thing he has committed to so far is trying to pit Niagara Falls USA vs. Niagara Falls Canada to see who will throw more money at him to open an operation in their City. The only reason Niagara Falls USA is in the running is because Maziarz has promised a boat load of our Casino funds to Wallenda’s temporary circus if he operates here.
But again…why would anyone consider turning down a permanent development for something temporary? And isn’t there any other location in Niagara Falls that Wallenda can pitch a tent? Last time I checked, there are plenty of locations that he can locate his temporary circus. And guess what! If the first location doesn’t work, it’s temporary! He can move it!
It’s a travesty, though, that Maziarz really does not want real progress in our area. Never did Maziarz approach any City Officials to see what is in OUR City’s master plan. Rather, he is dictating from his ivory tower without even considering any other work that our officials are completing.
And let’s talk about Maziarz’s creepy infatuation with Nik Wallenda. Boy George called a personal favor into the Governor to allow Wallenda to walk his tight rope across the Falls. Then, after the event, Maziarz stumped for Wallenda’s biography. Now, Boy George wants to turn down real development in Niagara Falls so that Wallenda can build a temporary circus. But maybe Maziarz’s need to have his own personal Never-Never Land is greater than our need to have a thriving City.
I am a Liberal Democrat stuck in the middle of western New York. For some of you out there you might think being a Liberal and residing in New York State would be a perfect match. You know it would be but for the fact that I live in Western New York. Recently, I was driving down Porter Road in Niagara Falls and I saw two flags with “snakes” on them and a Confederate flag. In fact, Niagara County really has no Democrats or Republicans just a mixture of the two. This is the reason someone like Senator George Maziarz has been in Albany so long. He truly is a Repubocrat. Now as much as I disagree with every single platform the TEA Party stands for, I give them credit for putting a legitimate candidate up in the Republican Senatorial primary. In a lot of weird, twisted ways I am jealous of the TEA Party. They have enough guts to stand up against the GOP. They don’t care about politicians like Maziarz and how much power he has. As much as I cannot stand the TEA Party, I must admit that they know their ideology and follow it zealously (well for the most part; Paladino doesn’t mind taking government dollars for properties that he rents).
The only chance Democrats have of defeating Senator Maziarz is if TEA Party Candidate Johnny Destino upsets him. The TEA Party has decided it is time to change things. Now sitting here as a Liberal Democrat I am torn. How do I hope for a TEA Party candidate to beat a Repubocrat like Maziarz?
Now I might find it easy to if the Niagara County Democrats would have taken the Senate race seriously. Instead, as always, they are just going to roll over and let a Republican keep control. As much as I think Amy Witryol is more than capable to be the next New York State Senator; I also know that it won’t happen. Despite the fact that she is very intelligent and extremely capable, nobody knows who she is. What really annoys me is that I believe that is the way that the Niagara County Democratic leadership likes it. In the past the Democrats just set up a candidate for Maziarz to bury. Witryol, will receive no assistance from local Democrats other than “token” help.
There is a big problem here in Niagara County. We have Republicans, TEA Partiers, and a Niagara County Democratic party that is a wing of the Republican party. How in the world could the Democrats have not been able to see that Maziarz is more beatable now than ever. He has a legitimate primary opponent that has the money to win and a movement behind him (albeit a wacky movement). But the Democrats can’t see the opportunity to upset Maziarz because they don’t want to. Niagara County Democrats want Maziarz to keep control. So the real Democrats here in Niagara County are lost. Unfortunately for us we have no TEA Party of our own. We only have a bunch of “so-called” Democrats that are indebted to Senator Maziarz.
I realize there has been a change in the Niagara County Democratic Party but I am not sure if it is even for the better? If this party can stand by and let a vulnerable Maziarz have an election in November (if he wins primary) like what it is shaping up to be then I guess my question has been answered.
If hypocrisy is a virtue, then we have the most virtuous State Senator in the entire Country. Ironically, we also have the highest taxed County in the entire Country too. So we must be thankful for the two honors that Senator Maziarz has bestowed upon us!
But how dare you, Niagara Post, declare that the revered George Maziarz is a hypocrite? Well, our dear readers, let us embark on a small journey of how virtuous a hypocrite Maziarz really is!
On Thursday, September 6, 2012, local activist Ron Anderluh, with the financial sponsorship of John Gross, is throwing a picnic entitled: “Welcome to Niagara Falls Senator Maziarz.” But if our recollection doesn’t fail us, isn’t John Gross in federal prison right now? (http://niagara-gazette.com/local/x1477842123/Gross-prepared-for-prison-term/print) And didn’t “Queen” George and the Niagara County GOP condemn City Republican Chair Robert Krause for throwing Gross a going away party? (and: http://niagara-gazette.com/local/x741516100/GOP-defends-John-Gross-party)
But now, it’s okay for criminally convicted John Gross to personally fund a political event for Maziarz? We can hear Phil Collins in the background now: Jesus He Knows Me: Just do as I say, don’t do as I do.
Even Aunt Patty Castillo (the aunt to “Queen” George’s personal Niagara Falls minion Vincent Sandonato), openly condemned the City GOP for their Gross going away party on Facebook on February 14th! Ironically, though, it is Patty Castillo, Maziarz’s Niagara Falls Campaign Coordinator, that is actually coordinating the John Gross event later this week.
In fact, earlier this year, on her Facebook page, Patty’s answer to the question whether Maziarz was in attendance to the Gross going away party was, “I would hazard a guess that they were not. But at a time when the Senator needs the help of a strong NF GOP he ends up with a liability.” So why is a John Gross fundraiser for Maziarz, less than 7 months after the February faux paux, so acceptable?
Let’s talk about “Queen” George’s other monumental acts of hypocrisy! Long ago, this Post reported that George was backing Robert Restaino’s campaign for John Ceretto’s Assembly seat. In fact, it appears that we have been proven correct. To date, Maziarz has not publicly endorsed his “close friend” and former political ally, John Ceretto. We hear that this has less to do with George’s affection for Robert, and more about his new political blood lust for Ceretto. The tension between the Maziarz and Ceretto camps has recently got so bad, it could snap a high tension tightrope wire. So why would the de facto leader of the Niagara County Republican Party opt to support a Democrat (A democrat who we hear doesn’t necessarily want his support) instead of a Republican? Can he be that big of a hypocrite?
And lastly, for now, let’s look at the latest blog “Maziarz has failed”
Rumor has it that Carl Paladino has sponsored the above website which has a mysterious countdown ticker. The website, it appears, insinuates that Maziarz is gay and a surprise will be coming out of the closet in a few days. We at the Post will never ever condemn a person for their sexual orientation. If Senator Maziarz is in fact attracted to men, then we support his orientation and offer him refuge in the greatest state in our Country. In fact, our State is one of the few that allows same sex marriages.
This is one of the many reasons we do not support Georgie boy. Some might argue that elected officials are in a unique position to be a positive influence. They have the ability to lead by example and be a source of inspiration and hope for a new generation. George has the choice to come out and take a stand against the discrimination of gay individuals. He could be a source of inspiration to young men and women who face bullying, family condemnation, persecution from religious right and belong to a society where they are still considered second class. We are not saying he has to lead the gay pride parade in pink shorts and a boa, he can still quietly live his life without makeing his sexuality a production… BUT DON’T VOTE AGAINST YOUR OWN RIGHTS! Don’t publicly argue against YOUR basic rights because you want the support of a political group. Grow some balls George. We don’t care about your sexual orientation, just don’t make others suffer because of your own self worth issues.
And for those reasons, Senator George Maziarz is our Hypocrite of the Year!
One of my readily admitted blunders in my recent life was the fact that I voted for Glenn Choolokian. I honestly believed he would be an independent voice and though he had little experience and a questionable past I figured he was better than the alternative.
I have since decided that if I could go back in time, I would go back to November 4th and punch myself in the face for ever considering such a man. I even looked into renting a time machine off of Craigslist. I found many interesting services (some offered over on 19th and LaSalle), but no time machine. My disappointment was furthered when I read this Sunday’s edition of the Gazette. Needless to say, I am quite outraged from some of the positions our elected officials have with regards to the Administration’s plan to lure college graduates to the Falls. (See: Elmwood North? http://niagara-gazette.com/local/x1011134274/Elmwood-north)
First and foremost, our City is dying. We have a population under 50,000 people and it continues to fall. We have no jobs to offer and thus there is no tax base to pay for the vital services that we need.
Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo is promoting a new program that will encourage 20 newly graduated college students to live in downtown Niagara Falls. By moving to the Falls, these former students will receive a stipend that will pay their student loans for two years. Is it the best case scenario? Absolutely not! Nobody wants to pay people to come live here. But guess what: nobody is coming to live here anyway! We need to try something new. Maybe this will help revitalize downtown…and maybe it won’t. I applaud Mr. Piccirillo for trying this new plan and facing the fire it has caused. Clearly Niagara Falls needs to think of new ways to encourage development.
But in the Gazette article, Councilman Glenn Choolokian took this as an opportunity to smear the Dyster administration. Choolokian was quoted, “Every time this administration does something it forgets about the people that are here.” He went on: “We’ve got to start some place more conservative, worry about the people here and bring revenue in.”
Am I missing something? Wouldn’t relocating 20 young professionals who graduated college already bring revenue in? I really hope the Choolokian is smart enough to understand this principal, but I will try to explain it: First, someone with a college degree moves into downtown Niagara Falls. He or she can be called a “professional”. The professional will then have to find work somewhere within our region. When the professional comes home from work, he or she will shop at local stores, eat at local restaurants and frequent other local establishments. This is called “bringing revenue in”. Choolokian claimed that “bringing revenue in” is what we should be focusing on. So what is he missing? Or maybe he is just nervous that someone with a brain will be too much competition for him.
The very next paragraph, Choolokian argues that we should be using money to demolish buildings downtown. So instead of trying to grow our tax base and bring revenue in, we want to spend money to knock down buildings? How about this for a marketing scheme: Come to Niagara Falls and visit our vacant lots!
Ironically, if Piccirillo’s plan passes, there will be specific regulations on the properties that these 20 students will live in. All of these properties must be brought up to code. In other words, the landlords will need improve their rental properties downtown. So instead of needing to knock down so many buildings, like Choolokian wants, we are actually giving landlords incentive to repair them. Piccirillo’s plan will also immediately increase the property values of all of the buildings in the downtown area. I will not bother trying to explain this principal to Choolokian, though, I am sure his head exploded a couple paragraphs ago.
What is more sickening, is that Councilman Choolokian, also an employee of the City Water Board, used his political connections to create a new job for himself in the Water Board. The new position, tailored to Choolokian, granted him with a grand new title and a big raise. This is all while the City faces a huge deficit and a possible bankruptcy. His actions, in creating his own patronage position, are borderline criminal (See Niagara Post Article for more in depth coverage: http://niagarapost.com/2012/08/08/boards-bedfellows-and-besties/)
In the last 9 months in office, Glenn Choolokian has done nothing but represent himself. He has used his political influence to get a promotion and to get a raise. But in the end, Choolokian will continue to fight every idea and plan that is proposed from the Dyster Administration. Mainly, sources say, because Choolokian is gearing up to run for Mayor himself.
In the last nine months, the only real economic development that Choolokian created was in his own checkbook. The real travesty though, is that Glenn has not created one single plan to encourage economic development in Niagara Falls. But he is real quick to discredit anyone else’s plans! Is that what we have been reduced to? A region of elected officials who only talking point is “no”.
Time for Choolokian to resign! Hey Glenn, at least then you will have more time to surf those craigslist ads.