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You Leave Town For One Crummy Week...

Former Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski with his former aide, Larry Adamczyk, at Adamczyk's campaign kickoff at Hamlin House on July 12.

…and all hell breaks loose. The principal writer of this column was holed up in a house by a lake in East Tennessee last week, and he was surprised upon his return to learn of the following developments:

• A fellow named Kenneth J. Phillips, until recently registered as an independent, is seeking and seems likely to receive the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Party for the North District seat on the Buffalo Common Council—despite the fact that the seat is currently occupied by an actual, long-time, registered Democrat, Joe Golombek. Golombek claims that the primary challenge is payback for his efforts to unseat Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who is retiring to take a job with the Empire State Development Corporation, at the behest of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Larry Adamczyk, the former elections commissioner who aims to challenge Common Council President Dave Franczyk for the Fillmore District seat, kicked off his campaign last week with an event at the Hamlin House. Attendees included Mayor Byron Brown, whose troops carried Adamczyk’s petitions, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III, and Sedita’s predecessor, Frank Clark. Adamczyk’s old boss, former Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski, was on hand, too, as were Deputy Mayor Steve Casey and Erie County Water Commissioner Jack O’Donnell.

Adamczyk filed petitions seeking the Democratic and the Independence Party nominations. Franczyk filed petitions for the Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Working Families, and Independence Party lines. Community activist Sam Herbert also filed petitions seeking the Democratic nomination; if he manages to make the ballot for the September primary, Herbert may benefit from Franczyk and Adamczyk splitting the district’s white vote.

• The Buffalo School Board’s Ralph Hernandez filed petitions to challenge Niagara District Councilman David Rivera. We’re told that Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore will support Hernandez’s bid. Rivera sits firmly in the corner of the Democratic Party led by outgoing party chair Len Lenihan and Hoyt, whose support for charter schools earned him Rumore’s enmity.

• In the Masten District, Demario Badger hopes to run in the Democratic primary against Councilman Demone Smith. And in the University District, Councilwoman Bonnie Russell faces three potential challengers: Rochelle Ricchiazzi, Pamela Cahill, and Aaron Jackson. The other incumbents will not face primaries.

• Once again, an old industrial building on Chandler Street caught fire. Remember the arsons that destroyed the former Buffalo Belting and Weaving, Inc., in 2003? In the aftermath, the Environmental Protection Agency spent more than $2.6 million cleaning up the site, due to “various chemicals and other substances that were in the building” when the former defense contractor burned. The EPA returned to the areas last August, when a team surveyed the former Universal Precision Machine at the corner of Bridgeman and Chandler Streets, directly across the street from the high grass and rubble where Buffalo Belting and Weaving once stood.

Last Wednesday’s fire at Niagara Lubricants choked neighborhoods with thick black smoke. The Clean Air Coalition if Western New York took air samples and sent them to a lab for testing.

Less Surprising

These developments, on the other hand, did not exactly shock:

• Seven candidates will vie for four seats on Buffalo City Court. The incumbents are Susan Eagan, named to the court by Mayor Byron Brown to replace the outgoing Hank Nowak at the start of this year; Joseph Fiorella; David Manz; and Robert Russell. All four have been endorsed by the Democratic Party. The challengers are Diane Wray, Anthony Pendergrass, and Gillian Brown. Interestingly, Gillian Brown early on received the endorsement of the Working Families Party, but all four incumbents have filed petitions seeking the WFP nomination. In other words, they’re hoping to force Brown to try to win the primary in September in order to hold that line in November’s general election.

• Barring a series of catastrophic volcanic eruptions, Democrat Maria Whyte will face Republican Chris Jacobs for Erie County Clerk in November.

• Last week Erie County Executive Chris Collins reported that his war chest stands at $1,625,560.78, including $486,209.44 in donations received in the last six months. Collins continues to be a self-financing candidate: That total also includes $800,000 that Collins loaned to his campaign in 2007 and 2009.

The Democratic challenger to Collins, Mark Poloncarz, posted less gaudy numbers: He raised $167,469.70 and spent $96,430.09 in the last six months, and has $104,507.27 on hand.

Chris Grant, chief of staff to Collins and manager of his boss’s first campaign, will not manage Collins’ re-election campaign. Grant took time off from his county job to run Jane Corwin’s Congressional campaign into an iceberg.

• In the category of conclusions predetermined since the days of the Horizons Waterfront Commission, Benderson Development was tapped to renovate the Donovan Building by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation. ECHDC is chaired by Jordan Levy, a close friend of the Benderson family, and other developers have complained that the RFP for the project was written in such a manner that only Benderson could adequately respond. The refurbished Donovan Building will be occupied by the law firm Phillips Lytle, currently located in HSBC Tower.

geoff kelly

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