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Odds and Ends

Tony Masiello, Buffalo's former mayor and currently a partner in a lobbying firm, is a leading contender for chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party.

Robb Poloncarz, the brother of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, started a new job this past Monday ay the Erie County Water Authority. Traditionally, the authority is considered a dumping ground for patronage hires. Poloncarz’s press liaison, Peter Anderson, confirmed the hire, and said that Robert Poloncarz’s new employment was provisional upon his passing a civil service exam.

• If you live in Niagara Falls, Lockport, or Lewiston, and you’ve fished this newspaper out of a trash can or a stream, here’s why: A few pages ahead of the column there’s an advertisement paid for by developer and Republican power center Carl Paladino, lambasting State Senator George Maziarz, with whom Paladino is engaged in a bitter feud. (Paladino is sponsoring Maziarz’s GOP primary opponent, Johnny Destino of Niagara Falls.) Paladino has been running a similar advertisement in the Niagara Falls Reporter, and that newspaper has been disappearing from stands with an alacrity that suggests foul play.

• Hurrah for schoolyard politics: Paladino’s assault on Maziarz is recapitulated over at, a political gossip site that most believe to be anonymously authored by Tea Party activist Rus Thompson, who was Pladino’s driver during the developer’s gubernatorial campaign. The newest addition to the assault is a link to this site: The splash page for that site features a grinning picture of Maziarz withthe caption “Do You Know GEORGE?” with his name spelled in rainbow colors. The soundtrack is “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers; there are links to Log Capin Republican sites in the middle of the page; at the bottom of the page is a timer counting down 13 days, at press time, second by second, until “The Maziarz Closet Opens”—this time, “Maziarz” is spelled in rainbow colors. Presumably, the site intends to “out” Maziarz as gay two days before the September 13 primary.

• The new ecumenism of the local Democratic Party continues to blossom, despite skirmishes on the fringes. The latest example: This week, a fundraiser for Assemblyman Sean Ryan, a long-time partisan of his predecessor in the seat, Sam Hoyt, was hosted by Erie County Water Authority commissioner Jack O’Donnell, an acolyte of local political Svengali Steve Pigeon. For many years, the Pigeonistas and the Hoyt camp were the bitterest of enemies. The fundraiser, at Curly’s in Lackawanna, was co-hosted by Fran Warthling, chair of the Lackawanna Democrats.

• Last week, someone mailed a hoax letter, purporting to come from outgoing Erie County Democratic Party chairman Len Lenihan, to party town and zone chairs. In the letter, which Lenihan denied authoring as soon as its existence was reported on this newspaper’s website, the writer lists Lenihan’s accomplishments over 10 years of leadership.

The faux Lenihan then offers to stay on as chairman:

If our County Committee can’t make a united decision in the near future I would be willing to stay on as your chairman.

Together we can rebuild Unity and make Erie County one of the best places to raise a family. If you choose to allow me another term (in order for unity) then my first goal will be to make sure that Kathy Hochul is reelected to Congress. We need a United team we don’t have time to fight each other for Chairman.

Lenihan has announced his retirement twice in the last year: last summer, under pressure of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s political machine, who wanted to bring peace and unity to the region; and again just recently. Web reporter Glenn Gramigna, the Democratic milquetoast version of conservative e-pamphleteer Joe Illuzzi, quickly claimed to have established the source of the fraudulent letter:

The mystery of who was behind the Lenihan Letter Hoax has been solved. The scheme was concocted by a prominent anti-Lenihan activist who is the only reported recipient of the letter.

Presumably he means attorney Peter Reese, who brough the letter to the newspaper’s attention. But Reese didn’t write the letter and post it to himself. So who did? And why? And who’s whispering this nonsense in Gramigna’s ear? To his credit, Gramigna won’t reveal his source.

Tony Masiello has emerged as a prime candidate to succeed Lenihan. Governor Andrew Cuomo apparently is supporting the idea through the offices of Sam Hoyt, the long arm of Cuomo’s law in the region. We wondered: Just before Masiello’s candidacy for the job first became a rumor, a couple months ago, we spotted him breakfasting with his successor, Mayor Byron Brown, at Betty’s in Allentown. Brown has been particularly unhappy with Lenihan’s chairmanship, and replacing Lenihan was essential in bringing Brown’s faction of the fractious local party to the negotiating table last summer, when Cuomo’s man, Charlie King, tried to force a truce and unite the party behind Mark Poloncarz’s candidacy for Erie County executive.

Other candidates include Jim Eagan, Poloncarz’s chief fundraiser, who has little experience running campaigns. Cheektowaga town chairman Frank Max has long been considered, by himself and others, a potential successor to Lenihan, his support outside of Cheektowaga is shaky. Attorney Marc Panepinto, a Hoyt partisan, has campaigned for the job, too, but his candidacy is hamstrung by a past election law violation. Jeremy Zellner, who was Lenihan’s right hand until taking the post of chief of staff to the Erie County Legislature in January, also lobbied for the job, with Poloncarz’s support, but aroused something apporaching a rebellion from disparate party factions.

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