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Rumors and Margin Notes

Tony Masiello has withdrawn as a candidate to succeed Len Lenihan as chair od the Erie County Democratic Party, leaving the field looking much as it did before his name began to circulate as the favored choice of Governor Andrew Cuomo. James Eagan, who has a reputation as a fundraiser, wants the job, and is throwing a big to-do at the Statler this Tuesday, September 18, for all members of the county’s Democratic committee. Attorney Marc Panepinto is still in the mix, as is Lenihan’s former right hand, Jeremy Zellner, but neither has broad support. Lackawanna city chair Fran Warthling keeps falling in and out of the mix, and on the periphery stands Jack O’Donnell, the Erie County Water Authority commissioner who is a protege of former county chairman, Steve Pigeon. That association probably makes O’Donnell an impossible choice, as does his current position: When Pigeon was chairman, he tried to win himself an appointment as commissioner of the water authority, but that was regarded that as too much patronage in the hands of one man, even for Erie County.

Then there’s Cheektowaga town chair Frank Max, who has been waiting in the wings to follow Lenihan for many years. We’re told that Cuomo’s political team recently dropped the word that they’d be happy to see Max finally get his shot.We’re told, in fact, that they might have dropped the word more forcefully than that. The party must meet to elect a new chairman within 30 days of Thursday’s primary election.

• On Tuesday, September 18, or colleagues at the Niagara Falls Reporter will host a public meeting on the Lewiston Road reconstruction project, a mire of an unfinished job knee-deep in lawsuits, cost overruns, public name-calling, and radioactive waste. The meeting will take place at Maple School Elementary Auditorium (952 Maple Avenue, at Lewiston Road in Niagara Falls) at 7pm.

Man O’ Trees, which won the bid for the job in 2009, is suing the City of Niagara Falls, its elected officials, members of its staff, and its consultants, arguing that the defendants conspired to masquerade a radioactive waste remediation project as a road job. State Supreme Court Judge Ralph A. Boniello has ordered the defendants to respond by September 18.

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