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Small Talk

North District Councilman Joe Golombek has submitted a resolution asking the Common Council to consider supporting public financing for city elections, similar to the system New York City: For each dollar a resident gives, up to $175 per contributor, New York City matches the donation with $6 in public funds. The argument for public financing is that it make possible candidacies that might not otherwise be viable, opening the political arena to outsiders and diminishing the power of big donors—developers, bankers, law firms, etc.

Golombek has also advocated nonpartisan elections, essentially eliminated party primaries. The public financing proposal will be discussed at next Tuesday’s meeting of the Council’s Legislation Committee.

Glenn Gramigna, who wrote about local politics first for Joe Illuzzi’s and then for his own site,, has died after a long battle with cancer.

• Speaking of, we noted a piece by the site’s current proprietor, Republican political consultant Mike Caputo, who bought the site after Illuzzi died, on Bert Dunn, Jr’s plan to make the general election for Erie County sheriff a three-way race. Dunn lost the Democratic primary to Dick Dobson but maintain a spot on November’s ballot on a party he petitioned to create.

Caputo wrote:

Last month, Dunn announced he would continue to run for sheriff on the Law and Order ballot line he petitioned to create. That night, incumbent Republican Sheriff Tim Howard slept better than he had in months, Erie County Republican chairman Nick Langworthy raised his glass to rank amateurs and Bert Dunn became the barker at a carnival sideshow.

Caputo went on to publish some comically nasty Facebook posts by Dunn’s mother, Mary, “teaching us all a lesson in what being a sore loser is all about.” It’s good reading, as Caputo’s site usually is.

For our money, a good part of the reason Dunn lost to Dobson—in addition to the fact that people like Dobson when they meet him, and he met a lot of people before the primary—is that the Dunn campaign persisted in arguing that Dobson was too old, too out of touch. But you know what: The electorate in Erie County trends old, as well, especially the electorate that shows up for primary elections. The vters liked Dick Dobson because a lot of them look like Dick Dobson.

Bill Conrad is a teacher and the Democratic candidate for the 4th District seat on the Erie County Legislature. He’s taking on incumbent Kevin Hardwick. On Wednesday, Conrad released a statement excoriating the New York State Department of Education’s student testing scheme. An excerpt:

Our Erie County public schools and tax dollars are under attack, and it comes in the name of “Race to the Top.” Currently in New York State our classrooms are being forced to perform lesson plans and “modules” that are only being written a couple weeks in advance. Students are being forced to prepare for a test that their teachers have not seen and whose parents have no idea how to help. School districts are forced to take on more unfunded testing mandates that waste valuable tax dollars that could be spent on field trips, arts and music programs. In some cases, our community is forced to close neighborhood schools in order to alleviate the burden of the costs associated with the new tests and their preparation. As a result tax payers are forced to pay more for less education. The worst part of this scenario is that “one size fit all” approach to testing is neither age nor developmentally appropriate.

And so the pile-on continues. Does anyone believe that John King, the state education secretary who canceled meeting with parents rather than face their criticism of state testing standards, will last much longer in his post?

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