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Seven Days: the straight dope from the week that was

Thursday, October 15: Niagara Falls attorney and renowned “business gonnegtion” John Bartolomei filed a lawsuit today in Erie County’s State Supreme Court of behalf of the deep-pocketed political committee Responsible New York; its billionaire funder, Sabres owner and Paychex founder Tom Golisano; its director, political operative Steve Pigeon; its treasurer, failed State Assembly candidate Gary Parenti; and two political committees Pigeon controls, Citizens for Fiscal Integrity and People for Responsible Government. The suit accuses the Erie County Board of Elections and its two commissioners, Democrat Dennis Ward and Republican Ralph Mohr, of conducting an “inapporpriate, improper and illegal, fraudulent and baseless investigation” into the doings of Responsible New York and the two other committees. In a nutshell, Mohr and Ward began digging into accusations that Responsible New York—an unauthorized committee with no limits on how much it spends, so long as it does dot coordinate activities with candidates it supports—had in fact coordinated activities with at least two candiadiates, Baby Joe Mesi and Barbra Kavanaugh, during the 2008 election season. Mohr and Ward also also examined the workings of Citizens for Fiscal Integrity and People for Responsible Government, based on suspicion that Pigeon’s chronicly under-reporting committees were laundering donations in order to circumvent state election law. The suit argues that those investigations were politically motivated: Mesi ran in (and won) a Democratic primary for New York State senate against Ward’s wife, Michele Iannello, and his brother, Dan; the complaint that may have spurred the investigation was written by Buffalo attorney Jeremy Toth, a partisan of Assemblyman sam Hoyt, whom Responsible New York targeted in 2008 (and likely will target again in 2010); and all these allegations are being taken seriously by the New York State Board of Elections because the powers-that-be in Albany are miffed at Golisano and Pigeon for orchestrating the June leadership coup in the New York State Senate, and intend to discredit Responsible New York before it makesgood on its promise to shake up the Assembly leadership next year. A companion suit was filed against the Albany County Board of Elections, too, according to Albany attorney E. Stewart Jones, who said papers would be served this week. At press time, neither ward nor Mohr has been served. You can read the lawsuit at AV Daily at

Roller disco dancers, come out to plaaaaay-yay!!!

Friday, October 16: Congressman Brian Higgins introduces the Green Energy Investment Zone Act, which increases renewable energy tax credits for individuals and manufacturers economically distressed cities such as Buffalo—and, more specifically, for the indistrial zone stretching from the RiverWright ethanol project in the Old First Ward to the wind turbines in Lackawanna, whichHiggins and his supporters envision as a green energy corridor.

Saturday, October 17: Around eight o’clock tonight, couple hundred kids held an old-fashioned rumble outside Arcadia Roller Skating Rink on East Amherst Street near Main—answering the age-old question: “Is that place open or what?” Police made three arrests, and a couple people were injured.

Sunday, October 18: Nothing happened today. Nothing at all.

Monday, October 19: Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo unveiled an ambitious education reform bill, which would lift the current cap on the number of charter schools in the state, eliminate tenure for school principals, extend the tenure review period for new teachers from three years rto six years, extend the school year to 200 days, require data-driven assessments of schools and teachers, and a litany of other measures. The purpose of the reforms, Hoyt said at a press conference today outside the Elmwood Village Charter School, is twofold: to improve the state’s education system, but also to qualify the state for the $4.4 billion federal “Race to the Top” program. The Race to the Top program sets criteria for funding—among them, no cap on charter schools—and New York State is currently at the back of that line. Qualifying for the federal program could bring $200 million to New York public schools, just as Governor David Paterson seeks drastic cuts in education funding in order to help to close what he says is a projected $3 billion budget deficit. (A New York Post story on Hoyt’s bill emphasized the possibility of qualifying for federal funds; the Buffalo News story on the bill emphasized the $50-75 million it might cost to implement all the reforms Hoyt proposed.)

Tuesday, October 20: Elizabeth Benjamin, ace politcal reporter for the New York Daily News, was the pool reporter on President Barack Obama’s swing through New York City on Tuesday afternoon. Here are excerpts from her dispatches:

POTUS et al took helicopters from JFK to the Wall Street landing zone, arriving at around 4 p.m.

The motorcade traveled up West Side Highway, which was blocked off by NYOD and intermittently lined with curious onlookers.

POTUS toured the Joint Terrorism Task Force HQ – 10th Avenue between 14th and 15th – NYPD and FBI. Press did not accompany him…

Fundraiser for Bill Owens the Democratic nominee in NY-23, the upstate seat vacated by GOP Rep. John McHugh, who was tapped by Obama to become secretary of the Army.

Obama did not make remarks at the Owens event, and press was not allowed in to the event.

At the DNC event that followed, guests paid $15,000 per plate to dine on:

Red and yellow tomato and mozzarella plates, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. Lamb. Apple pear tart for dessert…

“…on insurance reform…closer than we’ve ever been before…we are nearing the finish line and with your help we are going to cross it. There are going to be some fierce arguments in the days ahead…I want all the democrats that are in the house to understand what a profound achievement this is and stay focused on the goal line. Sometimes we like to have our little intramural battles, that’s fine.”

“I believe in a two party system. Where ideas are tested and assumptions are challenged. That’s how we strengthen our proposals. That’s how democracy works. But what I reject what I don’t have a lot of sympathy for is folks who are just sitting on the sidelines and rooting for failure.”…

POTUS arrived at the Hammerstein Ballroom and was greeted by prolonged cheers from several hundred people who had been making calls off lists provided by Organizing for America to friends and neighbors, urging them to support the administration’s efforts on health care reform…

POTUS speech ended at 8:35 p.m. Final quote:

“We are in this for the long haul…I don’t know about you, I just want you to know. I’m just getting started. I don’t know about you, but I’m not tired…All these folks that are throwing stuff at us and getting all crazy…I feel refreshed and I feel energized and it’s became of you. If you’re willing to keep on going. If you’re willing to keep on marching…We can succeed. Yes we can…We are going to turn this country around.”

Cheers. Applause.

Pooler out. Laptop battery dead.

Wednesday, October 21: Angry residents of the Marine drive Apartments gathered tonight in Common Council Chambers to protest a proposed parking ramp adjacent to the public housing project. The parking ramp is part of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation’s Canal Side development, which received a public hearing at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery the night before.

And former UB President Bill Greiner officially retired from the UB faculty. Greiner stepped down as president in 2004. His signal accomplishment is generally considered to be the elevation of UB’s sports program to NCAA Division I.

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