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Six Days: The Straight Dope From the (Abbreviated) Week That Was

Thursday, December 17:

The photo tells the story: Wednesday evening’s holiday party at the First Amendment Club in Black Rock bridged political ideology and faction. Some of the strangest bedfellows appear in the photo to the right: Niagara District Councilman David Rivera, a Democrat; Republican State Senator George Maziarz; attorney Mike Kuzma, the consummate leftist, who will run for State Senate next fall; New York State Green Party chairman Eric Jones; South District Councilman Mickey Kearns; and singer Steve Balesteri. What business did Niagara County’s Maziarz have with Buffalo Democrats? We’ll find out next fall.

In the meantime: ’Twas the week before Christmas, and the folks at Target, at least those over at the Walden Galleria store, decided to celebrate like Ebeneezer Scrooge. Remember, Scrooge wanted to keep Christmas in his own way, which meant ignoring it and keeping Tiny Tim’s father working late on Christmas Eve. The Target managers didn’t want to keep seven employees late. They wanted to fire them. And they did, for buying Zhu Zhu Pets, hamster-like stuffed toys. The seven lined up at 5am, after their night shift, and paid for them, but Target said employees could only buy “2-day ad” items after 8am, like regular people (or “guests” in Target lingo). They said the policy was posted where employees could see it—an assertion denied by one of the seven who spoke to the Buffalo News.

Friday, December 18:

Protest of the week: Grassroots wins this hands down—for spectacle, for absurdity, for hypocrisy. On Friday afternoon, members of the Ellicott District Democratic Committee met at the Pucho Olivencia Center on Swan Street to interview candidates hoping to fill the Common Council seat vacated by Brian Davis, who pled guilty last month to using campaign funds for personal expenses. All 12 candidates were invited to the forum; all accepted except Marilyn Rodgers, who said she would not take part in closed-door deliberations. The meeting was open to Ellicott District committee people only—no public.

Davis is a committee member and attended the forum. He and another member of Grassroots, the political club that backs the mayor, were asked for ID upon entering—apparently the young woman working the door did not know all 82 Ellicott District committee members on sight—and took deep offense. A shouting match erupted between Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Len Lenihan, Davis, and other Grassroots committee people. Erie County Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams, a committee member and a member of Grassroots, accused Lenihan of making back-room deals with Council President Dave Franczyk to control the filling of the vacancy. (Miller-Williams, of course, is working her own deal with Erie County Executive Chris Collins to become chair of the Erie County Legislature.) Davis accused the Democratic Party of allowing the district to go without representation for too long. (Of course, Davis’ criminal acts caused the district to lose its representative in the first place.) After much strenuous shouting of insults and threatening postures, the Grassroots committee members stood up and walked out of the center en masse, joined by City Hall operative David Granville and others loyal to the mayor.

Their departure left the hall somewhat empty; remaining were some of the candidates and a handful of committee people. (Those committee people tied to Champ Eve and the Unity Coalition, which outnumbers the Grassroots faction in Ellicott, had met earlier in the week to review the candidates.) Nonetheless, they forged ahead. The first candidate to speak was attorney Bill Trezevant, but he was soon interrupted by the sound of honking car horns. Another front-running candidate, firefighter Bryon McIntyre, announced that supporters of Darius Pridgen, the Grassroots candidate for the seat, had formed a motorcade and were driving around and around the block.

When Pridgen finally entered the Olivencia Center, and hour and a half into the meeting, he explained that his followers were circling the building seven times to break down the walls of the Democratic Party machine, just like Joshua and the Israelites at Jericho. (Would they be trying to break down those walls if the mayor’s operatives had succeeded in pulling the machine’s levers to ensure the committee endorsement for Pridgen?)

Saturday, December 19:

The third-longest day of the year. And felt like it.

Sunday, December 20:

Members of the majority coalition on the Common Council met to sort out leadership positions for next year. Fillmore’s Dave Franczyk will continue as Council President and Lovejoy’s Rich Fontana as majority leader. David Rivera of the Niagara District will take over as president pro tempore.

Monday, December 21:

As Gilda Radner was wont to say, “Never mind.” Target has rehired the Zhu Zhu Seven. According to a statement from Target Central in Minneapolis, the situation has been reviewed and “we have determined that the team member [i.e., employees] terminations were the unintended consequence of a good policy rigidly applied.”

Does “unintended consequence” mean Target didn’t really mean to fire those people? We can’t tell you that because Kate Gillen, the nice woman who handles PR for Target out of Minneapolis, told us Target isn’t answering questions “right now.” She did offer to try to help us with anything else she could. We’re thinking about that. Meanwhile, could Kate and the other well intentioned people at Target have noticed the name of the toy is almost the same as the name of Jimmy Stewart’s little daughter in It’s a Wonderful Life? Could that have been what did the trick?

Tuesday, December 22:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio—you know, the guy who waved his finger in Hillary Clinton’s face—received the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, who had entertained the possibility of running for governor himself. This may spell the end of Erie County Executive Chris Collins’ dream of running for governor. Collins has been an avid supporter of Giuliani, and is unlikely to seek the Republican nomination without Giuliani’s support.

geoff kelly, george sax

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