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Pigeon Under Glass

My analyst tells me I'm obsessed with Steve Pigeon, but if this is crazy then I don't want to be sane

Okay, I admit it. I am obsessed with Steve Pigeon and his endless political machinations. My therapist says it’s good for me to admit I have a problem and I do.

Steve Pigeon

But it’s not like I think Steve Pigeon is behind every major political upheaval and controversy under the sun. For example, last week Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced he will run for US Senate as an Independent rather than as a Republican. I am certain that Pigeon had nothing to do with that. (Although Pigeon did bring at least one New York State attorney general candidate to Florida to meet with its newest resident billionaire, Tom Golisano, who created the New York State Independence Party and was rumored to be interested in running for Senate there. Hmmm. Okay, bad example).

The point is, just because Steve Pigeon is my white whale does not mean I am wrong. Disturbed, maybe pathetic, certainly; but definitely not wrong. And so, after giving thanks to the editors of Artvoice for letting me exorcise my personal demons, let me catch you all up on some of Pigeon’s latest devious shenanigans.

Jack O’Donnell is just a few Republican hypocrites away from becoming the next chairman of the Erie County Water Authority. We who live in the City of Buffalo don’t really care who runs the Erie County Water Authority. I suspect most people in Erie County don’t care. They get their water, they’re overcharged for it, and they forget about it. But politicians and the hacks that surround them care deeply. As highlighted in a recent Buffalo News article, the Erie County Water Authority will continue to spend $20 million on capital projects annually. That’s a lot of money for lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, and construction firms, and everyone wants to wet their beak a little. Pigeon knows if he can direct some of those contracts to allies and friends, he can then ask them to contribute to the candidates he supports. And of course there is the patronage, the sweet taste of publicly funded paychecks. (I get tingle just thinking about it. I have had an on-again, off-again public career and can certainly be criticized for being a proud recipient of patronage). If Pigeon can get a few of his soldiers on the payroll, then he has more people to help the campaigns of Joe Golombek and Tim Kennedy.

Thus we have the candidacy for Erie County Water Authority commissioner of Jack O’Donnell: political consultant, son of powerful parents, long-time acolyte of Steve Pigeon, utterly devoid of any experience qualifying him for the position. O’Donnell has as much business being an Erie County Water Authority commissioner as I do, the only difference being that my parents are a retired librarian and a psychotherapist, as opposed to a New York State Supreme Court judge and a former US Attorney and commissioner of the new York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

All that has to happen is the Republicans in the Erie County Legislature have to step up and place O’Donnell’s name in nomination. Chairwoman Barbara Miller Williams can’t because of procedural issuesand the majority of the Democratic caucus will not. Will the Republicans violate the “honor of the house” and nominate a Democrat as a commissioner? If they do, which one of them will lead that effort? And whoever does, what will the reward be? Will Ray Walter by our next Deputy County Executive?

Another front in Steve Pigeon’s war with our community is Assemblyman Sam Hoyt. (Full disclosure: In February, I went back to work for Hoyt part time for a third time. It’s something else my therapist and I discuss.) After much anticipation, North District Councilman Joe Golombek announced last week that he is challenging Hoyt again. Golombek ran against Hoyt in 2004, too. Six years ago he relied on Pigeon spending several hundred thousand dollars of Joel Giambra’s money to attack Hoyt. And he watched from the sidelines two years ago when Pigeon orchestrated a few hundred thousand dollars of Golisano’s money against Hoyt. Honestly, I must commend Golombek for his honesty when he recently told the Buffalo News that he hopes for and expects the same thing to happen this year. In 2004, Golombek would never admit that Pigeon had anything to do with his campaign.

A bit of history: Pigeon waged the same sort of war against former Erie County Legislator Greg Olma, and it took three primaries before he could finally take out Olma. It is a battle of attrition, and Pigeon is like the World War I general blowing the whistle to send young politicians charging toward the enemy’s trench. Sure, the first few hundred get mowed down by the machine guns, but, who knows, maybe a few will get there.

Defeating Hoyt will be no more decisive than was the taking of a trench in that tragic war. Pigeon, if he is successful using Golombek to take out Hoyt, will find a new arch enemy, a new obstacle to his political conquests. In fact, I hear he’s mad at Florida Governor Crist…

Jeremy Toth is a local attorney and proud political hack.

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