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Seven Days: The Straight Dope From the Week That Was

Campaign finance disclosure day: kind of like Christmas here at the Week in Review...

Thursday, January 14:

Buffalo State College economics professor Curtis Haynes was appointed to fill the vacant Ellicott Dostrict seat on the Common Council by a vote of six to two. The lone dissenters were University District Councilwoman Bonnie Russell and Masten District Councilman Demone Smith. Both voted for Darius Pridgen, pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church, who had narrowly won the endorsement of the Ellicott District Democratic committee members. In the past that endorsement has all but sealed the Common Council vote, too, but not this time: The five-member majority were determined not to choose a candidate closely allied with Mayor Byron Brown. Smith used the occasion of Friday’s floor vote to rail loudly and at length against the tyranny of the five-member majority, as Council President Dave Franczyk pounded his gavel and insisted that Smith was out of order—an exchange that is becoming so common between the two men as to lose its ability to disturb the chamber’s customary soporific proceedings. More interesting (sorry, Demone) was the rant unleashed by State Senator Antoine Thompson on Facebook in response to Haynes’s selection:

“The common council and the democratic party not doing Rev. Darius Pridgen for the Ellicott District is SLAP in the face. I’m so disgusted. As hard as Pridgen works and played by the rules and he gets kicked in the butt by the Council? Hopefully Pridgen will run in September you have my support!!!!…They r on a power trip on the common council and they must be stopped.”

In voting in Haynes, the Council majority won a battle in their continuing standoff with the mayor. But the mayor and his political organization, Grassroots, won, too. Pridgen is reported to be so angered by the Council’s dismissal of his candidacy that he is determined to run for the office in this fall’s special election. (Whoever wins that election will have to run again in 2011, when the regular term of office expires.) Firefighter Bryon McIntyre, who finished second in the committee vote, will run for the seat, too. Haynes will be at a disadvantage if he seeks to retain the seat, as he says he will: He has little name recognition, not much of a political support network, and just eight months to work on both. Meantime, Pridgen and Grassroots have an affront with which to stoke anger and political activism in Ellicott.

Friday, January 15

Protest of the week: Hundreds gathered in Days Park Friday evening for a candlenight vigil protesting the beating of a gay man at the Walden Galleria and the stabbing of a lesbian in front of an Allentown club, both crimes occurring within 12 hours of one another. A second, separately organized protest—billed “United We Stand in Buffalo: A Celebration of Diversity, A Plea for Peace”—was scheduled for Ednesday, January 20, at Babeville.

Today was also the New York State Board of Elections filing deadline for January 2010 campaign finance disclosure fomrs. Which meant AV political analysts spent Saturday afternoon…

Saturday, January 16

…lounging by the fire, poring over the accounts and contemplating New York’s one and only growth industry: politics. A few items of note:

• On December 17, Erie County Executive Chris Collins loaned his campaign committee $600,000, lifting the balance over the magic, take-me-seriously-for-governor threshold of $1 million. Collins is expected to announce his candidacy for governor next month.

• As of press time, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s campaign committee had not filed the required disclosure forms. But in October, Brown had $765,000 in the bank—none of it loans.

• Others who had not filed at press time: Erie County Legislators Barbara Miller-Williams and Ed Rath; Buffalo Common Councilmembers Demone Smith, David Rivera, and Rich Fontana; and State Senator Antoine Thompson.

• Erie County Legislator Tim Kennedy has amassed $113,000 already for his run at State Senator Bill Stachowski’s seat. Alo interested in the seat ate attorneys Mike Kuzma ($2,700) and Sean Cooney ($12,000). Stachowski has $214,000 on hand.

• The filing from Responsible New York, funded by Buffalo Sabres owner and Paychex founder Tom Golisano and operated by that strangest of all political agents, Steve Pigeon, revealed that the committee paid $15,000 to Niagara Falls attorney John Bartolomei in early December. Bartolomei, an associate of Pigeon, filed a lawsuit in October accusing the Erie County Board of Elections and its two commissioners, Democrat Dennis Ward and Republican Ralph Mohr, of conducting an “inappropriate, improper and illegal, fraudulent and baseless investigation” into the doings of Responsible New York and the two other Pigeon-controlled committees.

Sunday, January 17

President Obama is in Boston, stumping for Martha Coakley, the Democrat running in a special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s Seate seat. Not helpful, it turns out.

Monday, January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?” I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again. How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Tuesday, January 19:

Scott Brown, the man Senator Chuck Schumer described in an email as “a far-right tea-bagger Republican,” wins the special election in Massachusetts. Meaningful healthcare reform on life support.

Wednesday, January 20

The folks at reveal the identity of the woman that Erie County Executive Chris Collins puprotedly suggested should trade a lap dance for a seat at Governor David Paterson’s State of the State speech two weeks ago. Her name is Laura Zaepfel, and she is the daughter of Carl Montante, Sr., founder of Uniland Development and a neighbor to Collins in the Spalding Lake subdivision in Clarence. In addition to the lap dance remark, Assemblyman Joseph Errigo of Henrietta says that the night before, at a party at Albany’s Fort Orange Club, Collins told Zaepfel that she looked good, the told the folks around them, “You guys should have seen her when she was 16.” Zaepfel has not commented on the matter.

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