By Tony Farina
Financial Filings Due Friday
The political season is getting into full swing locally, and Friday (July 15) is the first financial filing deadline for candidates which will offer a window into how the various candidates are doing, ranging from the district attorney’s race to the 60th District State Senate contest to replace outgoing one-termer Marc Panepinto.
Acting District Attorney Mike Flaherty is expected to top $300,000 when he files on Friday and indications are that John Flynn, the endorsed Democratic and Conservative candidate for district attorney, will probably have at least $200,000 in the bank with little known about the finances of endorsed Republican candidate Joe Treanor and disgruntled former assistant district attorney Mark Sacha who is challenging Flaherty and Flynn on the Democratic line.
The candidates in all the local races were busy making last-minute appeals for money this week, hoping to look good coming filing day. As a result, most are staying mum on what they have in their war chests, hoping that with money hopefully still coming in, they don’t want anything out there that might suggest they are having trouble raising money.
One candidate locally who won’t have much problem with financing his campaign is Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, a member of the billionaire Jacobs family who is the endorsed Republican and Conservative candidate for the State Senate seat. His Republican challenger Kevin Stocker has been pressing the flesh hard for support and has previously used his own money to finance his political campaigns.
On the Democratic side, newcomer Amber Small, a community activist, and veteran political pro Al Coppola will file their financial numbers on Friday with the rest and, as I said at the beginning, offer a glimpse into the seriousness of their campaigns to this point.
Michalek’s Resignation Puts Two Seats Up for Grabs
Not lost on local lawyers is the now open State Supreme Court seat of John Michalek who pleaded guilty two weeks ago in the Pigeon case, putting his $194,000 job up for grabs in November. There was already one open seat with the retirement of Justice Joseph Glownia.
At last count, there are at least seven candidates for the two seats who will be vying for endorsement by the judicial nominating conventions within 20 days of the primary vote.
Given the Michalek scandal and reports of juicy guardianships handed out by him to political supporters, insiders say it is unlikely the parties will agree on a one-for-one bipartisan endorsement to fill the two open seats, but you never know.
One candidate who is expected to have a tough time winning the support of Erie County Democrats is highly regarded Niagara Falls lawyer John Delmonte. Sources say Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner will never support Delmonte because he believes Delmonte was the leak in discussing the $4,000 contributions Zellner solicited from several judicial candidates in 2014, money that was not used to further their candidacies but for other purposes, according to insiders. Delmonte could not be reached for comment and Zellner has not returned calls in the past.
Cuomo Troops Rally to His Support No Matter What
You have to give Gov. Cuomo credit for being able to keep his minions in line. When numbers tucked away as a footnote in a state business report revealed that Start-Up NY has not delivered many new jobs despite the massive state spending promoting the governor’s signature job-creation program, the minions rallied behind the governor.
Empire State development chief Howard Zemsky rose to the governor’s defense in an Another Voice piece in the Buffalo News, saying the program has “accomplished a heck of a lot” in its first year with hundreds of millions of dollars in committed capital from participants. All that despite reports that only 76 jobs were created in the first year of the program and only 408 new jobs in the first two years.
And Zemsky and his top aide, Sam Hoyt, were visible and supportive of the governor when Cuomo stopped in Niagara Falls on Tuesday to preside at the Hamister hotel groundbreaking after years of delay. The breakthrough apparently came when Goldman Sachs came up with $24 million to save the state the embarrassment of Hamister reneging on his much-hyped project that lacked the financing for the last three years to break ground. For the last three years, the state folks have been mostly silent on what was going on with the Hamister deal, although local business people knew the score, that Hamister couldn’t put the financing together.
Empire State Development, the governor’s prime development agency headed statewide by Zemsky and locally by Hoyt, is very good at one thing besides hovering over the governor: keeping a secret. I foiled Empire State last December for an accounting of how much state taxpayer money has been paid to a well-connected local law firm to defend the wrongful termination canalside suit by a local developer. I’ve received at least several responses, but none of them have included the accounting requested. It begs the question, what are they hiding?