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May 19, 2011 - 8:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

New from Jack Davis.

New from outside money group American Crossroads.

May 19, 2011 - 7:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, NY-26.

In a special election, voter turnout is usually low.

That means, your vote counts more.

All eyes are on the NY-26 special election. Let's show the nation Genesee County cares about who is elected to represent us.

The Batavian has pledged $100 to the Genesee Justice Foundation if Genesee County can lead all counties in the NY-26 in voter turnout. 

In response, several others have pledge donations to various charities:

Jeff Allen has offered to match it with $100 to Care-A-Van Ministries; Dan Jones has offered to match it with $26 dollars to Care-A-Van ministries and another $26 dollars to the USO; and Dave Olson is offer a $25 matching donation for GJ plus donate $50 to The Loyola Recovery Foundation.

New donation offers: Lorie Longhany has pledged $26 to the Child Advocacy Center wing of Genesee Justice; Ricky G. Hale, a local plumber, has pledged $100 to Genesee Justice and challenged other business owners to step forward with pledges.

We're now up to $423 in pledges for local charities.

Can we get it to $1,000? Who else wants to jump in? Leave a comment or email me at howard {at} thebatavian dot com (let me know if you don't want your name used).

Remember, this is about getting out the vote, not about who you're voting for. If you don't like any of the candidates, you can always just turn in a blank ballot. That sends a message, too.

UPDATE 9:22 a.m.: District Attorney Lawrence Friedman has pledged $1,000 -- with $500 going to the Genesee Justice Foundation and $500 going to Justice For Children GLOW Foundation. Any other members of the legal community like to step forward?

UPDATE 10:15 a.m.: Ken Mistler just pledged $100 for Volunteers for Animals.

UPDATE 10:40 a.m.: County Clerk Don Read has pledged $100 for Crossroads House. That puts us up to $1,623. Any others?

May 19, 2011 - 12:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Job Development Bureau, EDD.

Up until January, Genesee County's Job Development Bureau was the lead agency on a lease for office space at the corner of East Main and Clinton streets, but with funding for the bureau getting less certain, director Scott Gage asked the NYS Department of Labor to take over the lease.

A new lease was negotiated, but still hasn't been approved by the state, so the landlord hasn't been paid since February, according to Gage.

"It's not a good situation," Gage told the Ways & Means Committee today.

It's unclear when or how the situation will be resolved.

May 18, 2011 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, economy, sales tax revenue.

In May, the county's share of sales tax was up $116,000 over May 2010, according to County Treasurer Scott German. So far this year, sales tax revenue is up $755,000.

German presented the figures to the Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday afternoon, and Mary Pat Hancock, legislative chairwoman, was quick to point out the county shouldn't start rejoicing just yet.

The year isn't over and most of increase stems from the run up in food and gas prices, two inflationary factors that may yet reduce consumer spending in other areas.

"There's going to be some pain associated with it," Hancock said. "Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm not going to depend on that continued upswing."

County sales tax revenue still hasn't caught up with 2008 levels, German said, when the total exceeded $34 million, but his best guess -- and he emphasizes it's just a guess -- is that 2011 revenue will be more than $33 million, which would beat the 2009 figure of $32 million.

May 18, 2011 - 11:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, planning, Holiday Inn Express.

A special use permit and site plan were approved for a proposed Holiday Inn Express on Tuesday night by the Town of Batavia Planning Board and a spokesman for the hotel owner said the only step remaining is to secure a building permit.

However, an attorney for a group of hotel owners who oppose the project say the fight isn't over.

Attorney Thomas Warth said the conditional use permit may not be valid because for approval, a project on this particular piece of property must be compatible with an industrial park, not overly increase traffic on local roads and not be on a road ill-suited to retail operations.

“It fails on all those counts," Warth said.

But with the approval in hand, Buffalo attorney Corey Auerbach said his client is ready to apply for a building permit and start construction in June.

There had also been objections raised about the lack of a left-turn lane on Route 98, but Kenmore-based architect Mark Tiedemann said the turn lane is not required.

"We have a credible expert who says it’s not a requirement and doesn’t need to be mitigated at this time," Tiedemann said. "There was a traffic report done in 2007 that said no turn lane was required and there's been nothing added (to the complex) since then."

Warth said the site plan is also open to challenge because it shouldn't have been approved without a variance for parking.

"I think this planning board approval is invalid until they address the parking issue," Warth said.

As for next steps, Warth said he would rather not take the matter to court, but instead try to talk the matter through to a suitable resolution.

"Right now their approval is very vulnerable if it were to go to a court action, but I’d rather save the time and money and address it by having them do the right thing at the board level," Warth said.

The Holiday Inn Expres, being developed by Michael Patel, would add 80 rooms to the current hotel stock and the other owners say they already have too many vacancies.

Tiedemann said he's been involved with previous hotel projects in the area and each time one comes up, the occupancy rate is about the same as it is now, and after each new hotel is built, it doesn't go down. He also noted that in the past two years, two hotels have changed hands.

"I know all of the Patels and they don't invest in things that lose money," he said.

May 18, 2011 - 10:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Genesee ARC.

The Children's Charity of Buffalo & Western New York in cooperation with FreedomConcepts donated an adaptive bike to Genesee ARC on Tuesday that will allow Genesee ARC members with special needs to ride a bike, many for the first time.

The bike is valued at $3,700.

Pictured are Riley, 14, Ken Scibetta, Donna Saskowski, Todd Owlet, Nicole, 14, and on the bike, Wesley, 15.

May 18, 2011 - 8:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin.

Press release:

WILLIAMSVILLE – Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel, called Western New York voters today in support of Jane Corwin for Congress. Rep. West, an active leader in the Tea Party movement, also recorded a phone call to about 30,000 households across Western New York’s 26th Congressional District. He is one of 20 military veterans <http://janecorwin.com/posts/corwin-endorsed-by-20-military-veterans-in-c...  in this year’s House Freshman class that have endorsed Corwin.

In his Army career, Congressman West has been honored many times, including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals (one with Valor), and a Valorous Unit Award. He is serving his first term in Congress.

“Congressman West is an American Patriot and I am honored to have his support for Congress,” Corwin said. “Congressman West knows that I will be a strong voice for veterans in Washington and will fight to cut spending and reduce taxes for all Western New York taxpayers. I look forward to working alongside Congressman West and hitting the ground running in Washington.”

May 18, 2011 - 8:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kirsten gillibrand.

Press release:

Washington, D.C. – With more than 2,300 police and fire departments across New York State that cannot all communicate with each other effectively during times of emergency, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is today calling on the House and Senate to pass legislation that would provide first responders and public safety officials with critical interoperable radio airwaves needed to effectively communicate in the event a major response is needed.

The 9/11 Commission Report identified insufficient interoperability among communications systems used by first responders during the attacks and rescue efforts. Senator Gillibrand is urging Congress to come together before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and pass the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, legislation that would create a framework for the deployment of a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for public safety.

“There is no higher priority than the security of our families and communities,” Senator Gillibrand said. “If we’re going to keep New Yorkers safe, all of our first responders must be able to communicate with each other in real time during emergencies. Nearly ten years after the horror of 9/11, it’s time to bring our first responder technology into the 21st century, and free New York’s emergency personnel from federal bureaucracy to get the job done.”

Data compiled from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, and the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Fire and Prevention Control show that New York State is home to 1,791 fire departments and 568 police departments. Due to an insufficient emergency communications system, these departments cannot all communicate effectively with each other during emergencies.

May 18, 2011 - 8:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26.

Press release:

The new television spot from the Jack Davis campaign highlights what’s at stake in this election: our jobs, our families and our future.

A dramatic departure from the typical political ad, “What’s at Stake” shows a scene that has been repeated in kitchens across Western New York and America.

Families are seeing their livelihoods, their dreams and their lives destroyed. The two parties will give us more of the same, but there is a real a choice in this election. Jack Davis wants to put Americans back to work and return to the values that made us strong as a nation – hard work, self-reliance and pride in workmanship.

A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner <http://www.democracycorps.com/wp-content/files/dcorcaf110310fq14.pdf>  poll of November 2010 shows 89% of Americans believe we need to make things in America if we are to revive the middle class. The Pew Research survey from November 2010 <http://people-press.org/2010/11/09/public-support-for-increased-trade-ex...  shows 55% of Americans – and 63% of people who identify with the Tea Party - believe trade deals like Nafta are job killers. Yet both Democrats and Republicans continue to push for more. Right now, President Obama and Speaker Boehner are supporting free trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

Both the Democratic and Republican candidates in this race are using nuanced talking points about where they stand. Jack Davis is the only candidate talking about what it really takes to create jobs in Western New York. He knows because he’s doing it right now – manufacturing a product right here and selling it around the world.

May 18, 2011 - 8:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in roads, Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

In light of our story Tuesday about the sad state of our roads and bridges, at the candidates' forum yesterday, I wanted to ask the candidates what they would do about the problem.

Jane Corwin said we have a big problem with infrastructure and we need a comprehensive, long-term plan for funding from the federal government. She said infrastructure should be one of the highest priorities of the federal government.

But, she said, the government is spending too much money, driving up debt.

"We're spending too much money that is going toward interest payments not enough toward infrastucture," Corwin said.

Hochul's response contrasted the government's infrastructure spending with current foreign policy.

"I’m going to go out on a limb here," Hochul said. "We are probably spending more on roads in Pakistan and places like that where they’re not exactly our friends than we are right here in Genesee County. We’ve got to get our priorities straight. I’m starting to reexamine a lot of our commitment internationally."

Jack Davis and Ian Murphy did not attend the forum.

May 18, 2011 - 7:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

More than 20 advocates for independent living for people with disabilities were at a candidate forum Tuesday morning with the four candidates vying for the NY-26 congressional seat.

All four candidates were invited and expected to attend, but only Jane Corwin and Kathy Hochul made it. Jack Davis sent a spokesman who said Davis had an emergency at his manufacturing plant and Ian Murphy just didn't make it.

Both Corwin and Hochul opened with statements about their support for independent living, weaved in their usual stump speech remarks about jobs, Medicare and taxes, and then took questions.

In her opening, Corwin said as an Assembly member she has supported legislation benefiting independent living, including pushing for more group homes.

"I am certainly very supportive of the issues that are important to you," Corwin said.

Melissa Golpl (pictured above), disability rights advocate for Independent Living of Niagara County, came prepared with detailed questions for the candidates.

One of her questions was about Corwin's position on federal legislation to assist people with autism.

Corwin said she had a son who used speech services when he was young, "so I've seen from the inside how the system works and how important it is to get those services to children, especially at young ages."

As for autism, Corwin said that cases of autism in children have increased dramatically and in the Assembly, she said she worked to raise awareness among her colleagues to be more sensitive to the needs of people with autism. She also said she sponsored legislation to get more services for students with autism, including make it possible for them to participate in sports.

Greg Bruggman asked Corwin about her position on block grants for Medicaid, a proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan but opposed, Bruggman said, by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Corwin said she supported the block grant proposal because there is a lot of fraud and waste in New York's Medicaid system and a competitive block grant formula would be the best way to eliminate it.

Hochul opened by saying she strongly supported the people who provide services to people with disabilities.

"I feel strongly the 26th district needs somebody in Washington looking out for people like you and the people you work with," Hochul said.

She said her concern with people with special needs is why she opposes the Ryan budget plan, which she said would decimate Medicare and Medicaid.

"What kind of community are we if we don’t supply support for people with special needs," Hochul said.

While Medicare and Medicaid need to be reformed, Hochul said, it's a matter of priorities and ensuring the programs are fixed in a cost-effective way that still takes care of people of people with special needs.

"I guarantee I will be a strong advocate for people with special needs," Hochul said.

Golpl asked about housing for people with disabilities and Hochul said there needs to be more housing built to accomodate the needs of people with disabilities and said she favored offering incentives to builders to construct such houses and apartments.

Above, Curtis Ellis, spokesman for Jack Davis, speaks to the gathering at the YWCA for the candidates forum. Media from Rochester and Buffalo were on hand, as well as a reporter from the D.C. bureau of the Los Angeles Times and a cameraman from CNN.

May 18, 2011 - 1:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin.

Press release from David Bellavia:

(BATAVIA, NY) - Decorated Iraq combat veteran David Bellavia today challenged Congressional candidate Jane Corwin to come clean on her involvement in a gambit to disrupt a veterans' event in Greece, NY. The former Army Staff Sergeant whose actions during the Battle of Fallujah earned some of the nation's highest honors also pointed out the second Corwin staffer caught by WGRZ-TV videotaping the candidate's chief of staff as he repeatedly called a U.S. Marine a "coward."

"Media reports indicate the second camera was operated by Rep. Chris Lee's former Congressional staffer Emily Hunter, a native of Rochester," Bellavia said. "This is further proof Corwin has ordered the local GOP machine to push the edges of common decency in a desperate attempt to help her buy this seat."

Military veterans are hunting for Michael Mallia, Corwin's Assembly chief of staff, in Florida, where Corwin sent him to hide from the media after he embarrassed himself and his candidate in a Youtube video edited to look like he was assaulted. Angry veterans in the 26th Congressional District have taken to referring to Corwin's dirty trick as "CowardGate."

"I urge Jane Corwin to come clean on why she ordered her chief of staff and Rep. Lee's staff assistant to disrupt the Greece veterans' event," Bellavia said. "I also beseech her to release the unedited tapes of CowardGate, reveal where she has hidden Mallia from the media and produce the second shooter and her video."

"It was bad enough that Jane Corwin ordered this dirty trick - now she's lying. Corwin is the architect of a cover up designed to deceive voters and duck the media," Bellavia said. "The veterans of Western New York will not give her a pass on this despicable prank."

"Jane Corwin is failing her CSPAN audition: if she will not tell the truth about CowardGate, she is not ready for prime time and cannot represent our Congressional District with honor and effectiveness," Bellavia said.

Veterans in Florida have offered a $5,000 reward for information on Mallia's whereabouts that leads to a media interview of the Corwin staff chief. They have published a Web site offering a WANTED poster to help in the hunt (www.WheresMallia.com). Broadcast quality b-B-roll of the Florida search is available at http://vimeo.com/23776422.

May 18, 2011 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, United Way, Day of Caring.

Nearly 250 people braved a little wet weather this morning to show up at Dwyer Stadium to kick off the Day of Caring, sponsored by United Way.

The event sends people out into the community to perform a variety of volunteer tasks for nonprofit organizations, such as painting, cleaning, gardening and minor construction projects.

The organizers this year are (in no particular order): Jamie Rada, Chris Fix, Jane Scott, Susie Boyce, Debbie Fischer, Theresa DeMars, Lori Stupp, Shelley Fallitico (not pictured), Dave Cecere, Katie Betters, Scott Neff, Sue Boss, Carol Boshart, Jay Gsell, Erik Fix, Susan Schuler and Donna Saskowski.

May 18, 2011 - 8:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26.

As I mentioned yesterday, The Batavian is offering to donate $100 to Genesee Justice if Genesee County has the highest voter turnout in the NY-26 on May 24.

Since then, Jeff Allen has offered to match it with $100 to Care-A-Van Ministries, Dan Jones has offered to match it with $26 dollars to Care-A-Van ministries and another $26 dollars to the USO and a reader e-mailed me offering a $25 matching donation.

There's still time for others to jump on the bandwagon.

Yesterday was a bigger than normal turnout for the school budget vote, and of course there was an even bigger turnout to reject the Van Detta project.

If people are coming out to vote to protest the direction of things, May 24 presents another opportunity to send a message.

I can think of reasons for each of the four candidates that somebody might think a vote for that peson would be a protest vote against the direction of the country.

Regardless of who you support or what you believe, get out and vote.  You're not making a difference or sending a message by sitting at home on May 24.

With the eyes of the nation on this election, let's demonstrate that Genesee County cares about who represents us in Washington.

May 18, 2011 - 1:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul, jim owen.

Jim Owen, who taught 35 years in Hamburg and is now a substitute teacher in Batavia City Schools, came to the candidate forum at the YWCA today to see his former typing student, Kathy Hochul. She is running for Congress and was one of Owen's students in the mid-1970s. (Previous Story.)

May 18, 2011 - 12:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

All four candidates for the NY-26 special election race on May 24 were scheduled to appear at the YWCA on North Street this morning at the invitation of the Western New York Independent Living Project.

Only Jane Corwin and Kathy Hochul actually made it. Curtis Ellis, spokesman for Jack Davis, claimed that Davis couldn't make it because of an emergency at his plant. Ian Murphy, well, by the time I left, nobody knew what happened to him.

Each of the candidates were scheduled to speak in 15 minute increments with each of hopeful arriving and leaving separately. Corwin was up first and exited before Hochul entered the room.

When Corwin reached the parking lot, another reporter asked Corwin a question and when Corwin kept walking without saying a word, he said, "Can you stop?" Corwin said, "I'm on my way to another meeting, Dave, thank you."

I had one question I wanted to ask Jane Corwin, "where is the second tape?"

The second tape is one shot by a GOP operative in Greece last Wednesday when Corwin's Assembly chief of staff, Michael Mallia, confronted Jack Davis and produced a 15-second YouTube video in which Davis is caught on tape saying, "hey, you want punched out," then takes a swipe at the video camera and Mallia reacts by wailing like a banshee.

We know there was a second camera operator because she was caught on tape by WGRZ-TV.

Nobody from the Erie County GOP or Jane Corwin's camp has denied that there was a second camera operator and that she was there on behalf of the GOP.

When other reporters pressed Nick Langworthy, ECGOP chairman, on the second tape -- under the assumption that it would tell the full story of what really happened during the incident -- Langworthy said there was no tape because the battery was dead.

However, the WGRZ footage shows the GOP operative is operating a camera, something no reasonable person would do if the battery was dead (as Judge Judy says, "If it doesn't make sense, it's not true").

Since there must obviously be a second tape, the logical question is, where is it and why hasn't it been released? The most logical person to ask about it is the CEO of the Corwin Campaign, which is Jane Corwin.

Certainly, Corwin, with all of her busienss experience, understands that the buck stops with the CEO. She's the one who needs to explain the conduct of the people she's chosen to surround herself with, which is something she hasn't done yet.

The result of my attempt to ask the question of Corwin can be seen in the video posted above.

Meanwhile, after Kathy Hochul (picture below) finished speaking, rather than rushing to get into her car, she stayed for another good 20 minutes and answered every question every reporter could think to ask.

As soon as I can, I'll post a story on what Corwin and Hochul said during the forum.

 

May 17, 2011 - 10:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens.

Nearly 1,000 voters showed up at the polls today with 53.14 percent of them rejecting a proposed $3.9 million Batavia City Schools budget.

The tally: Yes, 448; no, 508.

In the board of education election:

(Incumbent ) Wayne Guenther - 594
Amy Barone - 764
Alfred McGinnis - 427

May 17, 2011 - 6:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy.

A Le Roy resident caught dealing methamphetamine from his home during a multi-agency law enforcement investigation will spend 210 months in a federal penitentiary.

Donald G. Vanelli II, 48, was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in a Rochester federal court today.

Vanelli had previous entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Documents released by federal authorities at the time of his arrest indicated that Vanelli, president of the Road Agents Motorcycle Club, was head of a meth ring involved in acquiring meth in Monroe County and distributing in Genesee County.

The operation, headed by the FBI with assistance for the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, included wiretaps and a video camera positioned on a pole near his house and well as the use of an informant.

As a result of the investigation, authorities concluded that Vanelli obtained between five and 15 kilograms of methamphetamine from drug suppliers.

Arrested the same day -- July 13, 2010 -- as Vanelli were David H. Cohen, 49, of 918 Goodman St., Rochester, Donna L. Boon (aka Donna McAuley), 44, of 3658 Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road; Andrew W. Chapman, 40, of 5 Cedar St., Batavia; and Kerry A. Ball, 51, of 7202 Meadville Road, Basom.

The cases against the other defendants are still pending.

In late April, Boon's husband, James Henry McAuley Jr. (aka "Mitch"), 62, was accused by federal authorities of being a leader in the Rochester Hells Angels and charged with racketeering.

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