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May 7, 2011 - 8:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.

City firefighters dispatched to 16 Harvester Ave. for smoke in the residence.

No fire seen.

UPDATE 8:26 a.m.: Second alarm, second and fourth platoons requested to the scene.

UPDATE 8:33 a.m.: Fire located in the ceiling on the first floor on the A side.

UPDATE 8:41 a.m.: Fire under control.

UPDATE 9:21 a.m.: Red Cross being notified for four adults and three children.

UPDATE 12:25 p.m.: All fire units put back in service.

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May 6, 2011 - 11:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Alabama.

A tree is reportedly on fire in the area of 218 Skye Road on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.

Alabama Fire dispatched.

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May 6, 2011 - 7:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, ny26.

We didn't receive a press release announcing Jack Davis's new TV commercial, but I heard the audio all day on WBTA and then saw it tonight on CBS Evening News.

While looking for the ad on YouTube, I found the video of a stump speech Jack Davis gave recently.

May 6, 2011 - 6:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, NY-26, Jane Corwin, Ian Murphy, County Republicans.

Jane Corwin, candidate for the NY-26 special election race, stopped by the Genesee County GOP dinner last night at Bohn's Restaurant.

When I first heard she would make an appearance, I thought I would try to catch up with her there and ask questions in person. Then I heard from her Communications Director Matthew Harakal, who apologized for not sending in the answers for the questions on trade and agriculture, which the other candidates have provided (now including Ian Murphy). Harakal promised them today.

It's 6:33 p.m., and I still don't have the answers. I wish I had asked the questions at Bohn's.

But I did ask Corwin for her thoughts on Ian Murphy being excluded from the WGRZ candidates' debate.

She said it's up to WGRZ to decide whom to include, but "I"m happy to talk about any issue with anybody at any time." 

She said she had no objection to Murphy being included in the debate.

So now Jack Davis, Kathy Hochul and Jane Corwin all say they either favor or have no objection to Murphy being included in the debate.

As for the county GOP's business, here's the endorsed slate of candidates:

Genesee County Legislature

District #1, Towns of Alabama and Oakfield
Raymond F. Cianfrini
District #2, Towns of Elba, Byron and Bergen
Robert J. Bausch
District #3, Towns of Darien and Pembroke
Annie Lawrence
District #4, Towns of Batavia and Stafford
Mary Pat Hancock
District #5, Town of Le Roy
Shelley Stein
District #6, Towns of Alexander, Bethany and Pavilion
Esther Leadley
District #7, City of Batavia, Wards 1 and 6
Marianne Clattenberg
District #8, City of Batavia, Wards 2 and 3
Frank C. Ferrando

Genesee County Coroner - Barry Miller

New York State Republican Committee, Assembly District #139
Gertrude Penepent and John Rizzo
New York State Republican Committee, Assembly District #147
Barbara Eddy and Neil Kingdon

Eighth Judicial District Convention, Assembly District #139
Don M. Read and Charles Zambito, Delegates
David Saleh and Michael Cianfrini, Alternates
Eighth Judicial District Convention, Assembly District #147
Nelson Green, Delegate, Kenneth Alfes, Alternate

One last note: Ian Murphy did answer the questions on trade and ag. His answers are now posted.

May 6, 2011 - 6:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Oakfield.

Luz J. Castro, 27, of 679 E. Main St., Batavia, is charged with theft of services. Castro was arrested following a complaint by Time Warner Cable.

Rebecca S. Hensel, 28, of 8311 Kelsey Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding. Hensel was stopped at 1:03 a.m. on West Main Street in the area of Bogue Avenue for allegedly going 50 mph by Officer Darryle Streeter.

Robert C. Paris, 21, of 3469 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Paris is accused of harassing an acquaintance.

A 17-year-old resident of 41 S. Pearl St., Apt. 1, Oakfield, is charged with falsely reporting an incident, 3rd. The youth is accused of contacting the Genesee County Sheriff's Office on April 13 saying she was a victim of a crime. The reported incident allegedly did not occur.

May 6, 2011 - 4:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A level 3 sex offender is in jail after being accused of sending indecent text messages to a minor and of not properly reporting a change of address.

Held on $50,000 bail is Marlek E. Holmes, 37, of 103 W. Main St., Batavia.

Holmes is charged with disseminating indecent material to a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and sex offender failure to notify change of address within 10 days.

The text messages were reported to Batavia Police on Feb. 19. That case was investigated by Det. Todd Crossett.

Det. Charles Dudek conducted the investigation into Holmes' residency.

Le Roy Police assisted in the investigations.

May 6, 2011 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26.

Statement from the Davis campaign:

The same day Roll Call reported phone calls being made from the Republican National Committee's headquarters in Washington D.C., the Jack Davis office was inundated with calls from voters complaining of late night phone calls, re-calls and number of other disturbing incidents.

In response, Campaign Manager Curtis Ellis sent a message to the campaign's entire email list alerting them about the harassing phone calls.

The e-mail is reproduced below.

Dear ______,

I’m writing to you because voters in Western New York have been receiving irritating phone calls pretending to be from the Jack Davis campaign. These calls are not from our campaign.

The calls begin by saying that they have information on Jack Davis. If a voter hangs up, the callers call back again.

The calls are being made by the Republican National Committee in Washington DC. While these type of dirty tricks are par for the course for Washington DC insiders, the Jack Davis campaign won’t stoop to this level to win an election. This type of behavior is inappropriate and wrong. Our campaign would never make calls like this and would like to reassure voters about our volunteer callers:

We always begin by explaining we are calling on behalf of Jack Davis.

We never repeat rumor or false statement about another candidate.

We never call after 8:30 p.m. at night.

This is an important election for our future. I hope that you will consider supporting Jack Davis. If you would like to volunteer for our phone bank or canvass operation, please click here.


Curtis Ellis
Campaign Manager, Jack Davis for Congress

May 6, 2011 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Press Release:

WILLIAMSVILLE – As the unemployment numbers released today show the economy continues to struggle, a new survey released this week showed job creators ranked New York as the second-worst state in the country to do business. Citing high taxes as one of the most significant barriers to job creation, more than 550 CEOs surveyed <> by a business journal offer more evidence that the tax-and-spend economic policies pushed by career politicians like Kathy Hochul are having a devastating effect on New York’s economy.

Hochul has repeatedly said she would raise taxes on small businesses making more than $500,000, which includes a significant number of Western New York’s small businesses. 

“Only a career politician like Kathy Hochul – whose only time in the private sector was spent as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. – would think that raising taxes on job creators will create jobs,” said Matthew Harakal, Communications Director for Jane Corwin for Congress. “Despite a rise in unemployment numbers and job creators saying what they need to create jobs, Kathy Hochul still says she knows best and wants to raise taxes on small businesses.”

Having helped run a business and create hundreds of jobs right here in Western New York, Jane Corwin understands the conditions needed for small business to grow and create jobs. If honored to serve as Western New York’s next Representative for New York’s 26th Congressional District, Corwin would fight to lower taxes, cut spending and strengthen our economy to create jobs here in Western New York.

May 6, 2011 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Sorry for the lack of posts today.  

This morning after covering something in Le Roy (will post tonight or tomorrow), I realized that if I went back to the office and started posting I'd get stuck in the office all day. I had very important business matters to attend to today, so I decided I just had to make that a priority and make sure that work was done.

Now, I'll start posting.

May 6, 2011 - 7:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, polls.

This daily poll is a little different. It's actually four polls in one post. Be sure to vote in all four polls.

May 5, 2011 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

In our ongoing effort to ask candidates questions of substance on issues that matter, we turn our attention this week to trade and agriculture.

All four candidates in the NY-26 special election to replace Shirtless Chris Lee on May 24 where asked the same exact questions.

We received responses from Jack Davis and Kathy Hochul. Ian Murphy apologizes for missing the deadline and will have his responses in later today.

As for Jane Corwin -- we've heard not a peep from her campaign. I've left messages and sent multiple e-mails today seeking a response and Matthew Harakal, her communications director, hasn't acknowledged the messages.

If Corwin replies later, we'll update the post with her answers.

UPDATE 5:50 p.m.: We received an e-mail from Matthew Harakal that he sent about an hour ago. He apologized for not responding to messages today.  He said he was away from the office all day.  He said answers will be forthcoming tomorrow. We'll add the answers to this post once received.

UPDATE: Ian Murphy's answers added below.

As previously, the questions we asked are below and the candidate answers, in the order received, cut and pasted verbatim after the jump.

What is your position on NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)?

The next representative of the NY-26 is likely going to be asked on vote on the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement. If elected, will you vote “Yes” or “No.”

After offering a straight up or down answer, please explain your yes or no vote.

The U.S. has a $252 billion trade deficit with China, the largest between any two countries in the world. Does this concern you and as a congressional representative would you do anything to address it?

Would New York’s farmers find your immigration policy beneficial or harmful to their businesses?

What policy changes need to occur that you would favor in support of New York’s dairy farmers?

What policies, if any, do you favor to assist family farmers selling their products in local markets?


May 5, 2011 - 2:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, corfu, methamphetamine.

Dustin R. Benham thought for sure last week he was going to get locked up in a federal penitentiary.

The sentencing recommendation for his role in a meth lab operation in Alabama was 12 to 18 months.

Today, he's under house arrest on a six-month term and then will serve three years probation for unlawful possession of chemicals that could be made into a controlled substance. He also must pay more than $4,000 in restitution.

Benham said a few days after his sentencing that an outpouring of support from friends and family and his own statements to the judge about wanting to move forward with his life seemed to have an impact on the judge's decision.

Getting busted on Nov. 12 at the home of Kenneth Mosholder changed his life and set it in a more positive direction, Benham said.

Shortly after that, he returned to a job he once had at the Pizza Pantry in Corfu, successfully completed a drug treatment program and reconciled with his parents, family and friends.

“I’m happy that I was there," Benham said. "I can’t say I’m 100 percent happy about what happened, but I was ruining my life. If I hadn’t been there, it might not have been until I was 30 or even 50 before I realized I wasn’t going anywhere.”

Now, Benham wants to go from being a "meth cook," as he put it, to a kitchen cook.

According to Pizza Pantry owner Bev Snyder, Benham has a natural talent in the kitchen, and he's matured suddenly.

“I see a difference from when he was here before," Snyder said. "I’m not sure if it’s just that he’s older or what he’s been through, but you could just see he’s more interested in the business and how it runs and cares for how it runs rather than just collecting a paycheck.”

Shortly after his arrest, Benham said he sat down and talked with his father about drugs and said he didn't think he had a drug problem, but a problem with priorities -- making drugs too much of a priority.

His father told him he should re-evaluate that position and look at some of the things he had done in the previous couple of years.

“I realized that if I didn’t have a problem with drugs, then I was a real asshole, and I thought, I’m not that person," Benham said. "I’m not an asshole. It was the drugs.”

As his life moves forward, Benham is hoping people will look past his days of drug involvment. Most importantly, he wants to clear his family's name. He doesn't want the name Benham associated with meth, either for the sake of his parents or if he's ever fortunate enough to have children, for his past to reflect poorly on them.

“I don’t want my kids to have a hard life because their father was me," Benham said.

He then added, “Tell people, everybody has a story. No matter how bad it may seem, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. Some people can change.”

May 5, 2011 - 1:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, football, youth, sports.

More than two dozen young football enthusiasts turned out for an organizational meeting for the Batavia Bulldawgs, a new youth traveling football team.

Actually, two teams -- one for third- through fifth-graders and another for fifth- through new seventh-graders.

Unlike youth football, the Bulldawgs will play four of their eight games away from home, against other teams in the region.

The games are also played on 100-yard fields under the same rules as high school football's Section V.

Team Vice President Ken Proefrock explained that the Bulldawgs will learn the same system used by the Batavia Blue Devils and work as a feeder organization, preparing Batavia's young players to be competitive at the high school level.

Registration is from 6 to 8 p.m., May 13, in City Centre, between JCPenney and Sunny's. Students need a photo, proof of school grade (current report card or letter from the school) and doctor's clearance. For more information, write [email protected]

May 5, 2011 - 12:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Ian Murphy.

WRGZ is hosting a debate in the NY-26 special election race, and Ian Murphy, Green Party nominee, has been told he won't be welcome.

Murphy was originally included, but the invitation was pulled after News Director Jeff Woodard took offense to an item Murphy wrote about how his invitation was handled in the first place.

Jack Davis says Murphy should be included:

“In a democracy, all citizens should have a voice, and all candidates should be heard. The media shouldn’t be deciding who gets heard and who doesn’t. Though I may disagree with where Ian Murphy stands on the issues, I believe in the First Amendment and he should be heard. Ian Murphy is on the ballot, and he should be in any debate televised on the public airwaves.”

Murphy's take on the kerfuffle, which includes copious amounts of R-rated language, can be found here.

UPDATE: We asked the campaigns of Jane Corwin and Kathy Hochul for their thoughts on whether Murphy should be included in the debate. 

We've received a response from Fabien Levy with Kathy Hochul's campaign:

"Kathy Hochul has already accepted six debates and is willing to debate any candidate on the ballot. An open debate will show that Kathy Hochul is the only one in this race who will fight to protect Medicare, fight to help small businesses create jobs, and fight to get our debt under control."

May 5, 2011 - 11:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin.

Press Release:

WILLIAMSVILLE – The campaign for Jane Corwin, successful businesswoman and candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, released a new 30-second ad today highlighting Jack Davis’ consistent and unwavering support of liberal Democrats.
“Democrat Jack Davis proudly said he ‘couldn’t be happier’ to have played a role in making Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, and during her time as Speaker the government borrowed trillions of dollars more from China and our economy lost millions of jobs," said Matthew Harakal, Communications Director for Jane Corwin for Congress. "Jack Davis can try and avoid talking about his past helping liberal Democrats get in power and push through economic policies that have decimated our economy, but Western New York voters deserve to know the truth about the real Jack Davis.”

May 5, 2011 - 9:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26.

Press release:

In response to media reports in today’s Roll Call and elsewhere that Washington insiders including Crossroads - Karl Rove’s super-PAC - and Democratic groups including EMILY’s list and the AFL-CIO, are going to influence the NY-26 special election, Jack Davis issued this statement:
“The voters of Western New York are not going to be intimidated or bullied by Karl Rove, big labor and other special interests that are willing to spend millions to try to own this seat for the insiders. This seat belongs to the people of Western New York, and I have faith that they will vote for someone who’s independent of the influence of lobbyists and both the Democrat and Republican parties. This seat is the people’s seat.”

May 4, 2011 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education.

Fewer than a dozen people showed up to Jackson Street School on Tuesday night to hear, and have a chance to be heard, on the proposed 2011-12 Batavia City Schools' budget.

It's a budget that would, if passed, increase the tax levy by 5.75 percent, or about $1.14 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

The $39.6 million spending plan eliminates several staff positions as the district struggles to meet the demands of shrinking state aid and growing personnel costs.

Voters will be asked to approve the budget May 17.

If voters turn out against the budget,  it doesn't necessarily mean local property owners will avoid a property tax increase.

The district has two choices if the budget isn't ratified: propose a new budget for voters or pass a contingency budget.

In the case of a contingency budget, the state mandates certain budget expenses be removed -- equipment, some instructional and extra-curricular programs and public use of school buildings.

Even if those items are cut from the budget, Superintendent Margaret Puzio explained, it would only decrease the tax levy by about $100,000.

Even a contingency budget would lead to a property tax increase.

About 75 percent of the district's budget is taken up by personnel costs.

Employee benefits account for $8.8 million of the district's expenses. The state mandated employee retirement system contribution has gone up more than 16 percent, an increase of 39.6 percent over 2010-11. The district's contribution to the teacher retirement system has gone up 11.11 percent, a 28.9 percent increase over the previous budget year.

“Those are significant expenses and completely beyond the control of anybody in the district,” said Board Member Gary Stich (inset photo).

Most of the revenue for the district comes in the form of state aid, which is being cut for the fourth straight year.

In 2008-09, the district received $20.1 million in state aid. The estimated aid for 2011-12 will be $17.9 million.

In that time, state aid has decreased from 49.92 percent of the district's revenue to 46.83 percent.

The district is getting a little help from the federal government, Puzio said. It's a one-time grant of more than $500,000. The district is using that money to help offset reduced state aid.

"The good thing is it (the grant) helped us plug a little bit of the hole from that loss in state aid," Puzio said. "The bad news is, next year it will be gone. We don’t know what we’ll get in state aid next year, but we need to realize that we are already a half-million dollars down.”

The budget reduces non-instructional staff time and eliminates six non-instructional positions.  

Six full-time instructional positions are eliminated, including three teacher aids.

The only audience member to speak was David DiSalvo, and he questioned the seemingly high salaries of some staff and district administrators.

Board Member Patrick Burk defended administrator salaries saying that current administrators are earning less than they might make elsewhere and that the district must offer competitive salaries in order to hire and retain the best personnel.

May 4, 2011 - 6:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, Elections.

There are now three Republican incumbent legislators who won't seek re-election in November.

Le Roy's representative, Jay Grasso, informed GOP County Chairman Dick Siebert today that he won't run and Siebert also confirmed that Legislator Bob Radley is not running.

County Republicans will meet at Bohn's Restaurant on Thursday evening to discuss potential candidates to endorse in each of the three races.

Seibert said Town of Le Roy Republicans already have a candidate they expect to endorse and will announce that candidate tomorrow night.

The local GOP will also need to select a candidate for coroner. Siebert said Coroner Jack Taylor will not seek re-election.

Upson announced in early April that he won't run again. Radley was not been available for comment today, but Grasso said he's been accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Rochester and fears he won't have time to pursue that program while serving as a legislator.

"I like to provide a certain level of constituent service," Grasso said. "I don't feel I can provide that level of service while in a doctoral program."

Grasso is studying education management. 

The other five Republican incumbents in the Legislature have all notified Siebert they intend to seek re-election.

Siebert said no potential candidate for District 9, the seat held by Democrat Ed DeJaneiro, has contacted either him or City GOP Chairman Joe Gerace seeking a GOP endorsement.

Republican Jane Corwin, running in the NY-26 special election, is expected to make an appearance at the GOP dinner tomorrow night.




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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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