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kathy hochul

April 12, 2011 - 10:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Press release:

The following is a statement from Fabien Levy, director of communications for Kathy Hochul for Congress:

“Yesterday, Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, challenged her opponents – Republican, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis – to tell the voters of the 26th District where they stand on Congressman Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal that would decimate Medicare. After not responding to last week’s challenge on the budget compromise, it is not surprising to see that neither Corwin nor Davis have responded to Kathy’s challenge this week.

“This is the second week in a row that Kathy Hochul has called on her opponents to take a position on an issue currently facing Congress, but both Assembymember Jane Corwin and Jack Davis seem to be hiding out.  Instead of telling voters how they would vote on a budget that will inevitably be presented to the next Representative from the 26th District, Kathy’s opponents are keeping silent on an issue that will affect all Americans.

“The voters deserve to know if Jane Corwin and Jack Davis support ending Medicare as we know it or will they join Kathy Hochul in rejecting any budget proposal that will hold our seniors responsible for burdensome costs.”

April 12, 2011 - 2:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Press release from Kathy Hochul's campaign:

ERIE COUNTY – Today marks the 15th anniversary of Equal Pay Day, which began in 1996 as a way to illustrate the wage gap between men and women.
Once elected, Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, promises to always fight for equal pay.

“When I first began my career as the only new female associate at a law firm, I was very much aware of the challenges women face in the workplace,” said Hochul.  “And as the mother of a young woman soon heading out into the workforce, I, like many fathers and mothers, hope their daughters' gender will not deny them equal pay for equal work.”

Kathy Hochul is the only woman in this race who supports equal pay for equal work.  In 2009 and, once again in 2010, Jane Corwin was part of the vast minority of Assemblymembers who voted against equal pay for women in New York State.

“My Republican opponent thinks she, myself, and all other women deserve to take a back seat to men when it comes to salary, I do not,” Hochul added.  “Once in Congress, I will fight to ensure women are paid equal wages for the same work they do as men.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women currently make 80 cents to every dollar men make for the same job. 

More information about Kathy Hochul can be found at <> .

In 2009 and 2010, Corwin voted against a bill that made it a discriminatory practice to compensate employees of different sexes differently for work that is of comparable worth. [A2351, New York State Assembly, 4/29/09 and 4/19/10]

UPDATE: Press release from the Jane Corwin campaign:

WILLIAMSVILLE – Matthew Harakal, Communications Director for Jane Corwin for Congress, made the following statement today regarding Kathy Hochul’s latest press release: 

“It’s not surprising that career politician Kathy Hochul thinks bureaucrats are in a better position than small businesses to decide how much their workers should get paid. Jane Corwin believes that small businesses know best how to run their companies, not government bureaucrats.

“Maybe Kathy Hochul should stick to sending out promotional press releases about our local hockey team because she clearly knows nothing about running a small business or creating jobs.” 

April 12, 2011 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

There are a number of questions I have for the candidates in the NY-26 special election race, and I'm sure you do as well. Rather than sit back and wait for position statements, I thought I would just start asking questions.

I plan to ask about a question per week until election day.

Today's topic: Foreign policy, particularly as it relates to the use of the U.S. military abroad. Each of the candidates were given four days to formulate a reply. 

Below is the question (which was a bit longer than I imagine most will be). Because of the length, and the length of answers, the question and answers appear after the jump.

The answers are presented in the order received, Ian Murphy, Kathy Hochul and Jane Corwin. We got no response from the Jack Davis campaign.

April 11, 2011 - 4:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release:

ERIE COUNTY – Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, today called on Congress to reject Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and challenged her opponents – Republican, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis – to join her in rejecting the proposal. 

“There is no question that we must get our fiscal house in order by making substantial cuts to our budget. It’s time we start working towards reducing our national debt, but the House leadership’s plan to decimate Medicare cannot be the solution. Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), both of whom are coming to Western New York to fund raise for Jane Corwin, have lauded this proposal calling it, ‘The Path to Prosperity;’ noting that it ‘paves the way to a brighter future for all Americans.’ Well, if this budget were to be passed, I could only see a dismal future paved for millions of our seniors. Adding burdensome costs onto the backs of our elderly population cannot be the way we revive the financial health of this country. 

“Representative Ryan’s plan also makes across-the-board cuts in medical research, high-tech research, and education – making it more difficult for businesses to innovate, create jobs, and compete in the global market.  Instead of investing in America’s growing competitive edge, the Budget Committee Chairman wants to give tax breaks to corporations and the highest wage earners.

“Once elected, I will work to cut wasteful spending, without breaking the promises made to our seniors or making it more difficult for American families to hold onto their jobs.

“While neither Jane Corwin nor Jack Davis took a position on Congress’s budget compromise last week, I call on them to join me in letting the voters know how they would vote on this Draconian measure. The voters of the 26th District deserve to know the key differences between the candidates for this position.” 

April 10, 2011 - 10:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press release from the Kathy Hochul campaign:

“Now that the regular season is officially over, I congratulate the Sabres on an amazing 40th season and look forward to watching them in the playoffs.  Since my opponents – Republican, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis – have refused to take a position on Congress’s budget compromise, I now call on them to immediately join me in rooting on the Sabres in their run for the Stanley Cup.”

April 9, 2011 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Press release from Kathy Hochul campaign:

“Tonight, with just over one hour before a massive a government shutdown, the United States Congress finally came to a budget compromise. 

“For days, I have called on my opponents, Republican Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis, to join me in supporting a budget compromise to no avail. I am thankful Congress has worked through their disputes and finally come to this compromise that cuts spending. However, I am greatly dismayed at the lack of concern Jane Corwin and Jack Davis have shown on this issue. Instead of supporting what was right for the people of the 26th District, my opponents chose to play politics and avoid the issue at hand. 

“If Jane Corwin and Jack Davis were currently serving in Congress, their apathy towards the budget compromise would have delayed students their loans, seniors their social security benefits, small business owners their loans, veterans their benefits, military men and women their paychecks, and hard working families their tax refunds.

“We cannot allow partisan politics to stand, which is why once elected I will work with all Members of Congress to make sure this fiasco does not occur again. I will work hard to pass a 2012 budget on time that makes substantial cuts, while still ensuring essential services are not disturbed. We cannot decimate Medicare and break the promises made to our seniors.”

April 9, 2011 - 10:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Press Release:

ERIE COUNTY – Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, today released a new television advertisement.

The 30-second spot, entitled “The Truth,” responds to misleading attacks made against Hochul in one of her opponent’s most recent TV ads.

“Jane Corwin has once again chosen to literally leave out half the story in her most recent television ad – distorting Kathy’s remarkable record of fighting for Western New Yorkers,” said Fabien Levy, communications director for Kathy Hochul. “Kathy Hochul saved Erie County residents over $200,000 when a new federal program came down on us from Washington.  Meanwhile, Albany politician Jane Corwin is playing political games by saying she supports budget cuts, and then voting against them.”

The campaign also included three supporting documents (all three files are PDF):

April 6, 2011 - 12:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Jack Davis, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul, Ian Murphy.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) has proposed what he claims is a bold plan to reduce government spending by $4 trillion over 10 years.

The plan would:

  • Repeal health care reform
  • Turn Medicare over to private insurances and provide vouchers for recipients
  • Turn Medicaid into a block-grant funded program with state's picking up any unfunded expenses
  • Lower the highest individual and corporate tax rates from 35 to 25 percent
  • Lift drilling moratoriums on and off shore
  • Cap government spending at 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product
  • It also makes claims for job creation, claims to spur growth and higher wages, bans earmarks and cuts corporate welfare.

Since this is a plan that the next representative from the NY-26 could be asked to vote on, we asked each candidate to respond to Ryan's budget proposal.

Jane Corwin:

Our country is facing a historical challenge – we can either keep pursuing a path of runaway spending, and job-killing debt, or we can choose to get serious about reducing spending, cutting taxes and creating sustainable long-term economic growth for our children and grandchildren. The plan unveiled today recognizes this reality. I look forward to studying the proposals and working to change the direction of our country.

Kathy Hochul:

It’s time to get our fiscal house in order and start working toward reducing our national debt. There is no question that we need to make substantial cuts to our budget, but decimating Medicare cannot be the solution. Once elected, I look forward to working with all members of Congress to cut wasteful spending, while still keeping the promises made to our seniors and ensuring the survival of job re-training programs, so that our businesses can innovate, create jobs, and compete in the global market.

Ian Murphy:

Ryan's budget proposal represents the height of Republican dishonesty. It's a reverse-Robin Hood, where they rob from the poor and give to the rich. You can't reduce the deficit by lowering taxes on corporations and the super-rich, and cutting social spending. Anyone who suggests such an obvious lie should be laughed off the political stage. It's just one more example of our elected officials representing wealth, not people. 

As for Jack Davis, his communications director Curtis Ellis wrote, "This is a large and complex proposal. As an engineer, Jack wants to give it the attention it requires and deserves. He's looking closely at it and we'll get back to you." That was yesterday afternoon and we've not yet received a response from Davis.

For further reading:

April 5, 2011 - 12:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Press Release:

ERIE COUNTY – Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, today declared her support for a budget compromise in Congress that would cut $30 to $40 billion in spending and called on her opponents Republican Jane Corwin, and Tea Party Line candidate Jack Davis, to join her in supporting the compromise. 
“There is no question that major budgetary cuts need to be made in Washington, and that is why I support a compromise that reduces spending by $30 to $40 billion. The House and Senate are in the middle of a dangerous standoff, and the only way to avoid a massive government shutdown that could disrupt essential services, like veterans’ benefits, new Social Security claims, student loans, and critical job-training services is by coming to a compromise on the budget,” said Hochul.
“If Washington politicians continue to engage in this brinkmanship, it will be the promises to our veterans, our seniors, our students, and our hard working families that are broken. Therefore it is time for the House and Senate to make the necessary cuts, without butchering vital programs, and agree to a $30 to $40 billion cut in the budget. I urge my opponents – Jane Corwin, the Republican nominee, and Jack Davis, the Tea Party Line candidate – to follow my lead and support this necessary compromise.
“The long-term financial health of our country depends upon getting our fiscal house in order, but some of the $61 billion in cuts approved by the House erode our ability to create jobs and compete in the global economy. Across the board cuts in job re-training, high-tech research, medical research and education will make it more difficult for American families to hold onto their jobs and keep our economy moving forward,” Hochul concluded.

April 3, 2011 - 2:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Kathy Hochul, Democratic candidate in the NY-26 special election to replace Chris Lee, stopped at Kati's Place in Le Roy this morning to talk with voters.

The stop is part of a weekend effort by Hochul to visit all seven counties in the NY-26 on Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday, she stopped at Seaman's Hardware in East Pembroke. 

Her Republican opponent, Jane Corwin, also appears to be out on the campaign trail. She was in Genesee County yesterday but didn't notify the local media.

Yesterday, around noon, Corwin posted to Facebook:

Busy day meeting with folks in the community! Just left the Annual SCOPE Membership Meeting in Alabama and now on my way to the Wyoming County Hospital's 100th Anniversary Celebration in Warsaw. More on the schedule for later today.

No status updates from her since.

March 30, 2011 - 11:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Also, a press release from Hochul's campaign:

“While America’s small businesses are doing everything they can to stay afloat and create jobs, one of our nation’s corporate giants has found the loopholes that help them avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” said Kathy Hochul, candidate in New York’s 26th Congressional District.

“Once elected, I will fight for our small businesses and work to ensure we close the corporate tax loopholes that allowed General Electric to report a 2010 worldwide profit of $14.2 billion, without paying a single dollar in American taxes. In fact, due to G.E.’s intense lobbying efforts and slick accounting, the company was able to claim a $3.2 billion tax benefit – money that could have been invested in small businesses that create jobs here at home.

“The fact that every taxpayer in the 26th District paid more in taxes last year than General Electric is plain wrong. It’s time we overhaul our tax code. Without many of their tax breaks, G.E. would currently have thousands and thousands of more jobs here in the U.S. So we must end the tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and instead invest in local businesses that create jobs for hard working American families.”

March 28, 2011 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Jane Corwin was apparently for it before she was against it -- high-speed rail, that is.

The Buffalo News reported this morning that a pair of freshly minted Republican congressmen have come down hard on the idea of spending billions of dollars on a high-speed rail system connecting Buffalo and Albany (and passing through Genesee County).

Corwin, the GOP candidate to fill Chris Lee's vacated seat, said this:

"While I am in overall support of the concept of modernizing our passenger railways, with $1.5 trillion deficits we simply cannot afford to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on this project at this time," the assemblywoman from Clarence said. "Instead, I will fight for infrastructure projects that have an immediate and direct return on our economic bottom line."

Honestly, when I first read the Buffalo News story, I didn't read far enough down to see that both Corwin and her Democratic opponent Kathy Hochul had been asked by the Buffalo News for comment, so I e-mailed both campaigns seeking comment.

After I read the statement, I also did a little Google search and found the statement below on Corwin's official Assembly Web site:

A high-speed rail would make travel between upstate and downstate far more energy efficient and be a huge boom to economic development. Construction of the rail would create an estimated 12,000 jobs. By strengthening the connection between our smaller metropolitan areas and New York City, we could also reverse the upstate decline in population by making Western New York universities and colleges more attractive to downstate and out of state residents.

As part of the statement, Corwin did note that there was no guarantee New York would be granted federal funds for a high-speed rail project, and she asked constituents for their opinion and called the project, "worthy of further discussion and debate."

The headline on Corwin's two-year-old statement was, "High-Speed Rail Could Provide Economic Boom to Upstate NY."

After finding that statement, I sent a second e-mail to Corwin's campaign asking about this seeming contradiction and received this response from Communications Director Matthew Harakal:

As the statement we issued on Friday states, Jane is supportive of the concept of modernizing passenger rail, and that support was indicated in the newsletter from two years ago. But because Congress has failed to get spending, the debt and deficits under control, funding this is not practical at this time. Jane believes that we need to focus on getting our nation’s fiscal house in order before we invest in long-term spending such as this.

According to, the national debt today is $14 trillion. In March 2009, it was $11 trillion.

Meanwhile, here's the statement we received from Hochul's campaign:

"A high speed rail in Upstate New York will reduce our dependence on oil, create thousands of much needed jobs right here in Western New York, and provide New Yorkers with a safe, efficient, and fast mode of transportation to travel the Empire Corridor,” said Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District. “While I support the idea conceptually, we are still analyzing what the fiscal impact will be on New York taxpayers."

March 24, 2011 - 5:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Kathy Hochul, on her way back to Buffalo from a day spent in Rochester, called us and asked if she could stop by The Batavian's office and introduce herself.

She spent about 15 minutes here. I didn't want to dive too deep into an interview because I'm hoping to arrange a series of interviews with all of the candidates. But a chat about how beautiful Genesee County is and what a wonderful hub Batavia makes for the rural region turned into a discussion about protecting small businesses.

It turns out that Hochul's decision to run for the board in the Town of Hamburg was driven by her frustration with an effort to bring a Walmart to town.

Her mother owned a small shop in the village and Hochul saw her struggles to keep her business going and didn't want to see Walmart do any more damage to the local businesses.

"I decided to run for office because I want to have a say in the policies that effect local businesses," she said.

As for what she could do in Congress, she said tax codes and laws that give any incentive for manufacturers to move jobs overseas need to be reviewed and repealed if necessary.

She also said it's time to revisit NAFTA.

"We need to look at the policies put in place that were intended to help our area but they backfired," Hochul said.

She said a resurgence in manufacturing jobs in Western New York would be the best way to protect locally owned stores.

"We need to make sure the small shops in our cities and villages are not boarded up," Hochul said. "These shops sustain people who live in the community."

As she's been quoted as saying already, Hochul reiterated that she's not afraid to stand up to powerful interests, including her own party if necessary.

She pointed out her public opposition to Gov. Paterson's proposal to require residents to buy new license plates for their cars, and her efforts to fight Thruway tolls.

"No entity is too big that I won't fight if it's on behalf of my residents," Hochul said.

Finally: here's an invitation for Jane Corwin, Jack Davis or David Bellavia to stop by office of The Batavian any time.

March 22, 2011 - 3:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Press Release:

Here is a statement from Kathy Hochul for Congress Communications Director Fabien Levy regarding Jane Corwin's newest television advertisement:

“Two days and two negative attacks – yesterday the NRCC released an ad slammed as “misleading” by an independent source and today an Albany politician has done the same.  Kathy Hochul is proud of her record of cutting waste, saving taxpayers millions of dollars, and helping Western New York businesses create jobs for hard working families.

“Kathy Hochul is no one’s handpicked candidate and has never shied away from standing up to her own party.  She saved motorists $129 million when she stood up to Governor Paterson’s plan to mandate new license plates.  And she stood up to Governor Spitzer’s ill-advised plan to give drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants.

“Voters of the 26th Congressional District are concerned about turning our economy around and will not be distracted by typical Washington and Albany smear tactics.”

March 22, 2011 - 1:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Jane Corwin's campaign announced the release of this new commercial today attacking Kathy Hochul.

Regarding Hochul's record in Town of Hamburg, the clerk there tells me that there are board minutes going back to 2002, but they're not easy to find. I created this Google search link that at least pulls up some of the minutes. If the clerk there provides me with a better link, I'll post that.

Also, YNN has posted a video interview with Hochul:

Full press release from Corwin's campaign after the jump:

March 21, 2011 - 1:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

This ad was released today by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

It makes several undocumented claims:

Kathy Hochul voted to raise fees on all kinds of things, such as:

  • Going to the beach…
  • Getting in shape at the gym…
  • Playing a round of golf…
  • Ice skating...
  • And owning that lovable four-legged friend.

As a matter of fact checking, I did a number of internet searches and searched the Buffalo News archives going back three years. I could find no documentation for any of these claims (if anybody can find documentation, please post in the comments).

On the flip side, when the Buffalo News endorsed Hochul for Erie County Clerk, they did so, they said, based on Hochul's record of saving taxpayers money.

It's unclear when the GOP claims Hochul voted on these things. As a clerk, and not a legislator, she doesn't vote on legislative matters. I've seen reference to her having served on a town board at one time, but can find no confirmation of that. Such service is not mentioned on her LinkedIn profile nor her Web site. So if she "voted" on these matters, it's hard to tell where.

As for being a Washington lobbyist at one time, that much is true. According to her LinkedIn profile: "Kathy also established her own practice in Washington, representing the computer industry on legislative issues."

She was a legislative aide prior to starting her own practice.

Again, further fact-checking or fact confirmation is welcome in the comments.

March 19, 2011 - 4:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul.

Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul is the Democrats' pick to run in the NY-26 special election.

Hochul was the unanimous pick of seven county Democratic chairs after interviews in Geneseo this afternoon, according to Lorie Longhany, Genesee County chair.

Longhany said Hochul was impressive in the interviews.

"I can’t wait for Genesee County voters and the rest of the district to get a chance to know Kathy," Longhany said. "I think people will be very pleased with Kathy's record."

Longhany praised Hochul for streamlining Department of Motor Vehicle  processes in Erie County during her term as clerk, "saving taxpayers time and money."

"We all decided that she is the candidate who can get things done in Washington," Longhany said.

The Republican candidate is Jane Corwin. Both David Bellevia and Jack Davis are attempting to secure enough signatures to get their names on the ballot.

UPDATE: In the initial post, we included a press release from Corwin's campaign but didn't jump this post. We now have a press release from Hochul's campaign.  Both press releases appear verbatim after the jump.

March 18, 2011 - 3:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, Jane Corwin, kathy hochul.

Press Release:

WILLIAMSVILLE - Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy issued the following statement after learning that Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul is running for Congress in New York’s 26th Congressional District: 

“Statewide Democrats aren’t the only ones concerned about Kathy Hochul running for Congress; Western New York taxpayers are too because she has spent her long political career raising taxes and fees. While Jane Corwin has spent 36 years in the private sector helping to create jobs, career politician Kathy Hochul has spent her life doing everything she can to advance her own political career.

“We welcome Kathy Hochul to the race and look forward to hearing her explain why she’s repeatedly voted to grow government and raise taxes and fees on hard working Western New Yorkers.”

Hochul has yet to declare her candidacy for the special election to replace Chris Lee, the married, former Republican representative who quit his seat after apparently being caught trolling Craigslist for dates.

The Democrats' county chairs from the NY-26 meet tomorrow in Geneseo to interview several potential candidates. The Democrats are expected to name their candidate within the following week.

Hochul, county clerk in Erie County, took out papers this week in order to legally accept campaign donations.

Recently, Hochul made headlines leading opposition to a proposed statewide license fee on bicycles. Eventually, Queens Assemblyman Michael DenDekker withdrew the proposal.

UPDATE: WGRZ is reporting that it's a done deal, that the seven Democratic County chairs will announce on Sunday their endorsement of Hochul and that Hochul will officially announce her candidacy on Monday.

Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy says the Democratic party has been playing a game with its nomination process, knowing all along that Hochul was going to be its candidate if she wanted to run for the seat.

Nick Langworthy: "This is a charade, it's a machination, they've known from the beginning that she's their candidate if she wants to run, but they're using this quirk in the law allowing her to take double the amount of special interest money that she normally would."

According to WGRZ, that by waiting until 12 days after the governor called the election, she will be able to accept as much as $5,000 (two separate maximum $2,500 donations) from the same individual.

March 17, 2011 - 10:18pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, politics, veterans, David Bellavia, kathy hochul.

A program to benefit Genesee County's military veterans is in the works. It will computerize discharge papers filed with the Clerk's Office. It will also provide money-saving opportunities for veterans at participating businesses when they show their photo ID card.

Dubbed "Return the FAVOR" (Find & Assist Vets of Record), it began about two years ago in Putnam County and since then has been implemented in about a dozen counties statewide.

Currently, Genesee County stores the record of discharge papers, called Form DD-214, on paper only. Veterans voluntarily submit their DD-214 to the clerk of record in their community as a safeguard procedure so it can be replaced if need be or replicated.

In a few months, the paper trail comes to a virtual end and the data goes online.

"Paper is fragile," said Clerk Don Read.

Not mention inefficient and cumbersome to keep up to date. The county probably has about 30,000 gun permits archived since 1934 when permits were first issued. But how many are active, valid permits is unknown.

Those who have implemented "Return the FAVOR" rave about what a good idea it is, Read said.

David Bellavia -- a highly decorated combat veteran petitioning to run as an independent for Congress in New York's 26th District -- issued a press release today thanking Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul for bringing "Return the FAVOR" to that county.

He praised her leadership in the program, which he termed "an appreciated salute to veterans," adding that it should be a statewide standard.

(His kind words are perhaps notable because Hochul is widely regarded as the likely Democrat canidate in the 26th District and will be a Bellavia opponent if he makes the ballot. Bellavia recently launched a petition drive to get on the ballot.)

Read said his office looked into providing "Return the FAVOR" here last year but the cost was prohibitive. The computer software and plastic ID cards, etc., was estimated to cost $30,000 and that money was not in the budget.

But last fall, the county negotiated with a computer company which was contracted to begin computerizing records of pistol permits on Jan. 1. They found out the company could also do the veterans record/ID card program using the same tools employed for pistol permits at, according to Read, no additional cost.

"The first thing is to perfect the pistol-permit program," Read said, adding that his office is looking at a launch date of May 1 and the veterans program would begin sometime afterward.

"We are contacting officials and asking how they would like the (new) pistol permit to be formatted," Read said.

County Judge Robert C. Noonan heads up the Handgun and Pistol Permit Program. District Attorney Lawrence Friedman is also being consulted along with law enforcement.

"This will benefit the Sheriff's Office because deputies will be able to access the database on our Web site," Read said. "When they are going to an address, they can find out who has a pistol permit and what kind of weapons they have before they get there."

Regarding "Return the FAVOR," Read said they are communicating with other counties to possibly extend the discount benefits across county lines. For example, a veteran with an ID card from Genesee County could get a dinner deal at a participating restaurant in Erie or Wyoming County.

The estimated cost to the veteran applicant at the Clerk's Office would be a one-time fee in the $5 to $10 range.

Read said his office plans to work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the Veterans Service Agency to get businesses to support the discounts-for-veterans program.

But since the Veterans Service Agency lost a full-time worker due to budget cuts,  Read said he expects his office will have to do more of the "ground work."


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