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February 18, 2009 - 4:33pm

Member of County Legislature posting on The Batavian under assumed name

posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian, Jerome Grasso.

Jerome Grasso, LeRoy representative of the Genesee County Legislature has posted 14 comments over the past four weeks as Michael Barney.

In a conversation this afternoon, Grasso admitted that he made the posts because in his new part-time job he is discouraged from blogging.

"I love the site," Grasso said. "I ain't going to bullshit you, but I missed the site and I enjoy the site immensely."

A few weeks ago, Grasso took a two-day-a-week job with State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer working out of his Erie County office.

"They haven't banned me from it (leaving comments on The Batavian), but they just don't want me on there.  But it's a good source for news and let's be real, it's damn entertaining. What can I say? I missed it."

We were alerted by local Democrats (we will let them reveal their identities in comments if they wish) that they suspected Barney was really Grasso. They noted similarities in outlook and writing style.

Upon further investigation, we found that on a handful of occasions, Barney left comments from the IP address associated with previous comments by Grasso. The Barney persona and Grasso where the only users to ever post from this IP address.

When we spoke to Grasso this morning, Grasso identified Barney as a good friend and member of the GOP county committee.  He said he wasn't surprised Barney might post from the same IP address because they were close friends.

During the conversation -- which covered a range of local topics -- Grasso mentioned that he didn't post as frequently on the site because his new employer "wasn't keen" on him blogging.

We checked with local election commissioners and found that there is no Michael Barney on any GOP committee, nor is there a Barney registered to vote in Genesee County.

During our second call with Grasso, he quickly fessed up and said he and his wife discussed the issue on a shopping trip around noon and agreed he should admit to the nom de plume.  "I can't bullshit you, Howard," he said. "I shouldn't have done it, but I just missed the site."

The Barney comments can be viewed here. Some of them do discuss county business, particularly related to the recent ambulance service controversy.

Outside of sticking up for the county's position on the ambulance service and a general conservative/Republican point of view, none of the Barney comments can be said to promote Jay Grasso. Though in one comment, he clearly contradicts the fact that Barney and Grasso are one and the same person:

Most local electeds will contact you if you reach out to them by phone. Perhaps you see Mallow and Grasso on here because they are younger. I am not sure how old they are. Does anyone know their ages? I am thinking older electeds are not familiar with blogs.

There is a term on the Web for prominent people who use fake names to promote their own causes: Sock puppets.

While I sympathize with Jay's predicament and constraints related to his new job, we clearly can't knowingly allow elected officials to post under false identities. The sock puppet issue is one of the primary reasons we do our best to enforce a real name policy on The Batavian.

Charlie Mallow
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How about lawyers, are they all thieves too? I guess with your line of thinking all athletes are on drugs and cops are on the take. Do you see where I’m going with this? You can’t paint people with broad strokes. There are good people and bad people. Being in elected office is probably one of the toughest things you can do. It wears on you everyday. Do you think I take some strange joy in being forced to tell people they don’t have jobs anymore? You see your taxes going up, how about my taxes? They went up too! If there is something I can do to lower them, I’ll give it a try. But, don’t you think we are hitting rock bottom at this point? You complain about taxes then complain about the cuts that were made too. You can’t have it both ways.
Ken Toal
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You are damn right I'm pissed, with good reason. Spend spend spend. It is just a matter of time before the taxes are so high, the city will own most of the properties of fixed income elderly that can't pay anymore and have their house taken for back taxes. Lets bring in a control board like Erie county did to stop the bleeding of our tax dollar. Now this is where we will here, we're not spending. I bet Everyone in the Big Office has insurance provided, or at least the most of it, let them get their own. There is a load of cash saved.
Ken Toal
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Lawyers and athletes don't have their hands in MY pocket.
John Roach
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Ken, You still don't say what you will do to end it? There is an election this year, will you vote Ferrando out?
John Roach
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Ken, For the record, no Council members get insurance and are paid about $1.50 per hour. City workers do get insurance, but I think the police and firemen deserve it.
Ken Toal
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Mr Mallow, The cuts you make do not make sense. Cut the hours of a qualified code enforcement officer to part time (plumbing only inspector), and hire a full time unqualified code enforcement officer, that you have to pay to go to school and pay for schooling also. I do not want to pay to get something I already had. That is like buying your car back for more money than you originally paid for it from the thief that stole it from you.
Ken Toal
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I would never say fire and police do not deserve insurance, ever. I'm talking about the suits in the big office.
Ken Toal
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John, I have never voted for Ferrando.
John Roach
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Ken, Now this makes sense. I didn’t pick up on the name at first; I thought you had some honest issues. All nine (9) members of Council voted to cut a Barb Toal from full to part time. What relation are you to her? Or is the name just a coincidence? Is this all about her? And how did her being cut to part time have anything to do with stealing?
John Roach
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Ken, I didn't ask if you did vote for him, I asked will you vote him out this year?
Ken Toal
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John, Cousin, which has nothing to do with it, it would not matter if it was your relation or joe blow's, it is the cost of it all. If I could legally do it I would vote for a whole new council, they could'nt do any worse then the one we have. If that did'nt work do it again next time.
John Roach
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Ken, Will you vote for the three At-Large this year. Are you on record as saying you will vote against all of them?
Charlie Mallow
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Mr. Toal, I can’t talk about specific employees. You complain about your taxes then, complain about cuts. You see first hand what this does to people but, yet harp on me to cut more? I don’t understand? You think for one second you need to explain to me how bad it is to cut someone’s job? Are we really having this conversation? You think we are monsters who just love to destroy people’s lives? I think I would rather you go back to calling me a liar and a thief. Frank Ferrando deserves some respect, I wouldn’t be ashamed of voting for him.
Ken Toal
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As I said before, relationship has nothing to do with my next statement. We had a qualified person, that could do the job, you cut that position to part time to save money, then you hire a unqualified person at full time, that has to be sent to school while being paid, you pay for the schooling, now you are paying 1 1/2 people instead of one person, that is half again being paid out. How is that saving the tax payers anything.
Ken Toal
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John, don't know anything about them yet
Ken Toal
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All you people on city council may be super people to have a drink with or talk about the weather. I JUST DO NOT LIKE THE WAY YOU SPEND MY MONEY, WHILE I SIT HERE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT BILL DOES NOT GET PAID THIS MONTH, OR WHERE AM I GOING TO COME UP WITH THE MONEY SO MY FAMILY CAN GET HEALTH INSURANCE BEFORE WE NEED IT.
John Roach
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Ken, 1) If she had passed the exam, she might have had the full time job. The law says if you fail the test, you can’t have the job. Did you want the city to break the law for your cousin? 2) Charlie is right. You complain and cry about high taxes and city workers getting insurance. Then cry when a cut was made. You don’t seem concerned over the dog catcher who was cut to part time, just her. 3) Your cousin gets tax payer paid insurance and retirement, which you raged against. Are you saying she should pay for all her own health insurance? Pay all her own retirement (I don't think she should)? 4) Do you think the Control Board you want would hire her back full time, or would they say her job should be cut and contracted out? 5) Two of the present Council members, Frank Ferrando and Charlie Mallow are running this year. You must know them; you called them liars and cheats. You against both?
Ken Toal
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I did'nt name names, I think all politicians are the same, Federal, State, City. They spend my money as I do not see fit. Like it or not, I will say what I feel. I will never say to your face your a nice guy, then go behind your back and call you an ass. I say what I feel when the feeling strikes. As a whole I think the political profession is corrupt, period. One accused of bribes, one accused of selling senate seat, lets not forget client #9, they are just a few of the ones that were caught. They all make promises to get the people to elect them when they know full well they can't do what they promise, so why lie in the first place. Thats it for me tonight, I DO NOT SPEND A LOT OF TIME AT THE COMPUTER IN THE DARK, SO MY HANDS HURT FROM ALL THIS TYPING. Good night to all hope you sleep well!!
John Roach
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Ken, Well said and you made your point. Take care.
Onofrio A. Perzia
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Mike when did you graduate from Le Roy High, I didn't see your picture in the most recent yearbooks. Did you play any sports. I'll ask some of my friends who are teachers in the high school if they remember you. I never recalled Mr. grasso doing a seminar in the high school about local Gov't. It wasn't in the Le Roy Pennysaver because there would have been a picture. Frankly speaking, Mr. Grasso likes to have his picture put in the local periodicals. He seems to have never met a photographer he didn't like. lol.
Karen Miconi
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Elected Officials, City and County, should not be allowed to post comments on public bloggs. We pay them to run our city and county, not to argue all day with the people who dissagree with them. This is tacky, and unprofessonal.
Brian Hillabush
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Karen, I enjoy hearing from my elected officials. The fact that these folks care enough about their community to post on a Web site and get feedback from those they serve only can make them do their jobs better. The days of politicians hiding in their office are going away in a hurry, which is the way things should be.
Beth Kinsley
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I don't think that Karen realizes that the City Council and County Legislature jobs are very part time and they are hardly paid at all for all of the hours that they put in. She seems to think that since we are paying them, however small that amount may be, that we can tell them what they can and cannot do. She went on and on last week about how Charlie was blogging "on the clock". I hope that she realizes that, even if that is so, it is not the City's clock.
Howard B. Owens
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Karen, one of the reasons this site is exists is so that anybody can have a say in the issues of the community. Our hope is to foster informative if not productive discussion so that everybody understands the issues better. This can't be done effectively without participation of elected offiials and other community leaders. Our elected leaders need to be more transparent, not less. Far from being unprofessional, it is the height of professionalism to communicate directly with constituents. There may become a day in fact when candidates can't win races without being Web savvy enough to participate openly in online discussions. Elected officials should go out of their way to explain their decisions and ideas to voters. The Batavian gives Genesee County's elected officials, as well as other community leaders, a convenient, wide reaching, popular vehicle for such communication and transparency.
Charlie Mallow
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Don’t worry; Karen isn’t going to shout me down. The money I make from the city doesn’t pay my phone bill much less my time spent doing the job. Its call community service for a reason. There are no perks for being a council person. I still even have to wait in line at Wendy’s like Karen says, with the “normal” people. Karen has a bone to pick because; I stepped on her special interest. I’m positive at this point I have done one thing or another that everyone in town would disagree with. You can even include my wife in that group. I have found that it’s real easy for people like Karen to throw rocks from far away but, they never have an alternate solution. Politics is a ridiculous thing. Your actions are constantly being judged by people who haven’t taken the time to understand the facts of an issue. I have been guilty of that myself from time to time as well. Sometimes doing the stupidest thing is the most popular action you can take as well. That’s how our system works; it’s broke beyond repair and knowing that gives me something to do tomorrow. PS. Karen, I wrote this during my lunch hour at my real job.
Beth Kinsley
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If Karen really cared, she would have been at the Council meeting last night. And Charlie - in case you haven't heard it lately, thank you. I appreciate what you do for the City as do most of the citizens. I know you have to put up with a lot of crap but just know that most of us are very happy to have you representing us.

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