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November 1, 2008 - 11:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

We just received this notice from the Alice Kryzan campaign:

On Sunday from 10:30 - 12:00 a.m. Alice Kryzan and Chris Lee will face off one last time before Election Day on Kevin Hardwick's "Hardline with Hardwick" radio show on WBEN channel 930-AM. 

Don't forget to set your clocks back one hour!

 

November 1, 2008 - 11:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

November 1, 2008 - 7:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

The Alice Kryzan campaign issued a press release this evening slamming Chris Lee for his admission that he made a mistake while working as a salesman in 1989, which led to his termination from that job.

We posted about this previously.  Lee allegedly hacked into company computers and changed the credit limits of customers.

The press release contains these five questions for Lee:

  1. Could Chris Lee or his attorney at the time explain why this wasn't prosecuted?
  2. Was there a fine involved and who paid for it?
  3. How much did Chris Lee defraud his company of?
  4. How seriously was the company put at risk?
  5. How much money did he stand to gain if he hadn't gotten caught?

Whether Lee answers these specific questions on the topic, he does owe voters a full explanation prior to Tuesday.

I wrote this morning about not rushing to judgment of Lee on this. It was 20 years ago. He was young. There is no evidence of a pattern of behavior. We all make mistakes and deserve second chances. Also, there are important issues at stake in this race that voters should focus on (and it is perhaps a bigger concern that Lee has said little of substance about these issues).

But, it is exceptionally important that our public officials be held to standards of full transparency about their conduct in and out of office.  Lee should give a complete and full accounting of the events that led to his firing.  This isn't a test of his conduct 20 years ago, but a test of his conduct today. Is he ethical enough to come clean?

UPDATE: Here's a question I think Mr. Lee needs to answer: Did Mr. Lee ever apologize to his former employer? Did he say, "I'm sorry"?

November 1, 2008 - 11:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

So far, in looking over the latest campaign commercials uploaded to YouTube for the 26th Congressional race, they're really just a variation on a theme: Chris Lee shipped jobs to China (false) and Alice Kryzan is a "liberal trial lawyer" (silly).

Here's the latest from Lee's campaign:

The funny thing is, there is scant evidence from Lee, either in his campaign commercials, his web site or his public statements that he's anything other than just another Big Government Republican.  He hasn't named one wasteful federal program he would cut, said how he would reign in the out-of-control Pentagon budget or scale back the federal bureaucracy. On his web site makes a veiled reference to pork, but railing against earmarks is just nonsense.

Given that earmarks make up less than 5 percent of the federal budget, eliminating them will do little to end deficit spending.  Bigger, more drastic cuts than that need to be made. At least with earmarks, some of the wages convisicated by workers get returned to the districts the revenue came from.

The latest DCCC's ad attacking Lee is even less honest.

One line in the commercial that stands out: The press has called Lee's attacks on Kryzan "fiction."

My question is: Where? What press? Not any press I've been following.  For ourselves, we've bashed Lee for his trite attack ads, but we haven't used the word fiction.  It's hard to call something fiction that has no real substance to it.

UPDATE: Buffalo Bean interviewed Chris Lee. There isn't much to report from the Q&A. As usual, Lee doesn't say much. He doesn't divert from his talking points. 

November 1, 2008 - 11:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Lee, NY-26.

If you found out a candidate for office had been fired from his first job out of college some 20 years ago, would it impact your voting decision?

What if the candidate admitted to "making a mistake" that led to the termination? What if that mistake involved breaking into company computers?

Well, those questions are more than theoretical in the 26th Congressional District race, and they apply to Republican Chris Lee.

The Buffalo News:

Lee was a young salesman with Ingram Micro, a computer products distributor that in 1989 was known as Ingram Micro D and operated from offices on Elmwood Avenue.

Lee, according to his co-workers at the time, somehow obtained a company credit manager’s password. Then, with that password, he raised the credit limits for some of his customers and the customers of other sales people, the employees said.

That way Lee could sell the customers more of the company’s products, on credit, before the billing system would flag their accounts for payment and halt further purchases.

It might have helped with sales, but it also put the company at greater risk if those customers failed to pay.

Since Lee has not admitted to the specific allegation, just that he made a mistake, let's be careful about taking the charges at face value. That said, if Lee did hack into a company computer, that's a crime (at least it is now, I don't know what the law was in 1989), and it is certainly unethical to falsify company records. Any employee who commits those acts deserves to be fired.

But what does a 20-year-old mistake tell us about Chris Lee today? Does it mean he is and forever will be an unethical person? Or is it possible that he did, as he says, learn from his mistake? If so, he might have evolved into a much more ethical person because of that transgression.

It's really impossible for us to look that deeply into another person's soul.

My recommendation is vote for the candidate that best represents your values and aspirations and not get too caught up in the character assassination games political parties like to play.

The relevance of this particular issue is tenuous at best. 

November 1, 2008 - 10:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

Yesterday, it looked like Jon Powers would be removed from the Working Families Party line, and Democratic congressional candidate Alice Kryzan would take his place.

Late last night, a Federal judge overturned the previous ruling, according to the Buffalo News.

The battle over the third-party line is significant because Powers garnered 36 percent of the vote in the September Democratic primary — and if he is barred from the ballot, those voters wouldn’t see the Iraq War veteran’s name on the ballot. In addition, voters turned off by the sharply negative campaign between Kryzan and Lee wouldn’t be able to cast a protest vote for Powers.

Kryzan and Lee campaign officials said they had not seen the details of Arcara’s decision and could not comment on it.

Interesting take that voters would cast protest votes for Powers if his name appears on the ballot.  Wouldn't it be just as likely that such voters would simply abstain in the race?

And why is this such a difficult issue for the courts? Powers moved out of state, so isn't it obvious his name should be taken off the ballot?

A recent poll gives Chris Lee about a 14 pecentage point lead in the race. I'm not sure the Powers line is going to add or substract that many votes for Kryzan.

Another bit of Alice Kryzan news: She'll be attending a roast beef dinner this evening in LeRoy. It's at the United Methodist Church at 5 p.m.  We know this because Kryzan campaign sends us a notice when Alice makes public appearances in Genesee County. We never get such notices from Lee's campaign, so we have no idea where you might go today or tomorrow to ask him any questions.

November 1, 2008 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Joe Mesi, Mike Ranzenhofer.

The Buffalo News reports that money has been pouring into both campaigns of the hotly contested 61st State Senate District race.

Joe Mesi, the Town of Tonawanda Democrat running to succeed retiring Sen. Mary Lou Rath, a Williamsville Republican, has received about $47,000 in donations the past 10 days or so. His biggest contribution — $9,000 — came from Robert Soros, son of billionaire liberal activist George Soros.

Michael H. Ranzenhofer of Amherst, Mesi’s Republican opponent, brought in $39,000, with big donations from New York City landlords and the National Rifle Association.

November 1, 2008 - 10:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, Darien.

The Buffalo News reports that John E. Stocking, 48, of Pembroke was fatally shoot while hunting pheasant in Darien Lake State Park.

The shooting occured around 3 p.m. yesterday.

Authorities are investigating.

October 29, 2008 - 8:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

The political newsletter Cook Report now lists the NY-26 race between Republican Chris Lee and Democrat Alice Kryzan as a toss up. The blog of the College Democrats of NY has a quote purportedly from the report, but no link to the source document.

The Buffalo News has a story up about the misleading campaign ads from both sides. It's mostly stuff we've covered before, but you get some new quotes from the candidates. The new bits would be that attorney's from the other side of the Love Canal law suit have come out in support of Kryzan defending her against Lee's attack ads, and the employee's of Lee's company are defending Chris Lee against charges that the company has outsourced jobs to China.

The 26th District Blog has the text of the full letter from Enidine employees.

Jill Terreri of the Democrat & Chronicle runs down area House races. She suggests that Kryzan is doing well in the district by riding Barack Obama's coattails. While that may be a part of it, I think it misses the fact that there are significant differences in campaign styles, which we discussed previously. Terreri's report runs through the candidates stands on various issues and some of the mudslinging.  If you haven't been following the race, it's a good primer.

October 28, 2008 - 6:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in courthouse.

An attorney from the Northwest is traveling the country blogging about America's county court houses.

Recently, he was in Batavia and did this post about our historic structure.

His goal is to document about 150 a year.

October 27, 2008 - 3:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

Many GOP leaders are not only beginning to concede Nov. 4 to Barack Obama, they're predicting a landslide.

It leads to the question: Will John McCain put "Country First" and work to protect the GOP power to filibuster?

But another big issue is how the party is dividing along Cultural War lines.

Mr Frum argues that just as America is changing, so the Republican Party must adapt its economic message and find more to say about healthcare and the environment if it is to survive.

He said: "I don't know that there's a lot of realism in the Republican Party. We have an economic message that is largely irrelevant to most people.

"Cutting personal tax rates is not the answer to everything. The Bush years were largely prosperous but while national income was up the numbers for most individuals were not. Republicans find that a hard fact to process."

Other Republicans have jumped ship completely. Ken Adelman, a Pentagon adviser on the Iraq war, Matthew Dowd, who was Mr Bush's chief re-election strategist, and Scott McClellan, Mr Bush's former press secretary, have all endorsed Mr Obama.

But the real bile has been saved for those conservatives who have balked at the selection of Sarah Palin.

In addition to Mr Frum, who thinks her not ready to be president, Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan's greatest speechwriter and a columnist with the Wall Street Journal, condemned Mr McCain's running mate as a "symptom and expression of a new vulgarisation of American politics." Conservative columnist David Brooks called her a "fatal cancer to the Republican Party".

The backlash that ensued last week revealed the fault lines of the coming civil war.

Rush Limbaugh, the doyen of right wing talk radio hosts, denounced Noonan, Brooks and Frum. Neconservative writer Charles Krauthammer condemned "the rush of wet-fingered conservatives leaping to Barack Obama", while fellow columnist Tony Blankley said that instead of collaborating in heralding Mr Obama's arrival they should be fighting "in a struggle to the political death for the soul of the country".

During the primaries the Democratic Party was bitterly divided between Barack Obama's "latte liberals" and Hillary Clinton's heartland supporters, but now the same cultural division threatens to tear the Republican Party apart.

Jim Nuzzo, a White House aide to the first President Bush, dismissed Mrs Palin's critics as "cocktail party conservatives" who "give aid and comfort to the enemy".

He told The Sunday Telegraph: "There's going to be a bloodbath. A lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party. The litmus test will be: where did you stand on Palin?"

I think traditional conservatives should tell the social conservatives: "Hey, you want the GOP? It's yours. See if you can win without us. We're going over here and starting a new party."

October 27, 2008 - 2:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman, new york.

In 1969, novelist Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City on a promise to make the city the 51st state and a platform of self-governed neighborhoods.

Bill Kauffman has a short piece on Mailer's campaign posted on First Principles.

There would be no inane happy-talk about the “family of New York” from Norman Mailer. He realized that “the good farmers and small-town workers of New York State rather detest us.” Rather indeed. “The connection of New York City to New York State is a marriage of misery, incompatibility, and abominable old quarrels.” His concern was properly with his own brawling grounds, but he did see a favorable fallout for we hicks as well, for going it alone could spark “the development of what has been hitherto a culturally undernourished hinterland, a typically colorless national tract.”

Yes, Niagara Falls, Cooperstown, Lake Placid, Susan B. Anthony, Grover Cleveland, Washington Irving, John Brown’s North Elba—we are cultural and scenic starvelings for sure.

What does WNY have in common with NYC?

October 27, 2008 - 12:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

A New York Times reporter obtain a dial-in number to listen to a recording a JP Morgan Chase conference call. In it, an executive flatly admits that the $25 billion the company is receiving from the bailout stimulus package won't be used to finance more loans (thereby, in theory, stimulating the economy). The money will be used to help JP Morgan can buy up other companies and grow bigger.

“Twenty-five billion dollars is obviously going to help the folks who are struggling more than Chase,” he began. “What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.”

Read that answer as many times as you want — you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: at another point in the conference call, the same executive (who I’m not naming because he didn’t know I would be listening in) explained that “loan dollars are down significantly.” He added, “We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side.” In other words JPMorgan has no intention of turning on the lending spigot.

It is starting to appear as if one of Treasury’s key rationales for the recapitalization program — namely, that it will cause banks to start lending again — is a fig leaf, Treasury’s version of the weapons of mass destruction.

Does anybody still believe this "bailout" will do anything to help the American people. Wasn't it in fact just the largest pork bill in history?

October 26, 2008 - 11:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

October 26, 2008 - 11:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Voting.

Jill Terreri writes in the D&C this morning that voters who decline to register with any political party is a growing part of the electorate and will help decide elections next month.

Registered voters who choose not to become a member of any political party are poised to decide the winner of this year's presidential contest between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, which will be decided Nov. 4. Precincts across the country are seeing an increase in their ranks, and both candidates are making appeals specifically to them.

"The candidate that wins an election is the one that connects with moderates and the middle class," said John P. Avlon, author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics. "Independent voters ... are the common-sense center in America."

Reports out of Connecticut and Fort Collins, Colo. show new voter registrations in both major parties this year were outpaced by voters who chose not to register in any party. And in such states as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Alaska and New Hampshire, unaffiliated voters have outnumbered either Democrats or Republicans.

In the local congressional race, both campaigns say they're paying close attention to independent voters.

Locally, the unaffiliated voter's role is significant even in races in which one party has an enrollment advantage.

In the 26th Congressional District, which includes nine towns in western Monroe County, registered Republicans have a 9 percentage-point advantage over Democrats, constituting 41 percent of voters. But one out of every five voters is unaffiliated, according to enrollment statistics released earlier this year, giving those ranks the power to decide the winner.

"It's incredibly important to communicate to these people," said Nick Langworthy, who is running the campaign of Republican Chris Lee, of Clarence, Erie County, who is seeking to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Thomas Reynolds, also of Clarence. "If you just play to your base, you can't do it, not in the modern political era."

To appeal to these voters, Langworthy and his team try to send an appropriate message.

"We're talking about jobs and taxes," he said. "Those themes are strong with Republicans and independents."

On the Democratic side, candidate Alice Kryzan of Amherst, Erie County, has been reaching outside her party, stressing the economy and bringing accountability back to Washington, said her campaign manager, Anne Wadsworth.

So here's my question for Nick Longworthy: The Chris Lee campaign has been far more negative far longer than the Kryzan campaign. How do negative ads help you win independent votes?  As a decade-long independent, I know they sure do turn me off, and same for all my non-aligned friends.  Maybe that's why this race is now a toss up?

October 26, 2008 - 11:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

The DCCC has a new anti-Chris Lee ad out, recycling the same in-correct "send jobs to China" charge, even using some of the same images, but this time with actors making the charges.

Chris Lee's ad is no more honorable, and maybe worse since it ends with "I'm Chris Lee and I approve this message."

The ad incorrectly points the finger at Alice Kryzan for running the "China Jobs" spot (that was the DCCC, not the Kryzan campaign), and trouts out the same old tired, trite and meaningless "liberal trial lawyer" attack.

Here's another incendiary ad from Lee:

Regardless of what Kryzan may have said about special interest money in the primary, it's duplicitous of Lee to knock Kryzan for taking contributions from any group, since his record isn't exactly spotless.

Here's a new attack ad on Kryzan from the RCCC:

I find it scary whenever a politician attacks another for doing his or her job and providing a defense in any legal case (or a prosecution). When you level that charge what you are saying is you don't believe in the American legal system -- that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Also, it's a complete fiction that Kryzan has said she wants to raise taxes.

It kind of makes you despair for our future to watch these two campaigns -- aided and abetted by their respective national parties -- resort to distortions and misinformation to try and win a congressional seat.

October 26, 2008 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

WNYMedia.net caught up with Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan to get his take on NY-26 race between Alice Kryzan and no show Candidate Chris Lee.

October 26, 2008 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

I met Alice Kryzan at the Octoberfest in Oakfield last night. I was impressed. She's an intelligent, well-spoken, sincere candidate. I think she does have the best interest of Western New York at heart.

And all along, I've liked the fact that she's tried to keep the campaign to issues, focused on what she will do and avoid negative attack ads.  Her spokeswoman, Anne Wadsworth, has said Alice doesn't like the nasty DCCC-sponsored ad running against Republican Chris Lee.

So, it's disappointing to check YouTube this morning and find the ad embedded below.

There are two charges in the video that do not withstand scrutiny. First, that Lee thinks "the guys who messed things up" should be able to take even more risks. Second, "Lee says keep doing what we're doing."

Here's what Lee told us a couple of weeks ago:

When I asked him about how Democrats blame deregulation, and Republicans say there are still too many regulations -- such as Sarbanes-Oxley, which did nothing to help matters -- Lee said, "We have all of these new exotic financial instruments, so we need updated regulations to ensure we have control."

"There have mistakes made, and I don't like to point fingers," said Lee, adding again that both Republicans and Democrats share the blame. "I don't care about any of that. I care about getting to a solution and protecting taxpayers."

Those word directly contradict the assertion that Lee wants to "protect the guys who messed things up" and that he wants to "keep doing what we're doing."

Alice, if you disagree Lee's policies -- not that we have too much information on what Lee's policies are -- say so, but don't make things up. It reflects worse on you than Lee.

P.S.: To whomever produces Alice's commercials, Kudos. From a production values stand point they're absolutely stunning.  I don't think I've seen a shoddy commercial from Kryzan's campaign yet.  Lee's campaign would do well to hire the same firm.

October 26, 2008 - 10:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in nation and world.

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