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April 27, 2012 - 6:29pm

Local congressional candidate reportedly has previously fallen behind on property taxes

posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, David Bellavia, NY-27.

David Bellavia has fallen behind on his property taxes and city fees in recent years, the Buffalo News reported today, and while he has paid penalties for being late, he's up-to-date on all of his payments currently.

The Batavia resident is running for the GOP nomination in the 27th Congressional District.

According to the Buffalo News, Bellavia has paid more than $700 in penalties for being late on school property taxes and has been assessed more than $100 in penalties for being late with water and sewer payments.

Bellavia told the News he's had his struggles with finances just like any average Western New York resident.

“I’m not a millionaire; I’m not a country club Republican,” he said. “Yes, my family on occasion has been late paying bills, but they are paid in full, including fees and interest.”

The Iraq War veteran earns money from book sales and according to the News recently sold a movie script to Hollywood.

Bellavia, who backed Tea Party candidate Jack Davis in the May 2011 special election won by Kathy Hochul, is running against former Erie County administrator Chris Collins. Jane Corwin, the GOP nominee who lost the special election in the heavily Republican district was reportedly tightly aligned with Collins and Collins is reportedly working now with the Corwin campaign team.

Photo: File photo.

Daniel Jones
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He's up to date now, so who cares? This is a non-issue if I've ever seen one. Many people have had financial difficulties in the last few years, but as the old saying goes, it's not what happens it's what you do about it.

Scott Birkby
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A non-starter. Did you ever see what the penalty amounts are? Worse than credit card interest. The guy paid his bills. Heaven knows, the tax man needs the extra. Slow news day.

Mark Brudz
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This is just more Dirty politics by Chris Collins who dragged the aging Dr Marian Gray out of her nursing home a few weeks ago to try accuse David of profiting from fello veterans.

One Republican I will never vote for is Cgris Collins

Howard B. Owens
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He's running for congress. I think it's worthy to know it happened. And I think it's worthy to know how he handled it and how he responded to the news of it.

Did Chris Collins plant the story? I have no way of knowing. If he did, I suspect it doesn't hurt David nearly as much as Collins hoped it would, and may even turn out to be more helpful than harmful.

Mark Brudz
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Actually Howard you are right, I think David handled it quite well too

Daniel Jones
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Perhaps somebody should check into how many IDA tax breaks Collins has been given, or if he has any of his money if offshore accounts? The public has a right to know if the media is going to scrutinize David Bellavia's personal finances.

Daniel Jones
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This is the sort of gutter politics that stops good people from running for office on both ends of the spectrum.

cj sruger
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Collins is a slimy career politician

Michael Pullinzi
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What next? A spokesman from Cablevision gonna say he got a late fee on his cable bill and give out his movie rental list? The grocery store clerk gonna sell a list of his grocery items? The people who gave out the personal info for his water bill and school taxes should be fired. I am sure it is public accessible info, but lets see a freedom of information form filed to support it wasn't an employee misusing information for political purposes. I am not a supporter of this candidate and have never met him, but this is a bit ridiculous. (Not to say I will not support him)

Howard B. Owens
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Michael,

First, it's public information. While many government agencies require FOIL requests for access to public information, that's not really the purpose of the FOIL law. FOIL is supposed to be a key and the start of a process to unlock information a government agency would like to try and avoid releasing. It's an abuse of the law to require a FOIL request for information that is clearly public.

This is clearly public information and an employee SHOULD just hand it over, so calling for an employee to be fired is more than overblown.

That said, I would bet dollars to donuts that the Buffalo News was required to file a FOIL request for the information.

If you're going to run for public office, this is the kind of scrutiny you should expect. And it's the kind of scrutiny voters should expect.

This is a perfectly legitimate news story. There's nothing slimy about it.

This is something I should have checked on myself and am kind of embarrassed that it took an out-of-town newspaper to do it. It's a matter of routine background investigation for many news organizations at this level of public office. I'm sure the Buffalo News is pulling every kind of public record on both candidates that they can get their hands on.

Michael Pullinzi
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That's just a lot of bs Howard

Howard B. Owens
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Well, if you consider truth BS, then I guess it is.

Jeff Allen
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Someone has to lay there head on their pillow at night satisfied with the fact that they took the time to request the water and sewer bills of a Silver and Bronze Star war veteran in order to somehow try and deny him a legitimate shot at an elected position. Sleep tight.

Howard B. Owens
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Now, talk about non-sequiturs.

When you run for public office -- no matter how distinguished your record -- you open yourself up to public scrutiny. This how it is. That is how it should be.

Are you really arguing in favor of ignorance and lack of transparency.

Wow.

Democracy is doomed.

Howard B. Owens
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And to suggest that a reporter did his job and looked up public information in an effort to deny anybody public office is just ludicrous.

It's routine background check information and no honest or ethical reporter, once found, would withhold that information from the public.

Irene Will
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What this shows ME is that David Bellavia, if elected, is not going to be "out of touch" with people like me - - people that sometimes have to make a CHOICE about which bills have to be put off till later, and which bills to pay immediately. There is NOTHING WRONG with putting your FAMILY first - - and CHOOSING to pay taxes and sewer fees LATE - UNDERSTANDING that you must pay the penalty for that choice. He PAID all the bills AND the fees. What exactly is WRONG with that ???

Rex Lampke
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He sounds like most of us at one time or another in our lives, We need real people in office.

Jeff Allen
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Howard, it is not about being legal or ethical or even about democracy. It is about absurdity. When there are issues of great importance to be discussed in an election run, a persons water and sewer bills are not among them. Just because something falls within the parameters of legality doesn't exempt it from being completely petty and contrived. It unnecessarily demeans a process (elections) that once had a shred of dignity. His record makes it all the more petty when you take into consideration the entire scope of his life experience and qualifications to serve the public. An honest and ethical reporter would look at that information and rightfully decide that it has little if any value. The right to know and report something should also factor in common sense and necessity.
If you are simply reporting what someone else "uncovered", I defend your right to do so, but at the same time you need to respect our right to say "so what" and voice the absurdity of the implication that this matters. What's next, his high school report cards?

Howard B. Owens
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You can to call it absurd, Jeff, but I 100 percent disagree that it is. It's legitimate inquiry.

It's up to readers/voters to decide how it factors into their decision, and how to view it on balance with their views on the rest of the candidate's views and career.

The last thing a journalist should do regarding information of this nature is make a value judgement on whether people should know it or not. Of course, if it weren't reported, then people -- perhaps even you -- would be crying foul and accusing reporters of covering up information.

You seem to see the disclosure as a negative, and therefore think it shouldn't be disclosed in context of the rest of the man's life and career.

Others on the other hand view the revelation and the candidate's response to it a positive along the lines of "he's one of us." Should the candidate be denied the opportunity to display that side of himself?

Why do you get to decide which information should or shouldn't be revealed and deny the voters a chance to see how a candidate responds to some potentially critical information.

I think we learned a lot about David Bellavia from this turn of events -- some people will be inclined to see it as a negative and some as a positive ... but all have the right to the information and the context of how the candidate responds to it.

Howard B. Owens
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That said -- if Chris Collins uses this information in campaign literature without the full disclose of David paying the debts and penalties, and his quote about it, then Mr. Collins will reveal much about his ethics.

Jeff Allen
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First of all Howard, I did not intend to imply a negative to your reporting it. My problem is with the Buffalo News guy. He came in to your backyard and put it out there. It kinda forced your hand to report it or look like you were ignoring it. Second, if this was a result of investigative journalism, then your point about "potentially critical information" would be well taken. What this reporter "uncovered" was nothing more than any of us could have gotten by FOIL...if we cared. If this is the standard by which we judge candidates, then I fully expect to see parking tickets, speeding tickets, summons for not shoveling sidewalks in the winter, teacher evaluations from school, fines paid for grass being too long, etc. on every candidate in this race. At some point, as information devolves in significance, it becomes a non-story. I think we reached that point when the Buffalo News scooped Bellavia being a regular working guy.

Kyle Couchman
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My viewpoint on this is, thatnow people have a more down to earth view of Bellavia as a "one of us" type person. So whatever the reason for the scrutiny, it did nothing but help David's campaign. That said I agree with Howard's trying to teach us that this is reasonable and fair to look into the background of a candidate like this from an ethics in journalism standpoint. It does seem though that David has been taking some cheap shots from Collins, like the Dr. Marian Grey letter in that other publication/website.

But on the complaint side I do think its unfair that the reporter that dug all this up does not apply an equal effort in digging into Chris' financials and history to an equal degree and report what he finds, good or bad. Thats what I think has people upset it seems the scrutiny is very one sided. I will change this view only if the same reporter makes an equal effort on the other canidate( s ). As of now he just seems like a media mouthpiece for David's opponents. Very glad that the story backfired and gave David more support in the end. Almost makes one believe in karma again :D

Frank Bartholomew
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And we wonder why kids bully others over the internet, our politicians, and wannabes sling mud in every direction. Way to go to teach kids to become charactor assasins.

joseph bradt
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Does Mr. Bellavia also have a history of overdue library books?

Howard B. Owens
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Jeff, let's be clear -- my hand wasn't forced. I tip my cap to the BN reporter for doing his job.

I have absolutely nothing against David Bellavia, no ax to grind, no opposition to his candidacy. Personally, I like him (we've talked a few times).

A report like this has nothing to do with whether you support a candidate or not. It has to do with honest, truthful journalism.

Kyle, how do you know the BN reporter hasn't applied equal scrutiny to Chris Collins? My assumption is he did.

Kyle Couchman
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Well if he has he didnt comment on it in any articles I saw Howard. It would seem more balanced saying at the very least that investigating Chris for similar thing turned up nothing of note.

Howard B. Owens
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If he looked and found nothing, there's nothing to report.

Daniel Jones
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Deleted

Jeff Allen
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Howard, I never implied that you had an ax to grind with Bellavia. For me it is all about what rises to the level of news. People who find themselves in situations where their income is irregular are often times by necessity, forced to juggle bills and make hard choices that include late payments. That is unfortunately average American life and not news. Making late payments and/or paying penalties on late payments is not illegal, immoral, unethical, a character issue, nor poor judgement if it is an outcome of a legitimate circumstance. Mr. Bellavia asserts that that was the case and that all payments and penalties are satisfied. So where is the newsworthiness? You say the BN reporter should be applauded for his reporting, I say he should be questioned on either the waste of print on a non-story or attempting to create news where there was none.

Howard B. Owens
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This back and forth is getting old.

This is a legitimate story. 100 percent. Full stop. It is newsworthy. It is necessary. It is vital. Can I possibly make it any clearer -- there is no legitimate grounds for criticism of this story. End of story. It's fully black and white. The white is the story is fully justified. The black is any criticism of it.

The BN reporter did nothing wrong, nothing inappropriate ... I find it beyond ludicrous to find any fault with his reporting whatsoever.

There's no nuance here. I wish I had written the original story and I would have been proud of my reporting in doing so.

The idea that any of us and perhaps all of us might and do fall behind in our payments on taxes or whatever in no way diminishes the article, nor does it negate the necessity of the article.

News flash: David Bellavia is running for congress. Why is that so hard to understand?

Bea McManis
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It focused on their choice of candidate.
If that same article was written about Hochul, you can bet Jeff and his friends would be whooping it up and back slapping that BN reporter.
Guess it depends on what side of the glass you are standing.
The response, by Bellavia, was up front and absolutely the right way to handle it. It shows maturity and and understanding of the process when running for office.
His rooting section should be proud of the way he took it and explained it.

Mark Brudz
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I made my previous post based on some inside information, in hind sight I should never have posted it in that I can not reveal my source.

That said.

1) The reporter from the BN would have been less than diligent not to report it, Howard is correct.

2) David Bellavia handled this exceptionally well, Bea is absolutely correct

3) David Bellavia is running for congress and has to expect things like this to escalate in the coming months, not diminish.

And finally, it is too easy to let our emotions enter into these discussions and I as demonstrated also in my original post am every bit as capale of shooting from the hip as anyone else.

The congressional primary and the election will be and should be based on issues, the end result of this is issue is David Bellavia is a real guy with real problems just like the rest of us.

Jeff Allen
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Bea, i completley reject your assertion that I would be "whooping it up" if it were Hochul. My posts don't support blind partisanship nor spiking the political football when negative stories run on those I disagree with. I have had nothing but good things to say about Kathy Hochul thus far and your claim is baseless.

Neil Richardson
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At least he is up to date now and this shouldn't matter to voters. In fact, I am pretty certain it won't since national policies are being promoted which originated from a man who is currently extremely far behind in his taxes and penalties.
 

It seems that English sites will use anything to put a candidate down but using something that was paid for and over with seems a little odd.

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