Local Matters

Community Sponsors


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:

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."

March 15, 2011 - 4:23pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, steve hawley, social services.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley has announced that he is sponsoring legislation which would limit public assistance benefits to "true New York residents."

If passed, the bill would implement a 90-day residency requirement for social services applicants.

“One of Albany’s worst-kept secrets is the fact that people come to New York from all over the country to take advantage of our wire-thin requirements for public assistance,” Hawley said in a news release.

“This legislation seeks to limit these benefits to people who actually live, work and raise a family in New York state, rather than people in search of a cash grab for New York’s all-too-easily obtainable buck.”

Current New York laws hold no requirement regarding length of residency for benefit recipients. Applicants must only reside in New York and show intent to remain in the state for the foreseeable future, which is proven through documents such as a land lease or a driver’s license.

“This bill is about protecting the limited resources we have to serve true New Yorkers that depend on these funds,” Hawley said. “New York can barely sustain the level of assistance we are committed to within our own state borders. It is vital that we make sure every dollar spent is done so judiciously and effectively.”

March 14, 2011 - 3:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, Jane Corwin.

Here's a news release from Republican candidate Jane Corwin.

WILLIAMSVILLE – Jane Corwin, businesswoman and unanimously endorsed Republican candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, announced today that she has received the endorsement of the New York State Independence Party.

Corwin received the unanimous endorsement after a meeting held by the Independence Party on Saturday, March 12.

“I appreciate the support shown by the New York State Independence Party and thank them for their endorsement,” Corwin said. “The support I’ve been shown by so many has been truly humbling.

"I’ve heard the message from Western New Yorkers loud and clear – they want Washington to cut spending and stop the borrow-and-spend policies from the last few years, and they want those elected to serve the people to focus on strengthening the economy to create jobs.

"If honored to be Western New York’s next representative in Congress, Western New Yorkers can count on me to represent their values and fight for them in Washington.”

By receiving the endorsement this weekend, Corwin’s name will now appear on two ballot lines when the special election for New York's 26th District is held on Tuesday, May 24.

March 9, 2011 - 5:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, NY-26, Jane Corwin.

Let the mudslinging begin -- Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, the handpicked GOP candidate to replace ex-Rep Chris Lee, issued a press release this afternoon slamming her future Democratic opponent as a Nancy Pelosi lackey, even before the Democrats have started to interview candidates.

Full press release:

Statement from Matthew Harakal, communications director for Jane Corwin for Congress, regarding the list of Democratic candidates announced today:

“Jane Corwin has spent more than 30 years in the private sector creating jobs in Western New York, and if given the honor to be the next Representative for New York’s 26th Congressional District will lead the fight to reduce spending, cut taxes, and strengthen our economy for both the short- and long-term.

“The reality is that whoever Washington Democrats tell their local members to select, the Democrat candidate will be the handpicked choice of Nancy Pelosi and be another reliable vote to raise taxes to push her borrow-and-spend, big government agenda. That’s just a fact.”

Earlier today, local Democratic county chairs announced the names of seven people vying for their party's nod on the March 24 ballot.

March 2, 2011 - 5:02pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, politics.

Here's a news release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley's office:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley proudly hosted more than 150 4-H participants from the 139th Assembly District and various other regions of New York during a visit to the state capitol in Albany.

The assemblyman relished the opportunity to explain the way that government affects everyday life and he encouraged the young visitors to become involved with their local representatives.

“As an elected official, there are few ventures more gratifying than sharing your love of public service with young people,” Hawley said. “The young adults that I had the privilege of meeting have limitless potential. To be given an opportunity to speak with them about the positive role that a truly representative government can play in the lives of each and every citizen was an immense honor."

All of the young people in attendance are active in 4-H, a national organization that prepares America’s youth to become community and world leaders. The 4-H features more than 54,000 volunteers that work with more than six million young people across the nation. In attendance at the event were participants from Genesee and Orleans counties.

“The 4-H organization does phenomenal work across the country, and the results are no different here in Western New York,” Hawley said. “Having an opportunity to meet with the future leaders of my own town and community was a riveting experience. The positive role that 4-H plays in the lives of our community’s youth cannot be overstated."

February 23, 2011 - 11:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, NY-26.

While Republicans are rallying around Jane Corwin as their standard-bearer in any upcoming special election to replace the fallen Chris Lee in the 26th Congressional District, and the Democrats have yet to select a leading candidate, the potential field of candidates could yet get crowded.

Three-time loser Jack Davis is saying he plans to run as an Independent, according to the Buffalo News, and YNN reports that Batavia resident and Iraq vet David Bellavia has registered an exploratory committee.

Buffalo News:

Davis, an Amherst resident, said Tuesday he is committed to participating in the contest for recently resigned Republican Rep. Chris Lee’s former seat one way or another, and is not reneging on his promise to spend $3 million in the process.

“As far as I’m concerned, I no longer have it; it’s spent,” he said. “It’s for a good cause with the powers behind it, and it’s for a good cause without the powers behind it.”


Bellavia’s communications director tells YNN that Bellavia has formed an exploratory committee and filed with the Federal Elections Commission. The move allows Bellavia to start raising funds for a run in the yet-to-be announced special election to replace former Congressman Chris Lee. The communications director said that Bellavia would seek the Conservative Party endorsement.

All of this before Gov. Andrew Cuomo has even announced a special election to replace Lee.

February 23, 2011 - 5:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, NY-26, Jane Corwin.

Proclaiming herself anti-tax and anti-deficit spending, Erie County's Jane Corwin stopped by Batavia's Old Courthouse today to let everybody know, yes, she's really running for Congress.

"America is at a crossroads," Corwin said. "You all know the numbers, a $1.5 trillion annual deficit. We borrow one dollar for every three that we spend. That’s simply unsustainable. Our nation’s debt tops out at over $14 trillion. That’s nearly $50,000 for every man, woman and child living in the United States today. With numbers like those, what kind of legacy are we leaving for our children?"

Flanked by some of Genesee County's leading Republicans, including Sheriff Gary Maha, County Clerk Don Read, Coroner Jack Taylor and Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock, Corwin, a second-term assemblywoman, received the endorsement of her colleague Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

"As you get to know her, as you get to speak with her, and more importantly, as she listens to you, you are going to see she is going to be the kind of Congress person we grew accustomed to back in the days of Barber Conable," Hawley said.

He said Corwin has the dignity and honesty and caring for people to give him confidence that she will do the same kind of job Conable did.

Asked by WBTA's Dan Fischer what she might tell a friend about Genesee County, Corwin replied, "First, I'd talk about downtown Batavia. I love to spend weekends here. My son plays hockey, so we’re over at the ice rink every few weeks or so. Genesee County is beautiful. It’s a rural area. It’s got a strong agriculture history. It’s something that I think is a shining part of Upstate New York. I believe this could be a thriving area if we could just get our national affairs in order."

As for the speculation and any issue around the idea that Corwin will fund her own campaign, Corwin said she will also engage in fund raising, but certainly, she will spend some of her own money as well on the campaign.

"I don’t believe a candidate can buy a race because a race isn’t about money, it’s about ideas," Corwin said. "The ideas that I put out there, do they make sense to the voters in the area? Is it something they can relate to? Do they agree with what my plan is in the future? That’s what wins elections."

Meanwhile, the Democrat & Chronicle reports that Corwin is close to winning the conservative endorsement in Monroe County.

Also, a bill introduced by Gov. Cuomo could delay any special election. Cuomo has said the bill is necessary to ensure the election conforms with federal regulations, and if passed, the election would take place 70 to 80 days after it's called instead of the past 30 to 40 days.

February 21, 2011 - 8:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, republicans, NY-26.

Democrat & Chronicle reporter Jill Terreri, who is covering the NY-26 election, just tweeted that Assemblywoman Jane Corwin has won the GOP endorsement for the anticipated special election to replace Chris Lee.

Terreri's tweet says it's based on information she obtained from Bill Reilich, Monroe County Republican chairman.

For our previous report on the GOP bids for the nomination, click here.

February 21, 2011 - 12:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, Republican Party.

Eight congressional hopefuls filed into South Beach restaurant on Sunday to explain to 21 GOP leaders from the 26th Congressional District why he or she should get the endorsement of the Republican Party in any upcoming special election.

Though no election has been called yet by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it's widely anticipated that Cuomo will set a date for a special election to fill the seat vacated by Chris Lee after a shirtless picture of him showed up on Gawker.com.

Don Read, representing Genesee County, said GOP officials will meet tonight in Geneseo to go over the list and decide whom the party should back.

"A lot depends on our discussion," Read said. "We have a good cross section (of candidates). There's certainly a good group of candidates."

Besides Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who is the odds-on favorite of pundits, three-time loser Jack Davis showed up for an interview, as did Genesee County residents David Bellavia and Peter O'Brien.

O'Brien is a frequent commenter on The Batavian.

Also showing an interest in the seat for the GOP are: Dr. Barry Weinstein, a former Town of Amherst councilman; Brian Napoli, from Orleans County; Gary Wehate, of Avon; and Kathy Wepner, a radio talk-show host in Buffalo.

In the weighted vote system the GOP uses to pick candidates for the congressional seat, Erie County candidates have an edge in the selection process. It only takes one Erie County vote and one Niagara County vote to outweigh the votes of Orleans, Wyoming, Genesee and Monroe counties.

Story based on reporting by WBTA's Dan Fischer.

February 14, 2011 - 10:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, steve hawley, NY-26.

Press Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) recently announced that he will not seek election in the 26th Congressional District. Hawley instead will continue his duties as an assemblyman in the 139th District.

“I have been truly inspired by the outpouring of support I have received from constituents, friends and colleagues regarding a potential run for the United States House of Representatives in the 26th Congressional District,” Hawley said. “Furthermore, the parallels and comparisons I have received to former Rep. Barber Conable Jr. from members of the community have been nothing short of humbling.

"However, after careful consideration, I have decided to forgo a run for Congress and remain in the New York State Assembly, representing my home -- the 139th Assembly District. There may be another day and another time for me to seek such office, but today is not that day and now is not that time.”

“Throughout my time in the Assembly, I have held myself to a core set of principles that continue to propel me through my life of public service,” Hawley said. “From lowering property taxes, attracting and retaining business in Western New York, and supporting and honoring our proud veterans to protecting the viability of New York’s number one industry, agriculture, I have fought day in and day out to meet the needs of my district.

"However, there is still much work left to be done in order to right New York’s ship. That is why I feel it is important for me to continue my role in the state Assembly. There is simply so much more to accomplish right here in our own community.”

On withdrawing his name from the running, Hawley announced his support for Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R, C, I – Clarence), who represents the 142nd District. Hawley and Corwin have been colleagues in the Assembly minority since 2008.

“It is without hesitation that I endorse Assemblywoman Jane Corwin for the 26th Congressional District,” Hawley said. “Assemblywoman Corwin has shown tireless dedication in representing her constituents and shares many of the same common-sense, pro-business principles that I have made a priority in the state Assembly.

"Assemblywoman Corwin and I were the only two representatives to earn perfect scores on Unshackle Upstate’s 2009-10 Legislative Scorecards, which rate the voting records of all 212 state legislators regarding bills that would support the health and growth of New York’s economy. I take great pride in endorsing my friend and colleague as our next representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

February 13, 2011 - 1:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, republicans, NY-26.

Regional GOP leaders expect to name a candidate to run in a special election for Chris Lee's former seat within eight or nine days, said Nick Langworthy, Erie County GOP chairman following a two-hour meeting of county chairs at Batavia's South Beach Restaurant.

"We need to nominate somebody in short order because we believe the election will be held some time in the next six to eight weeks," Langworthy said.

Added Monroe County Chairman Bill Reilich, "Governor Cuomo is not Governor Paterson. He knows we need representation in Washington."

Last year, residents of the 29th Congressional District went eight months without representation because Gov. Paterson refused to call a special election. In that case, Democrats feared losing the seat to Republicans. In this case, some Democrats think they have a fighting chance to take the 26th District.

The GOP county chairs said candidates for the Republican nomination will be interviewed in one week by 21 GOP leaders from throughout the region.  

Any candidate who wants to be considered, Langworthy said, should contact his or her county chair and provide a letter of intent and resume.

"All candidates will be considered," Langworthy said.

Also attending today's meeting were: Mike Norris, Niagara County; Ed Morgan, Orleans County; Gordon Brown, Wyoming County; and Don Read, representing Genesee County while chairman Dick Seibert is on medical leave.

February 10, 2011 - 3:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, steve hawley, NY-26.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley is seriously considering a run for Congress.

The five-year veteran of Albany said that calls encouraging him to run began as soon as news hit that Rep. Chris Lee (NY-26) resigned following a revelation that he apparently tried to pick up a woman on Craigslist.

"I've been getting text-messages, phone calls and messages on Facebook from people throughout the district urging me to run," Hawley said. "I believe I have the background, experience and years in business."

Hawley then discussed his background and his family's background at length, hitting on both their deep involvement in the community.

"This is my community," Hawley said. "This is my home and this is my district. I know the business people and the people of the district as if they were family. So I'm seriously considering it."  

He added that he was flattered that so many people have come forward to urge him to run.

Hawley said he was on the phone until midnight and on the phone all morning, including talking with each of the Republican county chairs in the district.

On the Democratic side, Genesee County Chair Lorie Longhany said first and foremost, "I'm going to back the Democrat. The Democrat who gets chosen is who I'm going to back."

She said the Democrats have not yet lined up behind a candidate, but there is a lot of talk going on among area leadership about who might make a good candidate.

Even though the registration advantages lean heavily in favor of Republicans, Longhany said in a special election, anything is possible.

"It's all about getting out the base, getting people motivated," Longhany said. "I've watched my party in other special elections across the state. We have a tremendous machine to get out the vote. I've seen our local Democrats work very hard to get out the vote. Yes, the Democrats can win this seat. Most definitely."

Hawley said the special election will get national attention, and Longhany agreed. Hawley said he believes even President Obama will take an interest in the election because the Democrats need to pick up votes in the House. 

The GOP candidate, Hawley said, will need to be somebody with the financing to run the race and give 110 percent to the campaign.

While Hawley can't self-finance a race, he said he can raise the funds necessary. He said he's proven he can raise funds for himself and other candidates and he's been involved in successful fund-raising campaigns for nonprofits in the community.

"I don't have any qualms about being able to raise money," Hawley said.

Even so, Hawley said he isn't eager to give up his Assembly seat.

"I enjoy what I'm doing even though these are difficult times," Hawley said. "We now have a governor who has indicated verbally that he's ready to lead and he's ready to do the things that not just me but others say we should be doing to turn around the state and stop the spending spree. I'm excited about that, so leaving the Assembly would be difficult."

The GOP has a reputation in Western New York for running disciplined campaigns and backing chosen candidates. Hawley said each of the county Republican committees get a weighted vote on picking a candidate. It breaks down roughly to Erie County getting 40 percent, the rural counties getting 30, Monroe 20, and Niagara 10.  

Hawley said he is friends with many of the other potential candidates and he will back whomever gets the nod.

PHOTO: File photo from Hawley's announcement of his re-election campaign in 2010.

February 9, 2011 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Chris Lee.

 U.S. Rep. Chris Lee, representing New York's 26th District, including Genesee County, has reportedly resigned his congressional seat following a report by Gawker.com that he was trolling Craigslist for women.

UPDATE: Chris Lee released this statement:

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.

“The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”

Lee became caught up in a sex scandal today when New York City-based Gawker reported the the second-term congressman was apparently trolling Craigslist for women.

According to reporter Maureen O'Connor, Lee exchanged e-mails with a woman who placed a personal ad on Craigslist in the women-seeking-men category. Lee had told her he was divorced and a lobbyist, according to the report, and in the course of the e-mail exchange he sent along a shirtless picture himself.

The woman, according to Gawker, cut off correspondance with him after doing a little Google research and finding out who he really was. She then contacted Gawker thinking it was a 'humorous story."

There's no allegation in the story that Lee actually "hooked up" with that woman or any other woman through Craigslist.

UPDATE: Here's how the Washington Post reported it:

Lee experienced his fall from grace in a single afternoon, undone at the speed of the digital age. At lunchtime Wednesday, he was an obscure but promising second-term congressman. Then, at 2:33 p.m., the Web site Gawker.com posted an alleged e-mail exchange between a man who used Lee's name -- but identified himself as a divorced lobbyist -- and an unidentified woman. Gawker reported that the two had met through the personals section of Craigslist.

After that, the familiar cycles of a Washington sex scandal were compressed into a blur of tweets and news alerts. There was confusion, a hint of denial, then a pledge from Lee to "work it out" with his wife.

By 6 p.m., a clerk was announcing Lee's resignation in the House chamber.

February 5, 2011 - 5:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, steve hawley.

Here's a 'Legislative Column' submitted by Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

You don’t have to be a 'Renaissance Man' to appreciate Leonardo da Vinci’s advice.

Whether presented with an artist’s blank canvas or the complexities of engineering the future out of 15th Century technology, his attitude was to dare greatly without delay. In this new legislative session, the New York State Assembly must heed da Vinci’s words and act with the sense of urgency to our state’s current crisis demands.

In 2010, Albany’s legendary dysfunction reached levels of gridlock and infighting not seen since the Articles of Confederation. (This might be overstated – but only slightly.)

My colleagues and I must therefore renew our mission to serve our constituents, to earn the seats they have given us. I am committed to continuing my agenda from last year’s legislative session, including bringing jobs back to Western New York, reining in out-of-control taxes, and supporting economic growth through farming and other agricultural endeavors.

Costly unfunded mandates – essentially deferred taxes to pay for current, reckless spending – also demand Albany’s immediate attention in order to cut property taxes for working families.

Western New York’s rural communities occupy a special place in our state’s cultural and economic ecosystems. Our family farms are the sturdy backbone of the Empire State’s economy and our vast open spaces continue to draw visitors seeking peaceful, natural surroundings. It’s a way of life strengthened by a commitment to tradition and freedom for the individual.

But now, Albany bureaucrats want to change this culture of self-reliance and begin to dictate individual behavior.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is attempting to place new restrictions on property owners, including prohibiting them from burning materials or refuse in any open area. The state agency is undertaking this measure despite our lack of larger waste-management facilities found in suburban or urban areas - the very reason why some residents of the 139th Assembly District have safely and responsibly burned discarded material on their properties for generations.

A bill to prevent this power grab by the DEC was introduced in the Legislature in January 2010. Since that time, the measure has been held for further consideration in an Assembly committee. I am the prime sponsor of this vitally important legislative reform as the new session begins and will work with my colleagues to bring it to the Assembly Floor for a vote as soon as possible.

Landowners in rural communities must have the property rights protections that they deserve with the urgency required to prevent future arbitrary rulings from unelected, unaccountable government pencil-pushers.

Winter can sometimes make laggards of us, but now is no time to take it easy. As your assemblyman, I am renewing my focus and channeling my energies on the legislative priorities interrupted by last year’s chaotic session. There is no time to waste. Each day that passes is a missed opportunity to correct our course away from the fiscal cliff.

As we work together to create more private-sector jobs, reduce spending, and eliminate deficits, I will also continue to fight for your interests and our way of life here in Western New York.

As a small-business owner, I know what it takes to balance a budget. As a neighbor and friend of our region, I understand Albany’s actions can stifle economic growth and threaten individual freedoms in Western New York. This is our home, and here is my mandate: to act with urgency for your interests in 2011. ... “Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

January 25, 2011 - 4:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, Chris Lee, federal budget.

Here's a news release from Congressman Chris Lee's office:

Congressman Chris Lee voted today to cut federal spending back to at least 2008 budget levels to help return fiscal responsibility to Washington.

Lee voted for H. Res. 38, which instructs the House Budget Committee to implement spending levels set for 2008 for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.

“The majority of the Western New Yorkers I’ve spoken with want Washington to get its fiscal house in order, and I’ve heard their calls loud and clear,” Lee said. “Today’s vote sends a message that the House will not continue the incredible spending binge that we’ve seen over the last few years.

"Every second that passes, Congress adds thousands of dollars onto an already record-high $14 trillion debt, and that needs to change.”

Non-defense discretionary spending – including the failed $787 billion “stimulus” bill – has increased 84 percent from 2008 through last year, while the national debt has soared from nearly $11 trillion in 2008 to more than $14 trillion today.

“Washington needs to get serious about cutting spending so future generations are not buried under a mountain of debt,” Lee said. “Cutting overall spending to 2008 levels is an important start to getting Washington to live within its means, just as Western New York families have always done.”

January 24, 2011 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, crime, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

The case of Chris Charvella, accused of placing an unwanted phone call to Legislator Jay Grasso, is moving back to Genesee County Court with a request that Judge Robert C. Noonan reassign the case again.

Previously, the case was moved from Le Roy Town Court to Town of Batavia because both judges in Le Roy had conflicts of interest.

Charvella's attorney, E. Robert Fussell, told Town of Batavia Justice Michael Cleveland that he and the District Attorney's Office agreed the case should be heard by a judge who is an attorney.

Cleveland is not an attorney.

Justice Tom Williams in Town of Batavia Court is an attorney.

Cleveland said that when the case was moved to Batavia, he and Williams discussed the case and decided that Cleveland would hear the case. Cleveland did not explain why they reached that decision.

Fussell will submit an application to Noonan to have the case reassigned to another town court, such as Stafford, where an attorney sits on the bench. Yet Stafford does not have two judges with a legal degree. The case could still wind up before a non-attorney judge.

The case needs to be heard by a judge who is an attorney, Fussell said, because of the Constitutional issues involved in the case.

Charvella is charged with harassment, 2nd, under the provision of the law that prohibits phone calls for no legitimate purpose.

After some back-and-forth between Charvella and Grasso prior to the last election -- in which Charvella reportedly wrote that he would shove some campaign signs up some people's rear ends -- Charvella called Grasso's house and said, "Thanks for reading my blog."

Grasso, who represents Le Roy, contacted State Police and had Charvella arrested on the harassment, 2nd, charge.

For previous coverage, click here.

January 17, 2011 - 1:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley has announced that he will become the prime sponsor of a proposed bill to prevent the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from increasing restrictions on landowners that burn refuse on their property.

The legislation was originally introduced in January of 2010. At the end of last year’s legislative session, the bill was being held in the Committee on Environmental Conservation for further consideration.

The DEC began their efforts to eliminate trash burning with a ruling in October of 2009 that Hawley says irrationally tightened guidelines on who is allowed to burn refuse and what sort of materials are allowed to be burned.

The proposed bill focuses on landowners in small, rural communities that rely on this safe and time trusted method of disposal, according to Hawley.

“In Western New York, there are a number of small, rural communities that don’t have the waste-management structures in place to dispose of certain waste materials,” the Assembyman said. “That is why members of my district have burned refuse on their open land for generations and why this legislation is so vital.

"The DEC has continually displayed a lack of understanding when it comes to our rural way of life, and they cannot be allowed to overstep their bounds by banning this widely accepted practice.”

January 17, 2011 - 1:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, business, Chris Lee, dairy farmers.

Here's a news release from Congressman Chris Lee's office.

Congressman Chris Lee was chosen to serve as a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus for the 112th Congress

Lee served as vice-chair during the 111th Congress until its adjournment last year. He will lead the caucus with fellow co-chairs Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Peter Welch (D-VT), Timothy Walz (D-MN), Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Thomas Petri (R-WI).

The bipartisan caucus works to aid dairy farmers across the United States, and last Congress worked closely with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on important issues affecting Western New York’s dairy farmers.

“Western New York has some of the finest family farms in the country, and since coming to Congress in 2009 I’ve been focused on ensuring our region’s agricultural producers have the resources they need to survive,” Lee said.

“Dairy farmers in particular have been hard-hit during the tough economic times, but they are a resilient group of families closely tied to the land they farm and the industry they love. I look forward to working with the other co-chairs and members of the Caucus who share my commitment to strengthening family farms for this and future generations.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Lee’s congressional district is the 22nd highest dairy producing district in the nation, with a market value nearing $500 million.

New York State as a whole produces about 12.5 billion pounds of milk each year. For more information on Congressman Lee’s commitment to Western New York’s dairy farmers, visit www.chrislee.house.gov/familyfarms <http://www.chrislee.house.gov/familyfarms>.

January 12, 2011 - 4:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, Mike Ranzenhofer.

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer announced today that he will serve as chairman of the New York State Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.

Senator Ranzenhofer will also serve on the Banks, Judiciary, Agriculture, Education, Energy, and Racing, Gaming and Wagering committees.

He says he is eager to begin working to reduce state spending and restore trust in state government as chairman of the Corporations Committee.

"State government is so big that residents can no longer afford it and New York’s many authorities and commissions are part of the problem" Ranzenhofer said in a news release. "I plan to find ways to reduce and streamline the number of different authorities and commissions – so that New Yorkers may finally see savings in state government. Over the past few years, there have been too many examples of mismanagement among the state’s authorities and commissions.

"For too long, New Yorkers have become accustomed to a government which is dysfunctional and driven toward political patronage. As chairman, I will work to restore integrity and a higher level of professionalism to our State authorities and commissions.”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said: “New York faces an enormous challenge as we work to reform state government, make it smaller and more efficient and, most importantly, cost less for taxpayers.

"Senator Mike Ranzenhofer is a very strong advocate for easing the burden on state taxpayers by making government cost less and work better. As chair of the Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, he will have a leading role in how we achieve that goal."

Ranzenhofer said he's pleased to serve again as a member of the Agriculture Committee.

"During last year’s legislative session, I worked with local farms to defeat the farm labor 'death legislation,'" the senator said. "I look forward to continuing a partnership with the Farm Bureau and local family farms to preserve the next generation of agri-business in Genesee County."

The 61st District includes part of the City of Tonawanda, the towns of Amherst, Clarence, Newstead and Tonawanda in Erie County and all of Genesee County.

Subscribe to



Copyright © 2008-2019 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button