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November 17, 2010 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

Since the Batavia Daily News is not likely to run this correction themselves, we'll run it for them.

In the Daily's story about Chris Charvella's arrest, there is this paragraph:

"Charvella responded with an additional blog, according to state police. It included the comment 'I'm going to travel around the district and puncture Republican tires.'"

There are multiple problems with this one short paragraph.

First, the context is though Charvella is responding to events in November. But the quote above is from June 2. It was not a response to anything regarding election signs in November.

Second, it is not "an additional blog." A blog is a website with multiple entries on it. A blog post is an item posted on a blog. People can comment on blog posts. These are called comments.

In this case, Chris left a comment on a blog post. And there was nothing "additional" about it in context of current events. The comment had nothing to do with the sign issue and was not directed at Jay Grasso.

Third, the comment did not appear on Charvella's personal blog, as the story would lead you to believe. It was posted on The Batavian (something, of course, the Daily could never admit).

Fourth, it's completely out of context. Here's what Chris wrote:

Charlie, I'm going to do what any political hack worth their salt would do. Starting at midnight on November 2nd, I'm going to travel around the district and puncture Republican tires :)

Note, the emoticon at the end -- a clear signal, it's a joke, but the emoticon was not included in the Daily's quote.

UPDATE: As of 10:08 a.m., without acknowledging the error or putting the comment in context, the Daily has removed the paragraph from its story completely. It's possible, considering the timing, it may still appear in the print story.

For our previous coverage:

November 15, 2010 - 6:00pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, Le Roy, Chris Charvella, Jay Grasso.

A new judge will be requested to hear the case of Chris Charvella, a member of the Genesee County Democratic Committee charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd.

In Le Roy Town Court this afternoon, Judge Kermit Arrington readily agreed to recuse himself since Charvella had worked on his election campaign.

Likewise, Le Roy Town Judge Charles Dusen will also be asked to recuse himself because the complainant, Republican Jay Grasso, had worked on his campaign.

The recusals will be forwarded to county court Judge Robert Noonan who will appoint another judge.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Finnell suggested that the case be moved to another town or county because of conflicts of interest in the politically sensitive matter. Charvella's attorney, E. Robert Fussell, opposed the idea and Arrington said there was no adequate basis to justify moving the case.

County Legislator Jay Grasso had Charvella arrested by State Troopers after Charvella made statements on his blog regarding some campaign sign shenanigans and he left a message on Grasso's home phone.

On his blog Charvella said, among other things, that he was going to stick a campaign sign up the arse of the first Republican he encountered at local GOP headquarters if another sign for Republican Senator Mike Ranzenhofer showed up on property he managed.

After a sign reportedly did show up at Charvella's house, with a message written on it that indicated it may have been left by Grasso.

That prompted a call from Charvella to Grasso's home phone.

"Hey, Jerome, it's Chris Charvella. Thanks for reading my blog," was the message Charvella left.

He then posted a blog item that concluded with a picture of an Ewok and the message, "prepare your anus."

In a statement to The Batavian on Friday, Charvella said he didn't believe he did anything illegal.

Before Arrington spoke, Fussell had a brief conversation with Finnell. Fussell asked if the DA's office had received his faxed letter, seeking dismissal of the case because it is a First Amendment issue.

Finnell acknowledged reading the letter, but said "This is not a First Amendment case. ...By calling the house and referencing the blog, that was taken as a threat."

"You're kidding?" said Fussell.

"No, I'm serious," Finnell said flatly.

"I'm ready -- whatever," responded Fussell.

Moments later, an incredulous Fussell told Arrington "We live in a whole new universe than the one I grew up in."

Democrats Rose Mary Christian, who sits on the Batavia City Council, and Lorie Longhany, who chairs the County Democratic Committee, accompanied Charvella in court today.

"This is absolutely not a good use of taxpayer money," Christian said afterward. "There was no threat to Jay or Mrs. Grasso. You should hear some of the messages people have left on my phone. You wouldn't believe the stuff they say. 'You bitch, why did you do that?' I just call them back and say "Here's why."

Longhany said the case is pure politics, adding that Grasso is "trying to shut us up" and that Charvella will wind up paying a hefty legal bill for nothing.

Previously: Local Dem arrested after Republican legislator accuses him of harassing phone call

November 12, 2010 - 3:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, crime, Jerome Grasso, Chris Charvella.

County Legislator Jay Grasso says he felt threatened by online postings, and one phone call, from a member of the County Democratic Committee and so he called State Police.

file_chris_charvella.jpgYesterday, 30-year-old Chris Charvella -- a former candidate for the legislature himself and a frequent contributor to The Batavian -- was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd, a misdemeanor.

Today, Grasso said that he felt Charvella had gone too far with some of his postings, but when Jay got a call from his wife, who said she felt fearful after a phone call from Charvella, he couldn't just laugh it off.

"I don't view it as a joke once you call my wife and upset my wife," Grasso said. "When you call my house and threaten my wife, that's going too far in local politics."

The complaint against Charvella reads:

On the aforementioned date, time and place, said defendant did contact the residence of Jerome J. Grasso by leaving a message. The message stated "Hey, Jerome, it's Chris Charvella, thanks for reading my blog."

The complaint is signed by Jay Grasso.

The alleged message is the same one Charvella said he left in a blog item about troopers showing up at his house that he posted on his own website yesterday at 7:55 a.m., more than 24 hours before his arrest.

Today, Charvella, who lost a legislative race to Republican Hollis Upson in 2009, made a two-sentence statement to The Batavian: "You can decide whether or not there is something illegal in there. I obviously don't think so."

The genesis of this particular dispute goes back to just a few days before the Nov. 2 election. Charvella wrote in a blog post that he had shown up to work that morning and found a lawn sign for Republican Mike Ranzenhofer's campaign on his employer's property. He speculated that Grasso had left the sign, giving him the alias, "Sharome Glasshole."

Charvella concluded his post thusly:

"So, to the Genesee County 'sign guy' and the Ranzenhofer campaign: The next time I see an unauthorized sign go up in front of a commercial property, I'm going to harvest the damn thing, march straight down to Republican headquarters and cram it up the first ass I see."

The next day, according to another blog post by Charvella, a Ranzenhofer sign was left in his front yard with a message, "Courtesy of Sharome Glasshole."

It was that message, according to Charvella, that prompted the phone message on Glasso's home phone.

In that post, Charvella raised a number of allegations about Grasso, accusing him of not having a job to pay his bills, having a house go into foreclosure and assaulting a subject while a Sheriff's deputy.

Those are allegations Grasso has heard before and he said today that he can prove he was the victim of identify theft and he is fully prepared for local Democrats to try and use those allegations against him.

Charvella's post concludes with a picture of an Ewok (of "Star Wars" movie fame) and the caption "Prepare Your Anus."

That was a remark that Grasso said he found threatening, adding that the alleged threats have no place in local politics.

"This is local," Grasso said. "We all know each other. We don't need this partisanship. Hopefully, (this case) will cause people to reflect and step back from the politics of destruction."

Photo: File photo of Charvella.

November 2, 2010 - 9:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Elections.


Party faithful have started filtering into the respective headquarters of the Republicans (above) and Democrats as they await tonight's election returns.

Meanwhile, The New York Daily News is reporting that Andrew Cuomo has won.


UPDATE: Word is there are problems with the voting machines in Genesee County and election results will not be available for hours.

Meanwhile, the GOP continues to congregate at its headquarters on Jackson Street (below) and the Democrats have decamped to Larry's Steakhouse to watch results from around the nation come in on TV.


November 2, 2010 - 6:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics.

The New York Times has a picture of Carl Paladino in Batavia, at the old courthouse yesterday. Nobody notified us of his appearance.

November 1, 2010 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, election.

The Batavian doesn't do endorsements, but no reason who you can't.

Who are you voting for (with maybe a short explanation why)?

Of particular interest, what is your position on changing the terms of Genesee County legislators?

October 28, 2010 - 3:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, pembroke, marc coppola.

The Pembroke Fire District is accusing a Democratic candidate for State Senate of misappropriating its logo and inaccurately implying that the district has endorsed his candidacy.

"We question the integrity of any candidate who would run an ad using our likeness and that is written in such a way that it could be falsely construed as an endorsement for his candidacy," District Chief Ed Mileham Jr., said in a statement.

When reached by phone, the candidate, Marc Coppola, running in the 61st Senate District against Republican incumbent Mike Ranzenhofer, apologized repeatedly for the perception that his mailer implied an endorsement.

"I do apologize if that's the way they took it," Coppola said. "I didn't word it that way. I realize they are a not-for-profit. I'm experienced enough to know they could lose their not-for-profit status if they endorse candidates. I would never put them in that position. I would never even ask for an endorsement."

Mileham said he and other district leaders are upset over Coppola's mailer that started hitting Genesee County mailboxes yesterday.

On one side is a picture of Coppola with local residents Randy and Lori Dibble and a statement of support from the Dibbles. The other side has a picture of Coppola with volunteer firefighter and County Democratic Committee member Aaron Blake. Blake is endorsing Coppola.

To view the mailer for yourself: Front / Back.

The caption under the picture reads, "Marc and Firefighter Aaron Blake at Indian Falls Fire House truck dedication in honor of Harry Dibble & Gary Byerly."

"We are disturbed that Mr. Coppola would use the solemn event of the dedication of a truck to deceased department members as a political ad," Mileham said in his statement. "The ad shockingly refers to the deceased members we were honoring and shows the plaque dedicated to them. The candidate was in no way involved with the dedication and appears to have used this event as a crass attempt to obtain votes."

Coppola said he was invited to the dedication by Randy and Lori Dibble and brought no campaign literature with him nor wore any buttons or shirts identifying himself as a political candidate. He said Lori Dibble took the picture using her cell phone camera and when he was putting together the mailer, he realized it was the best picture he had of himself in Genesee County, and that it was the only good picture he had of himself with Blake.

"I didn't mean to imply an endorsement," Coppola said. "It was just a nice picture."

He said he included the caption information because he thought the picture would look out of place without an explanation, and he said Blake suggested that if he left out the name of Gary Byerly that some people, especially his family members, might be offended.

October 25, 2010 - 6:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, Democrats, Andrew Cuomo.


Attorney General Andrew Cuomo made a campaign stop -- he's running for governor -- in Batavia this afternoon at Larry's Steakhouse on East Main Street.

The room was packed with local Democrats and several members of the media.

We'll have more coverage later.

UPDATE:  My digital recorder failed me. I was planning to post an audio of Cuomo's speech, but the file didn't save right.  All I have is his meeting with reporters (audio starts just after a TV reporter asked about his plans for the lieutenant governor). There are more pictures after the jump.


October 25, 2010 - 1:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, downtown.


Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat running for governor, is reportedly going to make a campaign stop in Downtown Batavia this afternoon. He's scheduled to stop at Larry's Steakhouse, but that could be moved to the Homestead conference facility inside the mall, and he will appear either at 4:30 or 5 p.m. (we've heard different accounts).

One protester is already outside of Larry's. His name is Jay D. Fuller and he's from Medina. His sign reads, "Healthcare is about caring, not $$$" and "Paladino is right." When I spoke to him, he talked about some land-use/political issue in Medina. The connection, I gather is that Cuomo authorized state grants to the family Fuller has a dispute with. "I think he should know who the money is going to," Fuller said.

Meanwhile, as I left Larry's, Joe DioGuardi's tour bus drove by. DioGuardi is a Republican running for Senate. I'm not sure if he was just passing through or if he made an appearance. The bus turned off of Jackson Street, which is where the local GOP has set up shop.


October 10, 2010 - 1:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, marc coppola.

Candidate for State Senate Marc Coppola put out this news release today, calling for "streamlined economic policies to encourage development and job growth."

The candidate for New York State Senate’s 61st District says too many layers of bureaucracy and red tape discourages small- and medium-size businesses. The end result is lost time and money that should be put into business building not government.

Coppola claims that there are too many layers of bureaucracy for entrepreneurs to deal with when attempting to open or expand their business.

“Current or prospective business owners get frustrated with the amount of paperwork and levels of government that they have to go through to open a business, let alone asking for assistance,” Coppola said.

Small- and medium-sized businesses are especially hurt because they don’t have the time or resources to hire lawyers and consultants to deal with all of the bureaucratic red tape.

“Just look on any wall of our local restaurants," he said. They have so many permits from so many different agencies that it could be wallpaper."

State economic development policies can provide safety for consumers while providing a "one-stop shop" for business owners so that they can spend less time dealing with government entities and more time growing their business and creating jobs.

“The state has the ability and authority to do this and should act swiftly in doing so. The ‘silver-bullet’ mentality for creating jobs in Upstate New York has gotten us nowhere. It’s time we recognize that and provide assistance to entrepreneurs, not barriers."

An overhaul of the state's economic development policies and consolidation of services and agencies is badly needed.

“(We should create) a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs in order to assist them as well as spend less money on administration and more on job creation."

He also claims that politicians too often say that they are working to help business and job growth with no details or plan of how to do so other than the customary, “cut taxes” approach.

October 9, 2010 - 9:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, republicans.


Genesee County Republicans gathered at 5 Jackson St. today to officially open their local campaign headquarters.

More than 100 people showed up, according to Legislator Jay Grasso, who added that many new faces were in the crowd.

Above, Steve Hawley, left and County Clerk Don Read with a member of the party.


October 7, 2010 - 11:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, Democrats.


The Democrats held an open house for their 2010 Genesee County Campaign Headquarters in the mall this evening.

Above, Chris Charvella explains how much he loves The Batavian (um, actually, I have no idea what he was talking about at the time). Below in the dark suit is Senate candidate Marc Coppola. Bonus picture for regular readers after the jump.


October 7, 2010 - 2:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, politics, republicans.

The Republican Party's local headquarters will have its Grand Opening beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9. It is located at 5 Jackson St., just around the corner from Main Street downtown.

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley will be there. Refreshments and hors d'ouerves will be available.

So will lawn signs, brochures and bumper stickers supporting Ranzenhofer, Hawley and candidates Carl Paladino and Dan Burling.

October 5, 2010 - 1:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, downtown.


The Democrats are in the mall, across from Sunny's, next to the north side entrance. The Republicans are at 5 Jackson St., Batavia.

Both campaign headquarters are decorated with candidate signs.

Chris Charvella announced on behalf of the Democrats that they will have a grand opening at 6:30 p.m., Thursday.

No word from the Republicans on their plans.

UPDATE: The GOP open house is now scheduled for 11 a.m., Saturday. Steven Hawley and Mike Ranzenhofer are expected to be on hand.


September 27, 2010 - 2:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, politics, Ranzenhofer, coppola.

Here's a letter sent in by Senate candidate in the 61st District, Marc Coppola, addressed to the incumbent.

Dear Mr. (Michael) Ranzenhofer,
As you and I fully engage in our campaigns for the New York State Senate's 6lst District,
I would hope that you would agree that letting the voters know where we stand on the
issues most important to them is of the utmost importance.

Further, as we both have served in elective office, I believe that our records are a good barometer for the voters as they make their decision of whom to vote for on Election Day.
With that said, I anticipate that you will agree to meet me in front of the voters for at least
three debates, and possibly more if there is time; one of which would take place in
Genesee County.

I am confident that if we can agree on dates and times relatively quickly, and with proper notification, the public, whom we both are seeking to represent in the New York State Senate, will attend.

I am more than willing to have my campaign look into places where we can hold our
debates and notify you (about) what is available to us. I am sure there are plenty of venues, either public or private, which can accommodate us, our audience, and any media that may attend.

It is my sincere hope that you agree and that you respond to my campaign as quickly as
possible so that we can give the voters as much information about us, our positions, and
our records as they go to the polls on Election Day.

I look forward to your reply.


Marc Coppola

September 21, 2010 - 9:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Announcements, politics, elba.

Press Release:

Monday night, Democrats in Elba held a caucus and selected a Mark Yungfleisch to run for the office being vacated by current Highway Superintendent Allan Totten. Yungfleisch is a long time Elba resident who has worked for the Highway Department in Elba previously. He is a former Elba Fire Department Assistant Chief and is currently employed at Reisdorf Oil.

Yungfleisch cited experience as his primary motivation for seeking the office. ‘I have a Class A license, I’m very familiar with the equipment and I understand the maintenance, scheduling and budgetary needs of the department,’ he said after the caucus.

September 21, 2010 - 12:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, marc coppola, michael ranzenhofer.

Here's a news release sent in today from Marc Coppola, a Democrat running for the state Senate in the 61st District.

Candidate for New York State Senate Marc A. Coppola is railing against his opponent, incumbent Senator Michael Ranzenhofer. The 61st District Senator is an outright hypocrite, claiming to be a fiscal conservative, while spending like a liberal.

“Ranzenhofer continues to call for budget cuts and less spending, but what does he do? He spends, and spends, and then spends more taxpayer money,” Coppola said.

Ranzenhofer sent out taxpayer-funded mailings through his government offices. This most recent mailer simply invites people to come and meet his staff. Another mailer informs people to be safe on Halloween.

“Are these messages really important enough to spend thousands of taxpayers' dollars on?” asked Coppola.

The practice is widely criticized as wasteful.

Coppola believes Ranzenhofer is misleading the public when he sounds the alarm about state spending and reducing taxes, yet he continues to spend more than any other WNY Senator in his conference on useless mailers.

Ranzenhofer wants it both ways contends Coppola, “He’s telling his constituents that he’s trying to reduce state spending, but nobody will listen to him. He is ineffective because he has no creditability and doesn’t practice what he preaches.”

Coppola also criticized Ranzenhofer for using the system to further his re-election campaign with mailers close to the election at taxpayer expense. Ranzenhofer should have used campaign funds, said Coppola.

“He has over a quarter of a million dollars in his campaign war chest, why not lead by example and use that, rather than taxpayer money when the state is virtually bankrupt,” he added.

September 17, 2010 - 11:51am
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, politics, marc coppola.

Here's a news release from Marc Coppola.

Candidate for the New York State Senate’s 61st District Marc Coppola is honored and proud to announce that former Congressman John J. LaFalce will be the Honorary Chairman of his campaign committee as he seeks to unseat the incumbent State Senator, Michael Ranzenhofer.

“I have always admired the Congressman for his statesmanship and advocacy for the people he has represented for many years as a member of the United State House of Representatives as well as a State Assemblyman and Senator.

"In fact, this is almost the exact senate district he represented when first elected to the New York State Senate in 1970. Mr. LaFalce cares very deeply about this community and I am honored to have his strong support as we try to maintain it, rebuild it, and secure it for generations to come” Coppola said.

As an elected representative of much of the 61st District for many years, the Congressman will be providing advice and guidance to the campaign on many fronts including, strategy and fundraising.

Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party Len Lenihan stated that, “While John has continued to be a supporter of the party and its candidates, he rarely gets involved in individual contests. If he wasn’t 100-percent confident in Marc’s abilities as a legislator, he wouldn’t be doing this. Marc is fortunate to have his support.”
In announcing his support for Coppola Congressman LaFalce stated, “Marc is smart, knowledgeable, articulate, hard working, and dedicated to the public interest. He will not be a part-time Senator, but will devote his whole heart, mind, energy, and time to our representation. I endorse his candidacy enthusiastically and sincerely believe he can win.”

Others on the committee include Dan and Christine Christopher, Nick Crocco, former Legislator Michele Iannello (Town of Tonawanda), Vianne Uthman, Michael Szukla, and Councilman Mark Manna (Amherst), Sam Scinta (City of Tonawanda), Councilman Justin Rooney (Town of Newstead) and Lorie Longhany, Chris Charvella, and Lori and Randy Dibble (Genesee County).

September 15, 2010 - 1:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics.

Carl Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo businessman with a penchant for forwarding racist and pornographic e-mails to his friends, upset the GOP establishment Tuesday with a come-from-behind victory in the Republican primary.

In Genesee County, Paladino's victory was nothing less than a landslide, as he beat out mainstream GOP contender Rick Lazio with 2,552 votes compared to Lazio's 303.

The New York Times:

The result was a potentially destabilizing blow for New York Republicans. It put at the top of the party’s ticket a volatile newcomer who has forwarded e-mails to friends containing racist jokes and pornographic images, espoused turning prisons into dormitories where welfare recipients could be given classes on hygiene, and defended an ally’s comparison of the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, who is Jewish, to “an Antichrist or a Hitler.”

In the Senate primaries, Kirsten Gillibrand easily won the Democratic nomination and GOP voters picked Joseph DioGuardi with 42 percent of the vote over David Malpass with 38 percent.

Gillibrand picked up 80 percent of the vote in Genesee County.

September 3, 2010 - 1:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, marc coppola, public employee benefits.

Here's a new release sent to us today from Marc Coppola, Democratic candidate for state Senate in the 61st District.

In a letter to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Senate candidate Marc Coppola, is asking for assistance to local governments (cities, towns, villages) in conducting an audit of the healthcare benefits paid by taxpayers for public employees.

Coppola acknowledges in his letter that most local governments do not have the resources to conduct such an audit.

He cites a New York “dependent eligibility” audit that is estimated to save the state $25 million per year. He also cites news of the City of Buffalo paying benefits for years for more than 150 deceased individuals.

“This is not an indictment on any administration or public servants," Coppola said. "It is simply a process that should be done periodically because the amount of employees and dependents can be so vast that nobody can keep track of every dollar."

Through collective-bargaining contacts, public employees are given healthcare benefits paid for by local property taxes. Employees and their dependents are eligible for these benefits as well, and in many cases the total cost for local governments is the second highest of all expenses (after wages).

Coppola said that as a (Townawanda) councilmember in 2003, he sponsored legislation calling for an audit of dependents because he knew than that this was a way to save money, control costs and realign healthcare expenses.

“We can no longer tax our way out of some of these financial issues," he said. "Services supplied at the local level are of the most important services offered by government and we need to find ways to be more effective and cost efficient.

"We can’t just cut services or raise property taxes. I believe that with the assistance of the State Comptroller local governments would save millions for taxpayers.”

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