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Some facts, observations, and heard-on-the-streets… and please Joe, for the good of the country set it aside.

All politics is not local at the moment.  July will be a very interesting and perhaps painful month for national politicos.

Here are some facts, observations, and heard-on-the-streets:

In a previous post several months ago I suggested that President Joe Biden should declare his work done and not run for re-election.  He chose to ignore my advice.  In any case I am asking, with all due respect, please Joe, for the good of the country set it aside.

It’s unfortunate that Biden’s performance in the debate mostly left Donald Trump’s babbling incoherence and calls for an authoritarian state ignored.

There is not much time to make a switch but in politics eight weeks can be an eternity.  The party has a solid bench of potential candidates who are well qualified to replace the President on the ticket.

Governor Kathy Hochul last week announced that she will run for re-election in 2026.  As of last January she already had $9.1 million in her campaign account.

David DiPietro won his Republican primary for the 147th Assembly District overwhelmingly – a margin of 81 percent to 18 percent for his challenger, Mitch Martin.  Reportedly Martin and his employer and campaign supporter Sheriff John Garcia both called DiPietro to congratulate him.  The same reporting indicates that DiPietro may not be prepared to let bygones be bygones just yet.  The Erie County Republican Committee did not endorse either candidate in the race.

The DiPietro campaign received significant financial support from Carl Paladino — $4,000 of the $10,789 raised in 2024 through June 10.  This follows Paladino’s strong showing in the Erie County portion of the 23rd Congressional District Republican primary in 2022.  The last-minute Paladino endorsement of Lindsay Lorigo in the race in the 10th District of the Erie County Legislature last year appeared to turn the tide just enough for Lorigo to eke out a small win.  In Republican primaries in Erie County Paladino seems to have the magic touch.

The deal worked out with CEO Henry Wojtaszek and two other Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation administrators for big buyouts of their contracts seemed inevitable but it certainly is not in the best interest of the taxpayers of the 15 counties and two cities that are members of the Corporation.  The total cost of the package is $508,500, which means $508,500 less going to the taxpayers of the counties and cities who share the Corporation’s profits.

The Corporation’s website has a link to the agency’s Annual Report, but the most recent posted edition is from 2021.  That report indicates that since its inception in the early 1970’s Erie County and Buffalo combined have received approximately 38 percent of the total distributions to the counties and cities, which means that the buyouts cost Erie County and Buffalo taxpayers more than $191,000.  Niagara County’s hit is more than $41,000.

Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, who sponsored the legislation that reorganized the agency last year, has pointed out that the payouts contradict a law which limits severance pay for at-will employees of state public authorities to 12 weeks of pay.  She is pursuing the issue with the State Comptroller and the Attorney General.

As the organization prepares to search for replacements for the CEO and others it would be a good time to bring the salaries back down to earth.  Why should a public agency with a relatively small budget and just 400 employees pay their CEO $299,000?

It seems to have been forgotten that the original purpose of WROTBC was to facilitate gambling on horse races.  As interest in that form of gambling declined, OTB cut back on their free-standing branches but they still directly operate eight of them.  All have been losing money for years.  There is staff to pay and buildings to maintain, and every dollar that each of those facilities loses is one less dollar for the taxpayers.  What’s the point of maintaining them?

The November election is less than four months away but at the moment there does not seem to be any serious contests for state legislative seats in Western New York.  Campaign finance reports, which are due next week, might clarify things.

There will be four state Supreme Court seats on the ballot in the Eighth Judicial District this year.  There are three incumbents running for re-election: Henry Nowak Jr., Catherine Nugent-Panepinto, and Deborah Chimes. 

There will be two Erie County Family Court Judgeships on the ballot assuming Governor Kathy Hochul approves the creation of a new position on that Court.

Geoff Kelly in his recent Investigative Post newsletter reported on the election of nine challengers who won seats on the Democratic County Committee.  Republicans also had a series of contests which will to some degree change the membership of their County Committee, including 16 new committee members on Grand Island in efforts led by Matt Poole, who has had a hand in several other successful campaigns in recent years.  Nineteen seats were turned over in Buffalo and changes are also coming in Elma led by Stefan Mychajliw and Jim Malczewski.

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