For starters, we want to respond to some comments on the Speakup WNY message boards. In an earlier column we wrote about a story that was being investigated by a local TV station. We did not give the name of the individual being investigated, but apparently readers just browsed through the article and then saw County Executive Chris Collins name several paragraphs down in a totally unrelated story.
The Insider Corner did not imply nor did we hint at the name in question and we certainly did not intend Chris Collins to be attached to the story in any way. We hope that clears that up.
The Insider Corner received several interesting e-mails yesterday at our firstname.lastname@example.org address. Several people wanted to know why we didnít mention either Tom Bauerle or Sandy Beach yesterday when we went down our list of political reporters and columnists.
First of all, neither is a reporter or columnist and the category of talk show host just wasnít included on our list. Secondly, we do not know either personally since they are rarely seen in public at political functions.
Of the two, Tom Bauerle is a bit more public and back in the day was really infatuated with law enforcement. Bauerle is usually packing and considering how opinionated his show is itís probably not a bad idea.
We have only crossed paths with Sandy Beach twice and neither was very memorable. Beach seems like a very private guy, but I have been told by one of his co-workers that his on-air opinions are more show business than reality. I also know he has a few skeletons in his closet, but then again who doesnít?
We were also asked why we didnít include Brian Meyer from the Buffalo News? Well, Brian is not a drinker and not one to be seen out on the prowl, so he didnít qualify. Brian is also as straight a shooter as a reporter as youíll find.
Another e-mail we received was regarding the brass County Executive Chris Collins had putting out his political hit list. We have also discussed this with a couple County Legislators and the consensus is it does show a ton of balls on Collins part to come out and target his opponents.
Legislatorís we spoke with are astounded that despite the fact that Collins proposed a County budget with a property tax increase and plenty of lofty raises for staffers that he was given a pass by local media. The State reps are getting crucified for doing far less while facing a massive deficit so what gives?
The only thing we can say to that is that Collins has mastered the art of creating public bogey men as a distraction for his own actions. By calling out legislators like Ianello and Reynolds, Collins diverts the attention away from himself. Plus, there is another little secret that few people on the outside realize and that is that as County Executive you canít actually affect much in the county.
The county budget is over one billion, but only one tenth of it is controlled locally. The other 90% of the Erie County budget is mandated spending by New York State. So Collins and staff basically have say over 100,000 million dollars and that sounds like a lot. However, even with the 100,000 million the Legislature has a say as to how it will be spent.
Back in the day the County Executive had much more wiggle room to hire staff and create patronage jobs. The Giambra era put an end to that so every hire Collins makes is exposed to the light of day. That weakens Collins politically despite his own personal fortune. Regardless of what he said this week, Chris Collins is not going to personally spend hundreds of thousands of his own money on campaigns in the fall. Collins may hold fund raisers and put the arm on friends in the business community, but we guarantee he is no Tom Golisano when it comes to spending his own money on campaigns.
The Legislators are not without plenty of blame. They too have gotten caught up in this pissing match with Collins and rarely stand united except when they disagree with the County Exec. Plus, they have been unable to lay a substantial counter punch on Collins because he has been better at portraying them as the problem.
Enough about Collins today, letís talk about big bad Baby Joe Mesi. Baby Joe, and he does not like being called that any longer, is finding out the hard way that itís a new day in the world of politics. Mesiís $70,000 salary as new head of the regional Senate majority office became big news this week. It begs the question to us, how much did his counterpart make as head of the republican majority office?
Thatís right, the republicans had an office too, but no one seems to know who ran it and how much did they make. Apparently no one in the media even cares which at the end of the day is what bugs us so much. We will take on democrats and republicans, but we will try and be equal opportunity critics.
Joe Mesi has zero qualifications to head up a regional majority office. Mesi is getting the job because he will run again for state office and itís the majorityís way of keeping him employed and interested for another year. Mesi is however, a very popular local figure and his presence at events representing the majority party will not go unnoticed. For that reason hiring Mesi makes sense.
Joe Mesi has also discovered that the public and media alike are fickle. They love ya when you step into the ring to represent this community as a heavyweight contender, but take a job on the public payroll and youíre a bum!
E-mail us at Insider Corner at email@example.com.
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