While the City Council race between Republican George Lodick and Democrat Glenn Choolokian may come down to which candidate best expresses his distaste for Mayor Vince Anello, it looks like it's going to be a bad year for Republicans running in all parts of New York State.
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Down on Staten Island, incumbent Republican Congressman Vito Fossella is in trouble. A Bush administration favorite who often appears on cable news talk shows and writes columns for the editorial pages of conservative newspapers, Fossella was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1997, following the resignation of Susan Molinare.
His opponent, Democrat Frank Barbaro, is a former longshoreman who rose to become a state Assemblyman and a state Supreme Court Justice.
The most recent polls show the race to be a statistical dead heat. Fossella's virulent support of the war in Iraq hasn't helped him, and Barbaro's embrace of traditional Democratic values has won him wide support.
He's unabashedly pro-union, and fought for increases in the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation and disability insurance. He's been an outspoken critic of public transit cuts, utility rate increases and the closures of schools, hospitals, police stations, firehouses and senior centers.
And, unlike Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, Barbaro is running a rough-and-tumble campaign.
"Whether it's shortchanging New York on homeland security funding, or pushing a Medicare prescription bill written by the pharmaceutical companies, Vito Fossella has sold us out," he said recently. "He's helped send American jobs overseas and doesn't think workers deserve overtime pay or a real minimum wage."
Let's hope Barbaro can pull it off. He's one Democrat who hasn't forgotten how to fight back and, more importantly, hasn't forgotten he's a Democrat.
Former Seneca Nation President Cy Schindler shocked many longtime supporters last week with an announcement that he would again seek the presidency, despite taking a drubbing in last month's Seneca Party caucuses. He will run as an Independent, facing Seneca Party candidate Barry Snyder.
Sources on the Cattaraugus Reservation told the Reporter early in the week that Schindler told supporters he would definitely not run, as Independent candidacies have traditionally been long-shot propositions at best.
What changed his mind? Snyder's vehement opposition to Seneca Niagara Casino CEO Mickey Brown, and the victory by two Snyder-aligned candidates in last week's Tribal Council elections.
While Brown tried to put the best face on the situation at a meeting of senior casino management last week, he clearly understands that a Snyder victory in November would be disastrous for him personally.
Following a bit of arm-twisting and who knows how much in campaign contributions, Schindler decided to continue his comeback bid. The move does not bode well for his future in the Seneca Party.
As predicted in this space months ago, the election will be a referendum on Mickey Brown.
Don't know if anyone saw Dateline NBC's expose on the filthiest chain restaurants last week, but Applebee's finished in fifth place on the list of the 10 worst offenders. Over one recent 15-month period, 100 randomly selected Applebee's restaurants around the country racked up 446 critical health code violations. On average, health inspectors found 1.6 critical violations every time they walked into one of the restaurants.
Infractions included staff not washing their hands after going to the bathroom and then handling food, rats and roaches in the kitchen and letting food sit out too long.
As I've written before in this space, go ahead and eat there if you want to. In fact, you might even want to try the Waffle House, Ruby Tuesday, IHOP or TGIF, which were found by Dateline to be even more unsanitary.
The mayor's temper tantrum at last week's Water Board hearing was yet another laughable example of his hypocrisy.
Pretending to be a watchdog for the people, Anello barked and snarled as the board passed a 9.7 percent increase in water and sewer rates here.
If I'm not mistaken, Anello was a member of the City Council that passed a 20 percent rate increase in 2003 and then went on to create the Water Board in the first place.
And let's not forget that it was Anello's refusal to sit down and discuss the status of 14 former city employees shunted to the new authority that led to a $1.4 million lawsuit filed by those workers in September. In the suit, the workers allege the mayor's "friends and family" hiring policy has denied them the opportunity to bid on jobs posted by the city.
Actions speak louder than words, even those shouted by our always-angry mayor.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||Oct. 5 2004|