DiPietro is the man for the job

I voted as an independent my entire life until one of my town councilmen talked to me about becoming a Republican in his barn a few years ago. I supported Dan Burling until he retired; he even called me once from his drugstore and thanked me. I also supported Assemblyman Smardz until he dropped out.

I have since supported David DiPietro for the 147th Assembly and I have never led anybody to believe otherwise. I made this decision because he is the most qualified. As a family business owner he knows first-hand, the obstacles facing the small businesses and farmers in our district.

As mayor of East Aurora, DiPietro cut taxes three years in a row by consolidating services, privatizing garbage pick-up, eliminating village-owned vehicles for government employees, and cutting salaries. While cutting taxes he found money for two new fire trucks and a four-wheel drive emergency vehicle for the fire department.

Over the years his cooperation and leadership have greatly benefitted the many alliances and coalitions that he actively supports. He brought fireworks back to East Aurora’s Independence Day celebration, helped raise $50,000 for a new roof at the Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, helped find $30,000 in funding for an F-4 Jet for the American Legion, and is a major fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club.

David DiPietro was elected (thus endorsed) by the Republican voters of Wyoming County in the primary. He is also endorsed by: the New York Conservative Party; the Erie County GOP Committee Chair; 11 town GOP chairs in Erie County (including Elma), and several Wyoming County Town GOP chairs.

On Nov. 6, I urge voters in the 147th District to vote for David DiPietro, an active community supporter who knows how to get things done.

Ronald Heppner


Absentee ballot deadlines extended

The state Board of Elections announced Thursday it would extend the application deadline for absentee ballots to Nov. 2 as New Yorkers deal with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

In an emergency meeting late Wednesday, the board voted to ease the original Oct. 30 deadline statewide for faxed or mailed applications, according to a news release. Voters may apply for an absentee ballot in person at local boards of elections through Nov. 5.

The board also extended the deadline to submit the ballots in person by six days, from Nov. 13 to Nov. 19. Ballots returned by mail still must be postmarked Nov. 5 but have until Nov. 19 to reach the local board.

For those who can’t vote in person, they may designate another person to submit absentee ballots to local boards of elections before polls close Nov. 6.

Polls will be open Election Day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

When asked on an Albany-area radio show Thursday if he anticipated Election Day problems, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “not at this time.”

“It’s something we’re keeping an eye on, but not at this time,” he said on Talk 1300AM (WGDJ).

John Conklin, Board of Elections’ spokesman, told Gannett’s Albany Bureau that changes in polling sites are possible.

“We don’t know what the changes will be,” Conklin said Thursday. “The local boards in the storm areas are assessing their poll sites right now, so they’re looking at whether the poll site has power, whether it could have power by Election Day, whether it’s accessible to the general public—can voters get to it? Can the board get to it and get machines there? And is the building structurally sound?”

He said he didn’t know when these assessments would be completed as there are thousands of poll sites in the heavily populated area.

New York City has 1,200 poll sites; Westchester, 380; Nassau County, 375; and Suffolk County, 340.

“I think it’s difficult to predict turnout in these circumstances,” Conklin said. “Obviously, people whose homes have burned down or are in major flooding—voting is probably not going to be at their top of their list.”

Conklin said a state law provision allows for an additional voting day if there is less than 25 percent turnout in a jurisdiction because of a natural disaster. The voting day would have to be held within 20 days after the general election.

“It’s a possibility,” Conklin said. “I can’t rule it out, but it would be determined after Election Day.”

New York City’s elections board phone line is down, according to its website, and the Manhattan and Staten Island offices are closed because they lost power. Offices in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays.

Voters in storm-impacted areas can monitor changes in polling sites by consulting the Board of Elections website: http://www.elections.ny.gov.


TPNN Tea Party News Network – The Real News

The Tea Party gets a news site

Tea Party conservatives are getting their very own news site.

The Tea Party News Network, self-described as “the only trusted news source and the antidote to mainstream media bias,” is already live but will announce its launch tomorrow morning, with plans to start live video on election day. TPNN claims to have a “war room of 40-plus volunteers” who will operate out of the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, and has established partnerships with the Talk Radio Network and radio host Rusty Humphries, who will be co-anchoring the election night coverage.

“There are plenty of news websites out there, but there isn’t one that caters directly to Tea Party conservatives, providing activists with coverage and opinion that matters to them. The Tea Party News Network changes that,” Todd Cefaratti, editor of the Tea Party News Network, said in a statement for the forthcoming press release.

As with many right-wing news sites, TPNN puts heavy emphasis on the anti-mainstream media message: “We don’t need our supposed betters in the mainstream media telling us which stories matter or what we should think. We don’t mindlessly mimic the talking points of Washington leaders. The Tea Party movement now has a home for news it can trust.”

Truth be told, it’s not as though Tea Party conservatives have been homeless on the web. Most right-wing news and opinion sites, including the Media Research Center and the Breitbart network, cater to those who would label themselves members of the Tea Party. But this is the first site of its scope to apply the branding and assert itself as “the voice of the Tea Party.” Cefaratti is also promising to be “a vigilant watchdog on Washington’s leaders regardless of the outcome of the November election.”

“TPNN is not going to be just any other conservative backwater on the Internet,” said Keith Urbahn, who heads the PR firm promoting the site and recently served as chief of staff to former Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Election coverage will be co-hosted by Humphries and TPNN News Director Scottie Nell Hughes, with a particular focus on Tea Party-backed candidates like Ted Cruz, Allen West, Michelle Bachmann, and Mia Love.


Steuben County: No Absentee Ballots Just Because of the Weather

The Steuben County Election Commissioners, Vicky Olin (R) and Joe Welch (D) have issued a statement, saying that the weather from Super Storm Sandy is not reason enough for being able to use an absentee ballot in next week’s elections. “Absentee ballots will not be issued to voters this week simply because they fear they will not be able to make it to their polling place on Tuesday next week,” the two election commissioners said in a joint statement.

The board of elections is also saying that Steuben County voters may only vote by absentee ballot for the reasons set forth in the state election law: such as absence from the County, being disabled or serving overseas.

However, both Olin and Welch noted that if the weather turns bad on Tuesday, November 6th, there may be an additional day of voting after that, and that will be decided by the state government.


Teachers’ Pension Keeps Rate of Return At Lofty 8%

The state Teacher’s Retirement System had a rate of return of 2.8 percent for the last fiscal year. But it’s still keeping its estimated annual rate of return at 8 percent.

Critics have blasted public pension funds that have retained a high rate of return. The state’s pension fund for public workers was lowered from 8 percent to 7.5 percent in 2010.

But not the Teacher’s Retirement System. Instead of lowering its rate of return, it is hitting schools with a whopping 40 percent increase in pension costs in the 2013-14 school year, which starts July 1.

“If I can give you one piece of financial advice: If somebody offers you a guaranteed 7 percent on your money for the rest of your life, you take it and just make sure the guy’s name is not Madoff,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last February when asked about the issue in Albany.

John Cardillo, spokesman for the Teacher’s Retirement System, defended the 8 percent rate of return. He said the 20-year return was 8.5 percent and the 3-year return was 12.4 percent.

“Our long-term returns exceed the 8 percent,” Cardillo said.

E.J. McMahon, senior fellow for the fiscally conservative Empire Center For New York State Policy, said the Teacher’s Retirement System has been underestimating what it needs to keep the fund whole, and now it has to make up the difference.

“This is no surprise,” he said.


Final debate Tuesday between Louise Slaughter, Maggie Brooks

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, will debate Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, R-Webster, Tuesday night on WROC-TV (Channel 8).

The debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, will air live at 7 p.m. It was originally scheduled to be held at Nazareth College, but was moved to the station’s studios due to weather concerns.

The two women are competing in the 25th Congressional District, which includes all of Monroe County except Rush, Hamlin, Wheatland, Mendon and a small part of Clarkson.

This is the second and final debate in the race.


School districts will see pension rate jump

School districts will see their expected contribution rate jump by nearly 40 percent next year, an increase that will likely squeeze budgets as they come together in the spring.

A bulletin from the Teacher Retirement System announced last week that each district’s rate would rise from 11.84% of their payroll in the current school year to between 15.5 and 16.5 percent for next year.

School districts got some relief from Tier VI, which raised pension contribution and vesting requirements for newly hired employees. Still, flagging investment markets have prompted the spike.

Here’s the bulletin:

Administrative Bulletin 2012-8, issued August 2012, informed you that the Retirement Board adopted an Employer Contribution Rate (ECR) of 11.84% of payroll. This rate is applicable to fiscal year 2012-13 NYSTRS member salaries and will be collected in September, October and November 2013. Based on preliminary estimates, we anticipate the ECR for the next year to be between 15.50% and 16.50% of member payroll. This rate will apply to fiscal year 2013-14 NYSTRS member salaries and will be collected in the fall of 2014. An Administrative Bulletin will be provided in February 2013 with a more precise estimate of this ECR.

Poor returns in the global capital markets are the driving force behind recent rate increases. The one-year rate of return on System assets for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 was 2.8%.

We anticipate future increases in the ECR. The magnitude of the increases will depend upon future investment performance and member demographic experience. Plan design changes implemented in 2010 (Tier 5) and 2012 (Tier 6) will in time serve to reduce future employer costs.

While our primary goal is to ensure the plan is properly funded, we recognize this rate has a significant impact on school district budgets. Our notices are sent as early as possible for planning and budgeting purposes. Future administrative bulletins will provide additional information regarding the ECR.


Assembly Democrats Pump $1.6M Into Races

If you think all the money is going into control of the state Senate, guess again.

Assembly Democrats spent $1.6 million in recent weeks on its candidates and campaign committee, campaign-finance records show.

Democrats control 102 of the 150 seats in the Assembly, but there are 19 open seats this year. Democrats transferred nearly $200,000 to Democratic candidate Angelo Santabarbara for an open seat in the Albany area.

They have also spent $2.5 million on behalf of candidates this election cycle. The most—$219,455—going to Democratic incumbent Anthony Brindisi of Utica. The full list is below.

Having control of 50 seats in the Assembly is an important threshold for Republicans: It allows them to block an override of a veto from the governor.

Assembly Republicans have spent $1 million on its candidates this year, including $364,000 in transfersto candidates’ campaigns in the past few weeks.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver spent about $27,000 of his $3.1 million campaign warchest over the past few weeks. He spent mainly to pay for his trip to the Democratic convention in Charlotte—including $2,341 at Gleiberman’s, a Jewish deli where he held a fundraiser there (above).

The R


Fair elections committee hits O’Brien and Hanna ads

“Inaccurate” and “untruthful” claims were included in campaign advertising supporting Democratic Monroe County Legislator Ted O’Brien in his bid for the state Senate, a fair elections committee found Thursday. Another decision the same day found that an ad supporting O’Brien’s Republican opponent, Assemblyman Sean Hanna, also contained an untruthful claim.

The Fair Election Practices Committee in Rochester evaluated Hanna’s claim that a mailer asking voters to support O’Brien—the ad “did not identify the source of who was responsible for the mailer,” according to the committee—had fabricated several claims.

The mailer said that Hanna had voted against “equal pay for equal work” for women and that he “voted to take away a woman’s right to make her own health decisions.” Hanna also challenged a charge that he and his supporters were making harassing phone calls while claiming to be representing O’Brien.

The criticism regarding equal pay is based in Hanna’s voting against the Fair Pay Act. Hanna said that bill did not guarantee “equal pay for equal work,” but rather would let the government set salaries for people who performed different jobs.

The committee sided with Hanna: “The allegation is sustained as Mr. Hanna did not ‘vote against equal pay for equal work’ as cited in the mailer. The mailer did also not identify the source of those responsible for the mailer. The mailer and the statements contained is a violation of Fair campaign Pledge Number 1 and are inaccurate and untruthful and should be publicly repudiated.”

There was “no proof” to support the claim regarding women’s choices about their health, the committee stated, and there was not a proper source citation for that charge, either. The decision said a citation on the mailer is “dated well before Mr. Hanna was in the state legislature.”

And, again, the committee found the claim regarding harassing phone calls was “without proof” and “inaccurate.”

Hanna responded to the decision Friday: “I call upon Ted O’Brien and his supporters to pull any and all advertising that lies about my record on these important issues. It’s shameful that Ted O’Brien has chosen to hide behind vicious dishonesty and personal attacks rather than talking about the issues that matter to the voters of our community.”

Regarding the mailer, O’Brien said in a statement: “I repudiate any third party ads the Committee has deemed unfair.”

Another fair election decision released Thursday found an ad supporting Hanna contained an inaccuracy about O’Brien.

A television advertisement for Hanna claimed that O’Brien “voted against funding for road and bridge improvement.”

The committee found that the vote was not related to funding and so the claim was “inaccurate and untruthful.”

O’Brien said: “The verdict is now in and I am heartened the Fair Elections Practices Committee’s decisions validate that Sean Hanna’s campaign has been misleading and deceptive on a historic scale.”

See both decisions below:

Hanna v. OBrien 10-25-12