Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Relishing Our Victory This Week & Asking More Questions


Forget for a minute that Darrel Aubertine is pandering to the North Country's ATV crowd because it was a spectacular week for us here at UGOB! (For more on Aubertine's flip-flop on the ATV issue see tomorrow's WDTs.)

What is more important is that we have been relishing our latest victory - the firing of Darrel Aubertine's sister, Deb Wiley!

We just want our readers to know that we will be putting up a serious fight to ensure that Aubertine's sister does not get paid for the week she was illegally and unethically employed.

We are also seeking a copy of Wiley's resignation letter from Aubertine's office. There have been some rumors/speculation that Wiley never resigned and that Aubertine's Chief of Staff, Ed Gaffney, had to step into the middle of things earlier this week. (Apparently, Darrel didn't have the balls to fire his own sister because of their close relationship; Darrel fought the initial decision until Gaffney got intimately involved.)

If these rumors are true then it raises some serious concerns as to the way in which this case was handled; Aubertine may have flat out lied to the citizens of the 48th District if Wiley was in fact fired. There are some interesting twists to this story as we will see in the days to come.

On a side note, Aubertine is doing everything he can to spin the story and change the subject. Hence, his latest flip-flop on the ATV issue will appear in tomorrow's Watertown Daily Times. How can anybody trust this guy?

We will keep ya'll posted! Thanks for coming back for the inside scoop.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nepotism in New York, part 2

Big story in today's Watertown Daily Times.

It appears that Mr. Aubertine was so excited to be the new Senator of his district that he left his ethics at home... The Watertown Daily Times reported first, and we here at UGOB raised questions next, that Aubertine has hired his sister and that it could raise state ethics questions. Interesting how Aubertine voted for the bill in the NYS Assembly which prohibits the hiring of family members. Is this story over or does it have some legs?

What a difficult week for Mangione to balance! Our next question is: Can you knowingly hire a communications director that does illegal drugs? Is there a law/ethics rule against that?

At any rate, we'll take the credit here for our posting on Wednesday, April 23. Good thing the Albany Correspondent was on top of the ball, Jude Seymour was just going to gloss over it.

UPDATE: We try to stay as balanced as we can here at UGOB! Today, the managing editor of the Watertown Daily Times, Mr. Bob Gorman, notified us that Jude Seymour does not cover the Albany political beat. That distinction goes to the reporter who did end up covering the story, Tom Wanamaker. We apologize that we "speculated" Jude Seymour was glossing over Mr. Aubertine's ethics violation.

We are confident that the Watertown Daily Times will see to it that Debra Wiley does not get paid by the New York State taxpayers for the week she did work as Mr. Aubertine's constituent relations pro.

Aubertine's sister quits as liaison
RESIGNATION ACCEPTED: Reform that the senator voted for in Assembly prohibits hiring family members

ALBANY — State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, said Monday night that his sister, Debra A. Wiley, Cape Vincent, has resigned her position as a constituent liaison in his office.

Ms. Wiley was appointed to the post last week, but a statement issued by Sen. Aubertine's communications director, Drew G. Mangione, said questions on whether the appointment followed state law prompted the senator to investigate the propriety of the move. The questions were posed Monday by the Watertown Daily Times.

In a statement, Mr. Mangione said: "Earlier today, Senator Aubertine became aware of a situation involving the employment of his sister, Debra A. Wiley, in his Senate office. After reviewing the appropriate policies, Debra has submitted her resignation and our office has accepted it."

Ethics reform legislation enacted in the early months of former Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer's administration generally prohibits the hiring of family members by sitting members of the state Legislature.

Section 73, subdivision 14 of New York's public officers law, adopted in March 2007, reads, in part: "No statewide elected official, state officer or employee, member of the Legislature or legislative employee may participate in any decision to hire, promote, discipline or discharge a relative for any compensated position at, for, or within any state agency, public authority, or the Legislature."

Exceptions may be granted for people with "a physical impairment," or for "the temporary hiring of legislative pages, interns and messengers."

The measure passed the Assembly on Feb. 14, 2007. It passed the Senate on March 7, 2007, and was signed into law by Gov. Spitzer on March 26, 2007.

Then representing the 118th Assembly district, Mr. Aubertine voted in favor of the measure.

"This was the proper course of action once we became aware of the potential conflict in this situation. Sen. Aubertine has been a longtime supporter of government reform and accountability and will continue to fight for strong ethics laws in Albany," the statement concluded.

Mr. Aubertine represents the 48th Senate District, which includes Jefferson and Oswego counties and part of St. Lawrence County. He took office March 3 after defeating Assemblyman William A. Barclay in a special election Feb. 26. The election was held to replace former Sen. James W. Wright, who resigned.

Times state editor Perry White contributed to this report.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rudy Giuliani Criticized by Cardinal Egan of NY

Catholics take this stuff pretty seriously. This story below might sum up why Will Barclay, Republican Assemblyman, lost his race against Darrel Aubertine, a pro-life Democrat Assemblyman this year. While we here at UGOB hope Aubertine will really stick to the pro-life position in the Senate, we also hope that we can get a real pro-life, pro-growth Republican in his place!

Giuliani criticized for receiving Holy Communion during pope visit
Posted: 02:53 PM ET
NEW YORK (AP) — New York Cardinal Edward Egan says Rudy Giuliani should not have received Holy Communion during the pope's visit because he supports abortion rights.

Egan says he had "an understanding" with the former presidential candidate and New York mayor that he is not to receive the Eucharist. The Catholic church opposes abortion.

The cardinal said Monday that Giuliani broke that understanding when he received the Eucharist during Pope Benedict XVI's visit.

Egan says he will be seeking a meeting with Giuliani "to insist that he abide by our understanding."

Giuliani's spokesman says she is preparing a response.

Pay Raise for Judges?

Some would agrue that NY judges deserve a pay raise. Others don't think so at all.

Interesting story here from today's New York Post.

Judges across the state are engaged in a "rule-book slowdown" and refusing to hear cases involving firms that employ members of the Assembly and Senate, The Post has learned.

The protest follows years of lobbying for a pay raise, which has gotten the state's 1,300 judges nothing but broken promises and a wage that, when adjusted for cost of living, ranks 49th in the nation.


Two upstate judges told The Post that they recently recused themselves from cases involving Silver's firm because of their anger over the stalled pay raises.

"I think the speaker is a slug," said Cattaraugus County Judge Larry Himelein, a Democrat who said he couldn't be fair to Silver's firm. "The whole New York state political process is a joke."

What a controversy!

State Spending Out of Control

With all of the talk of NYS spending being out of control I decided to wander over to the Empire Center, a Manhattan Institute for Policy Research think tank. They have some interesting stuff over there. For instance, did you know that "New York lawmakers in 2007 were paid the third highest annual base salary at $79,500, according to the latest National Conference for State Legislatures salary figures. Only lawmakers in California and Michigan were paid more."

Not only that, but NYS legistators ranked fourth in the nation for spending per member.

Our spending is out of control! Check out more of what the Empire Center has on their site.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Political Blog Makes the WDT Today

Maybe someday the Upstate Good Old Boys will make the front pages of the Watertown Daily Times. But this is an interesting story you should check out...

Blog might have inside connection to Jeff. County government
FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2008

Sheriff Burns is not the only one who believes the blog's author has strong ties to county administration.

After Political IV broke news that Watertown resident Jerry O. Eaton would be nominated as the county's new Republican elections commissioner, Ezra S. "Ted" Ford speculated on the author's identity on his blog, Danger Democrat.

"We understand from a pretty reliable source that the 'IV' man is none other than Watertown florist and Jefferson County Legislator Scott Gray," wrote Mr. Ford, LaFargeville.

Asked about that post this week, Mr. Ford said the Eaton announcement "was written in the Scott Gray style and was exactly what Scott Gray thinks" but added that he was "largely guessing" on the blogger's identity.

Mr. Gray, R-Watertown, was asked in early April if he was affiliated with Political IV.

"I know who it is," the legislator responded. He would neither confirm nor deny any involvement. Reached again this week, Mr. Gray said he would not discuss the blog.

Mr. Ford and others interviewed about Political IV said they believe that Mr. Gray is involved, but that he is likely not the blog's sole author.

"It might be a couple of people that are connected," Mr. Ford said. "The writing style is pretty good, so it may be a professional writer. It may be someone who was with or currently has a position within existing media."

Mr. Ford said the blog demonstrates some "very intact" sources within the county Legislature. "Somebody is really connected," he said.

Robert F. Hagemann III, county administrator, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

While the guessing game continues, five locals with interests in politics have denied any involvement: Watertown Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham, county Legislature Chairman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, Legislators Philip N. Reed, R-Fishers Landing, and James Nabywaniec, R-Calcium, and former Legislator Paul J. Warneck, who is now county director of real property services.

The person purporting to be the author of Political IV contacted the Watertown Daily Times via e-mail after Mr. Ford "outed" Mr. Gray.

"Ted is guessing," the March 26 e-mail said.

The Times responded: "Why the anonymity? Allow us to explain to readers why you won't publicly identify yourself."

There was no reply.

Now Jefferson County's best known blogger, Mr. Ford initially tried to write Danger Democrat under a pseudonym.

"That lasted a month before I thought: 'This is stupid. Everyone knows it's me,'" he said.

Mr. Ford, a former county Democratic Committee chairman, said he believes that blogs penned by anonymous writers tend to be distrusted more.

"There's something more credible if you know the yay-hoo who's writing it," he said. "I'm not particularly fond of the anonymity of Political IV. I respect it and understand it. There's probably a good reason why IV is unknown."

His progressive viewpoint long unchallenged, Mr. Ford said he believes Political IV was created as "the antidote to Danger Democrat."

Although IV has billed itself as the "independent voice of reason," Mr. Ford said, the blog often espouses a conservative Republican viewpoint.

"I just think that they saw that quite a few people were reading Danger Democrat and it didn't express their point of view, and they wanted their point of view heard," Mr. Ford said. "I'm in favor of that. It gives me someone to pick on."

Instead of drowning out Danger Democrat, Mr. Ford said, he believes the presence of a counterpoint has increased his readership. The site, its owner said, is averaging about 400 hits per day.

Mr. Ford, 67, also has intensified his pace. He is averaging about four posts per day since Political IV debuted; he created about 2.7 posts per day before the other blog existed.

"My overall mission is to get people interested in perusing the Internet to find independent viewpoints," he said. "It's a passion for me and it's obviously a passion for IV. And I think IV does it well.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Affair in the North Country?

Just a month ago the new Governor of New York State admitted to cheating on his wife with several women, including a state employee. Let’s just hope Patterson doesn’t try to cheat the North Country, too. It wouldn’t be the first time the North Country has been cheated on by the likes of the Albany/NYC crowd.

Patterson already made the reckless decision this month to strip the residents of the 118th Assembly District of their representation by not calling for a special election to replace Darrel Aubertine. Now Upstate New Yorkers will go without representation until the next go-around.

Patterson will try to chummy up to his Democrat friends in the North Country tomorrow with a visit to soldiers at Fort Drum. He is also expected to visit Samaritan Medical Center. Lets hope he takes this opportunity to address North Country issues in a bi-partisan manner. The North Country can’t afford to be cheated out of the political system any longer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nepotism in NY?

Sorry that I, Mr. Thomas Nast, have been sleepless in Seattle for weeks and haven’t posted. But it has come to my attention that we have some serious nepotism in upstate New York politics, just when we thought those days were over!

Today, directly from the Watertown Daily Times we found out that our newly elected State Senator, Mr. Darrel J. Aubertine, has added several new staffers to the state’s payroll. One such staffer just happens to be his sister, Debra A. Wiley. Now the move is all fine and dandy, except her salary comes straight out of the wallet of the New York State taxpayer. Sounds like straight up nepotism to me. I wonder if the Watertown Daily Times and the writer, Jude Seymour, will follow up and find out just how much she is being paid for her new role as head of constituent liaisons… and I wonder how much Senator Jim Wright paid his constituent liaison staffer? If Wiley gets special treatment for being the new Senator’s sister will anyone make an issue of it when Aubertine wants to run for Congress?

On a positive note for Aubertine at least he can get this out of the way before his Congressional run in 2010 or 2012, depending on how long McHugh wants to stay in the US Congress. It looks like he is staying put and he is making a heck of a run for chair/ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. Bravo to Mr. McHugh!

I remember another former New York politician who sought to clean up New York politics, rid the state of nepotism, and special interest… his name was Eliot Spitzer. It looks like Hillary Clinton taught Aubertine well – reward those close to home.