‘No-show Jobs, Secret Payments’ Key in Ortt, Maziarz Cases


Former state senator George Maziarz, center, with lawyers E. Stewart Jones, left, and Joseph LaTona, appears in Albany County Court on Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Albany.

For the more than quarter-century that George D. Maziarz reigned supreme over Niagara County Republican politics, paying for elections never posed a problem for his brimming campaign treasury.

Indeed, during the two years now scrutinized by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the former state senator from Newfane regularly checked in with around three-quarters of a million dollars.

But now, Schneiderman says Maziarz and the Niagara County Republican Committee under his control bankrolled far more than just elections. They essentially acted as pass-through accounts for no-show jobs, Schneiderman said Thursday as his office announced multicount felony indictments against the former state senator and his Albany successor, Sen. Robert G. Ortt.

The attorney general said Thursday his efforts will revolve around “no-show jobs and secret payments” that he called “the lifeblood of public corruption.” The payments allegedly went to a former Niagara County legislator and Maziarz campaign associate, as well as to Ortt’s wife, neither of whom did any work to earn the money, according to the indictments.
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If CNN’s New Russia Report Is True, We May Be Seeing the Beginning of the End of Donald Trump’s Presidency

Donald Trump is in the middle of a non-stop waking nightmare. Every single day finds the nation’s most powerful conspiracy theorist at the center of what might be the biggest conspiracy in our nation’s history. And unlike the theories Trump likes to push (Obama having Trump’s “wires tapped,” Obama not being born in America, etc.), more and more this one seems like the real deal.

Putin’s America

Yesterday reports came out that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had worked for a Russian oligarch with the intention of furthering Vladimir Putin’s interests in the United States. That alone would usually make for the latest in a long line of bad weeks for the administration. Not unlike the week where Michael Flynn was fired because of his failure to disclose his Russian connections or the week where attorney general Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from any Russia investigation due to his lying under oath about his own contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Yes, if that was the last bad news for the administration on the Russia front, it would already have been a shitty week…

It was not the last bad news for the administration on the Russia front.

Last night CNN reported that it looks like the FBI’s investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to swing the election may be looking bad for Donald Trump.
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Sparks Fly as Amherst Political Powers Weinstein, Kindel Head Toward Rematch


Two Amherst political powers, Supervisor Barry Weinstein, on left, and former longtime Town Board member William Kindel may run against each other in 2017 for Town Board.

The slate of candidates for fall races in the Town of Amherst continues to grow and could feature a rematch between two political foes.

A familiar name in town politics for half a century, William L. Kindel, is attempting a return to office with a run for town board.  Kindel served five four-year terms as a town councilman during 50 years of involvement in town government.

Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, who cannot seek a third term due to term limits, also indicated an interest in remaining on the board by seeking one of the two seats.

“It’s a possibility,” Weinstein said. “I will not make up my mind until May at the earliest.”
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Did the Seneca Nation Just Outmaneuver Albany?


The main gambling floor of the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino.

The Seneca Nation’s decision this week to stop paying the state more than $100 million a year in casino revenue sharing caught leaders in Albany completely off guard.

But on the Seneca territories, more than 300 miles away, tribal officials have known for months that this day was coming.

Seneca officials did not raise a grievance with the state in 2013 when they believed Albany was in breach of the casino agreement, according to one lawmaker, because the Senecas did not want to do anything to alert state leaders to an omission in the original 2002 casino compact and a subsequent 2013 deal.
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Beard Delays Departure, Giving WGRZ Options After Levin Exit


For the second time, John Beard has said he is going to stick around Buffalo a bit longer than expected.

As expected, WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) “Daybreak” co-anchor John Beard has been convinced to stay at the station beyond June, the first date he extended a departure originally planned for the end of 2016.

In a brief interview, he said his decision to stay for an additional six months until the end of 2017 was made even before Monday’s announcement that Channel 2’s lead male anchor, Scott Levin, is leaving broadcasting after the May sweeps to work in management for the West Herr Automotive group.
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Breaking News: Lacking Votes For Passage, House GOP Leaders Delay Vote On Obamacare Repeal Bill

Senators advised House vote on healthcare unlikely before Monday
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. senators have been informed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that a vote on a Republican repeal and replacement of Obamacare might not be held in the House of Representatives before Monday, according to a senior Senate aide.

The House had hoped to vote on Thursday on the controversial measure but has lacked the votes for passage.

Meanwhile, another aide said House leaders might still try to schedule a House floor vote very early Friday. House Republicans are scheduled to meet in a closed-door meeting at 7 p.m. (2300 GMT) to assess the situation, according to an aide.

By Richard Cowan

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First Candidate Enters May Election To Williamsville School Board


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At least one name will be on the ballot for May’s election of three seats on the Williamsville Board of Education, with petitions due in less than four weeks.

Susan McClary, a retired Sweet Home teacher and current assistant to Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, has submitted petitions to run, District Clerk Mitzie Serafin said.

The school board election will be held with the annual district budget vote on May 16. Three seats are up for election with terms expiring for members Dr. Patricia Losito, Michael Schmidt and Ronald Shubert. None of the incumbents has announced intentions to seek re-election.

The successful candidates will serve a three-year term on the nine-member board.

 Candidate packets are available for anyone interested in running. Qualified candidates must be able to read and write; be a citizen of the United States; be at least 18 years of age; and be a resident of the school district for at least one year prior to the election.

Prospective candidates must obtain at least 72 valid signatures, which represents two percent of last year’s total vote count. Petitions are due by 5 p.m. April 17.

Necessary forms are available online at www.williamsvillek12.org/boardcandidates or may be picked up at the district office, 105 Casey Road., East Amherst, during business hours.

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Williamsville School Officials Concerned About Possible Loss of Federal Aid


Programs that serve the Williamsville Central School District’s “most vulnerable students” would be at risk if the district loses any of its $4 million in federal aid, officials said this week.

The Trump administration proposes cutting $9.2 billion — or 13.5 percent — from the Education Department’s budget, the Washington Post reported last week. That could mean less money funneled down to local school public schools.

In Williamsville, that would affect programs across the board, ranging from the district’s mental health staff to the free and reduced meal program, officials said.
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Ortt, Maziarz Indicted On Felony Election Law Violations

 
State Sen. Rob Ortt, left, and former State Sen. George Maziarz, right, were indicted by an Albany grand jury on Wednesday.

An Albany County grand jury indicted two state senators Wednesday – one sitting and one retired – on felony election law violations, as part of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s probe of election law fraud in Niagara County.

State Sen. Robert G. Ortt and former Sen. George D. Maziarz, both with deep roots as North Tonawanda Republicans, are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning in Albany.

A spokeswoman for Ortt acknowledged late Wednesday that the senator faces three counts of offering a false instrument for filing. Just hours earlier, he voluntarily appeared before the grand jury probing the campaign finances of Maziarz and the Niagara County Republican Committee.

The senator will not resign and will fight the charges, according to Andrea Bozek, Ortt’s spokeswoman.

 Ortt issued a statement Wednesday evening, saying: “We look forward to telling voters the truth about Eric Schneiderman and exposing him for the power hungry, political opportunist he is and I will fight this ridiculous charge.”

Former Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry F. Wojtaszek pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor election law violation, as well.

His attorney, Patrick J. Brown, said Wojtaszek appeared in Albany City Court Wednesday morning to acknowledge the unclassified misdemeanor of failing to file a reporting form during the 2012-2013 period that has come under Schneiderman’s scrutiny for the past two years.

“He was not fingerprinted or a mug shot taken,” Brown said, adding he expected Wojtaszek will pay a fine.

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Are You Coming to Saturdays Morning Meeting? The Great Reveal


If you are a new resident to the Village, you may want to come to the meeting.
If you have a new child in the Village, you may want to come to the meeting.
If you are retiring to the Village, you may want to come to the meeting.
If you like the Village lifestyle, you may want to come to the meeting.
If you have an interest in where the Village is going, you may want to come to the meeting.
If you have an interest in what is coming to the Village, you may want to come to the meeting.
If you want to join your neighbors, elected officials and other folks with interest, you will want to come to the meeting.

Saturday Morning 9 am – 10:30 am at Village Hall – Meeting # 3- The Great Reveal –

Join in “at Village Hall to refine details of our park and neighborhood plan in order to produce an amendment to our 2010 Community Plan.” Come and see in better detail what has been reported in the newspaper article this week.

If you missed the first two meetings, join in the third and see what is coming to our Village Life Style.

Hope to see you there!

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