Black Lives Matter enters Binghamton, NY with questionable causes

By Michael Vass | May 22, 2016

Published on May 19, 2016 at Binghamton Political Buzz by Michael “Vass” Vasquez

Like many cities across America, Binghamton, NY, has now been introduced to the Black Lives Matters (BLM) movement. Similar to the introduction of Occupy Binghamton, the introduction of BLM came in the form of a protest march on May 18, 2016. The theme of the protest was the disapproval from BLM on how Black students are treated in the Binghamton City School District.

Some 50 protestors, comprised of adults and children as young as 10, gathered in front of City Hall to announce their displeasure chanting “If we don’t get it, shut it down!” Though the Binghamton Police Department confirmed they were aware of the event some 100 feet away, and that there was a lack of permits having been filed, no action was taken to hinder or interrupt the event. Binghamton Police were also not requested by BLM to provide protection for protestors.

Many of those in the small group were members of Citizen Action and/or Working Families Party, especially the speakers at the event. Robert “Bobbie” Black, the Director for Citizen Action and Larry Parr, Working Families Party State Delegate and board member of Citizen Action, were among keynote speakers. In addition, Kymel Yard who ran unsuccessfully for the Binghamton school board (coming in last among candidates), was another speaker at the event.

Among the issues mentioned by the group were a demand for increased spending on Black students and concerns about keeping Black students in school. The speakers also addressed the concern of some of the handful of counter-protestors that were also at the event. The counter-protestors carried signs stating that “All lives matter.” They had also asked why BLM, and the organizations involved in the event, failed to support the Equal Access to Opportunities for People of Color (EAOPC) event on May 11, 2016. That EAOPC event included Mayor Rich David and Police Chief Joseph Zikuski, specifically to hear and address the concerns of the community on race relations – a key issue of BLM and Citizen Action – but only 3 people reportedly attended the event.

The response by Larry Parr on the lack of attendance was, “The people[organizing the EAOPC event] didn’t do the work.” Linda Hamilton, who was one of the 3 people that did attend the EAOPC event with the Mayor and was one of the counter-protestors later commented,

“All lives matter. Everyone is equal, no one is special… The Police came and were willing to have questions directed at them [at the EAOPC event] and it bothered me that a week later all these people at this event could have attended. My take on it, instead of sitting down and discussing some people want a spectacle.”

But it’s the issues mentioned by BLM protestors that may be most puzzling. According to data from the New America Foundation,  an independent non-partisan source on federal education funding, from 2008 – 2012 (the last date of reported information) per student spending increased 15% for the Binghamton City School District. Comparatively this matched increases by the Niagara Falls City School District, and was double the  Poughkeepsie City School District and Central Islip Free Union School District increases as comparison examples. In addition, the Binghamton City School District budget, approved by voters by a 3:1 margin, increased spending by $5 million (4.57%) to $112 million from 2015.

There was also the claim about disproportionate suspension rates. Larry Parr asserted approximately 80% [See our exclusive video interview] of Black male students with disabilities are primarily affected by this and it leads directly to prison,

“That sets up the school to prison pipeline. Suspension, referral, drop-outs, kicking kids out of school, whatever you want to call it, all feeds the school to prison pipeline.”

But it is unclear where such data, or conclusion, comes from. According to NYS Education Department (NYSED) records (2012-13) just 24% of all Binghamton District students are Black/African-American. Of the total 5,651 students, there were 808 (14%) that were listed as having disabilities – the group of students cited as having higher than State average suspension rates. NYSED does not report the ethnicity or race of students suspended, thus calling the claim into question.

Further, according to district records from September 2014 to April 2016, the number of suspensions in the Binghamton City School District decreased by 30%. In Binghamton High School, during this time period, there was a 26% decrease in suspensions although there was a 16% increase at East Middle School.

Another factor that changed in the school district was the recent removal of former Superintendent Marion Martinez in March. She was fired after a unanimous vote of no confidence from the Binghamton Administrative and Supervisory Association and requests by teachers, administrators and parents in part due to the issues at East Middle School. None of these facts were addressed by the BLM, Citizen Action, or the Working Families Party.

After the event, we had the opportunity to speak with  Larry Parr about the mission and goals of the BLM. He stated, when asked if the BLM believes that the public has a right to equity as opposed to equality, that

“Everybody has a right to equity. This country guarantees us equal rights. Those rights are guaranteed to us, equal rights, based on our need… People don’t need the same thing. So we can’t bring parity in the country by dealing strictly with equality. And that’s what we are trying to do, bring parity to the country.”

While most in the nation might question a right to parity that does not exist in the Constitution or Amendments, at least the Binghamton version of Black Lives Matter apparently consider this to be a fundamental fact that has motivated this protest. Considering the appearance of BLM protestors and Citizen Action members at the school board meeting later that day, the City of Binghamton may once again be subject to a long visit by this progressive faction just as Occupy Binghamton did in 2011.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Addressing the request of Steve Wells to compare quantity for NY-22 candidates

By Michael Vass | May 22, 2016

Published on May 18, 2016 at Binghamton Political Buzz by Michael “Vass” Vasquez

On May 17, 2016, NY-22 congressional candidate Steve Wells raised the question of quantity as a factor in the 8 County-wide race. With that question, stated on WUTQ’s Talk of the Town program as well as in negative campaign ads, also raised is a concurrent question that must be asked – what quantities are a factor in the congressional race.

Before the question can be answered, what are the parameters of the question must be determined. What specific quantity is to be considered? Number of years in elected office? Number of elections won or lost? Number of legislation proposed and/or passed? Number of public statements made on issues affecting the public?

Those are all good criteria to judge a candidate or incumbent seeking (re-)election. None were the reason offered by Steve Wells on the morning talk program, nor in the attack ads of the anyone-but-Tenney Grow the Economy SuperPAC . Instead Mr. Wells focused on the singular point of attendance, with a very specific timeframe, equating elected office with grade school.

“This year she [Assemblywoman Tenney] has missed 56 votes campaigning.”

NY-22 congressional primary candidates

But what if we treat all candidates the same, and ask the questions of quantity of each candidate? What if we made an apples to apples comparison to put this into context, as opposed to the out-of-context approach of Mr. Wells? It’s something that few campaigns are willing to do, but since it has been raised it should be covered for voters.

In reference to attendance, only Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and Legislator Kim Myers apply to the question. Steve Wells has never held an elected position, and his volunteer position in the NY State Republican Party does not have public votes or attendance. Both George Phillips and David Pasich are teachers and their attendance in those institutions does not factor. Mr. Phillips was appointed as a Broome County Legislator (a position he later resigned from) but those records require a FOIA and were not available in time for this article.

That leaves Legislator Myers and Assemblywoman Tenney. Records available without FOIA from Broome County Legislature cover 2015 and 2016 to-date. In that time, Legislator Myers missed 13 votes so far in 2016 (10% of votes). In 2015 she also missed 13 votes (3.4% of votes).

As stated by Assemblywoman Tenney on WUTQ on May 17, 2016, she has missed 4% of days required to be at the Assembly since elected in 2010.

“I missed a day on June 19th [2014], which was last day of session. We voted on 500 votes on that day… my mother was sick and I left… she was very sick in 2014 and ultimately died in 2015… that day I voted on my committee meeting and rushed back to be with my mother… I made them all up as we are allowed to do with a paper ballot.”

This includes the alleged votes missed claimed by the Grow The Economy Super PAC – except the source noted by the PAC is listed as NYPIRG (a left leaning organization). Review of the NYPIRG site brought up 2 documents on Claudia Tenney both from 2010 and neither addressing votes or attendance. According to VoteSmart.org, Assemblywoman Tenney missed 8 key votes out of 37 (22%) between 2011 and to-date; which includes 4 votes on June 19, 2014 – when Tenney dealt with family medical issues.

But what of the other questions? Like number of years in elected office?  Steve Myers has none, which matches Libertarian David Pasich. George Phillips has never been elected to office, but held an appointed position as Legislator for 9 months. Legislator Kim Myers has been in elected office for 20 years, 18 on the Vestal School Board and 2 in the Broome County Legislature. Claudia Tenney was elected to the NYS Assembly in 2010 and continues to hold that position at this time.

Moving on to the quantity of Bills introduced, David Pasich and Steve Wells again have nothing to present. George Phillips may have introduced Bills to the Legislature, but due to the span of time since that may have been done a FOIA request is required to determine if this occurred and is thus beyond the scope of this article.

It should be noted that according to the Broome County Legislature 2nd Deputy, Robert O’Donnell, whom we contacted in researching this article, it is uncommon for members of the County Legislature to introduce Bills. They normally are presented Bills from other agencies and then are voted on. Thus Kim Myers also shows no current Bills introduced, but may exist if a FOIA is requested.

Finally there is Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney’s record. We have found, in contrast to claims by Steve Wells made on WNBF on May 12, 2016, that no Bills have been introduced, in fact that 74 Bills were presented to the Assembly. Further a total of 737 Bills were co-sponsored by Tenney thus far – which addresses the claims she does not work with others.

Of course the valid argument can be made that elected office is not about the quantity of elections won, years in office, votes taken, Bills introduced, or even the number of Bills passed. To be fair, those who have never held an elected office should not be compared on such criteria as they have nothing to offer. But by his public attack raising the question of quantity, Mr. Wells demands in-context comparisons to be made, as out-of-context comparisons should not be presented to the public as it misrepresents the choices available. That being given, the question of quality should be addressed in some manner for voters as well.

The problem with that is quality is subjective when it comes to elections, votes, and candidates. There is no objective standard or statistics that can be presented to represent quality in politics. Perhaps the only standard that could be offered is what candidates have done when they were not seeking elected office. Using that as a standard we can see the following of the NY-22 candidates.

We are unaware of any public event or speech or activity by David Pasich at any point in the past. No record exists of such an event. Equally, Steve Wells is almost without event. There is one Youtube speech that exists before the current run for Congress, but it addresses how youth should deal with superiors in the workplace and is non-political. But Mr. Wells does have an extensive history of political donations that is public. These include donations to Democrats as well as Republicans, including the donations to Gov. Cuomo who has led the charge against Conservatives and Republicans in NY State as well as spearheading the NY SAFE Act. There is no other public record demonstrating any political position that Mr. Wells maintains prior to his run for Congress.

Legislator Kim Myers also has a low profile. While she was involved with the Vestal School Board for more than a decade, few of those meetings or the issues that the Board addressed are public – such as the audit problems while she was president of the Board. Issues like Common Core (which was initiated in 2009, prior to her election to her County position) show no public comment that we can find. Legislator Myers has been seen with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as a display of support. She is a known multi-millionaire due to her family’s departure from NY State to expand their business, but has not public discussed any effort to allow New Yorkers to share in similar success.

George Phillips has made several speeches since his last run for Congress, prior to his current third try. There are at least 4 confirmed events in the 6 year span, given to local Broome County TEA Party organizations. In addition there is 1 letter to the editor, November 2015, a month prior to his entry into the congressional race. Mr. Phillips indicated that his lack of participation (specifically on 2nd Amendment issues) was due to the failure to be invited to participate.

For Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, it is difficult to separate her activities from her elected office. In the 14 months between the 2014 primary and the announcement of her run for the 2016 congressional seat, she was re-elected to her position as the 101st District representative. Thus she has appeared on talk radio programs (WUTQ, WIBX) consistently in that time. She has also appeared at several 2nd Amendment rallies and events, many coinciding with her legislative efforts to eliminate the NY SAFE Act. She has written several articles addressing concerns about the Trans Pacific Partnership – as appeared in the Washington Times on May 1, 2015 as well as speaking about it in events - among other issues.

All in all, this is an in-context comparison of all the candidates in the NY-22 race. Still no comparison of quantity or attempt at categorizing quality can be done for the masses in a definitive manner. There are far too many issues, and each individual weighs each issue according to their own values. That said, it is unfair and misleading to selectively edit a quantity and isolate a singular candidate, to create a political advantage while obfuscating facts from voters.

** Binghamton Political Buzz does not advocate for any candidate in any election. We seek to provide objective facts and information to allow voters to intelligently determine whatever choice for themselves. To that end, we have and continue to offer all candidates in the 2016 NY congressional election the opportunity to have interviews that will be presented to the public without edit and in full context. **

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Exclusive: Steve Wells makes only appearance in Binghamton NY

By Michael Vass | May 17, 2016

Published at Binghamton Political Buzz on May 10, 2016. Written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez”.

On May 10, 2016, congressional candidate Steve Wells entered Broome County, to have his only public event in Binghamton, NY (according to his campaign literature). Mr. Wells, from Madison County, entered the New York 22nd congressional race on February 9, 2016 - as we reported at the time – just in time to get the local Republican Committee endorsement. But not much was known about him at that time. The trip to Binghamton did nothing to enlighten those few that got to meet him.

May 2016, Steve Wells in the corner, at Ross Park, Binghamton NY

The event, at the small pavilion in Ross Park next to the zoo, was scheduled to start at 5:30 PM. We arrived at 5:05 PM, to be able to speak with Mr. Wells prior to the event. Though Mr. Wells sent out several hundred if not several thousand invitations (there were over 16,000 votes in the NY Republican Presidential Primary in Broome County alone) only his staff and employees from his company American Vending were present. When we asked Mr. Wells for an interview, he declined. When advised we had been requesting an interview – at his company’s office, through his campaign, and publicly on Facebook – for the past 105 days, he remarked he was unaware of this. Our request to schedule an interview for the future was passed on to his staffer, Rebecca (no last name given to us) as Mr. Wells hastily left Ross Park within 3 minutes of our arrival. He would not return until 5:38 PM, after the event had officially begun.

The Wells Campaign staffer, Rebecca, declined any comment for the event. Though she did strongly request that no filming occur for the event after our video equipment was in place. When asked to confirm that this was an open event, in a public space, Rebecca became irritated and stated that the pavilion was rented and filming was thus prohibited as it was a private event. While the Wells Campaign was aggressive in preventing any filming, they did not request us to leave the event. They did ensure that neither they nor Steve Wells was within 15 feet of us throughout the event.

At 5:35 PM, attendees began to arrive, with a grand total of 30 people attending the event. For comparison, Mr. Wells garnered roughly just 165 petition signatures from all of Broome County after a month to do so. All but 2 of the attendees were apparently retirees/Senior Citizens. Most of those in attendance were treated to a 1 on 1 conversation (much in the manner of Rep. Richard Hanna). Mr. Wells ultimately declined to speak to all those gathered in a singular speech at any point in the event which had been hinted he might do earlier.

Of the 15% of attendees that we spoke to, we were given the same response about the sum of Mr. Wells conversations. We were told that Mr. Wells reiterated his campaign material, but failed to provide any answers to what he plans to do it if he were to be elected. Further, Mr. Wells promoted his claim of being a political outsider, while neglecting to mention his donations to Gov. Cuomo (who opposes the 2nd Amendment that Mr. Wells claims he supports), his volunteer position with the NY State GOP, or his influence with Republican candidates outside of Broome County. Those we spoke with, who were unaware of Mr. Wells prior to the event, stated they found his omissions curious.

Though the staff of Mr. Wells were busy taking promotional photos of Mr. Wells, attendees began leaving the event by 6:15 PM – halfway through the scheduled event. By 6:30 PM, the campaign began to pack up. The event was over early and attendees had left by 6:48 PM.

To our knowledge, there was no answer given to any questions about Mr. Wells or his candidacy. He did not discuss why he provided, via his company, support to one of the most powerful opponents of the 2nd Amendment. He did not discuss why he has largely avoided the public, providing 4 interviews only after the petition process with half the race over. He did not reveal why he has only spent a grand total of 19 days (according to campaign materials) meeting the public since entering the race, nor why his other time in Broome County was in the high Republican count region of Vestal NY on April 26th – when he needed signatures. He did not explain how he intends to win the support of voters who don’t know him except for the slew of promotional flyers, and support of a negative attack oriented PAC.

Most politicians and candidates seek out the news media to allow voters to be aware of who they are. The Wells Campaign appears to have a different strategy in place. If his apparent plan to use social media, flyers, and television ads is successful, Mr. Wells may well usher a new era of separation from voters for future elections throughout the NY-22. But only voters have that final decision.

** We have again sent another request to the Wells Campaign for an interview to the questions that have remained unanswered for the past 105 days. As always, and as done for 4 candidates in the NY-22 race already, any interview will be provided to the public without edit and verbatim. Binghamton Political Buzz endorses no candidate in the NY-22 race, and only seek to provide the public with information so that they can make an educated decision when they vote in this contested Primary. **

*** Additional note: There was an error in our count of visits to Broome County in the original publication. Mr. Wells previously visited Colesville on April 25th and Vestal on April 26th. We have corrected the article to reflect that error. The Wells Campaign did not contact us to make this correction. ***

Rating 4.00 out of 5

The search for positive economic trends in a failed policy

By Michael Vass | May 8, 2016

Published at Binghamton Political Buzz on May 6, 2016. Written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez”.

As president Obama takes to the airwaves to spin the April 2016 unemployment rate, claiming the economy has and continues to improve few agree. It’s a point of view that remains largely unsupported by the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on May 6, 2016. At this moment, according to BLS records, 94 million Americans remain outside the workforce – that’s 59% of the civilian labor force and 37% of the civilian population.

President Obama discusses San Bernadino

On this day, in 2008 according to US Debt Clock, the national debt stood at $10.1 trillion. There were 145 million people in the workforce and 13 million unemployed. The number of Americans not counted in the labor force were 79.7 million. The population was 304 million people of which 38.2 million were in poverty.

By this day in 2012, after the recovery due to the Obama Stimulus, the national debt had risen to $15.5 trillion – an increase of 53.4%. The total population had risen to 312 million (up 2.6%), with 46.3 million in poverty (up 21.2%). The labor force was 141 million Americans (down 3%) with 23 million unemployed (up 77%) and 87.5 million not counted (up 10%).

Today these same figures now stand at $19.3 trillion in debt (an increase of 91% since 2008). The population stands at 323 million (up 6.2% since 2008), with 15.5 million unemployed (up 19.2%) and 93.5 million not counted (up 17.3%). A total of 46.8 million live in poverty (increased by 22.5%) with 152 million in the work force (an additional 5%).

No matter what the political spin attempted, the numbers cannot lie. Empirically the Obama Administration, and the Democrats that have backed it (with a strong helping hand from Republican leadership), have failed the US economy. After 2 presidential terms, under both Democrat and Republican control of Congress, nothing done has improved the reality average Americans live. Even if all other figures are discounted, the growth in the work force has lagged the growth in population – a negative indication for the economy.

Perhaps the only way that the US economy can be viewed as any form of positive is if the comparison is made only to the 2012 results. But that still fails as it is after the self-proclaimed “Summer of Recovery” of the Obama Administration in 2010, when the message was, “…you might think that the Recovery Act’s greatest impact is behind us. But it’s not.” The failure has been so massive virtually no Democrat has used the term recovery in any context since 2011.

The TARP, Obama Stimulus, shovel-ready jobs, Cash for Clunkers, Obamacare, each and every program a categorical failure. Many of which were predicted by Conservatives and independent analysis to set the stage for long-term economic impoverishment. Yet, purely for partisan political agenda benefit, President Obama is using his eloquent delivery to claim,

“We have to do everything we can to strengthen the good trends, and guard against the more dangerous trends in the world economy.”

The question that must be asked from an empirical standing is – what good trends? Yes, president Obama claims that there is a trend of job growth, some 14.6 million jobs. Which is true, IF the data is cherry-picked and only reviewed from the lowest levels of the recession. But economic policies of the Obama Administration have been in force for the better part of a decade. The recovery was long ago proclaimed and the path of improvement was declared underway. President Obama and Democrats can’t try to say everything is rosy when nothing points to that.

There remains 41 million without health care insurance, even after all the promises and requirements of Obamacare. Over 161.6 million Americans are receiving some form of Government aid – 6.3% more of the nation than the entire work force. Again the question must be asked – what positive trend?

In 2012, President Obama blamed the negativity in the US economy on President Bush, 3 full years after that Administration ended. Now even though President Bush is still the whipping dog of the Democrat in this presidential election, reality still seeps in. As former-President Bill Clinton stated, on behalf of his wife Hillary,

“If you believe we can rise together, if you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the seven years before that, where we were practicing trickle-down economics, then you should vote for her.”

Ignoring for the moment that Hillary Clinton served and aided the first term of the Obama Administration’s greatest impact on the American economy, the reality is that even Democrats cannot ignore the lack of real positive trends. Sen. Bernie Sanders, even before he was incapable of winning the Democrat nomination (without the support of an FBI investigation), offered the same critique. So why is President Obama persisting in spinning the reality the numbers provide?

Legacy and hopes for the 2016 elections. Not only at the presidential level, but elections for Senate, the House, and lower local elections. President Obama has long been known for his desire to enter history books as a great president. A legacy that is promised to be undone with swiftness if a Republican follows him into the White House (let alone Congress). This selfish partisan goal seems to be the only credible reason.

But such self-delusion and self-aggrandizement provides no benefit to the American people. Democrats may hide behind a headline of 5% unemployment, but once even a glance is made to the underlying facts the failure cannot be obscured. It’s a lesson that whomever is elected President in 2016 should learn.

America cannot be made great through selective editing of facts or cheerful political spin on data. A real plan, with the honest evaluation and willingness to correct errors rather than double down on abject defeat, is the only answer for the nation. Whether that will happen remains to be seen.

 

Rating 3.00 out of 5

What are PAC’s and how they are affecting the NY-22 race?

By Michael Vass | May 5, 2016

Published at the Binghamton Political Buzz on May 3, 2016. Written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez.

In every election year, especially with Presidential races, a question often surfaces of what a Political Action Committee (PAC) is and how they affect races. 2016 is no different in this regard. The best answer may be looking at the race in the New York 22nd congressional district for examples.

A PAC is defined as a group, organization, or individual that is dedicated to supporting a candidate or ideal in a single or multiple political races. It is also possible that a classic PAC can oppose a candidate that does not match its ideals and philosophy though more uncommon (ie, StopHillaryPAC). Normally a PAC provides its support in aligning its name and donations (up to a legal limit of $5,000) to a particular candidate that embodies the same philosophy as the PAC.

2016 NY-22 candidates

A real world example of this in the NY-22 race there are examples of this classic version of a Political Action Committee. The Susan B. Anthony List is a PAC that focuses on candidates who have advocated (and/or legislated) for pro-life laws and political policy. On March 23, 2016, the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) Candidate Fund endorsed Claudia Tenney – who is one of the Republican candidates seeking the NY-22 open seat.

“Her strong, bold voice for unborn children and women will be a welcome addition in Congress.”

The SBA included a donation of $5,000 – the legal limit – with their endorsement. Additionally, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms PAC, which also holds the same outlook on pro-life issues also endorsed Claudia Tenney, on March 7, 2016. This PAC though endorsed without a cash donation, as that is not required of a PAC.

Another example of a PAC is the Citizen United Political Victory Fund (CUPVF). This Political Action Committee is also a classic PAC. They endorsed Claudia Tenney on Secember 16, 2015, and made a donation of $5,000. The goal of this PAC is to support candidates that uphold conservative values,

“Assemblywoman Tenney is a pro-small business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-life conservative reformer who will be an effective leader in New York’s 22nd congressional district.”

But the classic definition of a PAC is not the only thing affecting elections. There are also Super PAC’s. These are similar to a classic PAC in that it can be a collection of business(es), organization(s), and/or individual(s) seeking to promote or oppose a candidate. But the difference with a Super PAC is that it can use an unlimited amount to aid a candidate or for opposition. There is an example of this as well in the NY-22 race.

The Super PAC in the New York 22nd congressional race as of May 1, 2016, is the Grow the Economy PAC (GtE). While the name may appear to be politically motivated, like our prior examples, that is not the case here. Instead, this PAC is focused singularly on opposition to Claudia Tenney.

“Grow the Economy PAC said it will rally grassroots support for Tenney’s two opponents in the GOP primary – Steve Wells and George Phillips — and pay for television and direct mail ads against the state assemblywoman.”

Thus, this Super PAC will seek to support essentially anyone, potentially even a Democrat, as long as they oppose this specific candidate. The reasoning in this case is that the GtE PAC apparently feels that a member of Congress is capable of altering the US economy and budget by themselves and thus “…undermine its economic future.” This is similar to organizations and individuals that support the anyone-but-Trump mindset.

The key difference of a Super PAC is not its purpose but how it fulfills the purpose. Because an unlimited amount of funds can be committed to promote their viewpoint – without necessarily regard to principles or actions of the candidate in question.

Because a Super PAC is not giving funds to a candidate, it can use the money to produce television commercials, flyers, or other marketing. As in this example, because the Grow the Economy PAC is not in favor of any candidate, they can fund attack ads without censorship or control of candidates (in this case George Phillips and Steve Wells – potentially Legislator Kim Myers). This is possible because of the 2010 court case SpeechNOW.org_v._Federal_Election_Commission.

The Grow the Economy PAC was created to replace the Patriot Prosperity PAC (PPP). In 2014 the PPP opposed Claudia Tenney and thus supported Rep. Richard Hanna. That effort used $100,000. Apparently at least some of the members of the PPP did not agree with continuing to oppose Claudia Tenney.

In essence, a classic PAC has the purpose of supporting, or more rarely opposing, a specific candidate based on principles and political platform. The candidate controls the funds given to them, just like a donation from an individual supporter. A Super PAC has the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election. Candidates have no control over how funds are used or in what manner. While these are similar goals, the examples provided show a concrete difference between the 2 types of Political Action Committee.

** Additional PAC’s in the NY-22 race include (as listed by FEC filings) :

FRC Action PAC - endorsed Claudia Tenney – February 8, 2016

EDUCATIONAL FUND - cash contribution Claudia Tenney - February 17, 2016 – $500

CATHOLICS-COUNT FEDERAL - cash contribution Claudia Tenney – March 3, 2016 – $500

OFF THE SIDELINES PAC - cash contribution Kim Myers - March 21, 2016 – $5,000

OFF THE SIDELINES PAC – cash contribution Kim Myers – March 21, 2016 – $5,000

FUND FOR AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY PAC – cash contribution George Phillips – March 21, 2016 – $1,000

JOBS, OPPORTUNITY AND EDUCATION PAC (JOE-PAC) – cash contribution Kim Myers – March 21, 2016 – $2,500

NANCY PELOSI FOR CONGRESS - cash contribution Kim Myers – March 28, 2016 – $2,000

NEW YORK JOBS PAC - cash contribution Kim Myers – March 28, 2016 – $1,000

AMERIPAC: THE FUND FOR A GREATER AMERICA - cash contribution Kim Myers – March 31, 2016 – $5,000

Rating 3.67 out of 5

A discussion in Vestal NY with Michael Vasquez

By Michael Vass | May 5, 2016

On Tuesday, May 3, 2016, a small crowd of concerned voters gathered at the Vestal Public Library to hear guest speaker Michael “Vass” Vasquez. The topics for the night were New York corruption, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the NY SAFE Act, NY-22 seat candidates, and how voting relates to all of these subjects. The event also included a Question and Answer period.

Michael Vasquez, also known in some publications by his registered alias Michael Vass, has been a political commentator for the past 9 1/2 years and is owner of M V Consulting, Inc. The work of Mr. Vasquez can be found in virtually all search engines, under the Binghamton Political Buzz at Examiner.com; the blog VASS political commentary; and via podcast at NO Soundbites Allowed. Mr. Vasquez is also a regular guest on talk radio programs throughout the NY 22nd congressional district, including WNBF and WUTQ. From 2013 – 2014 Mr. Vasquez ran for Congress before he withdrew from the race, and is a member of the Broome County Republican Party.

The following videos are unedited full video of the speech given, and the questions and answers from the event:

Questions and Answers

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Open letter to congressional candidate Steve Wells

By Michael Vass | May 3, 2016

Mr. Wells,
Political Donor Steve Wells
Since January 26, 2016, we have been consistently contacting you and your campaign in an effort to conduct an interview for the benefit of the public and constituents in the NY 22nd Congressional District that you seek to represent. To-date both you and your campaign have failed to make any response to our phone calls and emails.

We have thus far interviewed half of the candidates that have announced the intention to run for the NY-22 seat. We continue to pursue interviews with the remaining candidates, as transparency and timely answers to the questions and concerns of the constituents is vital to the process of the 2016 NY elections. It is a reflection of both the character and intent of the candidates, in our opinion.

Because of this importance to voters, because the issues that the NY-22 representative in Congress will be addressing issues that will affect this nation for decades to come, we believe that all candidates should be interviewed. But since all our prior private attempts over the last 99 days (the second longest period of silence by a candidate in the NY-22 race at this time) have gone without response, we now seek this public format.

Again we state that the format of the interview can be via phone or in-person video. We reiterate that all questions and every answer will be provided to the public WITHOUT edit – to ensure that you cannot be misunderstood and no miscommunication can occur. This is the standard that we provide to EVERY interview we have ever conducted.

As already stated, we are also reaching out to the other hold-out candidates for the same reason and purpose. Because we are the leading coverage of the NY 22nd congressional race (both in number of articles and depth of coverage) we feel that we are obligated to pursue this interview for the benefit of the public and to provide the most fair and complete coverage of all candidates in this race.

Michael Vass Vasquez
Mr. Wells, we again provide you our contact information – which is already public (which you must be aware of as you have sent us several promotional mailings as voters) – so that you can reach us to arrange for an interview. Phone: 607-242-9247, email: info@vassconsult.com

We look forward to finally being in touch with you and your campaign on this critical matter for voters in the NY-22.

Sincerely

Michael “Vass” Vasquez
President – M V Consulting, Inc.
Writer – Binghamton Political Buzz at Examiner.com

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Did the MD-8 race end the trend of campaign over self-funding?

By Michael Vass | April 29, 2016

Written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez originally for Binghamton Political Buzz on April 27, 2016

Modern politics is often like modern Hollywood. That is to say that many politicians and candidates seek to “re-vision” past successful campaigns to enable their own wins. The growth of 30 second soundbite politics, deep saturation on cable television, and social media advertising are examples of this. But, sometimes such a strategy flops – in movies and politics. Which is a lesson that 2016 candidates should take to heart.

Former MD-8 David Trone

Specifically, the case of David Trone in the Maryland 8th congressional district whose loss on April 26, 2016, is the current example of failure based on recent tropes. A 9-way race for an open seat on just the Democratic side of the ticket, featured 3 prominent names – Kathleen Matthews (wife of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews); State Sen. Jamie B. Raskin; and Mr. Trone. Perhaps the single most prominent feature of this primary was the fact that Mr. Trone self-funded his campaign with $12 million. It’s a page right out of Donald Trump.

Though 50% of Congress is currently filled with millionaires, virtually none are willing to put their own money on the line with significance. Mr. Trone is only 1 of 2 individuals to run for Congress and spend over $10 million. But in a year where Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has self-funded some $36 million, to great fanfare and support, such extreme displays of personal wealth may seem like a trend worthy of copying. In addition, Mr. Trone was the farthest Left of all the Democrats – a potential positive in a year with Sen. Bernie Sanders making Hillary Clinton earn her superdelagates.

Mr. Trone outspent rival State Senator Raskin by roughly 6-1. He outspent Mrs. Matthews by nearly the same amount. She spent $2.2 million on the race, $500,000 from her own money. State Sen. Raskin spent $1.7 million, with no personal campaign contributions.

Given the longstanding trend of big spending equating to name recognition and thus a victory in elections, it could have been assumed that Mr. Trone should win. Add to that the trend of going to the furthest extreme of the Party, and on paper it would seem the winner would be Trone again. But State Sen. Raskin actually won the contested Democrat primary with 38,902 votes (34%) vs. Trone with 31,529 votes (27%).

But what could this mean to other Primaries? Well in the equally contested New York 22nd congressional race, 3 millionaires are battling 3 non-millionaires for respective primaries. In almost any eventuality, at least 1 multi-millionaire will be in that race against a far less net worth heavy opponent in the general election.

Martin Babinec, a candidate with no prior Party affiliation who is running on the Independence line after failing to gain the Herkimer County Republican Committee endorsement, is one of the candidates. Assuming that his campaign survives the petition challenges it faces (which is debatable as we noted in a prior article), his current tactic of self-funding $1 million directly mirrors David Trone. If he is thrown off of the ballot for failing to meet the petition requirement, he would also prove that self-funding, in itself, is not a political platform.

For Democrats there is Legislator Kim Myers. She is the richest of all candidates combined (depending on the stock market close of the day). Though her Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show her intent not to spend more than $350,000 of her own money, if the general election were close it would surprise no one if she amended her FEC filing and added as much as she wanted. In a Republican heavy district, where the April presidential primary showed a 3:2 edge for Republican turnout, even a large sudden self-funding may not be enough in a general election. Though for the June primary she has exponentially more cash on hand than her Democrat challenger David Gordon and is expected to win that primary race.

It’s the Republican primary race where we see the most connection to the MD-8 race. Steve Wells is the millionaire, with no significant name recognition at this time and no prior elected office experience. Claudia Tenney is an Assemblywoman who has won primaries with huge numbers. George Phillips is a popular name with a small segment of the Republican base. This matches the MD-8 race on multiple levels. The exception being that Mr. Wells has only self-funded $100,000 so far and only has a roughly 3-1 cash advantage at this moment.

If the Presidential race is the exception and the Maryland primary the rule then Steve Wells may be in danger and Legislator Kim Myers has made the best choice to preserve her many stock options. Even with a media savvy campaign team, and torrential spending in the final weeks, Mr. Trone failed to take the prize. Based on the websites and ad campaigns thus far, neither Wells nor Legislator Myers can claim an advantage there, which makes the Trone loss potentially more likely than not.

Of course New York is not Maryland. Plus the reaction of Democrats to extreme wealth trying to win an elected office is not the same as the Republican reaction (based on presidential primary turnout results in NY). Lastly, Steve Wells and George Phillips are seen a vying for the establishment vote, with Assemblywoman Tenney as the outsider of the Party. Which somewhat reverses the conditions, though the 2nd Amendment issue (which Tenney has far more credibility on, due to a voting record opposing the NY SAFE Act) also modifies this condition.

One thing is pretty sure though, if Donald Trump wins the Republican primary and the general election, political campaigns will do what Hollywood would do and copycat the trend. If he doesn’t, the MD-8 race may stand out as an example of what not to do in future elections.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

NO Soundbites Allowed – a podcast on the issues affecting you

By Michael Vass | April 26, 2016

In our effort to continually highlight the issues affecting the public, through social media formats, M V Consulting Inc has now launched its political podcast channel – NO $oundbites Allowed. This is an informal talk-oriented format to discuss with the public how various political issues, elected officials, events, legislation (proposed or in effect), and more affect the public – and what the public can do about it.

NO Soundbites Allowed is a new expansion for M V Consulting. An evolving program, that will grow with our listeners. Your feedback will help us to target the issues, politicians, events, law, and whatever else you feel is important. Our goal in every format, but especially this program, is to give more than the now traditional 30 second soundbite practice of the major news media in discussing what matters to you. We firmly believe, and the mission statement for the program is,

Michael Vasquez

“There is no subject, that affects our lives, that can be intelligently discussed in 30 seconds. Thus we seek to skip the bullet-points and delve into what is really important and relevant.” – Michael “Vass” Vasquez – M V Consulting, Inc.

The current content is split among 3 major categories: Current politics; Special events and breaking news; and conversion to audio only e-reading of popular articles previously published by M V Consulting (via Binghamton Political Buzz and MVASS.com) over the past 9 years. Topics of interest include NY elections (from Federal to local); 1st & 2nd Amendment; candidate interviews (challengers and incumbents alike); legislation (proposed and in force); political events (speeches, rallies, press announcements, ect.); international policy; local concerns; and more.

No Soundbites Allowed is a FREE podcast, subscription optional (but encouraged), that is supported by the Likes, Shares, and donations of listeners (optional but welcomed). Each episode is approximately 45 minutes long (depending on the subject covered), split into 3 segments (with 2 commercial breaks of 2 1/2 minutes each). New episodes are published each Tuesday – with special episodes on Fridays as needed.

We invite you to visit the channel and listen as we grow and expand. Respectful comments and critique are welcomed and encouraged. Email for commercial sponsorship consideration, addition comment submission, and critique can be sent to info@vassconsult.com – please include the subject line: No Soundbites Allowed.

Sincerely and with many thanks for all your support,

Michael “Vass” Vasquez
President – M V Consulting, Inc.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

A deep analysis, and prediction, for NY 22nd congressional race

By Michael Vass | April 26, 2016

Article originally written at Binghamton Political Buzz on April 22, 2016, by Michael “Vass” Vasquez.

While the nation mourns the loss of musician Prince and Chyna from WWE, on the same day, many issues are missed. Even in these moments of loss and sadness, the realm of politics continues to affect the nation, whether people pay attention or not. But, in a far less serious manner, the New York 22nd Congressional race will also have its own losses, while we have a glimpse of the potential future.

NY-22 congressional candidates

When the results from the NY presidential primary were tallied from April 20, 2016, there were no real surprises presented. Donald Trump won the State, along with Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. The primary math was not significantly altered  – the Republican Party will go to a convention and Democrats will have Clinton as their candidate unless the FBI takes action. But the question is what did the primary reveal?

In terms of the NY-22 congressional district, the primaries for Democrats and Republicans continue now that the petitions for all the candidates have been submitted and challenges are on-going. In addition, financial statements have been submitted to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Combining this data with the presidential primaries it is possible to get a prediction on what will be the result on June 28, 2016, and likely for the November general election.

First, the petitions as provided by the NY State Board of Elections (NYSBOE). In combing through the results, patterns appear as well as a shocking revelation. For the Democrats – Legislator Kim Myers and David Gordon – both gathered at least 30% of their signatures in the last 6 days allowed (30% – Myers, 39% – Gordon). That could imply a lack of organization, or a lack of interest from Party members. Republicans fared much better in that regard, averaging about 11% of all signatures in the last 6 days signatures were allowed (George Phillips 23%, Claudia Tenney 5.7%, Steve Wells 4.2%).

Also of great interest is the distribution of where candidates got the signatures from. While an emphasis of any particular candidate on their home County is expected, what is of note is where candidates ignored. Overall, almost half the remaining 6 candidates (Aaron Price did not submit petitions, David Pasick is not required to file yet as a Libertarian) generally ignored Oswego, Tioga, and Cortland (with Phillips, Tenney, and Wells having varying focuses on these areas). But some candidates did not just under-represent Counties, they ignored them completely.

Martin Babinec (Ind) avoided Cortland, Chenango, Oswego, and Tioga Counties. George Phillips was virtually absent from Herkimer, Oswego, Madison and Oneida Counties. Steve Wells had a grand total of 101 signatures from Oswego, Herkimer,  and Tioga Counties combined. David Gordon was almost absent in Oswego and Madison Counties with only 30 signatures. This is important as it clearly displays serious weaknesses of these candidates. Whether there is a lack of name recognition, lack of organization, or that the candidate just does not find the constituents in those areas of importance, it highlights how far some must go to win the primary and the cost that will go with that.

Martin Babinec is of special interest. Like Steve Wells he used paid workers to gather signatures. Neither Babinec nor Wells gathered any signatures themselves according to petitions submitted to NY State Board of Elections (NYSBOE). But Babinec, who’s Party affiliation is undeclared, had Nicholas I. Catello as one of his workers, gathering more than 50% of all of his petitions. According to the NYSBOE, on April 21, 2016, Mr. Catello is not a registered voter. Therefore the challenges facing the Babinec campaign are expected to be upheld. Babinec’s run for the congressional race may be essentially over as all the petitions from Mr. Catello could be void.

This brings us to the finances of the campaigns. The Babinec campaign will have its $1 million self-funding returned (minus monies paid for advertising and other costs) if the challenges stand. The resulting leaders in funding at this time are Steve Wells and Legislator Kim Myers with $258,000 and $228,000 cash in hand respectively. This is followed by Claudia Tenney with an increase from 2015 to $136,000. George Phillips has $126,000 cash in hand, the lowest level of increase of all the candidates. David Gordon trails the pack with $3,500. David Pasick, the Libertarian candidate of the race, will start his round of petitions in June and has not filed with the FEC at this time.

Given the data thus far, the implications seem to be clear. David Gordon is a long-shot in the race. As noted previously, he may not survive the petition challenge process. Still even if he does, the lack of funding makes any viable challenge on the Democrat Primary unlikely.

For the Republicans, it’s a bit complicated. George Phillips appears to be weakest due to a combination of lack of exposure and/or support in half the NY-22, and being the only candidate to experience a decrease in funding. The failure to gain traction in the Mohawk Valley, and very limited public exposure imply a campaign that could be in trouble. Rumors of recent changes in staffing only furthers that implication.

Steve Wells, is perhaps the least publicly known of the Republicans. While political insiders are aware of Mr. Wells, due to his political donations (to Democrats and NY SAFE Act proponent Gov. Cuomo) and volunteer position in the NY State GOP, he has remained out of the public eye. He has substantially self-funded his campaign, but has also received donations from elected officials – whom he previously donated to as well, effectively creating a circle of some funding..

His apparent avoidance of essentially half of the NY-22 has led to massive advertising spending already. Nearly one-third of funding has already been spent on television ads and social media marketing (which began in March 2016). Considering the results of the petitions, there has been little return for these efforts to date.

Claudia Tenney, appears to be the strongest of all candidates in the race. Recent internal polling released to the public show substantial support, in excess of 3x her closest opponent – George Phillips. This is reflected by a pattern of widespread distribution of petition signatures compared to the other candidates (as well as the numerical lead of signatures submitted). This is further bolstered by the 3-fold increase in funding from the 4th quarter 2015, the endorsement of the Conservative Party, and support from several PAC’s.

All of this leads us to the NY Presidential Primary.  While New York made no real difference in the results for either Democrats or Republicans, it did reveal some facts about the NY 22nd congressional district. A total of 108,000 voters came out for the primary (46,000 Democrats and 62,000 Republicans). The number of people and their Party breakdown, not only confirms the R+3 political rating of the District, but implies that turnout will heavily favor Republicans in November.

Further, if we breakdown the presidential candidates to their corollaries in the congressional race we see an interesting trend. For Democrats, Legislator Kim Myers would reflect the establishment candidate of Hillary Clinton. Conversely David Gordon would equate somewhat to Sen. Bernie Sanders (mostly as a non-establishment candidate). While Hillary Clinton lost to Sen. Sanders (44% to 56% respective), recent polling tends to indicate that the largest portion of Sen. Sanders support - youthful voters - will abandon the race if Clinton is the candidate as is expected. That could reduce the Democrat turnout by some 25%-50%. This could give the race to the establishment candidate, Clinton and by proxy Legislator Myers. Given the exponential difference in funding, and the 50% greater number of petitions, all in favor of Legislator Myers, this appears to confirm the presidential primary results thus far.

Looking at the Republicans, again the results are somewhat involved. Donald Trump swept the NY-22 District versus Gov. Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz (53% – 28% – 19% respectively). There is no question that Donald Trump is the political outsider, opposed by the establishment. Sen. Cruz would be best categorized as also being opposed by the establishment and the most Conservative of the candidates. This leaves Gov. Kasich as the representative of the establishment (one of the reasons why he continues in the presidential race).

The equivalents of these candidates in the NY-22 would be Claudia Tenney taking the role of Donald Trump (as being opposed by the political establishment, and viewed by many as a political outsider for this reason). Tenney would also qualify as the equivalent of Sen. Cruz, as the far and away Conservative of the race – which the endorsement of the Conservative Party indicates.

The role of the establishment candidate thus falls to a split between George Phillips and Steve Wells. Both are known for establishment support – with Wells being a (volunteer) member of the NY State Republican Party and Phillips having the 2010 support of Chairman Ed Cox. With both remaining in the race, they split the establishment vote.

When we factor in the petitions and the funding, we get a confirmation of the internal poll released by the Tenney campaign. Even if we assume only half the voters for Trump and Sen. Cruz would turn out for the June 28th congressional primary – out of anger of a Kasich or other establishment candidate being nominated at the Republican convention – Tenney would still have 36% of the vote versus the combined establishment vote of 28%. Which does not take into account the split between Phillips and Wells.

Given the funding divide between Phillips and Wells, and the fact that funding for Phillips is on the decline, the edge would appear to be to Wells though he is almost universally unknown to general voters. The intense advertising campaign that Wells has already begun, like the Kasich campaign, is trying to introduce him to voters and solidify his hold on the establishment as his main target to win the primary. Whether that will work effectively remains unknown.

Given this exclusive, in-depth, and comprehensive analysis of the petitions and funding, the influence of the NY Presidential Primary, as well as prior research noted in our 25 articles on the NY-22 race, the final candidates going into November can be predicted at this time to be Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and Legislator Kim Myers. Once again turning to the Presidential Primary, the overall odds are between 2:1 and 3:2 in favor of Tenney winning the race, if this were a bet.

This is a political race and so there are many wild cards. Massive advertising by Steve Wells and Legislator Myers could influence the Primaries and voter turnout. Martin Babinec may again try to re-enter the race through procedures allowed in NY State election rules if he is ejected from the race. Libertarian David Pasick is an unknown factor that could influence the outcome of the race.

The on-going activities in the 2016 Presidential race could likewise shift both turnout and preferences for establishment candidates. Gaffes by any candidate in potential debates could further cement or destroy any campaign. Of course any previously unknown or news cycle related scandal or event would also shift these results.

Political predictions are like forecasting the weather. You make the best guess based on the data at hand and then see how close you get. Voters alone will make all the final decisions in the New York 22nd Congressional race.

Rating 4.00 out of 5