Politics in Rochester and tangled webs we weave.Read more
August 15, 2016- There’s an old saying that goes something like: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. But in the case of Charlie Benincasa – it’s just the opposite. The apple isn’t even in the same orchard.
You remember Charlie, don’t you? He’s the one who got off the DWI charge … and several other traffic violations earlier this year (including hitting a car in a parking lot, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving with a half empty JD bottle in the front seat) with nothing but a slap on the wrist.
Charlie is the Finance Director for the City of Rochester, and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s mouthpiece at the Facilities Modernization Board. Charlie’s mother is MaryAnn Benincasa, former New York State Assistant Commissioner of Labor for Rochester and local legend in the Labor Community.
She was a tireless fighter for workers rights.
Her son Charlie is on his way to becoming a legend as well – for his betrayal of working families.
Last week, Charlie led the fight to cast out the Project Labor Agreement for the Rochester City School District’s second phase of Facilities Modernization. His move will endanger the jobs of hundreds of construction workers in the community.
And, in his arguments, he threw out so many half truths, twisted statistics and outright lies about the first PLA, that you have to begin to wonder if he should be doing anything with numbers at all let alone be in charge of the City’s finances.
Communities across the state are on their third, fourth or final stages of the billions of dollars that go into fixing schools under this program. All of them guaranteed local labor with the use of PLA’s.
Not Rochester. Charlie – and whoever is giving him marching orders, knows what’s better for working families.
His actions made him a pariah in the kitchens and living rooms of those working families across the community.
And, when construction unemployment soars – when mortgages fall behind – when car payments are missed, people in this community who depend on the construction industry for their livelihood will have just one person to thank – Charlie Benincasa.
I’m sure his Mother is truly proud of him. She should put him across her knee and spank him.
By the way, it wasn’t enough to vote against it … Benincasa trashed unions … apparently casting aside the years of commitment his Mother had made to them. And, two days later, Benincasa led the vote to throw out Tom Richards as President of the Board and replace him with Alan Williams.
Richards has more experience in finance, organization, the law and construction in his little finger than Williams has in his whole brain. But then again – it was Richards who Charlie’s boss beat in the Mayoral election.
The community can rest assured that politics played absolutely no part in it.
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Photo of Benincasea after his mother put him over her lap and spanked him.
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It’s City “One-Speak”. Say it often enough and loud enough, and the people will begin to believe it.Read more
Well we should care -- because, as North Coast has discovered, the Pigeon’s talons are deep into Rochester’s political elite. And, it starts, apparently with Mayor Lovely Warren.Read more
While protesters flooded the streets of the East End, clamoring to be heard, Mayor Lovely Warren ignored their cries and instead decided to stay at the Blues & BBQ event taking place at Rhinos Stadium.Read more
Rochester, NY April 25, 2016-The COMIDA Board announced this week that they’re going to investigate the “leak” that led to the controversial attack by Republican Party Boss, Bill Reilich on the I-Square developers Mike and Wendy Nolan.
And let’s make it clear – they are not investigating why someone used COMIDA to punish a political opponent … they’re trying to find out who “leaked” the sin to the press. The real criminal here is Reilich, but as with most criminal activity in the Republican Party, it is the little guy who gets punished for wrongdoing while the leaders go free.
Gene Caccamise, an eight-year veteran of the Board and retired President of Bricklayers Local 3 is the IDA’s ethics chair. He will be heading up the inquiry.
The problem is, that Caccamise himself is under investigation by the FBI for suspicious miss-use of union members’ money while head of the Bricklayers. The issue was not reported at all locally, but Buffalo television station WGRZ and internet news sites like The Public have done major reporting on Caccamise’s potentially illegal campaign donations to Republicans in the Buffalo area … and his connections to Steve Pigeon. Pigeon, you will recall was instrumental in the Medley Center machinations of Scott Congel in Irondequoit – which cost taxpayers millions – and which then Irondequoit Supervisor Adam Bello squashed.
Campaign donations from labor unions are not new … and perfectly legal when they come from political action funds. Caccamise appears to have been playing fast and loose with the union treasury under the guise of what he calls “economic development”. Which means – donations to gain influence with politicians – all at the direction of Steve Pigeon, according to reports by WGRZ.
$25,000 worth of influence.
But that’s not all.
Caccamise is listed over and over again as a major sponsor of a variety of Republican political fundraising events in Monroe County and has close ties to Republican operative and adviser to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Arnold Rothschild. The donations include tens of thousands of dollars to former County Executive Maggie Brooks – who appointed him to the COMIDA Board in the first place.
Insiders say that pressure is being brought to bear on now County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to have Caccamise removed from the investigation – and maybe even the COMIDA Board itself. They call Caccamise’s actions part of the “Pay to Play” culture that pervades in County and City government. His questionable ethics in not excusing himself because he is under investigation by the FBI, connections to the local Republican Party, to the Medley Center fiasco, to Republican operative Arnold Rothschild and to political insider Steve Pigeon are perceived by many as too close for comfort – if not downright illegal.
But, If it sounds like pay-to-play politics to you, Caccamise disagrees. In one news report he says, "I'm not a politician. It has nothing to do with politics. It had nothing to do with anything." –- But it’s thousands and thousands of dollars worth of “nothing” apparently.
The fox is clearly guarding the hen house.
~ Sidney Reilly is a freelance writer who lives in Rochester. You can contact Mr. Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tad Mack calling himself on election nightRead more
Rochester, NY April 7th, 2016- The battle lines are being drawn in Rochester, NY as Mayor Lovely Warren’s endless war against the Democratic party now sets its sights on Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s members.Read more
Has Rachel Barnhart decided to run for office? This is one of the rumors going around Rochester political circles. The interesting part is, the evidence all points to yes.
In early January 2016 a poll was administered in Rochester, NY asking a number of questions regarding Mayor Lovely Warren’s record. The poll came after two weeks of TV commercials featuring the Mayor playing up her record to home audiences.
What does this have to do with Barnhart you might ask?
The poll also included what political insiders call name recognition questions. These questions ask whether the caller recognizes the name being voiced to them and usually includes multiple names. In addition to the Mayor’s name, Assemblyman Harry Bronson and Rachael Barnhart's names were included.
How do we know?
A source from southeast Rochester reported getting a call that asked them to participate in the poll. They reported that they were asked a number of questions regarding the job performance of Mayor Lovely Warren, questions regarding education, public safety and economic development as well as questions of likability and trust. In addition, questions were asked about whether respondents recognized the names of Joe Morelle, James Sheppard, Molly Clifford, Elaine Spaull, Rachel Barnhart and Harry Bronson.
The source stated that they became suspicious of the poll during the call and wanted to know who was sponsoring it. Upon asking the question, the caller responded with the name of a company. After further prodding, the caller relented and stated that the poll was sponsored by Mayor Lovely Warren.
What are they all up to?
Other political sources have identified two other names associated with the poll. Those of Republican strategist Arnie Rothschild and Albany Lobbyist Robert Scott Gaddy, a David Gantt and Lovely Warren loyalist.
Rothschild has close ties to Barnhart through family connections, so while intriguing that a Republican strategist is helping a Democrat, it is not completely shocking he is assisting her. This would be the second democrat he openly supports outside of his current arrangement with Mayor Warren.
The most intriguing part of this new episode of three’s company is the influence of Robert Scott Gaddy. For those that may have forgotten, Gaddy is the self identified son of Assemblyman David Gantt and brother like figure to Mayor Lovely Warren. Gaddy is also the source of $40,000 of shadow money that illegally powered Warren’s campaign for Mayor. An act that was scrutinized and criticized by local reporter, Rachel Barnhart.
When asked directly whether he was involved with the campaign, Gaddy confirmed he was the source of the poll for Warren and that it included Barnhart.
The 800 Pound Elephant in the room
Has Gaddy’s access to money and political power enticed Barnhart to join his team and sell off her integrity?
Many are wondering, how can a reporter who questioned the source and use of Robert Scott Gaddy’s pact money during the Mayoral Campaign, then work with him and/or enlist him to consult on her own potential campaign?
Further, can Barnhart continue to be an objective reporter while considering such a decision and be trusted to report objectively on those who have now become her political friends?
Lovely Warren and Rachel Barnhart Connection
What further complicates the questions surrounding Barnhart’s objectivity is the criticism she has taken since authoring what critics call a “puff” piece or “softball” story she did on Mayor Lovely Warren last year. In the story, Barnhart is very favorable to the Mayor’s record in the last year. She goes as far as to make judgements and analysis of Warren’s electability and strength as a candidate. These claims and characterizations, based almost solely on the size of Warren’s war chest, are very strange and are absent of the past impartiality Rachel Barnhart has be known for over the years.
The latest wrinkle in this building story is that Barnhart’s contract with Channel 8 news expires in May 2016 and there is no decision on whether it will be renewed or if she will decide to stay.
What will Barnhart do? Should Rachael Barnhart be asked to resign or take a leave of absence from reporting the news while considering public office?
These questions and a host of others will be on the minds of many as we enter this political season.
~Juan Garcia is a freelance blogger who lives in Rochester. You can contact him at email@example.com
Lingering questions the North Coast will seek answers to in the coming weeks:
Will Rachel Barnhart leave her job as a reporter to run against incumbent Assemblyman Harry Bronson?
Why is Assemblyman Harry Bronson being targeted?
What is Barnhart’s relationship with Warren, Rothschild and Gaddy?
Does this extend to David Gantt?
Do these new relationships and questions about Barnhart's impartiality and objectivity raise further questions of whether she should continue reporting the news especially about City Hall and Rochester politics?
Is Channel 8 News liable for potential FCC violations given Barnhart’s use or misuse of the presses bully pulpit?
Rochester, NY February 13, 2016- We ain’t all saints, we ain’t all sinners. A not so subtle reminder that we are not all perfect and on the other hand we also are not all that bad. This mornings accident and DWI charge of Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio is a stark reminder of both.Read more
Rochester, NY- February 11, 2016- Compromised integrity? Really? That is my initial reaction to the recent news regarding Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo’s proposed Office of Public Integrity.Read more