|By Matthew Spina, The Buffalo News, N.Y.|
"We are the party of lesser government, individual responsibility and traditional social values," says
"We are for less taxation. Less governmental interference. Less entitlements. Less restrictions in regulations. And for individual responsibility as opposed to governmental supervision."
The party name connotes a philosophy about governing -- less government, less taxation. So it differs from the Republicans and Democrats in that respect. In other ways, it's hardly different at all.
Just as lieutenants in the Republican and Democratic parties flock to public payrolls, high-ranking members of the less-government party accept government employment.
Of the 32 people listed on the Conservatives' Executive Committee -- not counting Lorigo -- 26 hold or have held a government job, or a spouse holds or has held a government job, according to payroll data.
They are not necessarily patronage appointees, though a few have been. Many have worked in the trenches as lawmen, bureaucrats, educators and blue-collar workers -- jobs that critics of tax-and-spend practices seize upon when bemoaning bloated government and lavish public-worker benefits.
There's a retiree who returned to the public payroll; households where both committee member and spouse hold government posts; and a committee member who collects two public salaries. Meanwhile, some have been board members paid stipends that fall far short of full-time pay.
The household income, health insurance or pension payments for nearly all of those 26
Lorigo says the members landed those jobs on their own, not because of his intervention. But is this the party image voters conjure up when selecting a Conservative-backed politician?
"Minor parties in
"In the full spectrum of things, they are probably more conservative than liberal," Haselswerdt said of the party's leadership. "But in terms of having positions in government, they are perfectly willing to do that."
The Paladino effectThese are good days for the Conservatives.
"The Conservatives are the main player outside the Democrat and Republican parties," said
But he repeated an often-heard rap on the county Conservatives: Their endorsements many times have "nothing to do with philosophical viewpoints" and emerge instead from pragmatic decisions about how the endorsement benefits the party.
-- The party opposes abortion but endorsed in this year's special Assembly race
--The party opposes same-sex marriage but endorsed
-- The party wants government living within its means but endorsed for the
Voters unwilling to cast ballots for a candidate on a major party line will vote for them on a minor-party line they identify with, and the Conservative line is a prime example of that. In 2011, the party provided winning margins for, among others, Republican County Clerk
In races for
Another major factor:
"A lot of people around the country wish there were more parties," said Haselswerdt, of
"When you see our system, you have more parties. But you don't have more choice."
'A no-show job'
A few Executive Committee members seem to have landed government jobs through patronage or partisan appointments. An example is
He also collected about
Until 2010, the elder Gallagher worked as a part-time aide to
"Most people, if you asked them would they like a job in which they rarely have to show up and will get paid
The Gorski years
Thankful for the Conservative endorsement that propelled him into his second re-election contest in 1995, then-County Executive
Delmont also published weekly newspapers from an office in
With the sale of the newspapers, Delmont's long-time assistant at the Front Page,
Among those voting to appoint Mazur to the OTB board was then-County Legislator Kennedy. Kennedy landed the Conservative endorsement as he took Stachowski's
While chairman, Delmont did not apologize for the patronage he might dispense. He called it the duty of a party leader: "If we can put a Conservative in an appropriate position -- as long as it doesn't require a job creation or a political commitment -- I'll fight to fill them all with Conservatives."
The Gorski team, as it turns out, did create a job in 1995 for
'Need to be involved'
As for Lorigo, years ago he took work as a court-appointed legal guardian. But the
He sees a difference in public employees with jobs granted and controlled by the Republican or Democratic chairmen, and a
"I am not in control of anybody's job," he said. "You are right, I believe in lesser government. But I certainly believe that we all need to be involved ... I still come from the generation that believes public service is the honorable way."
In that vein, he says he wants Conservatives placed on special boards or commissions.
Local governments, he said, should "recognize the
"Lesser government to me means less government interference in our lives," he adds. "Government is a huge employer in this area, so when somebody works for the highway department or something, yeah they've got the job. But I don't think they have much influence. And I don't think they got it because of politics."
Lorigo forms an amused look when asked about the clout he carries into a courtroom where the judge might covet the Conservative line, or he argues a zoning matter in a town where board members want his party's backing. He thinks suspicions that he often gets his way because of his chairmanship are overblown.
Still, he admits that some law clients come to him thinking that the
ECC takes the land
Some county lawmakers in 1995 smelled a quid pro quo. Gorski wanted the Conservative ballot line as rivals in his own
"Why did I smell a political deal? Because
In 2000, ECC engaged in short-lived talks to sell the site to the
Lorigo says ECC's involvement was lined up by the real estate agent on the sale, not by him. Gorski did not return a telephone message seeking comment on the matter. The Conservatives did not endorse Gorski in his first campaign for county executive but backed him for his three re-election efforts. Similarly, the party did not endorse
"We did a lot of them. The beauty was they were all part-time seasonal, or mostly laborers' jobs," said Giambra, who is warring with Lorigo over the party's refusal to again endorse the Giambra-backed
Cash from candidates
The Conservatives did not endorse
County auditors examined the paperwork that backed up the selection and came away unable to prove Kideney had offered the least-expensive proposal among the seven firms deemed as finalists. But the president of the ECC board at the time, Patricia Krezezinski, said auditors had not considered all the information. She said Kideney had novel ideas about how to place the building on the campus and then reroute traffic, distinguishing it among the field.
The firm does not yet have a contract. When the
Political candidates who have, or want, the endorsement usually donate to the party's campaign funds. Since
Lorigo says that with its endorsements, the
He says the chosen ones needn't agree with the party all the time.
"If we can endorse somebody that's 50, 60 percent, 45 percent ours," he said, meaning they embrace 45 to 60 percent of Conservative stands on the pressing issues of the day, "... there are certain things they will not do because they have that endorsement and they will be in jeopardy of losing that endorsement ...
"So by giving Democrats or people who come and ask for it and profess conservative values ... an endorsement, we often times, at least in our opinion, bring them over.
"People aren't born Conservatives, we say. They mature into it."
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|Source:||McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|