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July 29 - Aug 06, 2014

Will Republican Legislature Again
Give Voting Booth Storage to Ulrich?

By Mike Hudson

July 29, 2014

David Ulrich bought an old mattress factory for $75,000. He donated $100,000 to Republicans. Republicans gave him a no bid lease for $500,000. When Dems Zona and Virtuoso cried foul, Republicans put the lease out for open bidding. Funny they limited the distance to exactly where Ulrich’s warehouse is. Could be a coincidence....


When is an open bidding process not an open bidding process?

When bid specifications are written in such a way so as to favor one of the bidders, that’s when.

The Niagara County Legislature next week will consider at least six proposals to provide storage facilities for the county’s voting machines, a service provided in the past by David Ulrich, a Lockport businessman and Republican Party activist and contributor.

In 2004, he bought an old warehouse on Transit Road for $75,340 and, four years later, was gifted by the Republican Legislature majority with a five-year, no-bid lease deal to store voting machines that paid him $86,400 a year.

That’s right, each year the county paid $11,000 more than he paid for the building just to use it for storage. There was a one-year renewal on the contract after the five years, which brought Ulrich’s haul to a cool $518,400 in taxpayer’s money to store voting machines that might have been stored in any number of public buildings for free.

Records show Ulrich has donated around $100,000 to elected officials, overwhelmingly Republican.

Last year, the Democratic Minority Caucus, led by Niagara Falls Legislators Dennis Virtuoso and Jason Zona, called foul when Ulrich’s no-bid contract once again came up for approval.

They demanded the contract be put out to bid. Ulrich responded by doubling the monthly cost of his warehouse rental, and the Republican majority further responded by dragging its collective feet so that he could milk the taxpayers for half a year- which at double the rent- equaled another $86,400.

When the bid specifications were finally written, they stipulated that the warehouse be located no further than 12 miles from Lockport.

“That just made no sense,” said Zona. “The overwhelming majority of the voting machines are used in Niagara Falls and the immediately adjacent suburbs.”

But there was method in the Republicans’ madness. Twelve miles, you see, is exactly the distance from downtown Lockport to Ulrich’s Transit Road warehouse.

The Republicans have since acquiesced, saying they might “consider” a warehouse location further away than 12 miles, but have not offered any guarantees.






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