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By Mike Hudson

Sounds like one of my favorite playmates, county Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera, is once again reaching into his bag of ugly tricks.

A number of county residents last week reported receiving anonymous phone calls asking them to contact members of the county Legislature and demand an investigation into county Treasurer David Broderick.

In an ongoing court case, Broderick was accused by a woman from Amherst of misusing his role as a public administrator for the purpose of steering the sale of a home owned by her late mother to his sister-in-law.

No sooner had the woman leveled the charge than Rivera showed up in Lockport, demanding an official investigation by the Legislature.

Majority Leader Richard Updegrove reasoned that since the matter was already in court, there was no need for an investigation by the Legislature, which has a miserable record of launching investigations that come up with nothing tangible to show.

That's when the anonymous telephone calls began.

I've been a Democrat all my life, and Rivera's disgraceful behavior since weaseling his way into the chairman's seat has been an ongoing embarrassment. Last summer's refusal by state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith to attend a Rivera-sponsored event in the city -- even though he was to have been the guest of honor -- spoke volumes.

As long as the Dems continue to allow a buffoon like Rivera to lead them, they will continue to lose elections and respect here.

Rivera's reign brings to mind something the great Hunter Thompson once wrote about the music business. He said it was a "dark, plastic hallway where pimps and thieves run free, and good men die like dogs."

For nine years, two of the biggest distribution outlets for the Niagara Falls Reporter have been the Parkway Condominiums here and Mt. Saint Mary's Hospital in Lewiston. Between them, they have traditionally gone through nearly 1,000 copies a week.

Until lately, that is. A few weeks ago, after we began our series on government malfeasance in connection with the Maid of the Mist contracts, Mt. Saint Mary's told us in no uncertain terms to stop leaving the paper there. In the weeks that followed, we heard from many residents of the Parkway, complaining that we had forgotten to deliver the papers.

The Parkway houses the executive offices of the Maid of the Mist Corp., and we hadn't forgotten to deliver the papers there.

The last gang of thugs who attempted to remove the Reporter from distribution sites worked for Local 91. Some of them, identified after being taped by a security camera in a downtown pizzeria, are now in prison. Lots of places have security cameras nowadays.

While taking 100 or 500 or even a thousand papers out of circulation may make the evildoers feel good for a day or so, its impact on us is negligible. We put 22,000 papers out on the street every Tuesday morning, and our Web site averages around 10,000 visitors per week.

For our readers at Mt. Saint Mary's and the Parkway, though, we're sorry for any inconvenience. Some people, for reasons of their own, don't want you to know the truth about who's really running things in this often troubled little corner of the world.

Big catfight in Buffalo last week between amateur bloggers Alan Bedenko of Buffalo Pundit and Glenn Gramigna of New WNY Politics, precipitated by the self-important Bedenko's decision to publish what he even said was a series of fraudulent e-mails purporting to have been sent between some top aides to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown last summer.

Clearly, the e-mails were meant to slander and defame the people at Buffalo City Hall. Why Bedenko, who is an attorney in real life, chose to publish them is anyone's guess.

Enter Gramigna, who openly speculated that -- since Bedenko was the only one to publish the lurid e-mails -- perhaps Bedenko in fact had been their author. Actually, the theory makes a lot of sense. The e-mails were shopped to various news outlets last summer, and my impression was that they were created in response to the publication by the Niagara Falls Reporter of another series of e-mails between the married state Rep. Sam Hoyt and a young and comely Albany intern he was carrying on with.

The Hoyt camp openly accused Brown's first deputy mayor, Steve Casey, of being behind the leaking of the Hoyt e-mails -- which were genuine -- and Casey, perhaps coincidentally, figures prominently in the admittedly fraudulent e-mails published by Bedenko.

Also perhaps coincidentally, Bedenko was a strong supporter of Hoyt during the last election cycle, has been a consistent critic of the Brown administration and was, after all, the only one to publish the garbage.

Anyway, he phoned Gramigna "in a rage" and, being a lawyer, claimed his rival to be guilty of defamation. For his part, Gramigna is every bit the clueless lump comedians make fun of when discussing bloggers, and immediately posted a retraction.

One question remains: Who did write the slanderous and potentially damaging e-mails Gramigna ascribed to Bedenko?

Bedenko vehemently denies he wrote them, of course, but who knows?

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com February 24 2009