Niagara Gazette

November 1, 2012

HAMILTON: Biscuit recipe for political endorsements

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — EDITOR'S NOTE: Ken Hamilton's endorsements are his own and do not reflect the views of the Niagara Gazette.

There are recipes for success in almost anything, and that include politics.

One of the things that I miss most about my mom is being in the kitchen with her when she was cooking. From what I learned there, and in other places, I turned out to be a pretty darned good cook and, apparently, from what my son watched me do, he turned out to be a pretty darned good chef, himself.

Cooking and baking requires a lot of different ingredients in varying quantities, and they must be introduced into the mix at different times. Varying temperatures are sometimes a part of the process, too.

So it is with politics. Like in baking biscuits, the flour tastes like flour, the shortening tastes like shortening, the buttermilk tastes like buttermilk, the salt tastes like salt and while you can actually eat any of those ingredients, the mixing of them together will give you a rather flat and almost unpalatable biscuit, and none of the ingredients actually tastes good.

But you just can’t eat that needed baking soda, can you? In fact, you mix it with water and drink it, you make all kinds of faces as you swallow it down to solve the problem of an upset stomach. And if you don’t add it to your biscuits, it just might be the biscuits that gave you that upset stomach.

Political parties are like that, too. Sometimes it just makes good sense to follow a proven recipe for success. That means that you have to vote for someone or some party that you just don’t like; just because it will yield the product that you do like — like hot and fluffy, buttery, buttermilk biscuits.

And who knows hot and fluffy, buttery, buttermilk biscuits better than Arkansan and former President Bill Clinton? Despite him not taking down Osama Bin Laden when he had the opportunity, current history hails Clinton as being one of America’s best presidents; and primarily for him balancing the budget and projecting a surplus.

The truth is that the Democrat did it WITH a Republican Congress; because our government works best with political balance — the proper mix of ingredients at the right time and temperature.

We need to make good biscuits in Western New York; and going straight across party lines is counterproductive and have yielded us what he already have.

But, before I give my picks for this election, there is one thing more that I have to say about being a young boy in the kitchen with my mom. If I ask her for something that she didn’t want to give to me and she said no, I could always go out to the garage where dad was and ask him — especially if mom and dad were mad at each other.

Politics is like that, too. And that is the only way that the two-party system works for anyone other than party people.

CITY COURT JUDGE: Angelo Morinello — While I am opposed to any office not being contested, it would have taken an extraordinary candidate to have encouraged me change my vote for Judge Morinello. When he ran against Maria Massaro, I explained to the youthful Massaro that I would have voted for her, if not for my preference that judges have the mutual benefits that come with age. For them, the mutual benefits are a body of experience, wisdom and judicial temperament while they are on the judicial bench; and for the voting public, because judges tend to stay on the bench until mandatory retirement age, the mutual benefit of mandatory retirements for the constituents.

NIAGARA COUNTY SHERIFF: James R. Voutour — Like Judge Morinello, Voutour is cross-endorsed and running unopposed. Also, like Morinello, it would have taken an extraordinary candidate for the sheriff not to have gotten my vote. I believe that he is doing an excellent job, and his cross endorsement indicates that the parties are in agreement with me.

STATE ASSEMBLY 140th DISTRICT: Democrat Robin Shimminger — If we can remember, the Kenmore resident has had a long and storied experience in the Assembly, and one that I believe has benefitted Western New York. He has been particularly understanding of the mental health needs of area residents, and have always supported funding of issues such as those championed by organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York. I have had several conversations with him on such, as with other issues that face the area, and have always found a conciliatory ear. I would hate to think that we would exchange knowledge, wisdom and understand of ideas that work simply for new ideas.

STATE ASSEMBLY 145th DISTRICT: Democrat Robert Restaino — Indeed, once a city court judge, but when Restaino was not judging those who came before him on the bench, he was on any number of community-based organizations that helped them and others in trying to create an environment that would make it unnecessary for most citizens to stand before him in the first place. It must have worked, because most people still do not go to court.

But despite him losing his judicial seat for what some termed as a single case of bullying, Restaino continued to work for the people of the city anyway.

Perhaps, as it were, he did not possess the judicial temperament, as some do, to be a judge; but his dedication to service, his ability to continuously work with others for the public good, and his ability to actually get mad enough, when he deems necessary, to get something done may not be judged judicial temperament, but they certainly are excellent and well-needed skill sets for an Assemblyman from Niagara Falls — especially as we face a legislature that has yet to move on the $60-million that the state owes the city of Niagara Falls.

Equally important, as it is with the biscuit recipe, the Assembly will be controlled by Democrats off into the foreseeable future. As a result, even as affable as current Republican Assemblyman John Ceretto may be — and I do like him as a person, to forgo the necessary party connections that will move effective legislation forward for the district would be very, very shortsighted. Therefore, I support Restaino.

STATE SENATE 62nd DISTRICT: Republican George D. Maziarz — I like candidate Amy Hope Witryol, and if she had selected to run for the Assembly instead of the Senate, then I would have given her even greater consideration. But despite the warts that a George Maziarz has, as an influential member of a Republican state Senate, he still represents our best chance of getting things fixed within the district.

Not substantially representing Niagara Falls in the past, and sometimes saying some pretty hurtful things about us, there is no question that he doesn't possess the bedside manner of a Dr. Marcus Welby. But the city is indeed sick in bed, and the doomsday budget proves it. Therefore, I would rather have the gruff, rude and effective mannerisms of a Dr. Gregory House that, despite how un-gentle that he will be, will make us well, rather we want to get better or not — rather than dying happily in bed.

Besides; going back to President Clinton’s recipe for success, we are doomed anytime one party holds both the legislature and the executive mansion — especially when with a Democratic Senate, the power will reside in a post Tropical Storm Sandy New York City that is now almost worse off than Niagara Falls.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 26th DISTRICT: Despite the yeoman job that Brian Higgins is doing for Buffalo’s waterfront, Michael H. Madigan (R) more closely embraces my values; and as with the Clinton-biscuit recipe, I am very happy that the House of Representatives is in opposition with the Senate because it gives us legislative balance. Given the margins of powers that exist in the House today, Madigan can easily rise to a position by which that he could do much for the region.

UNITED STATES SENATOR: Democrat and City of Troy resident Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand is being challenged by Republican and NYC resident Wendy Long, and that creates a problem for me.

I am old enough to remember the good old days of upstate Democrat Patrick Moynihan and downstate Republican Alphonse D’Amato, along with the days of leaving the kitchen where if mom didn’t give you what you wanted then you go out to the garage where dad would – or vice-versa.

We need an upstate Republican senator to balance the downstate Democrat Senator Chuck Shumer so that whoever has the senate, we have our guy – or gal. I see this one as a coin toss – even though it would be nice to have a Republican Congress and a Democrat White House – or vice versa.

UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Jesse Jackson once said that we could live with anybody in the White House if we have our fair share of good representation at the local level. There is little doubt that no matter which way we vote in western New York, the Democrats will get all of the electoral votes, so stating a preference is moot. Given the way that the neck-and-neck polls are in the nation today, the mid-term election will be just as important as this one.

Enjoy yourselves; and your results.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ken Hamilton's endorsements do not reflect the views of the Niagara Gazette.

Contact Ken Hamilton at