I've long maintained that the entirety of the Republican Party in Niagara County is controlled by one man.
And seeing nearly all municipalities within Niagara County – and, of course, the county legislature itself - is controlled by Republicans, that one man essentially rules the entire county as though it were his own kingdom. Or so my theory goes.
I've simply heard too many stories from too many people saying that the good senator pulls all the strings for those stories not to be true.
I must admit, though, the stories do tend to pop up around election time. Not that I'm saying that's indicative of anything … it's just … very coincidental.
Two years ago, three different town supervisors came out heavy against State Senator George Maziarz, saying he had his fingers into everything. They practically ran their campaigns as though they were running against Maziarz. They all won.
And last year, it was Sheriff's Candidate Brian Grear claiming that Maziarz was was all-powerful. He even got Lockport Common Council President John Lombardi to back him up on his statement, calling on voters "to break the legacy of thuggery and intimidation" he attributed to Maziarz and Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek. Grear didn't fare nearly as well as the three supervisors.
And now it's election time again and the old “George is a tyrant” line comes out again.
This time the locale is North Tonawanda where Common Council candidate Dennis Barberio is alleging that GOP brass have played politics with the potential Super Walmart deal in town.
Barberio said last week that former Council President Brett Sommer had confided in him that Maziarz and Wojtaszek had met with Sommer over a year ago to discuss with him their intention of keeping Walmart from building in the city so long as Larry Soos remains mayor.
Sommer said someone had asked him to help delay the project, but declined to say if it was Maziarz and Wojtaszek. He also declined to say it wasn't.
Wojtaszek, meanwhile, patently denies he had any such conversation.
“The conversation never happened,” he said. “He’s bitter because he wasn’t endorsed by the local committee to run as alderman.”
And Barberio, of course, has his own reasons for making the allegations. He wants the seat Sommer is vacating. And the Democrat would do well to make the GOP brass look bad, right?
That's always the problem with the claims against the senator and the chairman. The people making the claims always seem to have something to gain.
Doesn't mean they're not true, but it sure gets my skepticism meter running.