Monday Mailbag Buying Forgiveness in the ECDC By Peter Livingston

Thank you for your emails this week. As you know, I receive literally several emails each week, commenting on items posted by me on I am far too lazy to respond to each of them individually, so I have decided to publish excerpts from some of the letters and respond to them here. I will not disclose the name of the author of the email, because many people may have the same comment.

Is Cronyism Alive and Well in Erie County?

Peter : Thank you for the recent article in regard to Panepinto. It shed some light with the recent Democratic county executive committee meeting this past Saturday. It was Jeremy's desperate attempt to do some damage control on Dunn's recent admission to disliking Democrat Party leaders. During Bert Dunn's pathetic explanation of why he party-hopped during his life and changed from D to R to D, Panepinto applauded Bert for his honesty. I couldn't figure out why Panepinto did that because last year he damn near ripped off Chuck Swanick's head for being a party hopper. Your story helped the light bulb to go off - it is now obvious Panepinto was told what to say at the meeting. After all, it's the least he could do for that big ol' contract he got from Poloncarz.

I did not attend, nor was I invited to, the Erie County Democratic Party's Executive Committee meeting that day, so I appreciate your perspective as an attendee. If I am not mistaken, this was the same meeting which some attendees left to attend the highly successful Progressive Democrats of Cheektowaga breakfast. It sounds as if it was quite an eventful morning. Was Mr. Poloncarz at the meeting to observe Mr. Panepinto make his remarks? I know he was absent from the Progressive Democrat's breakfast. Perhaps he was working on pressing county issues with Erie County Legislator Tom Mazur, who was also noticeably absent. I missed you both! Maybe next year.

Anyway, although I draw no conclusions from Mr. Panepinto's remarks, I am pleased that you were able to use the information from my post to help you reach your own conclusions. Given the lack of transparency from the administration, and the legislature's disposing of an inquiry without discussion, it appears people will have to draw their own conclusions about why a firm with no apparent relevant legal experience received a lucrative legal contract after making tens of thousands of dollars in political donations to Poloncarz and his allies.

Time to End the War on Drugs

Peter: Didn't (former Erie County Executive) Joel Giambra once float the idea of legalizing drugs in Erie County? =Maybe we could start small to serve as a model for legalization. We probably should just start with weed though.

Thanks for your email, but I cannot agree with your suggestion. Erie County is part of New York State and the United States of America. Because of that, Americans are free to visit our wonderful county at their leisure, subject to our laws.

As a resident of Erie County, I do not think making Erie County a drug tourism destination is a good choice. I think it would have a negative effect on other businesses in Erie County and result in a massive demographic shift. You will recall that my vision would not make selling drugs a profitable business. As such, attracting people here to buy drugs would probably not be an economic driver for the county.

Nevada has found success with so-called "sin" tourism. However, gambling and prostitution (which should both be legalized) are rather local in nature. You have to go there to participate. As a commodity, drugs are easily transportable. Making drugs legal in Erie County would tend to exacerbate problems in other counties and states whose systems are not designed to handle legalization.

In my view, the whole country would have to legalize, allowing states to determine if they want to make them illegal (which they should not do, from a freedom perspective). Which leads to a much more concise answer to your query - Erie County is prohibited by State and Federal law from legalizing drugs.

I hope you spent your 4/20 like me: not using drugs, but wishing that they were legal. Also, wondering if medical marijuana would be appropriate to heal from the pain of Friday's Sabres' loss. Better luck next year, when we will welcome the Detroit Red Wings to our division!

Comments? Please email me at I also comment on Twitter @PRLivingston.

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