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John McLoughlin is a veteran Capital Region journalist, now at NewsChannel 13. Reach him by email at JMcLoughlin@WNYT.com.

McLoughlin Take 2: Mirch on TV discussing vote scandal

Friday, January 20, 2012
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John McLoughlin is a veteran Capital Region journalist, now at NewsChannel 13. Reach him by email at JMcLoughlin@WNYT.com.


The Democrats must have gone absolutely bonkers last Sunday when Robert Mirch, former DPW commissioner (AKA The Garbageman) appeared on Fox national news representing all that is good and virtuous in this nation’s electoral setup. I kid you not — Mirch!!

Two allegedly errant Troy Democrats, Edward McDonough and Michael LoPorto, were about to go on trial on Tuesday for their parts in whatever it was that happened to the Working Families Party primary in September 2009. And Bob Mirch (AKA The Mirch-Man) was going on national TV explaining to the audience how vigilant we all must remain if we are to avoid such scurrilous actions in the future. Could you pass the air sickness bag, please?

For years, the Democrats have been watching Mirch at election time and they thought they had it down pat. Just like three-card monte; you watch and you watch and pretty soon you convince yourself you can beat it. But noooo … !

For years, they watched as Mirch ran one phoney-baloney candidate after another for various state and local offices, just to keep the WFP line (or some other ballot line) away from the Democratic candidate, making it easier for the Republican candidate (sometimes Mirch himself) to march to victory. All you had to do was visit the DPW garage and Mirch would introduce you to his latest candidate for the Assembly or whatnot, and often it would be a guy still wearing the grease-stained T-shirt from his last campaign, untouched by Tide or any such detergent.

Mirch would bump right up against the legality line, but never seemed to cross it, or, if he did, Democrats did not know what to do about it.

Even a few years ago, when Mirch ran a fellow by the name of Kevin Gervasio for the county Legislature. Gervasio is a career criminal. I know this because he told me so himself. By the time Mirch selected him for the Legislature, Gervasio had been arrested more than 50 times, but no felony convictions because he always seemed to have some piece of information that law enforcement wanted. Gervasio’s luck ran out a couple of years ago when he and his mother were convicted in a scam where they tricked an 89-year-old lady out of $1,400 and both got sentenced to the Big House, to state prison. But even with this criminal past, and even though he had been living in North Carolina until a few months before, and even though Kevin told me that he did not recognize the signature on the acceptance form as his own, the Mirch-Man suffered no legal repercussions. “How was I to know?” he asked me on the news.

So the Dems have been watching this Mirch-Man stuff for years and no doubt convinced themselves that they too could do wonderful things just like him. But it was not to be. Instead, what they did was to bring in 50 or so absentee ballots for a Working Families Party primary where you

might expect only 120 to 130 votes, tops. The numbers did not add up and, when someone went out and asked those residents of public housing who supposedly had voted an absentee ballot, they said no way, we never asked for a ballot and, hey, wait a minute, that’s not my signature. These Democrats should be prosecuted for laziness, if nothing else. The old days, pols would go into a nursing home and come away with every single signature in the place; the old timers may have had no idea what they were signing but those were their signatures.

But, look, don’t tell me that your town has not had its share of voter fraud and rascals willing to dance around the statutes. It’s just that Troy politicians have been so brazen and naked about it.

For instance, I know that this event happened about 45 years ago, but I could never prove it and therefore I never did find an editor willing to publish it — at least not with names. A Republican politician who had access to the keys to the Board of Elections (back when it was in the courthouse) was pacing back and forth in the hallway outside the Troy City Council (when it used to meet in the old Board of Supervisors’ room). Someone asked him what the problem was.

He said that a very well known Troy public official (who is still alive) had gotten drunk, and he sat down at the kitchen table with the bottle, the City Directory, and his designating petitions — documents that must be signed by a certain number of citizens in order for any candidate to run — and he proceeded to sign all of the signatures himself, in his own handwriting, the same pen and ink, the whole schmear. Back then, believe it or not, the Dems never bothered the Repubs and vice versa, even for something so egregious as signing your own petitions.

Yeah, the politician said, but he had to get into the Board of Elections that night to remove one of the designating petitions, just one. Why?

Well, he said he had to remove the one petition because this “very well known Troy public official” had been so drunk that, on that one petition, he had signed all of the names upside down.

 
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