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Thursday, June 16, 2005

My Qualifications


Erie County Government
Originally uploaded by Sally Ann.
My qualifications: Part One

In 1972 Larry and I were living in Buffalo. Erik, my son, was a year old when we moved to Blasdell, a suburb of Buffalo, to rent a larger apartment. A short while after we moved into the apartment complex we got acquainted with the couple, Pat and Kathy, across the hall. They had a daughter, Jo Jo, who was the same age as Erik. We became fast friends.

After a few months we learned that Pat and Kathy had become involved in a “pyramid sales scheme”. The company was called Holiday Magic, and like the many pyramid sales schemes operating at that time, the company concentrated on selling “distributorships” instead of “product”. In other words, Holiday Magic made their money by selling distributorships for thousands of dollars rather than selling their “organic” cosmetic product. It was a lucrative scheme for the company, but a nightmare for those who invested. Pat and Kathy had invested $5000. Many others individually invested $25,000 before they discovered Holiday Magic was a con game- a con game that was legal at that time.

To make a long story short: Kathy and I decided to “bring them down”. But the only way to stop them was to get a law passed in Erie County that made pyramid sales schemes illegal. It took us two years to accomplish this goal, but we did it. The Erie County Legislature after much prodding and lobbying passed the law. Holiday Magic was out of business.

At times it looked like it was never going to happen. But every time we encountered a “road block” we fought harder and got more creative. When no one in government would look at our case, we contacted Russ Nichols, an investigative reporter for a local TV station, to investigate the high pressure selling tactics of Holiday Magic. Altogether Nichols produced four “reports” on the nightly news. It got the politicians attention. We also worked with the FBI because Holiday Magic was working its scheme in many states. We endured threatening phone calls from Holiday Magic and were constantly attending meetings where politicians would make promises they would never keep.

That’s when I learned “tenacity” was the most important character trait a person should have if they are involved in “making a difference”. I am a never give up type of person. Larry refers to me as a “pit bull” when I decide to take on a challenge. In the case of Holiday Magic it took an extreme effort and a healthy dose of courage to stop them.

After the Erie County Law was passed making pyramid sales schemes illegal, I was invited to sit on the Board of Directors for Consumer Forum, an offshoot of the Buffalo Better Business Bureau. During our effort to expose Holiday Magic, I “infiltrated” the company to gather evidence, and for this reason I was asked to use my experience to infiltrate businesses in the Buffalo area to determine if they were operating deceptively and otherwise scamming consumers. It was an interesting job and I learned very quickly that “Buyer Beware”.

I realize that was over 30 years ago, and probably a once in a lifetime experience, but the qualifications I had back then to get a law passed are even more developed today.

I’ll share more of my “qualifications” when I figure out how to put them into words.

Any questions?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Marc said...

Sally- I am sure you have the right stuff for the job! But please tell us what you will try to accomplish if elected.What changes ,improvements etc. This would be a great chance for feedback from the town. :)

11:37 AM  
Blogger Lono said...

I too lived in Buffalo in 1972, of course... I was one at the time. Hope you are doing well, and good luck with the job.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Sallyann said...

When I've stopped for signatures on the petition, I've been "listening" to citizens concerns. I intend to listen a lot more before I finalize a platform. However, part of my listening process can be done on the blog. I want voters to "talk to me" about local issues that matter most to them. Presently, I'm working on certain issues in town that I would most like to effect. I will post them in the days a head to "get feedback" from the readers. So far the comments I've received have been very helpful and encouraging, and I appreciate everyone's interest.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Sallyann said...

Lono: Thanks for dropping by. Have you ever thought about running for something in your town?

4:43 PM  

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