Bob McCarthy, Errand Boy?

25 Jul

On Sunday, Bob McCarthy did his usual water carrying for local Republicans by writing a story they’ve been shopping for weeks. The story?  That Mark Poloncarz, Democratic Party nominee for Erie County Executive has received support from labor unions.


I know Bob didn’t write the headline, but it is misleading. “Poloncarz criticized over help from union” Really? From where is this “criticism” coming? Failing to demonstrate the source of the “criticism” implies that it sources from the community, not Collins’ spokesman Stefan Mychajliw.

A proper headline would be “Collins criticizes Poloncarz over labor support”.

On to the substance of the article…

Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union paid Poloncarz campaign manager Jennifer Hibit almost $10,000 for a two-month period beginning in May, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections. Local 1199 is one of the most powerful and influential unions affecting state government policies. While it does not represent any county employees, the campaign of incumbent Republican Chris Collins charges the highly unusual arrangement inserts Poloncarz into a position laden with potential conflict.

The above paragraph is why other reporters passed on this story several times. There is no conflict of interest because 1199 does not represent any county employees. The end. Bringing it up only serves as a launching point for the Collins campaign talking point which follows…

“This is an indication that Mark Poloncarz cares more about special interests than the taxpayers of Erie County,” said Collins campaign spokesman Stefan Mychajliw. “Those special interests will want something in return for their very significant donation.”

And just how will they go about doing that when, again, they don’t represent any county employees? Of course, it’s not about that at all, it’s about attacking labor in general and deflecting from substantive issues.

Does Collins really want to have a conversation about owing “special interests”? Just this year, local law firm Hiscock & Barclay donated $25,000 to the Collins For Our Future Fund and has earned quite a handsome return on their investment while doing work for the County Executive as he continually attempts to govern Erie County through the court system.

By October of this year (2010) Erie County had paid about $135,000 to the law firms Hiscock and Barclay and Mattar and D’Agastino defending the county in a class-action lawsuit alleging more than 30,000 Holding Center inmates were illegally strip-searched from 2001-04.

The conflicts of interest with Collins and his donors are everywhere and I’ll be posting about this more in the coming weeks. The point being that Collins should not be throwing stones in this glass house, especially when Poloncarz is accepting in-kind donations from a union which doesn’t represent any county employees.

Also, from whom should Poloncarz raise money? He is a Democrat and a progressive one at that. He appreciates the support of labor and middle class voters and represents the interests of those constituents. Collins is sitting on a million and a half dollars in campaign cash, 53% of which came from just 20 wealthy and connected donors whose incomes put them in the top 2% of the American economic strata.

The other 98% of us ARE laborers, we are the working class, we are the majority. So, it seems ridiculous to me to assail Mark for taking his support from the majority.

This is going to be a long campaign, internal polls on both sides have it pretty tight…and stories like McCarthy’s will be a regular occurrence as each campaign spokesperson tries to influence coverage. I’ll be around to offer a different take on those stories and remind everyone that not everything you read in Bob’s weekly column is the golden truth.

10 Responses to “Bob McCarthy, Errand Boy?”

  1. Greta Kelly July 25, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    In my glorious alternate dream reality, The Buffalo News has writers like Chris Smith on staff. Actual journalists, who take the time to research a story before reporting on it…..or actually determine if they even SHOULD report on it. They get the facts straight. They actually contact the individuals they identify by name to get a comment, instead of just puking up the pap that’s fed to them by a candidate. Then I wake up, and realize McCarthy still has his byline….and I am very sad.

    • Christopher Smith July 25, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

      Thank you for the compliment, it’s rare. We research, but we don’t always call for quotes. We do sometimes, but not every time. Why? I prefer research, numbers and public documents, I don’t feel I need to call to get spin quotes from local officials, unless, of course, I/We are accusing them of some malfeasance or ethical violation. This article here? I’m simply accusing Bob of a bias towards laziness and a preference for Republican politics. Not a criminal or ethical violation, just an observation.

  2. mark July 25, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    interesting how collins has hired another fired media type to be his spokesman, does he coordinate with boy degeorge? also interesting is the amount of money mayor brown has funneled to the law firm that represents the city in labor issues after receiving campaign contributions. golberg segalla. matthew van vessem. do we really expect much from the newspaper anymore? the local paper & 3 tv stations are just infomercials anyway.

  3. buffaloobserver July 26, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    McCarthy is a lazy barfly who couldn’t shine the shoes of retired politcal writers Ray Herman or George Borelli. I have no idea why the News keeps him on staff because it’s well known that most of his information is second hand. Look for Collins to be picking up his bar tab for the next 4 months.

  4. rastamick July 26, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Well said Chris. I attempted to leave a remark on the McCarthy “story” and was attacked by a Jesustani troll who used up all of his characters 3 times in a  row attacking me, unions and I think The New Deal and platform shoes too. The salient point that this union represents no conflict of interest somehow escaped McCarthy ? Also of hilarious mention is the latest reincarnation of Sweaty Stef as a Rovean styled attack poodle yapping with disingenuous “conclusions” based on his own murky croc roll of the facts. When James Williams kicks you to the curb it’s time to check out Lake Norman’s bustling economy. No surprise would match Stef and the Shetland Executive though. This campaign is all ready a knee slapper and it’s not even August.

  5. newwayofthinking July 26, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Bob is certainly well known in political circles for his lack of “initiative”, and his willingness to write what others tell him to. This is a perfect example.

  6. Zach July 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Thank you Chris for providing readers with some intelligent stories to read. It provides me with some sense of hope 

  7. Tommy Walter July 26, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    While Bob gave Mark the opportunity to respond, the entire premise is flawed. It was simply an opportunity for Stefan to say that Mark loves “big labor”, as if that’s a bad thing anyhow.

    I’m not in a union, but I wish I was.

  8. rastamick July 27, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    “I’m not in a union, but I wish I was.” Thanks TW for saying so. The usual line is if I can’t be in a union I don’t want anyone else to enjoy the benefits of one either. I am in one and I am glad to have the rights and protections it affords me and my fam. I wish more people had them. 

  9. Pat Borowiec July 27, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Ah, facts and investigative reporting. So appallingly rare in the media now. Thank you, Chris.

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