Tag Archives: county executive

Poloncarz Hires Whyte, Siragusa, Neaverth, Keating, Burstein

28 Dec

Until now, the only hire of which we were aware was Richard Tobe as Deputy County Executive. Today, the Poloncarz transition team announced a second batch of hires:

·         Gale R. Burstein, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM, Commissioner of Health

·         Robert W. Keating, Director of Budget and Management

·         Daniel Neaverth Jr., Commissioner of Emergency Services

·         Michael A. Siragusa, JD, County Attorney

·         Maria R. Whyte, Commissioner of Environment and Planning

From the press release, after the jump. Continue reading

Collins’ Three Rs – Resist , Retain, Raise

16 Nov

The View from Poloncarz HQ

Bob McCarthy talks to local Republicans who seem as disgruntled as they are un-named, and lists off a series of concerns they have about the Erie County Republican Committee’s direction now that it lost the Corwin and Collins races.

One could easily quip that the Republicans have a problem running neighbors from Cobblestone Lane in Spaulding Lake to represent people with whom they are fundamentally, societally, monetarily out-of-touch, but that’s “class warfare”. Frankly, I don’t really care why the Republicans lost those races – and they were won by down-to-Earth, reasonable centrist Democrats like Kathy Hochul and Mark Poloncarz, and their platforms, messaging, GOTV, and ideas.

McCarthy uncritically transcribed this “concern” held by local unnamed Republican sources:

* How did a county executive who fulfilled all his promises with minimal effects on taxes and no scandals manage to lose?”

The first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem.

First of all, to say Collins didn’t have scandals is to ignore the time when he referred to the Jewish Assembly Speaker as the “anti-Christ”, and the time when Collins jokingly demanded a “lap dance” in order to save a seat at the State of the State address for a well-connected female executive at a local construction company. It ignores the fact that, to some people, informing them days before Christmas that they’d be losing their state-funded daycare services and that they’d have to quit their jobs to watch their kids, is quite scandalous indeed.

Secondly, Collins did not “fulfill all his promises“. Collins raised taxes, deepened regional cleaves, and ran on “Three Rs – Reforming Erie County government, Rebuilding the local economy, and ultimately, Reducing taxes.”

He did not reform county government – in fact, he resisted and blocked reforms almost routinely (another “r”); he did not rebuild the local economy, but ensured that stimulus funds were hoarded to artificially improve his balance sheet; and he did not reduce – but raised – taxes.

That’s breaking your promises, and that’s failure under any measure. It’s no wonder he lost.

Wrapping My Head Around Last Week

14 Nov


I’ve been thinking about the County Executive’s race all week, and I can’t seem to crystallize my thoughts into a coherent post, so here you go.

I’m not quite sure why regional campaigns would leave their messaging and communications in the hands of outsiders. Someone in Albany or Washington isn’t going to have his finger on the pulse of western New York, no matter whether they’re Buffalo expats or not.  Buy local, and use local talent.  Peter Anderson for Poloncarz was always cool as a cucumber. Stefan Mychajliw for Collins probably had a really difficult boss, and he got bogged down in making his boss look like the victim of union/Democratic fraud and dirty tricks. Collins, however, was too widely unliked.

Poloncarz and his team out-everythinged Collins’. While Collins and his people were busy whining about ballot tampering and signs “stolen” from public property in Williamsville, Poloncarz was undeterred from his central message of jobs and returning government to the people. Poloncarz showed up at candidates’ forums – friendly and unfriendly – that Collins completely avoided. Poloncarz walked door to door, attended fundraisers, shook hands, and – most importantly – listened to people.

Just three years ago, Collins was a rising Republican star. He was the millionaire model for conservative beancounters everywhere, even being invited to speak at the GOP Convention in 2008. Now? He’s going back to the private sector, where he can treat his businesses and employees however he’d like. Those people get paid to deal with him. Not so the voters of Erie County. Any talk of Collins running for statewide office is now quieted.

The people told him that they don’t like taxes, but they like the stuff they pay for, like libraries.

Running government like a business was a great platform to run against a reheated old pol like Jim Keane. But Collins didn’t run it like a business – he ran it like his business. He surrounded himself with very young staffers who were as sycophantic to their boss as they were arrogant to others. Their political prowess had become legendary, yet they had never run a competitive race against anyone. Kathy Hochul showed that they were weak; that was the first clue that Collins would lose. That he generally kept the same crew around was hubris, and they lost their second competitive race.

Correspondents tell me that the collective mood in the Rath Building has improved dramatically since last Tuesday’s surprisingly  convincing Poloncarz win. It’s not because Poloncarz is suddenly going to hire back everyone his union masters demand, as some would think; instead, it’s because county workers know that this victory will quiet down the incessant scapegoating. Despite all the talk of Six Sigma, the time will soon come where these workers will be judged on their merits; on their efficiency – not on arbitrary beancounting. The days of cutting off our nose to spite our face will be over.

The public-sector unions, however, are kidding themselves if they think they own the incoming County Executive. They will be treated fairly, but won’t be given the keys to the candy store.

Leading into election day, I was afraid it would be too close to call – that Poloncarz would win, but not for weeks, and that Collins would be yelling about election fraud. His win wasn’t exactly a landslide, but it was a much bigger margin than anyone expected, and it’s due to hard work.

Poloncarz insiders told me on Election Night that Bob McCarthy had slagged them off all summer, complaining about how boring the race was, and what a shoo-in Collins was to win re-election. They perceived McCarthy’s coverage of their effort as being unnecessarily negative and excessively dismissive. He pretended that there was a potential conflict of interest by SEIU – which has no contract with the county – paying Poloncarz’s campaign manager’s salary. There wasn’t, and it’s not as unusual as he suggested. McCarthy’s interest in the race began and ended with financial disclosures – Collins was the winner because he could afford to self-fund, and Poloncarz was the loser because until that first Siena poll was released, he hadn’t raised as much. Yet McCarthy didn’t do the math, and Poloncarz had even then out-raised Collins. After Siena, Poloncarz out-raised Collins by 4:1.

Bob, cash doesn’t vote. People do.

Political junkies like to follow the financial filings at the BOE; the general public, not so much. McCarthy comes out of this campaign looking downright shortsighted and foolish. His coverage was practically negligent.

By the way, city turnout last week approached 25%. Remember when the Siena polls came out and the city sample was 21% and 19%, respectively, and how the Collins camp and others had a conniption fit over that? That was fun.

They were right – Siena was inaccurate. They showed a dead heat when Poloncarz was out ahead. Collins’ people touted magical internal polls showing him up, up, up, but that didn’t materialize.

Ballot tampering – Collins’ crew’s attempts to link that to Poloncarz was pathetic and whiny. Granted, Poloncarz jumped the gun when he accused the Republicans of engineering that attempted fraud, but in the end, Collins was clearly trying to set this up for post-election-night litigation. But everyone knew the cops had absolved both campaigns of responsibility, so Collins came off as whiny.

I think a reason why the margin was so wide has to do with Collins’ appearance on the Fox News Channel in the days leading up to the election. Here’s a guy who won’t talk to voters in his own town, yet he has the time to go on a divisive Republican propaganda outlet with a miniscule national audience? Collins could have influenced more voters by yelling out his window in Clarence than appearing on some obscure Fox News show no one heard of.

The election, I think, was ultimately about re-assessing our community priorities. We may not be ready for true regionalism, but we’re over pitting one population against another. We’re bored with political scapegoating of certain sectors of our society. We want the county to move forward into the 21st century and stop bickering. We don’t like how high our taxes are, but enjoy the things they pay for that lift up our quality of life, and we need to find a comfortable balance. We’re tired of unfunded mandates, and we’re sick of redundancy.

What I’m most hopeful for isn’t a different kind of beancounting, but big ideas. When Poloncarz spoke of closer ties with Canada, an examination of redundant IDAs that poach business from each other, de-politicizing processes that Collins had hyperpoliticized, I get excited. When I consider that regional cooperation and consolidation of redundancies may re-emerge, I’m quite pleased. When I consider that the comptroller will now be in a position to fix issues he had identified as plaguing Collins’ budgets, I’m hopeful.

After the mess Giambra made, Collins’ policies may have been what we needed, but his obnoxious arrogance gave him a very short shelf-life indeed.

Election Night Interviews

11 Nov

I’m still catching up on sleep and recovering from Election Night, and I’m still mulling over what I think Tuesday meant for our body politic, and for WNY’s near future.

So, in the meantime, here are interviews I conducted early Wednesday morning in a noisy and raucous Buffalo Adams Mark Hotel (which is quite literally a journey back in time to Hotel 1989). I spoke with Poloncarz spokesman Peter Anderson, County Clerk candidate Maria Whyte, and County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz.


Post Election Predictions

9 Nov

After a short campaign that was more yawn than scream, Mark Poloncarz succeeded last night in breaking an important glass ceiling: first WNYMedia commenter elected County Executive. Congrats, Mark – like the Bills, enjoy the win for 24 hours, then get down to work.

How predictable was Chris Collins’ four year slide from competent businessman to arrogant and out of touch Six Sigma aficionado? Looking back, the signs were there; his fate a possible scenario, not an inevitability.

In that vein, let’s have a little fun making some predictions about Poloncarz’s next four years. Here are mine – be sure to add your own witty additions below. And before these get too accusatory vis a vis my supposed partisanship, there are my best guess, not my wish.

– Arts and Libraries: The libraries will get more money. The arts will get more money. Colin Dabkowski will declare victory, and the theater scene safe once again in Erie County. The average citizen won’t notice the difference. The City of Buffalo will continue to have no arts budget whatsoever, and will keep getting a free pass.

– Control Board back in the news: Collins’ mattress stuffing of stimulus dollars and reductions in the county payroll may have been bashed on this site, but they did keep the county control board (read: adult supervision) at bay. If Poloncarz rehires staff, reopens clinics, funds the libraries, gives more bed tax to the CVB, and/or spends stimulus money on road projects, expect the control board to step in. Plus, don’t forget Collins’ budget projections contained future deficits, wiping out Poloncarz’s opportunities to fund election promises.

– Speaking of staff: The largest organization Poloncarz had run previous to this new role as chief executive was the comptroller’s office, a small manpower pool by any measure. Whether because of a feud with Collins or from original desire, Poloncarz often tried to increase the size of his staff, a trend that seems destined to continue if he hires his “czars” for economic development and other issues. I bet we’re talking about a bloated county staff in four years: official positions, patronage hires, and extra advisors.

– Old tensions reignite: With no Republican politician of any stature left in Erie County (sorry Chris Jacobs) to serve as a convenient foil, the internal divisions of the local Democrats leap to prominence, a more high profile version of the Buffalo Common Council’s 9-0 in-fighting. Lenihan continues his Brett Favre impression, the Democrat majority in the county legislature fails to coalesce, and we hear more talk about Cuomo requesting a peace. Ironically, these divisions may magnify (or at least perpetuate) a city vs suburb division. Collins and Brown were at least partners in crime, and their truce eased difficult ECMC and parks negotiations. The Poloncarz/Brown tiff will not allow such official mutual public support.

Grand solutions: Poloncarz issued a number of audits and reports as comptroller, his clear duty to find efficiencies and waste. Some were small issues (cell phones and parking spaces), and some were bombshells: reorganizing all volunteer fire departments, for instance, a recommendation that landed him in hot water with local fire halls. Now that Poloncarz is in charge, he has the power to not just advise but implement. How many big radical solutions will we see from his office? How much support will he get from rank and file county staff if he sweeps in and “fixes” everything?

– Medicaid Savings: Of this prediction I am the most confident – fighting Medicaid fraud is the new Six Sigma. The effort will be public and deliberate. The individual cases will be private (of course) and the actual savings hard to quantify. The supporters of Poloncarz will declare victory before November 2015. The Republican candidate will note that Medicaid spending continued to rise each year despite fraud investigations. Your view of its record will depend on the tint of your partisan sunglasses.

Siena Poll on the Erie County Executive Race: Dead Heat

6 Nov

Things I find interesting from the Siena Poll for the County Executive’s race that was released last night, apart from the fact that the race swung from a statistical dead heat of 49/46 for Collins with a MOE of +/- 3.4%, to a genuine dead heat of 48/48 with a MOE of +/- 2.7%.  Undecideds went from 6% to 5% overall.

Low & High Earners: County on Wrong Track.

49% of Erie County Residents think the county is going in the wrong direction. 45% think it’s going in the right direction. Among those making over $100,000 per year, the split is 49/47. Among earners of less than $50,000, the split is 53/42. The only earners who think the county is on the right track more than wrong are those earning $50k – $100k, where the split is 48/47.

Poloncarz Has Higher Favorables and Lower Unfavorables than Collins

Collins’ overall favorable/unfavorable is 51/45. Among those making more than $100,000 per year, Collins is less liked than among those earning less; among people making $100,000, Collins’ favorable/unfavorable is 49/50.  Among earners of less than $50,000, the split is 52/49, and among earners of between $50,000 – $100,000, that range is 53/44.

Poloncarz’ overall favorable/unfavorable is 52/44. Among $100k+, that split is 55/42. Middle earners? 53/41. Less than $50k give Poloncarz a favorable/unfavorable of 52/37.  Compare that to October, when Poloncarz’s overall favorable/unfavorable was 49/27 – the last 3 weeks of lies and negativity from Collins have hurt, but not badly enough that Poloncarz’s favorable went up 3 points. By contrast, Collins’ favorables dropped from 55%, and his unfavorables went up from 41%.

Dead Heat

48/48 as between Poloncarz and Collins. Men prefer Collins, women prefer Poloncarz 49/46. 5% of voters remain undecided.  Interestingly, those making under $50k and those making over $100k prefer Poloncarz – 49/47, and 51/45 respectively. Those earning between $50k and $100k prefer Collins 50/46.

The sample this time reduced people from the city of Buffalo from 25% to 19% of the sample, reflecting what Siena says is the fact that city voters said they were less likely to vote. The largest income bracket sampled is that middle one that prefers Collins, and note that people across the board overwhelmingly think that Collins is going to win, in spite of the fact that the race is a dead heat with Democrats coming home and undecideds breaking more for Poloncarz.


People are locking in their votes, and there’s less room for the candidates to maneuver. Everything now comes down to party apparatus and getting out the vote. This should be interesting, since Poloncarz and the Democrats have entire machines ready to hit the streets on Tuesday, while the Republicans simply won’t have the same amount of boots on the ground.

In 2007, only 291,244 votes were cast in Erie County, and Keane only won the City of Buffalo, where 46,517 votes were cast in total.  16% of the turnout was in the City of Buffalo, where Clark smeared Keane in the African-American press as being a Klansman, or worse.  No such shenanigans will be taking place on Tuesday, where Poloncarz has strong support in the city, and turnout is expected to be higher than in 2007.  Collins and his allies know they’re in trouble because they can’t match the Democrats on turnout, which explains the last-minute push to pin the absentee voter fraud on Poloncarz and turn it into an issue – an effort that’s failed completely.

As far as predictions, I think it will be as close as the SD-60 race between Grisanti and Thompson. In other words, I think that Poloncarz will have a 3-digit edge in the unofficial BOE tally, and it will come down to hand-counts and absentees.

Collins vs. Poloncarz: Final Weekend

4 Nov

1. The Siena Poll will be releasing updated numbers on Saturday. The hot rumor is that it will find Mark Poloncarz ahead of Chris Collins, likely by about 3 points. This would represent a 6-point swing in Poloncarz’s favor in just less than a month. Undecideds are deciding, and they’re breaking in favor of the Democrat.

2. Poloncarz’s final pre-election day fundraiser in Lackawanna Thursday night had a huge turnout of regular folks looking to elect only the second Democratic County Executive in Erie County history.

3. Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer will be in town today, holding a GOTV rally with Poloncarz at the UAW hall on Wehrle. Look for Mayor Byron Brown to stun everyone and endorse Poloncarz over his ally Chris Collins for County Executive. Sure, it’ll be under duress but it’ll be good nonetheless.

4. In keeping with this week’s general theme of highlighting Poloncarz on the issues, you really need to read his comprehensive and informative look at Medicaid. While Collins heaps scorn and derision on the destitute, the working poor, and threatening to take away optical or hearing coverage for the most vulnerable in our society, most Medicaid expenditures go to pay for nursing home care for the elderly. Whereas Collins shuttered clinics for the poor, they cost $2.3 million per year to operate, yet brought in $3 million in revenue.

Aside from relying on recent changes in the ways in which counties can administer Medicaid, Poloncarz proposes doing something the Collins Administration hasn’t bothered with – aggressively going after Medicaid fraud.

…as County Executive Mark Poloncarz will implement a two-part plan to reduce the cost of Medicaid: (1) expose provider fraud contained in the system by using current County Social Service resources to create a new Erie County Medicaid Inspector General division to work with our partners in government and the private sector to identify the fraud and recover said fraudulent payments; and (2) reduce the cost of providing basic health care services to Medicaid recipients, especially women and children, through the creation of the Erie Community Healthcare Office

We pay $1.4 billion per year on Medicaid in Erie County. There is no reason why our efforts to find and end waste, fraud, and abuse shouldn’t be systematic and aggressive. Poloncarz plans to do just that. As for the healthcare office, it would be something like a managed care plan with an emphasis on preventative care.

In his first term, Mark will work toward the creation of the Erie Community Healthcare Office, which will serve as a point of entry for Medicaid patients. Such a clinic could be placed in the former premises of one of the previously closed health clinics, thereby saving taxpayers money by using currently owned County facilities. Instead of Medicaid recipients going to a hospital emergency room for basic health care services, recipients will go to the clinic. Instead of Medicaid patients ignoring basic checkups and preventative care, the County will monitor recipients‘ health care for better disease management, thereby leading to decreased costs. In the end, such a center would reduce program misuse, fraud and overuse while providing quality care, and, as was the case with the clinics which were previously closed, make money for the people of Erie
County. Moreover, as it has in Chemung County, it will save millions of dollars per year
by controlling costs presently beyond the control of county government.

Collins’ plan? More of the same, status quo thinking, and demonizing the poor. Not looking at solutions, but looking for people to blame and curse.

5. ArtVoice’s Geoff Kelly provides a comprehensive look at Collins’ four years – the ups, the downs, and the mehs. It’s a great trip down memory lane.

6. The right wing have been freaking out because the NY/NJ Port Authority Police Benevolent Association gave Poloncarz a $20,000 donation. Collins and his mouthpieces have been sounding ignorant dogwhistles,

“He’s a pawn of Jersey union bosses who are giving him tens of thousands of dollars in a last-minute push to take our government away from taxpayers,” Collins said. “They know he will give the special interests anything they want, regardless of the cost to taxpayers.”

The Police Benevolent Association is the union representing rank & file police officers working for a massive interstate port authority apparatus. It has no employees, control, influence, or business in Erie County. This is a case of a downstate union helping out an upstate Democrat in a tight race against a self-funded millionaire. Poloncarz would never be in a position to “give” this union anything at all, much less “anything they want”. Collins here looks like a petulant infant.

But it gets better.

The same guy who told a Montante family member to give him a “lapdance”, and referred to Sheldon Silver as the “anti-Christ”, has this to say about our great state of New York:

“Downstate is not a friend of upstate”

Speak for yourself, dummy. What kind of political “leader” governs through division like that? What good is it to score a cheap political point against Poloncarz by denigrating a very wealthy and influential part of the state?

On top of this – does Collins realize whom the Port Authority of NY/NJ PBA represent?

The heroes of September 11th. The cops who policed the Port Authority-owned World Trade Center, many of whom died valiantly trying to save their fellow citizens from death by terrorism.

The right wing freak-out over a donation from a union representing heroes is appalling, but not surprising – they only think of cops as heroes when convenient.

7. Lastly, check out today’s Buffalo News story about the travails of Dan Neaverth, Jr. Collins is accused of eliminating his county emergency services position – a job that was fully funded with federal dollars for post-9/11 emergency response – in order to placate Rural/Metro, a generous Collins supporter. Collins plays politics with everything, including your family’s health and safety.

Chris Collins: Disabled? (Redux)

3 Nov

Hopefully, you remember this post from July, which showed Chris Collins’s vehicle parked at a high school in Akron in a spot reserved for handicapped drivers. This was right before the Akron July 4th parade.

We have better images now – images showing Collins parking his car, exiting his car, and the fact that there were other, legal spots available.

This is scumbaggery at its most acute.

Here, Chris Collins is seen parking in a handicapped spot (Click to enlarge)

Here, Chris Collins exits his illegally parked vehicle. He seems able-bodied. Click to enlarge.

Here, Chris Collins bends down to check something on his illegally parked car. He seems able-bodied. Legal spots are visible. Click to enlarge.

Chris Collins walks from his illegally parked vehicle to join the Akron July 4th Parade. He seems able-bodied. Legal spots are visible. Click to enlarge. What a douche.

Mark Poloncarz’s campaign released this statement:

In keeping with his record of arrogance and disregard for the rules, Chris Collins presumably reached a new low in conduct recently when he parked his car in a handicapped parking spot at a local high school prior to a summer parade. The attached security photos clearly show Collins pulling into a spot in his car, easily identifiable by the “CE 3” license plate, after which Collins and his wife exit and walk to the parade staging area.* Collins parked in the handicapped spot despite the availability of legal parking at the event; some of that parking was even closer to the staging area.

“This is just another example of Chris Collins following his own set of rules and disregarding the laws that the rest of us live by,” said Peter Anderson, spokesman for the Poloncarz campaign. “This is blatant disrespect at its most despicable level. Collins should issue a public apology for his reprehensible behavior.”

Collins’ blatant flaunting of the law continued with an incident on October 7, reported in Artvoice, showing him once again parking illegally, this time in front of Ulrich’s Restaurant in Buffalo.**

“Chris Collins does not have a handicapped parking permit, nor does he have the courage to stand up and tell voters why he did this,” Anderson continued. “This is just another example of Chris Collins’ public pattern of disrespect. Voters are fed up with his arrogance and rule-breaking.”

Poloncarz on the Libraries

3 Nov

Operating a competent and cost-efficient county government shouldn’t be based on one’s personal lifestyle. Although Chris Collins may have no use for libraries, what with their “public service” and their “spreading of knowledge”, an overwhelming majority of people in this community not only use, but treasure our libraries. Libraries help people conduct research, they entertain young kids, they help people who might not have $30 to buy a hardcover blockbuster novel read it, they help people stay connected, and to find jobs. But above all, they help inform and educate the populace.

Given Chris Collins’ needless library funding shenanigans during his reign, one could reasonably conclude that public information and education are not among his priorities. Unlike Collins, Mark Poloncarz wants Erie County to operate and fund a 21st century library system Erie County can be proud of, and guarantee that our libraries continue to inform, educate, and entertain people, and act as community gathering places that make up the very foundation of a civilized society.

In Erie County, during our current recession, County Executive Chris Collins –admitting that he does not use libraries – has proposed a major alteration to our current county library system.

Chris Collins has decided that, like many county services, he wants to force the library system to live on its own or simply die. Collins created a funding crisis by specifically targeting the county’s library system for drastic cuts at the same time he refused to spend tens of millions of dollars of federal stimulus assistance and increased the salaries of some the county’s highest paid employees. For the 2011 budget, Collins cut $4 Million from the Buffalo and Erie County Library System.

After public outcry and hard work by our legislators, $3 Million was restored to the 2011 budget.

Now, Chris Collins, citing that he believes the library system is not fiscally stable, has proposed a plan that would create a new special taxing district for the library system, thereby creating a new level of government and bureaucracy, without also examining the potential ramifications of such action.

Those ramifications include several hidden evils that will result in more government, more administration, high salaries, more taxes and further burden placed on the backs of Erie County’s residents. All of this as a result of Collins created crisis.

In an era where good government advocates, local activists, innovative politicians, and even Governor Andrew Cuomo are advocating for the streamlining and consolidation of taxing entities, Chris Collins would create a new taxing district and bureaucracy to rid the county of responsibility for what Collins clearly sees as just another poor-coddling socialist holdover called “libraries”. To Chris Collins, libraries are another frivolity, like Medicaid and health clinics; a frivolity only because he’d never use it.

Collins concocted his ridiculous creation of a new taxing bureaucracy for the libraries with zero input from the libraries, library users, partners in government, the state (which would have to OK
his scheme), or the taxpayers for whom he purports to work.

But people affected by a recession – who can’t afford to go book shopping or internet access – they use libraries quite often. In the 2011 budget, Collins cut $4 million from the libraries’ budget – money that the legislature restored. Collins then vetoed that and restored only part of the money. Inexplicably so.

After all, for every $1 spent on the Erie County libraries, the community gets a return of $6.07.

The solution to a problem that Chris Collins manufactured for political ends is not to create new taxes and a new taxing entity. County funding for our highly valued and valuable library system has decreased by 27% since 2004. Although Collins’ cuts have forced libraries to reduce their hours, visits are up, underscoring their importance and impact.

Poloncarz wants the community to begin a discussion on what a 21st century library system should look like in Erie County.

Mark Poloncarz will defend Erie County’s library system and he will defend Erie County’s residents from more tax burdens and more layers of government. As county executive, unlike the incumbent, Poloncarz will continue to fund the library system but he will demand that annual economic reviews of each library branch and the system are provided to the executive and legislature before any budget appropriations are approved. Additionally, every four (4) years Poloncarz will require an analysis be completed of the economic impact of each library branch and the system in total: a review that will examine cost savings to taxpayers and value added indicia to the community as a whole.

Poloncarz will commence such a review during his first year in office as executive. Poloncarz will also work to expand tourism opportunities for our community by highlighting the unique and valuable community assets of the Library system, like its ownership of Mark Twain’s the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn manuscript and a complete collection of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, as well as the valuable resources contained in the Mark Twain Room and the Grosvenor Rare Book Room. The contents of the Mark Twain and Rare Book rooms are priceless community assets that should never be put at risk because of a budgetary crisis caused by one person. Under a Poloncarz administration these contents will not only continue to be community assets, as Poloncarz will never put them at risk, but they will be the focus of a tourism campaign aimed at the myriad of individuals and groups that travel thousands of miles to see such assets. The New York Public Library and Cleveland Public Library draw thousands each year to visit their exhibits of rare books and artwork, and there is no reason that the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library cannot attempt to do the same with the priceless community assets it owns.

Poloncarz will also work to ensure that our libraries continue to be the centers for learning in every community of Erie County as they have in the past. While it is doubtful the system will ever grow to as many branches as it used to have, the citizens of Erie County deserve a system that retains the aspects that we have all come to expect: a place to learn for a lifetime. Andrew Carnegie understood that the key to success in life was to educate oneself and Mark Poloncarz understands the same. As such, he will demand that all library branches meet the basic criteria of being a place where people can learn from the age of 5 to 105, and that the latest technology
be available to educate the people of our county.

Libraries are important and valued community assets that provide a return on the people’s investment, and help grow and maintain an educated, informed, and connected community. As manufacturing continues to decline, and we move more towards a knowledge-based economy, the importance of libraries cannot be overstated, especially for the poor and unprivileged. It’s time to stop playing politics and hiking taxes for inexplicable ends. It’s time to elect a County Executive who understands this.

Poloncarz on Jobs

2 Nov

We like to tout how immune we’ve been from the global financial crisis and recession, but I don’t think 50 years’ worth of economic, commercial, industrial, and population decline and treading water are much to be proud of.

And while the right wing in this region like to blame the “failed policies” of Democrats, let’s remember that we have had exactly one Democratic county executive in the history of Erie County, and under Dennis Gorski we had budget surpluses. Twice, Republican County Executives have plunged the county into economic crisis through tax cuts paired with increased spending.

Republicans don’t like or trust government because they don’t know how to govern. Democrats understand and recognize that government has a role to play in our economy.

Well, that’s not totally true.

Republicans like Chris Collins also think that government has a role to play in our economy, but that role is limited to stuff suburban people like, such as toboggan runs and golf courses. Stuff poor city people need? That we privatize, regardless of the financial realities.

And that’s a central issue for me – if you’re supposedly for smaller government, as Collins and other Republicans claim to be, wouldn’t it be the frivolous recreational things that should go first? Aren’t golf courses and toboggan runs the types of items that can be privatized or sold off to the private sector? On the other hand, feeding the poor, treating the sick, and ensuring that we have a healthy, educated population are things that government has to do, and do well. That doesn’t mean throwing money away, it means getting rid of what doesn’t work and promoting what does.

As the quote above suggests, Collins promised to grow our population and make the region more job-friendly. Through his machinations to manufacture majorities in the legislature, he has few excuses.

In the beginning of his term, Chris Collins proclaimed, “[w]e must grow as a community or we will die.”

He also said the public should hold his administration “accountable for [their] promises,” adding, “just like we do in the private sector.”

Mark Poloncarz has a plan to grow jobs, our population, and our economy. He has a plan to use our natural advantages – economic, social, and geographic – to grow our economy. We need a unified, regional approach to business development, not one that enables one town to poach business from another. That figurative re-arranging of Titanic deck chairs is usually touted as a “win”, but it’s not – not if that win is at the expense of another WNY community.

Poloncarz wants Erie County to better link our economy to that of Southern Ontario and Toronto. We need to be – and should be – the natural US headquarters for Canadian corporations looking to do business here, like Labatt USA is.

As County Executive, Mark Poloncarz will make it the top priority of his administration to create new jobs for Erie County – not just move jobs from one part of the county to another, as has been the practice under Collins’ tenure. Mark will task his administration to bring in new businesses to the region which will generate new jobs and to create an atmosphere that will add jobs to existing businesses. Mark will also work to consolidate myriad of industrial and municipal development agencies that currently exist to make it easier for out of area businesses to view Erie County as a viable option for business development. Currently, Erie County has six Industrial Development Agencies (“IDAs”) that often poach businesses from one part of the county to another.

Instead of working together as a County and doing whatever possible to attract new business to relocate into the area or grow and sustain current businesses, we are acting as individual towns and cities fighting among ourselves to attract businesses. The reality is we are not creating new jobs, we are merely shifting existing jobs to one town at the expense of another. This practice is not sustainable and it must stop.

Back in 2006 during the debate over the Erie County Charter, there was a consensus that someone in the Rath Building should act in the manner of a county manager – someone apolitical who can be a good administrator, while the elected official promotes the region. Poloncarz wants his Deputy County Executive to be in charge of promoting and growing jobs in the region. More jobs means more people means community growth.

Collins’ reign has been punctuated by gimmicky Six Sigma, which has cost millions and generated no savings whatsoever. He ran as someone who is “not a politician”, but has been more political than even his predecessor. He rejects regionalism, which in turn promotes fractured, redundant government and delivery of services.

Election Day is next Tuesday the 8th. People are saying they don’t want to hear about dirty tricks anymore, they want to know about issues. Over the next several days, I’ll be highlighting the issues and why I’m voting for Mark Poloncarz for County Executive.

Jobs, regional business development, a one-stop office for business attraction and incentivization, growing and enhancing our contacts with business and government counterparts in Ontario, and creating a more business-friendly environment to help WNY better compete against other regions in the US will be among Poloncarz’s priorities when he is sworn in as County Executive in January.