Tag Archives: election 2011

Collins Concedes

9 Nov

The View from Poloncarz HQ

Long story short: He had fun. Also, “The public has spoken. I don’t quite know what to make of that”.

Right before that quip, Collins wonders aloud that he doesn’t know what else his campaign could have done. I’ll analyze this more – and more in-depth – later, but I think a lot of it had to do with communication and messaging.

Collins was always perceived as aloof and arrogant – he was an asshole, but a lot of people figured, he’s our asshole. But he couldn’t afford not to attend functions where he would listen and speak directly with voters. He stayed away from candidates’ fora, he avoided televised debates (only one was actually shown on TV), and instead kept himself safely ensconced among sycophants both locally and on Fox News.

Make no mistake – this was the Corwin campaign without the Mallia incident.

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Czarism

24 Oct

During the televised debate at WNED, and again (a couple of times) at the untelevised debate at St. Joe’s (WBFO has the audio here), Collins trotted out an allegation that Mark Poloncarz doesn’t want to be the County Executive, he wants to be the county “czar”. I have no doubt that this attack was crafted in order to appeal to Collins’ base – the WBEN-listening Obama haters who associate Democrats with communism and unfettered government spending and power.

The problem for Collins is that he unwittingly set a trap for himself, and then fell into it.

At the St. Joe’s debate, Poloncarz discussed how he’d look at reducing the size and scope of county government. He says we shouldn’t just arbitrarily cut things for the sake of cutting them, but instead we should examine and investigate what works, what doesn’t, and then use that as a starting point.

That’s not czarism. That’s good government; being inquisitive and innovative.

Collins, in calling Poloncarz a prospective “czar”, cited three issues:

1. Poloncarz’s 2008 call for a study to examine consolidating volunteer fire departments. Is that a discussion worth having if it maintains current services and protection by saving taxpayers money? Joe Weiss in Clarence learned that this is a third rail of suburban politics, but that was compounded by his belligerent and hateful attitude. It’s a discussion worth having.  Of course, Collins lied to the audience, stating that Poloncarz wants to eliminate volunteer fire departments.  Either way, it’s not part of Poloncarz’s platform and a facile attack by a desperate politician.

2. Poloncarz’s 2008 recommendation that we study moving from the current assessing scheme – whereby almost every town and village has its own assessor, and centralizing those functions to save money. That statistic that Collins loves to cite about New York’s Medicaid program costing more than Texas’ and California’s combined? New York State has 1,133 assessing entities, while California has 59. Which do you think is cheaper and more efficent?

3. Erie County maintains six separate and distinct Industrial Development Agencies, which have in the past poached businesses from one part of the county and moved it to another, and called that re-arrangement of deck chairs a “win”. Poloncarz believes that there should be a unified, one-stop-shop for businesses to go to for development and growth assistance, and that our continued reluctance to do this costs us money and opportunities. He is incredulous over the fact that states like North Carolina have business development offices in Toronto while Erie County does not.

Collins – the dictatorial micro-manager, the county coup plotter-in-chief – takes his biggest weakness and tries to hurl it at Poloncarz. But think about it – aside from demonizing and further marginalizing the poorest people in Erie County, what has Collins’ big idea been? Like his counterpart in Buffalo City Hall, Collins is a ribbon-cutter and little else; the bean counter di tutti bean counters. He exists to enrich his friends and satisfy his suburban base. That’s why he privatized the fully federally funded WIC program, but not the golf courses.  That’s why he paid for toboggan runs, but shuttered health clinics that made money for the county.  It’s why rumors are growing that Collins is going to hire a private outside firm (and big Republican donor) to manage Medicaid for the county.

And I’m not saying the county shouldn’t be paying for improvements and upkeep at its parks, and I’m not saying the county should be out of the golf business if it’s not a net drain on taxpayers. What I am saying is that priorities for government should also include care for the needy or sick, education, maintaining a vibrant arts community not just for visitors, but also for locals.

Poloncarz doesn’t want to be the county czar; on the contrary, he wants to fire the one we’ve got.

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.

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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.

County Executive Chris Collins

9 May


Do you think he’s run county government like a business? If so, what specific policies of his do you support?  Chris Collins How many – and which – taxes do you think

Mark Poloncarz For Erie County Executive

7 May

Poloncarz speaking before supporters in 2010

The 2012 race for Erie County Executive is finally underway.  Earlier today, before a throng of supporters in his hometown of Lackawanna, Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz formally announced his candidacy for the office. He’ll face King Chris Collins in the general election in November.

In his speech, Poloncarz pledged to return County government back its residents and serve as an inclusive leader for everyone.  Poloncarz said, “I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. As the son of a steelworker and a nurse here in Lackawanna, it’s more like a steel spoon. And as your next County Executive, I will never forget where I came from and that I am elected to serve you.”

“Six years ago, at the height of the worst fiscal crisis this community had ever seen, you gave me the privilege to serve as your independent taxpayer watchdog. Although those were dark days, with a lot of hard work, we were able to bring Erie County back from the brink. However, the mistakes that created the ‘Red-Green’ budget crisis are being made once again by a county executive who cares more about getting himself re-elected than serving the people of Erie County.”

Collins has maintained since his first day as a candidate that he isn’t a “politician”, but a businessman.  During his term, Collins has proven to be the ultimate politician crafting deals to construct a compliant majority in the legislature as well as making political decisions with our tax dollars.

Added Poloncarz, “Collins says he’s running Erie County like a business. The truth is, he’s raised your taxes and decimated necessary services you rely on, while at the same time giving significant raises to his patronage appointees. Instead of spending tens of millions of federal Stimulus dollars to create jobs, he’s hoarded it for more than two years in order to give himself an election year boost. That’s a raw deal and Erie County residents deserve better.”

Poloncarz continued, “A county executive should be an inclusive leader for the entire county: urban, suburban and rural. Chris Collins has instead been a divisive figure, pitting urban versus suburban while neglecting the needs of our rural constituents.”

“And, while I am willing to work with all our partners in government and the private sector to find real solutions for the betterment of Erie County, Collins refuses to work with anyone, opting to waste your tax dollars on frivolous lawsuits when he doesn’t get his way.

“I believe Erie County’s best days are ahead of us, but only if we work together to guide our community forward. That is why I have entered this race, and with your support we will return responsible government back to its owners – the residents of Erie County.”

After serving as a business and finance lawyer in the private sector for a number of years, Poloncarz was first elected as Erie County Comptroller during the height of the “Red-Green” fiscal crisis in 2005. In office, he has rooted out waste and fraud in government, created a more efficient Comptroller’s Office and restored fiscal stability to Erie County’s government.

As the taxpayers’ watchdog, one of Poloncarz’s first actions was to strengthen the office’s Audit Division and shape it into an Inspector General-style organization that stops and prevents waste, fraud and abuse of county tax dollars. Since taking office, Mark has conducted more than 50 major audits and reviews of Erie County’s departments, which have identified more than $27 million in cost savings.

Additionally, Poloncarz has lead the charge to make a more efficient county government by pushing for the creation of Erie County’s prescription drug discount program and the adoption of electronic payments for vendors saving the County and those that do business with the County time and money.

As County Executive, Poloncarz pledges to clean up all of county government in the same manner he restored the reputation and trust in the comptroller’s office.

Leadership Through Tweets

12 Apr

Jane Corwin, who has spent the last couple of years doing bugger-all in Albany, and is now making stuff up about Kathy Hochul instead of touting her weak roster of non-accomplishments, is all over this tough budget stuff that was going down in Washington last week.

Although the budget compromise process in Washington ended on Friday April 8th, on Monday April 12th, Ms. Corwin had just got through “reviewing” it, and instead of offering an opinion or a position or a hint of how she might have voted, she asked her Twitter followers what she should think:

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Literally within hours of the budget compromise being reached, Kathy Hochul released this statement:

“Tonight, with just over one hour before a massive a government shutdown, the United States Congress finally came to a budget compromise.

“For days, I have called on my opponents, Republican Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis, to join me in supporting a budget compromise to no avail.  I am thankful Congress has worked through their disputes and finally come to this compromise that cuts spending.  However, I am greatly dismayed at the lack of concern Jane Corwin and Jack Davis have shown on this issue.  Instead of supporting what was right for the people of the 26th District, my opponents chose to play politics and avoid the issue at hand.

“If Jane Corwin and Jack Davis were currently serving in Congress, their apathy towards the budget compromise would have delayed students their loans, seniors their social security benefits, small business owners their loans, veterans their benefits, military men and women their paychecks, and hard working families their tax refunds.

“We cannot allow partisan politics to stand, which is why once elected I will work with all Members of Congress to make sure this fiasco does not occur again.  I will work hard to pass a 2012 budget on time that makes substantial cuts, while still ensuring essential services are not disturbed.  We cannot decimate Medicare and break the promises made to our seniors.”

Like it or not, it’s a thoughtful and well-considered position. Yet four solid days later, Jane Corwin doesn’t know what she thinks about it all. (For the record, neither Jack Davis nor Ian Murphy have offered up any sort of substantive statement on the averted shutdown, either).

Four days later, Hochul continually taunts Corwin for her refusal to take a position on this. She made the point in a tongue-in-cheek release claiming to be the “only candidate to support the Sabres”:

“Now that the regular season is officially over, I congratulate the Sabres on an amazing 40th season and look forward to watching them in the playoffs.  Since my opponents – Republican, Jane Corwin, and Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Jack Davis – have refused to take a position on Congress’s budget compromise, I now call on them to immediately join me in rooting on the Sabres in their run for the Stanley Cup”

I mean, if Davis and Corwin can’t formulate an opinion on the most important thing the Congress has accomplished since this special election process began, it is right for Hochul to call them out and mock them.

This isn’t some silly game like going to Albany as a minority freshman, where frankly you don’t have to be smart or interested to keep getting re-elected. Going to Congress isn’t some jejune exercise that can easily be bought with personal millions just because you have an enrollment advantage.

Corwin continues to prove that it is she, and not anyone else, who is the joke candidate.

Candidates and Seriousness

7 Apr

 

As Washington tries to avoid a government shutdown, the Batavian’s Howard Owens contacted all four candidates for NY-26 to ask them specifically what they thought about Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s proposal to cut spending and transform Medicare into a voucher program and let the magical free-market fairy work everything out to its lowest common denominator.

It’s as if seniors didn’t come out in their thousands to congressional town hall meetings in 2009 to demand that the government keep its grubby hands off their Medicare.

Three of the four candidates replied, much as you’d expect. Jack Davis did not; because it’s not an issue that involves hatred of brown people, he hasn’t yet formulated an opinion on it.

Jane Corwin, like most contemporary Republicans, hears the word “vouchers” and “privatization” and salivates all over it, regardless of whether it’s a good idea:

Our country is facing a historical challenge – we can either keep pursuing a path of runaway spending, and job-killing debt, or we can choose to get serious about reducing spending, cutting taxes and creating sustainable long-term economic growth for our children and grandchildren. The plan unveiled today recognizes this reality. I look forward to studying the proposals and working to change the direction of our country.

She omitted the part about how the government and the tax code are set up now to uniformly benefit the superwealthiest Americans, and to encourage offshoring of domestic corporations’ headquarters, capital, and labor. To her, it’s phenomenally important that reduced federal spending be done on the backs of the middle class and poor. Obviously, if corporations’ and American million-heiresses’ taxes were further reduced – perhaps to zero – the trickle-down to society’s serfs would be mind-bogglingly phenomenal, and all of our Galts could leave their gulch.

Kathy Hochul, on the other hand, equivocated a bit, but in the end rejected the notion that Medicare should be altered:

It’s time to get our fiscal house in order and start working toward reducing our national debt. There is no question that we need to make substantial cuts to our budget, but decimating Medicare cannot be the solution. Once elected, I look forward to working with all members of Congress to cut wasteful spending, while still keeping the promises made to our seniors and ensuring the survival of job re-training programs, so that our businesses can innovate, create jobs, and compete in the global market.

The problem is that one’s interpretation of “wasteful spending” can be somewhat subjective, and the Republican caucus thinks that “Medicare” and other “programs that help anyone who doesn’t donate to their campaigns” or “programs that benefit people who don’t lobby me” are “wasteful”.

Finally, Green Party Ian Murphy blasted through with a heaping dose of truth:

Ryan’s budget proposal represents the height of Republican dishonesty. It’s a reverse-Robin Hood, where they rob from the poor and give to the rich. You can’t reduce the deficit by lowering taxes on corporations and the super-rich, and cutting social spending. Anyone who suggests such an obvious lie should be laughed off the political stage. It’s just one more example of our elected officials representing wealth, not people.

Boom.

And the Palinist tea party wing is holding a NY-26 candidates’ forum, and Murphy isn’t invited because he’s not a “serious candidate”.  While he has the nerve to inject humor, irony, and sarcasm into a fundamentally laughable process, his positions are quite serious, indeed.

What is so unserious about using humor to make a political point, as opposed to, for instance, Jane Corwin just plain-old lying about her opponent?  What is so unserious about plainly stating your position on the issue of transforming Medicare into nothingness, ignoring the whole purpose behind it, as compared with a milliontard candidate who doesn’t even have a damned opinion about it?  The real unserious candidates are Jack “I don’t know” Davis and Jane “we’ll take supper in the parlor” Corwin.