Tag Archives: Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz

I Have No Idea What Is Going On

24 Aug

If everything went according to plan, I am just now getting back from four days of near complete isolation from the outside world. I’m writing this the week before, and posting it for today’s edition for my weekly local/political column. Looking forward six days into the future, I probably smell bad, desparately need to change my underwear, am unshaven, have a thrown out back from sleeping on the ground, and am exhausted from paddling and camping with my sons.

I love stepping out of the hurly burly for brief periods. Anything could have happened. Did Obama start a new war? Did the Chinese make a surprise landing on the moon? Which hurricane formed and hit? Did Lloyd win the Food Network contest? Who did Alan fight with on Twitter? You know, the important stuff.

Being so out of it, what’s a writer to do?

Easy. First, slap up a classic meme.

Second, lay out a “deep thought.” Assuming the “campaign” is going as it had been, consider this: every day no one talks about the Collins/Poloncarz race, the closer Collins is to victory. Discuss.

(Author’s note: if the race blew up while I was gone, this will seem silly. But let’s see what happens.)

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.

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.

The Politics of Cuts

14 Dec

Later today, we’ll stream the Erie County Legislature session at which Democrats will beg Legislator Kevin Hardwick (R, Tonawanda) to vote with their majority to override the 154 vetoes of the 2011 County Budget sent down by County Executive Chris Collins yesterday.

154 vetoes?  That’s a pretty stark rebuke of the County Legislature, eh?  Collins didn’t just leave it at the vetoes and said at his press conference “I know what I’m doing, they (County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz and the Legislature Democrats) do not.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day transactional politics and the horrible pettiness of the budget process, but it pays to take a step back to see that this whole process is playing out just as Collins had hoped…in a political sense.

In 2011, Collins will face either Mark Poloncarz or Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul in the County Executive general election.  Poloncarz and Hochul are very popular in the cities of the county and in certain suburbs.  Hochul has an established base of support in the southtowns and in the inner ring suburbs.  Poloncarz is strong in the same areas and has done very well in parts of the Northtowns in his two tough campaigns for Comptroller.  Both potential candidates are significant threats to Collins’ re-election, especially if either can raise the money to compete with Collins’ million dollar campaign account.

Collins, being the politician that he is, saw an opportunity in this budget battle.  An opportunity to separate himself further from his potential opponents in the eyes of suburbanites.  He exploited the ever-growing city/suburb divide that exists in Erie County and worked to re-affirm to his base that he is a “no-nonsense” chief executive.

A homeowner in Getzville, Clarence, East Amherst, or Lancaster pays a hefty annual sum in property taxes.  Most of those taxes are due to their local school and town/village taxes, but they certainly don’t want to give another red cent to any government, especially Erie County.  Why?  Because Erie County Government is the one that least benefits them.

An administration source told me, “The idea is to foment a feeling that Collins is the guy who fights to keep money in the pockets of suburbanites and away from the ‘city people’ while Hochul and Poloncarz are left to pander to the urban base.  We want the anger and frustration of the urbanites, it creates an equal and opposite reaction from the suburbanites”

Well, that’s exactly the outcome, isn’t it?  Collins has had six weeks of daily news stories in the newspaper and on TV showing how the “city people” and Democrats are demanding the county teat be milked for their benefit.  His two-fisted urban programs while screaming from the mountaintops with radio ads and robocalls about big-spending liberals certainly benefits his re-election chances with the base.

After school programs for disadvantaged youth?  The average suburban voter thinks those people should pay for their own daycare.  Shakespeare in the Park or Irish Classical Theater?  The average suburban voter thinks those places should charge more for tickets.  After all, the suburban people don’t go to those shows!  Which is why Collins originally proposed funding for cultural organizations which suburban people enjoy, places like the Buffalo Zoo, the Philharmonic, the Darwin Martin House…not places like the Ujima Theater Company, El Museo or African Cultural Center.  Those are for the “other” people.

This is classic culture war stuff and the Democrats played into it, until yesterday.  They took the financial approach to demonstrate – in writing – that their budget amendments don’t increase property taxes.  This put Collins on the defensive and forced him to up the ante by declaring the entire amended budget null and void.  His press conference was a study in temper tantrums, he insulted everyone but failed to show how his budget numbers differ from those of the legislature.  A compliant media was there to not ask him any tough questions, they just like the theater of it all.

Now, we wait to see if Legislator Hardwick is swayed by numbers or promises.  The County Executive has failed to “show his work” on the budget and his budget director is on vacation.  I doubt that Collins will publicly provide the numbers to back up his assertion that the amended budget raises taxes.  Why should he bother?  Many suburban voters just want their roads paved, free Sheriff road patrols and the city people to stay right where they’re at…in the city.

Collins has framed the debate for the 2011 election.  Are you with him as a self-proclaimed defender of suburban wallets or will you stand with Hochul and Poloncarz who will be portrayed as big spending Democrats?

I’m betting that Collins may have overplayed his hand on this one and given an opening to an underdog Democratic candidate in 2011.

County Executive Issues Budget Veto Statement

13 Dec

Erie County Executive Chris Collins has responded to the Erie County Legislature’s Amended 2011 Budget and press conference.  His response, in short; go get yer shinebox!

Collins’ budget veto message was clocked into the legislature this afternoon and can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

Here are some highlights from the message:

As County Executive, I understand the Legislature’s desire to fully fund all programs, organizations and agencies that have a history of receiving county support. But as elected leaders tasked with the financial stewardship of previous county tax dollars, we have an obligation to look beyond our desires and make decisions that are responsible, Unfortunately, your Honorable Body amended the proposed budget in a way that can be described as anything but responsible.

If the Legislature’s additional spending actions were left intact, it would result in more than a $8 Million property tax increase for the hardworking taxpayers of Erie County. Therefore, I am vetoing all 154 spending additions passed by the Legislature. Let me be unequivocal: each and every override of these 154 vetoes would increase property taxes on county taxpayers.

In his veto statement, Collins makes no effort to demonstrate how, in fact, the amended budget would actually increase taxes.  He just states it as fact.

The missteps taken in your amendments to the 2011 proposed budget became evident when the Division of Budget and Management ran the basic mathematical calculations of the proposed amendments.  Assuming for a moment that all amendments are lawful and procedurally proper, which they are not, the result would be a net tax increase of nearly $1million.  The Comptroller’s and Majority Leader’s claims that this package cut spending by more than $100,000 are simply false and untrue, and another example of their sheer inability to conduct competent budget calculations. (emphasis mine)

Again, Collins provides no evidence to his claim.  He simply restates his position and insults the Comptroller and the Legislature.

Collins is attempting to rule by fiat, which he cannot do.  “The County Executive declared the entire Erie County Legislature Amendment package null and void and vetoed the entire package.  He doesn’t have the power to do that.” said Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz.

Collins did however achieve a “compromise” with the Republican caucus to shift $3 million in Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) dollars provided to Erie County through the federal stimulus package to the Erie County Library system.  Presumably, he brokered a deal with the Library leadership and they will accept this funding without further complaint.  Collins is also betting that this contribution will buy the support of two members of the Republican caucus who stated they were willing to support the amended budget package if it could be shown to not increase taxes, Kevin Hardwick and John Mills.

Earlier today, the Democrat majority provided evidence that the amended budget package did not raise taxes and called the bluff of these two legislators.  They now have a decision to make, will they accept the word of the County Executive that his proprietary and secret budget calculations demonstrate a tax increase of $2.62 per household annually in Erie County or will they trust the actual numbers provided by the Democrats?

If my name is Kevin Hardwick, I’m asking the County Executive to show his work before making a decision.

If Hardwick or Mills fails to vote with the Democrat majority and override the vetoes, the next step will be to take the budget to court and ask a judge to sort it out.

Maria Whyte to Chris Collins: Come Out And Plaaaaaaay

13 Dec

Forgive the allusion to the epic film, “The Warriors“, but Erie County Legislator Maria Whyte (D, Buffalo) is essentially banging three beer bottles together and asking  Erie County Executive Chris Collins and his gang to come out of hiding and back up their assertion that the amended Erie County Budget raises taxes.


“Chris Collins is a schoolyard bully and we’re here to say enough is enough”, says Legislator Whyte.  “Collins has repeatedly said in his radio commercials and in robo-calls to voters that the amended Erie County budget raises taxes, he hasn’t shown anyone how that is true”.

Legislator Lynn Marinelli (D, Kenmore) added, “We’re a ‘show me”, not a ‘tell me’ legislature.  We’ve shown line by line how our budget returns money to the taxpayers and fully funds all cultural organization, the Erie County library and the Erie County Comptroller’s office, Mr. Collins has not shown us anything to the contrary.”

Today, the Democrats provided a full line by line accounting of the adjustments made to the County Executive’s proposed 2011 budget and distributed it to the media.  Click here to see the numbers.

Within the Spreadsheet you will find various worksheets. The sheet titled “2011 Legislature Amendments” is a compilation of all of the cuts that were approved to the Budget along with an explanation for each line. The sheet titled “FB Analysis” shows current and historical analysis of the amounts the Legislature approved for several fringe benefits lines in County Departments. The remainder of the worksheets simply break out the information included in the “2011 Legislature Amendments” worksheet by category.

The Legislature made some significant cuts in order to fully fund libraries, culturals and the several other departments. Most notably, cuts to salary for the Deputy County Executive, County Attorney and a reduction in the county risk retention fund and workers compensation account.

The County Executive had set aside $3 Million in the risk retention fund (used for defending the county in lawsuits) whereas the Legislature funded that line item at $1 Million for 2011. The legislature committee defended the cut by producing evidence that the remainder of the 2010 risk retention fund would roll over to 2011. The fund currently has $5.5 Million in deposits and the actual amount spent per year over the last three years was $2.69 Million.

“The Democrat Majority did not raise taxes.  No one should raise taxes in these tough economic times,” said Legislator Christina Bove (D-West Seneca), “and our amendment package reflects that priority.”

The County Executive was not present during the hearing and has yet to provide any document which provides this level of clarity on individual budget lines.

Also, the County Executive did not send anyone to the hearing from his budget team, including his Director of Budget and Management, Greg Gach, who is on vacation…during the budget crisis. Mr. Collins did have his Chief of Staff send a text message to the Legislature’s Chief of Staff to inform them that he would not be attending the meeting due to his work on his upcoming State of The County Address.


After the Legislature met, Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz held an impromptu press conference


Shortly thereafter, the Democrat majority held their own press conference.


Essentially, Maria Whyte is calling the bluff of Legislator Kevin Hardwick (R, Tonawanda) who said he would support the amended budget if it could be proven that it did not raise taxes.  Hardwick would be the critical tenth vote to override any of the potential vetoes from the County Executive.  Whyte feels she has done the work to demonstrate that and it is now up to Collins to prove otherwise.

Now, we wait to see if Collins comes out to play…

Erie County Legislature Meeting 11/30/2010

30 Nov

Here is the agenda for today’s Erie County Legislature meeting

Agenda 1 – Special Meeting

Agenda 2 – Annual Budget Meeting

The special meeting is a continuation of the meeting recessed last Tuesday, November 23rd, will reconvene today at 1:15 P.M., and immediately adjourn, in accordance with Erie County Legislature Rules of Order concerning laying the budget on the table for at least 48-hours prior to the Annual Budget Meeting.

Once Meeting No. 22 is adjourned, Meeting No. 23 (Annual Budget Meeting) will begin.  Today’s legislative actions will take place in the Chambers of the Legislature, 4th Floor at Old County Hall, 92 Franklin St., Buffalo.

Follow #ecleg or #ecbudget on Twitter for live updates and we’ll be streaming the video on wnymedia.net as well.

The budget amendment to be debated today, per the press release sent from Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams:

Buffalo, NY – Today the Chair of the Erie County Legislature, Barbara Miller-Williams (D-Buffalo, 3rd District) along with Legislator Christina W. Bove (D-West Seneca, 9th District) released a proposed amendment to the Erie County Budget for 2011. The budget amendment which was clocked in to the Legislature today and will be considered at tomorrow’s Annual Meeting to consider the Budget.

“I took a middle ground approach to craft an amendment that has a real possibility to achieve the necessary number of votes,” Miller-Williams explained. “by taking this action we can override any veto by the County Executive to assure that at the end of the day the Library and the cultural organizations actually will see the funding allocated in the budget.”

Any amendment to the budget needs 8 votes to pass the Legislature, but the County Executive can veto proposed additions to the 2011 Budget and the Legislature then must have a super majority to override the County Executive’s veto.

“The most important thing is to try to achieve results,” stated Bove. “I could find no sense in voting for something that would be vetoed with the result being that the Library and these cultural institutions would end up with nothing. This amendment is both reasonable and responsible. We need to try to get the funding that will be crucial to sustain these organizations – in the end that could be the real victory on Tuesday.”

“As Democrats it is vital that we work with our colleagues in this body as well as the County Executive to reach a solution that will do the most good for the residents of Erie County,” Miller-Williams said. “we face a difficult economic crisis and the balancing act is important, funding the culturals, adding hours to the libraries, having an audit function in the Comptroller’s office and being able to offer Primetime programs for youth are all very important in the eyes of the public. With this Amendment we have been responsive to the needs of the public and at the same time responsible to the taxpayers of Erie County. By crafting an amendment which might withstand a potential veto from the County Executive we assure that the organizations will receive their funding and I consider that a win-win situation for everyone.”

“In the end it is the results that matter,” Bove explained. “responsible legislation that achieves the best results for the residents of Erie County is the best way to govern – I believe this amendment is an example of the way government can, and should work.”

Budget Amendment, (.xls format)

Working Families Face Subsidy Cut

21 Jan

TANF Marketing Poster

Last week, during my interview with Erie County Legislator Maria Whyte, we spoke at length about a significant change to a local subsidy program for the working poor, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (TANF).


TANF is a central pillar in the “welfare to work” programs popular in the last two decades which have ideological roots running back as far as the Nixon Administration. It’s a Republican welfare reform program crafted and co-opted by Bill Clinton back in his Triangulation days.

Until recently, the program provided subsidies to families at 200% of the federal poverty level. With the state deficit reaching epic levels, Erie County currently spends nearly $10MM more than allocated to the county by New York State’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Under the new plan proposed by Erie County Executive Chris Collins, the income ceiling for eligibility is lowered to 125% of the federal poverty level, meaning a family of four earning $27,563.00 would be ineligible for the program. This will result in an estimated 1500 children, 42% of current recipients, being removed from the program and their families no longer being able to work. In most cases, those families would then transition back to the direct welfare program.

Last night, there was a public hearing on the proposed reduction of daycare subsidies at the Delavan-Grider Community Center on Buffalo’s East Side. The comments from the community confirmed what many think would be the result of enacting these cuts, a return of many families to the public assistance rolls and an increase in unemployment.


These people do not receive free daycare, they receive a subsidy and pay for the services they need. Without the subsidy, recipients working in low wage service or manufacturing positions simply won’t be able to afford to work.

There have been numerous studies (here’s one from CQResearcher) conducted on whether these workfare programs (or means tested benefits) provide a proper safety net for families or afford them the ability to permanently remove themselves from public assistance. What often works best are a mix of these temporary programs, nutritional subsidies, earned income tax credits and education/job training programs.

We’re now at a point where these programs are being cut and will result in an increase in need for direct welfare and unemployment subsidy. If you’re scoring at home, that’s not a net positive for municipal governments.

Collins' Election Night

4 Nov

Last night, legislative and sheriff’s candidates paid fealty to the lord of Erieshire Manor.  But here’s a question: which do you think Chris Collins would prefer?

a) a 15-member Democratic legislature; or

b) Mark Poloncarz in a second term as Comptroller, poised to possibly challenge him for CE in 2011?

I think Kadet’s loss was particularly bitter for Collins – that’s the prize he really wanted.  The rest was just frosting on the cake.

Political Money and Political Politics

30 Oct

In the race for Erie County Comptroller, no one can mount a credible attack that incumbent Mark Poloncarz has done a lousy job.  Instead, the only attacks are that he’s too political and that he “can’t count”.  Specifically, Phil Kadet charges that Poloncarz projected that 2008 would end up with a deficit of $10 million, but that it actually ended up being a surplus of $10 million.

That would be great if it was true.

The ad references a January 2009 article where everyone – the comptroller and the county executive – expressed concern about a deficit.  In the article Kadet cites, Poloncarz specifically states,

“There is a very distinct possibility, when all is said and done and we close out our financial statements, that we will end up with a deficit,” Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz said Friday. “It will probably be less than $10 million. But you don’t want a deficit. And a deficit is a deficit.”

That alone is distinctly different from what Kadet’s ad claims. And Collins’ office was concerned, too:

County Executive Chris Collins, through his budget office, had slowed hiring to a trickle and froze other discretionary spending when sales tax income started cooling at midyear.

Collins’ budget director, Gregory G. Gach, also canceled any employee travel plans that were not fully reimbursed by the state or federal governments or were not needed to “fulfill core missions.”

Gach, in his final budget status report for 2008, told the Legislature in early December that he foresaw a $1.6 million surplus but warned that a further downturn in sales tax income could change that. Fuel prices, a major component of sales tax proceeds, already were falling.

In his forecast, Gach said he had not accounted for the potential $6 million-plus payment related to ECMC because it was only rumored at the time. Weeks later, however, the state Health Department alerted Erie County it owed the money, then took the $6.23 million on Tuesday.

When the final numbers actually came in, it turned out that there would likely be a surplus of $5 to 7 million – not the $20 million swing Kadet charges.  That’s not an inability to count, that’s alerting government to a potential problem, and government reacting appropriately to slash spending.

So, we’ve established that Kadet’s making crap up when it comes to who can and can’t count.  Let’s turn to Kadet’s “I’m a CPA” mantra. He also claims that the current comptroller’s office is too political (read: anti-Collins). They charge that the cellphone audit, the parking audit, and other audits have all been too political.

But so what?  What’s wrong with examining everything that county government does?  And Poloncarz has been criticizing the Democratic legislature when needed, too.  For instance,

  • In 2006, the Democratic-controlled Legislature approved a resolution granting raises to Giambra managerial-confidential employees in Sewerage Management.  The resolution they approved also would have granted sewer management the perpetual right to grant their managerial-confidential appointees raises whenever they felt like it without legislative approval.  The comptroller’s office contacted the Legislature leadership before they voted on the resolution to alert them to the significance of what they were doing and to advise them against doing it.  They did it anyway.  Poloncarz alerted the public and the media, criticizing the Legislature action, which resulted in the Legislature going back at the next session and reconsidering the resolution to change it to ensure legislative approval and oversight of all such raises in the future.
  • In 2009, the Democratic members of the Legislature attempted to send a partisan mailing to election inspectors claiming credit for attaining higher election day pay for election inspectors.  Upon learning of this, the comptroller’s office  immediately and publicly said this was inappropriate and violated the Legislature’s rules of order pertaining to mailings at County expense.
  • Over the past several years, the comptroller’s office has been critical of proposed Legislature Democratic amendments to the annual budget, noting that certain amendments would create negative variances and could contribute to deficits.
  • In 2006, the comptroller’s office conducted investigations and stopped the Forestry Management Program (timber harvesting in County forests) and the Concession Project at Wendt Beach Park after the Democratic-controlled Legislature had approved each project and allowed them to move forward.  Both projects had serious problems and potential improprieties in the RFP and contract award process with the winning vendors.
  • They have consistently warned and cautioned the Legislature about excessive capital borrowings and County debt and urged them to reduce annual proposed borrowing even when some legislators wanted more or certain projects in their districts funded.
  • In annual budget reports, when Democratic Legislature staff received upgrades or additional salary outside the normal process, we reported that in our reports and noted the incongruity (just like with administration political appointees).

So, the job of comptroller as taxpayer watchdog has been adequately executed for the past four years.  Phil Kadet, on the other hand, was hand-selected by Chris Collins, and has been the beneficiary of at least two very high-dollar fundraisers hosted by Chris Collins, including one in Collins’ own home.  That hardly bodes well for Kadet’s independence as comptroller.