Tag Archives: Mark Poloncarz

Bee Stings

20 Mar

In the Buffalo News’ Tuesday article regarding Mark Poloncarz’s hard work and competence, it was revealed that Conservative County Legislator Joe Lorigo didn’t like a letter that Poloncarz sent to him in response to an op/ed piece Lorigo had published in the Bee.

“Some people don’t like it that I’m willing to stand up for what I believe and sit there and say, ‘I think you’re wrong and here’s why,’ ” Poloncarz said. “They’re used to the back-slapper elected official who will say anything to anyone to get a vote and keep them happy.”

He knows that can rub people the wrong way, but he sees it as standing up for what he sees as right. He’ll put it in writing, too.

Last April, after Legislator Joseph C. Lorigo, a West Seneca Conservative, criticized Poloncarz’s four-year plan in a column that appeared in the West Seneca Bee, Poloncarz sent out a four-page letter picking apart the piece and accusing Lorigo of leveling “factually inaccurate partisan attacks towards my administration in a cheap attempt to score political points.”

The letter was copied to the entire County Legislature, the county control board and the county comptroller.

“It was completely over the top,” said Lorigo, a frequent critic of the Poloncarz administration. “He doesn’t know how to respond rationally. I think the best leaders, whether it be county executive, mayor or president, are people that can effectively communicate their point of view without being so partisan.”

Note that Poloncarz didn’t publish his rebuttal in the Bee, or in any other paper – he just sent Lorigo a letter explaining to him – in detail – how he was wrong. Telling someone who is wrong that they are wrong is neither irrational nor partisan

Joseph Lorigo’s 4/19/12 West Seneca Bee column by Alan Bedenko

Mark Poloncarz’s Letter to Legislator Joe Lorigo


More like this, please. 

The Morning Grumpy 2/20/2012

20 Feb

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Seems legit

1. I haven’t written much about State Senator Mark Grisanti’s Rumble At the Falls.  Now that the full police report has been published, it seems appropriate to comment. From the time that initial reports of the fracas surfaced, the idea that a sober Sen. Grisanti simply attempted to break up a fight and was then attacked by two drunken native americans due to his lack of native friendly legislative accomplishments seemed (to this writer, at least) a bit contrived.

To make matters worse, Grisanti and his staff simply lost control of the narrative as the story developed last week. Allegations surfaced that Grisanti and his wife were drunk, that Grisanti used racial epithets, and that it was Grisanti who instigated the fight.

Oh, this also happened. Weird.

While the other parties involved in the donnybrook took control of the public relations battle, Grisanti and his young staff were being pummeled with conflicting advice from all of Grisanti’s political bosses, mentors and unofficial advisers like Henry Wojtaszek, Joel Giambra, Michael Caputo, and many others. To make matters worse, Grisanti didn’t seem to know that it’s o.k. to simply say “no” to an interview.

The media had a field day playing with Grisanti’s tenuous memory of the melee, what with his Nixonian claims that he “didn’t recall” using a racial epithet and the incremental changes in his story throughout the week. During this entire process, all I could wonder were two things.

  • Why isn’t Senator Grisanti pressing charges against the person who severely concussed and injured his wife?
  • Why aren’t any of the parties involved demanding that the casino surveillance tape be released?

Until one of those two things happened, it seemed that everyone had something to hide and we were simply dealing with bullshit “spin”. Now, news has emerged that Grisanti intends to press charges, the police report has surfaced, and the full surveillance video is rumored to be on its way to the media; it sure seems as if the Senator has retaken control of the narrative and has the facts on his side. This story has shifted frequently and I suspect that it will continue to do so throughout the week. Stay tuned.

2. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz most likely kicked back with a beer last night and celebrated a pretty excellent week.  The man is currently THE Bruce Dickinson of Erie County politics.

His pick to fill the now vacant Erie County Comptroller’s office was confirmed by the Legislature and he was rewarded with a nice column in the Sunday edition of The Buffalo News supporting his claim that the county IDA system needs significant reform. Poloncarz even took the opportunity to call Kevin Hardwick and other legislature Republicans ignorant. However, his biggest win of the week was the restoration of funding to the child care subsidy program cut by the previous administration. As reported in The Buffalo News:

Starting March 5, a family of three will be able to make up to $37,060 this year and still qualify for subsidized child care, as opposed to the current rules setting the limit at $32,427. The projections allowing that increase run through 2013, bringing some stability to a program that has had its ups and downs in recent years.

This program is a critical tool for working families as parents struggle to stay off public assistance, progress through job training programs or return to school. The availability of subsidized day care is absolutely crucial to thousands of families in WNY and the funding was restored without adding to the budget. Anyone missing Collins yet? Didn’t think so.

3. When digesting the news last week that The Buffalo News posted its lowest profit in decades last year, please consider this speech given by a former newspaper executive.

Crappy newspaper executives are a bigger threat to journalism’s future than any changes wrought by the Internet.

As you read through his speech, I think you’re going to see The Buffalo News making many of the same mistakes that every other newspaper in the country is making.  Think about it the next time you consider how much better the daily product would be if Brian Meyer, Jim Heaney, and dozens of other talented writers and editors were still on the job. Think about it the next time Margaret Sullivan proudly boasts of the latest results from reader surveys and the popularity of coupons.

The greatest irony of the devolution of newspapers is that journalism itself is more vital and relevant than ever. The cost of production has radically scaled down for startups, talent is plentiful, distribution of content has never been easier, and audiences never more receptive to new and engaging voices. Meanwhile, executives in the newspaper industry struggle to maintain the legacy distribution model rather than embrace new, cooperative and engaged models of production and distribution. Due to a lack of competition in daily news production, The Buffalo News still has a few years to figure this out. Will they? Or will someone dedicate the capital necessary to take them on and beat them on the web?

4. Speaking of Jim Heaney, have you heard about his new project? The ol’ man is getting back into the journalism game with a very exciting new organization called the Investigative Post.

Investigative Post is collaborating with major media outlets and university journalism programs to produce and distribute investigations and analyses on the major issues confronting Buffalo and Western New York.

Jim Heaney, a veteran investigative reporter formerly with The Buffalo News, is spearheading the venture as editor and executive director.

“We’re going to produce hard-nosed investigations and in-depth analyses intended to help shape the debate over how to get this community back on its feet,” said Heaney, a former Pulitzer Prize finalist who departed The News in August to launch Investigative Post.

“We’ll be a watchdog with both bite and brains,” he added.

Members of the board of directors include Tom Toles, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning with The News before joining the Washington Post, and Lee Coppola, an award-winning newspaper and television investigative reporter and former dean of the School of Journalism at St. Bonaventure University.

Rather than competing with established news outlets, investigative centers collaborate with them. Investigative Post will share selected content with News 4, WIVB-TV; WBFO-FM, 88.7 FM and AM 970, the region’s National Public Radio stations; The Buffalo News; and Artvoice.

Heaney has been a wonderful mentor for hundreds of young students, bloggers, and reporters in the region for years. I’m excited to see him leading this new project and look forward to reading and contributing whenever and however I am able.

5. Red states hate being taxed, but they sure as hell love to bathe in that sweet, sweet federal spending! Tea Party!

Republican states, on average, received $1.46 in federal spending for every tax dollar paid; Democratic states, on average, received $1.16.

Fact Of The Day:On Feb. 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth as he flew aboard the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule.

Quote Of The Day: “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” – Frederick Douglass

Cartoon Of The Day: “Magic Highway USA” – Disney

Song Of The Day: “Ramblin’ Rose” – MC5

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

The Morning Grumpy – 1/10/2012

10 Jan

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. What goes around, comes around. Anthony Baynes, former Chairman of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority has moved on to real estate development since his term ended on the authority in 2008. His most current project is the adaptive re-use of a former industrial building at 100 S. Elmwood in Buffalo into a high end residential and office space. As his budget for the development project spiraled out of control, Baynes sought tax breaks from the ECIDA to help bring the project to a close.

Newly elected County Executive Mark Poloncarz was the sole opposing vote on incentives for the project. His opposition might have something to do with a principled objection to incentives that fail to generate a wide-ranging community benefit or it might have something to do with payback for the brinksmanship between Baynes and Poloncarz over county borrowing back in 2007 and 2008. In a town where everything is political, I’ll let you decide on Poloncarz’s motivation. Regardless as to the outcome of this particular issue, this vote from Poloncarz signals that the ECIDA will soon begin conducting its business in a very different manner.

2. Carl Paladino, Buffalo’s ambassador to the rest of the country.

Photo Courtesy of Tom Dolina, http://www.tommunisms.com

While on the stump for Newt Gingrich, Carl Paladino had some choice words for national republicans and just about everyone other than your Mother.

Ron Paul’s about to “get on the mother-ship and go back to the mother planet,” Rick Perry’s going nowhere unless it’s to “hang around the shooting range,” and Jon Huntsman clearly loves the Chinese so much he “should move to China.”

Huntsman in particular rubbed him the wrong way by speaking Chinese on stage in the previous debate.

“‘Oh, the Chinese are so strong,’ what the fuck is wrong with these people?” he said. “He should move to China.”

Always the diplomat. He also had some strong words for New York media and their coverage of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first year in office.

“He didn’t do anything. What did he do? He contrived a $10 billion deficit, you guys never inquired as to why. … He never gave you a line item of where it existed. He never showed you how it all added up to a $10 billion deficit,” Mr. Paladino said of Governor Cuomo and the media. “And then, he solved it and said, ‘Hey, I solved it.’ You never asked him, ‘Well, show us the solution, show us the formula, show us the numbers.’ You never asked him for it because it never existed, it’s an illusion.”

An absolute embarrassment to Buffalo and WNY.

3. Last night, I felt like watching something mildly informative, so I flipped over to The History Channel, Instead, I was confronted with back to back episodes of something called “Pawn Stars“. After three minutes of watching this contrived bullshit reality show, I could actually feel myself getting dumber. How this is “history”, I’m not sure.

So, here’s a quick history lesson for The History Channel.


4. The Wall Street Journal examined 77 businesses Mitt Romney invested in while running Bain Capital from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain’s involvement and shortly afterward.

Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. Another finding was that Bain produced stellar returns for its investors — yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.

See, Carl? You don’t need to act like a petulant tween when criticizing the other Republican candidates, just reference their actual records.

5. High school graduation rates by state (Click the image to Embiggen).

Irrational conclusion time…notice higher graduation rates correlate with Democratic voting blocs? Clearly, republican voters are just dumber. You can’t argue with it, it’s just science.

6. Mitt Romney protesting in favor of the Vietnam War.


Fact Of The Day: Covering just 0.3% of the Sahara Desert’s land area with solar panels would generate enough electricity to power the entirety of Europe. Or, ya know, we could keep destroying the earth underneath our feet at a rapidly increasing cost to generate electricity and fuel. Either or.

Quote Of the Day: “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” – Christopher Hitchens

I feel like we need to get in the mindset of our Republican Presidential candidates and start sharing their testimony from the good book.

NEW FEATURE! Bible Verse Of The Day: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;she must be quiet” 1 Timothy 2:12

Song Of The Day: “Start A War” – The National

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

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.


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.

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.

Regarding a Political Opinion Poll

28 Oct

Hey, about those phone calls that voters are receiving purporting to be from the Poloncarz campaign, we’ll have some video up later, but here are a few issues:

The Collins campaign has it all figured out.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/news4buffalo/status/129995007955435522″%5D

1. Here’s an audio recording of the outgoing message you hear when dialing the number at issue: (716) 250-7491:


Now, if you Google that phrase: “If you received a call from this number, you were contacted regarding a political opinion poll“, you get this result – the same exact message, same exact voice comes up if you call (858) 634-5689.

2. At a press conference Friday at 1:00 pm, County Legislator Kevin Hardwick indicated that he had received what he thought to be a perfectly reasonable call from that same number, asking him to support Poloncarz, and reading from a script that outlined that Congressman Brian Higgins and Congresswoman Kathy Hochul had endorsed him.   That’s odd, since Hochul & Higgins didn’t formally endorse Poloncarz until October 28th, but the call Professor Hardwick received came on October 26th.


I asked Peter Anderson from the Poloncarz campaign, and he adamantly denied that the campaign – or any of its surrogates – was making these calls.


The smoking phone!

Hey, Chris and Stef – which union is busy making calls to San Diego County, California, and Erie County, New York?