Tag Archives: Poloncarz

I’m Offended You’re Offended

25 Apr

It’s a jokey thing to do – “pardon the butter lamb”. Erie County Executive Poloncarz did that sometime during that week before Easter when Polish WNYers rediscover their old neighborhood.  This attempt at humor (you can’t really pardon a thing that doesn’t live) has outraged at least one person,

In what at first appeared to be a harmless political stunt, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz ventured over to the Broadway Market to pardon a butter lamb today. For some community leaders in touch with their Christian faiths, it wasn’t so harmless after all.

“It is clear that Mr. Poloncarz and his staff are blatantly ignorant to the significance of the butter lamb and its portrayal of Jesus as the Lamb of God. The title Lamb of God was given to Jesus by the Apostle John to clarify to the flock that in giving his life for mankind, he embodied the ultimate sacrifice,” said one Catholic political insider. “For Mark Poloncarz to think he has the ability and authority to pardon that sacrifice, eliminating it’s necessity – even if it was just a political stunt – is incredibly offensive. We are in the midst of the holiest week in the liturgical calendar, and there is just no room for such ignorance.”

The first reaction a reasonable person might have might be, “lighten up, Francis”.

The second reaction might be to pose a question. If the lump of butter molded into a lamb shape and sold in a box is such a holy portrayal of Jesus, why are we cutting it with a knife and eating it? Are we all Romans, symbolically sacrificing a dairy portrayal of the Messiah?

It was a joke – a marketing stunt.  It was an effort to promote Buffalo, the Broadway Market, our Easter traditions, Polish heritage, and the company that makes the butter lamb. Google it, and you’ll notice that the stunt worked – it was picked up as a “weird news” story on the AP wire, and  ABC, MSN, Fox, the Times of Malta,  and the Washington Post all ran the story.  Poloncarz didn’t just pardon any old lamb, but one manufactured by the Malczewski company, which gleefully promoted the Poloncarz pardon on its Facebook page.

How does the “Catholic insider” jibe his offense with Exodus 20:4 – 6?

Maybe don’t be so offended. He wasn’t really pardoning anything, and the butter lamb isn’t Jesus. 

ID-Nay

11 Jan

As futile as it may have been, this simple act by new County Executive Poloncarz – a no vote on the county IDA, which is quick to hand out free money to its good friends for upscale housing – is ground-shaking.

For all the Republicans’ talk about how awful it is to redistribute wealth, they’re completely fine with it when the redistribution is going their way.

The jig is up.

Poloncarz Takes Office

4 Jan

Poloncarz Thanks SupportersOver the weekend, we inaugurated a new County Executive, Mark Poloncarz. After four years of being told that government needed to be run like a business, Poloncarz reminded us of government’s true reason for being.

A government isn’t a business, and shouldn’t be run like one. It exists to serve its constituents; its people. It exists exactly to provide services that the private sector cannot – or will not – provide to meet the needs of its people. It exists not to serve a small elite, but those with the least influence.

It represents a complete redirection of what the purpose of government is, and whom it serves. To that end, the first five executive orders Poloncarz signed are:

Executive Order #001—Procurement of Legal Services to Support Buffalo Bills Lease Negotiations:

This order requires the Erie County Attorney to immediate commence a process to procure the services of special counsel to support the upcoming lease negotiations with the Buffalo Bills through the issuance of a Request for Proposals from qualified law firms.

Executive Order #002—Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Task Force:

This order requires the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, in conjunction with the County Attorney’s Office and the Erie County Comptroller’s Office, to recommend the methods and procedures to create a Medicaid Anti-Fraud Task Force.

As Comptroller, Poloncarz issued a review (6/17/2009) examining Erie County’s anti-fraud initiatives and expressing concern over the County’s lack of progress in recovering funds from providers engaging in fraud.

Executive Order #003—Time and Attendance Monitoring – Use of Swipe Cards:

This order requires every employee of Erie County, including the Deputy County Executive, commissioners, deputy commissioners and other exempt employees to abide by Erie County’s electronic time keeping “swipe card” system policy as stated in the Erie County Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.

As Comptroller, Poloncarz issued two separate reviews (7/15/2009 and 8/11/2011) of the swipe card system, which noted that prior administrations had exempted commissioners, deputy commissioners and senior staff from adhering to the policy.

Executive Order #004—Equal Employment Opportunity Program Review and Update:

This order requires the Director of the Erie County Equal Employment Opportunity Office to review and update the Erie County Affirmative Action Manual to bring it into compliance with current law and practices. This manual has not been updated since 1981.

Executive Order #005—Review of Use of Outside Counsel by the Erie County Attorney:

This order requires the Erie County Attorney to conduct a study and submit a report on the use of retained counsel by Erie County.

Poloncarz Inaugural Speech//

Poloncarz Hires Whyte, Siragusa, Neaverth, Keating, Burstein

28 Dec

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

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

·         Robert W. Keating, Director of Budget and Management

·         Daniel Neaverth Jr., Commissioner of Emergency Services

·         Michael A. Siragusa, JD, County Attorney

·         Maria R. Whyte, Commissioner of Environment and Planning

From the press release, after the jump. Continue reading

Tobe to be Deputy County Executive

12 Dec

County Executive-elect Poloncarz has appointed Richard Tobe to be his Deputy County Executive. Tobe is a lawyer and held the Erie County post of Commissioner of Environment and Planning for a decade, and was Mayor Byron Brown’s Commissioner for Economic Development until 2008.

During the County Executive campaign, Poloncarz said that his deputy would be a “jobs czar”, concentrating on growing the economy and job creation.  From the press release:

Poloncarz stated, “As I have said, my Deputy County Executive’s will focus on job creation and creating a streamlined, sustainable and efficient approach to economic development in Erie County.  This position required an individual that not only had a proven track record of successfully navigating the often turbulent local economic development process but who could also help create a better system for tomorrow. Today, I am proud to announce Richard Tobe will serve in that role.  It is time that Erie County taxpayers see a return on the investment of their tax dollars into economic development initiatives that show results.  Richard’s decades of successful and multi-faceted economic development experience in the public and private sectors make him the perfect choice to lead these efforts.”

Transition Chairman Michael Joseph added, “The County Executive-elect has made an excellent choice in recruiting Rich Tobe to serve the county. Mr. Tobe’s decades of public service in economic development and planning, including a lead role in negotiating complex deals and public infrastructure projects makes him an ideal candidate to serve in the key role as Deputy County Executive.”

Mr. Tobe has more than 30 years of economic development experience in the public and private sectors as well as academia.  During his 12 years serving the Gorski administration as Commissioner of Environment and Planning, Tobe led the County’s successful effort to negotiate a new long-term lease agreement with the Buffalo Bills, and construct the Buffalo Sabres’ arena (now First Niagara Center) in downtown Buffalo, while serving as the point-person with New York State and local municipalities on economic development initiatives.

Since then Tobe has served as an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Planning and School of Law, Vice President of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and Commissioner of the City of Buffalo’s Department of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services.

Tobe said, “I am supremely honored to serve County Executive-elect Poloncarz as the Deputy County Executive.  I strongly agree with the County Executive-elect that, for too long, Erie County has been devoid of a cohesive and focused economic development strategy.  I know and love this community and I am confident that by working together with local, state and federal economic development agencies and by leveraging our abundance of resources and strategic location we can realize real, sustainable growth.”

UnInformed Attacks: Engage

21 Nov

Check out the comments to this Buffalo News article regarding changes that County Executive-elect Poloncarz would like to make to Collins’ 2012 county budget. It involves re-shuffling existing money to fund what Poloncarz considers to be his priorities, as opposed to Collins’. The uninformed are already accusing him of increasing taxes and spending, when neither is actually occurring.

Such is the state of information in western New York.

In a post on Facebook, Poloncarz wrote,

Although this is Mr. Collins’ budget and both he and the Legislature have final say on what is passed, I hope to have some if not all of these priorities included. Considering the Comptroller’s Office has already identified approximately $5 million in overbudgeting, I believe the roughly $2 million in restorations I suggested are modest. This is in no way additional spending, simply part of my promise to spend what we have more wisely and on the things residents/taxpayers need, want and deserve from County government.

Imagine What We Can Do Together In and For Erie County

8 Nov

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Special Poloncarz Announcement 6:59 on Ch 7 & 7:59 on Ch 2

7 Nov

County Executive Candidate Mark Poloncarz will air a special message  Monday evening at 6:59 p.m. on ABC and at 7:59 p.m. on NBC. The message will highlight Mark’s positive vision for a better Erie County and will include Mark speaking directly to the voters.

Podcast the Third: Candidates’ Night

26 Oct

As promised, the podcast I recorded featuring interviews with Maria Whyte, Ed Rath, and Mark Poloncarz.

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You can click here to subscribe to it on iTunes.

County Executive Debate Takeaway

14 Oct

First of all, shame on WGRZ, WIVB, and WKBW for not interrupting their scary-good primetime schedule to fulfill their duty as FCC licensees of the public airwaves to broadcast the sole televised debate in this important election. Thanks to WNED for doing just that.  Channel 2 has the video up, but it’s broken up into multiple pieces, so I’m not going to embed them here.

Yes, I’m biased, but I can’t fathom a way in which someone can argue with a straight face that Chris Collins won the debate last night. The reason? Discipline. Knowing Mark Poloncarz, I know that, when it comes to facts and details, he is disciplined and knowledgable. He was prepared, he was confident, and he thought fast on his feet. By contrast, I don’t perceive Collins as being a disciplined campaigner. I think he disregarded the advice of the sycophants with whom he surrounds himself, and that he crossed the line into arrogance. He seemed unprepared, it was easy for Poloncarz to poke “[his] opponent” – whom he never named – with a stick and get a reaction.

Collins was the sweaty Nixon of 1960 with shifty eyes and a bad demeanor. But beyond the appearance, he was substantively disingenuous. The Twitter stream virtually howled with laughter when he alleged that he was “working with” the libraries.

Both campaign themes came out, though. Poloncarz portrayed Collins as out-of-touch with average, middle-class and poor western New Yorkers, as a guy who goes out of his way to vindictively harm the less fortunate and help his wealthy friends. Collins accused Poloncarz of “promising anything to anyone” and being beholden to the unions.

The big loser of the night, aside from Collins, was the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy. He was given about 3 questions, and every single one of them was about campaign finance. Seriously, is that all he cares about? Politics is about more than just how much a candidate raises, and from whom. It’s about ideas and governing. It’s about competence and the best interests of the people. Or, at least, it should be. McCarthy, however, sees politics as a sports event where a team is on offense or defense – winning or losing. He shouldn’t have been there to ask those questions, even if he did embarrass Collins with the Harris Beach / pay for play question, which Collins tried (and failed) to dodge no fewer than three times.

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Collins’ accusations that Poloncarz just wants to spend were, however, untrue. And Poloncarz had the facts right on the tip of his tongue to prove it. Collins, meanwhile, proved his “job creation” bona fides by listing all the county jobs he eliminated. Say what you want, but those people spent their salaries in the local economy and paid local taxes. Now? Not so much.

Collins tried to personally insult Poloncarz on two occasions. First, he accused Poloncarz of wanting to be a “czar”, not a county executive, because Poloncarz wants to hire a Deputy CE who will be in charge of job creation. I think his use of “czar” was because (a) it’s a conservative code word for “Obama” and “evil”; and (b) frankly, I think it was an unintentional ethnic slur. Poloncarz is Slavic, Czar is a Slavic construct of “Caesar”. Secondly, Collins referenced a video that Poloncarz took of the dilapidated restrooms at Wendt Beach to rebut Collins’ claim that the county-run parks are in great shape – he called it “creepy”. Here it is. It’s grainy, shaky, and a more mundane version of the Blair Witch Project, but it’s not “creepy”. Furthermore, Collins claims it looked as it did because it was undergoing construction. We’ll go check and see how that construction is coming along, K?

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Six Sigma? Poloncarz said the savings can’t be quantified – and the entire program is based on metrics. While Collins touted all the people he’s fired, Poloncarz said that some agencies are too big, some are too small, and we have to aim for efficient and responsive government, not mere firings.

Unfortunately, no one asked – and no one talked – about regionalism.

Here are some real-time reactions / interpretations of what happened:

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This was the sole televised debate, and Poloncarz had been asking for three.  Collins was reluctant to even do this one – this was supposed to be a radio debate. The League of Women Voters and WNED figured that they might as well televise it, and I’m told Collins’ people went ballistic. Collins doesn’t come across well. He’s not a people person. We now know why he and the Lees and Corwins of the world don’t do retail politicking and rely instead on money, speeches, TV ads, and Limbaughesque soundbites – they suck at connecting with people. It’s hard to do, after all, when you sequester your life among other millionaires, sharing your millionaire problems with your million-heir friends. In the end, the League basically told Collins’ people that they were going to hold the debate, and Collins can either participate, or Poloncarz will get a free hour of TV.

I don’t honestly recall whether Collins and Keane held a televised debate, and I haven’t checked the archives to see. If it existed, it wasn’t memorable. Keane was an abominable, horrible candidate. Collins was the fresh face with the “like a business” bill of goods. See how Corwin crumbled against Hochul, despite all her money? These people cannot win when given a credible challenge. Poloncarz can connect with regular people – union workers, middle-class – people who work for a living and live paycheck to paycheck.  People who see that their lives are harder and less hopeful than previous generations’. People who rely on county services for a good quality of life. Or for healthcare. Or for food. Or a roof over their head.  Make no mistake – that Siena poll was accurate. It may not have predicted turnout, which the Republicans will try and suppress in the city and lift in some suburbs, but it accurate reflects how likely voters think about the candidates and the issues. Poloncarz is putting up a great fight, and he’s working hard. Last night, he showed a wider audience who he is, and Collins revealed who he is.

Three weeks to go. Three weeks to victory?