Tag Archives: Stefan Mychajliw

Mychajliw’s Ambition & Fraas’ Foreclosure

29 Oct

It’s a shame when politicians go negative – especially ones who have cultivated an image for being always bright, shiny, and positive. 

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw is on the air with negative ads hitting challenger Kevin Gaughan for a personal income tax issue that he had. One’s personal ability to pay a tax bill, which could very well have been brought about simply through bad guessing and not having enough cash to cover an unexpectedly large tax bill, doesn’t necessarily reflect on one’s ability to conduct audits and ensure that government personnel and processes are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. 

Gaughan’s and the Democrats’ response has been even more pitiful, attempting to hit Mychajliw for being fired from two TV stations for rule-breaking, and for still being listed as a principal at a private PR firm while on the people’s dime. These are all little side issues. It’s become so petty that we now have failed county Democratic chair and current Cheektowaga Democratic Chair Frank Max’s patronage hires throwing Gaughan under the bus because he didn’t pay for her Coke at a downsizing meeting. (Max’s people are backing Mychajliw for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is “to embarrass Jeremy Zellner”.) 

One thing Gaughan has pointedly promised is to not seek higher office while Comptroller. Voters like to see people fulfill their elected roles. Mychajliw, who holds no legal or financial background or degree, and who has no experience whatsoever with accounting or auditing, is uniquely unqualified to be Comptroller. But don’t come between him and a microphone, because he’s building a brand. 

The website he was planning called “Rightlean.com” never went anywhere, and he used “eriecountyworks.com” for his transition website. But this one hasn’t yet been used: 

So, “stefanforcongress.com” has been aiming high even since March 2012. This would have set Mychajliw up for a possible run against Louise Slaughter or Brian Higgins. Slaughter has since been redistricted out of the Buffalo metro. 

But more to the point, we have someone running for taxpayer watchdog whose only personal tax nut is the sales tax; public documents reveal that Mychajliw hasn’t owned any property in Erie County since his 2007 divorce. The 70 Griswold address he gives to register his websites and to reimburse himself from campaign funds belonged until September 18th to his sister, Charlene Morales. Sources say Mychajliw now lives with his father. 

But Mychajliw was acutely mindful of the fact that he was unqualified for the job. The last two Republicans to challenge Mark Poloncarz for the comptroller job hit him for being a lawyer, and not a CPA. So, naturally, the next time the Republicans win the seat, they pick a guy with a broadcast journalism degree. So, Mychajliw pledged to surround himself with the “best and brightest“, the shiniest of whom was Teresa Fraas, a CPA who had only ever worked in the private sector.

Fraas, as it turns out, had let her CPA license lapse in New York. Mychajliw made headlines by urgently media-alerting a supposed scandal of DSS records being available out in the open to anyone, but as it turns out, Fraas had tricked a custodian to let her into a locked room where the records were kept. Surveillance video proved it. 

Mychajliw ran ads pledging that the first “audit” he would conduct would look into the “friends and family” hiring practices in county government. That’s fantastic, but it wasn’t an “audit”, and is completely outside of the job description of a Comptroller. Hiring “friends and family” through patronage or nepotism may be something we don’t like because it is, or seems, unfair, but it doesn’t affect county finances unless you’re creating a new job for the person. Presumably, the underlying position and its related costs would already be accounted-for in the budget, and the decision on hiring is not reviewable or subject somehow to audit. 

Auditing is about money – not politics. 

Pledging to audit hiring practices is silly, and he has no power to “end” anything. He doesn’t have legislative powers, or even executive power with respect to changing that. And if a “friend” or “family” is qualified for the job, what objective harm is being done to the county coffers? 

Real CPAs will tell you Mychajliw’s office hasn’t conducted a proper audit pursuant to generally accepted auditing rules as of this date. 

Back to Teresa Fraas.

We are told that Kevin Gaughan is not qualified to be Comptroller because he fell behind on his taxes. We also know that his opponent, Stefan Mychajliw, is making much of this, and that he had pledged to surround himself with the “best and brightest” to protect the taxpayer. Teresa Fraas, who recently resigned, was at the forefront of that effort, trumpeted as the first CPA to be Deputy Comptroller in charge of Audits since 2006. 

But Ms. Fraas got caught falling behind on the mortgage for a home she owned in Arizona. 

On December 10, 2012, this public notice appeared in the Case Grande Dispatch. Fraas’ Arizona home at 42950 W. Martie Lynn in Maricopa, AZ was to be sold at foreclosure auction for her failure to pay her mortgage and/or property taxes. The auction sale deed reveals that Fraas’ default exceeded $175,000. 

This dwarfs Gaughan’s tax issues in both scope and severity. In fact, Gaughan’s failure is only 16% of Fraas’, since we’re doing math. 

Fraas Trustee’s Deed upon Sale

Whom has Mychajliw retained to replace Fraas, and who are the financial and accounting professionals minding the store for the unqualified incumbent? 

Collins to Siena: Inconceivable!

11 Oct

The race for County Executive became the Stef Show in the past several hours.

Siena College released a poll showing the race in a statistical dead heat, and almost instantly Collins started ducking reporters, and sending his spokesman, Stefan Mychajliw out to attack the poll and its methodology – Collins and those on his payroll call the poll “fictitious”, and “inaccurate and worthless“. Then, in the next breath, Collins’ camp claims that polls aren’t important anyway.

That’s precious.

Siena College’s pollster responded to the ridiculous “fictitious” charge by pointing out that they sort of know what the hell they’re doing, thanks.  It’s interesting to point out the specific complaint that Collins has here – that Siena vastly overpredicted turnout in the City of Buffalo.  Siena responded that it surveyed likely voters, has a way in which to vet that, and didn’t manipulate the data in any way because, you know, Siena doesn’t care who wins and has no skin in the game.

It doesn’t take much to read between the lines and point out that Collins is secure in his political dealmaking with the Mayor of the City of Buffalo to artificially depress city turnout to harm Poloncarz and help Collins.  Mychajliw all but screamed, it’s inaccurate and worthless because it doesn’t factor in the active voter suppression that we’re going to be engaged in with the Mayor of Buffalo!

[Siena’s Steven] Greenberg argued the poll isn’t flawed and said this is a classic case of the campaign unhappy with the results simply trying to blame the pollster.

“The level of vitriol in their protest of this poll tend to show me that we are dead-on accurate,” Greenberg concluded.

Because the Collins campaign repreatedly referred to its internal polling as evidence the race isn’t that close, Greenberg called on Collins to release that polling. The campaign declined.

The reason this poll is so shocking to Collins isn’t that it confirms the Poloncarz-commissioned polls that were released earlier in the race, or that it supposedly is contradicted by Collins’ own internal polling.  The real reason is that a poll showing the race this close just hasn’t happened in any County Executive race since before Joel Giambra’s election a decade ago. This is a real race, and Collins knows that this poll will help Poloncarz raise needed money – the only disadvantage the Democrat has had so far.

Poloncarz’ press release on the poll says this:

“These numbers confirm what I have been hearing on the campaign trail all along—voters have seen enough of Chris Collins running Erie County like a failed Wall Street business and want a change of leadership,” Poloncarz said. “Despite Collins’ spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a television ad blitz since late August in desperate attempt to remake his image, his record of higher taxes and job loss doesn’t work for Erie County families.  Come November 8th, I am confident that voters will send a message and cast their vote for me.”

The Siena College survey was conducted October 4-5th, by telephone calls to 831 likely voters.  A stringent likely voter screen was applied to the sample of registered voters that had been statistically adjusted to reflect party registration, gender and age.  The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.

Founded in 1980, Siena Research Institute, is one of the nation’s most respected public opinion researchers.  In the last six months alone, Siena has accurately predicted upset victories for Bob Turner (NY-9) and Kathy Hochul (NY-26) in both of New York’s Special Elections for U.S. House of Representatives.

Collins isn’t talking about the poll because he’s running the Corwin campaign – the same Corwin campaign that helped propel underdog Kathy Hochul to congress. The Collins-Corwin model mandates that the candidate only be trotted out for heavily stage-managed events, is kept away from the press, avoids debates whenever possible, and otherwise relies primarily on the spending of money on TV and radio ads. It works great when there’s no viable competition.

That Collins – well, his campaign people – are attacking the Siena poll is just silly and irresponsible. But that’s par for the course for a guy whose entire political tenure has been based on political maneuvering, petty Machiavellianism, raising taxes, harming our quality of life, and hiring his already-wealthy buddies for 6-figure jobs with the county.

And if you think that any of that is hyperbole, or that he’s run even a single thing over the last four-ish years as a successful business, ask yourself why his campaign hasn’t been Six Sigma-ing you to death. The reason is that Six Sigma has been an utter failure at saving the county money, and has cost more to implement than the savings derived.

The poll just confirms that people (a) don’t like the taste of the snake oil; and (b) don’t much like the nasty salesman.  Collins’ campaign is also horrible at messaging and communications – the poll itself was a blockbuster, but the story about it now has legs because of the Collins campaign’s angry response.

Finally, Collins’ campaign claims that its internal polls show him up more, factoring in the voter suppression they’ll engage in. That’s nice, but it’s also illegal to make that claim and then fail to release the entire internal poll.

§ 6201.2 Use of public opinion polls
 -No candidate, political party or committee shall attempt to promote the success or defeat of a candidate by, directly or indirectly, disclosing or causing to be disclosed, the results of a poll relating to a candidate for such office or position, unless within 48 hours after such disclosure, they provide the following information concerning the poll to the board or officer with whom statements or copies of statements of campaign receipts and expenditures are required to be filed by the candidate to whom such poll relates:
(a) The name of the person, party or organization that contracted for or who commissioned the poll and/or paid for it.
(b) The name and address of the organization that conducted the poll.
(c) The numerical size of the total poll sample, the geographic area covered by the poll and any special characteristics of the population included in the poll sample.
(d) The exact wording of the questions asked in the poll and the sequence of such questions.
(e) The method of polling-whether by personal interview, telephone, mail or other.
(f) The time period during which the poll was conducted.
(g) The number of persons in the poll sample; the number contacted who responded to each specific question; the number of persons contacted who did not so respond.
(h) The results of the poll.

So, WGRZ asked Mychajliw to release the polls he’s claiming show Collins in a lead. He refused.

“We haven’t directly shared numbers outside of our campaign. I have only responded to your fictitious poll that we are comfortable that our internal polling that shows us ahead. Our counsel assures us that we are in compliance with NYS Election Law 6201.2.”

The Siena poll isn’t fictitious. It actually exists. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.