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Audio highlights from Erie County executive debate at St. Joe's High School

The News streamed live audio from this morning's Erie County executive debate at St. Joe's High School between Republican incumbent Chris Collins and Democratic County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz.

Here are two audio highlights from the debate.

Regarding Poloncarz's relationship with the Democratic party:

Download this audio highlight here.

Regarding suicides at the Erie County Holding Center:

Download this audio highlight here.

Audio: Interview with city officials about grant for veterans' facility

Here is audio and a transcript of this portion of the interview with Scott C. Billman, attorney for the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency; Peter J. Savage III, deputy corporation counsel and Buffalo News reporter Aaron Besecker, in which Besecker asks how the city came to find out about Umar Adeyola's criminal history. Mayoral spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge was also in attendance.

Download the audio

Reporter: So how did you get it? ... When you say it wasn't disclosed by the Heart Foundation before, and you came into it, how did you come into it?

Scott Billman: We continued our due diligence.

Reporter: But where did you find it? Where did you see it? Did someone come and say, "Hey, look over here," or ...?

SB: We had counsel obtain a search of the criminal dockets.

. . .

Reporter: So what made you search for, what made you search for this guy?

SB: Originally, in our own due diligence, we discovered there was at least one incidence, criminal history with this particular individual. It went back several years, I want to say '04 or '05, involving some impersonation.

. . .

Reporter: So how did you find the first thing?

Peter Savage: Just initial due diligence.

SB: Yeah, due diligence. We didn't see him on the disbarment list. We may have run just a general ...

PS: Google or something.

SB: ... internet search. It may have been on just the fact that he was a party that we weren't familiar with.

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At a Tea Party rally in Memphis on Friday, Herman Cain pushed his 9-9-9 tax strategy saying that if the government tried to raise taxes, citizens would notice and object.

Audio: The News' McCarthy analyzes debate on WNED

News Political Reporter Robert J. McCarthy discussed Thursday night's Erie County executive debate today on WNED-AM 970 during a segment with host Jay Moran:

Download the audio

148th Assembly polling yields different strokes for different folks

   'Tis the season for election polling as evidenced by the uptick in "political discussion" sparked by the county executive survey reported last week by The Buffalo News and Channel 2 News.

   But the big race between Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz and Republican incumbent Chris Collins is not the only polling game in town. Several sources report both Republican and Democratic polls have been under way in the 148th Assembly District, where Republican Ray Walter is facing Democrat Craig Bucki in a special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Republican James Hayes.

   And the sources say that the race -- the only Assembly contest in the state -- is close enough that the Albany-based Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee will get involved. Watch for literature to hit a mail box near you in the 148th.

   But that doesn't mean the pollsters are not working the county executive race in the Amherst-based district. GOP sources say they found Collins leading by 22 points last week. Democratic sources say their survey last week shows Collins leading by only 10 points.

   The Republican thought is that such a lead in Amherst shows Collins in good shape countywide. The Dem take is that with 6 percent still undecided, Collins will post a single-digit lead that bodes well for Poloncarz countywide.

   And that is why newspapers like The News and TV stations like Channel 2 conduct their own independent polls.

  --Robert J. McCarthy  

Denise Jewell Gee chats live Thursday during county executive debate will stream live video of Thursday's Erie County executive debate, beginning at 9 p.m. You can also get live analysis and comment on the debate during a live chat with The News' Denise Jewell Gee, which will get under way at 8:45 p.m.

Poll: Erie county executive race within margin of error

Republican incumbent Chris Collins and Democratic challenger Mark C. Poloncarz are locked in a razor thin battle for county executive this fall, according to a new Siena College Research Institute poll commissioned by The Buffalo News and WGRZ-TV Channel 2.

The survey shows Collins leading 49 to 46 percent, which is within the margin of error of 3.4 percent and is considered a statistical tie. The results, which the Siena pollsters labeled "surprising" given Collins' advantages in finances and incumbency, are almost certain to shake up a so far sleepy contest as Poloncarz demonstrates a new viability.

* Read more about the poll here

* View a detailed breakdown of question-by-question results from the poll

* News Staff Reporter Denise Jewell Gee profiles Republican Chris Collins

* News Staff Reporter Charity Vogel profiles Mark Poloncarz

--Robert J. McCarthy

Poloncarz blasts Collins for 'pay to play'

Democrat Mark Poloncarz's campaign for county executive Tuesday criticized Republican opponent Chris Collins for "lining his rich friends' pockets" after a Sunday story in The Buffalo News revealed a politically connected law firm collected more than $740,000 as counsel to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency while contributing more than $60,000 into Collins' campaign coffers.

“Chris Collins has used the ECIDA as his own political playground, allowing his wealthy friends to pay and play,” said campaign spokesman Peter Anderson. “The process by which Harris Beach was 'chosen' was shameful and disrespectful to the taxpayers of this county. His 'pay-to-play' ways don’t work for Erie County; the only people he's concerned about are himself and his big campaign donors.”

Anderson said Poloncarz has proposed consolidating all of the county IDAs into a "one-stop-shop" for economic development that would encourage development.

The Collins team last week said it sees no problem with the spike in IDA legal costs with Harris Beach.

"The county executive believes Harris Beach is a tremendous value, and we are pleased they are doing more work, because it's a sign that we are making real strides rebuilding the local economy," said Grant Loomis, a Collins spokesman.

— Robert J. McCarthy

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |