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Mychajliw names 12 to advisory council

By Denise Jewell Gee

Stefan Mychajliw is gearing up to become county comptroller in January with a new panel of advisors.

Mychajliw, a Republican who defeated County Comptroller David Shenk in November, has named a 12-member "advisory council" to help with the transition and to guide his work once in office. The group will also review recommendations for available positions in the Comptroller's Office.

Paul F. Ciminelli, president and CEO of Ciminelli Real Estate Corp., will serve as chairman. The other members will include:

  • Robert M. Glaser, managing director and chairman of Freed Maxick and former chairman of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority
  • Philip C. Kadet, certified public accountant, Lumsden & McCormick
  • Nancy Naples, former Erie County comptroller and former commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Daniel C. Oliverio, attorney, Hodgson Russ, and former chairman of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority
  • Colleen DiPirro, president and CEO, Amherst Chamber of Commerce 
  • Alfred Hammonds Jr., former deputy Erie County executive
  • Mark Hamister, chairman and CEO, The Hamister Group Inc.
  • Philip Corwin, president, Corwin Holdings LLC 
  • Martha Lamparelli, chairwoman, Erie County “21st Century Commission”
  • Russ Gugino, aide to former U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp
  • Randall Best, vice president of business development, Gernatt Asphalt Products Inc.

Mychajliw met last week with Shenk to discuss the transition.

Bring your comments and questions to our Election Day chat

The Buffalo News and will have all the issues and races covered on Election Day from the minute you wake up until the results unfold.

Starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, we'll have a live chat with guests to talk about the important issues, key races and the latest updates from across Western New York. Reporters Mary Pasciak and Patrick Lakamp will be your hosts. We'll also bring you insight from Political Reporter Bob McCarthy and Columnist Donn Esmonde. Here's what we have so far in terms of guests:

*10 a.m.: Reporter Gene Warner on what early-morning voters were saying at the polls

*10:30 a.m.: Deputy Managing Editor Stan Evans on what to watch for throughout the day

*11 a.m.: Washington Columnist Doug Turner on the national scene

*12 p.m.: Turner and Managing Editor Brian Connolly open it up for a discussion with readers

*1:10 p.m.: Health Reporter Henry Davis on health care issues

*1:40 p.m.: Business Editor Grove Potter on economic issues

*2:10 p.m.: Siena Research Institute pollster Steven A. Greenberg

*2:40 p.m.: Editorial Page Editor John Neville on The Buffalo News' endorsement process

*3:10 p.m.: Reporter Dan Herbeck on the Seneca Nation elections

*3:40 p.m.: Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski reports from Chicago

*4:10 p.m.: Buffalo News Editor Mike Connelly gives a Florida perspective

*4:40 p.m.: Reporter Jay Rey from the swing state of Ohio

*4:55 p.m.: Reporter Matt Glynn on local town board upsizing votes

*5:10 p.m.: Reporter Barbara O'Brien on area State Assembly races

*5:40 p.m.: Reporter Sandra Tan on the Erie County comptroller's race

*6:10 p.m.: Rochester D&C Reporter Jessica Alaimo on the Slaughter-Brooks race

*6:25 p.m.: Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska on the Witryol-Maziarz State Senate race

*6:40 p.m.: Reporter Denise Jewell Gee on the Collins-Hochul race

*7:10 p.m.: Reporter Charity Vogel on the Grisanti-Amodeo-Swanick race

*7:40 p.m.: Reporter Tom Precious reports from Boston

*8 p.m.: Metro Columnist Donn Esmonde chimes in

*8:30 p.m.: Political Reporter Bob McCarthy

We've also got a live video broadcast starting at noon. Check out that schedule.

First ads air for Erie County comptroller

By Denise Jewell Gee

The race for Erie County Comptroller has hit the airwaves.

Democrat David J. Shenk and Republican Stefan Mychajliw have launched their first ads this week -- with both candidates keeping things positive for now.

Shenk, a former Boston Town Clerk who was appointed comptroller earlier this year to replace Mark Poloncarz, focuses on his experience in the U.S. Army Reserves as he introduces himself in the 30-second ad as video shows him at the Rath Building.

"For 23 years, I served our country both in Iraq and Afghanistan, learning leadership, discipline and focus," Shenk says in an ad that started airing Monday. "I use these skills as your comptroller, along with two decades of experience as a town clerk and tax collector."

Mychaljiw, a former television reporter who now runs a public relations firm, will launch an ad today that focuses on his work reporting on "pork and patronage" for Channel 2.

"I'm Stefan Mychaljiw, the son of Polish and Ukranian immigrants, who taught me about honesty and the value of a dollar," Mychajliw says as the camera scrolls over photographs of his family. "As an investigative reporter, I never forgot that."

View Shenk's ad here:

Here's Mychaljiw's commercial:

Five Questions with Stefan Mychajliw

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.


Stefan Mychajliw, a former television reporter, is running for county comptroller. (Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News)

Stefan Iwan Mychajliw Jr.

The Basics:
Age: 38
Party: Endorsed Republican, Independence and Conservative candidate for Erie County Comptroller
Job Title: Business owner, co-founder of “Profit Media Group” public relations firm
Family: Youngest of seven children, proud father of our 6-year-old daughter Mia, who, thank heavens, has her mother’s brains and good looks
Town: Buffalo’s East Side, grew up near William and Fillmore, now lives in Kaisertown
Education: Elementary school: Buffalo Public School No. 33; high school: Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts; college: Syracuse University

Continue reading "Five Questions with Stefan Mychajliw" »

Five Questions with David Shenk

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.


David Shenk

The Basics:
Age: 42
Party: Democratic
Job Title: Erie County Comptroller; Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army Reserves
Family: Married to Polly Shenk (formerly France); Charlie and Caesar (our dogs)
Town: Boston
Education: Bachelor’s degree in management from Houghton College, National Emergency Medical Technician Certification and numerous leadership schools in the Army
Salary: $80,615 as Erie County Comptroller; $7,500 as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves 
(Contributed photograph)

The Questions: 

What's one thing people don't know about you?
I have been a fan of professional wrestling since I was a kid. It looks spontaneous but everyone knows there is a script. In a way, it was great preparation for politics.

I also love to help my wife around “The Shenk 1/3 Acre Farm” (when I have time).

Continue reading "Five Questions with David Shenk" »

No Democratic primary for county comptroller

There will be no Democratic primary in the race for Erie County Comptroller.

State Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Walker upheld a decision by the Erie County Board of Elections to invalidate petitions submitted by Democrat George Hasiotis to run for comptroller in the September primary because the petitions did not include enough valid signatures.

Hasiotis had sued the Board of Elections, which had ruled that more than 700 of the signatures were invalid. A majority of those were witnessed by a commissioner of deeds who did not have authorization to gather signatures outside of the City of Tonawanda, according to the Board of Elections.

David Shenk, appointed earlier this year to replace former Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz, will appear on the Democratic line in the November election. Stefan Mychajliw is slated to appear on the Republican line.

--Denise Jewell Gee

What 'market access risk' means for Erie County

Politically charged debate over who should do Erie County's borrowing has been around almost as long as the state-appointed control board.

It's been no different this year, as County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and County Comptroller David Shenk prepare to sell the county's first general obligation bonds since 2006.

There are six legislators -- including three Republicans, one Democrat, one Conservative and an Independence Party member -- that have been outspoken in their opposition to the plan because of the higher costs Erie County will see if it borrows on its own.

Staff for Poloncarz have made the argument that returning to the bond market will help the county get better ratings from the Wall Street ratings agencies in the future, which in turn would mean cheaper interest rates.

A story in today's City & Region section looks at what analysts from the ratings agencies had to say about that.

Pressed by county legislators for written documentation that the ratings agencies look at whether the county has issued its own general obligation bonds when they determine what rating to give, the Poloncarz administration has pointed to a line in a ratings report from Standard & Poor's completed in December.

In it, analysts note that one of the risks facing Erie County is: "Market access risk for purposes of financing operations during low cash-flow periods."

So what does that sentence mean? It is a comment on the county's low cash flow.

Analysts for Standard & Poor's said that refers to the fact that the county must rely on short-term borrowing each year to cover some of its finances, a tactic many municipalities without a lot of extra cash use to cover expenses as they wait for revenue to arrive.

"What that's referring to is the fact that the county issues cash-flow notes each year to finance operations," said Lindsay Wilhelm, primary Erie County credit analyst for Standard & Poor's. "So basically, during low-cash periods, they'll have to go out to the market to just finance their day-to-day, and we see this a lot. This is definitely not unique to Erie County."

Why is that a risk? Because, in an extreme credit crisis, a county might not be able to borrow that money -- a scenario the analysts said they don't currently foresee.

"They might not be able to sell the notes if there was a real financial meltdown of epic proportions," said Richard Marino, an analyst for Standard & Poor's. "You can sell notes, even if you have weak credit, you can still sell them. It just costs you more."

-- Denise Jewell Gee

Interim plan in place for county comptroller

With no appointee named yet to fill the job of county comptroller, Mark C. Poloncarz has made temporary arrangements to run his office when he leaves it Jan. 1.

Poloncarz, who will move from the county comptroller's office to county executive, has named one of his deputies, Lorne H. Steinhart, to serve as acting county comptroller in January until the Erie County Legislature appoints someone to the job.

Steinhart, who has been deputy comptroller of accounting since October 2008, previously worked as vice president of marketing and business development at EMS Healthcare Informatics in Clarence. He earned an MBA from Canisius College in 1994, according to his resume.

County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan earlier this month named a search committee to accept resumes and make a recommendation for county comptroller to the Legislature. That person will face an election in the fall to keep the job.

--Denise Jewell Gee


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 |