Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Poloncarz aides come on board in county executive suite

The inner office of County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz is taking shape, and you'll recognize a few names from the campaign trail.

Several new aides for Poloncarz attended Thursday's Legislature meeting, where a restructuring of the county executive's office that added several jobs was approved. Among those who will be added to the county payroll with the new administration: 

*Heading up his inner office staff will be Jennifer Hibit as chief of staff. Hibit served as Poloncarz's campaign manager.

*Mark Cornell, who has been Poloncarz's spokesman in the Comptroller's Office, has moved up to the 16th floor as director of communications. He'll be handling both communications and policy in that role.

*Peter Anderson, who handled media requests for the campaign, will serve as a spokesman for Poloncarz. Anderson was a host on several community cable shows for Time Warner, including "Crossroads" and "All That Matters."

*Joseph McMahon is going to serve as an intergovernmental liaison.

*Brian Bray, who has previously worked for the Common Council, the Erie County Water Authority and the Erie County Legislature, will serve as Poloncarz's legislative liaison.

*Jeffrey Sheridan will work as a policy aide to Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Another Poloncarz jab at Brown; Casey downplays significance

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's pre-election rally at an Amherst union hall last month for county executive candidate Mark C. Poloncarz never really produced the kumbaya effect sought by statewide Democrats.

Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan, for example, was never even invited onto the podium after feuding with Cuomo's party people for months. And Mayor Byron W. Brown made it clear he attended only because Cuomo asked him.

Since then, it is clear there will be little thaw in the frosty relations between Poloncarz and Brown. The county executive-elect threw some obvious jabs at Brown by naming a potential mayoral rival in 2013 -- former FBI honcho Bernie Tolbert -- to his transition tean. In addition, he recruited former Corporation Counsel Alicia Lukasiewicz -- forced out of City Hall by Brown -- to the panel.

This week the rift became even more obvious when Poloncarz named Richard M. Tobe as his deputy county executive. Tobe was also forced out of his City Hall economic development post in 2008 -- a move of which the county executive-elect clearly disagrees.

"It had less to do with Rich Tobe and more to do with the mayor, including his executive assistant deputy mayor," Poloncarz said at this week's announcement, referring to Tobe's resignation and Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey.

The deputy mayor, considered Brown's political point man, this week dismissed any suggestion of a rift between City Hall and the Rath County Office Building.

"We look forward to sitting down and working with him," Casey said of Tobe. "If it has to do with jobs, we will work together with anybody.

"You don't see anybody on our side picking a fight," he added.

Casey said Brown on Dec. 9 sent a letter of congratulations to Poloncarz, suggesting the two men meet soon to discuss mutual goals.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Staff levels for county executive's office seen as 'moot' as Collins prepares to exit

Erie County Executive Chris Collins won't be in office in January, but the Legislature still set aside 45 minutes for his office to talk about the 2012 budget for the county executive's administrative staff this morning.

Nobody showed up, and Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams said she received no word from his staff that they weren't coming.

"We're disappointed of course," Miller-Williams said. "We're here ready to take care of the people's business. I think it's disrespectful, and I feel that we're all still in office until the end of they year. It's our responsibility to review the budget."

Miller-Williams, who also lost a re-election bid for her seat last week, placed a call to the main line of the county executive's suite when it became apparent no one was coming. She got voice mail.

Grant Loomis, a spokesman for Collins, said it is the budget department that has handled the presentation for the county executive in the past. Budget Director Gregory Gach met with legislators on Monday and has had staff present for many of the presentations this week.

"The budget department has historically handled this presentation, which is simply related to personnel lines in the county executive's office," Loomis said of the 45-minute time slot scheduled this morning. "All discussion of the county executive's office budget is moot given last week's election."

The Legislature's Finance, Management and Budget Committee has meetings scheduled throughout the week to meet with department heads to review Collins' proposal for 2012. The Legislature will hold a public hearing on the budget at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, in Old County Hall. 

The slot reserved for the county executive's office was the first no-show of the week.

County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz, who will replace Collins as county executive in January after winning the election last week, is scheduled to appear before the Legislature on Friday to talk about his views on the budget.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Greenan to serve as transition liaison between Poloncarz and Collins

GreenanThe man who helped Chris Collins transition into the county executive's office four years ago will help Mark C. Poloncarz as he moves to the 16th floor of the Rath Building.

Collins has asked County Personnel Commissioner John W. Greenan to serve as a liason for Poloncarz during the transition.

Greenan, who served a similar role when Collins took office, reached out to Poloncarz on Thursday, spokesmen for Collins and Poloncarz said.

"Certainly, John will be there to help in any way possible," said Grant Loomis, a spokesman for Collins. "And as the county executive said on election night, we'll ensure a smooth transition."

Greenan served as Republican majority leader in the county Legislature before then-County Executive Joel A. Giambra appointed him commissioner of personnel in 2002.

He's one of three county commissioners almost certain to stay on as Poloncarz takes office in January. By county charter, the commissioners of personnel, social services and real property services serve six-year terms. Collins reappointed Greenan in September 2008.

--Denise Jewell Gee

File Photo: Erie County Personnel Commissioner John W. Greenan addresses the County Legislature. (News Sharon Cantillon/ Buffalo News)

Final politicking in county executive race enlivened by sign caper

Call it the great sign caper.

Barely a local election goes by without an allegation of political sign stealing, and the race for county executive is no exception.

It all started Monday, according to the Collins camp, when campaign spokesman Stefan Mychajliw stopped by headquarters on Main Street in Amherst along with Republican candidate Chris Collins.

Outside the window, Mychajliw said, volunteers saw people in a silver van taking down Collins campaign signs and replacing them with signs for Democrat Mark Poloncarz. Mychajliw, a former television reporter, grabbed his camera and snapped some pictures.

The campaign called the police, emailed the press and promptly uploaded the photographs to Facebook.

Patrol officers who responded pulled a silver van over at Main Street and Transit Road. Several political signs were recovered, said Amherst Police Capt. Michael Camilleri.

"We were told that they are keeping our signs for evidence," Mychajliw said.

Mychajliw wasted no time in placing the blame on the Poloncarz campaign and labeled the incident the "latest in a disturbing pattern of dirty tricks."

Asked for comment, Poloncarz spokesman Peter Anderson said the people in the photographs had "absolutely no connection to our campaign."

"It's a last-minute distraction," Anderson said. "Mark remains focused on the issues."

As for the police report, Camilleri said Monday afternoon that police continue to look into the incident.

"We have referred it to the detective bureau," Camilleri said.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Newer Entries »

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 |