The “Audit” that Wasn’t an Audit

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw took a break from his busy schedule visiting random cultural sites and eating lunches at various and sundry senior centers, and released an “audit” revealing $70,000 in expenditures over five years that Mr. Mychajliw doesn’t like. The new Republican majority in the legislature commissioned this “audit”, and the best anyone could do was to find about $14,000 per year in allegedly excessive spending each year between  2009 – 2013.

“Audit” gets scarequotes because it wasn’t an audit. Even Mychajliw’s office calls it what it was – a review. It was not subject to any of the requirements or restrictions necessary within an audit environment.

For a $1.1 billion operation, $14,000 per year isn’t that horrible. But don’t tell the Comptroller that.

The manner in which taxpayer dollars were spent is troubling. We are concerned by the blatant misuse of county funds. The lack of oversight on spending leaves us disheartened,” Mychajliw said in a statement announcing the release of the audit

That strong language is out of proportion with the actual findings. The findings showed some pretty mild incidents of  unnecessary and excessive spending, but no “blatant misuse” or some pervasive “lack of oversight”. When does Stefan’s campaign end?

Wasteful? There are a few items that could have been handled differently, but nothing excessive.  Take a look at the major findings.

The 45-page report details nearly $5,000 that the Legislature spent on personal items. These included expenditures for snacks that were provided to outside guests who were honored by legislators at their bimonthly meetings; flowers; a shoe rack and the cost to stock some district offices with toilet paper.

Here’s what Democratic minority chairwoman Betty Jean Grant said about the snacks:

…most the food was purchased for World War II, Korean, Vietnam and the current War Veterans who have served their Country and who are members of the Valor for Valor Committee I created to assist our veterans. The refreshment they consumed after the county hall meetings, were not nearly as expensive as some of the things they lost such as limbs and even the lives for those who did not make it back. Someone needs to be ashamed of this despicable show of narrow-mindedness.

And toilet paper. Toilet paper? Do you remember during the red/green budget fiasco of the last decade, when the county couldn’t afford to stock the bathrooms in the Rath Building with toilet paper, so Charmin donated a truck’s worth?  Setting aside for a moment whether district offices are necessary, if we’re going to have them, are we going to begrudge their bathrooms having county-funded toilet paper? What’s next? Toner? Paper?

The report also notes how the Legislature spent too much on toner for the printers it leased and how it continued to cover the cost of Internet access for one of the Democratic legislator’s district office nine months after it was destroyed by fire.

But better still is how Mychajliw’s release characterizes this:

The Legislature spent almost $5,000 for personal items like flowers, cakes, meals, shoe racks, toilet paper, stamps, potato chips, plastic utensils, tissues, cookies, even soil.

OMG EVEN SOIL!!1!

And if you still don’t think this was a wholly political play, regard this line from the exit conference section of the review:

During the Exit Conference, some concerns were addressed regarding the severity of some of these issues and the verbiage which was used in defining them. Due to this, verbiage in some instances within this report has been changed to more accurately reflect the issues found.

UPDATE: Did you catch this line? 

“I think the most important thing to note is the fact that the Legislature initially wanted us to look at just one year of spending,” Mychajliw said. “When we showed them what we found just over one year, they formally asked us to expand it to five years and go deeper.”

A correspondent notes that this comment is false.This letter from Legislator John Mills, dated February 18 specifically requests a five-year review. The Comptroller’s office’s review entrance letter is dated the same day (efficient!), and notes – ab initiothat the review will be for the 5 year period of Jan 1, 2009 to Dec 31, 2013.  So, the 5 year period was decided on day one, before any data had been compiled, transmitted, and well before any data had been reviewed. Indeed, none of the information was due until February 25th. Nobody ever “formally asked” anyone to “expand it to five years”. There exists no earlier letter asking for a one-year review.

I’ll grant you the internet access thing is, I suppose, “wasteful”, as is the retention of an official photographer – although the photographs are presented to recipients of various awards, and make these people feel appreciated.  But the review itself reveals that Time Warner is refunding the money. There is the matter of a 45-cent stamp for which a staffer was reimbursed three times. I offer that staffer my thoughts and prayers, as he or she works to repay that $0.90 debt to the county. This is petty within the literal meaning of that word, coming from the French petit or small.

We already know that honoring people is most of what the legislature accomplishes.  If you want to talk about wasteful spending, it’s can rationally be argued that having an Erie County Legislature is, itself, fundamentally wasteful; its ministerial, rote “functions” outweigh its discretionary ones.

To give you some perspective, here’s what I wrote about the toilet paper fiasco of ’05.

Charmin wants to donate a truck’s worth of Charmin to the Rath Building. George Holt has already allocated some of his member money to his brother’s son’s girlfriend’s shell company, which knows a guy who can get some toilet paper that fell off a truck. So, they don’t need Charmin.

Thankfully, that sort of intentional and pervasive George Holt/Chuck Swanick style corruption is long gone. So is member money.

This whole thing is a persuasive argument against the continuation of partisan elections for the legislature. If this had been in any way legitimate, it would have been undertaken without the “aha” confrontational tone. None of this stuff is a big, earth-shattering deal, and there is no evidence whatsoever of deliberate waste or wrongdoing. The excessive rhetoric in the review and its accompanying press materials belies the notion that this was an apolitical review of allegedly excessive spending.  It is, instead, a wholly political piece of campaign literature.

And you paid for it.

I’m Offended You’re Offended

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. 

Anti-Semitic Pixels Go Unchallenged

In the last few weeks, there has been what at least one person – seemingly ignorant of the word’s definition  – considers to be a scandal. Known to many as “one of the many lawyers who works around Buffalo” and commonly referred to as, “isn’t that guy retired”, one nominally “Democratic” activist pointed out that a horrible crime had been perpetrated – the chief executive of Erie County used the county seal on his campaign website.

Not waiting for Republicans to point out any alleged impropriety, he bravely preserved democracy and the American way by ensuring that only one Democratic politician was called out. Never mind that the seal appears on the websites of other county politicians,  this was the America-saving result: 

Thanks be to God that this grievous insult to the taxpayers of Erie County has been rectified. The entire internet has been sanitized, and you can no longer infer that there was some official imprimatur from county government over Poloncarz’s website. No word yet on whether any alleged “Democratic” “Activists” will demand similar cleansing of other political websites, lest our civilization fall. 

But why was the most glaring insult overlooked? 

If you look very closely at the “Poloncarz for Erie County” header image shown above, it is made up of tiny pixels. One of the pixels in that image is a known, admitted anti-Semite.  In spite of that fact, no one has demanded its removal, or that Poloncarz further scrub his website. County Comptroller Stefan  Mychajliw has not yet sounded the alarm – reasonably or otherwise – over this grave injustice. 

Right there. That particular pixel is clearly not only anti-Semitic, but an outspoken nazi. How is it that all of these great legal minds, all of these brave Democratic activists were so lazy and blind as to not demand that pixel’s immediate removal from a campaign website? If you go to Poloncarz’s website and attempt to give money, are you giving money to support white supremacy or euthanasia? 

These are important and heady times for self-hating Democrats. There aren’t just offensive pixels, but rude cursors, Stalinist background images, and fascist metatags – none of which have been exposed or called out by the likes of the Niagara Falls Reporter and the people who take it seriously.

“Short as life is, we make it still shorter by the careless waste of time.” – Victor Hugo.

ECC Follow-up

A coda of sorts to the ECC piece I did yesterday

  • – Transportation and alleged “remoteness” are the chief complaints that the anti-STEM-in-Williamsville people provide to prove their point. It, therefore, follows that improved transportation is the cheapest and most effective solution. 
  • – The opposition to expanding North Campus and including STEM is being led by a coalition of political and activist forces – not by ECC students themselves. Although ECC North is the oldest and main campus in the entire system, and although it accommodates the most students – the majority of whom are suburbanites – (correction: about 400 more students at North are from Buffalo than from the suburbs. However, a heat map shown on page 41 of the report designating North as the best location for the STEM building shows that most of these Buffalo kids live near the border with Amherst and Cheektowaga – around Cayuga and Wehrle and remarkably close to the North Campus. Thank you to David Steele from Buffalo Rising for pointing this out) the people bankrolling this have an ulterior motive. It’s unclear what that is, but it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine developers salivating over a large tract of available land between Main, Youngs, and Wehrle in “remote” Williamsville, by the airport and I-90. 
  • – Erie County loses $5.3 million every year in chargebacks to neighboring counties. That’s for Erie County kids who, for some reason, choose to attend community college in Niagara, Genesee, or elsewhere. 
  • – Community Colleges uniformly serve commuters. They are generally located as conveniently as possible to serve all commuters, not just some. For instance, Westchester’s is in Valhalla. Genesee’s is on the outskirts of the town of Batavia. Monroe County’s is outside the I-390 loop, between Brighton and Henrietta. Albany County doesn’t have one
  • – I was wrong yesterday – NFTA doesn’t run the shuttle bus. The people who attend ECC pay a transportation fee covering parking and an NFTA pass. So, we don’t have to improve a shuttle bus, but implement one that’s dedicated for these students, much like UB operates between its South and North campuses. 

ECC: Reduce and Solve the Obvious Problem

I’m a big believer that problems and issues should, whenever possible, be boiled down and distilled to their simplest and most concentrated form. 

So, when we’re talking about the multimillion-dollar investment in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program at Erie Community College’s North Campus (in Williamsville, at Main and Youngs), I have a threshold question about the seriousness and sincerity of the people agitating to halt it, and move the whole lot downtown.  

So, distillation time. 

1. It’s not an argument about the quality of education.  Not one person is saying that building STEM in Williamsville, or expanding the North Campus is going to have a harmful effect on education at any of the three ECC campuses. 

2. It’s not an argument about whether we need STEM or not.  Everyone agrees that it’s a swell idea. 

3. It’s not an argument about the North Campus being somehow inadequate to handle the program. 

4. It’s not an argument about the North Campus not needing improvements.

Every single argument has to do with location, location, location.  They want the entire campus to be in downtown Buffalo.  

The statistics, taking the opponents’ word for it, show that about 47% of ECC students live in the City of Buffalo, and that only about 25% of ECC enrollees attend classes downtown.  The “move it downtown” people argue that it is much more convenient for city kids to attend STEM-hosted programs at a downtown location, because of the better public transportation connections. 

Over My Dead Body” is a wildly disproportionate reaction to an ECC plan to expand its northern campus to accommodate a multimillion dollar health and medical training center. A group of people with dubious connections to ECC itself, called “Young Citizens for ECC”, was created specifically to oppose any expansion in the ECC suburban campuses, and to concentrate all spending and programs in a consolidated downtown campus. 

There are some good points to be discussed regarding bringing health training downtown, near the medical campus. Well, sort of near the medical campus – more specifically, across downtown from the medical campus. But one of the things I always like to address is hyperbole and needless falsehoods in advocacy

Young Citizens for ECC wants to same thing Erie Community College does. We want to link our region’s young people with emerging fields in the health sciences and prepare Buffalo for a 21st-century economy. We can’t do that by making educational opportunities inaccessible, especially to people who depend on public transit. ECC needs to focus on creating stronger linkages to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which we believe will help re-brand the college, attract top talent, and prepare our region for the jobs of tomorrow.

Inaccessible. 

Not satisfied with that ridiculous charge, at least one opponent of an expansion of the North Campus refers to it as “remote”. Located between Main and Wehrle, near Youngs in Williamsville; close to the extremely busy Main & Transit corridor, it might be many things, but “remote” is not one of them. ECC North is about 13 miles from downtown Buffalo; take Metro Rail out to UB South, and then the 48 Bus directly to ECC North. It takes about an hour to commute there from downtown via public transportation, but it’s completely within reason. Of course, ECC doesn’t just accommodate students from Buffalo’s neighborhoods, but also students from throughout western New York, including neighboring counties. 

Note that Niagara County Community College isn’t in Lockport, North Tonawanda, or Niagara Falls, but sort of in the middle of nowhere.  And it draws in kids from Erie County’s northtowns – for every Erie County kid who attends NCCC, Erie County has to pay Niagara County, and vice-versa. 

The ECC Board of Trustees has pointed out that the ECC City campus is the most costly and least efficient to operate. This should be taken into account, considering the public nature of the college. 

The college didn’t pick Williamsville for its expansion to stick it to the city. According to Business First, the choice was made after an extensive (and expensive) review undertaken by a consultant retained by ECC for this project. (Here is the study itself)

Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe said other efforts endorsed by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, including the manufacturing institute championed by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, are based in Buffalo.

“A lot is going on in the City of Buffalo, including a lot of money that the county spent on ECC in recent years,” Tobe said. “We intend to continue to upgrade the city campus along with improvements to the other two campuses.”

He said the county received a letter from critics of the Amherst campus plan and is responding to it.

ECC President Jack Quinn said the college will take part in the debate going forward but won’t be swayed from the current focus.

“We’re very comfortable with the JMZ study,” he said. “It was deliberate, objective and expensive. As far as reconsidering any major themes? Probably not.”

And wouldn’t part of the equation include: where are ECC’s students enrolled? 

The consultant, JMZ Architects and Planners, has come back with a recommendation to build on the North Campus, based on several factors, including the availability of land and parking; the need to improve the condition of the aging campus; and the fact that North has the highest enrollment of the three ECC campuses.

“This should put to bed the question, ‘Where’s the best location,’ ” Poloncarz said Tuesday.

So, at this point you’re yelling at me – so what? Just because they’re enrolled at North doesn’t mean they want to be there! Plus, 47% of enrollees live in the city! Well, the problem is that ECC North is plagued with a dreary campus, made up of a cluster of buildings reminiscent of 70s-era DMVs. Kids haven’t been flocking to ECC’s gorgeous adaptive reuse of an old downtown post office, but instead they’ve gone to Niagara County

The college first raised the issue of a new building around 2010 and set its sights on the North Campus at Main Street and Youngs Road, which consists of eight buildings constructed in phases between 1953 and the late 1960s.

The college hoped updating the unattractive North Campus would help stem the number of Erie County residents going across the border to attend school at Niagara County Community College.

When that happens, public and private money gets spent in rural Sanborn, to Erie County’s detriment. 

Part of the problem is that this is an ideological battle, rather than a practical one. When the Common Council debated the matter, ECC and the County Executive were not invited to speak on the issue. Living within a bubble of confirmation bias doesn’t always lead to good results. If a discussion is to be had, inflammatory rhetoric and exclusion aren’t the way to go. This past week, rookie county legislator Pat Burke, who represents Cheektowaga and South Buffalo, tried to put the brakes on the STEM expansion in Williamsville.  He was unsuccessful, as the GOP majority, led by Amherst legislator Tom Loughran, blocked debate on the question. 

When in doubt, accuse ECC and the county of racism, but you’re frankly not going to win an argument by calling your opponents names or by shutting them out.  

So, when we finally distill the issue down to its essence, the issue is location and transportation.  Kids in Buffalo – not just ones downtown, but on the east side, west side, North Buffalo – need better access to the various ECC campuses. Kids in the suburbs do, too. So, what is the easiest, least costly, quickest fix to all of this? 

Better dedicated shuttle buses. 

The shuttle buses that the NFTA runs between campuses are unreliable. They don’t run at convenient times. They’re infrequent. They don’t run late enough. 

So, get the NFTA out of the equation and either run or outsource a better system. Get a fleet out on the road to serve all three campuses plus the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Have some buses stop in the Buffalo neighborhoods that need them most. Run them all the time, and run them late. Give kids a mobile application to use to track the bus locations and times. Run one line between the STEM building and the medical campus on a continuous loop. 

These aren’t expensive or Earth-shattering fixes for a pretty minor problem.  This isn’t a group of kids coming in from outside WNY to live in dorms and hang out in coffee bars; they’re commuters.  They likely have jobs and families here.  Recognizing that not all of these students have cars or gas money, give them a better transportation network, and everybody wins. 

Bee Stings

In the Buffalo News’ Tuesday article regarding Mark Poloncarz’s hard work and competence, it was revealed that Conservative County Legislator Joe Lorigo didn’t like a letter that Poloncarz sent to him in response to an op/ed piece Lorigo had published in the Bee.

“Some people don’t like it that I’m willing to stand up for what I believe and sit there and say, ‘I think you’re wrong and here’s why,’ ” Poloncarz said. “They’re used to the back-slapper elected official who will say anything to anyone to get a vote and keep them happy.”

He knows that can rub people the wrong way, but he sees it as standing up for what he sees as right. He’ll put it in writing, too.

Last April, after Legislator Joseph C. Lorigo, a West Seneca Conservative, criticized Poloncarz’s four-year plan in a column that appeared in the West Seneca Bee, Poloncarz sent out a four-page letter picking apart the piece and accusing Lorigo of leveling “factually inaccurate partisan attacks towards my administration in a cheap attempt to score political points.”

The letter was copied to the entire County Legislature, the county control board and the county comptroller.

“It was completely over the top,” said Lorigo, a frequent critic of the Poloncarz administration. “He doesn’t know how to respond rationally. I think the best leaders, whether it be county executive, mayor or president, are people that can effectively communicate their point of view without being so partisan.”

Note that Poloncarz didn’t publish his rebuttal in the Bee, or in any other paper – he just sent Lorigo a letter explaining to him – in detail – how he was wrong. Telling someone who is wrong that they are wrong is neither irrational nor partisan

Joseph Lorigo’s 4/19/12 West Seneca Bee column by Alan Bedenko

Mark Poloncarz’s Letter to Legislator Joe Lorigo

 

More like this, please. 

Smart, but Fee-Fees

Shorter Buffalo News “influential people” profile of County Executive Mark Poloncarz: he’s excellent at his job and a hard worker, but some anonyms and tea party legislators don’t find him to be warm and fuzzy enough for their own needs. 

I mean, seriously. If Joe Lorigo writes some pablum for the Bee, good on Mark for fisking it. 

Managing the Water Authority

When it comes to attorney Chris O’Brien’s application to join the board of the Erie County Water Authority, one has to remember that Mr. O’Brien stands to gain absolutely naught from this appointment. He won’t get new clients or cases through his association with the ECWA, he won’t gain or lose any political clout – he’s a generous contributor, and asks nothing in return, and the position isn’t one with a high enough profile that it might enable him to market his personal political brand in some way. 

Staffing a public authority involves political considerations? Fetch me my fainting couch. I guess the installation of Jack O’Donnell in 2010 and the pending application of Chris O’Brien reveal that, in the end, elections matter. 

By way of full disclosure, Chris is a personal friend of mine, and there’s no upside here for him. All he’s doing is applying to someday appear on an Al Vaughters expose of the way the Water Authority conducts its business; he’s applying for a headache. It’s an administrative board, and he’s been the principal of a law firm for decades. Sometimes, people just want to commit public service in the first degree. That this application is remotely controversial is just dumb. 

Wōdnesdæġ

The Off-Season

“The Off-Season” by Flickr user rssloan via the AV Daily Flickr Group

1. Max Dismissal

Supreme Court Justice Deborah Chimes dismissed Frank Max’s lawsuit challenging Jeremy Zellner’s election as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee. Judge Chimes ruled that Max had waited too long to challenge the June 1, 2012 redistricting that the board of elections undertook. Max’s side argued that the board acted after the 1st, but the court disagreed and determined that the lawsuit should have been filed by October 1st, but was 4 days late. 

Naturally, the dismissal of the case of Max v. Foregone Conclusion will be taken up on appeal. 

2. 2013: Brown vs. Rodriguez? 

Who is Sergio?” signs have been popping up all throughout town, and young Republican veteran Sergio Rodriguez is making the rounds, promising to be the first Republican to become Mayor of Buffalo since Chester Kowal in the mid-60s. Although he has no money, little name recognition, and little to no support among the county Republican committee, Rodriguez is right in suggesting that no incumbent should be unchallenged in a general election. The problem here is that Stefan Mychajliw, fresh off a poorly-managed mini-scandal concerning his chief of staff’s DWI conviction, is likely to face a tough re-election battle against a popular Democrat. His margin of victory could be so narrow that a Rodriguez challenge to Brown might bring out enough people in Buffalo to hurt Mychajliw’s chances. 

On the other hand, when your countywide election strategy includes consciously and actively suppressing the urban vote, then your ideas and candidates suck. Be good enough to win in Amherst and Hamburg and Buffalo. 

3. Social Media & Politics

Our podcast with Brad Riter at Trending Buffalo has changed over the last few weeks into a commentary on local social media usage, among other things. Yesterday’s edition covers social media and politics in western New York. 

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/TBOneThing01-22-13.mp3

4. Time Machine

Incredible photographs of the Russian Revolution – many of them hand-colored – have been found in a California basement. 

Best and Brightest

Why so quiet?

That was fast. 

Just about a week ago, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw hired a person named Jeff Bochiechio to be his new chief-of-staff. Mychajliw had famously pledged to hire only the “best and brightest” and specifically campaigned on a pledge to not just end, but root out, the “friends and family plan” of county hiring commonly referred to as patronage. 

Jeff Bochiechio may have been the best and brightest person to apply or submit a resume for the position of chief of staff – I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t think that it’s a bad thing for an elected official to surround himself with close friends and associates in some positions, because these are the people you know and trust to do a good job for you. Patronage isn’t always horrible. But compare: 

 So, Mr. Mychajliw has held himself to a higher standard, given his campaign pledges about eliminating patronage completely, which is why his former WGRZ colleagues so sharply questioned him on January 10th about this Bochiechio hire

According to Bochiechio’s resume and LinkedIn page, he began his career working for former Republican congressman Tom Reynolds, he was former County Executive Chris Collins chief fundraiser for three years, he says he ran Jane Corwin’s 2008 campaign for state assembly, and had a patronage position in Buffalo with Republicans in the state senate.

In defending his hiring of Boccheicio, Mychajliw points to the fact he’s a lawyer.

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw: “My predecessors have hired a public relations person for that position of chief of staff where I have hired a public sector attorney with municipal experience and extensive experience e and state and local finance law and tax law and IDA law.” 

Scott Brown: “You say extensive experience, he worked for less than a year at a local law firm, he’s fresh out of law school where is his extensive experience?” 

Stefan Mychajliw: “In the same respect that Mark Poloncarz was a private sector attorney and served in the office of Erie County comptroller.”

Heh. Nice one, right? Except Mark Poloncarz was sworn in as a lawyer in 1998, and became Comptroller in 2006. That’s 8 years’ worth of experience doing corporate finance law at a big downtown firm; the comptroller should know that 8 is more than 1. Also – public sector attorney? Bochiechio’s LinkedIn page reveals only a brief stint with a private downtown firm. There is no evidence whatsoever of him having been a “public sector attorney”. 

But perhaps Bochiechio had special qualifications? For instance, he was a full-time law student at UB between 2008 – 2011, yet served as the New York State Senate’s “WNY Regional Director – Majority Operations” during his third year of law school.  According to SeeThroughNY, Bochiechio “earned” $49,154 in 2010, and a further $34,112 in 2011. That’s over $83,000 in taxpayer money for what is – if you’re also simultaneously attending law school – essentially a no-show job. 

Today, Bochiechio resigned abruptly as Channel 4 reported that he had pled guilty to DWI in Machias. He was arrested in October for blowing a .13 BAL – almost twice the legal limit. It’s unlikely that he’ll serve time in jail, but he will likely pay a fine, be on some sort of probation, have his license revoked for 6 months, and be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his car. What kind of vetting took place to hire this young kid, about whom no one would be paying any attention if he was just working in the private sector? 

Scott Brown: “Most of his (Bochiechio’s) background in politics is as a fundraiser, will you used him to raise money for your campaign?” 

Stefan Mychajliw: “Certainly an option, I want to hired the best and brightest for this office and I also want to make sure that I have the best and brightest and most competent people when it comes to running for re-election this year.” 

Bochiechio’s position has a starting salary of $62,000 a year. 

This guy was hired because he’s got political experience running campaigns for Republicans, and because he’s well-connected. There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with that – indeed, it’d have been a smart hire, if he didn’t have the DWI. But when you make a big deal about rooting out patronage, you’re going to come under especial scrutiny about hiring friends, family, and the well-connected. This wasn’t just a hire violative of Mychajliw’s campaign pledge – it was poorly vetted, even for a patronage hack. 

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