Erie County’s D-LAN and Right-Wing Stormtrolls

Logo_ErieCo_tpDuring the Snowvember / Knife storm, some municipalities made complaints about county or state aid, and there was a concerted push on local Squadrismo Radio (traffic, weather, and sedition on the tens – these guys, who think it’s cute to assault & batter former First Ladies), to criticize elected officials (all of them Democrats) for, e.g., not getting small town side streets plowed as soon as people would have liked. There was some legitimate debate over the speed with which the Thruway was closed, and how quickly people were freed from their cars, but as we discovered later on, when Cuomo allegedly criticized the National Weather Service’s forecast, there was ample warning of a historic snow event on Monday night into Tuesday.

All of a sudden, personal responsibility goes out the window when there’s a Democrat available to criticize. The WBEN Snowtrolling was amazing and unprecedented.

County Executive Poloncarz sent a warning about the storm to his disaster response team on Sunday night, and by all reasonable and impartial accounts, they performed admirably; “real leadership”, the Buffalo News called it.

But some towns have been complaining about the lack of county plows, despite the fact that they apparently had not bothered to use the decade-old computerized system to request them. In 2004, the County implemented the “DisasterLAN” or “DLAN” system for municipalities to use to request – and the county to coordinate – disaster response, including county plows.

The DLAN system is specialized for disasters and is heavily used around New York State, he said, but ignored by many Western New York highway officials.

“The problem was that only one or two people even knew about the system,” he said, despite county insistence upon its use.

Even conference calls proved inconsistent, he said, with Boston never participating in the daily planning and Orchard Park “hit and miss.”

The county executive pointed to Lake Avenue in Hamburg, a hard-hit road visited by Cuomo on Thursday. It was inserted into the DLAN system because of the volume and underlying ice pack, and therefore became a priority.

“The county knows how to use it, and 95 percent of the towns know how to use it, but not all did,” Poloncarz said. “If those people don’t utilize it, we can’t help it.”

And Lancaster Village Mayor (because we totally need a village overlaying a town government) Paul Maute “never heard of” DLAN, which is apparently everybody’s fault but his own, despite the fact that it’s been used for 10 years.

According to both Fudoli and Hoffman, halfway through the storm they became aware that in order to receive resources such as additional plows and other machinery, they had to use a Web-based system called DLan, but they had little success in doing so.

“The entire storm we were told we had equipment coming,” said Hoffman.

“We never heard of DLan until a couple of days into it,” added Maute.

According to Fudoli, requests submitted by Lancaster employees were not fulfilled, but the system repeatedly labeled them as “completed.”

So, there’s a computerized system that’s a decade old that works perfectly well, but a few highway superintendents don’t understand or use it, so it’s everybody else’s fault that, e.g., the Town of Boston didn’t get a call from the County, or the Mayor of Lancaster never heard of the county’s disaster system. How about using the DLAN or picking up your own phone? All you need to use DLAN is a connected browser. Personal responsibility gone, waiting for big government to bail them out.

Lancaster Supervisor Dino Fudoli learned that he was supposed to use DLAN “halfway through the storm”, but he was a legislator for the entity that set up and runs DLAN – Erie County?! 

That’s before we get to the concept of there being 7 feet of snow on the ground as another 2 feet dumped down just a couple of days later. You can’t just snap your fingers and get every side street in WNY plowed out overnight under those conditions.

Another meme that’s popped up has to do with how Governor Cuomo was preening for the cameras when he showed up with his entourage (read: cabinet) to stay in WNY for several days to help coordinate storm clean-up and response.

Right. Photo-op. Except that Governor Cuomo did exactly what any rational person would expect a governor to do – show up and offer state aid, money, and manpower to get the Southtowns up and running again. Had he not showed up, these same people would be whining about how Cuomo abandoned WNY again.

Cuomo is an arrogant downstater who doesn’t brook much dissent and is rude to the press and critics, plus he took some guns off the market and limited how many bullets can go in there, so he’s been likened to Hitler.

If you want to criticize the speed with which the Thruway closed, or how he came across poorly when talking about the weather service, that’s fine. But hammering the governor for showing up at a disaster area and ordering that help be given? Don’t be a dick.

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. 

ID-Nay

As futile as it may have been, this simple act by new County Executive Poloncarz – a no vote on the county IDA, which is quick to hand out free money to its good friends for upscale housing – is ground-shaking.

For all the Republicans’ talk about how awful it is to redistribute wealth, they’re completely fine with it when the redistribution is going their way.

The jig is up.

Poloncarz Takes Office

Poloncarz Thanks SupportersOver the weekend, we inaugurated a new County Executive, Mark Poloncarz. After four years of being told that government needed to be run like a business, Poloncarz reminded us of government’s true reason for being.

A government isn’t a business, and shouldn’t be run like one. It exists to serve its constituents; its people. It exists exactly to provide services that the private sector cannot – or will not – provide to meet the needs of its people. It exists not to serve a small elite, but those with the least influence.

It represents a complete redirection of what the purpose of government is, and whom it serves. To that end, the first five executive orders Poloncarz signed are:

Executive Order #001—Procurement of Legal Services to Support Buffalo Bills Lease Negotiations:

This order requires the Erie County Attorney to immediate commence a process to procure the services of special counsel to support the upcoming lease negotiations with the Buffalo Bills through the issuance of a Request for Proposals from qualified law firms.

Executive Order #002—Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Task Force:

This order requires the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, in conjunction with the County Attorney’s Office and the Erie County Comptroller’s Office, to recommend the methods and procedures to create a Medicaid Anti-Fraud Task Force.

As Comptroller, Poloncarz issued a review (6/17/2009) examining Erie County’s anti-fraud initiatives and expressing concern over the County’s lack of progress in recovering funds from providers engaging in fraud.

Executive Order #003—Time and Attendance Monitoring – Use of Swipe Cards:

This order requires every employee of Erie County, including the Deputy County Executive, commissioners, deputy commissioners and other exempt employees to abide by Erie County’s electronic time keeping “swipe card” system policy as stated in the Erie County Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.

As Comptroller, Poloncarz issued two separate reviews (7/15/2009 and 8/11/2011) of the swipe card system, which noted that prior administrations had exempted commissioners, deputy commissioners and senior staff from adhering to the policy.

Executive Order #004—Equal Employment Opportunity Program Review and Update:

This order requires the Director of the Erie County Equal Employment Opportunity Office to review and update the Erie County Affirmative Action Manual to bring it into compliance with current law and practices. This manual has not been updated since 1981.

Executive Order #005—Review of Use of Outside Counsel by the Erie County Attorney:

This order requires the Erie County Attorney to conduct a study and submit a report on the use of retained counsel by Erie County.

Poloncarz Inaugural Speechhttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/77112929/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-2i78mdgjia98tt9s4975//

Poloncarz Hires Whyte, Siragusa, Neaverth, Keating, Burstein

Until now, the only hire of which we were aware was Richard Tobe as Deputy County Executive. Today, the Poloncarz transition team announced a second batch of hires:

·         Gale R. Burstein, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM, Commissioner of Health

·         Robert W. Keating, Director of Budget and Management

·         Daniel Neaverth Jr., Commissioner of Emergency Services

·         Michael A. Siragusa, JD, County Attorney

·         Maria R. Whyte, Commissioner of Environment and Planning

From the press release, after the jump. Read more

Tobe to be Deputy County Executive

County Executive-elect Poloncarz has appointed Richard Tobe to be his Deputy County Executive. Tobe is a lawyer and held the Erie County post of Commissioner of Environment and Planning for a decade, and was Mayor Byron Brown’s Commissioner for Economic Development until 2008.

During the County Executive campaign, Poloncarz said that his deputy would be a “jobs czar”, concentrating on growing the economy and job creation.  From the press release:

Poloncarz stated, “As I have said, my Deputy County Executive’s will focus on job creation and creating a streamlined, sustainable and efficient approach to economic development in Erie County.  This position required an individual that not only had a proven track record of successfully navigating the often turbulent local economic development process but who could also help create a better system for tomorrow. Today, I am proud to announce Richard Tobe will serve in that role.  It is time that Erie County taxpayers see a return on the investment of their tax dollars into economic development initiatives that show results.  Richard’s decades of successful and multi-faceted economic development experience in the public and private sectors make him the perfect choice to lead these efforts.”

Transition Chairman Michael Joseph added, “The County Executive-elect has made an excellent choice in recruiting Rich Tobe to serve the county. Mr. Tobe’s decades of public service in economic development and planning, including a lead role in negotiating complex deals and public infrastructure projects makes him an ideal candidate to serve in the key role as Deputy County Executive.”

Mr. Tobe has more than 30 years of economic development experience in the public and private sectors as well as academia.  During his 12 years serving the Gorski administration as Commissioner of Environment and Planning, Tobe led the County’s successful effort to negotiate a new long-term lease agreement with the Buffalo Bills, and construct the Buffalo Sabres’ arena (now First Niagara Center) in downtown Buffalo, while serving as the point-person with New York State and local municipalities on economic development initiatives.

Since then Tobe has served as an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Planning and School of Law, Vice President of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and Commissioner of the City of Buffalo’s Department of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services.

Tobe said, “I am supremely honored to serve County Executive-elect Poloncarz as the Deputy County Executive.  I strongly agree with the County Executive-elect that, for too long, Erie County has been devoid of a cohesive and focused economic development strategy.  I know and love this community and I am confident that by working together with local, state and federal economic development agencies and by leveraging our abundance of resources and strategic location we can realize real, sustainable growth.”

UnInformed Attacks: Engage

Check out the comments to this Buffalo News article regarding changes that County Executive-elect Poloncarz would like to make to Collins’ 2012 county budget. It involves re-shuffling existing money to fund what Poloncarz considers to be his priorities, as opposed to Collins’. The uninformed are already accusing him of increasing taxes and spending, when neither is actually occurring.

Such is the state of information in western New York.

In a post on Facebook, Poloncarz wrote,

Although this is Mr. Collins’ budget and both he and the Legislature have final say on what is passed, I hope to have some if not all of these priorities included. Considering the Comptroller’s Office has already identified approximately $5 million in overbudgeting, I believe the roughly $2 million in restorations I suggested are modest. This is in no way additional spending, simply part of my promise to spend what we have more wisely and on the things residents/taxpayers need, want and deserve from County government.