Bee News - Erie County Government is Here to Serve You

January 11, 2012

Guest Editorial
By Mark Poloncarz

Over the last several years, I think we have all learned a lot about ourselves and what government is and what it should be.  Government is not a business and it should not be run like one.   

A business is concerned with maximizing profits to benefit a select few.  However, a government is concerned with the welfare of those it represents, all of its citizens, not just taxpayers. 

Government exists to take on precisely those tasks that the private sector can’t or won’t.  We unite to care for the penniless and provide a safety net for those who have fallen; maintain common amenities such as parks and libraries; and create and maintain a safe infrastructure with broad value for the benefit of all.

Six years ago you gave me the privilege, at the height of the worst fiscal crisis this community had ever seen, to serve as your independent taxpayer watchdog, your Erie County Comptroller.  And now, I want to thank you for giving me the privilege to serve as your Erie County Executive. 

I understand that I was elected because people from all across Erie County, from different backgrounds and different political parties, put their faith in me.  If my administration is to succeed, it must be guided by partnership rather than partisanship. You demand the best of your elected officials.  And our best can only come by elevating cooperation over conflict.

During my inaugural speech, I discussed how a hallmark of my administration will be creating a County Government that is open and transparent and represents all of Erie County.  As a symbol of this “openness,” after the ceremony, I opened the doors of the County Executive’s office to the public for an open house.  Hundreds of residents from all across Erie County joined me, many seeing the executive’s chambers for the very first time. 

And while taking the oath of office to represent this great community was an unforgettable moment for me, the celebration was very short lived as I got to work immediately.  As a candidate, I promised to implement many of the recommendations that I made as Comptroller, many of which had been ignored by previous administrations.   As such, my first order of business as County Executive was the signing of five Executive Orders addressing some of these recommendations while addressing several other important issues as well. 

Included in these Executive Orders was:

  • Beginning the process involved with renegotiating the Buffalo Bills stadium lease;
  • Calling for the creation of a Medicaid Anti-Fraud Task Force;
  • Requiring my commissioners and senior staff to abide by the same timekeeping policy as every other County worker;
  • Updating the outdated Equal Employment Opportunity guidelines; and,
  • Requiring the County Attorney to submit a report on the use of retained counsel by the County. 

Each of these Orders is designed to make County government more efficient, accountable, and compliant with current laws and practices.

Finally, as we go forward, I promise my administration will never forget who our bosses are: every one of you.