My opponent often claims that he is the County’s fiscal watchdog, but lately I have come to wonder if he lives in an alternate universe.
Stefan was cited on an ethics violation in 2016, and narrowly escaped prosecution when District Attorney Michael Flaherty, a campaign contributor of his, declined to prosecute him. In 2014, he attacked the Buffalo Erie County Library in a press conference, calling their reasonable explanations for the rise in employee costs “smoke and mirrors.” Last year, he failed to find an overcharge to the county of nearly one million dollars from Verizon. And he seems to believe that fabricating practically any reason to attack the County Executive and doing so regularly is being an effective “watchdog.”
Recently, my team and I obtained data regarding access swipes into the Rath Building by Stefan and his deputies through a FOIL request. This data set suggests that, even if they had the skills or experience to do so, my opponent and his deputies aren’t in the office enough to watch much of anything at all, let alone call themselves “watchdogs”. The access swipe records provided by the county suggest that Stefan has missed nearly a week of work each month in 2016 and 2017, and the team under his leadership does about the same.
While the data does not tell us everything we need to know, there is still enough here to raise some eyebrows. The Department of Labor reports that the average worker only gets ten days (two weeks) of vacation per year. Stefan and most of his deputies seem to be taking at least five times that amount, and it shows.
The County Comptroller oversees a 1.7 billion dollar budget. It’s bad enough that Stefan’s team is stacked with political appointees instead of skilled teammates. But playing hooky on the job they are unsuited for in the first place is ridiculous and unacceptable.
Erie County, we deserve better than a no-show Comptroller and his band of political cronies. This November, let’s vote for the candidate who will show up and do the actual job, from day one.