BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County’s top legislative Republican on Thursday accused County Executive Mark Poloncarz of using bribes in exchange for much needed road work.
Poloncarz fired back, saying bribes were never a factor. But horse trading was. And that’s how government works.
Erie County Legislature Chairman John Mills and others on Tuesday called on Poloncarz to take action in fighting the road conditions. They said Poloncarz was holding onto money that could be spent on dozens of roads throughout the county.
Mills released to News 4 a 45-second voicemail Poloncarz left him on Sept. 15.
Poloncarz told Mills he would provide $800,000 to fix local roads if Mills would agree to work with him on other issues. Mills called the offer a “bribe.”
Here the voicemail below:
After announcing the new “ReadyErie” app Friday morning, Poloncarz took time to address the voicemail, saying Mills was not “a man of integrity,” for sharing the private message.
“For him to allege a bribe is ridiculous. This is horse trading. It’s how government works,” Poloncarz said.
The executive says the sharing of the voicemail has had a serious impact on his ability to trust legislators, and could have a negative effect on future deals.
“If you can’t negotiate what’s in the law, you can’t govern,” Poloncarz said.
Mills calls fixing the roads a matter of public safety, saying he won’t “horse trade” over the issue.
“Holding up $800,000 of much-needed road work, in order to bribe Legislators, is not how government works. I won’t ‘horse trade’ over public safety,” he said. “It is black and white. It is unacceptable. And it has no room in government.”
Poloncarz said those allegations are far fetched.
“There’s nothing criminal,” he said. “This is how government works. You exchange and you negotiate.
He added: “I’m disappointed in Legislator Mills. I thought he was a man of integrity. I thought he was a man of his word. Unfortunately, he’s shown recently that not to be the case.”
Poloncarz said he won’t hold this against all members of the legislatures. But he warned this could submarine future deals, because as he put it, you can’t negotiate with people you can’t trust.