BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The brother of Erie County’s most influential politician, Mark Poloncarz, was recently tapped as supervisor at the county Board of Elections.
And though the county executive has no say in the hiring practices at the BOE, critics are crying foul, saying the man rose through the ranks far faster than he should and received raises normally reserved for employees who have worked with the county for decades.
Mark Poloncarz was criticized last month for allegedly holding hostage road projects, in exchange for agreement from county legislators on other budget items.
The criticism is now moving from the streets to the county Board of Elections, specifically this building, which houses the BOE’s storage warehouse.
That’s where the brother of the county executive, Robb Poloncarz, was hired at the end of 2013.
“What they’re doing appears to be completely legal,” said local attorney Peter A. Reese, who’s also a longtime critic of the county executive. “They’ve found a loophole, and they’re utilizing it to promote their friends from within.”
Reese is a local democrat, a retired state employee and an attorney who specializes in elections and public officers law. He says the rapid ascension of Robb Poloncarz is out of line. Here’s how rapid:
Robb Poloncarz was hired on Dec. 30, 2013, at a Step 5, which is a level that would normally be awarded to an employee with four to nine years of experience.
His starting salary was $42,821
In less than a year, he was bumped to Step C, a level normally awarded to employees with at least 16 years of service.
In August of this year, Robb Poloncarz was bumed again, this time to the equivalent of the county’s Step E, the highest level according to the current contract.
He now makes $51,068
Mark Poloncarz has nothing to do with the hiring practices at the Board of Elections. And the Board of Elections does not follow the CSEA salary protocol.
“In state government, it’s often very difficult to properly reward employees who perform on an outstanding level,” Reese said. “It’s very popular now for everyone to hate public employees, and that is just not justified. … And this sort of thing just feeds that. It basically feeds to the public that this is all bologna. This is friends and family.”
Len Lenihan, the Democratic commissioner of the county Board of Elections said Robb Poloncarz was hired to fill the position he’s in now, as a supervisor at the warehouse.
Lenihan said as supervisor, Robb Poloncarz is paid what he believes he’s worth, he’s a good employee and he does his job well.