As previously reported in Politics and Other Stuff, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and the Buffalo News recently made it official: he is not a candidate for re-election. He is a candidate for supervisor of the Town of Hamburg. His political moves have a downward trajectory.
Mychajliw carries as a badge of honor his days as a reporter at Channel 2 where he will tell you he asked the tough questions. He left that job, landing next in some public relations positions including a stint on the staff of Chris Collins’ failed re-election campaign in 2011.
Mark Poloncarz’s victory over Collins created a vacancy in the comptroller’s position. Against a Democratic candidate for the office who failed to catch on, Mychajliw won the office.
The county comptroller has some serious public responsibilities as outlined in the County Charter, which sets the office as the county’s Chief Accounting and Reporting Officer, Chief Auditing Officer and Chief Fiscal Officer. How that has worked out over the decades has been a function of how the incumbent comptroller views the job. Mychajliw’s approach is less related to numbers and more related to public relations.
For the past three years the comptroller spent a great deal of his time running for another office. In 2018 the major local political story involved the indictment of NY27 Congressman Chris Collins on securities law and other violations. Seeing an opening, Mychajliw during the fall campaign that year followed Collins around the district like a shadow as he both supported Collins’ re-election and positioned himself as the successor to the congressional seat when Collins would eventually leave office.
After Collins eked out a small win in 2018 over Nate MacMurray Mychajliw waited for Collins to be gone. He bragged about trips to Washington to visit major Republican congressional players and about his attempts to line up support from the right-wing Club for Growth. He used some of his state-regulated campaign account for his congressional campaign exploring. State accounts can include funds from corporations, but federal campaigns cannot so using state campaign funds for a congressional campaign is generally a no-no. He didn’t create a federal campaign account at that time. That might have in other times become a problem for Mychajliw, but alas, we did not have a fully functioning Federal Election Commission (FEC) to check up on such things.
When Collins pled guilty and resigned his seat in October 2019 several local Republicans stepped forward to go after the seat. Party leadership narrowed the field. Mychajliw pressed on, attacking the Republican leadership. Despite the fact that Chris Jacobs was Donald Trump’s favorite candidate for NY27 Mychajliw soldiered on as a Trumpkin. In the primary election in June 2020 he was no match for the money or campaign organization of winner Chris Jacobs, or even, for that matter, for the woman who finished second to Jacobs in the primary, Beth Parlato.
Compared to Jacobs and Parlato’s fundraising, Mychajliw’s congressional campaign committee wasn’t in the game. As this blog reported last summer, he even resorted to having his deputy comptrollers shuffle money around from his state-regulated committee to his congressional campaign account. But again, a toothless FEC did not get involved in reviewing such things.
While Channel 7’s Charlie Specht reports recently showed that coming into the Rath Building has not been a high priority for the county comptroller, he challenged the data and has meanwhile gone into overdrive sending out Tweets. Hey, it worked for fearless leader, so why not Stefan?
Mychajliw’s tweets, among other things, have cheered activities that questioned the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election; attacked Governor Andrew Cuomo’s work on pandemic-related and other issues; stalked Mark Poloncarz while questioning the County Executive’s pandemic work; and most recently sent out tweets simply listing the salaries of the President, Vice President, Governor, Health Commissioner, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Mychajliw now wants to take his style of politics to Hamburg, the town that he moved to about three years ago. His campaign for supervisor is unconventional. His campaign, which on his Twitter feed often deals with national and state politics, is strange.
The Town of Hamburg, like all local governments in the state, is under pressure as it deals with revenue losses related to the pandemic. The town budget for 2021 worked its way through some of those issues. Supervisor Jim Shaw and the town board were able to lower the tax levy and reduce spending by $1 million through a hiring freeze, restricting purchases and reducing overtime and travel expenses. Nonetheless there are more problems coming up, particularly concerning the potential loss of state money that the town receives for hosting a casino on the Fairgrounds.
Mychajliw has not publicly offered solutions for such problems, instead responding with generalities about fiscal issues while pumping out the aforesaid tweets and telling the Buffalo News that Donald Trump carried the town last November, which is barely true. Jim Shaw, by the way, won with 59 percent of the vote for supervisor four years ago. Shaw is not seeking re-election.
Mychajliw’s tweets about the salaries of various officials make one wonder, so what? Didn’t Donald Trump and Mike Pence get paid the same as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris? Trump never challenged Fauci’s salary. The salary for a member of Congress, the job that Mychajliw was chasing, is $174,000; more than double that of the comptroller’s position.
If we want to talk about salaries, what about the five deputy comptrollers in a department with just 35 positions other than the comptroller, who have average salaries of $103,954? There are also two directors of accounting services who collect a combined $208,998.
So on to Hamburg, Stefan. Good luck, Hamburg!
Biden’s Executive Order on Climate
Blog Editor Paul Fisk’s Climate Reality Project group has put together a tracker of President Biden’s “First Day” actions on climate. Here’s a link to their work:
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