Comptroller Candidates Trade Shots Over Audits, Patronage

9:44 PM, Sep 23, 2012   |    comments
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Erie County Comptroller Candidates Stefan Mychajliw (R) and David Shenk (D).

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Republican candidate for Erie County Comptroller, is attacking his opponent, the incumbent Democratic, over some recent patronage hires at a county agency.

Republican candidate Stefan Mychajliw, who is a former Channel 2 employee turned politician, is blaming the appointed comptroller, Democratic David Shenk, for failing to catch two high-profile, so-called patronage hires that have come to light in recent weeks.

Specifically, last month, the Erie County Water Authority hired the brother of Democratic County Executive Mark Poloncarz. His brother had previously worked as a Wegman's Chef. The authority also hired a relative of Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy.

During a Sunday morning press conference, Mychajliw said, if elected comptroller this fall, he will conduct a top-to-bottom audit of the hiring practices across county government.

Shenk says he his office already ordered an audit of the Water Authority last week, and he provided 2 On Your Side a copy of a letter he sent to the authority Friday warning the authority of the impending audit.

"It's too little too late," Mychajliw said of Shenk's proposed audit. "This should have been done months ago. Had this been done months ago, the friends and family plan wouldn't be back in county government. And from my perspective, if I anger politicians and party bosses, good. That means I'm doing my job protecting taxpayers."

REPORTER: Should this be something that the comptroller's office is doing?
SHENK: Well, first of all, I would like to state that I take what Stefan did this morning as a compliment. The fact that he is trying to imitate me -- I take that as the sincerest form of flattery. My office began looking at this months ago. In the last few weeks, I directed my audit division to begin reviewing the past audits that have been conducted at the water authority.

Shenk also said he's only been in office since February, and that it takes time to prepare to conduct and audit. Mychajliw said he is starting a web site and will use social media to better advertise all available county jobs. Shenk said oversight of hiring practices is the job of the personnel commissioner, not the comptroller.

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