Cuomo, Poloncarz are poles apart - The Buffalo News

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Cuomo, Poloncarz are poles apart

It must get lonely for Mark Poloncarz way up there on the 16th floor of the Rath County Office Building.

The county executive, who will play a key role in the snowballing situation surrounding the sale of the Buffalo Bills and any potential plan for a new football stadium, sounded a solitary voice on two important issues last week. No doubt about it – Poloncarz and Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled down different roads on the subject of a new stadium, and whether the proceedings of a panel studying where to put the football field should be open to the press and public.

Cuomo: If the Bills need a new stadium, as suggested by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, we’ll find a way.

Poloncarz: OK, but let’s not forget the option of again renovating Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Cuomo: Fine with me if meetings of the New Stadium Working Group are opened.

Poloncarz: No way.

The governor and county executive have never enjoyed a warm and fuzzy relationship. Poloncarz’s hand-picked head of the Erie County Democratic Party, for example, is virtually ignored by Cuomo’s political operation.

Chairman Jeremy Zellner will most likely play no insider role this year in helping the governor claim a region he lost in 2010 – the nine counties of Western New York.

And while Poloncarz and Cuomo for the most part work well together on the difficult challenge of retaining the Bills, the county executive staked out his own ground on stadium affairs last week.

On the issue of opening the New Stadium Working Group meetings – now gaining serious traction following open meetings bills sponsored by Assemblyman Mickey Kearns and Sen. Pat Gallivan – the two could not be further apart.

The county executive’s spokesman, Peter Anderson, reiterated the group is a “non-governmental, strictly advisory body whose meetings are not subject to the Open Meetings Law.”

“Due to the delicate nature of the items to be discussed, much of the information is confidential in nature,” Anderson said. “Release of it could negatively impact the future of the Bills in Western New York, and we certainly would not want to hurt efforts to keep the team in Western New York.”

But the Cuomo administration seemed to welcome the Kearns/Gallivan proposal.

“We favor having the meetings opened up and conducted in the spirit of the Open Meetings Law,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.

Sometimes the 280 miles between the Rath Building and the Capitol can seem even longer.

• North Council Member Joe Golombek showed up at a Conservative Party fundraiser a few days ago and told folks he is serious about running for the Senate seat now held by Republican Mark Grisanti. But questions surround his ability to raise the kind of money he needs to take on Hamburg Trustee Laura Palisano Hackathorn in a primary and then Grisanti in the general, especially since Albany Democrats like the Hackathorn candidacy.

• Speaking of Conservatives, insiders say almost 150 people showed up at Chairman Ralph Lorigo’s weekly Saturday breakfast at Daisies in Lackawanna to see, be seen and talk politics. We have to think that Row C on the ballot is the favorite row of Daisies management these days.

• Republican Kathy Weppner, who is challenging Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins this year, has filed no campaign finance reports yet with the Federal Elections Commission. But that’s only because she had not raised or spent any money by the April deadline. The candidate says that will change by the next reporting deadline on June 12 and her May 20 fundraiser set for River Oaks Golf Club.

• Question of the Week: If Democratic Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward were to secure a nomination to State Supreme Court this fall (as is often suggested by judicial watchers), could Zellner muster the County Legislature votes to ratify his choice as Ward’s successor?


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