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Poloncarz, Mychajliw battle over pandemic overtime

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Posted at 7:30 PM, Dec 28, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is responding to the latest claim made by outgoing-Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw regarding Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein’s pandemic overtime.

"It's false, it's a lie, it's BS - it doesn't pass the smell test and you guys keep on reporting it,” Poloncarz said.

In a YouTube video by Mychajliw, he said “Overtime paid to Dr. Burstein were improper and illegal.”

According to a new report form the Comptroller’s office, Dr. Burstein was not eligible to collect the $336,148 in pandemic overtime.

Mychalilw says according to the CSEA contract with Erie County, any employee with a medical degree are prohibited from receiving overtime. He also cites the New York Public Health Law which says appointed physicians compensation is fixed by the legislature and cannot earn additional revenue.

But Poloncarz says that is 100% not true.

"Every one of his attacks since the end of November should be looked at with a grain of salt,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz says Burstein is not a union employee part of the CSEA—so that rule does not apply to the county’s top doctor, who has helped lead the county’s response to the pandemic. He also says Burstein’s overtime has already been cleared, accusing Mychajliw of once again trying to create a crisis that doesn’t exist.

The county executive also says Burstein’s overtime comes out of the county’s allotment from the Federal Cares Act, which is also used to pay overtime for other county employees including the Sheriff’s Office.

According to public records, Burstein is the only Health Commissioner or Health Director who is a medical Doctor in the state who has collected overtime during the pandemic.

The other is the director of public health in Green County, Kimberly Kaplan, a registered nurse who made $3,100 in overtime in 2020.

7 Eyewitness News asked Poloncarz about this. He didn’t directly respond to the question instead saying this about Mychajliw,

“This is not appropriate, it is unfair, hell it’s probably anti-Semitic knowing him, because he’s not criticizing anyone else he’s criticizing our Jewish Health Commissioner. It’s over with—and I hope the rest of the media understands that whatever bull (expletive) he’s going to push over the next few days—remember he’s being paid by big dog strategies to be a paid political operative and he might be paid right now, and the people of Erie County will never know it.”