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Poloncarz vs. Mychajliw: is the county executive's new book legit?

Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 21, 2019

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and his republican political rival Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw are dueling once again.

This time over Poloncarz's recently announced book release called, "Beyond the Xs and Os: Keeping the Bills in Buffalo".

It's being touted as an "inside account" of the Bills stadium lease negotiations back in 2012-13 and the way the County Executive worked to keep the team in Western New York.

"There's nothing that prohibits me from writing a book," said Poloncarz. "There's really nothing that prohibits elected officials from having other jobs such that others have."

Mychajliw disagreed.

"He or she, which is Poloncarz, should devote his or her whole time to the duties of his or her office," read Mychajliw from the executive branch charter.

It stated the county executive "shall hold no other public office".

The second issue of contention is whether Poloncarz used any of his time "on-the-clock" to write the book or deal with any of its publishing matters.

Poloncarz denied doing this.

He tells 7 Eyewitness News that the book took so long to write because he worked on it at night and on his vacation time.

Mychajliw submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request for the emails between Poloncarz and his publisher SUNY Press to look at the times they were corresponding and verify Poloncarz's claims.

When asked about the timing of the book release, two months before election day in September 2019, Poloncarz said it wasn't up to him.

"I actually would've preferred it to have been published sooner but it's just the publication date that SUNY press had."

Additonally, Mychajliw has concerns about the book's subject matter - lease negotiations with the Bills.

"If you were in negotiations with a partner, someone you want to partner with in keeping the Bills in Buffalo...I would think they'd be very hesitant to share information in the future knowing that whatever they say privately could be exposed publicly then used by that individual for personal profit," said Mychajliw.

"A lot of it in the book is what's in my head," countered Poloncarz. "It's what I lived through. The decisions, and why I made them as to why we entered into agreements and did certain things with the don't often hear of it from the governmental side."

Mychajliw doesn't want to compromise current lease talks, but Poloncarz says no information about details of the lease deal are in the book, and even so, this deals with negotiations with former owner Ralph Wilson, not the Pegulas.

"I'm not writing a book about future, I wrote a book about what we accomplished in the past."

All profits from the book will go to Poloncarz, he has a deal with the publisher but did not receive an advance.
"I'm not expecting it to make much," he said.

Mychajliw said he is in the "information gathering" phase.

Poloncarz has 30 days to respond with the information requested by the Comptroller.