Poloncarz says Rath Building is safe, dismisses comptroller's claims as 'hypocritical'

Jul 1, 2020

A social media feud has been brewing between Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw over the health and safety of staff in the Rath Building.


Erie County Executive Poloncarz says the county's Rath Building is following all CDC and New York State guidelines for return to work plans.
Credit File Photo / WBFO News

County Comptroller Mychajliw took to Twitter all last week to say county leadership is rushing workers back into the county building without proper safety measures. Executive Poloncarz responded to those posts during his Wednesday COVID-19 briefing, saying the Rath Building is safe, and the county has been ensuring a socially distant and sanitized workplace since the pandemic started.

“I categorically reject what the comptroller is saying,” said Poloncarz. “It’s disappointing for what he’s saying, because we’ve took so many precautions and measures, to the point of buying special sprayers to spray every door knob in this building every night. To clean areas extra special, to require masks...”

The executive went as far as playing a surveillance video from the Rath’s lobby area which shows Mychajliw entering an elevator with Poloncarz, without a mask on.

“And then the comptroller walks in as I’m getting on the elevator, and he’s not wearing a mask, wearing sandals, shorts, golf shirt. And then we talk, and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is ‘Stefan you know there’s a rule? you have where a mask while in this building,’” Poloncarz said while commentating over the surveillance tape. “He’s like ‘eh, whatever,” and I go no, we are not allowing anybody, including elected officials, you have to wear a mask while in this building.”   

Poloncarz says Mychajliw is trying to use this to his advantage.

“I get what’s going on. The comptroller didn’t say ‘boo’ about county government for literally five months in a row, and now all of a sudden he’s worried about things?” Poloncarz said. “It’s hypocritical, because he’s refusing to wear a mask. And I told him straight out, ‘Stefan, if you do not wear a mask, you will not be allowed in the building.’”

Poloncarz defended his decision to increase workers in the Rath Building by saying many departments of county government are just too essential to the community to have closed, and it's been done safely within guidelines set by both federal and state agencies.