Poloncarz Blasts Collins’ Political Pandering to Arts Groups

ERIE COUNTY, NY – County Executive Candidate Mark Poloncarz blasts the Collins administration’s announcement to suddenly release $300,000 in capital grants to 13 handpicked arts and cultural organizations after slashing more than $2 million in funding to nearly 40 organizations over the past year.

“I find it insulting to the arts and cultural community that Chris Collins would dangle more money in front of them now that campaign season has begun,” Poloncarz said. “It’s a transparent political tactic to soften the blow that his administration has had on the local arts and cultural community. After starving arts and culturals for four years, Collins would be naïve to think he can throw them some crumbs and that they’ll be grateful. Restoring $300,000 to 13 organizations doesn’t make up for more than $2 million in cuts to nearly 40 others. This ‘change of heart’  is nothing more than a last ditch attempt to pander to the arts community weeks before an election in an effort to save his job.”

It is no coincidence that Chris Collins chose to include Buffalo’s African American Cultural Center on the handpicked list of organizations awarded funding. On the day Poloncarz announced his candidacy for County Executive, he stood in front of the African American Cultural Center to denounce Chris Collins’ lack of dedicated funding for small- to medium-sized arts organizations. In his 2011 budget, Collins zeroed out $132,411 for the Cultural Center and only now that it is election season did he decide to grant them a $50,000 reprieve.

“Collins is trying to sweep his administration’s complete disregard for arts and culturals over the past four years under the rug,” Poloncarz said. “Those in the arts community are smart enough to know when they’re being pandered to. As County Executive, I pledge to restore county funding to the smaller arts and cultural organizations cut in the past four years and find creative ways to nurture these organizations so that Erie County can enjoy a vibrant and healthy cultural scene.”

On the same day Collins is pretending he’s always been a friend to the arts community, just blocks away downtown, there are serious problems at the Erie County Holding Center. Another inmate has committed suicide, making it the third suicide attempt this year.

“Today, Chris Collins held a press conference on his pandering to the arts community after refusing to comment on another suicide in the holding center. He has failed to address serious concerns at the Holding Center over the past four years and disregarded a judge’s orders to make improvements. His administration has simply not done enough to decrease suicides at the Holding Center,” Poloncarz said. “As County Executive, I will work with my partners in state and federal government to make much-needed improvements to the Holding Center that will hopefully ensure we never see any more suicides there again.”