There's Politics in the Snow Or Simon and Garfunkle in Boston By Michael R. Caputo

If filled potholes could keep Senator Al D'Amato in office, snowplows can be bloodsport in Erie County politics. Just look at the Town of Boston: Town plows once cleared County roads there, but no longer. Today it's a snowball fight.

And a partisan jab at a Boston resident in a recent email exchange (see below) had County officials apologizing. It ain't pretty.

Erie County and Boston town officials have have had their horns locked since October, when the two parted ways over snowplowing services. Boston says the County shortchanged them $5,000 for previous services; the County insists it wasn't a ripoff, it was a fine. 

During the November storm, Boston officials like Republican Supervisor Martin Ballowe were critical of Erie County plowing services in their town. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz claimed Boston never joined daily conference calls coordinating snow removal.

“Once you’re elected to office, this is stuff you need to know about,” Poloncarz said. “Shame on them.”


Curiously, the County told the Buffalo News it has agreements with Hamburg, the Town of Aurora, the Town of Eden and the Town of Collins to cover their Boston roads. A highway superintendent I spoke to today says that's not true at all, County plows are clearing those roads. For his part, Poloncarz recently took to Twitter to try to prove they're doing a better job than Boston:

[Poloncarz Tweeted photos of] "Omphalius Road, a county-owned and -maintained road in the town [of Boston] that was cleared to the pavement, as compared to Eddy Road, a road maintained by the town that was still packed with white, tire-tracked snow."

Needless to say, Boston officials are taking no pleasure in this and some criticize Poloncarz for the spat. Word in some Republican circles is that during the November storm Poloncarz moved mountains for reliably Democratic towns and left Republican towns hanging. The County Executive insists politics play absolutely no role in snow removal, and the story died.

Until now.

A recent email exchange, inspired by a polite inquiry from a Boston resident living on Omphalius Road, showed some real political animus thrives in the Erie County Department of Public Works. Tom Chadwick was concerned about the safety of his schoolgoing grandson, and reached out to Legislator John Mills.

What he got in response from Ron Broska, a DPW crew chief, proved there's politics in snow removal - the petty kind. And Broska's swipe had County officials apologizing like President Barack Obama on a third world tour.

The complete exchange is pasted below. Read to the end for the red faces - and kudos to Citizen Chadwick for being a nice guy throughout.:


-----Original Message-----


Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 12:04 PM

To: Mills, Hon. John

 Subject: Snow removal on Omphalius

Hi Legislator Mills,

I have sent email to both the County Executive and the Town of Boston Supervisor letting them know that as of recently the snow removal on Omphalius has been sub par. I don't know all the issues that are involved with this but I do know that it is impacting me in a negative way. I was even told this morning by the bus driver that drives my 5 year old grandson to school that when it snows I'm going to have to bring him down to the bottom of the hill to get the bus. This makes it safer for the bus driver and for the other kids on the bus but it does nothing for my grandson and actually makes it worse for me.

I asked if even though there is some dispute between the County and the Town if it would be possible to have the snow removal brought up to at least the levels in the past. I did ask the Supervisor if maybe the town employees that used to take care of the snow removal could instruct the new folks doing the snow removal. Is it possible you could look into the quality issues and help with a resolution?

Thank you

Tom Chadwick


-----Original Message-----

From: Mills, Hon. John

Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2015 12:45 PM


Cc: Geary, William; Sickler, P. E., Charles; Asklar, Michael; Broska, Ronald

 Subject: RE: Snow removal on Omphalius

Mr. Chapman:

I thank you for your email.  I am looking into this issue of Omphalius Rd. and would appreciate your keeping me advised of future snow removal problems.

I have forwarded your concern onto the Deputy Commissioner, Director of Engineering and the Engineer in your area.

Please contact me at 858-XXXX if you would like to discuss.


Legislative Branch

92 Franklin St.,  | Buffalo, NY 14202

P:(716) 858-XXXX | F:(716) 858-XXXX



"Ronald Broska” Wrote: 

If this is the case then why do we have a atta-boy from 66XX Omphalius Rd Mr. Bob Laskowski stating how we are showing the Town Of Boston how to GET IT DONE And the funny thing is that Tom Chadwick's address is 66XX Omphalius so take his letter and read between the line he is a Telaak and Ballowe CRONY


Ronald Broska | General Crew Chief (Highway) Erie County | Highways (DPW)

119 Ellicott Rd.,  | West Falls, NY 14170

P:(716) 652-XXXX | F:(716) 858-XXXX


-----Original Message-----


Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 9:53 AM

To: Mills, Hon. John; Broska, Ronald

Cc: Asklar, Michael; Sickler, P. E., Charles; Geary, William; McMahon, Joseph; Supervisor Ballowe


Subject: RE: Snow removal on Omphalius

My apologies as I have apparently offended someones feelings. That was not my intention. I was simply trying to get a problem I have resolved.

It would be nice if this issue could get resolved and I could have full use of my street again but if not that's OK I will adapt to it.

I would like to say to the Honorable John Mills that my name is Chadwick not Chapman.

Also I would like to know what/why my address has to do with the issue. I can assure you I don't know "Telaak and Ballowe" from "Simon and Garfunkel" and you do not need to read between the lines with me. I do know who Mr Ballowe is now because I looked it up when I sent the Boston Town Supervisor an email requesting him to do what he can to resolve my issue.

Do what you can to help me out and make things on "the hill" a little better.




-----Original Message-----

From: Marty Ballowe 

Sent: Monday, January 26, 2015 2:06 PM

To: Geary, William; Sickler, P. E., Charles

Cc: emailmark; Mills, Hon. John


Subject: FW: Snow removal on Omphalius

Good afternoon Mr. Geary and Mr. Sickler,

I received the e-mail below today. Does Mr. Broska realize he sent a copy of his very rude reply to the resident? I do not know Mr. Chadwick, I couldn't pick him out in a crowded restaurant. I received a copy of the letter Mr. Chadwick sent to County Executive Mark Poloncarz and was copied on his e-mail to Leg. Mills, that is all I know of him. For Mr. Broska to state that Mr. Chadwick is a "Telaak and Ballowe" crony is way out of line.

We have had several complaints of Mr. Broska's rudeness. He has even hung on residents.  Does Mr. Broska realize that his salary is paid by the taxpayers? If he doesn't then he should be informed. I would hope this issue will be addressed and please keep me advised of the situation. I appreciate your cooperation. 



Supervisor Martin Ballowe

Town of Boston

(716) 941-XXXX (office)

(716) 941-XXXX (fax)

Dawn Boncal

Assistant to Supervisor


-----Original Message-----

On Jan 27, 2015, at 3:15 PM, "Geary, William" wrote:


Good afternoon Supervisor Ballowe.

First my sincere apologies on this matter.  My organization is more professional than what this one incident portrays.  We hold all employees to a high standard when dealing with anyone, especially the public.  An investigation was completed and Mr. Broska will be addressed through progressive discipline.   The actions of this individual is not endorsed or what this administration represents.



--William Geary | Deputy Commissioner - Highways Erie County | Highways


95 Franklin St.,  | Buffalo, NY 14202

P:(716) 858-XXXX | F:(716) 858-XXXX


-----Original Message-----

From: Sickler, P. E., Charles 

Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 8:49 PM

To: Geary, William Cc: Marty Ballowe; Sickler, P. E., Charles; emailmark; Mills, Hon. John Subject:

Re: Snow removal on Omphalius

Bill , I agree and support you on this response . It was very inappropriate the response that our employee gave and it doesn't represent our feelings on the issue . My utmost apologizes to our partners on public service at the Town of Boston . Want was said was wrong and should not of been said !


Sent from my iPhone


-----Original Message-----

From: Marty Ballowe 

Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 10:36 AM

To: Sickler, P. E., Charles; Geary, William Cc: Mills, Hon. John; emailmark; Jay Boardway; jgenzel; lamurtha; samsdad1011; Mike Kobiolka; Dixon, Hon. Lynne; stefan 

Subject: RE: Snow removal on Omphalius

Good morning Mr. Sickler and Mr. Geary,

Thank you for taking care of this matter. What happens between the Town of Boston and Erie County should not be taken out on our tax paying residents. I really appreciate your utmost cooperation and your compassion for our residents. 



Supervisor Martin Ballowe

Town of Boston

(716) 941-XXXX (office) (716) 941-XXXX (fax)

Dawn Boncal Assistant to Supervisor


-----Original Message-----

From: "Sickler, P. E., Charles" 

Date: January 29, 2015 at 12:52:45 PM EST

To: 'Marty Ballowe' , "Geary, William" 

Cc: "Mills, Hon. John" , emailmark, Jay Boardway, "jgenzel", "lamurtha", "samsdad1011" , Mike Kobiolka, "Dixon, Hon. Lynne", "stefan"  Subject: RE: Snow removal on Omphalius

Supervisor Ballowe , We totally agree and again you have our sincere apologies .   

Charlie  -- Charles Sickler, P. E. | Director of Engineering Erie County | Highways (DPW) 95 Franklin St., Room 1424 | Buffalo, NY 14202 P:(716) 858-XXXX | F:(716) 858-XXXX

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