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County concerns: Add the auditors. Confirm the culinary.

   The score-keepers in The Buffalo News Opinion corner, doing our own sort of audit, today insist that Erie County should not be cutting auditors from the comptroller's staff, and that Niagara County should move ahead with a deal to put NCCC's Culinary Institute in the old Rainbow Centre.

Restore the auditors - Buffalo News Editorial
  County Executive Chris Collins [right] has cut a wide swath through a critical function of government by Chriscollins reducing [County Comptroller] Mark C. Poloncarz’s office by 36 percent, to 27 employees, including only two auditors. Collins should either retract his decision, or the County Legislature should do its part by restoring some positions, although there is slim hope that it could override an all-but-certain veto by Collins.
   The county executive’s action even has the county’s state-appointed financial control board up in arms. ...
   [Collins blasted over gutting of audit team - Buffalo News, Oct. 21]
   The comptroller is independently elected and performs critical duties. His oversight of county spending plays an integral role in the checks and balances that make democracy work. Collins’ budget cuts would subvert that role. ...
   [Note to the county executive: Hey, Chris, your official and campaign websites are both offline. Are those budget cuts, too?] 

Make this work - Buffalo News Editorial
   Efforts to create a downtown culinary school in the heart of Niagara Falls should move forward cautiously but with an eye toward making it work. This is no time for foolish obstruction.
   This $26.1 million project would rescue a derelict shopping mall that sits on prime land in one of the world’s most recognizable names in tourism. By turning the vacant Rainbow Centre mall into the new home of the Niagara County Community College culinary arts institute, downtown Niagara Falls will get a sustained dose of what it has been missing — vibrancy — and the county will bolster its entire tourism sector.
   [Agency paves way for culinary institute - Buffalo News, Oct. 26; County lawmakers wary of NCCC mall plan - Buffalo News, Oct. 24]
   The agreement is now in the hands of the Niagara County Legislature. It is structured so that the county can walk away with the slightest notice. But if it works, it could mean growing the current 395-student culinary institute and related tourism and hospitality majors into 800 to 1,000 students in downtown Niagara Falls. It’s no small matter that colleges would welcome with open arms the chance to set up a culinary program in an international tourist destination visited by millions each year. ...

   And, even though none of the above characters is on the ballot today, a reminder:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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