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What's in a letter? More than what's said at the Erie County Legislature

The Erie County Legislature files away plenty of documents, letters and correspondence under the heading "receive and file" during its course of business.

Occasionally, a letter that quietly slips into the public record reveals a whole lot more than what is said at the public dais.

One of those missives was filed away last week during a Legislature Finance and Management Committee meeting. The four-page letter, sent from County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz to Legislator Joseph C. Lorigo in April, provides a glimpse into the evolving relationship between the Democratic county executive and members of the Legislature's minority coalition.

Continue reading "What's in a letter? More than what's said at the Erie County Legislature" »

Five Questions with Kevin Hardwick

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.

Hardwick
Kevin Hardwick speaks at Erie County Republican Committee campaign headquarters at the Adam's Mark Hotel after his election to the Legislature in November 2009. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)

Kevin Hardwick

The Basics:
Age: 55
Party: Republican
Job Title: 4th District Erie County Legislator
Family: Married for 32 ½ years to the former Deborah L. Maiurano; one daughter: Aubrey, 28; three sons: Jeremy, 28; Matthew, 20, and Brian, 19; two granddaughters: Kaile, 8, and Julianna, 5.
Town: City of Tonawanda
Education: Three degrees in political science from SUNY-Binghamton, B.A. (1979), M.A. (1983) and Ph.D. (1988).
Salary: $42,588 per year.

Continue reading "Five Questions with Kevin Hardwick" »

Five Questions with Thomas Loughran

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.

Loughran
Erie County Legislator Thomas A. Loughran chairs a meeting of the Erie County Legislature Community Enrichment Committee in September. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)

Thomas A. Loughran

The Basics:
Age: 60
Party: Democrat
Job Title: Erie County Legislator
Family: two children, Sara and Travis
Town: Amherst
Education: State University of New York at Buffalo, Bachelor of Arts in political science
Salary: $42,500

Continue reading "Five Questions with Thomas Loughran" »

Five Questions with Lynn Marinelli

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.

Marinelli
Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli speaks on election night in 2009. (Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News)

Lynn Marinelli

The Basics:
Age: 49 currently... 50 on August 4th!
Party: Democrat
Job Title: Erie County Legislator, 3rd district (North Buffalo, Parkside, Black Rock-Riverside, Kenmore and the southeast corner of Town of Tonawanda).
Family: Madden's on my dad's side; Golonka's on my mother's. Blessed with a daughter, Jessica, 29, and a stepdaughter, Bridget, 16, along with 3 cats!
Town: Tonawanda
Education: Mount St. Mary Academy; bachelor of arts in English from Daemen College
Salary: $42,588

Continue reading "Five Questions with Lynn Marinelli" »

Warthling up for Water Authority reappointment

Erie County legislators are poised to reappoint Francis G. Warthling to a third term on the Erie Water Authority's Board of Commissioners.

Warthling, who serves as chairman of the Water Authority, appeared before the Legislature's Energy and Environment Committee last week. His reappointment to a three-year term is expected to be approved by the full Legislature on Thursday after Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant submitted his name for the position.

Warthling, 45, is chairman of the Lackawanna Democratic Committee. He is owner of Warthling Properties and is vice president of Diamond Cutters of Western New York. His family owns Curly's Grill & Banquet Center in Lackawanna.

Each commissioner on the three-member Water Aurthority board earns $22,500 a year.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

Poloncarz signs cyberbullying law despite concerns

County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has signed off on a new law banning cyberbullying against students in Erie County despite "serious doubts" over whether it can be adequately enforced.

The law, passed by the Erie County Legislature last month, makes electronic harassment and bullying against minors and students punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail.

Poloncarz, in a letter to the Legislature, said that after speaking to "numerous law enforcement agents" he believes the law would be difficult to prosecute because it would be "too difficult to prove who electronically disseminated the harassing statement without an admission of guilt or eyewitness."

The county executive said he felt that "vetoing this legislation would send the wrong message to our community."

He urged legislators to work with the District Attorney's Office, local schools and Family Court to develop "enhanced and enforceable legislation."

"If we are serious about preventing cyberbullying, a method that includes parents and schools needs to be implemented, and unfortunately this law includes neither as part of the solution," Poloncarz said in a letter to legislators dated March 8.

The new local law was proposed by Legislator Edward A. Rath III, R-Amherst.

Read Poloncarz's letter to legislators here.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

When 'mimimum' really means 'recommended'

John Glascott is the county's new central police services commissioner. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)What's the meaning of "minimum qualifications?"

When it comes to certain Erie County jobs, it turns out, not much.

This was the question on the mind of Erie County Legislator Edward A. Rath III when the county's new Central Police Services commissioner came to answer questions before the County Legislature's Public Safety Committee last week.

John A. Glascott, right, a former Cheektowaga police captain who challenged Sheriff Timothy B. Howard in the 2009 election, is on the job, but still needs formal confirmation from the full Erie County Legislature.

Glascott has had a long career in law enforcement that started at the Attica Correctional Facility. He started working for the Cheektowaga Police Department in 1978. Since 2009, he has worked as the department's captain of information technology and finance.

What he doesn't have is a bachelor's degree.

Glascott, of Cheektowaga, earned an associate degree in applied science in criminal justice from Erie Community College and attended the FBI National Academy for training, according to his resume. 

Rath wanted to know whether it mattered that the county's job description for Commissioner of Police Services listed one of the "minimum qualifications" as "graduation from a regionally accredited or New York State registered college or university with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or related field."

Glascott, addressing Rath's question, said he earned the associate degree before getting tied up raising a family and working long hours for the Cheektowaga Police Department. He told legislators that his 40 years in law enforcement should make up for "the fact that I didn't take an art history course back in the day."

Legislator Timothy R. Hogues, who serves on a Central Police Services board that vetted Glascott, said the question came up in the interview process and that the board determined the "minimum qualifications" was only a recommendation.

Reached after the meeting, John Greenan, the county's commissioner of personnel, said that is the case. The job of central police services commissioner, he said, falls under the category of  "unclassified service"  in the state's civil service law. That's the category that includes elected officials and certain types of appointments.

"By law," Greenan said, "there are no qualifications for the job."

It doesn't appear legislators will hold up Glascott's confirmation when the Legislature meets next week.

Glascott received unanimous approval from the Legislature's Public Safety Committee, which included Rath's vote.

Committee votes almost always sail through the full Legislature.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

Photo Credit: (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)

Five Questions with John J. Mills

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.

Erie County Legislature_001

John J. Mills

The Basics:
Age: 65
Party: Republican
Job Title:Minority Leader, Legislator 11th District
Family: Wife, Barbara; and three children and seven grandchildren. I also care for four donkeys, a swine and 11 piglets.
Residence: Town of Orchard Park
Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo
Legislature Salary: $47,588

County Legislature Minority Leader John J. Mills during the first session of 2012. (Sharon Cantillon/ Buffalo News)

Continue reading "Five Questions with John J. Mills" »

Five Questions with Thomas J. Mazur

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.

Mazur
Erie County Legislator Thomas J. Mazur, left, and Legislator-elect Timothy Hogues celebrate their victories election night in Buffalo. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)

Thomas J. Mazur

The Basics:
Age: I turned 21 in Vietnam, and I voted absentee ballot for Richard Nixon because I thought he was going to stop the war.
Party: Democrat.
Job Title: 7th District Legislator and Legislature Majority Leader (part Cheektowaga/part Buffalo).
Family: Wife, Mary Grace; son, Luke; daughters, Malina, Kellie and Julie.
Town: Cheektowaga.
Education: Bishop Turner High School; U.S. Army School of Finance; SUNY Buffalo, bachelor of arts (Sociology); SUNY Buffalo, master's degree (Humanities).
Salary: $47,588.

Continue reading "Five Questions with Thomas J. Mazur" »

Poloncarz: Arts and cultural funding set for year

Night lights 05
The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in Lackawanna glows during its "Night Lights at the Gardens" event late last month. The light show continues through Saturday. (Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News)

Maybe next year.

That was the message Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz had for the Botanical Gardens in response to its request for operational funding from the county.

Poloncarz, in a letter to Botanical Gardens CEO David J. Swarts, called the Legislature's restoration of arts and cultural funding in the 2012 county budget a "remarkable achievement," but said there would be no more allocations for operational funding this year.

"Nevertheless, I regret to inform you that because of the fiscal challenges facing the county, I am unable to recommend to the Legislature additional funding for cultural organizations this year above what has been included in the adopted budget," Poloncarz wrote to Swarts on Feb. 12.

Continue reading "Poloncarz: Arts and cultural funding set for year" »

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

[email protected]


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

[email protected]


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | [email protected]


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]

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