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Funny moments from the Democrats' meeting...

Notes from Erie County’s political trail – this time, from the meeting inside the Hearthstone Manor on Saturday, at which Jeremy Zellner was elected the Dems' new county chairman (the vote is now being challenged in court by Frank Max, his opponent) – include some funny moments, too.

The top three humorous moments from Saturday’s 4-hour-long conclave of local Dems?

It’s wholly unofficial, of course. But here are the picks of one observer:

1.) At the beginning of the lengthy session, at which more than 1,000 Democratic committee men and women packed into a ballroom at the Depew banquet facility, paper ballots were distributed.

To use the ballots as anonymous votes, the papers had to be separated into two parts.

“There are SCISSORS up here,” one party official told the multitude. “They are NOT meant to be used as weapons.”

Um, good to know…

Continue reading "Funny moments from the Democrats' meeting..." »

Erie County Politics Now live chat with Denise Jewell Gee

The News features a live chat on Politics Now weekly at 1 p.m. Thursdays. Today's is hosted by Denise Jewell Gee, with the focus being on Erie County politics and the happenings at County Hall.

The schedule for other Politics Now chats is: First Thursday of month: Jill Terreri on Buffalo City Hall; third: Tom Precious on Albany; fourth: Jerry Zremski on Washington. The News' Bob McCarthy also joins the chats when available.

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Video: McCarthy discusses Lenihan's potential exit

Could there soon be a new leader of the Erie County Democratic Party? News Political Reporter Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about Len Lenihan's possible exit.

Erie County Hall Politics Now chat with Denise Jewell Gee

The News features a live chat on Politics Now weekly at 1 p.m. Thursdays. Today's is hosted by Denise Jewell Gee, with the focus being on Erie County politics and the happenings at County Hall.

The schedule for other Politics Now chats is: First Thursday of month: Aaron Besecker on Buffalo City Hall; third: Tom Precious on Albany; fourth: Jerry Zremski on Washington. The News' Bob McCarthy also joins the chats when available.

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Erie County Hall Politics Now chat with Denise Jewell Gee

The News features a live chat on Politics Now weekly at 1 p.m. Thursdays. Today's is hosted by Denise Jewell Gee, with the focus being on Erie County politics and the happenings at County Hall.

The schedule for other Politics Now chats is: First Thursday of month: Aaron Besecker on Buffalo City Hall; third: Tom Precious on Albany; fourth: Jerry Zremski on Washington. The News' Bob McCarthy also joins the chats when available.

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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)

Erie County Hall Politics Now chat with Denise Jewell Gee

The News features a live chat on Politics Now weekly at 1 p.m. Thursdays. Today's is hosted by Denise Jewell Gee, with the focus being on Erie County politics and the happenings at County Hall.

The schedule for other Politics Now chats is: First Thursday of month: Aaron Besecker on Buffalo City Hall; third: Tom Precious on Albany; fourth: Jerry Zremski on Washington. The News' Bob McCarthy also joins the chats when available.

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Five Questions with Betty Jean Grant

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.

GRANT

Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant dances as results trickle in on election night in November. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)

Betty Jean Grant

The Basics:
Age: 63
Party: Democratic Party
Job Title:  2nd District Legislator and Chairwoman, Erie County Legislature
Family: Married to George E. Grant since 1970. Three daughters and four grandchildren.
Town: Buffalo
Education: Bachelor of Science in elementary education; Master's degree in special education
Salary: $52,000.00

Continue reading "Five Questions with Betty Jean Grant" »

Poloncarz already raising funds for Campaign 2015

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has barely memorized his new telephone number since taking office Jan. 1, but is already raising money for 2015.

Postcards have been arriving in Democratic mail boxes touting a Feb. 8 fundraiser at Sonoma Grille in Snyder to benefit the county executive's campaign kitty. The tariff on the Poloncarz event is a hefty $500, showing the new county executive is serious about retaining his office.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Interim plan in place for county comptroller

With no appointee named yet to fill the job of county comptroller, Mark C. Poloncarz has made temporary arrangements to run his office when he leaves it Jan. 1.

Poloncarz, who will move from the county comptroller's office to county executive, has named one of his deputies, Lorne H. Steinhart, to serve as acting county comptroller in January until the Erie County Legislature appoints someone to the job.

Steinhart, who has been deputy comptroller of accounting since October 2008, previously worked as vice president of marketing and business development at EMS Healthcare Informatics in Clarence. He earned an MBA from Canisius College in 1994, according to his resume.

County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan earlier this month named a search committee to accept resumes and make a recommendation for county comptroller to the Legislature. That person will face an election in the fall to keep the job.

--Denise Jewell Gee

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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.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


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.

tprecious@buffnews.com


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 | jterreri@buffnews.com


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 | jzremski@buffnews.com

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