Collins Administration Miscalculated Payments Made As Part Of RPT Settlement

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After Collins’ Failed Part-Time Idea Cost County $450,000, Administration Made More Than $25,000 in Overpayments and $14,000 in Underpayments

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 Review Uncovers Nearly All RPT Employees Paid for Lunches on Holidays

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 BUFFALO, NY—Today, Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz issued a report examining the payments made to the County’s regular part-time (“RPT”) employees by the Erie County Department of Personnel (“Personnel”) as a result of a lawsuit and subsequent agreement (the “Agreement”) between the Collins administration and Civil Service Employees Association Local 815, the County’s white collar union. 

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 The Agreement compensated RPT employees for the difference in paid leave time they would have received as a full-time employee, retroactive to their initial start date.  Types of paid leave included vacation, sick, holiday, summer hours, personal leave and an additional 15 minutes of lunch time. 

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 When reviewing the payouts made by Personnel, auditors found that nearly every affected employee was compensated for lost lunch time on Holidays, resulting in more than $25,000 in overpayments.  Coupled with approximately $14,000 in underpayments for vacation, sick, holiday, summer hours and personal leave time, auditors discovered the County gave RPT employees more than $11,000 above what they were owed, all at the taxpayers’ expense.

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 After Collins’ failed part-time idea cost the County approximately $450,000 in back pay, his administration’s miscalculations appear to have cost the County more than $25,000 in overpayments while many employees were underpaid by approximately $14,000,” said Poloncarz.  “Maybe the reason the county executive can’t find enough money in the budget for parks workers, librarians or rodent control officers is because the County has been wasting it on things like incorrectly paying employees for lunch time on Holidays.”

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 Poloncarz also noted that because many of the payments to RPT employees were calculated at their current wage rates, even though much of the time earned was before 2011 at a lower wage rate, they resulted in higher cash-out awards than would have been earned at the time.

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 Poloncarz added, “In other words, the County is paying more today to compensate RPT employees than it would have if the employees had been classified as full-time from the start.  Between this, the overpayments and the unknown amount of money the Collins administration spent on high-priced lawyers to defend this lawsuit, the Collins administration wasted tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars on a failed policy of not following the law, tax-dollars that could have been used elsewhere.”

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 “These overpayments were identified by the same auditors the county executive deleted from the budget and who were only restored through an efficiency grant from the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority.  Without the ECFSA’s intervention and restoration of these auditors, it is likely these improper payments would never have been identified.   This quick review shows the value a strong audit staff brings to the County: they identify the waste, fraud and abuse that inevitably exist in Erie County government.”

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 Overpaid employees will have these monies recovered as per Erie County Policy, while underpaid employees will be compensated during future pay periods.

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 For a copy of the report, please visit the Comptroller’s website at www.erie.gov/comptroller or click here.

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Supreme Court Blocks Huge Sex Bias Lawsuit

You have to wonder about how powerful Wal-Mart is.  They could have faced a massive sex discrimination lawsuit by more than a million women but the Supreme Court has sided with the giant retailer.

The Supreme Court has ruled for Wal-Mart in its fight to block a massive sex discrimination lawsuit on behalf of women who work there.

The court ruled unanimously Monday that the lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cannot proceed as a class action, reversing a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The lawsuit could have involved up to 1.6 million women, with Wal-Mart facing potentially billions of dollars in damages.
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Black Slaves, Freedmen Risked Their Lives To Work As Union Spies Down South During Civil War

Harriet Tubman’s name is relatively well known around here.  She was the brave woman who led runaway slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad.  She was just one of many slaves who took freedom into their own hands. 

In the Confederate circles he navigated, John Scobell was considered just another Mississippi slave: singing, shuffling, illiterate and completely ignorant of the Civil War going on around him.Confederate officers thought nothing of leaving important documents where Scobell could see them, or discussing troop movements in front of him. Whom would he tell? Scobell was only the butler, or the deckhand on a rebel sympathizer’s steamboat, or the field hand belting out Negro spirituals in a powerful baritone.

In reality, Scobell was not a slave at all.

He was a spy sent by the Union army.
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Hospitals Courting Primary-Care Doctors

Hospitals are competing to hire primary-care physicians, trying to lure them from their private practices to work as salaried employees alongside specialists. The push is forcing doctors to make decisions about how to deliver care to patients.

It also spotlights benefits and drawbacks for patients and doctors alike in one of the health-care overhaul’s much-touted initiatives, set to begin next year. The law will reward teams of doctors, nurses and others if they coordinate to provide better care at lower costs. As front-line doctors, primary-care physicians are key to this effort.

In some cases, hospitals are seeking to take over existing practices; in others, they are hiring new graduates or relocating doctors from outside the region to prepare for accountable-care
organizations.
Some physicians want to work for hospitals and are seeking to play one option against the other, doctors said. But many others remain wary.
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Dennis Ward Is The Only Democrat Who Can Save His Party

Buffalo, our dear Buffalo, doesn’t stand a chance of choosing the best and brightest men and women to pull us out of our economic slump.  Buffalo is controlled by selfish, greedy politicians and party bosses who are “anointed” into their political seats and positions according to their allegiance to the Brown, Casey and Higgins elements and the very weak Democratic leader, Len Lenihan.

Lenihan has lost his clout due to his lack of developing strong democratic candidates.  Lenihan has relied on “old horses” and familiar names to bring victory to his party.  Mr. Max of Cheektowaga is a strong leader and could take over for Lenihan but he is not in the best of health.

Cuomo and Hochol would have won their races even if Mickey Mouse was the Erie County Chair.  They were feted to win.

Now Lenihan has very little, or no, power so the Republicans can put in rummy’s like Ed Rath and other losers because the Democrats are so poorly united.  Their only hope is to unite under Dennis Ward  They must round up the suburban democrats and understand they can win some seats by being strong workers for the Democrats.

DENNIS WARD IS THE ONLY DEMOCRATIC LEADER I CAN SEE WHO HAS THE POWER TO UNITE THE SUBURBEN DEMOCRATICS TO  BEAT THE REPUBICAN ONSAUGHT.

Dennis has the charisma and smarts to lead the democrats to victory for some of the major seats but he needs the support of all the democrats in the suburbs.  It’s time to UNITE!

written by: Amhersttimes Editor : James Tricoli

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What Will Appear At The Corner of Main St. and Garrison Rd.

I live in the Village of Williamsville.  As I drove down Main Street I stopped for a minute to look at the area around Garrison Rd. and Main St.  I turn at Garrison Rd. to get home.  The corner lot looked like a bomb zone, as it has for the last two years.

Across the street from Garrison and Main on the left side you have two empty store fronts with a pizza shop between them.  The company which owns the property at Main and Garrison, where Kenyon’s gas station used to be years ago, has also purchased additional land as well as two houses down Garrison Rd.

Trying to find out what’s going to be built on this land has been “The 64,000 Question.”

This is our town. We have every right to know what is going to happen to our village and town.

After two years of ownership it would be nice to tell the people what is going to be built on that huge piece of land.  We don’t need a vacant lot.  It makes our village look like it is dying.

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Does Amherst Still Have Nuclear Waste Site In Need Of Remediation?

For more than four months I have been researching the property at 3431 Niagara Falls Blvd.  It is roughly a few feet from Niagara County.  This property was a 2.2 acre parcel with a house on it.  In 1985 the federal government took 1/4 of this property by public domain.  This property contained hazardous waste from the atom bomb research that had been done nearby.

I have talked to the people at the DEC on the local, state and the federal levels.  I received some help from the State.

A letter dated Sept 19, 1994 fell into my possession.  The letter was sent by Robert L. Marino, from the State DEC, to a woman who owned Creekside Golf Course in Amherst.  The letter had been sent to her because she was listed as the owner, or part owner, of 170 Tonawanda Creek Road, Amherst.  The letter stated that her site had been properly  to date.

This property is very close to the property I have been researching.  I believe the site at 3431 Niagara Falls Blvd. is still an active waste site.  If this is true it must be remediated as quickly as possible.  The health of the nearby residents could be at risk.

I have contacted Congressman Kathy Hochul’s office to look into this possible dangerous problem.

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Qaeda Selection of Its Chief Is Said to Reflect Its Flaws


Osama bin Laden in 2001 with Ayman al-Zawahri, right, who is assuming leadership of Al Qaeda.

You could almost hear American counterterrorism officials cheer when the announcement came on Thursday that Ayman al-Zawahri would succeed Osama bin Laden as leader of Al Qaeda.  The feeling is that his deep flaws are likely to weaken the core of the terrorist network.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Bin Laden “had a peculiar charisma that I think Zawahri does not have.” He also said there was evidence that Bin Laden had been more “operationally engaged” than Mr. Zawahri, and that Mr. Zawahri’s Egyptian roots and focus limited his appeal to militants from other countries.

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Meatless Mondays Catch On, Even With Carnivores


Brittany Bowers wrote out vegetable specials on Monday at the Rustique Bistro, part of an effort to get people to go meatless one day a week.

Are you ready for the newest food craze?  Go out and embrace your veggies.  People across the country are going “meatless.”  The idea is really strong out in Aspen, CO.

Friction between the health-and-eco-minded hippies who came here for a Rocky Mountain High in the 1970s and the super-wealthy second-homers who followed from the intersection of Hollywood and Hedge Fund is an old story here at 8,000 feet.

But now there is a new potential skirmish line: Meatless Mondays. new nationwide pro-veggie effort, however — aimed at persuading people to go meatless at least one day a week — has been embraced here more than in any other city in America.
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Poloncarz: Winning Bid For County Audit Contract Will Save Nearly $370,000 Over 3 Years

Collins Refusal to Terminate Current Contract Likely Cost County $140,000 This Year

BUFFALO, NY—Today, Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz announced that the Audit Committee for Erie County has selected Drescher & Malecki, LLP to perform Erie County’s Annual Audit for the next three years (ending December 31, 2011, 2012 and 2013) with the possible extension for 2014 and 2015.

Based on Dresher & Malecki’s winning bid, this new contract will save Erie County $369,525 (with the possibility of even greater savings if extended the additional two years) when compared to the final three years (2008, 2009 and 2010) of the current contract with Deloitte & Touche, LLP.

“I am pleased to announce that Drescher & Malecki has been selected as the County’s new independent auditor, which, over the next three years, will save Erie County taxpayers nearly $370,000,” said Poloncarz.   “Going from one single bid for the County’s audit contract in 2005 to six bids for this contract shows the accounting community has noticed the work the Comptroller’s Office has done to put Erie County back on sound financial footing after the ‘Red-Green’ fiscal crisis and they want to do business with us again.  Simply put, more competition means more savings for Erie County taxpayers.”

Poloncarz also noted that he reached out to the Collins administration in late 2010 to recommend terminating the final year of the Deloitte contract in order to re-bid and get better terms for the 2010 audit.  However, the administration rejected the comptroller’s recommendation and, because termination requires the consent of both the comptroller and county executive, nothing was done.  If they agreed and the prior contract was terminated a year early, Erie County could have likely saved an additional $140,000 this year.

“A hallmark of Chris Collins has been to ignore any idea that he didn’t come up with first, even if it would result in significant cost savings to the County.  In this case, his refusal to agree with me wasted about $140,000 that could have gone towards the auditors, librarians, or rodent control officers he said we didn’t have enough money to keep,” added Poloncarz.

Two previous Requests for Proposals (“RFP”) have solicited bidders for the County’s annual audit contract over the past decade (1999 and 2005) resulting in a total of three responses (two in 1999 and one in 2005).  Of the six CPA firms responding this year, three submitted letters of refusal declining to bid on the 2005 RFP.

Since taking office in January 2006, Poloncarz’s sound financial decisions have lead to a four step increase in Erie County’s credit rating from Wall Street rating agencies Fitch Ratings (BBB- to A) and Moody’s (Baa3 to A2) as well as a downgrade of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority’s status from “Control” to “Advisory.” 

As established by the Erie County Charter, the County is required to submit itself to an annual audit, performed by an independent firm selected by the Audit Committee for Erie County.  The independent auditor verifies the accuracy of Erie County’s financial statements, which include all expenditures and revenues.  Erie County has an annual budget of approximately $1.5 billion, which is used to provide daily services to its more than 900,000 residents. 

The Audit Committee for Erie County is a non-partisan body established to select the independent auditors for both Erie County and Erie Community College.  Additionally, this body meets with the selected independent auditor to discuss their findings and recommendations, while issuing its own report to the Erie County Executive, Comptroller and Legislature.  The Committee is comprised of five volunteer representatives from: the banking community, local CPA community, WNY Bar Association, and one appointee each, chosen by the Majority and Minority of the Erie County Legislature.  The Deputy Erie County Comptroller-Audit serves as an ex officio member of the committee. 

For a copy of the RFP, please click here: http://www2.erie.gov/comptroller/index.php?q=22811-poloncarz-announces-request-proposals-conduct-annual-erie-county-audit

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