One of the topics of discussion last night at a local fund raiser had to do with the hiring of former Amherst Town Supervisor Susan Grelick as majority counsel to the state senate committee on local government in Albany. The position pays $90,000 and again has the local media in a tizzy.
The hiring of Grelick on the heels of Joe Mesiís appointment had the local TV and radio stations scurrying for comments from the republicans in the senate and Ch 2 found Mike Ranzenhofer. The newly elected state senator from the 61st district not only chastised the senate majority for the hiring of Grelick, he also claimed senate committees do nothing and as such do not need counsel.
Now Ranzenhofer will not get an argument here that state committee's keep their nose to the grindstone. After all, Ranzenhofer alone serves on six individual committees and claims he has only spent about twenty hours working on all six. Still, Ranzenhoferís comments come after serving just three months as a state senator and you can bet he will be criticized by both sides of the aisle on that one. We know Dale Volker has already tried to take Ranzenhofer aside and tutor him on what is proper criticism of the senate and what is out of bounds.
However, an outsider must be wondering how, after the Mesi outcry, Albany could hire yet another highly paid local for a position with the new senate democratic majority? The answer is this; only in Buffalo does this type of hire make news.
A local reporter enjoying a glass of suds told us last night that appointments like Mesi and Grelickís go largely un-noticed east of Buffalo. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith feels he has already cut nine million from the republican majority staffing budget of 2008 and should be above criticism for individual hires.
Staff salaries have been big news in Buffalo since the Giambra Erie County meltdown in 2004. Once Ch 2 began their "family and friends" campaign and scrutiny of Giambra's hires, it has become the norm among local media.
Ironically the reporter who drove that "family and friends" bus at Ch 2 was Stefan Mychajliw, who now holds a position with Buffalo schools. As a "friend" of Buffalo City Hall, Mychajliw received the city school appointment after being canned at Ch 2. That move reminds us of the saying "physician heal thy self."
Speaking of Joe Mesi, there is a story out there that he may pass on his new senate position. Mesi is not happy being portrayed as someone drinking from the patronage trough and has had discussions about turning the position down. Nothing has been finalized on that, but something should be coming down the pipe very soon.
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