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April 14, 2011 - 10:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, county legislature.

Press release:

Having recently learned of Hollis Upson’s decision not to seek another legislative term this fall, I have decided to pursue the Republican nomination to be the next representative for the 8th District on the Genesee County Legislature.

The 8th District represents Wards 2 and 3 in the City of Batavia. I have been a resident of the second ward for most of my adult life. Before my election to Council at Large, I served as the second ward representative on the City Council. As the current City Council President, I have committed myself to addressing the needs and challenges within the City of Batavia. If given the opportunity, I will work diligently to address those needs at the county level.

April 11, 2011 - 5:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, county legislature, Hollis Upson.

After 10 years on the Genesee County Legislature, Hollis Upson has announced that he will not seek re-election for a sixth term.

Upson said his decision to finish out this term and call it quits is just a matter of time. His business needs his attention and the legislature takes up a lot of time.

"We're very well represented and the current group works well together," Upson said. "We're well positioned for a good future."

Chad Bachorski, the GOP's Second Ward chairman, said local Republicans are soliciting possible candidates to replace Upson on the ballot in the November election. (Information on applying is at the bottom of this post.)

Part of Upson's tasks with the legislature include: representing the county on the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board; being a liaison to the county's planning board; and serving on the board for Holland Land Office Museum; as well as chairing the Ways and Means Committee and serving on the Public Service Committee.

When asked about what he is proudest during his time with the legislature, Upson said it would probably be the growth of the GCEDC from a sleepy little, reactive IDA to one that is more aggressive.

A more aggressive IDA has meant more public scrutiny, Upson admitted, but news such as the announcement that Alpina Products plans to open operations in Batavia's new Agri-Business Park is a good sign the GCEDC is on the right track.

"Alpina is exactly the result of the forethought we had four years ago when we decided to build an ag park," Upson said. "It's the ballpark that we thought, 'if we build it, they will come,' and they did. Steve Hyde was right."

To apply to run for the District 8 seat, e-mails or faxes must be received by April 16, in order to be contacted for an interview. Please e-mail or fax your resume, letter of intent and include at least three character references to the following:

Attn. Brooks Hawley
e-mail: [email protected]
Fax # 585-245-5347

December 7, 2010 - 2:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in budget, county legislature.

One of the spending cuts in the Genesee County budget that has been overlooked in coverage of other proposed cuts is that legislative members themselves are taking a pay cut.

For eight legislators, their 2010 pay of $11,468 is being cut to $10,895 in 2011. For the chair of the legislature, pay is being cut from $15,090 to $14,337.

Human Resources Director Karen Marchese said privacy laws prevent information from being released on health insurance compensation for legislators. Only three members are enrolled in the county coverage plan.

UPDATE: The expense for health insurance coverage for legislators, which included "buy back" (for coverage supplied by legislator's spouses) is $39,900.

August 5, 2010 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in county legislature.

leg03.jpgFour speakers, two opinions -- that was what it came down to at a public hearing Wednesday night on the issue of changing the terms of service for the County Legislature.

Former legislator John Sackett dislikes the idea so much he doesn't even think it should appear on the ballot. But another former legislator, Richard Rudolph, thinks it's a good idea that the people deserve to vote on.

Steve Ferry, who has been championing the idea, of course spoke in favor of it, and Bob Zegler spoke against it.

The proposal is to make legislative terms four years and stagger district elections so every seat isn't up for election every two years.

"I believe that you cannot have representative government by having longer terms of office," Sackett said.

Perry believes that four-year terms will reduce the sense of constant campaigning for legislators and encourage more people to run, making elections more competitive.

"If you do not get challenged in life, in business, as a legislator, then you do no fulfill the dreams of the public," Perry said.

Zegler spoke against the current proposal, but said he would like to see the County Legislature abolished and return county government to the hands of a Board of Supervisors.

On Wednesday, the Legislature will be asked to vote on a resolution authorizing a ballot initiative on the proposal.

June 17, 2010 - 1:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, county legislature.

Moving forward with a proposal to change the scheme of County Legislature terms received a slight nod of approval at the Ways and Means Community yesterday.

County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock volunteered to bring a resolution to the next committee meeting that would authorize a public hearing on the proposal.

"If I can bring a resolution -- not because I'm sponsoring it, or because you're sponsoring it, but because that is the only way it will move forward," Hancock said. "To walk away from this would not be respectful of the committee."

The proposal would increase legislative terms from two to four years and stagger the terms so that entire legislature is not put up for election every two years. A committee charged by the Legislature to study a suggestion brought forward by a local resident made the recommendations.

There was no vote yesterday on Hancock's request, but also no objection raised during the committee meeting.

"I know it's not on your personal agenda, nor is it on ours, but it's out there," said Hollis Upson, committee chairman.

As Legislator Ed DeJaneiro spoke in favor of the specifics of the proposal, Legislator Annie Lawrence shook her head.

Asked later if she objected to the proposal, she said she might or might not support it, but now is not the time to deal with it.

"I don't think any of the legislators have heard any comments from any of their constituents," Lawrence said. "I think we've got bigger fish to fry this year than to bring this out."

March 18, 2010 - 10:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, Charles Zambito, Robert Bausch.

County Legislator Charles Zambito is about to become the new county attorney, and Bergen Village Trustee Robert Bausch will be appointed to replace him in District 2.

The Zambito and Bausch appointments were approved unanimously yesterday by the Ways and Means Committee and will be placed on next Wednesday's agenda for the full Legislature to vote on.

Hollis Upson chaired the Ways and Means Committee meeting yesterday (normally Zambito's position) and praised both his fellow legislator and the incoming local lawmaker.

On Zambito: "He was rather heartily endorsed as a candidate who knows the county’s business intimately and he is good to work with, so we’re looking forward to it. We expect no bumps and lots of continuity in the service."

On Bausch:  "He has a long history of community service. Quite impressive. Very dedicated public servant in private, non-profits and many boards over the years, so we think he will be a great addition to the Legislature."

Bausch spoke with The Batavian's news partner WBTA and said he's looking forward to the job and took it with the idea that it is at least a four-year commitment, not just something he is going to do for a year and then step aside.

"Primarily, the major issue I see with the county is the nursing home. It is the cash-flow issue because they do not have a normal financial plan for the people at the county nursing home."

He said his range of experience with various groups and boards will be a benefit in his new role.

"That really helps mature a person for a position like this because you understand there are two sides to a story, you’ve just got to understand where everybody is coming from," he said.

Zambito will take over from John Rizzo, who is retiring and taking a job with an area bank, on April 5.

February 3, 2010 - 10:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, county legislature, Mary Pat Hancock.

hancock_speech.jpg

County officials knew at the start of the journey that 2009 would be a rocky road, and there were many valleys to pass through, but the county managed to ride it out without raising taxes or severely cutting services.

That's the state of the county, according to Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature.

Hancock reviewed 2009 and looked ahead some during her annual address in the Legislature chambers Wednesday night.

"In addition to the known and announced reduction in state aid, we had many fiscal surprises, none of them good," said Hanckock. "They ranged from delayed payment for mandated and already provided services, to lower sales-tax revenues and to retroactive cuts in reimbursements. These continue to plague us. I am not an alarmist, this county has good and varied resources and will survive, but not by hiding its head in the sand -- the fiscal crisis is far from over."

Key points from tonight's address:

  • The rising cost of operating the Genesee County Nursing Home. General Fund contributions to its operation are expected to exceed $4.4 million by 2014.
  • GCEDC participated in 23 projects with an investment in the county of $50 million.
  • The number of Genesee County families turning to the Department of Social Services for Medicaid, Food Stamps and Home Energy Assistance continues to grow. Also up are reports to Child Protective Services for investigation. "It’s not an easy task to raise children in the best of circumstances, and the job becomes even harder when so many of our residents are struggling with their financial difficulties," Hancock said.
  • More than 6,000 residents have received seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines.
  • The downturn in the county has contributed to an ever-increasing caseload for the Office of the Public Defender.
  • Federal stimulus money has meant the Job Development Bureau has seen its budget double. The number of clients in job training has increased 93 percent.
  • Genesee Community College’s enrollment hit an all-time record during the fall 2009 semester with 7,208 credit students.

After listing these and other departmental challenges and accomplishments, Hancock said:

"It is impossible for me to end this address without acknowledging the impact of this difficult year on our constituents. We relate to the high level of frustration and fear experienced as jobs were lost, retirement funds shrank and healthcare costs soared. Change was promised in good faith, but no one anticipated the type of change. It is said that the economy is back on track. Genesee County’s unemployment is the lowest in the area, but it is still too high. Small and large businesses are still struggling. Folks are having a hard time meeting their financial obligations. We hear you and will continue to do everything possible to contain the costs and support and attract and retain 'economy builders.'"

mary_pat_hancock.jpgHancock then called on the State Legislature to clean up its act and start governing with greater fiscal responsibility.

"It is all about jobs," Hancock said. "All efforts should focus on a new and improved economic development plan for New York State. Is it impossible? No. Empower local governments, regional governments like counties, individually or acting in groups, to attract and maintain jobs to turn the state around. Counties should have a say about what industries contribute to their communities."

Hancock closed with a call for all county residents to participate in the 2010 Census.

"It is crucial to return your form," Hancock said. "Take the 10 minutes to be counted. So much depends on the data received from this one effort. Do what you can to make this an accurate count."

January 30, 2010 - 1:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, genesee county, county legislature.

The State of the County Address will be delivered at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 in the Old Courthouse building on Main Street in Batavia.

Genesee County Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock will deliver the address.

November 1, 2009 - 10:15pm
posted by Hollis Upson in county legislature, Upson.

My name is Hollis Upson and I have lived in the City of Batavia my entire life. I have been married to my wife Joy for 25 years. I have a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Gettysburg College and have been involved with many civic groups and community boards over the years. These include Rotary, City Planning board, County Planning Board, YMCA Board, City Charter Review Commission, and the County Youth Board.

June 17, 2009 - 5:59pm
posted by bud prevost in Democrats, Le Roy, county legislature.

I am not sure if you are aware of this Howard, but the LeRoy Democratic Committee jumped all over the issue concering Jay Grasso and his posting on your sight under assumed names.

In this past week's Pennysaver, the LDC added a flyer describing what happened several months ago, even using the "sock puppet" definition. I just found it interesting that the LDC realizes the Batavian is a legitamite and viable news source for Batavia and Genesee county. No longer does the "Daily Snooze" hold the title of Genesee's only news.

May 29, 2009 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, county legislature, Elections.

Press Release from Rosemary Christian, who is running for the County Legislature in the 7th District:

I welcome Bob Radley to the race and look forward to the challenge.  I publicly declared my candidacy  back in April because I believe that its long  past time to bring more balance to the county legislature and because I can  be a force for greater oversight and increased transparency.  I've already  been fund raising and getting out to listen to the voters and have been in  full campaign mode for awhile, so its good to finally know who my challenger  is.  The voters in the 7th District can expect a vigorous race and I look  forward to seeing many of you as I walk through the district in the coming  months.

I believe that its time to elect a legislator who's first concern is to  serve the interests of the District voters.  And I believe that all the  voters know I'm someone who's always ready to speak up for them and stand by  them.

Rosemary Christian

May 29, 2009 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, election, county legislature, District 6.

Robert Radley, an engineer who previously served on the Batavia School Board, will be the GOP candidate for District 6 7 of the County Legislature, according to WBTA.

The county Republicans have yet to select a candidate for District 7, Radley will be a candidate for the seat now held by John Hodgins, who is retiring at the end of his current term.

Also getting GOP backing are incumbents Don Read for County Clerk and Lawrence Friedman for District Attorney.

Of 105 Genesee County GOP committee members, 78 attended the endorsement meeting last night.
 

October 7, 2008 - 12:59pm

From the sound of the article in today's Daily News about last night's meeting of the Charter Review Commission, that group doesn't know a whole lot about its government. Here we have a group of city residents come together to review the document that forms the backbone of city goverment, and Joanne Beck writes that "no one" even knows the responsibilities of the city clerk/treasurer. One member, John Deleo, wanted to scrap the position of assistant city manager before he even knew what it entailed. That same member admits flat out: "We're shifting a lot of responsibilties with the stroke of a pen without understanding what everyone does."

Wait a second... What!? Why would anyone who doesn't know what government staffers do be charged with the responsibility of deciding whether or not they should contintue to do it?

At the very least, shouldn't members of such a commission be trained and educated before they begin their deliberations rather than trying to get them up to speed during the proceedings? John Roach heads up the commission, and I know he's a frequent contributor to the site, so I'm hoping he'll come on here and clarify a few of these points for us.

Another question for John: Beck writes that Councilmen Sam Barone and Bob Bialkowski have asked the commission to "consider how much responsibility council has over department heads ... and giving council the power versus city manager." Have those issues come up yet? What does the commission think?

While we're at it: What about going back to a strong mayoral form of city government?


County Manager Jay Gsell told the Daily News that "it will be an "extremely difficult" task to keep the tax rate at or below" its current level. That's a fine assertion, but it makes for a whole lot of confusion sandwiched by statements to the contrary. Gsell also says: "I wouldn't bring anything to" the legislators that would exceed the current tax rate. For their part, the legislators say that they hope to "decrease taxes."

So which is it?

Reporter Paul Mrozek writes in the article summary line: "Gsell's goal: Cut the tax rate." That's a fine goal, but if Gsell himself doesn't believe it's possible, what's the point of calling it a goal?


A meeting of the town of Batavia Planning Board scheduled for tonight has been cancelled. The board had only one item on its agenda—the "draft generic environmental impact statement" for the agri-business park—and it was not ready. It should be ready for review for the next meeting on October 21.


Another decision was postponed, this time in Albion. There, the Town Board put off voting on its local wind law Monday in order to make the revisions—"very minor word changes"—recommended by the Orleans County Planning Board. The proposed law will limit "wind energy conversion systems" to not exceed 120 feet. They will take up the vote at the next session on October 20.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

July 9, 2008 - 8:31am
posted by Philip Anselmo in wbta, GCC, county legislature.

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

  • The Genesee County Legislature meets tonight at 7:00pm at the Old County Courthouse to discuss a $4 million capital project for Genesee Community College that would include renovations to the gym and an expansion of the athletic fields. The state would pay half.
  • Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano made official his intent to start a Political Action Committee and back certain candidates for state office with a bankroll of $5 million. For a more detailed story, check out the Democrat & Chronicle article.
May 15, 2008 - 7:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, veterans, taxes, county legislature.

As a Cold War veteran myself, the County's Legislature's proposal to cut property taxes by 10 percent for those who served in the military from 1945 to 1991 is applause worthy.

If approved, the tax break would be effective March 1, 2009, for county tax bills. The property must be a private residence of the veteran or the unmarried spouse of a deceased veteran.

Those who served in the three wars during that period — Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm — are currently eligible for property tax exemptions.

Applications are processed by the county’s Veteran Service Office.

For the Cold War veterans the percentage would apply to residential property values up to $60,000. Those with homes assessed at more would get the same exemption but only to a cap level of $60,000.

I served in the USAF from 1980 to 1994, and I always felt like I did my part to protect the country from the Red Menace, so it's nice to see the Cold War veterans of Genesee get some recognition.

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