Feb 19


MMR: It pays to be a suburban cop

Featured in today's Monday Morning Read: Payroll data shows police across the state are making big bucks. Average earnings in six suburban districts in WNY top $100,000.

We’ve reported on the outrageous salaries being paid to the likes of Henry Wojtaszek of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. and Steven Hyde of Genesee County Economic Development Center. They make about as much or more than the governor. (What is it about highly paid bureaucrats in Genesee County, population 57,853?) 

Well, it turns out Wojtaszek and Hyde have plenty of company across the state.

The Empire Center for Public Policy reported last week that 1,187 employees of local governments in New York were paid more than Gov. Kathy Hochul’s salary of $250,000 in 2022-23. More than 200 took home more than $300,000. Police officers accounted for 91 of the 100 highest paid employees, led by a cop in Westchester County who pulled down $415,750. 

More details can be found here.

The report allows for all kinds of searches, including pay by region and individual employees. Here in Western New York, pay for police officers and firefighters averages $90,964. Other local government employees earn an average of $50,765.

Police pay in six suburbs tops $100,000, including Orchard Park ($119,599), Amherst ($115,617), Hamburg ($110,332), the Town of Tonawanda ($107,992), Cheektowaga ($104,444) and North Tonawanda ($103,440). All have volunteer fire departments. Average pay in Buffalo, for both police and professional firefighters, was $99,487.

Worth noting: the report does not appear to include authorities and public benefit corporations, such as OTB and the Genesee County IDA. I assume the Empire Center will enlighten us on those folks at a future date.

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Erie County Democrats have picked April Baskin as their nominee to succeed Tim Kennedy in the state Senate. Her ascent is the Peter Principle at play and underscores what a weak bench the local Democratic Party has. Baskin has been underwhelming as chair of the Erie County Legislature. She was steamrolled by Mark Poloncarz on the Bills stadium deal and so-called community benefits agreement and kept her mouth shut when Michael Joseph, a big donor to Poloncarz and the Erie County Democratic Committee, was accused in a lawsuit of racist practices. 

The vacant AM&A’s building downtown is the latest property suffering from long-term neglect, aided and abetted by City Hall’s ineptitude.

We’ve reported on the impact of IDA tax breaks on school districts. It’s a problem across the nation. Related: a study of the pros and cons of the billions of dollars of tax breaks doled out to developers and corporations in New York State. 

On the media front: a retrospective on the Village Voice, layoffs at The Intercept, and what it will take to solve the crisis involving local news. (Spoiler alert: grassroots entrepreneurs, not corporate chains.)

I’m curious about artificial intelligence. Read this on search alternatives to Google.

The chickens are coming home to roost for Donald Trump

I’m not one to promote the events of other organizations, but I’m making an exception for a virtual reality event called War Up Close scheduled for this coming Friday at the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center, 562 Genesee St. Those attending can use a virtual reality headset to view photographs, drone footage and 3D models showing the destruction caused by Russian assaults on Ukrainian cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chernihiv. Photojournalist Mykola Omelchenko will also speak. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. More information can be found here

RIP, Alexei Navalny


Investigative Post

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