The jobs of more than 30 federal employees in Buffalo are at risk because of clauses buried deeply in spending bills being discussed in the House and Senate.
Up to 35 local federal jobs are up for grabs in the byplay between President Clinton and Congress, which may savage a number of pet White House programs.
One program Senate Republicans are planning to smother in its cradle is a type of urban Peace Corps, called Community Builder Fellows.
Steven T. Banko III, left his job last fall as spokesman for Buffalo Mayor Masiello, to become a fellow.
A year ago Jill Casey was executive director of the Chautauqua Opportunities Corp., a private community assistance organization in the Southern Tier.
A few months ago, she signed on for a two-year stint as a fellow in Buffalo.
After training for 10 weeks at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Casey began working with local government agencies and individuals on issues ranging from getting rural septic systems built to helping a family place an elderly relative in assisted housing.
As of Feb. 1, Banko, Casey and three other Buffalo area fellows will be out of a job if the Senate has its way.
"I'm disappointed primarily because this program hasn't had a chance to be successful," said Casey. Democrats think the fellowship program has been targeted by the GOP because it is a pet of both Vice President Gore and of Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo.
Banko said another 15 employees of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Buffalo will be dismissed if Congress carries out its plan to shift control over the Small Cities Block Grant program from HUD to the state government.
Twenty years ago, then Gov. Hugh Carey, a Democrat, turned down the chance to run the program from Albany.
Now, against the objections of New York State Conference of Mayors and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, the Senate Appropriations bill on the Veterans Administration, HUD and Independent Agencies, would have the Republican Pataki administration dole out the $56 million to the state's small cities.
The Pataki government would be entitled to take up to 20 percent of that money for administrative expenses. Currently, the federal government spends 3 percent for bureaucratic purposes.
Clinton has threatened to veto the bill if it cuts too deeply into housing programs and undermines environmental controls.
Rep. Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, warned Wednesday that about 75 percent of the Small Business Administration's work force would be eliminated if the House version of the appropriations bill on Commerce, Justice and State becomes law.
The Buffalo office of the Small Business Administration "will be cut from 20 people to one," said one administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity.