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Marinelli has power to hire, fire

The Democrat-controlled Erie County Legislature has approved its rules for the year, continuing the dictate that the chairwoman has authority to hire and fire all staff, even aides on the Republican side.

This year, the GOP minority will not protest, largely because of the more cooperative tone that new Chairwoman Lynn M. Marinelli has set, said Minority Leader Barry A. Weinstein, R-Amherst.

This year, too, there is a benefit for the tiny Republican minority of three. Marinelli appears willing to let them spend $45,000 to hire workers for the downtown office -- the Republicans' first "central staff" in almost a year.

Weinstein figures that amount will finance two or three part-time aides who can research and write resolutions and help the three-member caucus put more ideas before the full Legislature.

"I'm looking for people who have writing skills and financial skills," he said.

The Legislature has been shifting money from full-time salaries to part-time wages as members have shown they prefer having more part-timers. In a departure from last year's belt-tightening, the Republican caucus will again have more aides than legislators, as the Democratic side does now.

Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, said the Republican aides can be hired without exceeding the Legislature's current budget. In one of its first acts this year, the Legislature expanded its budget by $100,000 to ensure it could hire a complement of assistants, mainly to run its 15 district offices.

e-mail: mspina@buffnews.com

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