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Marinelli, Whyte will retain Legislature leadership positions

Democrats on the Erie County Legislature today will reappoint Lynn M. Marinelli as their chairwoman and Maria Whyte as their majority leader for 2007.

Today's action will be a formality when the Legislature meets at 2 p.m. on the fourth floor of Old County Hall. The decision actually was made during a closed-door meeting of Democrats within the past two weeks.

Marinelli, a Democrat from the Town of Tonawanda, was first elected to the Legislature in 1996 and served as majority leader in 2004 and 2005. Whyte is a Buffalo Democrat first elected in 2005. She is in her first term.

The largest change in leadership today involves Orchard Park Republican John J. Mills, who is becoming minority leader to head the Legislature's three-member Republican caucus. Mills also was elected in 2005 and is in his first term.

Current Minority Leader Barry A. Weinstein of Amherst has ceded the title to Mills as Weinstein serves out the final year of what will be a 10-year career on the Erie County Legislature.

The titles of majority and minority leader bring a $5,000 stipend atop a legislator's annual salary of $42,588. The title of Legislature chairwoman carries a $10,000 stipend.

Democrats control the Legislature, 12-3, and determine its agenda.

In a another closed-door session with a handful of Democrats on Wednesday, Marinelli discussed some significant issues for this year, regardless of whether the Legislature is directly involved: For instance, progress toward the merger of Erie County Medical Center and Buffalo General Hospital, as suggested by a special state commission, and the county's commitment to ECMC.


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