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The Collins Era Begins

   County Executive-elect Christopher C. Collins seemed relaxed and ready to go Tuesday after meeting with outgoing County Executive Joel A. Giambra in the Rath County Office Building, even if he did acknowledge that life from now on will be different.

   "I've found out I won't be the anonymous person buying popcorn at the movies any more, he said. "But I'll be all right with that."

   For sure, the incoming county executive seems to be all for change. He reiterated his "run government like a business" theme Tuesday after a cordial meeting with Giambra. After Giambra said he felt the voters made the "right choice" last week in electing him, Collins said he will find only the best and brightest for county positions.

   But beginning today when he names the co-chairmen of his transition team, the hard part begins. He said he will try to entice foundations to finance a nationwide search for a deputy county executive to act as a chief operating officer, as well as to partially finance the position.

Though Collins reasons that a hefty salary will be needed to lure the best and the brightest into the deputy post, similar efforts in city government have proved controversial.

Will such a person be beholden to a foundation? Or should that official be beholden only to the taxpayers?

Those are questions to be debated in the coming days as Collins puts his stamp on Erie County government in a new era that is already proving interesting to watch.

-- Robert J. McCarthy

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