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HEALTH PANEL MEETS ON NOMINEE SEEKS TO QUESTION CANDIDATE FOR COMMISSIONER

An Erie County legislator Thursday questioned whether County Executive Gorski's nominee for county health commissioner can be confirmed by a Jan. 4 deadline.

David M. Manz, D-Buffalo, chairman of the Legislature's Health Committee, said he can't cast a vote either way for nominee Col. Arnold Lubin, M.D., until he has a chance to question him.

Lubin, who plans to retire from the U.S. Air Force in late January, is stationed in Texas and will not be able to appear before the committee until his tour of duty ends.

"It appears he has all the qualifications and credentials we're looking for in a commissioner," Manz said. "But I want to ask him some questions and have him address some of my concerns before I can vote to confirm or reject."

Legislature Chairman Roger I. Blackwell has also indicated a desire to question Lubin about his public health philosophies prior to a confirmation vote.

Under the County Charter, the Legislature must take a confirmation vote within 30 days of the submission of a nominee. If no vote is taken, the confirmation is automatic.

Gorski submitted Lubin's name for consideration on Dec. 4, so under the Charter, the Legislature must act before Jan. 4.

The Charter also indicates that a department head must assume his or her duties immediately upon confirmation, said Manz.

"Obviously, he (Lubin) can't run the Erie County Health Department starting Jan. 4, if he's still at an Air Force base in Texas," Manz said. He suggested one solution would be to have Gorski withdraw Lubin's name and resubmit it next month.

Gorski could not be reached to comment on Manz's idea.

Committee members also questioned whether President Bush's ban on military leaves and retirements during "Operation Desert Shield" might prolong Lubin's military career.

Dr. Ralph S. Citron, a Buffalo dentist, has served as acting health commissioner since May 1988.

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