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UNION MULLS RETALIATION FOR REORGANIZATION, JOB CUTS

The City of Olean Employees Association is considering retaliation against the Common Council because of a parks and recreation reorganization plan that would abolish two jobs and transfer a department head to a new position.

The union's labor relations specialist Tom Finger, who made the comment after a meeting of the Common Council Tuesday night, refused to give more details but said retaliation could come in the form of a grievance or a lawsuit.

The plan, advanced from a Council committee Sept. 11, is being completed by the mayor and the city's lawyers before being placed on a future agenda for a final decision.

Nancy McBride, whose job as Youth Bureau program assistant would be eliminated under the reorganization, read from a prepared statement during the public comment portion of the Council's agenda.

She said changes in youth services are long overdue but faulted Council members for not consulting employees to find ways to improve the department.

Mrs. McBride also questioned whether the elimination of her job, which pays about $21,000 a year and is 50 percent reimbursable by the state, will save much money for the city. She also said she authored several successful grants for which others receive credit, and expressed shock and embarrassment at learning about her pending layoff, not from her boss, but during a public Council work session.

"Ethically and morally its stinks to treat people in that fashion," she said.

Alderwoman Paula Snyder, who authored the bulk of the proposal, said all the terms were discussed with Mrs. McBride's boss, Mayor John Ash. She added the period for receiving public comments on the plan was passed.

In another matter, the Council referred to the mayor a letter requesting permission for six public demonstrations on city streets in support of Portville resident John Reynolds, convicted last week of second-degree manslaughter in the beating death of Kevin King.

Ash said he plans to call Maia Soplop, a Reynolds supporter who wrote the letter, to advise her that no permission is needed to use the sidewalks.

"It's all right if they don't obstruct traffic or the people on the streets and do it in an orderly fashion," he said.

The letter said the first march is scheduled between 9 a.m. and noon Thursday, beginning at War Veterans Park on Front Street and proceeding to Union Street and Lincoln Park.

Similar marches are also scheduled for the same times on Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25 and Nov. 1, according to the letter.

Ms. Soplop said the group wants to "draw public attention to the fact that (Reynolds) was wrongfully convicted . . . and to pursue the appeal of his conviction."

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