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LAWMAKERS TIED TO DEVELOPER WITH COUNTY LEASE

Seven of the 17 county legislators who voted this week to increase the county lease in the old Hens & Kelly building downtown have received campaign contributions linked to the building's owner.

The Legislature voted unanimously to award the Mohawk Group a five-year lease for additional space at a cost of $52,862 for the first six months.

The Mohawk Group is a corporation of Carl P. Paladino, whose corporations in the last year have contributed a total of more than $1,000 to seven legislators' election campaigns.

Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, received five donations of $100 each from five Paladino corporations, including the Mohawk Group.

Legislator John W. Greenan, R-West Seneca, got $150.

Recipients at the $100 level included Legislators Gregory B. Olma, D-Buffalo; Edward J. Kuwik, D-Lackawanna; Michael H. Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst; and Legislature Chairman Charles M. Swanick, D-Kenmore.

Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples, D-Buffalo, received $55.

The county already leases most of the Hens & Kelly building for Social Services Department offices under a lease renewed last year.

The legislators' new resolution amends the existing five-year $6 million lease to include first-floor space at a cost of $11.45 per square foot. The cost is covered by a state grant.

The Mohawk lease amendment was one of a series of appropriations that the Legislature approved Thursday without prior public debate in committee.

The measures were not included in the agenda but were discharged from the Social Services Committee, which has not met in more than two months because its chairman, Legislator George A. Holt Jr., D-Buffalo, was on vacation in mid-September, after the Legislature's seven-week summer recess.

The Mohawk Group's rent will come from a six-month $613,341 federal block grant that starts a new program, effective Oct. 1, to move welfare recipients to jobs or workfare.

The Legislature also approved appropriations to create 31 jobs, including 27 assigned to the new welfare-to-work initiative and four to the Senior Services Department.

Also approved without Social Services Committee discussion, and with no fees or amounts spelled out, was authorization for the Youth Services Department to contract with Personal Care Therapeutics to provide early intervention services for young children with developmental problems.

In another matter, Legislator Randi Cohen Kennedy, D-Amherst, won passage of a resolution urging that 86 acres owned by the Sisters of St. Francis in Williamsville be designated for green space.

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