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BLUE CROSS-BLUE SHIELD HIRES GORSKI AS CONSULTANT

Former County Executive Dennis T. Gorski has started a new career as a consultant to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Western New York, a local health insurance provider.

Gorski, who has been job-hunting since he left office at the end of the year, will work for the company part time, consulting in the areas of regulatory and government issues, said Linda N. Soltis, a Blue Cross spokeswoman.

The company would not disclose how much Gorski will be paid. The job is not a salaried position, although Gorski will use office space at the company's Main Street headquarters, Soltis said.

Gorski, who did some early job-hunting out of borrowed office space at the Buffalo law firm of Hurwitz & Fine, could not be reached to comment. The law firm said he has not been using its offices recently.

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the outlook on Gorski's new career in health care was sunny.

"Having been an elected official for as long as he was -- in the State Assembly as well as county executive -- he's got a unique perspective," Soltis said of Gorski.

She said there is no way of knowing yet whether Gorski's employment with the company will turn into a permanent, full-time position.

But, she said, the consulting role is designed to be "evolutionary."

"He's a consultant who will come in and look at things and make suggestions," she said. "He can help with regulatory and government issues -- health care is a highly regulated industry. It's going to be an evolutionary type of relationship."

According to the Erie County Charter and the county's code of ethics -- revised about a decade ago during Gorski's tenure -- there are no barriers to jobs that county executives may hold after leaving office.

There is a rule that prohibits former county executives for one year from lobbying the county -- or any of its agencies or committees -- on any issues or legislation they developed while in office, said Personnel Commissioner Leonard R. Lenihan.

"When it comes to employment, there's no bar," said Lenihan, who worked to develop the revised code of ethics.

In that way, Lenihan said, the county code is purposely different from federal codes -- where, for example, there are prohibitions against former members of Congress working for some kinds of lobbying groups for a certain period of time.

"Let's face it," Lenihan said, "county executives in this town only change every 12 years. In Congress, there's an election every two years -- and you have 100 congressmen suddenly becoming lobbyists."

At the New York State Association of Counties, Executive Director Robert R. Gregory said Gorski's choice of a new career is not unusual.

"Some county executives that leave that position go on to other elective posts, but some go into the private sector. That's not unusual," Gregory said. "Dennis Gorski was a dedicated public official who knew the issues. He's somebody any company would be glad to have."

The nature of the county executive job means that Gorski will go into health-care consulting with a solid understanding of the basics, Gregory said.

Beyond that, he said, the rest will be easy for the former county executive to pick up along the way.

"County Executive Gorski was a quick study," Gregory said. "He'll be a success at whatever he puts his mind to."

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