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Schumer blasts Pinnacle plan to cut back on pilot reviews

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is demanding that Pinnacle Airlines abandon its plan to cut back on its reviews of pilots who make mistakes in training.

In wake of a story Monday in The Buffalo News that detailed Pinnacle's proposal to convene training review panels after a pilot's second failure rather than the first, Schumer wrote Monday to Pinnacle's incoming president and CEO, John Spanjers, to criticize the idea.

Schumer said he expected more of Pinnacle, the owner of Colgan Air, which operated the Continental Connection flight that crashed in Clarence Center in 2009, claiming 50 lives.

"As the owner of the plane that crashed as a direct result of pilot error and questionable mismanagement of personnel, this company has a special responsibility to take every precaution to prevent a tragedy like this from recurring," Schumer said. "That this firm is seeking to take steps that would actually weaken pilot training standards is at once galling and mind-boggling."

Pinnacle, which is in bankruptcy, has asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge to approve the change in pilot training as a cost-saving move.


Unfunded state mandates targeted by legislators

BATAVIA -- Signs proclaiming "It's Mayday for New York State Mandate Relief" surrounded a rally on the Old Courthouse lawn Monday as Genesee County legislators protested the "burden of unfunded [state] mandates on critical local services."

Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Legislature and president of the New York State Association of Counties, joined local legislators in seeking state relief in the waning four weeks of the State Legislature's session.

Legislators Annie M. Lawrence, Esther G. Leadley, Raymond F. Cianfrini and Robert J. Bausch outlined the loss to local services ranging from Meals on Wheels to road patrols and highways and bridges.

Lawrence, who headed a petition drive earlier this year that drew 1,600 signatures for easing mandates, noted that Genesee's share of Medicaid, the rally's chief target, has gone in 30 years from $1.4 million to $9.8 million with more than 8,500 local recipients. Though the county's population is unchanged, the Medicaid bite now consumes 40 percent of money raised through local taxes.


Aurora Waldorf School to unveil new entrance

Aurora Waldorf School, 525 West Falls Road, West Falls, will hold a ribbon-cutting and time capsule installation at 9:30 a.m. Saturday as it celebrates the completion of its new front entrance. All are invited.

The new entrance, which was installed during spring break last month, includes energy-efficient doors, full handicapped accessibility and new lighting, surfacing and landscaping. The time capsule will hold information on the history of the building, formerly West Falls Elementary School, and the first 20 years of Aurora Waldorf School, plus student work and photos.

After the ceremony, the school will host May Day festivities until 2 p.m. All activities are free. For info, call 655-2029.