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Erie County legislators to grill head of Weights & Measures Division

The director of Erie County’s Weights and Measures Division will be grilled this afternoon about accusations made against him in a review by the County Comptroller’s Office.

The report alleges that field inspectors working under Edwin Gonsiorek routinely issued fines on local stores that were based on improper inspections and ignored state and federal guidelines requiring rigorous testing before fines can be imposed.

Gonsiorek also was accused of storing his personal vehicle on county property and having the men who work under him perform repairs on the vehicle on county time.

Gonsiorek is scheduled to meet with members of the Legislature’s Finance and Management Committee at 2 p.m.

“These are extreme violations by Mr. Gonsiorek, and the Legislature needs answers,” said Legislature Majority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo, in a prepared statement Wednesday.

Lorigo, a Conservative Party member from West Seneca, alleged that local businesses and taxpayers were, in essence, cheated by Gonsiorek as a result of the improperly issued fines.

“I look forward to discussing the audit with Mr. Gonsiorek in order to ensure appropriate steps are being taken in response to the audit findings,” Lorigo added.

As director of weights and measures, Gonsiorek works under Public Works Commissioner John Loffredo. Lawmakers said Gonsiorek had, on at least two occasions this past summer, declined lawmakers’ request to appear before the committee. On the last occasion, legislators threatened to issue a subpoena to compel him to appear before the Finance and Management Committee.

Administration officials declined to go into detail about any disciplinary action that may already have been taken regarding the allegations in the comptroller’s report.

“Issues related to the allegations of improper behavior on Mr. Gonsiorek’s part were dealt with in a due-process hearing and disciplinary measures were taken,” said Peter Anderson, a spokesman for County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.

Meanwhile, Mary Jean Jakubowski, director of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, is scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. before the Legislature’s Community Enrichment Committee to address spending issues related to efforts to create a library taxing district.

An audit of the library by the comptroller’s office earlier this year said library officials spent $422,777 in consulting fees and personal expenses that were paid to an Albany lobbyist assisting in that effort, as well as legal fees to an Albany law firm.

County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw also is scheduled to attend the committee meeting to address lawmakers’ questions about the audit.