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Sandra Tan

Cityside reporter primarily covering Erie County government. Previously covered Buffalo Public Schools and other community and issue-oriented beats.


Erie County

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Friday that the most direct way to depoliticize a "political beast" like the Water Authority is to expand its board from three members to seven members and grant them longer, staggered terms. Also, the commissioners should be paid less, he said. He also went on record saying he opposes the termination of Water Authority Chair…

Erie County

The fate of Erie County Water Authority Chairman Jerome Schad remains unclear, despite a majority vote by county legislators Thursday seeking his resignation. Meanwhile, a week after firing Earl Jann Jr., the authority's former executive director, the Water Authority board has placed its faith in the deputy director, even after voiding and shortening his employment cont…

Erie County

The Erie County Water Authority board intends to shorten the employment contract for its deputy director, Robert J. Lichtenthal Jr., the authority's highest paid employee. And it intends to revise the job description for the executive director, now that former director Earl L. Jann Jr. has been fired. Last year, the authority board approved a three-year contract for …

Erie County

Local lawmakers have rushed to stake out the high ground and demand reform ever since a state oversight agency condemned the Erie County Water Authority last week for its secrecy and lack of accountability. But the political divisions that have typified the deep-rooted problems with the patronage-driven authority are showing up in the rush to demand change and assert blame…

Gusto

I hate to cook ... less. Nearly two years ago, I wrote an unapologetic rant about the miseries of being someone who has actually cooking skills but despises having to use them. Given the limited down time I have after work, I described cooking as a "hamster-wheel activity that would fall to the bottom of my to-do list if it weren’t for the small matter of starvation." …

Erie County

Among the many faults that a state oversight agency laid at the feet of current and former Erie County Water Authority leaders was the improper handling of Freedom of Information Law requests. They ignored them, delayed responses, provided less information than required, censored information that was public, and improperly denied appeals, the Authorities Budget Office s…

Erie County

The Erie County Water Authority board voted Thursday to fire its executive director, Earl L. Jann Jr., after determining the terms of his employment contract are invalid. When asked whether Jann was fired because the new board disapproved of his leadership, commissioners said they would not discuss Jann's job performance. "It doesn't matter whether we like someone or…

Erie County

The reverberations from a scathing state report about repeated leadership failures at the Erie County Water Authority came quickly Wednesday and are likely to be felt for a long time as local officials ponder a shake-up at the agency. On Wednesday, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn asked his Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau to investigate whether…

Erie County

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn has asked his Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau to investigate whether any crimes were committed at the Erie County Water Authority. Flynn's announcement Wednesday follows a scathing state report about the authority. "Anytime there is an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, obviously I have an obligation to inves…

Local News

The state agency that oversees public authorities formally censured the Erie County Water Authority and asked the County Legislature to remove from office all commissioners associated with repeatedly breaking laws and best practices regarding openness, transparency and independent oversight and governance of the agency. The damning report spends 20 pages outlining viola…

Erie County

The state agency that oversees public authorities censured the Erie County Water Authority and asked the county Legislature to remove from office all commissioners associated with repeatedly breaking laws and best practices regarding openness, transparency and independent oversight and governance of the agency during a two-year period. Two prior Republican commissioners…

Local News

Forensic anthropologist Erin Chapman specializes in dead bodies – the unrecognizable kind. The most recent hire of the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office was part of a team from Mercyhurst University who arrived within hours of the 2009 crash of Continental 3407. Over the next four days, she helped sift through the wreckage to map and recover the bodies of 50 victims…

Erie County

The number of Erie County residents who died last year from opioid overdoses fell by 17 percent, bucking a state and national trend, according to statistics released Friday. A total of 251 people died of overdoses in 2017, the lowest number of the deaths over the past three years, according to the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office. Local health experts point to t…

Erie County

The Erie County Legislature has selected a woman-owned, New York City law firm to look into allegations that former Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger may have sexually harassed employees in his department prior to the December incident in which he is accused of raping a subordinate. Lemire LLC has been tapped to independently investigate whether there were an…

Erie County

The Erie County Clerk's Office expected to sell 350 E-ZPass tags this year, but underestimated the increased demand for tags after the Grand Island toll barriers shut down in late March, and the Thruway Authority moved to a cashless toll system on that stretch of the I-190. Last week, the county Legislature approved the allocation of $7,350 for the Clerk's Office to buy…