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Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan uses her Erie County government beat to find issues and stories that tell us something important about how we live. An alumna of the Columbia Journalism School and Buffalo News staff reporter since 2000, she previously covered Buffalo Public Schools, Amherst and other communities. email: stan@buffnews.com


Erie County

Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns said Wednesday that he will take down and replace the signs at county auto bureaus that use the trademarked expression, "If you see something, say something." The signs posted last week included the slogan, along with the tip line phone number for the Department of Homeland Security. They were posted by the County Clerk's Off…

Erie County

To a New York City transit authority, it's OK to share the message, "If you see something, say something," if it means looking out for terrorists. But not undocumented immigrants. Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns last week announced that he had posted signs in the county auto bureaus that displayed the tip line phone number for the Department of Homeland Sec…

Local News

The two sat side by side Saturday morning. They even hugged. One was Michael Whalen, whose heart-wrenching story about what he suffered at the hands of a local priest launched the clergy sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo for the past year. The other was Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, who has been assigned by the Vatican to serve …

Erie County

As could be expected in a healthy economy, the $1.8 billion Erie County budget approved Thursday doesn't cut much. But it does say a lot about who and what matters most to county leaders. The politics and priorities became clear as lawmakers approved it in a 10-1 vote. The budget includes a new "urban initiative" that Democrats supported as "a matter of fairness" but…

Erie County

Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard called a full-time SWAT team his "high priority." County Executive Mark Poloncarz included funding in the proposed 2020 budget to let him have one. But barring an unlikely compromise, the sheriff will not get one. The Erie County Legislature's budget amendment package to be considered Thursday includes $5 million in additional sp…

Business

Another credit rating agency has assigned a healthy financial rating to Erie County. The Kroll Bond Rating Agency, a newer-but-growing, second-tier credit rating agency, has assigned a long-term rating of AA- for Erie County bonds. That rating is considered to reflect high-to-very high quality bonds with "minimal risk of loss." Higher credit ratings matter to taxpaye…

Erie County

Erie County welcomes refugees. That is the message that County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz is sending today in response to an executive order by President Trump that would bar refugees from resettling in a state or locality without written consent from the governor and a local official as of this Christmas. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also gave formal consent last week. G…

Erie County

An outside accounting firm that reviewed the auditing operations of the Erie County Comptroller's Office found a "serious deficiency" in the office's quality control practices. The firm determined that an audit it reviewed not only lacked properly documented evidence, but it was misleadingly corrected after the fact with backdated notations to fix or cover up staff mistake…

Erie County

When Ralph Mohr took his seat last week to speak at an Erie County budget hearing, he said it was just as well that legislators hadn't eaten lunch yet because they would lose their appetites. Then the elections commissioner dropped the news: Because of a "failure in communication," the proposed budget for the board that runs all county elections is short $2 million. And…

Business

Judith Landa, a former investor in the Emerald South and Emerald North nursing homes, is suing County Executive Mark Poloncarz for slander and libel. Since last year, Poloncarz has railed against the ownership of the two area nursing homes, where patients have suffered harm or died, and has been an outspoken critic of Landa and her husband, Benjamin. He later said he…

Business

Narcan is a lifesaving overdose rescue drug – but only if you have it when you need it. To ensure that more area businesses, restaurants, bars and other gathering places have emergency overdose kits available, Erie County created – and is now distributing – 500 red boxes that each include two free doses of the Narcan nasal spray. The wall-mountable boxes are similar …

Crime

It has been the Sheriff's Office part-time SWAT unit responding to bomb threats, Bills and Sabres game-day security and specialized police interventions and rescues. Now, it's a step closer to becoming a full-time team. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has included the upgrade in his proposed 2020 budget, after several years of lobbying by Sheriff Timothy B. Howa…

Erie County

It might be the height of hunting season, but fewer and fewer hunters in this region are making their way into the woods. Consider a statistic shared by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation last week indicating that there were 13 hunting-related shooting incidents reported statewide last year. Comparatively, in 1966 the state reported 166 such incidents…

Erie County

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Erie County Clerk Michael "Mickey" Kearns, who sought to prevent New York State from granting driver's licenses to immigrants living in the state illegally. Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford, who heard oral arguments last month over his bid for a preliminary injunction, said Kearns does not have legal standing to challenge the law. …

Erie County

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, newly re-elected Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz finally got to sit down after making a late appearance at Democratic Party headquarters to give his victory speech. When asked if he might try to win an unprecedented fourth term four years from now, the tired and slightly hoarse county executive dropped his forehead into his pa…