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Keeping a Scorecard on Erie County Officials

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Keeping track of who does what in Erie County government these days is a bit like the Abbott and Costello routine, "who's on first." County officials say their changing positions - and their changing allegiances - will have no effect on their governing.

Ken Vetter has worked in Erie County government for about 25 years. Most recently he was budget director. This week he took over as executive director of the county's fiscal stability authority.

What that means is that Vetter used to defend the Giambra administration's financial policies. Now he helps fight against some of them. But Vetter said he carries over no secret weapons.

"The finances for Erie County government have been transparent," said Vetter.

The man who replaced Vetter as budget director also doesn't see a conflict with his new role.

Before becoming budget director this week, Jim Hartman went from budget analyst for the legislature, to interim comptroller, to director of management initiatives.

In less than two years, he's worked for all three branches of county government.

Hartman is currently defending the Giambra administration's capital borrowing to the legislature that once hired him to dissect Giambra's financial policies. Hartman said that won't be a problem.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynn Marinelli agreed the relationship remains good. But was less optimistic about reaching agreement on the borrowing. And she admits the changing roles are confusing to the public and make governing more challenging.

County officials meet Thursday - some in different chairs than before - to continue hashing over differences on capital borrowing.

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