Tonawanda News

Local News

February 14, 2013

Panel hesitates on welfare rent rules


Tonawanda News — “It has to be politics, because who in their right mind wouldn’t be for this?” Niagara Falls landlord Jerry Turri said.

Of the tabling of the home-rule request especially, LAGN President Bob Pascoe said, “We’re confused why they’d deny local government the right to manage itself. We’re not looking to reform the whole welfare system ...”

“Critics say this is all about the landlords wanting their money,” Niagara Falls rental property owner Laura Rhoney said. “Yes, we want the rent money, to improve our properties, improve our city and improve the life of our tenants.”

Legislator Steed, D-Niagara Falls, proposed tabling the resolutions supporting statewide direct-pay arrangements or a home rule message for Niagara County only. He was seconded in both by legislator Cheree Copelin, R-Niagara Falls. Both lawmakers said they wanted time to further research the issue and talk with Social Services Commissioner Anthony Restaino.

Steed said feedback from his constituents indicates they “have a problem being denied the opportunity to handle their own money,” Steed said. 

Virtuoso, the veteran legislative Minority Caucus leader, left the meeting fairly steamed — “Clearly they don’t care about people getting ripped off,” he declared on his way out the door — and later trained his ire exclusively on Copelin, with whom he’d squabbled about the LAGN members not being invited to address the committee.

“She wants to look into it more? That’s what we’re supposed to do in committee, we study it; we talk to the people who have knowledge. ... I didn’t even get a chance to introduce a whole bunch of people who have information about this,” he said.

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