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Echo chamber: The Local Chatter (May 5, 2008)

Rep. TOM REYNOLDS has been raking in campaign contributions in spite of the fact he is retiring. The Buffalo News reported that in the in three months before announcing his retirement Reynolds took in $267,113. When he finally turns the lights off in his congressional office for the last time Reynolds will have $1.8 million to spread around however he sees fit. While he can’t go out and purchase a new car for himself, what these guys usually do is get a new job, then cozy up to someone still in office, make a fat contribution, and then get that elected official to hire their new company for some juicy taxpayer funded work. While the donation to the support the elected official is often publicized, the contract that comes down the road is rarely mentioned. Reynolds does have $822,468 from a “leadership” Political Action Committee (PAC) that he can do whatever he wants with. “Former members can take leadership PACS after leaving Congress and put it in their pockets,” Fred Werheimer, president of Democracy 21, told the News. It’s easy to understand why republicans claim they want to cut taxes…. it leaves more money in people’s pockets to hand over to them.

ORCHARD PARK is installing 704 photovoltaic panels on the town’s highway garage to generate electricity. They’re projecting a savings of $3,000 to $4,000 a year. Orchard Park Highway Superintendent Fred Piasecki Jr. said his department is the first highway department in NY state to install the solar panels. The panels, installed by Solar Liberty of Williamsville, are being paid for by a grant of $192,192 from the NY State Energy Research and Development Authority.

KEVIN GAUGHAN would be happy to hear that the Batvia Police and the Genesee County sheriff’s dispatch service will merge AND receive $410,000 in state legislator grants to finance the transition. City dispatchers are leaving their downtown offices in October and moving to the Sheriff’s administration building.

TOM CHRISTY, television talk show host of “Legislative Journal” might be returning to the airwaves. Christy fell afoul of Lockport Community Television after having Geoff Kelly from Artvoice on his show talking about radiation contamination in Niagara County. Apparently he was only supposed to talk about good things. But the Common Council in North Tonawanda will be looking at a measure tomorrow that calls for the return of Christy.