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More on TCIE, the UB Foundation, and Chris Collins

This week I followed up on a story broken by UB student newspaper the Spectrum on Wednesday.

To recap, UB Foundation Activities, a 501c3 not-for-profit appeared as a donor to Collins for Our Future—County Executive Chris Collins’s campaign organization—to the tune of $2,560. Since such a donation would be a clear violation of IRS rules (501c3s are not supposed to get involved in political campaigns), UB Foundation could stand to lose its tax-free status. That would be problematic for a group that controls half a billion dollars.

I’ve called UB Foundation Executive Director Ed Schneider the past two days to ask him about this, but the receptionist has told me that Ed’s out of the office. Both days. The man gets paid over a quarter of a million dollars/year according to the most recent publicly available tax forms. You’d think he could show up and hang out at his desk a little while, if only to play a little solitaire just to keep up appearances.

The only comment from Schneider has been in the form of an email supplied to the Spectrum, attempting to explain away the problem. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve looked into this and want to share what I found. First, let me explain the role of the UB Foundation. We provide business services for several organizations associated with the university. These organizations generate their own income, and deposit with us. We then issue checks on their behalf. In Spring 2010, one of those entities, The Center for Industrial Effectiveness, submitted two payment requests for their staff to attend a breakfast and a dinner honoring Chris Collins. Together, these totaled $2560. The source of the funds were revenues that the TCIE generates for itself from providing consulting services to businesses in our community.

Yeah, right. Businesses in our community.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, most rational people don’t consider Erie county to be an actual business.

Apparently Schneider does, because between April 25, 2008 and August 24, 2010, Erie county sent a total of $449,250.10 to UB Foundation, Inc., listing the foundation as a vendor!

It appears that Collins, who has championed Lean Six Sigma for Erie county workers, has been at the helm as nearly half a million dollars of taxpayer money has been transferred first to a private, not-for-profit foundation, and then presumably on to TCIE to provide Green, Blue, and Black belt Six-Sigma training—as indicated by county records. In return, according to Schneider, TCIE paid $2,560 back into Collins’s political campaign—filtered again through UB Foundation Activities, Inc.

Click here to read the actual county record of these transactions.

Click here to read the snazzy report UB/TCIE made up to support the County Executive and his Six Sigma agenda.

And what’s up with all the martial arts lingo connected to Six Sigma, by the way?

“When you can snatch the money from the public, it’s time for you to leave, Grasshopper.”


  • Jim Holstun

    As Erie County Executive Chris Collins blithely fires auditors in the Comptroller’s Department, who used to bring millions of dollars in fees into city coffers, he spends half a million at the UB Foundation enabling grown men and women to prance around in multicolored sashes. A good day’s work, Chris!

    See Artvoice’s excellent earlier article on this debacle: http://artvoice.com/issues/v9n41/smoke_and_mirrors

  • Carmen Bartolotta

    Unbelievable. Then we hear about how the county is broke and how we cannot afford rodent control, clinics, or cultural assets. Collins has no shame and no class. It’s perfectly ethical to use public money for the support of Collins’ Six Sigma sham, but paying county workers who pay taxes and raise families is something to complain about. It’s about time people woke up and begin to push these types out of politics. The working class will continue to suffer losses while these “businessmen” continue on their quest to destroy the middle class.

  • Laura

    How excactly does the comptroller’s run when Mark is not a CPA and has NO fiscal experience. His two appointed deputies are marketing majors also NO fiscal exprience. The top three positions in his office have NO fiscal experience.You have’t told the public about what Poloncarz spent using outside companies to do the work his department DOESN’T have the knowledge or expereince to do, but the taxpayers have paid a lot of salaries to have his office staff work on his campaign. Just like the staff that spend their working hours posting blogs to mislead the public. No wonder the public hate politics. If Mark follows suit as CE he could bankrupt the county in no time but then would he even have enough fiscal knowledge to know what he has done???

  • Concerned staffer 2

    It’s been reported by UB that the Collins team returned the money.
    But the question remains: are UB Foundation staff allowed to receive non-customary sized gifts? In this case $2500 / table of 10 = $250 each (assuming it was a table of 10)
    Staff should pay for the breakfast out of their pockets.
    TCIE has become a Chris Collins Six Sigma cheer group.