Tag Archives: Tim Howard

Sheriff Howard Underpaid, Like Schoolteachers

15 Jul

Sheriff Tim Howard beclowned himself again by taking a job working security for M&T Bank.  On top of that, he even did the sort of thing that’s supposed to really piss off the WBEN right in western New York: he used his county take-home vehicle to get to and from work at the bank. 

But Howard is shameless, and whines that the work was, like, really fulfilling and totally cool. It was also paying him $50/hour. 

If this was merely the first time Howard did something embarrassing, corrupt, or stupid, it’d be bad enough. But as the News points out

It’s hard not to conclude that this is simply another episode of the sheriff’s pattern of poor judgment. That deficiency was on display when the jail was plagued with prisoner suicides; it was on display in the aftermath of jail escapes, including that of Ralph “Bucky” Phillips; and it was on display last fall when he pitched for votes by promising not to enforce the state’s new gun law known as the SAFE Act. This is a law enforcement officer who has shown he is without any sense of the propriety his high office demands.

It is true that Erie County’s sheriff is woefully underpaid. Howard’s salary is just $79,000, a ridiculously low figure given the importance of the job to county residents. Incredibly, Howard is paid $32,000 a year less than his undersheriff, Mark N. Wipperman, though it’s fair to say that Wipperman does a better job running the department than his boss.

But if money was a motivating factor for Howard, the answer wasn’t for him to cheat taxpayers of a full-time sheriff by moonlighting as a bank detective. It was to petition the County Legislature and county executive for an increase in pay, and then to rally support for the point. Most sheriffs, though perhaps not this one, could have made a strong case for a higher salary.

Better yet, if the Sheriff’s salary is so “low” at $79,000 (I really need to remember that line the next time some half-baked asshole attacks public school teacher salaries), Mr. Howard can simply resign and go to work for M&T full time.

Tim Howard’s Spycraft

7 May

America’s Worst Sheriffs

Add to the laundry list of “why Sheriff Tim Howard is awful” the fact that his department bought a $350,000 device that mimics a cell tower and allows police to surveil every cell phone call and text in range. Since this story broke, big 2nd Amendment “I won’t enforce the law” hero has dummied up. He won’t comment, and his department won’t explain why and how it’s used this device, or whether it’s obtained the needed warrants to do so.

Without a warrant, any evidence gather from, or as a result of, intercepted conversations is no good in court.

Erie County Legislator Pat Burke is calling for hearings on this, and hopefully everyone gets some answers.

I guess Tim Howard isn’t going to enforce the 4th and 5th Amendments, either.

Running Government Like A Business

23 Mar

Had he not been such a consistent Collins sycophant for so long, I might just feel some sympathy for Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard. After yet another episode of a dangerous detainee being mistakenly released under his tenure, there was something new in the mix – candor. The new Democratic administration and Legislature weren’t looking to place blame, but to solve the problem. 

A longstanding one that’s been known for a long time. 

Howard and Collins had both viciously fought off any criticism from Democratic electeds and politicians like, e.g., then-Comptroller Mark Poloncarz, about hiring more staff to adequately do their jobs. This despite multiple tragic and embarrassing cases of inmate suicides, early releases, and escapes – most notable among them being Ralph “Bucky” Phillips’ escape from the Alden Correctional Facility, which resulted in three shot cops, one of whom died. 

Most recently, an accused attempted murderer was mistakenly released for about 20 hours on March 8th due to an epic paperwork screw-up. Howard was brought before an Erie County Legislature committee to explain what happened. Now unshackled by any loyalty to the Collins crew, Howard was uncharacteristically forthcoming. He blamed the screw-up on overworked deputies and clerks, many of whom were on their third consecutive 16-hour day. Some had made mistakes when entering information from the court, and rebuffed questions about the release from a newer clerk. 

Legislative chairwoman Betty Jean Grant asked Howard whether the Sheriff’s Department had asked for more staff to rectify this issue. 

Undersheriff Mark N. Wipperman said yes and that the former county executive punished the department for the request.

“We asked for seven additional records clerks at $13.18 an hour for the 2011 budget, and the executive reponded by cutting all of our secretaries, administrative clerks, and eliminating management positions and reducing my salary,” Wipperman said.

Get that? Collins’ relentless push for “efficiency” and “running government like a business” resulted in punishing the Sheriff’s office for asking for adequate staffing. 

In answer to Hogues’ and Grant’s questions on what steps have been taken to prevent further mistakes on improper inmate releases, Howard said:

  • Paperwork from State Supreme Court and Erie County Court on inmates is now immediately entered into the jail’s computer records once it is sent over from the courts.
  • Efforts have been increased to speed up the activation of a new universal computer system that would electronically transfer the most recent court actions inputed by court clerks, eliminating the need for those records to be manually updated by sheriff’s records clerks.

In addition, Howard said the state’s Commission on Corrections, which oversees local jails, will meet at 2 p.m. Monday with his department to review its final draft of a staffing-needs analysis of the sheriff’s jail management division.

That document is expected to require the county to hire 60 to 80 new employees, both civilian and sworn personnel, to meet the manpower needs of the downtown Buffalo Holding Center and county Correctional Facility in Alden.

What we’re learning is that the Collins-Romney Six Sigma, “run government like a corporate raider” ideology is an abject failure. The needs and goals of government services like running a jail and policing the community cannot be held to the standards of the American private sector. 

Just because a corporate worker is overworked, underpaid, given few benefits, and threatened daily with outsourcing doesn’t mean that’s any way to run a Sheriff’s Department. 

Hassan’s Complaints: Hollow

18 Nov

I know that the Erie County jails have a bad reputation right now for poor treatment of inmates, and that the federal government is looking into it.

But when a genuine lunatic – who admits to beheading his wife – complains about being treated badly by sheriff’s deputies, I have a hard time believing a word of it.  There is no way they would do anything actionable against such an infamous inmate.

All Hassan is doing is minimizing the real bad experiences complained about by inmates with lower profiles than his.