Editor’s Note: This is the seventh story in a series featuring Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s graduates serving as members of Congress. The eighth and final story will run next week. This series, titled “Trading Golden Dome for Capitol Dome,” runs on Fridays. Seven hundred thousand, five hundred seventy-three: the number of constituents in Pennsylvania’s twelfth Congressional district, and who freshman congressman Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12) calls his employers. Rothfus, who earned his J.D. from Notre Dame Law School in 1994, said he has focused on constituent services during his tenure. “I tell everyone, I’m just the employee,” Rothfus said. “You have 705,000 employers or bosses in the district, and it’s important for people to understand that that’s the way it works now: When you go into public service you are the employee of the people. “You’re here to represent 700,000 people, and I represent people who didn’t vote for me, I represent people who didn’t vote at all and I represent people who voted for me.” Rothfus said he worked with his team to establish venues for his constituents to voice their concerns, including coffee shop hours and telephone town halls. “We’re doing a series of coffees around the district, where I will show up at a local coffee shop and we’ll just talk the issues with constituents, both the big national issues and the basic constituent issues that people might have,” Rothfus said. “Constituent service is very important to me. We’re also doing a lot of telephone town halls where I will put a call out to thousands of people in the district and they are able to stay on the line for up to an hour and ask questions of their employee in Washington.” The overall impact Prioritizing constituent service allows him to apply himself to solving the problems articulated by the people he represents and to advocate for better federal laws, Rothfus said. “If I get a phone call from somebody who has an issue with [the Department of] Veteran’s Affairs, for example, I don’t care if they voted for me or not. My job is to handle that all, that’s part of customer service,” Rothfus said. “People know my principles, my values. When I have a piece of legislation to consider, I’m looking at the overall impact. I’m looking at how much money we’re spending on it and if this is going to be borrowing from the next generation, what is the path to make sure that a program is sustainable so that we’re not going to bankrupt the country on it, does the program work and does it deliver what it’s said it’s going to deliver.” Rothfus graduated from the State University of New York (SUNY)-Buffalo with a B.A. in information systems, and chose to attend Notre Dame Law School to obtain his J.D. after working for IBM in Washington, D.C. for several years. Notre Dame’s program attracted him because of its attention to different elements of law, he said. “I was really drawn to Notre Dame’s law program,” Rothfus said. “I wanted a law program that has the full scope of Western tradition. Notre Dame was one of those places where they talked about things, jurisprudence and the nature of law … so it was a good fit and a great place to go to law school.” The broadly focused legal education at Notre Dame prepared him well to serve in Congress, Rothfus said. “I think that just being at a place like Notre Dame, you get the bigger picture. Law is a very important part of our society, and you have to be very careful when you put law into place because it affects a lot of people,” Rothfus said. “Every issue that comes up, I think you have a bigger picture because of the education you get at Notre Dame.” Delivering social services with faith Rothfus said he practiced law in Pittsburgh, until volunteer work for George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign led him to a position within the federal government. “In 2005 I was looking for an opportunity to get in and do some public policy and the President had a faith-based community initiative that was across the government, making sure that faith-based organizations were not discriminated against when it came to partnering for the delivery of social services,” Rothfus said. Rothfus said he worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development before Hurricane Katrina highlighted weaknesses in the federal government’s response to disasters in September 2005. “A number of issues arose with respect to the FEMA’s [Federal Emergency Management Agency] response, including its ability to fully integrate the capacities of faith-based community organizations and relief work, especially those at the ground level,” Rothfus said. “They asked if I would start up an office at the Department, to work with outside groups make sure that folks within the Department understood the proper role of these organizations: how they can help out in disaster relief, for example, and still respect the guidelines of the Constitution.” The history of the Catholic Church in the United States and the work of the people faith to build the nation show the value of faith-based distribution of social services, he said. “There are many people of faith in this country, and you look at the history of the Catholic Church in this country – nuns starting hospitals, nursing homes, schools – this has really been a part of the culture in excess of 150 years. … Not just the Catholic Church but other organizations. Jewish organizations, Lutheran social services, Southern Baptist, Salvation Army, this is part of the fabric of American society,” Rothfus said. “They can be very effective providers of social services, and I think the government can look to organizations such as that to make sure that individuals in need are getting the resources that can help them.” ‘The next generation’s money’ Rothfus ran for office unsuccessfully in 2010, and then executed a successful campaign for the 12th district seat in 2012. His concern for the level of debt taken on by the country during the 2000s drives him to advocate for more frugal fiscal policy, Rothfus said. “I think when you start taking money from the next generation, from our kids and our grandkids, that is a moral issue, actually,” Rothfus said. “I think we need to be very carefully when we’re spending the next generation’s money and making choices for them because they’re going to have to pay all of this back. When the president was elected in 2008 he talked about cutting the deficit in half in four years, but we went through some very tough time since 2008, including a $700 billion TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] bailout.” He disapproves of President Obama’s actions during his two tenures in office, Rothfus said. “I did not think that the President would be aggressively spending more money than we were going to take in, but the first thing he did in the first two weeks in his administration was put together an $800 billion stimulus package which was all borrowed from the next generation,” Rothfus said. “I have six kids. I just think it’s wrong to be having that kind of deficit. We’ve seen the national debt go up trillions of dollars over the last five years … I thought we had to say, ‘No, this is not the right way to run an economy.’” ‘At the back of your mind’ A photograph of the golden dome with an American flag in front of it hangs in Rothfus’s office. “You think back to those days that you were there,” Rothfus said. “You think back to your trips down to the Grotto, I was there for law school but I would sneak off and go to Mass at the dorms during the weeks … whenever you go back there, there are certain things that are timeless. “Notre Dame is always there at the back of your mind.” Contact Nicole Michels at [email protected]
Karen Freeman-Wilson, the first female mayor of Gary, Ind., and the first African American mayor in Indiana spoke about her leadership experience in a lecture at Saint Mary’s Monday evening. Junior Brooke Fowler and her classmates in an Intercultural Leadership Development course invited Freeman-Wilson to speak as part of an assignment to reach out to an influential female leader. “In class we talk a lot about leadership styles. The style I most admire is servant leadership in which the leader focuses directly on the needs of the people and places [herself] among the people to serve and work towards a common goal,” Fowler said. “This is what Karen is doing.” Freeman-Wilson is currently in her second term as Gary’s mayor. She said it was not her successes but rather her failures that got her to where she is today. “I have a firm belief that God puts where he wants you to be,” Freeman-Wilson said. Despite having lost more city elections than she has won since 1987, Freeman-Wilson said she successfully gained the mayoral seat after a group of people urged her to run again. “I ran in 2003 and 2007 unsuccessfully for mayor of the city of Gary and after my loss in 2007, [I] decided that the voters [were] not interested in [my] service,” Freeman-Wilson said. “So in 2011 when some guys came to me and said ‘we have a poll that shows that you’re the only person that can beat the incumbent and we think that it’s your time,’ I said no, but they kept pressing the issue … It was the easiest election I had.” Freeman-Wilson said she wanted to talk about her failures because it’s something that few leaders highlight. She learned that it’s important to show people how much you care. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” she said. “Without fail, I believed I had the best credentials in the races that I lost, but it was only when I became a caregiver that realized the importance of compassion in leadership.” Freeman-Wilson said after her mother suffered from multiple strokes their relationship was changed and her mother depended on her for care. This experience taught Freeman-Wilson the importance of service especially in public office. “[Public service] means that in every decision you that you make, when you have been given the public trust, that you make it with the people in mind,” she said. “I know that every time I make a decision it isn’t always the right one, because none of us are infallible, but what I can tell [the public] … is that every time I make a decision it is for the right reason, [and] I can walk you through my thinking as to why I thought that decision is in the best interest of the majority of the city.” Perseverance, patience and good teamwork are important qualities all leaders should possess, Freeman-Wilson said. However, she said working together as a team will get students further than any individual effort. “At the end of the day, it’s not about you,” she said. “It’s not about us as individuals, but it’s about what our legacy is and what our service is. “It’s been said that service is the rent that we pay for our time on earth and I believe that.” Freeman-Wilson said women have a unique quality that lends itself to leadership. “[Women] always want to find a win-win … we want everybody to be okay with the resolution, where they feel comfortable with it, and that’s not always the case with men,” she said. Being comfortable with responsibility and authority are important in leadership Freeman-Wilson said. She urged students to be confident in themselves and recognize the importance of their own leadership skills. “I’m counting on you all to continue the effort that we started and the only way you can do that is if [leaders] set an example,” she said. Freeman-Wilson said she hopes that her work as mayor is setting that standard for what citizens of Gary should expect from their public servants. “I understand there is a generation behind me that can do better than me,” Freeman-Wilson said. “And I’m cool with that.” Contact Haleigh Ehmsen at [email protected]
Campaign violations and sanctions against the LaMagna-Andresen ticket for student body president and vice president prevented the Judicial Council from releasing election results as scheduled 12 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Judicial Council.In a press release issued late Monday night, the Council said it sanctioned junior Olivia LaMagna and sophomore Rohan Andresen for “insulting the opposing ticket in a Facebook post by a supporter.” The Council asked LaMagna and Andresen to remove the post from Facebook.Andresen told The Observer the incident was “a miscommunication and a misunderstanding of one of our supporters who did not mean to offend anyone in any way.” LaMagna said she was grateful for the dedication her and Andresen’s supporters had shown during the campaign process.“There was absolutely no harm or offense intended, nor did we perceive that anything that any of our supporters have done over the course of this could be in any way, shape or form offensive,” LaMagna said. “We don’t want this to downplay all of the awesome work that we’ve had with the innovative team behind us and we don’t want this to overshadow the impressive work that happened by the hard work of a lot of people over the course of this election.”The Constitution of the Undergraduate Student Body of the University of Notre Dame du Lac states that election results cannot be released while any allegation or appeal is pending. Candidates may appeal the Election Committee’s decision within 12 hours of the hearing.Zachary Llorens Judicial Council stated that the results of Monday’s vote cannot be released until 9:15 a.m. Tuesday at the earliest, according to these rules. An earlier press release from Judicial Council issued Monday morning said juniors Lauren Vidal and Matthew Devine “exceeded their campaign spending limit by paying for advertising on Facebook for specific posts.” “As an appropriate sanction, the Election Committee hereby asked the Vidal-Devine campaign to completely delete from Facebook the three advertised posts that caused them to exceed their campaign spending limit,” the press release stated. According to the Constitution, “A campaign limit is set for all Student body Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates’ tickets at $200.00. … Penalties are up to the discretion of the Election Committee.”Devine said he and Vidal were looking forward to hearing the vote tally Tuesday. “Lauren and I are going to get rest tonight,” Devine said. “We’ve been working hard these past few weeks, and we’re excited to hear the results [today].”Tags: elections, Student Body President
Notre Dame’s third request for relief from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring the University’s insurance plan to cover contraception was denied Feb. 21, but the Supreme Court heard oral arguments March 25 on other cases against Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of the Department of HHS.The Court will rule on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, two consolidated cases brought by companies owned by Christian families.Like Notre Dame’s lawsuit, these two cases center on contraceptive coverage and religious liberty. Currently, the University must provide contraceptive coverage under an “accommodation” that allows it to use its third-party health care administrator Meritain Health.In its most recent request for relief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Notre Dame argued that this agreement with Meritain Health regarding the University providing birth control is against its Catholic beliefs.Notre Dame law professor Richard Garnett, who specializes in freedom of religion and constitutional law, said the University and the companies fall under different rules due to their institutional differences.“Notre Dame is obviously a ‘religious’ institution and a non-profit, while Hobby Lobby is a for-profit business operating in the commercial sector,” he said. “The ‘accommodation’ that Notre Dame is currently subject to is different in form from the rule that applies to Hobby Lobby.”Because Hobby Lobby is not presently eligible for the accommodation Notre Dame has, Garnett said the company is seeking a different exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).“Hobby Lobby is seeking an exemption, under RFRA, from the requirement that they include certain contraceptives — not all, in Hobby Lobby’s case — which Hobby Lobby believes can operate as abortifacients,” he said.Garnett said while the Constitution, as the Court has interpreted it, “almost certainly does not entitle Hobby Lobby to an exception,” RFRA was enacted by Congress precisely for the purpose of providing more generous accommodations to religious objectors than the Constitution requires.Accommodating religion by statute is more flexible, he said, but if the Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, Congress has the chance to respond and change the final outcome.“If the Court rules for Hobby Lobby and Congress disagrees with that result, it has the authority to revise RFRA and, say, exclude business corporations from the Act’s coverage,” Garnett said.The parallels between Notre Dame’s case and Hobby Lobby’s center on the institutions’ understanding of their “religious exercise” rights, he said.“In all of these cases, the employers are saying that it would burden their legally protected ‘religious exercise’ rights to apply the relevant preventative-services-coverage provision to them,” he said.A February statement from Paul Browne, University vice president for public affairs and communications, maintained that Notre Dame is “concerned that if government is allowed to entangle a religious institution of higher education like Notre Dame in one area contrary to conscience, it’s given license to do so in others.” Garnett said this concern is “certainly legitimate.”“Of course, to say that the concern is legitimate is not to say that other burdensome regulations that interfere with or burden Notre Dame’s Catholic character are guaranteed, or to predict what form they will take,” he said. “But, the logic of the government’s argument in the HHS mandate context is one that underemphasizes and underappreciates the extent to which the University of Notre Dame does ‘exercise religion,’ and does have a religious-liberty right to pursue a distinctive vision and mission, animated by a distinctive charism.”Browne told The Observer on Tuesday that Notre Dame’s attorneys “are engaged in a review of options available to us” concerning the case. Tags: HHS, Hobby Lobby
Michael Yu | The Observer Senior Brittany Dymm replaces her Miss Cavanaugh sash with a Miss ND sash after she was crowned Miss ND 2017 Wednesday. A panel of four judges declared Dymm the winner after two rounds of competition.Senior Brittany Dymm of Cavanaugh Hall was crowned Miss ND 2017 at O’Neill Hall’s signature event Wednesday.Throughout the event, one representative from every female dorm on campus showcased a talent, and three finalists participated in a question and answer session in front of a panel of four judges and other members of the Notre Dame community in Washington Hall.Sophomore Nick Martinez, the event’s organizer, said all of the contests were selected on a volunteer basis by the hall governments of each respective female dorm.“I’m really grateful for everyone in O’Neill and all of the participants,” he said. “We’re super excited, because this year we did pre-sale tickets in LaFun, which we didn’t do last year. The pre-sale tickets [surpassed] all of last year’s ticket sales.”According to Martinez, the judges for the event were also selected on a volunteer basis, but event organizers tried to get “campus celebrities” as judges. The final panel was made up of South Hall Dining monitor Pam Hardy Jobin, Miss South Bend 2016 — and a member of the class of 2014 — Gina Klingel, sophomore O’Neill resident and defensive lineman Jerry Tillery and senior Joe Cabrera, Mr. ND 2016 and another O’Neill resident.“It is so much fun,” Jobin said. “The girls are talented and bubbly. Their personalities are wonderful. I’ll be judging on personality — I’m a big personality person. It is such a worthy cause for the homeless shelter. They do such a good job. The boys put a lot of effort into it.”Although most talents involved either singing or dancing, junior Annie Batcheller — the first Miss Flaherty — walked the audience through the evolution of her Snapchats, while sophomore Abby Whalen — this year’s Miss Farley — played “My Heart Will Go On” on the recorder and sophomore Veronica Wegner — Miss Welsh Family — rolled around the stage in Wheelie shoes before chugging water out of a jug via a feeding tube.Contestants also found ways to put unique spins on various singing acts. Eventual winner Dymm played a ukulele and sang while hula hooping, and sophomore Madeline Petrovich, Miss McGlinn, sang a song listing all the books of the Bible, while other variations included dancing and lip synching.After all of the contestants had presented their talents, the judges deliberated while the audience watched humorous videos filmed and acted out by residents of O’Neill Hall, including a parody of “The Bachelor,” “Rudy” and the “Mean Tweets” segment from “Jimmy Kimmel Live” — in which all tweets were jokingly said to originate from O’Neill rector Christopher Rehagen and were written in the style of a tweet from President Donald Trump.Aside from Dymm, the final round of the event featured sophomore Maggie West as Miss Pasquerilla East, and junior Katie Surine as Miss Lewis. The three took turns answering humorous questions from the master of ceremonies, junior O’Neill resident Matthew Yoder, before the judges made their decision and Dymm was crowned Miss ND.The Cavanaugh senior said the idea for her act has been with her for a while, and noted the significance of the event taking place on International Women’s Day.“I’ve had the hula idea since sophomore year,” she said. “… In honor of International Women’s Day, I’m glad that that this event involves women showcasing their talents, not making them showboat around in weird outfits.”Tags: Cavanaugh Hall, Miss ND, O’Neill Hall, signature event
Tags: Jan Cervelli, THRIVE, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative The 3rd Annual Engaging Women Conference, organized by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) at Saint Mary’s in partnership with 1st Source Bank, will lead to the empowerment of 250 women. The conference will create a transformative space for women to be educated and to engage with one another, WEI project director Joan McClendon said.“There’s something for everybody,” she said. “From how to negotiate business deals to collaborative things such as the power of the person, leadership and ‘daring greatly.’ This year we really stepped it up to the next level.”McClendon said there will be three keynote speakers, four panels and twenty four breakout sessions. The keynote speakers include René Syler, former co-host of CBS’ “The Early Show,” Jan Cervelli, President of Saint Mary’s College and Stephenie Foster, a partner of Smash Strategies.The four panels include an human resources panel, non-profit panel, women in technology panel and an executive panel, McClendon said. Breakout sessions include a wide range of topics, such as a spirituality component, she said.The organization of the event is evidence of how the conference has grown in response to feedback, McClendon said. For example, the idea to invite Rene Syler came out of a conversation she had during last year’s conference.“We hope these speakers empower the women at the Conference to empower generations to come,” McClendon said.Housed under the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL), WEI — now entering its sixth year — has three components: the Spark program, the Renaissance Executive Forum and a combination of seminars and training.McClendon said the Spark program is an eleven week session where women come from the community to learn how to start a business while also learning about self-esteem and relationship building. The Renaissance Executive Forum is a half day peer-to-peer advisory group for women whose businesses exceed a certain gross amount, while training and seminars include events such as the upcoming conference, she said.“Between Spark, the Executive Forum, training and several other things we have done, over 3,000 women have passed through the doors of Saint Mary’s College because of WEI,” McClendon said. “We’re very proud of what we do. We’re excited about how we help women in the community.”1st Source Bank has sponsored the conference each year, 1st Source vice president and business banker Julianna Herring said. The conference came from a series of human resource seminars 1st Source had at Saint Mary’s as the Bank looked for ways to support women in business, and ever since it launched, it has continued building, she said.“I think it’s small enough that people are able to network and engage and not get lost in it,” she said. “That’s one of the goals for when we engage. We want people to feel that intimacy and engage with the speakers and their stories.”As a member of the committee planning the conference, Herring said they try to speak to a vast array of women.Herring is connected with a 1st Source program called THRIVE, which evolved at Saint Mary’s and works to partner 1st Source with communities in various regions. Every community is a bit different, and THRIVE seeks to be a connector and resource in communities, she said.“WEI and this conference connect to the goal of 1st Source to support communities and women in their communities,” Herring said. “It goes with the mission of what we are trying to do as a connector within the community.”The conference is sold out this year, and both McClendon and Herring are looking forward to the future of the WEI with it’s various components, specifically future conferences.“As exciting as it is to see the conference scaled, there’s something awesomely intimate that happens with the 250 women who attend this conference,” McClendon said. “It’s not so much what we do next, but how do we keep the intimacy of what happens. Now we work on how do we preserve that and move forward.”
Tuesday evening, Fr. Pete McCormick celebrated Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The Mass was held in celebration and gratitude for those who work in Building Services at Notre Dame and was co-sponsored by the Senior Class Council, Campus Ministry and the student government department of faith and service. Senior Emily McAuliffe, co-chair of the Senior Class Council faith and service committee, said that the Senior Class Council was moved to put on the event after reading a letter to the editor lamenting the death of 57-year-old Michael Amadek, a Notre Dame custodian who died in the driver’s seat of his car in the library parking lot on Thursday, Sept. 20, after reporting that he felt unwell.“After the death of Michael, we felt that we should recognize this part of the community who is usually not given the full recognition that they deserve,” McAuliffe said. “We thought a Mass would be a good way to show our gratitude and thank those members of Building Services and also remember Michael.”Senior Bridget Moroney, the other co-chair of the Senior Class Council faith and service committee, credited the letter to the editor with bringing to light issues pertaining to the inclusion of Building Services within the Notre Dame community.“[The letter to the editor in] The Observer … made a really good point about [being] much more cognizant of who we’re considering a part of the Notre Dame family,” Moroney said. “We [the Senior Class Council] want to make it known to everyone at Notre Dame that people that work in Building Services are absolutely a part of the family and that they need to be celebrated just as much as any student is.”Moroney also credited sophomore Aaron Benavides, student government director of faith and service, with generating the idea. “Aaron had been talking with Campus Ministry about wanting to do something. … We talked with him after one our executive chairs sent us The Observer article, and then it came together with Campus Ministry, student government and Senior Class Council,” Moroney said. McCormick, who serves as director of Campus Ministry and presided over the mass, began his three-minute homily by reflecting on the day’s readings from scripture. He stated that all individuals should be treated with dignity, and urged those in attendance to consider how they were acting in their daily lives.“We should be far more concerned with is how it is that we are living in this present moment — in this time and place,” McCormick said. “The Gospels are clear — do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a simple rule for us; treat others with the dignity that they have been given unto them by God. Keep the simple things the focus and allow that to transform you.”McCormick continued to praise the work that custodial workers do and draw attention to the lack of recognition given to them for their day-to-day work.“We recognize … today, a moment where we celebrate our custodial workers on campus — people who by-and-large serve faithfully and do so in a way that does not draw attention to themselves,” McCormick said. “The only time we really pay attention is when things are out of place and, let’s be perfectly honest, how often is that, in fact, the case? We look around the beauty of this Basilica; we don’t see the hard-working men and women who come in here to tend to this space and this place on a daily basis. We just assume it to be this way.”McCormick challenged those attending the Mass to reflect upon the way that different classes of workers are regarded, and to act upon the notion that all men and women share a common human dignity.“It goes back to this understanding: what would our world look like if we treated each and every person with the dignity that they deserve — if we didn’t get caught up in the uniform and title that they had, but instead recognized that which is common amongst us all? And that is the inherent dignity God has given us,” McCormick said. “Because, while I cannot fully stand here and confess to understand the vastness of what God has in store, I can guarantee to us that each person will be adorned with the ring of affection that our loving God has for them. So, why not begin to look upon this world, and act upon that very reality?”Tags: building services, Campus Ministry, faith and service committee, Mass, senior class council, Student government
MGN ImageWARREN – Officials in Warren County, Pennsylvania are investigating the false reporting of a COVID-19 related death and a new case in their county.In a statement Tuesday afternoon, officials said data issued earlier in the day that the county saw its first Coronavirus related death is factually inaccurate.“The Coroner has not listed any fatality related to COVID-19 nor has the hospital had an additional positive test,” said officials in the statement. “The County Government believes this information was provided in error and would urge the community to remain calm as this is investigated.”“The County Government’s priority is the safety and wellbeing of its citizenry and works to provide data that’s been verified locally,” officials furthered. “Thank you for your patience as we get through this time as a community.” Earlier in the day the Warren General Hospital reported one new positive case of the virus and one new death.So far in Warren County, a total of 178 testing samples have been collected with 110 negative results.“All of these tests were collected in the Emergency Room or inpatient units,” said officials. “The remainder of tests were ordered by private non physicians with results being sent directly to them.”The first, and as of now only, positive test was back in March, officials said. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window),At least one county in the United States is being honest, there is hope for humanity in this country. Thank you for being honest!
MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson’s budget presentation last week saw no requests for additional attorneys in his office for 2021.Swanson told WNYNewsNow during a recent interview that he wasn’t seeking new attorneys, unlike in the past, due to fiscal challenges that the County, itself, was going to face because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The prosecutor doubled down on his comments when addressing members of the Chautauqua County Legislature.“Obviously, we face significant challenges this year. We were asked to cut some of our budget for 2020. We made an effort to do that,” Swanson said. “I think, if you take a look at where we are on the year, we’ve done as good as we had hoped we could do considering the circumstances.”“You all know that, year after year, I come here seeking more personnel,” he added. “I think it was abundantly clear this year that it just wasn’t a possibility. While I’d love new attorneys and an increase in staff to handle the caseload we have, I understand the reality of the circumstances that we face today.” Swanson says that his office has no open positions. He explains that he wanted to provide clarity as he’s asking for an increase of $121,000 in his personnel services, which he attributes to an increase in various raises and a “no turnover” savings.Additionally, Swanson says that his office is seeking more funds to cover the cost of insurance for his office. Overall, the department head says $164,000 of the $197,000 budget increase he’s requesting is due to costs “outside of” his control.Swanson says $9,000 would be allocated towards IT costs, allowing his attorneys to utilize various technology to help with their caseload.Chautauqua County Legislator Terry Niebel asked Swanson if there’d be any effect on the 2021 budget because of Judge David Foley’s recent dismissal of a murder indictment against Jamestown man Julio Montanez.Swanson says the 2021 DA’s budget won’t be affected at all as the case was likely going to start next year anyways. He says that the 2020 budget would only be affected if officers needed to be called in to testify, which he says that’s only if his office chooses to re-present to the grand jury.If his office chooses to appeal the ruling, Swanson states the costs would be the time an attorney spent on the appeal. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) MGN ImageALBANY – The first confirmed case of COVID-19’s ‘U.K. Strain’ has been identified in New York State.Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement during a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon.He says the Wadsworth lab confirmed the case of the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 variant.“Wadsworth lab confirmed a case of the U.K. strain in Saratoga County, New York,” Gov. Cuomo said. “He’s a man in his 60s who had some symptoms. He did not travel recently so evidence suggests it’s in the community.” The governor says this strain is 70% more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain and he said contact tracing is paramount to keep the spread of the strain under control.Wadsworth Laboratory, based in Albany, began research into a new strain of COVID-19, which was first spotted in the United Kingdom, in late December.“I think this strain is more prevalent than people know,” Gov. Cuomo said.New York State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says this strain is more transmissible, but there’s no evidence yet that it isn’t affected by vaccines, or that it is more dangerous for people who are infected.Governor Andrew M. Cuomo provides a coronavirus update from the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Image by Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)It was the second update of the day from the governor, following a Monday morning briefing where he provided new statewide numbers regarding the pandemic and declared the Finger Lakes region is the state’s “greatest problem” at present.