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Holding Center Politics and the Good Old Boy Network, Part 2

In my first article (“Old Boys Network in the Erie County Sheriff’s Office,” Artvoice, December 13, 2012), I wanted to inform the public of the rise of Thomas Diina to the position of superintendent of the Erie County Holding Center, and the good old boys network being alive and well at the Holding Center and in the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. In this article I want to reflect on how Thomas Diina rose to the position of superintendent.

First I want to set the record straight. There is nothing personal between Thomas Diina and myself. My congratulations to the superintendent of the Erie County Holding Center, Thomas J. Diina.

Now let’s take a closer look at the so-called Civil Service process and how Thomas Diina and others are able to appoint themselves to a Civil Srvice rank of lieutenant while holding an appointed position. I personally have no animosity about how this process was executed by Sheriff Timothy Howard. Remember that Thomas Diina started his career advancement with an appointment from Sheriff Howard to the position of chief, at which time he held the Civil Service rank of sergeant. Chief is an appointed post and not a Civil Service designation. The assumption is that once a Civil Service employee is appointed to the position of chief, they are considered command staff, and their Civil Service rank should remain whatever rank they held before their appointment. Appointed officials would have to return to their prior-held Civil Service rank once a new sheriff is elected or if they are demoted.

In the Sheriff’s Office, the second-highest Civil Service rank is lieutenant. Therefore, Thomas Diina will fall into the position of lieutenant if a new sheriff is elected or if he is demoted. The question is, did Thomas Diina ever take and pass the lieutenant’s promotional exam? This same question holds for Michael F. Reardon, first deputy superintendent of the Holding Center.

Let’s take a closer look and see how this circumventing of New York State Civil Service Law affects the rank and file. If the Erie County Legislature authorizes, say, four posts as lieutenant, and three are taken up by appointed officials on the command staff, where does that leave the Civil Service rank and file hoping for promotion? Their promotional movement is limited.

Is that not a union issue? Teamsters Local 264, the union that represents the Holding Center staff, are also part of the good old boys network. I know some people in Local 264 will say that this is all a lie and that I do not know what I’m talking about. For years now, Local 264 has remained quiet about many questionable issues, more specifically, about the questionable hiring practices of the Sheriff’s Office. By siding with administration, and not protecting and defending those whom you are obligated to protect and defend, you yoursef are contributing to your own demise. For example, all new deputies hired in the last eight classes now form a voting bloc that is aligned with the administration either politically or under the friends-and-family plan. Teamsters Local 264 is now the Sheriff’s Office’s concubine.

To be continued…

-Larry C. Garrison, Jr.

Sergeant, Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Retired

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