Former Schenectady County Legislator Ed Kosiur started a highly paid county job Tuesday, a position one critic called “a consolation prize” after Kosiur lost his bid as the Democratic candidate for state Assembly last summer.
Kosiur became the county’s first-ever assistant to the commissioner of social services for youth development. He will be paid $80,000, close to the job classification’s top salary range of $85,000.
County Manager Kathleen Rooney appointed Kosiur to the position Tuesday after his four-year term on the county Legislature ended Dec. 31 and as soon as the job became available at the start of the county’s 2008 fiscal year.
Rooney’s action did not require legislative approval, but it was done with full support of the Legislature’s Democratic majority. Kosiur will report to Rooney, and he currently has no supervisory responsibilities.
Democrats created the executive-level position at their end-of-year meeting in December. At the time, they refused to say who would get the job, but Republicans and others said it was intended for Kosiur. Kosiur was not available for comment Wednesday.
Longtime friend Legislator Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, said Kosiur is “going to be excellent” for the job. “Ed will bring a different perspective to this. He has a broad view of what is possible and has some clear direction from the Legislature.”
Hughes said Kosiur’s job is to make the county’s youth program “more robust,” helping to create an “environment in the county that people want to move to. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”
Kosiur also is expected to use available resources to accomplish his goals, Hughes said. “The resources that were there already are still there. In Ed’s situation, it is the energy and contacts he has among not-for-profits and sport leagues that are important.”
Kosiur will work with the towns to expand their various sports programs and to develop further the county’s summer youth employment program, Hughes said. He also will work with the city to maintain its youth-directed efforts, he said.
“We will look to him for leadership. The summer youth employment program will be maintained, and we would love to see more activities for kids in the towns,” Hughes said.
Majority Democrats paved the way for new position by first eliminating the civil service-protected position of director of the Youth Bureau, held by Shane Bargy for the last five years. They did that in October when adopting the 2008 budget.
County officials then moved Bargy to the newly created position of director of temporary assistance and employment services, also exempt from civil service. The position carries a $6,000 increase over his current salary of $55,941. Bargy has no prior experience in this field and is expected to learn the job on the go.
Legislator Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, said Kosiur’s appointment is a “brazen slap on the face to taxpayers. This is an unnecessary partisan job. They shuffled a couple of jobs around to give Ed a golden parachute when he left the Legislature in his bid for state Assembly.”
Kosiur gambled his political career in a special election in August for the 105th District Assembly seat, losing to Republican George Amedore Jr.; he chose not to seek re-election to a second four-year term on the county Legislature.
Suhrada said Democrats “thought they could give him a consolation prize, but it is a booby prize for the taxpayers.”
Hughes said even if Democrats “did what critics are suggesting, are the youths of this county not well served by Ed’s appointment? Give him a year and let’s see what he does in a year.”
Hughes said county officials moved Bargy to capitalize on his strong administrative skills. Bargy has a college degree and more than five years experience working in youth development; he took a civil service test to become county youth bureau director.
Kosiur, up until two weeks ago when he gave notice, was director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady after-school program at the city high school. He worked for the Boys and Girls Clubs for several years. He has no college degree and is a former master plumber and plumbing supply sales manager.
Kosiur started his political career in 2002 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Council when now-Mayor Brian Stratton became a county legislator. Kosiur ran in 2003 to complete Stratton’s term, and in 2004 he ran for the county Legislature in District 2. He chaired the Legislature’s committee on children and families.
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