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APR 14 - APR 21, 2015

ECC President Quinn Was Finalist for Partnership Job

By Tony Farina

April 14, 2015

Erie Community College President Jack Quinn
Kristin Klein-Wheaton, executive Vice President for legal affairs at ECC
Dottie Gallagher-Cohen is president & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership

In January of 2013, when the Buffalo Niagara Partnership was searching for its next president and CEO with the impending retirement in June of long serving AndrewRudnick, the business advocacy group enlisted a national headhunter to help find a replacement.

Local candidates were not ruled out in the search for Rudnick's successor, a job that would certainly bring lots of interest since the Partnership, with nearly 2,500members according to Business First, is the region's leading business advocacy group. And Rudnick's last reported salary (2009) was more than $356,000.

In June of 2013, the Partnership settled on Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, to take over the reins from Rudnick, winning out overseveral other candidates. We have learned that one of the finalists for the Partnership job was Jack Quinn, the president of Erie Community College.

Quinn, shortly after losing out on his bid for the Partnership job, got a new contract to stay at ECC where the former congressman makes more than $192,000, likely farless than the Partnership salary he was seeking. Sources say Quinn was bitterly disappointed at losing out to Gallagher-Cohen but then sought a new five-year contractto stay at the college, clearly not his first choice.

What's most remarkable here, according to sources, is that Quinn never told the ECC board about his bid for the Partnership job and it was never discussed at theschool, even to this day. Neither Quinn's office nor the Partnership would comment on Quinn's efforts to land the organization's top job, but two independent sourceshave confirmed that he and Gallagher-Cohen were the last two standing before she was selected.

Quinn has had to content himself with the ECC job and membership on several national boards that require him to travel frequently out of the area. Quinn is a trusteefor the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust and a member of the Board of Directors of the Kaiser Aluminum Corporation based in California. Sources say he is also memberof at least one more national board, but the public relations department at ECC did not respond to email requests about that third paying board membership.

As Quinn travels extensively to fulfill his obligations, sources say day-to-day operations at the college, which is facing a severe budget crisis, are handled byKristin Klein Wheaton, executive director of legal affairs at ECC, and Michael Pietkiewicz, senior vice president for operations and a former aide to Quinn during hiscongressional stint in Washington. Pietkiewicz's salary is $140,000.

Klein Wheaton, who was singled out by the college's former Human Resources director in a federal lawsuit alleging age discrimination and other abuses suffered underKlein Wheaton's direction, is believed to make more than $110,000 as part of a $300,000 legal staff. Before Klein

Wheaton's arrival, the college's legal issues were handled by county attorneys at no extra costs.

We have submitted freedom of information (FOIL) requests for more information on outside legal expenses, front office travel, and other expenses chalked up by theQuinn administration during the time when emergency measures are under consideration to deal with the college's current and projected budget deficits (see storyelsewhere in this publication).





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©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina