Modified: March 27, 2019 10:23am
This morning, Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon (I-Hamburg) raised questions about County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s State of the County proposal to restructure the Office of Weights and Measures into a new Office of Consumer Protection. The proposal was detailed in a Buffalo News article on Wednesday morning.
The Erie County Division of Weights and Measures was previously the subject of a critical report from the Erie County Comptroller following allegations from a whistleblower to the Comptroller’s whistleblower hotline. The report found inspectors were fining stores based on field inspections they never conducted, and ignoring state and federal inspection guidelines. It was also found the former director of the division was storing his privately owned car on county property, and having county employees use county resources to have the car worked on during the work day.
The Comptroller’s report can be found here.
Additionally, according to the County Executive, the Weights and Measures department was failing to properly enforce the microbead ban that passed in 2015 because ‘we have a limited staff in the Department of Weights and Measures so they can’t get to every store immediately’. This story can be found here.
“Everyone is for doing more to protect consumers, that being said, perhaps making a department that has previously failed residents the new division of Consumer Protection isn’t the sharpest idea,” said Legislator Dixon.
‘It was only a few weeks ago I sat in committee meetings about how another county department, the Department of Health, were faking their inspections, in addition the Weights and Measures department already has been criticized for not enforcing the counties microbead ban. I think county government needs to first address our own internal failings to protect the public before doing anything else.
‘I’m not sure this would do anything to protect consumers, in fact, it could actually harm them if history is any indication.”