Sheriff Howard Underpaid, Like Schoolteachers
Sheriff Tim Howard beclowned himself again by taking a job working security for M&T Bank. On top of that, he even did the sort of thing that’s supposed to really piss off the WBEN right in western New York: he used his county take-home vehicle to get to and from work at the bank.
But Howard is shameless, and whines that the work was, like, really fulfilling and totally cool. It was also paying him $50/hour.
It’s hard not to conclude that this is simply another episode of the sheriff’s pattern of poor judgment. That deficiency was on display when the jail was plagued with prisoner suicides; it was on display in the aftermath of jail escapes, including that of Ralph “Bucky” Phillips; and it was on display last fall when he pitched for votes by promising not to enforce the state’s new gun law known as the SAFE Act. This is a law enforcement officer who has shown he is without any sense of the propriety his high office demands.
It is true that Erie County’s sheriff is woefully underpaid. Howard’s salary is just $79,000, a ridiculously low figure given the importance of the job to county residents. Incredibly, Howard is paid $32,000 a year less than his undersheriff, Mark N. Wipperman, though it’s fair to say that Wipperman does a better job running the department than his boss.
But if money was a motivating factor for Howard, the answer wasn’t for him to cheat taxpayers of a full-time sheriff by moonlighting as a bank detective. It was to petition the County Legislature and county executive for an increase in pay, and then to rally support for the point. Most sheriffs, though perhaps not this one, could have made a strong case for a higher salary.
Better yet, if the Sheriff’s salary is so “low” at $79,000 (I really need to remember that line the next time some half-baked asshole attacks public school teacher salaries), Mr. Howard can simply resign and go to work for M&T full time.