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War of the words

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County Executive Jack Doyle has been getting an earful from people unhappy with his proposed social service cuts. And in an interview with WXXI radio broadcast on August 14, Doyle responded with a mouthful of criticism.

            Regarding social service agencies with which the county contracts to provide services, Doyle told WXXI: "Most of their CEOs earn more than I do as county executive. They ride around in very large, expensive automobiles paid for by their programs. They have, basically, small budgets. And yet, they are the first to complain when economic times get tough.

            "What they should be doing is figuring out how they can streamline their services and work more productively and cooperatively with us," he said.

            "Obviously, that's a diversionary tactic," says Joe Calabrese, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Rochester. He says Doyle's "trying to keep the community's attention off the effect of these dramatic cuts."

            As for the car comment, Calabrese says, "I don't know if he's talking about me, but I drive a four-year-old Oldsmobile that was donated to the United Way. If [Doyle] needs a lift to work, I can swing by and pick him up."

            Such public sniping indicates a significant rift in a county-agency relationship that's been good for quite some time. "The county's proving itself to be an unreliable partner, and that's unfortunate," Calabrese says. "We've had a strong working relationship with Monroe County, jointly funding health and social service programs for decades... We're very disappointed the county's proposed these Draconian cuts without discussion."

            "Will [the cuts] hurt our relationship in the future?" Calabrese asked. "You bet it will."

            As for his right to complain about the cuts, Calabrese says, "As a citizen, I have the right to speak my mind, and the organization has a tremendous right to speak on this issue... This is the good fight."

            The county executive's spokesmen did not return calls seeking comment.

--- Chris Busby

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