Regardless of whether one believes Olmas contention that his wife was fired in order to punish him, or the counterargument that the suit was another of Olmas political antics, anyone who gives this case a moment of critical thought will realize immediately who the losers are in this case: the residents of Erie County are the losers!
Whether its rate payers of the Erie County Water Authority or those who pay taxes to Erie County, residents are the losers because the settlement money will come from one of these public coffers, or both. Of course, thanks to Judge John Elfvins gag order we dont have a right to know which one of these troughs will be tapped for Mr. Olma and his Mrs.
The main argument Olma made in the case was that his wife was forced out by former Democratic Party Chairman Steve Pigeon after he and erstwhile Democratic Chairman of the Legislature, Chuck Swanick read Olma the riot act in a closed door meeting in 1999. They allegedly wanted to punish him for supporting Swarts in his campaign to replace Pigeon as head of the party.
Interestingly, every single person in that scenario now supports Joel Giambra. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
A January 24, 2000 story in Alt about these political patronage games noted that, Foul-mouthed parliamentarian Gregory B. Olma found the concoction hard to swallow, especially since he was deposed as chairman of the energy and environment committee as part of the process. We should be going forward, not sinking back into patronage and politics, he told The Buffalo News, never mentioning that his environmental post may have been instrumental in obtaining an even better patronage job for his wife Annette Juncewicz. Her last job at the Polish Community Center was greatly augmented by pay raises that he pushed through for her.
Alt called Ms. Juncewicz, who is now employed as a contract monitor for the Water Authority. When asked how much she makes a year, she went on the defensive, I couldnt give you that information over the phone, she told us, Im not a human resource person.
The all-too-familiar dial tone ensued. The Winners Are: Erie Countys Political Parasites (AKA The Giambracrats)
Here we are three years later. Greg Olma and his wife have political patronage jobs thanks to Joel Giambra. In fact, its interesting to note that after Olmas wife was let go from the Water Authority, she soon landed on her feet in a contract monitor position at the Erie County Highway Dept. Future GOP Mayor of Buffalo, Kevin Helfer got stuck with her husband and was reportedly forced to create a special position for him in social services.
Clearly that proves that Mr. Helfer, is indeed, a qualified candidate to take over where Tony Masiello left off.
In another strange coincidence, the Judge who handed down the gag order that prevents the public from knowing how much money is being handed over to Olma and his Mrs., is the same Judge who created the weighted voting system in the Erie County Legislature, thereby giving the GOP an artificial majority - a highly controversial interpretation of the one person-one vote federal mandate. Judge John T. Elfvin may be a good example of why the judicial branch is not as independent as wed like to believe.
Some critics have accused Olma of using his wifes case to simply blackmail all of his born-again Giambracrat friends. Since he and his wife have patronage jobs thanks to Giambra, thats an unlikely scenario. More probable is that the case provides Greg with a little more walking around money with which to help GOP Mazur unseat the holdout Democrat Ray Dusza from his seat in the Legislature. The GOP might not need Olma to win in Cheektowaga, but they also dont need to have their new majority leader to be put on the stand and embarrassed, either.
What better solution than to simply turn the bill for this sordid mess over to the good people of Erie County? The corrupt City Hall culture that Giambra has been a part of his entire life has effectively been carried over to County Hall. Given four more years there will be plenty of stories like this to report on- especially with Greg Olma and his wife feeding at a brand new trough. By John McMahon
In reporting the story of how the Erie County Water Authority granted former Erie County Legislator Greg Olmas wife Annette Juncewicz an undisclosed sum of six figures in order to settle a wrongful termination suit, Phil Fairbanks of The Buffalo News stated in summary, Who won and who lost in the Juncewicz case may be difficult to gauge.