Erie County Council approves funding for Dahlkemper's "Up for th - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Erie County Council approves funding for Dahlkemper's "Up for the Job" program

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ERIE, Pa. -

After weeks of debating what was called an "unlawful" bidding process for the Erie County's Up For The Jobs program, Erie County Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to fund the original $36,000 proposal from consultants Ten 53 Newton.

"Council had both the comfort of it and also knowing that we had to get this started rather than waiting months on end to start from scratch," said Council Chairman Jay Breneman.

The goal of the program is to help attract companies seeking skilled laborers to Erie, according to Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper during a council meeting Sept. 7, following massive layoffs countywide notably at GE Transportation.

"Nobody is better equipped to speak for labor than labor itself, so we're hoping this new, fresh approach will help attract some good, family sustaining jobs to the area," said Scott Slawson, president of UE Local 506, the largest union at GE's Lawrence Park-based plant.

Last week, it became apparent that the Dahlkemper administration included additional services into an amended RFP -- or request for proposal -- seeking up to $102,000, $50,000 of that from the County, Dahlkemper previously told council.

But Erie County Controller Mary Schaaf and even council's own solicitor, Tom Talarico, said the administration would have to re-bid the RFP for the additional work. That's something they'll wait to do, for now, according to Gary Lee, Erie County's director of administration.

"We're excited Council agreed and saw the value of this particular initiative," he said, "so we're just going to move Up for the Jobs forward and really help the men and women of this region."

Councilman Ed DiMattio was the lone no-vote on the up for the jobs funding, saying the administration and others haven't outlined a clear path to bring those jobs to Erie.

"I need to see a plan before I appropriate the money," DiMattio said during the Tuesday's meeting. "I want this work 100 percent, and I can't stress that enough... you guys give me something concrete, I'll be behind you 100 percent."

Moving ahead, Council is expected to take action in the next few weeks on another controversial piece of legislation: the Erie County Human Relations Commission's anti-discrimination ordinance regarding housing and employment. The proposal would not permit landlords and employers throughout Erie County to consider a person's criminal history among other provisions beyond a ten-year period. The move has upset landlords across the county, including those from the Apartment Association of Northwest Pennsylvania, the largest residential rental group in Erie County.

"We're still addressing feedback from property owners and people in the community," said Breneman. "I'd say we're probably at an 80 percent solution on it right now."

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