7

NEWS FOR
THIS WEEK

December 31, 2015
Thursday

COMMENTARY: A few thoughts as the year ends and some suggesions for next year.

DECISIONS: There are no decisions from the Third Department this week but seven new cases have been added to the Third Department's January hearing calendar.

Week
#367

Issue
#1

Contact The Insider at:    TheInsider@InsideWorkersCompNY.com                                                                         212-734-9450

       Commissioner Biographies


Official & Unofficial
September 18, 2015
This report is done at the request of a number of readers who asked if it would be possible for me to give them the type of background information on the sitting commissioners that I did on potential nominees for Commissioner/Board Member.

September 18, 2015: Today I have updated the sudden departure on December 31, 2014 of Vice-Chair Frances Libousas well as the passing of David Dudley. No replacements, official or unofficial, have been made as of September 17, 2015.

Historically, the longest serving board member serves as Vice Chair pro-tem but Commissioner Finegan's prediliction to not show up probaly has shifted Commissioner Paprocki into that slot.

In 2013, two new nominees were affirmed: WCB General Counsel Kenneth Munnelly and workers compensation consultant Linda Hull were confirmed June 24 but did not take their oath of office until July 19, 2013. They replaced Commissioners Bargnesi and Ferrara leaving in place two Pataki appointees whose terms of office have expired: Rick Bell and Candace Finnegan.

If this whole process sounds confusing, it is. Not only is NY the only state where term shifting takes place, it is the only agency in New York State where this happens, beneficaires having been Finnegan (once), Paprocki (once) and Libous (now three times).

The first section under each name is the official biography supplied by each commissioner for insertion into the annual reports but now available only on the web site. Although a seven-year term of office would run, for example, from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2015, some commissioners are appointed to fill terms for which one, two, or more years have already run: their term would run until the end of that seven-year period, not seven years from the date of their formal confirmation. After each name below is the year first appointed and in brackets the [year] their appointment ends. But some are reappointed and others get "term swapping" so the dates in brackets are always tentative.

The second section is the ‘unofficial’ background of each commissioner. You will notice that three of the current commissioners (Libous, Finnegan, and Paprocki) have been the beneficiary of "term swapping". Term swapping occurs when a commissioner is reappointed before the end of their term to a new term that has just started that should have gone to either an existing commissioner up for reappointment (Libous for McManus, Finnegan for Zinck, Paprocki for Berns) or a vacancy created by another commissioner’s departure (Libous for Sweet).

More information about the commissioners can be found in my book: Behind The Closed Doors.. Key chapters are: "Why Commissioners are Important", "How Commissioners are Selected", "Responsibilities of a Commissioner", and "Make More Commissioners's/s Work".
2010
Finnegan

Hold-Over
2012
Bell
Hold-Over
2013
Hull
Lobban
2014
Foster-Tolbert
Higgins
2015
Beloten
Conrad
2016
Williams
2018
Munnelly
Paprocki
ROBERT EDWARD BELOTEN 2009-[2015] Last Edit: July 1, 2009
District: not applicable open Party: Democratic Prior Profession: Workers Comp Law Judge/Attorney
Official: On July 1, 2009, Governor Paterson announced his selection of Robert Edward Beloten as the next chairman of the Board, as of July 21, 2009, the day his predecessor Zachary Wiess' resignation took effect. Beloten had been a presiding law judge at the New York State Workers' Compensation Board from 1988-1996 and 2000-2009. From 1996-2000, he was a Senior Law Associate at the law firm of Keating and Klein of Syosset, New York, a firm specializing in health care law. In addition between 1996-2000 , Mr. Beloten, also served as a part-time hearing officer in the New York Supreme Court in Mineola, New York conducting hearings on property assessments on residential properties in Nassau County and was an arbitrator and mediator for the Workers' Compensation Alternative Resolution Panel for the Construction Trade in Albany, New York.
From 1985-1988, he was an assistant counsel for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. He instituted Administrative proceedings to ascertain violations of statues, rules and regulations governing racing and pari-mutuel wagering which include the administering of controlled and/or prohibited substances to horses, as well as the failure of employers to provide their employees with required workers' compensation insurance. Mr. Beloten clerked for New York Civil Court Judges Herbert A. Posner and Pearle Appelman from 1981-1984, in Kew Gardens. He has lectured extensively throughout New York on medical law and workers' compensation. He earned his law degree from the Hofstra University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park with concentrations in History, Government and Politics and Zoology. (Term expires 2015)
Background. Confirmed May 2009. Prior to his appointment was a WC law judge in Queens. As we have little information on him, his reference as being Paterson’s roommate only explains why he out of many was chosen. This was not meant to detract from his credentials. Beloten graduated from Hofstra Law School after earnings a B.A.and with honors from the University of Maryland. Originally a judge in Hempstead, he left the Board for a few years, and then returned as a judge in Queens. He as described in a recent e-mail to me as being “ well liked by Claimant and Carrier Attorneys. Practitioners on both sides respect him as a caring well informed Judge. No claimant has ever left his part feeling that they were rushed or shortchanged. It's extremely rare that someone with so much experience and knowledge of the day to day operations of the WCB becomes a Commissioner.” He has been practicing law since 1982.
RICHARD A BELL 2006-[2012] ________Last Edit: May 21, 2009
District: Albany Party: Republican Prior Profession: Insurance Executive
Official: Richard A. Bell was Executive Director of the Workers’ Compensation Board, acting as the principal assistant to the Chair, before his appointment as Commissioner. Mr. Bell brings to the Board a strong background of workers’ compensation expertise. Prior to state service, Mr. Bell had almost 25 years of claims management experience in the workers’ compensation field. Mr. Bell is a graduate of Gettysburg College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and is a graduate of the State University of Albany with a Masters of Science in Educational Administration.
BACKGROUND. His wife is Monica Bell who worked for George Pataki during his term as a State Senator, then becoming his personal Secretary/Aide when he became Governor. Appointed in 2006, Bell's term ended December 2012.
CANDACE KELLOGG FINNEGAN 1998- [2010] __Last Edit: May 21, 2009
District:Peekskill Party: Republican Prior Profession: Human Resources Executive
Official: Candace K. Finnegan brings a wealth of experience in human resources management to the Workers’ Compensation Board. She began New York State service in 1977 and has served as Personnel Administrator and Deputy Director of Labor Relations for the Department of Labor, Higher Education Services Corp., and OMH’s Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center, where she conducted special investigations, mediated employee grievances and served as the State’s advocate in employee disciplinary arbitrations. Mrs. Finnegan is a graduate of Skidmore College and attended SUNY Albany’s MBA program in Human Resources Administration.
Background: Her husband is Michael Finnegan, a former law partner of then Senator George Pataki. Immediately upon Pataki's election as Governor, M. Finnegan became his General Counsel, leaving in 1997 to become a managing director of investment banking for JPMorgan Chase. Candace Finnegan was someone whom the Albany Times Union once described as Pataki’s wife’s “best friend.” She was originally appointed in June 1998 for a term to end Dec 2004. In 2003 when Commissioner Zinck's term expired and he was up for a full seven-year term, that term was given to Finnegan and Zinck given the balance of Commissioner Libous’ term because she was also switched to someone else’s full seven year-term. Finnegan’s new term ended December 31, 2010.
FRIEDA FOSTER 2009-[2014] __________Last Edited: December 30, 2011
District: New York (Harlem) Party: Democrat Prior Experience: Public Relations - private and public sector
Official: Ms. Foster-Tolbert brings over 15 years of varied professional experience in the areas of education, public relations and government/civic service. Serving as a Trustee for the City University of New York (CUNY), she helps to oversee the management of CUNY campuses city-wide and serves as Vice Chair for the Student Affairs Committee; and serving on the Harlem Community Development Corporation's Board of Directors, she assists in the guidance of the organization to make the best development decisions for the growth of the Harlem Community.
Ms. Foster-Tolbert worked as a PR professional with one of the largest PR firms in the world and served as Director for Governor Pataki's Office of Community Affairs; Assistant to the Governor for African American Affairs; a Residential Life Professional where she developed and administered policy and provided enforcement and guidance to thousands of students on campus. In addition, she served as the NYC Human Resources Administration Liaison and Recruiter for BMCC's College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment Program where she primarily worked with hundreds of students and helped to solve difficult benefit cases which ultimately enabled the students to continue their academic careers. A lifelong Harlem resident, Ms. Foster-Tolbert holds a BA from Hofstra University and an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin. (Term expires 2014)
Background: Confirmed May 2009. Foster-Colbert’s late husband, Terence D. Colbert, was a well-know political operative who worked in the office of or campaigned for President Obama, Congressman Rangel, Assemblyman Wright, State Senator Connor, and Mayor Bloomberg, among others. In 2010, she dropped the "Tolbert" from her name on Board documents. The following is from her May 2009 biography as posted on the CUNY website. Freida D. Foster-Tolbert, a graduate of Borough of Manhattan Community College, was appointed in 2006 as a CUNY Trustee by Governor George Pataki, for whom who she previously worked as Director for Community Affairs in the state Executive Chamber [Ed. NOTE: where I had the occasion to work with her]. Governor Pataki also appointed her to serve on the Harlem Community Development Corporation’s Board of Directors. Leaving that position shortly after the election of Governor Spitzer, she took a position in a non-profit before becoming a manager at the public relations firm of Burson-Marsteller, which provides services to government, corporate, and community clients. Foster-Tolbert holds a BA in Communications, Sociology, and Speech from Hofstra University and received an MS in Corporate Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. More information about her can be found on her Facebook page.
MARK D. HIGGINS 2008-[2014] ____Last Edit: May 21, 2009
District: Buffalo Party: Democrat Prior Experience: Union Employee Representative
Official: Mr. Higgins came to the board after serving over 30 years as a staff representative with the Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. where he negotiated collective bargaining agreements and represented workers in all workplace issues including workers' compensation. He holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from SUNY College at Buffalo. He is a lifelong resident of Greater Buffalo.
Background: Mark D. Higgins was nominated as a Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation by Governor Patterson and his appointment confirmed by the State Senate on June 26, 2008. Higgins served over 30 years as a staff representative with the Civil Service Employees Association. His brother is Brian Higgins, a three-term Congressman from the 27th CD (Buffalo); his father also served as a Commissioner at the WCB.
LINDA HULL 2013-[ 2013 - yes, expires same year)] ____Last Edit: September 13, 2013
District: Rochester Party: _____ Prior Profession: Private consultant on workers compensation issues
Official: A 30-year specialist in workers' compensation, in 1994 Linda Hull founded Upstate WorkComp Inc., where she consulted on behalf of self-insured and insured employers, occupational health groups, vocational specialists and insurance agents. Earlier in her career, she worked as an outside field adjustor, hearing representative and a claims supervisor for insurance carriers. A frequent speaker on workers' compensation topics to prominent industry groups, Ms. Hull received the New York State Workers Compensation Board's Chairman's Award for Excellence for her contribution to the self-insurance community in 2001. In 2011, was elected to the AMCOMP Board of Managers and in 2012, she participated on the Workers' Compensation Board Medical Treatment Guidelines Payer Committee. Ms. Hull was a 20-year member of the NYS Business Council's Workers Compensation committee, the NY State Self- Insured Association, and the Rochester Business Alliance Workers Compensation Committee.
Ms. Hull holds a dual Bachelor of Science in Economics and Political Science from the State University of New York College at Brockport. She is a native of Rochester.
Background: In process of being edited but the fact that she closed her business to take this appoinment is an indication thats he has been promised to be reappointed to a full seven year term nexy year
LOREN D. LOBBAN 2010-[ 2013] ____Last Edit: December 31, 2011
District: Brooklyn Party: Democrat Prior Profession: Attorney, Private Practice
Official: Loren Lobban has many years of experience as a practicing attorney, representing individuals, business and government. Prior to joining the Board, Mr. Lobban maintained a private law practice where he specialized in litigation. He was the principle of his own firm and also counsel to the Erie County Legislature. He also volunteered his time representing clients for the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. Mr. Lobban earned law degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Norman Manley Law School. He also holds an MBA from Medaille College in Buffalo. Mr. Lobban earned a BA in history and psychology from the University of Northern Michigan.
BACKGROUND. Loren D. Lobban has been a member of the NY Bar since 1976, practicing insurance and criminal law. He graduated from Northern Michigan University with a BA and got his JD at SUNY Buffalo. Like Williams, Lobban is involved in Democratic/WPF politics as an active contributor to Democratic candidates for national and statewide offices. As a matter of interest, Lobban has contributed to Brian Higgins for Congress ($5000 in 2006), the brother of current Commissioner Mark Higgins, but with enough left over for State Senator Malcom Smith, among other state democratic office holders. Although he was nominated by Governor Paterson and appeared before the Senate Standing Committees on Labor and Finance in May 2010 (at the same time as Samuel Williams). Lobban did not actual take the oath of office for several more weeks.
CONRAD W. LOWER 2009-[ 2015] ____Last Edit: August 23, 2010
District: Brooklyn Party: Democrat Prior Profession: Attorney, Labor Union
Official: Conrad W. Lower practiced labor and employment law for over 25 years. As Senior Counsel with the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) he represented public employees and their local unions before administrative agencies such as the Public Employment Relations Board and the State Education Department, and in New York's state and federal courts. As a Labor Relations Specialist for NYSUT he was responsible for negotiating and enforcing collective bargaining agreements, and advising local union officers and members on workers' compensation and other employment issues. Mr. Lower's significant cases include a jury verdict in favor of seven teachers and aides who suffered carpal tunnel and emotional distress injuries from a school district's unconstitutional actions, and an order of reinstatement and back pay for school bus drivers and mechanics whose jobs were unlawfully outsourced.
He began his legal career in private practice in Indiana representing unions before the National Labor Relations Board and in the courts, and litigating workers' compensation, social security disability and personal injury actions on behalf of injured workers. Mr. Lower graduated with a B.A. in economics from Antioch College in 1976, and received his law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in 1983. Appointed by Governor Paterson in May 2009, he was confirmed by the State Senate September 10, 2009.(Term expires 2015)
BACKGROUND. Although his May 2009 appointment was expect to breeze through the State Senate, his formal nomination was one of nearly 100 confirmations held up for months by the State Senate during its few months in the summer of 2009 when leadership and majority control of the Senate shifted back and forth between the Democrats and Republics and a variety of individuals who claimed to be Senate Speaker . There appears to be no other reason for this delay.
KENNETH J. MUNNELLY 2013-[ 2018] Last Edit: September 13, 2013
District: Albany Party: Democrat Prior Profession: WCB General Counsel
Official: Kenneth J. Munnelly was general counsel of the New York State Workers' Compensation Board from 2008 to 2013, responsible for the day-to-day legal operations of the Board and a staff of approximately 150 attorneys including all law judges, the Administrative Review Division and the Legal Affairs Division, which reviews full board applications, as well as the Litigation Unit.
Mr. Munnelly also worked in the New York State Assembly for 21 legislative sessions. He served as counsel to the Assembly Local Governments committee as well as the Speaker's counsel to the Judiciary Committee from 1986 to 1993. In 1994, Mr. Munnelly was named First Deputy Attorney General by Attorney General Oliver Koppell. In 1998, Mr. Munnelly was elected Town Justice in the Town of Bethlehem, presiding over felony arraignments, misdemeanors, traffic infractions and small claims court. In 2005, Mr. Munnelly returned to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, serving as counsel to the chair. While working for the Assembly, Mr. Munnelly maintained a private law practice where he specialized in litigation, family and criminal law.
Mr. Munnelly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a Masters in Public Administration (concentration in public finance) from the Rockefeller School of Public Affairs in Albany. In 1984, he graduated from Albany Law School, receiving the Senior Trial prize at graduation.(Term expires 2018)
BACKGROUND. In view of the fact that his salary as the Board's General Counsel was nearly $140,000, there is a great deal of speculation as to why he took the post of commissioner which pay only $92,000, unless he has been promised the position of Chairman ($120,000, now held by Beloten) or Vice Chairman ($101,000 now held by equally politically connected Libous).
ELLEN O'MARA PAPROCKI 2001-[2018] _Last Edit: June 20,2013
District: Syracuse Party: Republican Prior Profession: Management Executive, Public Sector
Official: Ellen O. Paprocki brings a varied background to the Workers’ Compensation Board. Prior to joining the Board, she served as Assistant Director of the New York State Fair in Syracuse, where she provided management and program/policy development for the annual State Fair and for more than 200 other events throughout the year. She spent many years in Washington, DC, working with the U.S. Department of Labor as a Field Office Coordinator, Labor- Management Liaison and Investigative Trainer, as well as serving as a Congressional Liaison for the Agency for International Development. Ms. Paprocki spent time as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1980s. She is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Background. In November 2010, her brother Tom O'Mara was elected a New York State Senator, Republican-Conservative, possibly explaining why in March 2013 she was quietly reappointed as a Republican by Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo to a third term, expiring in 2018. Her father is Judge John O’Mara, an influential lobbyist and power broker both during and after the Pataki administration, including his term of office as Chairman of the State Public Service Commission. As reported in the NY Times, “Paprocki won another term on the WCB by means of a favorite old Albany switcheroo. She changed places with another board member whose term is expiring while Mr. Pataki is still in office. This was done after an attempt in June 2006 to nominate her to two consecutive terms, then to a single seven-and-a-half-year term, exceeding the term specified by state law.” After the June incident, her name was temporarily withdrawn.
She also had the rare distinction for a commissioner of sitting on two State boards at one time. After leaving the her paid position at the State Fair, she was then appointed as a director of that Board, a creation of and funded in part by the State of New York, in where she continued to influence the State Fair’s Board‘s decisions, a position she has held for eight years until the State Fair Board was the subject of an extension investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the State of New York, an investigation which resulted in the arrests of some members of the staff and an overhaul of the operations of the Fair under which substantial financial abuse had taken place. Although her presence on the State Fair Board was not widely known nor mentioned in her official biography, she did receive approval from the Pataki administration and a confidential authorization from the State Ethics Commission to take this second State appointment, thus being able to use her influence on two State Boards at the same time. Her current term at the Workers Compensation Board ends December 2018.
SAMUEL G WILLIAMS 2010-[2016] ____Last Edit: December 30, 2010
District: Buffalo Party: Democrat Prior Profession: Labor Union Official
Official: Samuel G. Williams was born in Niagara Falls, New York. Mr. Williams graduated from high school in 1970 and started his union career as a sheet metal apprentice. He served as a journeyman for Sheet Metal Workers Local 71 until 1976 when he was hired at the former Harrison Radiator division of General Motors Corporation and became a member of the UAW Local 686. Mr. Williams rose through the union ranks as alternate, district, and shop committeeman. In 1996, he took part in the development of the "Transitional Work Center" concept within General Motors, which allowed and encouraged UAW members collecting Worker's Compensation to return to work early. The program allowed injured workers to return to work in non-traditional jobs until they were able to return to their normal work duty. This program is still in place today, greatly reducing the Worker's Compensation costs throughout the industry.
Mr. Williams was appointed to the International Staff of the UAW Region 9 as a Servicing Representative. In this capacity he negotiated collective bargaining agreements, handled arbitration issues and PERB hearings for numerous UAW locals throughout the Western New York area. In 1998, he was appointed Director of Education for UAW Region 9, encompassing New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And in August of 2004 he was appointed Director of the CAP (Community Action Program) Region 9 UAW New York State.
Throughout the years, Mr. Williams has received many awards and honors for his tireless dedication to causes he believes in. He was honored in 1994 with the UAW Citizenship Award and in 1999 as Labor Citizen of the Year from the Niagara/Orleans Labor Council AFL-CIO. In 2009 he received the Norm Harper Labor Award from the Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), and the Buffalo Central Labor Council "Labor Person of the Year" award for his commitment to labor and community partnership through legislative and electoral solutions. In January 2010 he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award. [ED. NOTE: (Term expires 2016)
Background. The above official biography should be quite clear as to how Williams arrived at the Board. Appointed by Governor Paterson in May 2010, his current term at the Workers Compensation Board ends December 2016. For whatever reason, in 2012, the following was removed from his official bio : Mr. Williams has been married to his wife and high school sweetheart Catherine for 38 years and has three grown sons; John, Sam and Tom. Mr. Williams proudly became a first-time grandfather with the birth of a grandson, Elijah Jaxon.
  ♦ FORMER BOARD MEMBERS ♦
MONA A. BARGNESI 2001-July 2013 
Last Edit: July 24, 2013
District: Buffalo Party: Republican Prior Profession: Attorney
Official: Mona A. Bargnesi is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Ms. Bargnesi was previously associated with the firm of Gibson, McAskill & Crosby, LLP of Buffalo, where she practiced in the areas of medical malpractice and general litigation. Prior to that, she held the position of Assistant Attorney General in the New York State Attorney General's Office. Ms. Bargnesi is fluent in Spanish and French. She has extensive volunteer experience, including service as a member of the Board of Hispanics United of Buffalo, the Amherst Senior Citizens Foundation and the Olmsted Center for the Visually Impaired.
Background: Originally appointed in 2001 to finish the term of the late Commissioner Frank Ryan which was to have ended in 2003. Reappointed in 2005, her term ended December 31, 2010 but she remained on the Board until June 20, 2013 when her position was taken by Vice-Chairman Frances Libous - see Francis Libous' bio above.
DAVID R. DUDLEY 2011-2015 (Deceased)
Last Edit: September 21, 2015
District: Albany Party: Republican Prior Profession: Attorney, Lobbyist in Albany
Official: David R. Dudley is an attorney with more than four decades of legal experience. His work in government has been extensive. He served as Counsel to the Senate majority, Assistant Counsel to the Assembly minority, Assistant Rensselaer County Attorney, and Assistant Attorney General, as well as East Greenbush Town Attorney. Significantly, he was very involved in the 1996 workers' compensation reform while working for the Senate as counsel to the Senate majority. Mr. Dudley also has more than 25 years experience in private practice, as both a partner and as head of law firms. He graduated from Albany Law School and earned a BA from the University of Windsor, Ontario.
Background: Dudley died on March 13, 2015. Dudley was originally nominated by Governor David Patterson in June 2010, but the Democrat-controlled Senate did not act on the appointment. But was again nominated, successfully this time, by Governor Andrew Cuomo — The Republicans controlled the State Senate. Previous to his appointment to the Board, Dudley, former head of the Rensselaer County Republican Party, was then-Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno's counsel from 1995 until the end of 1998. After Senator Bruno resigned in 2009, Dudley became a legislative lobbyist. Previously, he served as assistant counsel for the New York Assembly Republicans, assistant Rensselaer County attorney, town attorney for East Greenbush, N.Y., and as an assistant state attorney general.
DONNA FERRARA 2005- July 2013_
Last Edit: July 24, 2013
District: Hauppauge Party: Republican Prior Profession: State Assemblyman/Attorney
Official: Donna Ferrara was Chair Pro-Tem of the Workers' Compensation Board. Ms. Ferrara also served six terms in the New York State Assembly. She was the ranking member of the Assembly Insurance Committee, where she authored legislation for the benefit of breast cancer victims. Consistently ranked at or near the top of all state legislators every year for her exceptional voting record on environmental issues, Ms. Ferrara also received awards for her work in crime prevention and victim rights. Ms. Ferrara was proud to be named a Beatrice Koretsky Fellow at Harvard University's JFK School of Government Women and Power Program. Ms. Ferrara graduated from St. John's University School of Law. She also received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York at Albany. She is married to Robert Gregory, and they have two children.
BACKGROUND. Some time after Robert Snashall retired, when Governor Pataki decided to formally select a Pro-Tem Chairman, Pataki selected Commissioner Ferrara who retained that position until the formal appointment of David Wehner as Chairman. At that time, Ferrara returned to the position of Commissioner for the balance of her term which expired in December 2011.
SCOTT FIRESTONE 2000-2004, 2005-2009
District: Hempstead Party: Conservative Prior Profession: Public Official/Attorney
Official: Scott C. Firestone announced in June 2009 his resignation from the Board on July 21, 2009, to take a position as a Federal Social Security Judge. He practiced law and served as Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Huntington before joining the Workers’ Compensation Board. He was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1989. Mr. Firestone is a graduate of the Bridgeport School of Law in Connecticut. In addition to New York State, Mr. Firestone is admitted to the Bar in Connecticut and Florida. He resides in the Town of Port Washington in Nassau County.
FRANCES LIBOUS 2001-2014
District: Binghamton Party: Republican Prior Profession: Nurse
Official: Frances M. Libous, R.N., B.S. is Vice Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Mrs. Libous brings a valuable health care background to the Board. She has held a Registered Nurse’s license since 1983. As a Public Health Nurse at the Broome County Health Department she helped seniors, children, people with AIDS, people with disabilities and many others to avoid institutional placements by providing direct clinical care to them at home. As a Manager at the Susquehanna Nursing Center, she helped more seniors by creating and directing home health care and outpatient medical day care programs. She also brings to the Board a commitment to fair and efficient case handling for injured workers. As the Board’s District Administrator in Binghamton, she led efforts in a 10-county region to improve the quality and speed of customer service to injured workers through pilot programs involving improved case management, experimental video conference conciliation and tougher fraud prevention.

Background:  On October 14, 2014. Libous filed for retirement to be effective December 31, 2014.  Reasons for her 'sudden' departure range from the separate indictments of her son on tax fraud and her husband, Senator Tim Libous, for lying to the FBI, or the raid by investigators on her home and her, rather than her husband's or son's, personal and work computers is a question that will proably never be answered. [ED NOTE: In 2015, both her husband and son were convicted and sentenced to prison.]

Libous, whose thrid term expired December 31, 2013, was reappointed to the 4½ year balance of the term (2011-2017) held by former Commissioner Mona Bargnesi. Why Libous, whose husband Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) is the number two senator in the State Senate, did not wait until January2014 to get a full seven year term raises a lot of interesting hypotheses, considering that Senator Libous' position assures her of political access denied other commissioners. [ED NOTE: This paragraph was written prior the indictments of both her husband and son.]

First appointed in 2001 but yet to fill a single 7-year term, she has been reappointed three times to other commissioners’ slots in order to insure her continued input at the Board, with her current term expiring December 2017. She became Vice-Chairman when her predecessor Jeffrey Sweet retired in 2006 and took the position of acting Chairman for a few months after David Wehner left the board until it was decided by Governor Pataki’s office to formally nominate Commissioner Ferrara as Chairman Pro-Tem. In 2013, both Fran and Tom Libous have been subject of several investigative reports in the Times Union, among other papers, regarding some of their previously undisclosed real estate investments.
ZACHARY S. WEISS 2007-2009
Chairman. Party: Democrat Prior Profession: Public Official/Attorney
Official: In June 2009, Weiss announced his resignation as both the Chairman and a member of the Board on July 21, 2009, to take a position as a Federal Social Security Judge. In 2007, Mr. Weiss joined] the Board from the New York State Insurance Department, where he was Special Counsel to the Insurance Superintendent.Prior to joining the State Insurance Department, Mr. Weiss held senior positions at the Office of the New York State Attorney General, beginning in 1999. He first served as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, where he supervised white collar criminal prosecutions. In that capacity, he oversaw an investigation that led to significant reforms at the New York Racing Authority.From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Weiss was the First Assistant in the Organized Crime Task Force, supervising organized crime investigations, setting legal policy and reviewing all filings, including eavesdropping applications. He also worked with state and federal agencies, including the State Inspector General in an investigation of procurement fraud at the New York State Canal Corporation. In 2005, Mr. Weiss became Counsel to the Criminal Division, where, among other achievements, he directed the grand jury investigation into bid rigging at Marsh & McLellan that resulted in 20 convictions. From 1985 to 1999, Mr. Weiss served in the office of the New York County District Attorney, beginning as an Assistant District Attorney. He later moved to the Trial Division as a Homicide Assistant, and then served in the Organized Crime Narcotics unit and as a Senior Investigative Counsel for the Rackets Bureau. Mr. Weiss was also an adjunct professor at Benjamin Cardozo Law School from 1998 to 2002, where he taught a course in fact investigation. Mr. Weiss clerked for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Charles Levin from 1981 to 1982, and subsequently joined the Chicago law firm Sonnenschein Carlin Nath & Rosenthal as an associate. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a concentration in psychology, from Sarah Lawrence College.
BACKGROUND. In early 2007, Weiss was asked by Governor Spitzer to join a committee established to review the activities of the Workers Comp Board in order to improve its effectiveness. During that time, Weiss not only visited the Board, but actually attended a number of hearings in Brooklyn to learn for himself how they were conducted and he spoke to judges and other staff people. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that he would become Chairman of the Board. He has often described himself, not as a litigator, but a prosecutor. (Last edit: July 1, 2009)
OTHER FORMER COMMISSIONERS ♦

Berns, Michael
      
1996-2008
Botta, Leslie
       1999-2005
Charles, Ray
       ?-1998
Groski, Edel
       1998-2009
Henry, Karl
       1995-2009
Hill, Marjorie
      
1994-2001
Jorge, Julia
      ?-1999

Korn-Koren, Lindy
       1990-1998
Madigan, Robert
      
1998-2001
McManus, Carol
      
1996-2005
Perotta, Carmine
       ?-1998
Ruberto, Carmine
      
?-1998
Ryan, Frank
       1998-2001
Shields, Walter
       pre-1987-2001

Snashall, Robert1
       1995-2002
Sweet, Jeffrey2
       1995-2006
Wehner, David
1
       2005-2007
Zinck, Robert
       2001-2007
Tremiti, Ferdinand
       1978-2000

1 Chairman
2 Vice-Chairman