In the Buffalo News today, Tom Prohaska has written a story about Tuesday night's Niagara County Legislature meeting. In the story, Prohaska states that a "down-and dirty political brawl broke out" at the meeting.
I think to myself, maybe it's about dorms at Niagara County Community College, that seems to be a somewhat volatile issue. Maybe it's another slam on Henry Sloma, despite the fact that the IDA has enjoyed it's most successful year in history, Harry Apolito wants his resignation. Maybe the brawl is about the allocation of power received through the NYPA settlement, that's been in the news a couple times recently.
I was wrong on all counts. The brawl wasn't about anything that effects the residents of Niagara County. It doesn't effect our public safety, it doesn't effect Social Services, it doesn't impact the college and it doesn't effect our roads or bridges.
In fact, this "brawl" effects one person and one person only: Legislator Sean O'Connor.
Apparently Legislator Rick Updegrove followed through on a promise to increase the premium contribution those legislators who receive the taxpayer subsidized county health insurance must contribute. As a taxpayer, this is a good thing. The less money extracted from my pocket the better.
It seems that not everyone feels this way. "It’s politics at its worst,” O’Connor said. Politics at it's worst? Enacting legislation that reforms government and puts money back into the pockets of taxpayers is politics at it's worst?
“I have 22 years in", asserted O'Connor. Well, as the senior member of the Legislature, most of those years in the Majority, I guess we have you to thank for the Tax Foundation findings that Niagara County is the highest taxed county in the country.
As for the brawl, one person advocating on behalf of saving legislator's benefits completely startled me. An individual stood up at the podium during the public comment session and stated, "Talk about politics at its dirtiest. Mr. O’Connor should be grandfathered". Was this Mrs. O'Connor there to support her husband's benefits? No, it was Margie Swan.
Why would this startle me? Because this is the same Margie Swan that heads a group called the Niagara County Concerned Taxpayers. Can your hyporisy sink any lower? You lead a group that's sole purpose for existence is to advocate on behalf of the overburdened taxpayers of Niagara County, then demand the legislature keep intact the benefits of county legislators that will potentially cost the taxpayers of Niagara County hundreds of thousands of dollars. I cannot begin to fathom the depths of your hypocrisy.
It's unfortunte that the issue that evoked the most passion I've seen from Sean O'Connor over the past 20+ years is the one that effects his own wallet. If only he'd channeled that passion into something for the benefit of the people of this county, he just might have made a difference.