June 20, 2007

County Legislator's Health Insurance

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.


William Wallace said...

That lack of government employee motivation is just why government programs need to be cut and the taxpayer's money needs to be put back into the hands of the people who will use it best, the people themselves. Enough special interest and programs paid for by all and used by few.

Mr. Pink said...

The so-called taxpayer group finally showed that they are a bunch of do-nothing hypocrites who are no better than the officeholders they criticize every two weeks before the head off to Friendly's for their milkshakes.

I'm appalled at the sense of entitlement that some of these elected officials have. Outrageous....like showing up (or not showing up in O'Connor's case) for a couple of meetings a month entitles you to lifetime healthcare. No one is telling Sean he can't run again...but the gravy train is coming to an end.

Sean's outrage shows that he serves in the Legislature for the perks and patrongage, not the public servcie. And everyone who voted against the resolution....Democrat and Republican better be ready for a revolt at the ballot box. My legislator is one of them and there is no way he gets my vote again.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pink,

You said, "Sean's outrage shows that he serves in the Legislature for the perks and patrongage, not the public servcie." and I certainly can't disagree with you ...

And Mal Needler actually said in the paper that that's the reason he's getting out. So where have his priorities been for the last 20 years.

The whole lot of them is simply self interested.

Anonymous said...

I think we're all used to self-serving politicians but this is a new low. As much as O'Connor disgraced himself, how about the others who voted no because they expect to get their 20 years in....being just a little presumptous aren't they? I hope voters make this a non-issue by making sure they don't hit 20.

drool giambra said...

There has and never has been a "Tax-payers" revolt! Just look at the "characters" involved in such cartoonism and all you see is a bunch of misfit toys and disgruntled has-been, never-wases!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, those are very harsh comments...probably accurate, but harsh.

In a way you have to admire those who became citizen-activists even if they are nutty...at least they're putting the time in that the rest of us are too lazy to do.

Maybe if a few more paid attention to our legislators' actions, we'd actually have some accountability.