June 15, 2007

The Tie That Binds

Watching and attending county legislature meetings, I have noticed something very interesting. In the gallery sit a variety of people. Some are there to be honored by the legislature, some are there because they believe in viewing government in action, some are there because an issue of interest may be on the agenda, and some are there simply based upon their hatred for the legislature.

This is not an issue of concern for me. What I do find fascinating is that many of these people contradict their "friends", and in some cases, themselves, at every single meeting, and these people continue to sit together, cheer together and interact with each other.

I watched a meeting where Margie Swan stood at the podium talking about saving Mount View and saving county jobs. Everyone cheered. Then, Edwina Lucsks stands up and talks about how Niagara County has the highest taxes in the country, that the county has too many employees, and that the county needs to cut back, reduce spending, eliminate waste, etc. Everyone cheered.

You cannot be further apart on an issue. I have heard legislators and the county manager say they only control approximately 21% of their budget, the other 79% is mandates. I've never heard anyone dispute that, so assuming it's true, the most significant aspect of the budget that the county can control is personnel.

Edwina stands up at every meeting and says there are too many public sector employees in Niagara County. The crowd cheers. Closing or selling Mount View will reduce the county work force by 200 employees. So closing Mount View will accomplish exactly what Edwina and the others seek. And the crowd cheers.

So, at this meeting, why did the crowd, the same people, cheer for both speakers? It's unfortunately very clear. They cheer two individuals on completely different sides of an issue because they despise the legislature, and that is the tie that binds them together.

Public speakers stand at that podium and hammer the legislature every meeting, talk about getting new people elected. But who the hell wants to subject themselves to the likes of you? I certainly wouldn't. In the City of Lockport, 5 out of the 6 Aldermen are unopposed. Is it a surprise to anyone that people don't want to run for office? If they turn on LCTV and see the public speakers, anyone in his right mind wouldn't subject themself to the garbage spewed at those meetings.

In the end, nobody wins. But, at least you get to go home and watch yourself on TV. You must be oh so very proud.


Anonymous said...

That is so true! I couldn't agree more. The rehetoric and follies are intended to bloviate and self serve personal agendas that are born and perpetuated by egos. By the by, I remember Edwina threatening to move back to Ohio becasue it was so bad here.....guess things changed for the better here.

hcdem said...

I think Edwina Luk's comments have served their purpose: the closure of Mt. View will shrink our public payroll significantly. Public input does serve a purpose and our leaders do listen (sometimes).

Mr. Pink said...

I think public input is a good thing. I think using the podium at official legislative meetings to berate officials because they are a captive audience is obscene.

Public speaking should be part of committee meetings where the real work gets done. If they allow speaking at the main meeting, it should only be on agenda items.

Sail Away said...

I recived this via email from Mrs. Swan this morning. I assume her intent was to have her response published:

When I commented on why Niagara County should keep Mt. View Health Facility I also explained why it would be more cost saving to Niagara County to do so.
First, Niagara County is completely responsible for any and all persons who either do not have any health insurance, financial capabilities to support themselves in any nursing home. If the County Nursing Home is closed, Niagara County still has to supply any & all persons with some type of health care, so if they don't have Mt. View, then N. County will have to put them in a private Nursing Home where the costs are double/triple, or if necessary in the hospital which is even more costly. They can also send these people up to 50 miles away from their families which brings hardship to the loved ones of this family by them being elderly and not capable of driving that far to see their loved one in the facility, costly.
One of the most important issues also is when I was given a tour of Mt. View one of the first things I experienced was when I walked into their facility, there was not the smell of an "institution", even though Mt. View is one of the oldest medical facilities in the County, it was clean, and comfortable. I also spoke to a number of the Residents living there and they were genuinely happy, some had come from other nursing homes in this County and a couple people in particular said, "they felt like dying until they came to Mt. View because at Mt. View they felt like they were with family, they felt like they wanted to keep on living.
So...it stands to reason that if Niagara County would keep Mt. View open, PLUS build the cottages they had talked about where people capable of "paying their way" could be housed and IF the State would bring Mt. View up to the cost of 2000's instead of the 80's Mt. View would not be a drain on the County.

Thank-you for letting me fill in "the rest of your story" about me.
Margie Swan

kasmls17 said...

When public input is used, especially on agenda items it can be a good thing. Most of the time, in any open meeting, you always have the same people coming and finding something to complain about. There are the occasionals that speak up when something really interests them which is good. However, it's those people that are there every week that try and make the officials lives harder by finding something to complain about is why no one wants to run. I'm all for you should question things you don't agree with, but not to these people's extent.

Anonymous said...

You are right on the money. Who would want to be an elected official when every motive is questioned by six nuts with their own agenda.

Mr. Pink is right...move the speaking to the committee meetings and then see if they show up. This is all about getting their mugs on LCTV.

Pirate's Code said...

New York State's number one ranking when it comes to overall tax burden makes it awfully easy for the gang that couldn't shoot straight to...well...shoot.

Understood that NC government isn't the biggest or baddest burden of all the taxes we pay, but it is, in many ways, the easiest to shout at.

The LCTV Legislature All-Stars are sometimes a hoot to watch, but know that deep down most of us share their frustration with the cost of (all) government.

That said, arguing without the facts is akin to howling at the moon.

Sweaterman said...

Personally....I believe that public comment should end at the Legislature period.....if they do not like the way the county is run....let them vote for someone else or run themselves.

Remember.....this is a representative democracy.

Anonymous said...


Doesn't the Constitution allow us to redress grievances?