July 18, 2007

Job Descriptions

Tom Christy has mailed a letter to every Niagara County Legislator asking them to complete a job description. Yes, bartender extraordinaire Tom Christy would like legislators to write down exactly what they do. In addition, he would like them to write a "job purpose, primary duties and responsibilities, qualifications and experience".

This strikes me as somewhat bizarre. Last I looked, Christy lived in Erie County, not Niagara. But for some reason, he has set his sights on the Niagara County Legislature. Considering the heinous financial meltdown in Erie County over the past few years, one would think Erie County would have a greater need for in depth fiscal analysis. But no, the focus is on the Niagara County Leg, and I think I know why.

There is no public comment session in Erie, thus, there are no lemmings. In Niagara County, Christy has his little following to build his ego. At Niagara County Legislature meetings, there are five or six windbags who address the legislature on a regular basis. In Erie County, there is no addressing the Legislature. From these five or six windbags, a little clique has formed, and they follow Christy like a little puppy, and Christy eats it up.

Sure, about 50 people attended the first FAIR Government meeting, but as stated before, you take away elected officials and the three-minute lemmings, there were about 20 people there. That's about one for every Legislator, or one out of 11,000 people in each district. A stunning success - not.

But the Leg is an easy target. Meetings are televised, LCTV devotes a minimum of four hours a week to political dialogue, WLVL carries political discussions, US&J has a message board.

No discussion of school taxes, which is far and away the single biggest tax burden we face. You want some credibility? Go FOIL every school district in Niagara County. Ask them how many students they have. Ask them how many teachers they have. Then ask for the same numbers from 10 years ago. What will you have to say when practically every district has declining enrollment while hiring more personnel? That, my friend, is Fiscal Accountability in government.

You want fiscal accountability, get some school Superintendents on your show. Not on 20 to talk about the horrendous "No Child Left Behind" program, but on YOUR show to talk about the massive financial burden school boards put on the working class of this county.

Never mind, don't respond to that because we all know damn well it will never happen. You'll just keep doing what you've been doing. Keep working it, though, maybe you can get the count of the geriatric lemmings up to a dozen. In the meantime, at least you'll have job descriptions to analyze.


Larry S said...

You really need to learn to express yourself. Stop holding back, just say what you mean for a change! LOLOL

Scott Leffler said...

You said: "bartender extraordinaire Tom Christy ..."

So I can assume you're employed at some sort of think tank?

I love the dirt throwing tactic ... Henry Sloma called me a "pizza delivery driver." You call Tom "bartender extraordinaire Tom Christy." As though that minimizes us.

We must really make your kind squirm.

Mr. Pink said...

I agree with Leffler on this one...this site is supposed to be about the quality of one's ideas, not your position or title. Plus, everyone knows bartenders give out the best advice.

Having said that, it seems to me that Christy is not nearly as impartial as he used to be. I used to think Tom would be a great moderator for any public discussion because he was able to play both sides of an issue and really get his guests to think.

Now, he seems like he has his own agenda, which would be fine if he still weren't putting up the facade of fairness.

Then again, it may be that Tom is trying to have an open discussion about government in Niagara County and only the usual suspects are wiling to participate....I wish they all had something better to do.

Scott Leffler said...

Thanks Pink.

Sail Away said...

It is amazing that the only thing you picked up out of that entire post is two words.

Are there problems in Niagara County? Sure there are. Is it the gloom and doom you and your callers, who happen to be the same gadflies at Leg meetings, make it out to be? Absolutely not.

Show a little courage, Scott. Take on the school districts. Show people that you're not just a bully taking on an easy target like the Leg.

If you and Christy are sincere about addressing governmental waste, there is NOWHERE that you should be looking at except school districts.

But, again, the Leg is an easy target. You don't need to actually do research to hammer the Leg. Going after school districts would require some testicular fortitude.

If you want the county to reduce spending, say WHERE. This B.S. of "cut spending" without a single recommendation of where to cut spending is cowardly.

And Christy is the one who called himself "bartender extraordinaire", it was not meant to be derogatory.

Sail Away said...

By the way, Scott, I haven't squirmed since the 5th grade dance at school when I was about to ask Sandy Sundling to dance. And you are no Sandy Sundling.

Virtual Unreality said...

Christy will not gain any credibility until she rids himself of the 3 minute crowd. They shadow him and it hurts him.

I do commend him on his efforts to promote ptransparaency in government, people need to know where their money is going.

But as I read in here before, listening to these people on TV, you'd think the public comment session is the most important issue in the county, and it's not.

Unfortunately, Christy is so strongly linked to that issue because that's all that his "followers" want to talk about so he can't get away from it.

Scott Leffler said...

Sail Away ... you have a forum. Feel free to take on the school districts yourself. I'm sure you've noted over the years, that I have thrown more than a few jabs at EVERY DISTRICT in Niagara County. I agree that their waste is beyond reason. But it's not my bag. I have a degree in POLITICAL Science. I enjoy politics. I'm not as interested in the education system. I'm just being honest. I just have to wonder if you're deflecting. Trying to take attention off the problems in the county (things are not all honkey dorey) by asking people to "look over there!" It's the definition of what I refer to as a Rodeo Clown. As for the county's spending - Eliminate Mount View - sell the golf course - reduce the legislature to five members. Let one of THEM be the clerk. Inventory the county fleet and reduce it by the number of cars you didn't even know you had. Immediately reduce the Sheriff's department by 10 percent. With an additional 10 percent cut in each of the following four years. No insurance for ANY part time employee - past or present. Reduce the size of the Department of Health. Reduce the size of the Economic Development office unless they actually DO something. Either eliminate the county attorney position or actually expect him to do some work. Stop wasting money on consulting fees. And most importantly - grow the tax base by eliminating stupid regulations and fees, which prevent small businesses from opening ... or succeeding.

Now - you think they could find some savings in at least a few of those ideas?

But once again, you defend the status quo and shoot the messenger. Really makes me wonder.

Sail Away said...

Don't tell me what to cut them ask me how much it will save. You suggested the cuts, you tell me how much it will save. Or will that require some actual research.

So you think I'm trying to deflect attention away from the county to the schools. Obviously your school tax bill must read completely different than mine, because my county taxes aren't the problem.

And what messenger did I shoot? Stop making crap up as you go, this isn't your show.

Scott Leffler said...

Sail Away,

You're right. It's not my show ... it's yours. And I appreciate the time you give me.

But I must have misunderstood when you said: "If you want the county to reduce spending, say WHERE. This B.S. of "cut spending" without a single recommendation of where to cut spending is cowardly."

That made me think that you wanted ideas of where to cut, which I provided.

I'm fairly certain that I agreed with you on school taxes, BTW. I just said it's not as interesting to me.

I also said that you should take on the school districts ... and make your own suggestions ... or would that be work?

I can only speak for myself, but it seems to me that you attempt to degrade anyone who would say "boo." As for the shooting of messengers, most recently it was Tom Christy. In the past it has been Bob Confer. And then there's the entire "three minute crowd."

I'm not making stuff up. Just pointing your own words out to you.

Sail Away said...

Fair enough, Scott. I guess my point is that if people are going to spend the time trying to point out waste, it should be the waste of the school districts, which is significantly more than the county or cities or towns.

I'm not going after Christy, I said I commend his efforts before. But if he wants credibility, he needs to shed the 3 minute crowd.

As for Confer, I only went after him after he ripped the crap out of the IDA AFTER taking a nice little IDA package of his own.

Don't shoot the messenger, Scott.

Have a great day, I'm off to soccer.

Mr. Pink said...

Good to see that Sail Away and Scott could end up in a lovefest. I like Scott's ideas for cutting.

Let me add more. Reform of the patronage mill that is the water and sewer department. Consolidation of all water departments across Niagara County. And changing the county Treasurer's position into a true comptroller's position so we have an independent watchdog over county departments.

Anonymous said...

Whether it's at the legislature or school district....the reality should be that there is always room for discussion and dissent!

I really don't find any problem with a legislator or any elected official being asked to write down what he perceives to be his duties and description after taking office. Who better to educate the public and set the boundaries for what is and is not his (or her) responsibility (job description) for decisions made concerning his elected post? I wouldn't mind getting my hands on one of the umpteen administrator level descriptions in a school district either.....

I agree with you about the 3 minute crowd and maybe if they were educated as to what a legislator can and cannot control (or better should and shouldn't)as shown by the job description, a greater focus may shift to more significant issues facing the taxpayer.

I can't imagine that Tom doesn't realize that certain persons who flock to his cameras aren't all that well intentioned..... if not totally misinformed and ridiculous. I say give him an opportunity to work through this initiative and see where he goes with it...if an agenda becomes clearly evident throughout, then so be it and shame on him, but if he can somehow be a catalyst for transparency in government, then I am all for him!

Larry S said...

If there is going to be an analysis of county govt, I agree that it should be on Erie County. They are the epitome of what can go wrong.

My problem with asking for qualifications is that it's the voters of that specific district that decide who is or isn't qualified.

Does Renee Kimble have the same qualifications as Bill Ross? Does Kyle Andrews have the same qualifications as Jason Murgia? Of course not, so to arbitrarily state "these are the qualifications" is virtually impossible.

The voters decide who is or is not qualified to represent them.

Pirate's Code said...

The idea of "qualifications" for the job of county legislator -- or any elected office -- creates an interesting conundrum.

We know there are certain minimal requirements for a legislature seat -- must be of legal age, reside in the district, certain number of qualified petition signatures, and so on. Beyond that, however, there are no "qualifications" listed anywhere like a college degree, or experience in a certain field.

That means most anyone can run for a county seat, thus the conundrum. On the one hand, it's the most basic form of citizen participatory government. Don't like something, run for office. Have a better idea, run for office.

On the other hand, it can make government much like Forest Gump's box of choc-o-lates -- Ya never know what yer gonna git. Put more negatively -- if any idiot can run for office, sooner or later one will win. (No disrespect intended for any of current crop of legislators.)

larry s said that the voters decide who is qualifed. Only to a point. If there are 1,000 people "qualified" to run in my district, I usually get to choose from only a few -- most often, just two.

The question then is this -- are we getting the best and brightest running for office in Niagara County? Or anywhere, for that matter?

I hear the argument often in WNY that we keep electing the same (insert insult here -- idiots, bums, crooks, etc.) year after year. Maybe because they are the only people who run?

How do we attract the best and brightest? Wish I had an easy answer, but that's for another post.

Mr. Pink said...

It takes a special person...and you call all define what special means...to put your name on the ballot and subject yourself to heapling loads of criticism if you want to hold local elective office.

I wonder if that is why probably 90 percent of local elected officals are either public sector employees or retirees. There is no ramifications for them in making decisons.

If the local dry cleaner runs for office and then takes an unpopular vote, some people may stop using his service. At some point he thinks that elective office isn't worth it.

I really think some sort of local Hatch Act would be a good idea. People who work for government can run for elective office.

Pirate said...

Oh, forgot...sail away...agree that school districts and school spending could stand a good, healthy scrubbing, as well.

I know there are historical reasons too numberous to mention why Niagara County school districts exist as they do, but does a county of 220,000 souls really need TEN school districts?

Think of the administrative costs alone?

Leffler -- I understand that schools don't interest you, but don't for a moment think the educational system isn't political. Run for school board on a "cut budget" platform and watch the teacher's union ramp up its weapons of mass destruction. Politics at its most local and, often, its most raw.

Pirate's Code said...

Sorry, clumsy fingers. It's "Pirate's Code" for the username. As in, the code is more what you call a guideline than an actual rule.

Love that line...

Cracker Jack said...

Maybe the Tom Christy should ask the City of Lockport Alderman for a job description. Would it include actually reading the resolutions that they vote on? Would it include voting themselves 23 percent pay raises while city residents can barely afford to pay their taxes and water bills?

PacMan said...

Bartenders and pizza delivery drivers have important jobs too! If we didn't have them - who else would we call upon when we get done with our real jobs.
Talking about qualifications, it was good to hear about what our local media hosts do for a living. Amazing what you just don't know. It gives me a whole new outlook about the hotair coming from these guys.

Anonymous said...

There is a significant difference between qualifications and job description. Mr. Christy is attemtping to get definition od the job DESCRIPTION first and then (presumably) the voters can determine which candidate has the qualifications to meet that description.....I think. But, as I said, if there's an agenda here, it will be evident as the process moves forward.

Pirate's Code said...

Caught Christy last night on LCTV with Leffler and Confer as guests. I'm not a frequent viewer of this show, but it seemed that the main purpose was to be LOUD, with a healthy dose of smug.

I suppose some might say he's just colorful, but I find Tom so extremely painful to watch that it is easy to tune out anything he, or his guests, are saying.

Pete said...

The tie that binds Christy & Leffler is their abilities to make their respective voices screech at amazingly annoying levels.

Scott Leffler said...

So where does Confer fit in?

Anonymous said...

Apparently Confer didn't fit in because he couldn't get a word in edgewise.

cg466 said...

I think Churchill said it best about the legislature."Never have so few done so much to screw so many"