Last week the Niagara County Legislature approved the hiring of a Public Information Officer (PIO) in its 2008 budget.
Following this move, the Greater Niagara Newspaper slammed the Legislature for the hire, stating that "Public information officers are the ones who would deal with the media and shield the real decision-makers — you know, the ones you voted into office and pay their salary — from any questions". Really? So once this PIO is in place, we should not expect any more quotes or comments from any Legislator because they've been "shielded"?
Realistically, the position of GNN is not unexpected. They do nothing but focus on the negative of this community, not only in politics, but in general. So, despite a county budget that reduces taxes in '08, the only editorializing we see from GNN is on the PIO position. Pathetic, but predictable. Although practically every organization in the world has some form of PR person, the Niagara County Legislature is hiring one because they want to "shield" themselves from whomever GNN thinks they need to shield themselves from.
Also predictable was the response of Legislator Dennis Virtuoso on Scott Leffler's Dialog show. Scott asked Virtuoso who may be in the running for the new position. After stating that a member of the media had been asked by the Majority Caucus to serve as the PIO, again, Virtuoso stated that a member of the press told him that he was asked by the Leg to serve in this new position, Virtuoso went on to say "I think they're looking for someone more political, I think this is going to be like a full-time campaign manager". HUH? You just stated that the Majority Caucus asked a member of the press to serve as the PIO, but they're looking to hire someone political in the same breath? Are you complete idiot? And where is Leffler to pick up this huge contradiction?
If the Majority was looking to fill the position with some political hack, would they have asked Tom Prohaska of the Buffalo News to be the PIO? Would they have asked Mark Scheer to be the PIO? Of course not. Even knowing this, it didn't stop Virtuoso. He went on to say "I wouldn't be surprised if the person they hire is doing political work on the side". Scott's response? "Wonderful, nice to hear".
Just let Virtuoso throw out anything he wants, Scott will suck it up without any thought whatsoever. And don't worry about the reputations of Prohaska or Scheer, stating that they'd be nothing but political hacks I'm sure doesn't bother them in the least.
In case you missed it, Scheer confirmed in his December 22nd article that he was in fact asked by a member of the Leg to serve as the PIO, stating that "the legislator suggested I might be a good fit for the job, considering my background and all the contacts I have developed in the community over the years". Right, that sounds like they're looking to fill the position with some political hack. Good call, Dennis.
What is somewhat disconcerting is Scheer's response to being asked if he'd consider the position. Scheer went on to state that "In fact, as I told the lawmaker in question, I couldn’t imagine a day when I’d ever switch sides, so to speak".
If that does not crystallize the relationship between GNN and the Leg, I don't know what does. It shows the pure disdain that GNN has. Why do there have to be "sides"? Nevermind, I just answered my own question.