June 11, 2008

County Department Heads

Last night the County Legislature's Administrative Committee accepted County Manager Greg Lewis' recommendations to reappoint several department heads to four-year terms. I don't particularly know any of these department heads, but I think it's a safe bet that they do a pretty good job.

My question is that if Legislators have two-year terms, why are all of these department heads getting double that? Is that a good idea?

After all, what if the voters of Niagara County decided to completely changes horses in the next election because they are upset about the county budget. A new majority takes over with a mandate for change....but wait a minute, the director of management and budget has a four-year term so the new legislators cannot pick their own person to handle the most important jobs they face each year -- passing a budget.

Now, conversely, if Greg Lewis is indeed a non-political manager and is hiring the best and brightests, then it's important that campaigns and elections NOT lead to the wholesale dismantling of professional staff charged with running the day to day operations of government.

Clearly, I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth on this one. Are locking up department heads to longer term contracts the way to attract quality people or create an institutional bureaucracy? Do our elected officials lose the ability to govern they way they want or are we ensuring professional managers won't be subject to political pressures?

And I know we passed a local referendum that enabled Greg Lewis to have a four-year term and that certain department heads (i.e. social services) have six-year terms under state law. But I thought other appointments could not be made for terms longer than those of the legislators.

It might seem like a mundane topic, but these are the people really running the show.

32 comments:

Richard Strongbridge, Ph.D said...

"what if the voters of Niagara County decided to completely changes horses in the next election"

Hahahaha!!!

That's rich!

Pete M said...

The last time the Dems got control of the Leg, they fired every GOP department head. The GOP, on the other hand, actually went out and hired competent, qualified professionals. I say give them four-year deals, it eliminates the possibility of firing good people for political reasons.

rob clark said...

I have to agree with Hobbes on this one.(wow 2 days in a row) The Dept. Heads and the County Manager should be 2 year appointments. They should be appointed on the off year for the Legislature. Because you never know 4 years from now there might just be a different Legislature than there is now. Stranger things have happened.

Anonymous said...

I can’t believe it if I were new here I would swear that the GOP can walk on water also. What ever happened to hiring the best person for the job plain and simple. If they are not doing their job follow progress disciplinary action, fire them and hire somebody new. It’s time to get rid of all patronage positions. All term positions should be voted on by the public.

Larry S said...

Greg Lewis a non-political manager? Dream on. With the exception of Dennis Virtuoso, who's the most "political" legislator to ever stroll taxpayer funded hair through county hall, Lewis is the most political person in Niagara County.

Like the boy who cried wolf, Lewis is repeatedly saying he's not political. Well, me thinks thou does protest too much.

Everything Lewis does is to politically insulate himself.

It's funny that a vocal minority that championed the cause of Lewis were the same ones that called for his ouster. How'd that work out for ya?

Anonymous said...

Then the last anon poster would support the GOP efforts in this area. The Republicans actually refrained from the practice of filling human resources, risk management and budget with politically appointed hacks. The GOP went out and interviewed for these positions and hired non-connected professionals.

This is the exact OPPOSITE of what the Democrats did when they held the majority. Can anybody say hippocrite?

Anonymous said...

I remember the Dennis and Renee show like it was yesterday- fire all department heads on the spot- no interviews, no resumes- and in fact, let's throw in a criminal to run our youth dept.: just one of the many reasons that Dennis is now the minority leader.

Anonymous said...

You must be kidding, professionals? How does clerk Sojeck fit that mold, does taking roll call for 4 years make him a professional in accounting?

Anonymous said...

Would that be along the same lines as having a man with a history of abuse towards women qualify to run your party?

Anonymous said...

The GOP hiring wouldn't have been so bad if they didn't require sucking up to George as one of the primary requirements. Unfortunately you need to have someone honest hire the people in charge and that person already left Niagara County. All that's left are lawyers trying to run this joint for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Back to the Dem talking points. Maybe that's been your problem for the last 5 years, your complete inability to stay on point. Please, please, please use attorneys and AES again for next years elections. The majority will be 16 strong.

fat tony said...

Civil service employees exist to be protected from political whims. Top level management types are exempt from civil service and serve at will because they are policy makers implementing policy of elected leaders who change. Therefore, I don't get why these people got four year terms.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait until the dems are back in charge, tony chef aint been the same since they took away his parking lot job.

Anonymous said...

I think Niagara County is so well run that these department heads deserve lifetime appointments.

Anonymous said...

I agre with the last anon, long live the GOP.

Anonymous said...

tax and spend gop is for me too!!!

Anonymous said...

What incentive does any legislature have to reduce taxes? Niagara County taxes went down last year under Republican control and nobody seems to remember that. When they went up 25% in one year under the Dems, nobody remembered that either.

rufus said...

Because property taxes go up every year thanks to bloated schools and since the county is such a small portion of the bill, increases and decreases are not nearly as consequential.

For example, after all the handwringing and the sky is falling, seems to me the Barker School District is doing just fine in the post AES-pilot years.

Must mean things really weren't so bad. But you never read anything about that.

Anonymous said...

The county taxes were not reduced, dont play that percentage game, show me one tax bill that was not more than last year.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dufus if you recall, George went to the Governor to get more aid for the Barker school district because the tax increase would have been devastating if he didn't. To bad he couldn't do that for the rest of the county.

Anonymous said...

The idiot fox news local GOP supporters never let the facts get in the way of a good story. But by the way Slick dressed Sloma looked like Gotti on LCTV. Sure we can trust him, close one dollar store open another across the street and guess what 10 more years of no taxes!!! Oh yea, the Seneca's really needed that tax break for the golf course, if we didnt give it to them they would of built it in Georgia. Fail Fail

Anonymous said...

The Democratic platform is ridicule and criticize. I have never seen any post on this blog that touts the successes of the Democrats. What is the vision of the Democratic party in Niagara County? All this talk and talk and I still can't figure it out. Criticism is easy, but actually devising a plan takes a little more competence.

Anonymous said...

that's because that piece of crap Dan Rivera has never had an original idea. If I am wrong, then prove me wrong.

Anonymous said...

Amen brother. You may not like Henry, but at least he acts civil and is generally a gentleman at all times, Dan on the other hand, let's not go there. The Dems need a new leader or else it will continue to be the George and Henry show.

rob clark said...

To the past couple post by Anonymous, its not really Dan Rivera`s job to have all the idea’s for the party. It our job as well. But I find it funny that a lot of "ideas" that the minority Democrats tries to pass at the Legislature are shot down and ridiculed. Lets use the Lockport water line for example. Former 15th District Legislator Harry Apolito tried god knows how many times over the years to fix the tax problem on the water line. Each time he tried the Majority shot him down. I just read the other day that now the Majority wants to work something out for the problem. Why now? Why not at least once over the past 4 years. If the was a problem with the previous proposals they should have been worked out. Ridiculed an "idea" and then trying it out yourself to look good is just wrong.

fat tony said...

Rob,

It just proves how ineffective Harry was and the same can be said for Dennis. There was a time on the Legislature when you battled during election time but after that was over you governemd. You'd make deals to get things done and move on.

The atmoshpere has become so poisoned thanks to people like Dennis that there is no collegiality and hence no ability to work together. Harry was a failure because he never formed relationships across the aisle to advance his issue.

Anonymous said...

Rob:

Forgiving county property taxes counts as an "idea"? Is that the best you have?

How about real ideas? What to do with an outdated public works garage-how to stimulate the local economy-how to attract foreign investment...relieve taxes on a water line?

Larry Castellani said...

It's a little naive if not wholly ideological to believe that the county manager is "non-political," i.e., neutral, value-free, "objective." He is either surreptitiously proactive or selfishly responsive(to the wishes of the majority party) only because he's human and as political as anybody else. And such "objectivity" doesn't even exist in the practice of pure science.

...Moreover,entrenched
"professional staff" eventually become self-interested bureacrats that form bureaucracies that can have too much power, especially if large enough to form a virtual "class." Witness the federal government.

But if a person is indifferent to "government of, by and for the people," then I can understand the obsession with more managers, technocrats, lawyers, specialists, experts and professionals running the show(usually into the ground).

Anonymous said...

fat tony must be fat because he waddles up to suck on the public tit.

Anonymous said...

Of course, fat tony is standing in line behind Dennis Virtuoso.

rob clark said...

So much for being civil on this site. If your going to make comments like that why dont you sack up and post under a name. I dont care which side your "slamming". Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Must be true, thats why hobbes deleted it.