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.