December 1, 2008

Laptops For Legislators

We don't call out the Niagara County Legislature often because, despite the misdirected rantings of a couple of ill-informed newspaper people, the county is well run. Taxes are going down for the third straight year, services are being maintained and the Legislature is continuing to downsize county government. That is exactly what I want from my government.

When it comes to perks, the county is bare bones. We've alluded to the fact that in Niagara County, legislators only make $15,000 per year. There are no paid staffers, other than a couple in the legislative clerk's office who serve all legislators, as opposed to our neighbors to the south in Erie County who make $45,000, with taxpayer subsidized district offices and staff.

But the premise of supplying each legislator with taxpayer funded laptop computers, as being considered by legislator Pete Smolinksi, is ludicrous. While we commend the county's efforts to contain expenses, this is one that we cannot support.

Smolinski says that having a laptop will reduce the massive amounts of paperwork legislators get because they can pick and choose what they want to print. You need a laptop for that? Wouldn't a desktop serve the same purpose? And in this day and age, what legislator doesn't have at least a desktop?

If you need a laptop to make you a more effective and efficient legislator, go buy one. My employer didn't pay for a laptop for me, but I went and bought one myself. My laptop, case and jump drive came to under $600. With the 12 months interest free financing, it was $50 a month. Legislator's pay is $1,255 a month. Suck it up and buy your own.

With the state and country, as well as many of the people of this community facing significant financial crisis, now is not the time to even be considering this.


Paladin said...

Smolinski? Isn't he the W.C. Fields-looking one?

rob clark said...

Hobbes,..Did I read your opening statement correct? The county is well run. HA!!! Thats a good one. Do you like being one of the highest taxed area's in the nation? The reason we aren't seeing a tax increase this year is because of the surplus they created with the past couple of years high taxes.

Downsizing? I know a resolution was passed few months ago to downsize the Legislature. When it was a hot topick. But come on, this group has created alot of patronage jobs. Is that what you call downsizing?

Are we getting a good deal with 19 reps at $15,000 per year? Erie County has 3 times the population that Niagara County does. I still think we have to many legislators, but maybe there form of government with a County Executive and a reduced legislature is the way to go.

But I will agree with you on the fact that they do not need take home laptops. I can just imagine what would happend to them. Besides, just imagine the cost. What happends if one of them needs something and they have no internet connection available to them? Do you know what the cost of 19 or more wireless aircards alone would cost us a month?

Hobbes said...

I do, Rob. Do you why I think the county is well run? Because I'm not running for office, like you. Save your political posturing for campaign season.

As for your insinuation that the county's ranking as one of the highest taxed counties in the country is the blame of the county legislature and not the disgracefully run multitude of school districts in this county, your ignorance is blatant. My county taxes are $7.00 per thousand. You're saying that this $7.00 per thousand is driving that rating? Or maybe, just maybe, could it be that over $30 per thousand that my school district charges?

Before I speak, I know the facts, obviously unlike you Rob. The county has a surplus that has to do with a series of financial events that have transpired over the past three years. That chain of events is too long to list here, but if you take two minutes to call Greg Lewis, I'm sure he could articulate the events for you.

"Downsizing?" Yes, downsizing. The county workforce has been decreased by approximately 300 over the past three years, from around 1750 to under 1500.

Now, I'm sure you can document all of the patronage jobs that have been created, so I look forward to your detailed response. As far as I know, the only jobs created were conflict attorney positions that were mandated by Judge Martochie.

If you want to talk downsizing the Leg, lets go back to when Brad Erck brought the resolution to reduce their numbers. He packaged a resolution to reduce the Leg with the creation of a County Exec, knowing that it would be defeated. If Erck truly wanted to reduce the size of the Leg, he'd have presented it as a standalone resolution. But, being the political hack that he was, he would not do that.

Lastly, aircards are about $50 a month.

If there's anything else related to county government that I can educate you on, please feel to ask. If you'd like some campaign advice for the upcoming election, I'm here to help.

Richard Strongbridge, Ph.D said...

Poor Rob.....

rob clark said...

Yes poor me for having an opinion on a community blog Richard. Poor me indeed.

While I can't and won't argue on your school tax statement, let’s face it we are highly ranked for a reason. And it’s more than just because of your certain amount per a thousand.

Brad Erck, how long ago was that. I didn't mention it for political posturing. Changing up our current form of County government sounds like a good idea. But its just that an idea.We allknow what is meant by "downsizing". No one ever questioned the loss of county employees. Some of which I`m sure we didn't need to lose.

Any announcements that I might have for office I will be sure to make it here first. I look forward to your input.

Your response is what I thought it would be. You couldn't have written it better for the Legislature if you wanted to.