All across the country, you are reading stories about how bad our economy is right now and the steps being taken to try to help companies, governments, etc. work their way through it.
Governor Paterson has been sounding the alarm bell for some time and is about to unveil a slash and burn budget. President-elect Obama is preparing the country for some hard times. Government leaders everywhere are parroting former Governor Hugh Carey's famous line: "The days of wine and roses are over."
Yet, here in Niagara County, County Manager Greg Lewis has been silent. Lewis continues his tweedle dee management style that is all about creating a fiefdom for himself while making sure all the really tough decisions get pushed to the Legislature. Lewis likes to tell everyone he runs government except when something controversial comes along. They he can't hide behind the Legislature fast enough.
If Lewis were any sort of leader, he'd be out in front with ideas and plans to significantly restructure the way Niagara County delivers services. Let's be honest, if not for petty politics, we could do major consolidation and save taxpayers a bundle.
But Lewis has yet to pitch one big idea since coming to Niagara County. Maybe, just maybe, I'll give him some credit for divesting the county of Mount View, but that's it.
He is content to rule over the status quo and look for opportunities to expand his kingdom (like his desire for a homeland security department.) The Legislature should be demanding that Lewis put together a list of potential cost savings areas for their consideration. They should demand that he reach out to city and town officials and begin talks on consolidation of services. They should require that his budget reduces departmental spending across the board.
Lewis' saving grace is that the Legislature doesn't do anything of these things. Lewis' contract is up next year and we are going to start zeroing in on his performance and let the people decide whether he deserves and extension.
If that decision had to be made today, the answer would be no.