We really have to commend Niagara County Legislator Renae Kimble.
There was a time, here at Niagara Times, that we thought we’d never type those words. Kimble once was, after all, one of the most radical members of the county legislature and the local Democratic Party. But since her party’s been out of power locally, Kimble has proven herself the most adept and far-thinking member of the Minority Caucus.
So it is with the news, reported in yesterday's Niagara Gazette, that Niagara County now has a lobbyist on the payroll. Niagara Times more often than not finds itself in the position of supporting Majority members, but in this case, one of the best ideas so far this year came from Kimble. It was she—and she alone, without support, other than lip-service, from supposed Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso—who moved the notion forward as the county was looking for ways to reel in stimulus dollars.
Bigger governments, such as New York City, have had lobbyists on the payroll for years. Erie County as well, despite the fact that their county legislators are full time, and paid accordingly. But Niagara has had to go it alone, and rely on dedicated representatives in Albany like Senator George Maziarz to bring home the bacon. In the changed political climate since November, where people like Francine DelMonte seemingly have more power, yet are more concerned with settling political scores than seeing to it that the county taxpayers get their fair share of the tax dollars they send to Albany, this is an idea whose time has come.
Actually, it would have been a welcome idea years ago. But it’s honestly critical now, and Kimble deserves applause for being the brains behind the idea.
We also have to commend the bi-partisan spirit Kimble seems to be working under lately. In the Gazette article linked above, Kimble recounts to reporter Mark Scheer that Legislature Chairman Bill Ross had the chutzpah to take Niagara County’s stimulus-dollar case right to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. (One would think that a fellow Democrat lawmaker like Francine DelMonte would have already done that, but as Scheer’s article implies, apparently not…go figure.)
Still, it’s refreshing to see that Kimble sees herself as part of a bi-partisan team working for the county taxpayers’ interests, instead of playing petty partisan gotcha games like Virtuoso always does. That’s not to say that Kimble doesn’t occasionally make a stand for a position we find just plain wrong. But that’s why we have two parties. Virtuoso, in his quest to make everything about party and turn everything into a war, forgets that.
It hardly seems a stretch to opine that if Kimble was leading the Democratic Caucus in the Legislature, a lot more might get done—and a lot more might get done in a much more open and bi-partisan spirit.