October 23, 2009

What Are We Paying Lewis To Do?

As regular readers of this space know, Niagara Times broke the story Tuesday morning that the New York Power Authority was throwing a tantrum and refusing to meet with Niagara County’s lobbyists following the Power Authority’s courtroom loss to the county in the ongoing lawsuit over David Paterson and Francine DelMonte’s sweep of $550 million from the Authority’s coffers, so we were prepared for the story to gain some traction in the press.

We were not, however, prepared for what happened Tuesday night. Legislator Renae Kimble of Niagara Falls must be a Niagara Times reader, because she pounced on County Manager Greg Lewis and Legislature Chairman Bill Ross to demand answers about why, precisely, NYPA was refusing to even talk to Niagara County’s lobbyists.

Kimble would have received a copy of the troublesome memo from the lobbying firm that informed county leaders in no uncertain terms:

1. Discussed NYPA wind farm proposal with NYPA staff for the purpose of scheduling a meeting with NYPA officials to discuss next steps. (Note: Scheduling of this meeting has been delayed due to the ongoing litigation between NYPA and Niagara County.)

Lewis received a copy of that memo by email at 9:44 a.m. Monday morning, 34 hours (and one blog post!) before Tuesday’s meeting. Plenty of time to make a phone call or send an email.

So, maybe Renae Kimble actually expected the county manager—a guy who, after all, makes $115,000 a year—to know what was going on. To be able to answer her questions, even.

And maybe that’s why Ross asked: “Mr. Lewis, do you have any idea why our lobbyists would bring up that point about litigation?”

Lewis’ response?

“Um, no I don’t…That was simply on the report that they supplied the Legislature.”

That’s right, folks. Lewis has 34 hours to make a simple phone call, ask a few questions, and get control of what would seem an important issue. I mean, a quasi-governmental state agency just slapped the county’s lobbyists around, after all. You’d think he’d care, especially since our lobbyists are making $5,000 a month to be able to approach state agencies.

(Oh, and by the way, Greg—nice attempt to squirm out of ownership of this one, but judging by the header of the memo, the section called “Recipients,” the memo wasn’t actually “supplied” to the full Legislature—but it was “supplied” to you.

For $115,000 a year, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect the county manager to at least have a clue what’s going on in his county.

But, hey, see for yourself. There’s video and a copy of the memo from the county’s lobbyists below:


James T. Kirk said...

Hobbes, I'm assuming your post's title was a rhetorical question. We are, obviously, paying Mr. Lewis to job-hunt. No doubt, he's firing off resumes to every warm southern clime that offers higher pay than the "penny-ante" people of Niagara County.

qwert said...

You live a hilariously pathetic existence, Hobbes. I'm gonna shank you.