November 30, 2010

"I Don't Do Freakin' Exit Interviews"

Today, of course, is the last work day of outgoing County Manager Greg Lewis. Now, here at Niagara Times, this is not, despite rumors to the contrary, a day of celebration. No, we view today as a day of mourning.

We’re mourning the passing of a giant—the man who guaranteed us comedy material on a regular basis. Even when he said nothing, he managed to do so in a way that kept us—and you, our Dear Readers—rolling in the aisles.

But Greg, being the kind of guy he is, saw fit to leave us all with one of his howlers on the way out—a gesture we both respect and appreciate. You see, when the dean of the Niagara County press corps, Tom Prohaska, approached him last week for his parting thoughts, Greg was—well, Greg was Greg:

Still looking for his next job, he declined to be interviewed for this retrospective.

“I don’t do any freakin’ exit interviews,” Lewis said. “I’m a man of the future, not the past.”

That’s vintage Greg Lewis, right there: “I don’t do any freakin’ exit interviews.”

Of course, the problem with Lewis was, any time he wanted to push an agenda contra the one being advocated by the elected Legislature, Lewis was all too happy to talk to the press. It’s only when such communications required a certain grace that Greg could never be found.

But Greg’s exit interview didn’t require grace, or even delicacy. Heck, this was his big chance to sound off on all the bogeymen he regularly complained to county department heads about: Sen. George Maziarz, County Legislators Rick Updegrove, Tony Nemi, Keith McNall, Vince Sandonato, and John Syracuse (all of whom he denounced to department heads by name at one time or another), the clerk of the Legislature, the county auditor, County Attorney Claude Joerg (who he once forbade department heads to talk to), the county public information officer, various Maziarz staffers, County Treasurer Kyle Andrews, North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, and the latest burr in his side, Assemblyman-elect John Ceretto—not to mention a certain blogger, whom, we’ll note, Prohaska was kind enough to cite in his article. Every last individual on this list, reliable sources tell us, was derided by name by Lewis at meetings with his little band of loyalist department heads, a group he called “the A Team.”

And yet, given this opportunity by Prohaska to connect all the dots and show the evil conspiracy against his grand vision, Lewis fell mute. Why?

Well, we’re pretty confident the Man of the Future no doubt would have much to say, if it weren’t for the fact that Prohaska very bluntly assessed: Lewis’ next job hasn’t exactly landed in his lap yet. So, rather than leave with a bang, he leaves with a whimper. Prospective employers might be turned off reading in print the things Lewis said out loud so many times before.

It’s a pity, really. It would have been one very entertaining piece of copy, the Man of the Future’s freakin’ exit interview.

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