The failure of Pendleton Supervisor Jim Riester to protect the financial interests of residents of his town isn’t exactly news to those of us who’ve been watching the badly-flawed efforts by federal FEMA bureaucrats to force more area residents to buy costly federal flood insurance, but it is a lesson in the value of good local leadership.
In Lockport, Supervisor Marc Smith, a smart businessman who understands the danger of costly government mandates, immediately moved to hire an engineering firm to challenge FEMA’s efforts—and ultimately protected many Lockport residents from being forced to buy the costly insurance. In Wheatfield, the battle was even more direct, with anti-FEMA signs dotting the roadways and engineering consultants challenging FEMA parcel-for-parcel.
In Pendleton, Riester did little, publicly, to challenge FEMA, even as 2009 Republican supervisor candidate Dave Leible was trying to sound the alarm on this issue. This was a time to commit town resources to fight a menace facing hundreds of town families, and Riester looked the other way. Marc Smith, Bob Cliffe, and yes, even Tim Demler were visible in this fight. Honestly, this morning is the first time we’ve even seen Riester acknowledge there was a problem.
Worse still, it appears that FEMA used maps more than 20 years out of date to decide who should be socked with a flood insurance bill—all while Riester was publicly silent.
And now, the fruits of Riester’s non-labor are in full bloom: 330 Pendleton families will be socked with flood insurance bills from the federal government—bills that will average those families $150 a month.
Today, Pendleton’s families are learning the hard way that elections have consequences.