Control: County Sheds Cumbersome Democracy
democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and
Western New York is getting another control board, which,
according to the latest polls, many taxpayers will greet as
good news. After all, democracy has failed them for many years.
Here’s how the new deal will work: Rather than removing
from office the politicians responsible for the county’s
$120 million budget shortfall, lawmakers in Albany will impose
a set of unaccountable insiders to straighten things out.
Like the control board for Buffalo, this new body will be
in existence for 20 to 30 years, during which time they will
fly first class and hire a large staff.
The new county control board will be a New York State Authority,
like the good folks who run the Thruway. Meanwhile, the Erie
County Legislature will be relegated to a “rump”
body, something like the British House of Lords, but without
powdered wigs – or whigs. State Comptroller Alan Hevesi
has declared that this is the best thing for the county.
Never mind that last year Hevesi published a study showing
the corruption of New York State’s authorities; how
authorities have generated over 90 percent of the state's
debt by outliving their utility. How do they survive? By borrowing
more money. For example, the Triborough Bridge was paid for
in the late 1930s. The authority set up to build it survives
to this day.
Many control board apologists have noted that elected leaders
in Albany select the members. That is sort of like picking
a surrogate to buy your clothes for you, who then sub-contracts
the task to someone else, and that guy then buys things you
are ashamed to wear because people will laugh at you.
Indeed, they are laughing already. Buffalo and Erie County
suffer from a serious image problem, which not even a highly-paid
Hollywood agency could remedy. “The Armpit of the East,”
is not a flattering sobriquet.
Alas, nothing good can come of a control board for Erie County,
not even for those who think they really want it. See, Erie’s
property taxes are the second-lowest in the state already.
The control board can’t cut them further.
Get ready for steady tax increases to offset the reckless
cutting of County Executive Joel Giambra and the legislature
during the past several years. Get ready; they comin’
to tax yo ass!
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