Collins Transitioning

26 Nov

Page C8 of Sunday’s News has a list of additional people County Executive elect Chris Collins has added to his transition team. We already know of “fresh faces” Dennis Vacco, Nancy Naples, and Mary Lou Rath. Now, we have 31 subcommittees with chairpeople such as:

  • Government Reform: former county legislator, current NYPA trustee, and “thirtysomething” parent Elise Cusack
  • Human Services: former NOCO employee and Erie County Legisator-elect Ed Rath III
  • Public Assets: Erie County Legislator John Mills
  • Budget and Finance: Erie County Legislator Michael Ranzenhofer.
  • Ed Rath was actually on the Charter Revision Commission, and has a good handle on government reform possibilities and initiatives. So, why is Elise Cusack, who got her Pataki appointment, doing it? What is her record of reform? Rath, on the other hand, hasn’t spent a day in government. Who is he to lead a transition subcommittee on county human services? What’s his background and knowledge in that arena?

    Mills and Ranzenhofer are currently serving county legislators. I know it’s just county politics, but the legislature doesn’t exist as the administration’s board of directors. It is a separate branch of government under our system of checks and balances. I have a very serious problem with two current legislators acting as chairs of administration transition subcommittees. Unless, of course the Republicans would be fine having, say, Ted Kennedy – another long-term incumbent legislator – sitting on the next US President’s transition team.

    As for the others, a quick scan and an educated guess leads me to believe that either they or family members gave substantial sums of money to the Collins campaign. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s the way these things always get done. Frankly, it’s also just a transition team – there’s nothing to indicate anyone’s getting paid for this, anyone’s getting a full-time job through this means, etc.

    But having legislators and rookies head up something that’s supposed to ease the transition to a Collins administration is equal parts stupid and troubling.

    21 Responses to “Collins Transitioning”

    1. iNdAbUFF November 26, 2007 at 10:02 am #

      equal parts stupid and troubling…

      A big problem in this town is that we are sooooooo polarized…this guy isn’t even in office yet and people are trying to tear him down already…to be honest…when I saw the initial list last week of people on his team, I had to laugh at some of the names…but it is like what you wrote…

      Frankly, it’s also just a transition team…

    2. Buffalopundit November 26, 2007 at 10:22 am #

      Chris :

      1. Who’s tearing him down?

      2. Is Collins immune from scrutiny or criticism for some reason?

      3. Why do you equate scrutiny/criticism with “tearing someone down?”

      This has nothing to do with political polarization, FYI. I don’t care if it was a democrat asking democrats to serve. The point is that the guy ran on a platform of running government like a business, and frankly part of his platform also had to do with the fact that he was a “fresh face” and Keane wasn’t.

      Instead, we see political has-beens and re-treads all over the place in this transition team, and it seems that a $250+ contribution to “Collins for our Future” is in most cases enough of a qualification to get on it.

      Tell me – how is Ed Rath III qualified in County Human Services to ease Collins’ transition in that department?

    3. iNdAbUFF November 26, 2007 at 10:48 am #

      Like I said BP, I had to laugh at some of the names on transition team…but that’s politics here in WNY and I expected as much…

      Who’s tearing him down?

      stupid and troubling

      Isn’t that a tear down?

      It isn’t that Collins should be immune from scrutiny…it just seems as though the people who didn’t want to see him elected or criticized him before the election are all too eager to jump on him the first chance they get…

    4. jack fate November 26, 2007 at 11:04 am #

      It isn’t that Collins should be immune from scrutiny…it just seems as though the people who didn’t want to see him elected or criticized him before the election are all too eager to jump on him the first chance they get…

      Well, when your transition team includes hacks from the same diseased politcal gene pool you supposedly ran against, what do you expect?

      I’m not surprised. If anyone really thought someone could mobilize either one of the parties to campaign for them without owing a little something in return is, quite honestly, pretty dense regarding the way politics works. This was one of my main arguments when debating people who held up Chris Collins as a “fresh face” or “outsider” with no political debts to pay. He cannot run the county all by himself and obviously is going to have pipers demanding their tithe.

      Whether he does a good job or not remains to be seen. I didn’t vote for him (or Keane, for that matter), but I’m willing to give him a chance. But, to the people that thought this was going to be new day in county politics. . . you got, in the parlance of the internet, PWND!!!

    5. Buffalopundit November 26, 2007 at 11:05 am #

      No, “stupid and troubling” isn’t a tear down if you read it in context with the rest of the piece.

      But having legislators and rookies head up something that’s supposed to ease the transition to a Collins administration is equal parts stupid and troubling.

      Legislators because we have separation of powers – even in county government, and rookies because it defeats the purpose of even having a transition team.

      Call it a tear-down, but it’s supported by a clear-cut argument as to why it’s stupid _and_ troubling in equal measure.

      it just seems as though the people who didn’t want to see him elected or criticized him before the election are all too eager to jump on him the first chance they get…

      Isn’t the bigger issue why Collins would go ahead and give us so much ammunition so quickly?

    6. starbuck November 26, 2007 at 12:01 pm #

      …in this transition team, and it that a $250+ contribution to “Collins for our Future” is in most cases enough of a qualification to get on it.

      Huh? Looks to me that there were 375 or more contributors of $250+ to the Collins campaign, accoring to this database:

      http://www.buffalonews.com/314/story/147937.html

      If in “most cases” a $250+ contibution resulted in a transition team appointment, then the team would contain at least 188 members, right?

      Isn’t the bigger issue why Collins would go ahead and give us so much ammunition so quickly?

      No, the bigger issue is that Collins would be wise to keep appointing who he thinks is the best mix of people (which means many private sector types, but not zero people with politicial experience), and not worry at all about trying to please an “us” whose appetite for quick ammunition seems insatiable. It’s very likely the “us” in question will much more often than not oppose what he does and will always find whatever amount of ammunition they seek.

    7. Fed-Up in WNY November 26, 2007 at 12:46 pm #

      Wow! my comment got toasted. 😦

    8. iNdAbUFF November 26, 2007 at 1:12 pm #

      Isn’t the bigger issue why Collins would go ahead and give us so much ammunition so quickly?

      I think the guns were already loaded, aimed and ready to fire…calling something someone does stupid and troubling ain’t exactly nice words regardless of the context.

      I didn’t vote for Collins, but he is what we are going to have to live with and wish him well…I want him to be a success…cuz if he is, I won’t have to write off another 4 years in addition to the previous 8 as a waste.

      I am sure there are people out there that would be doing the same to Keane right now if he would have won…

      It is also sad to think that the Dem controlled legislature, instead of being a true entity of checks and balances, will probably do more to submarine Collins term as CE simply because he is a Repub…why…so in 4 years the Dems can say “look what Republican leadership has done to the county and you need to elect a Dem”…cuz it is more about power and which party is in power than it is about the checks and balances or actually working together across party lines for change…I’d like the legislature to prove me wrong in the coming years…if you would flip the scenario and the Repubs held the leg and the there was a Dem CE, I am sure the Repubs would work in the same fashion cuz that is what politics is and rarely is it really about us…

    9. Johnny C. November 26, 2007 at 2:04 pm #

      Sounds like sour grapes on the BP’s part to me…

    10. Buffalopundit November 26, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

      @ indabuff I don’t see anywhere that I wrote “I wish Collins ill”.

      Everyone is cool with him naming legislators to the transition team? Really?

    11. iNdAbUFF November 26, 2007 at 3:12 pm #

      Sorry BP if you took it that way…what I said was more of a personal statement than directed at anyone…I know you wish only the best for things around here including the CE.

      Making use of current legislators isn’t a bad idea…but I think he could have sent an unifying message by asking a Dem leg to be part of the transition process…

    12. Haterade November 26, 2007 at 3:56 pm #

      Phil Collins will be the bestest, smartest and nicest county executive in the history of the world ! He is a Saint among men !

    13. hank November 26, 2007 at 4:01 pm #

      On the surface it looks like “Welcome to Erie County Politics: if you’ve been asleep since 1958, you’ll think it was just overnight.”
      Bottom line is that when the new boss comes on, he has to get a good feel for what is going on in each department. And to do that he has to put some people he trusts to give him the “straight skinny”. It would HELP to have some people who have worked there before who have at least a half-assed idea of how things run there, to get the best information in the best perspective.

      When the same ass-munches from BOTH PARTIES have been running the show for 50 years, what choice do you have?

      The bottom line was mentioned above. Will the Dem’s try to torpedo the CE so their Party can have the next one?

      Unless Jimmy Griffin’s “JUST BUY A SIX PACK AND STAY HOME” Erie County citizens LET THEM, that’s just what will happen–Gridlock–Stagnation–NOTHING GETS DONE.

      As I see it, an enlightened and concerned citizenry can put pressure on the legislature to rip its collective head out of its ass and get some things done, FUCK WHO GETS THE CREDIT FOR IT—JUST GET IT DONE!!!!.

      A prime example of how this STILL DOES WORK is last summers attempt at amnesty for illegal aliens. This Bullshit was semi Bi-Partisan. The Democrats want them to become registered Democrats (As Tim Taylor would say MORE POWER!!!!!), and Bush wants it as part of his legacy.

      However the PEOPLE WANTED NO PART OF IT. A FIRESTORM of letters, faxes and e-mails went out to the House and Senate, and the measure failed–more than once.

      If you could get the 1.1 million people NOT involved in county politics to get pissed off, flood the legislature with e-mails, faxes, and letters……When the Legislature meets have 100,000 people waiting to get in, they might just figure it out.

      OH SHIT–THEY’RE WATCHING US—WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO NOW????

      ANSWER—THE RIGHT THING.

      Chances of it happening? 2
      SLIM
      NONE

    14. jack fate November 26, 2007 at 7:29 pm #

      Everyone is cool with him naming legislators to the transition team? Really?

      Eh. . . Checks and balances, the separation of powers and all that jazz is passe now-a-days.

    15. starbuck November 26, 2007 at 8:07 pm #

      A transition team is an unpaid unofficial temporary advisory board, right? It doesn’t make executive branch decisions, but it advises the soon-to-be executive. So it’s not a separation of powers issue, because Collins doesn’t currently even have any official powers until sworn in – and a TT never has any official powers ever.

      So there’s no powers being unseparated. If he wants Razenhofer and Rath to be among the 30 or so people or however many it is, what’s the harm? Once sworn in, if he acts on advice from they gave him in their capacity as TT members, any decisions are his not theirs. No different from if they just gave him advice without being on the TT, which no doubt a lot of people will be giving him from all directions but executive branch decisions are his alone.

      Is anyone sure Gorski didn’t have any legislators on his TT? (I can’t find his TT list on the web anywhere.) If she wins and puts any member of congress on her TT, I won’t think any less of Hillary than I do now and I can’t imagine her TT composition being be among my complaints.

      Who was on Spitzer’s TT? How many ex-politicians? Did anybody complain or care? Or maybe it didn’t matter to anyone because he had promised to run govt like a prosecutor’s office?

      Collins is correct in what I heard him say in a recent interview that he expects absolutley no honeymoon. He should expect four or eight years just like this and just not let it bother him in the least.

    16. barney November 27, 2007 at 10:21 pm #

      but wasn’t Collin’s main selling point was that he was against career politians?
      I guess he is only against Democratic career politicans.

    17. juan from Clarence November 28, 2007 at 12:55 pm #

      Collins wanted the best and the brightest, errrrrrrrrr, as long as they were R’s. But hes not running as an R hes running as a businessman so he will not look at party affiliation as long as they are R’s errrrrrrrrr? MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS!!!

    18. starbuck November 28, 2007 at 1:13 pm #

      barney – Collins certainly made a strong argument against having a career politician at the top in charge of the administration, but that’s very different from an extreme position of saying no career politician would ever be involved at any level in any capacity ever. He never said that, and if anybody seriously expected such an extremist approach that was a silly impractical expectation. I doubt anybody seriously expected that, but some might frame things that way as a means of something to complain about.

      We’ll probably see a sensible mix of many appointees with private sector business experience and some with a lot of public sector political experience, but a greater portion of private sector people and philosophies than Keane would’ve likely had. Time will tell, but I won’t be surprised if his appointees include some independents and some Dems. It’s still very early. He hasn’t even appointed anybody to a job yet, only a small temporary unpaid transition team.

      No matter who he appoints he should expect a lot of attacks. That’s just the way things go.

    19. juan from Clarence November 29, 2007 at 1:43 pm #

      Also I love how Democrats are career polititians. Ranzenhoffer, Volker, the entire Rath family and such are all very dedicated public servants who strive each year to make government smaller. (Except when it comes to thier friends and family)

    20. starbuck November 29, 2007 at 4:10 pm #

      Juan, who in the history of the world ever said career politicians are only Dems? You’re the first I’ve ever seen who even claims that anybody ever said that. Of course those names you listed are carer politicians and no, none of those you listed want to make govt smaller.

    21. starbuck November 29, 2007 at 4:14 pm #

      by starbuck – November 28th, 2007
      …We’ll probably see a sensible mix of many appointees with private sector business experience and some with a lot of public sector political experience, but a greater portion of private sector people and philosophies than Keane would’ve likely had. Time will tell, but I won’t be surprised if his appointees include some independents and some Dems. …

      http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/buffaloerie/story/217554.html

      Collins names 10 transition panels
      Updated: 11/29/07 6:53 AM

      …Chris Collins has named county lawmakers, union representatives, educators and business people to the first 10 of the more than 30 transition subcommittees he wants to form… :

      Convention and Visitors Bureau/ Tourism: Chairwoman Theresa Jehle of the Junior League of Buffalo; Eddie Friel of Niagara University; David Hart of Hart Hotels; and Michele Iannello [Democrat], a county legislator.

      Family Services: Chairman Jim Notaro of Clinical Support Services; Brenda McDuffie of the Buffalo Urban League; Marcia Olszewski, a Civil Service Employees Association representative; and Robert Stevenson of Eastman Machine Co.

      Government Reform: Chairwoman Elise Cusack, a trustee of the State Power Authority and a former county legislator; Ronald Bennett of Bennett, DiFilippo & Kurtzhalts, an attorney for the Legislature; David Rutecki [Democrat] of M&T Bank; and Steven Walters, Hamburg town supervisor.

      Labor Relations: Chairman John Schmidt of Phillips Lytle law firm; Carl Calabrese of the lobbying firm Government Action Professionals and a former deputy county executive; Larry Oppenheimer of Hiscock and Barclay law firm; and former County Attorney Fred Wolf of Damon and Morey law firm.

      Personnel: Chairman Randy Strauss of the Strauss Group; Joan Gracie of APA Solutions; John Greenan, county personnel commissioner; and Robert Newman of Noco Energy Corp.

      Probation: Chairman Brian Doyle of the Sheriff’s Office; Eunice Lewin, a Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority commissioner; Anne Martin, county probation commissioner; and Scott Smith, a CSEA representative and Probation Department employee.

      Public Works: Chairman Jamie Hypnarowski, vice president of Buffalo Crushed Stone; Chip Barry of Cannon Design; Walid Daham of Buffalo Engineering; James Iglewski of Bank of America; Kenneth Jennetti of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Jeanne Kreavy, a CSEA ; representative; Lynn Marinelli [Democrat] , chair of the County Legislature; Anthony McKenna of Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers; Sundra Ryce of SLR Contracting and Service Co.; and Scott Zylka of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

      Purchasing: Chairman Kent Frey of Frey Electric Construction Co.; Mark Davis, formerly of the Talking Phone Book; Diana Gernatt-Seriff of Gernatt Asphalt Products; and James Newman of Noco Energy.

      Social Services: Chairman Kevin Helfer of Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, a former county social services commissioner and Common Council member; Henry Heppner of the county Social Services Department; Karen Kaczmarski of the University at Buffalo; Kevin Kumor, a CSEA representative ; and Sharon Porcellio of Lippes, Mathias, Wexler & Friedman.

      Youth Services: Chairman Jim Sampson of Gateway -Longview; Bonita Durand of Buffalo State College; Denise Szymura, a CSEA representative; and Marina Woolcock of Government Action Professionals.

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