Erie County

10 Jan

Lynn Marinelli was re-elected Legislature chair yesterday 8-7, garnering support from its three Republicans. While Chris Collins and others lauded the bipartisan nature of the vote, it underscores the fact that there is more to what’s going on in county politics than just Republican and Democrat. The Democrats on the legislature are split rather starkly.

One of the first items on the Legislature’s agenda involved the approval of a new post – Director of Six Sigma. The post and its associated perks and software will cost $200,000, and it is hoped that it will be paid for through a state efficiency grant that the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority controls. Usually, such a proposal would be sent to committee for discussion, debate, and vetting. This wasn’t.

The exercise was repeated when the Legislature created a “space utilization position” at Collins’ request. The official will earn more than $100,000 in determining the best uses of work space in county-owned buildings. Collins expects the control board to underwrite that job as well.

All we need now is a $100,000 Director of Feng Shui, who will help implement the Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of county work space to achieve harmony with the environment.

Although I hope the control board comes through with that efficiency grant money, it’s still our money that’s going to pay for this. I hope Six Sigma starts showing results as soon as possible.

(Photo by Whitneyarlene via Flickr)

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12 Responses to “Erie County”

  1. eliz January 10, 2008 at 10:27 pm #

    Um .. so we’re we’re paying 200k for someone with training I believe one can get from an adult education center? Sorry to be such a snob. Really. We should all do so well.

  2. Mike Walsh January 11, 2008 at 1:27 am #

    Alan, you’ve accused us of being nuts for the last couple years, talking about the political class. It’s right in our faces, again.

  3. Mike Walsh January 11, 2008 at 1:36 am #

    Another Frank Zappa quote:
    “Remember there’s a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.”

  4. starbuck January 11, 2008 at 1:43 am #

    If the space utilization job reduces the amount of building space needed, it might well pay for itself and then some. Or if it doesn’t show results, it can be eliminated at some point and voters can feel free to hold Collins accountable.

    Even if it works, maybe it isn’t something that will be needed forever but after many years of poor management and political appointees making decisions about how building use, it won’t surprise me at all if there’s a lot of inefficiency in this area.

    Good to see Collins doing what he thinks is smart for long terms savings even if it’s something never done here before.

  5. Mike Walsh January 11, 2008 at 1:47 am #

    The first order of business when originating a charity or nice government program to “help” people, is to enact a budget and set up some nice guaranteed salaries and benefits for the employees.

    When it’s a focus group trying to rein in these out of control costs, it becomes “professionals” with six figure consulting fees on the government payroll.

  6. iNdAbUFF January 11, 2008 at 2:07 am #

    The real story here is Len Lenihan’s leadership at the helm of the local Dems…how many eggs does he need to lay before the local donkeys decide it is time to move on…

  7. Buffalopundit January 11, 2008 at 5:54 am #

    @Starbuck: Or, he could have hired an outside consultant for, say, a 6 month contract to do that work at substantial savings in salary and fringe benefits for county taxpayers.

    If you’re going to run government like a business, then run it like a business. Not every “space utilization” idea has to come with a six-figure salary plus fringe. If a Democrat tried to pull that, people would be screaming bloody murder.

  8. starbuck January 11, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    If a Democrat tried to pull that, people would be screaming bloody murder.

    I’m not complaining about screaming. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t happening. I expect screaming about almost everything Collins does as long as he’s in office. Shortly after the election I commented here a prediction of just that, and suggested Collins should ignore it as much as possible.

    Or, he could have hired an outside consultant for, say, a 6 month contract to do that work at substantial savings in salary and fringe benefits for county taxpayers. If you’re going to run government like a business, then run it like a business.

    Something we also know from the business world is the cost of consultants can often exceed direct hires. Reasons are obvious. For the same qualifications, people will end up getting similar pay but consultants charge more to make up for, among other things, benefit costs. And if it’s a consulting firm, then there’s also their overhead and their cut of profits, both of which get added into price tag. It’s not unheard of for a consultant cost to be as much as double per day or sometimes even more. So your suggestion for 6 months of a consultant might cost about as much as my openness for trying this for a year as a direct hire – even though 6 months of work would be performed that way instead of 12.

    I have biases too, but if Keane had won and wanted this then hopefully I’d be similarly objective and open minded. I strongly opposed Byron Brown’s election but I didn’t scream when he hired two deputy mayors when his predecessor had zero, and when last year he added a new high paying job title to help oversee the vacant house demolition project. Those things seem within reason to let the executive branch decide, and so does this – for now.

    In next year’s budget, all it will take is 8 votes to delete this job if good enough results aren’t shown. Job deletions can’t be vetoed, only additions. I’m all for the legislature taking a close independent look at what the results are and deleting the job if it doesn’t create enough savings. Worth a try for a year, however.

  9. BH Liddell Hart January 11, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    Indabuff, you should spend less time reading Illuzzi. The Democrats are quite pleased with the job Len Lenihan has done and the only two people who really want the chair enough to challenge Lenihan, Steve Casey and Frank Max, could never get it done. Eliot Spitzer’s massive victory essentially wiped out the City’s weighted vote for reorganization and Max might not even be chair of Cheektowaga after the next reorg, he looked especially weak after being unable to deliver Cheektowaga for Clark in the primary.

    As for the eggs you speak of, the County Executive race and the Leg Chairmanship, are much more complex and not really Lenihan’s fault. The County Executive race shook out like this the Dems had 4 candidates who probably couldn’t win in a competitive race, there was Paul Clark, who had endorsed Joel Giambra and his history of raising taxes made him extremely unlikely to win a general election (a side note on the depths of deceptive campaign Collins went to, the 70% tax increase he attacked Keane for was an increase for $1.00 per 1000 to $1.70 per 1000, the 50% tax increase Keane attacked Clark for was approx $11.00 per 1000 to $17.00), Lynn Marinelli, who was basically one of the two faces of the budget crisis and who had no ability to raise money (if she did she would have been the nominee Keane vs. Clark vs. Marinelli, all she would have had to do was let them duke it out and secure the womens vote, about 58-60% of the primary voters, and won pretty easily), Dan Ward, who is a good guy but is too stubborn to do what it takes to win a major campaign, and Jim Keane, another one who probably couldn’t win the general election, but had the two most popular politicians in Erie County Brian Higgins and Byron Brown supporting him. Keane was in the race to stay as long as Clark was in the race, and Clark was in the race to stay as long as Keane was. Lenihan would have liked to endorse Marc Poloncarz, but Poloncarz hasn’t really built up the political operation he would have needed to wage a primary and Democratic HQ would have a hard time keeping him competitive financially with Higgins and Brown backing Keane. Plus bucking the two of them and then losing the primary would definitely had made Lenihan vulnerable. Ultimately, the Giambra endorsement guaranteed Clark would never get the nomination, and of the other 3 Keane was the strongest and could raise the most money. Lenihan made the best move he could, and beside that race, wiped the floor with the Republicans, cleaning them out of Tonawanda, easily won the county court and supreme court race, and won the two competitive leg races handily while Collins won both districts by over 50 points.

    What happened in the Leg Chairman race was more about Lynn Marinelli’s ego than anything else, but it started when Larry Adamczyk was replaced as Board of Elections Commissioner, continued when a partonage position Marinelli tried to create for Adamczyk was blocked, and got worse when she didn’t get endorsed for County Executive. Marinelli was never a great chair, she is a little flakey and often struck deals with Giambra without consulting with her caucus, while I’m not privy to what actually happened, I suspect that the decision was made not to support her because against Collins they needed a face with a less negative image and who would be capable of doing battle with him. Of the possible choices of new Chair, Tim Kennedy was just not ready, Bob Reynolds could have been in serious jeopardy of losing reelection is he was the chief foil to Collins, and Tom Mazur still has “rumor” problems, which left Maria Whyte. Whyte had strong backing with Sam Hoyt, but is just too liberal to be Chair, which is what ultimately cost it. Reynolds probably could have won he was really in it from the beginning, but a Chairman losing reelection would have looked real bad. Marinelli in the mean time put together a coalition of the whatever, getting Kathy Konst who actually has the most to gain in terms of reelection from this, Barbara Miller Williams who likely did it in exchange for jobs for Grassroots, Tom Mazur who wanted to get his buddy and political whore Dave Pfaff a job, and Tim Wroblewski whose just generally an untrustworthy rat. However it is likely the last term for Marinelli, Mazur and Wroblewski who are all very vulnerable in primaries.

  10. Buffalo, Buffalo January 11, 2008 at 10:07 pm #

    What Marinelli has shown us that it was all about her all the time. Not the party, not her democratic collegues, only her. In a sane society, the majority rules. Seven democrats out of twelve is a majority. This majority supposedly informed Lynn months ago that she was not their choice for chairman. Instead of letting democracy rule, she formed a disloyal ragtag partnership with the Republicans.You can not be a leader of a bloc if the majority of that bloc does not want you to continue in leadership. At least three of the five democrats who voted for Lynn have publicly made disparging remarks only days ago about Lynn’s ability to lead them. What changed their minds? 1.Maybe Cheektowaga’s Frank Max’s eye on the Democratic Chairmanship (Mazur’s vote), 2.Kathy Konst buying no Republican opponent for her 2009 reelection, 3.Barbara Miller-Williams trolling for jobs for her folks and the possible meddling by Steve Casey and Grassroots’ Maurice Garner; and lastly, 4.Wroblewski is still mad about the Paul Clark thing. And Lynn makes 5. None of these areor were reasons enough to become traitors to the party that helped them with labor unions support, paid for their campaign literature and kept the Chris Collins (who they are in bed with now)people from getting elected. Marinelli needs to be ashamed of herself. Her legacy is the stuff of Charles Swanick and Al DeBenedeti. Both of these elected Democrats went over to the other side and aligned with Republicans for their own personal advancements. She is history waiting to happen.Can anyone say how much union support Marinelli will get in the future? I can. NONE!

  11. iNdAbUFF January 11, 2008 at 10:48 pm #

    I have been outtttted…I read Illuzi all the time…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy | Artvoice Daily - October 17, 2012

    […] average people call “common sense”. He eventually hired six-figure Six Sigma people. He even hired someone at over $100,000 to determine how to use county space. But he was doing good, simple things, too. Things that didn’t need million-dollar […]

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