The Buffalo News’ Matt Spina has a comprehensive overview of Chris Collins’ first 100 days. I have been critical of some of Collins’ missteps – many of which were just silliness – but have also praised him when I thought necessary.
(Editor’s note: I have no vested interest in Collins’ success or failure, apart from the fact that I am a taxpayer in Erie County and want expenses reduced, economic growth, and to be treated like an adult. Anyone who suggests that I have it in for Collins for any reason – party affiliation, etc. – is a damned fool. I’ll criticize whatever I want, whenever I want, and if there’s a motive behind it, I’ll disclose it. If there isn’t one, there isn’t one. Bitches.)
Collins has pissed off the useless, overly political, feckless Buffalo Niagara Partnership? Fantastic.
Collins gets along well with Republicans and Democrats and merits praise from the likes of Brian Higgins and Kathy Hochul? I couldn’t be happier.
Collins is leading by example – taking away his own county car and cell phone while expecting the same of some others? Applause.
Collins wants county workers to be polite to its taxpayer customers? Fantastic.
Collins eats lunch in the Rath Building’s cafeteria, making him accessible to the white-collar rank and file? That’s the kind of little thing that builds trust and dialogue between colleagues.
Collins sometimes pores over details of an issue to separate the wheat from the chaff? I have to say it’s heartening to have a guy run the county who can be bothered to examine, question, and do it all while still managing to drive himself from place to place.
Collins has pissed off the disingenuous and redundant county control board? Glad to hear it. Those guys, too, are excessively political (mostly former hacks) who have very little to show for themselves. Saying “no” isn’t a plan.
Collins expects excellence, and is generous with praise when he sees it? That must explain why so many of his own employees seem to like him just fine.
There are people whose very survival is unfortunately reliant on county services. Collins found the volume of that need “staggering”. It is. The best way to lift those people up is to lift the whole region up and spur the growth of the economy and the growth of jobs. With Albany increasing spending by 4.5% in a recession, there’s little chance of that happening in the foreseeable future.
So, although I disagree with several of Collins’ moves, (variable minimums for all and sundry, “space management” director at over $100k, creation of many jobs, hiring of “best and brightest” means “people I know” rather than “national search”, etc.) he’s clearly moving in a unique direction for government in this region.
The negotiation of union contracts for county workers will be the watershed for Collins’ administration. One might argue that his overwhelming victory over the union-friendly Jim Keane represents a popular mandate for very, very tough negotiation of those contracts.
Part of the problem in this area has to do with a 1950s mindset on … well, just about everything imaginable, and a reluctance to look beyond the borders of the 8th Judicial District for solutions to problems.
I’d like to see us not only be smart about our present, but work towards a smarter future. More integration with the economy of Southern Ontario, comprehensive regional planning of infrastructure, marketing of the region in a more effective way, implementation of a performance-based county budget, as mandated by the county Charter. Baby steps are better than no steps at all.