Fiefdoms and Peasants

13 Jan

Ostrowski was in court yesterday with Peter Reese, who sat on the county charter revision commission. He recounts that Reese kept repeating that Paul Cambria, representing the legislature, was correct in his argument before the court. Adds Ostrowski,

Now, Collins previously insisted on printing 365,000 tax bills that are now headed for the recycling bin. Pride goeth before the fall, Chris.

Prediction: anyone who wants to run against Chris in three years will be scrambling tomorrow for copies of those erroneous tax bills. Expect to see them in anti-Collins commercials in the next election.

One of our best judges, Paula Feroleto, had granted a TRO, later vacated, against Collins to stop him from printing the tax bills. Collins should have listened to wise counsel but I suspect he listens to no one but the man in the mirror.

I think that’s absolutely right. Someone will get a hold of the old bill and compare it to a revised bill, and make the argument that Collins tried to raise your taxes higher than necessary, and it took a judge to shut him down. On top of that, the cost of printing those bills during a pending lawsuit affecting them, was paid by you and me. I hardly think that “Six Sigma” principles were exercised in connection with that endeavor. Doesn’t seem too lean or efficient to me.

I have the sense that things are worse now than they were under Giambra. At least Giambra was an old-time pol, and even when he was wrong or being a prick, at least you had the sense that he was a political animal who knew how and when to listen and compromise. He knew that the legislature had a role to play in county government.

Now? This petty and too-expensive fighting over who gets to control 10% of a billion-dollar budget just underscores how useless this governmental entity as a whole has become. So, let’s revisit this:

‘Twas 2008, and the county was screwed
the people were not in a holiday mood.
The taxes, they said, were quite high, thanks, enough,
and people agreed that the times were quite tough.

On a floor called sixteen, a man crunched up some numbers
Six Sigma, he thought, would drag us out of our slumber.
Amid raises for managers, programs were cut.
The lawmakers’ charges, he’d always rebut.

In order to pay for his raises so steep,
the people’d fish money from pockets less deep.
Thanks to meltdowns and layoffs – economy dire,
taxpayers had little up there to admire.

But lawmakers thought they could do him one better
and changed his proposals – some letter by letter.
They cut all the raises, revived some dead funding,
and wondered, who died and made this guy the king?

On the floor of sixteen, Collins grew quite enraged,
and the comptroller soon had to become more engaged.
Explaining to Collins his budget was faulty,
but not using language one might think was too salty.

He told the lawmakers that they were wrong, too.
Their outlook was based on too blissful a view.
A budget like theirs, higher taxes required,
a result that really quite no one desired.

The leg passed its budget, some vetoes were used.
The leg overrode some, those cuts they refused.
Then from the Rath Building arose some weird chatter.
The People then wondered, “NOW, what was the matter?”

It seemed a dispute had arisen quite great,
as to which branch of power could set the tax rate.
The executive said, he’s the man with the pen,
while the leg thought that it could. It told him, and then…

To court they all went, led by Lynn Marinelli.
against Collins and Green, (I saw her on the telly).
Judge Feroleto granted Lynn an injunction,
who argued that Collins had usurped a leg function.

Then Judge Peradotto, the leg soon lamented,
ordered that Collins’ bills could be printed.
So from Springville to Amherst and then Lackawanna,
we’ll pay more for less stuff, sort of anti-nirvana.

So now a new judge said that Collins was wrong
and the battle in court, it will not be prolonged.
Your taxes this year will go just a bit higher,
but not nearly as much as Chris Collins desired.

When green and red budgets were part of existence,
we complained and cajoled, and put up some resistance.
the problems keep coming, they should all feel shame.
For now everything new can seem old again.

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8 Responses to “Fiefdoms and Peasants”

  1. al-alo January 13, 2009 at 7:21 am #

    Sadly, people always fall for that “run government run like a business” line in election after election. You might as well say “treat your dog like a fish”. Not exactly the same beast.

  2. indabuff January 13, 2009 at 8:35 am #

    A more succinct poem…

    Collins is red and legislators are blue
    Erie County government is just out to screw you.

  3. Buffalo Mark January 13, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    @indabuff: I’d like to think I am not out to “you know what” the taxpayer.

    Some people wondered why I wasn’t part of the suit as the county’s CFO. I didn’t see the merit of spending more taxpayer money just to be named on a suit that was going to be a split decision anyway. Just so everybody knows, it is my understanding that neither side will appeal the decision, new bills will be printed within the next week and then sent out.

  4. indabuff January 13, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    Mark…I should have said, “Both” are out to screw you…

    Others who read, please note the change…

  5. Starbuck January 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    things are worse now than they were under Giambra

    So far, I have the opposite sense of the Giambra-Collins comparison. Collins seems better than Giambra.

    Collins achieved at least some cost growth reduction givebacks from an ECMC labor union that Giambra wasn’t able to in the previous contract, correct? And he’s working to get more of those from other county unions – also something Giambra didn’t do much, correct?

    Collins eliminated the Apprenticeship Law. Giambra cried and whined about that law but it let stand, correct?

    Aren’t the above some important positives that the Giambra and Marinelli mind sets would not have made happen?

    Did non-mandated spending grow faster during the average of Giambra’s years than it did in the 1st budget as proposed by Collins? (I don’t know the answer to that. Mark Poloncarz, do you happen to know?)

  6. Starbuck January 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    And under Giambra the gap between spending and revenue got insanely out of hand due to one-shot revenues and other gimmickry. True? Am I remembering that right? Before Marinelli forced a 0.75% sales tax hike and a property tax hike (vs the 1% sales tax hike Giambra wanted), there was a time the county couldn’t pay it’s bills without emergency borrowing that taxpayers are still paying extra for. (Mark, is all that true?)

    How someone could say things are worse now than under the years of Giambra-Marinelli rule escapes me. (I group them together because Marinelli voted in favor of every Giambra budget which led up to the fiscal crisis, if memory serves).

  7. BuffaloFalling January 13, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    Chris Collins is a fool. And did you see the county attorney, Cheryl Green, blasting the legislature on TV yesterday. I thought she was the COUNTY attorney, not the rube for the County Executive. I would fire her ass so quickly her comments were outrageous.

    This argument is very simple – the legislature majority wanted to help the long suffering taxpayers of this county with a no tax increase plan, and something achieved with due diligence and not one shots or smoke and mirrors. Collins is used to having his way on everything, and come hell or high water was going to ram his tax increase down our throats. It didn’t work.. and no matter how he tries to spin it, today we should be saying a big THANK YOU to Marinelli and her crew for a job well done.

  8. hank January 13, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Pitiful, jest Piti-ful!….J.D. Clampett

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