Symbolism

7 Oct

County Executive Chris Collins released his proposed 2010 budget last week, and the Answer Lady posted a picture of its cover:

Collins utilizes some stimulus funding to keep spending essentially the same, and maintaining the same tax rate; tax receipts are expected to rise thanks to reassessments. In addition, Collins has been quick to jettison work that the county is not somehow mandated to do. Responsibility for WIC was transferred to Catholic Charities. Now, Collins is planning to shunt responsibility for day care registration for the working poor to some other charity, and county health clinics are to be run by Sheehan. All of the actual money spent on these programs is reimbursed by the federal government, except for pensions and other legacy costs for the county employees who administer them. That is the net savings.

With that, Collins and his political ally, the beleaguered semi-competent Sheriff, have plans to build a multimillion dollar lockup, which would not require them to provide dreaded toiletries to inmates, thus showing those pesky librul bureaucrats at the Justice Department.

Priorities – jails over health clinics. Lockups over day cares. That’s how Collins prioritizes spending money. I think that the role of government is a bit more involved than administering Medicaid and other mandates, and jailing people. But I’m one of those bleeding heart commieHitlers.

And what’s the real benefit here? Spending goes down for legacy costs for these programs, but it doesn’t go down overall. Collins finds places to spend the money. And taxes don’t go down – they technically stay exactly the same. Savings with no savings. That doesn’t seem to me to be how businesses get run.

But Collins is playing to his base – fed-up suburbanites. They love to hear that the poors are losing their welfare queen benefits like health clinics and day care. Collins doesn’t have to compete for city votes, because that’s not his constituency – not by a long shot.

Set aside for a moment that the Collins crew of legislative candidates have willingly and knowingly accepted the endorsement of a group of people who hold some very questionable beliefs. We’ve been over that. How about the fact that these guys are all bleating on about diminishing the size of government, yet the 2010 budget won’t really do that. Collins has had the opportunity to diminish the size of government since 2008 and he hasn’t done it. He tried to raise taxes, he exploded the effort to downsize the legislature, he’s eliminated a few services that are crucial to the survival of the county’s working poor, but taxes stay the same and so does spending.

The Answer Lady concludes that, as far as Chris Collins is concerned, Buffalo isn’t in Erie County. Collins’ cuts may adversely affect city poors, but gosh darn it, he’s running a business here!

All, told this (along with dumping the City parks back on Buffalo) accounts for about 258 positions out of about 4600. (That’s a 5% reduction, mostly from part time parks workers) Brag about it as if it actually means something.

What’s important, OTOH, is that the County eliminate actual welfare for people who need it, but increase the welfare handout to the Buffalo Bills by 15%. Smaller government! Kids and women: go find a church to help with your WIC. Millionaire sports outfit: is there anything else we can do for you?

Meanwhile, the Buffalo News praises all this as being somehow brilliant, despite the fact that its own editorial states:

The budget proposal, now in the hands of the County Legislature, keeps spending virtually in check, increasing by only 0.2 percent. And it maintains the tax rate steady at this year’s $5.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Actual tax collections are expected to rise by 4 percent because of higher assessments and new construction.

Status fucking quo. Spending stays the same. It stays the same.

The cover of that budget book might as well look like this:

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51 Responses to “Symbolism”

  1. Joe Genco October 7, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    Is there something wrong with moving services to the nonprofit sector? The fewer responsibilities county government has, the more efficiently it will run. Let those organizations like Catholic Charities, unencumbered by greedy politicians, use our tax dollars to deliver services to those in need.

  2. Steve October 7, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    You are so right Joe…more to the poor..less to the taxpayer funded pensions!

  3. Smoke and Mirrors October 7, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    Collins cut 49 jobs from the county payroll for WIC and 58 for heath care services. There are almost 5000 people who work for the county. A small cut like this is just propaganda designed to fire up his base and give him the creds he needs to make his uberconservative run for governor.

    Collins knows that Erie County Executive is essentially a ball-less position of acting as a pass through for state and federal dollars. Over 70% of the county budget is spent on mandated services

    Posture on the other > 30% and make those bad poor people in the City suffer, that Collins’ game.

  4. Mark October 7, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    1) These services are the government’s responsibility. They should not pass them off onto another organization. Collins is just moving the problems around, not solving them.

    2) Non-profits have egos, bureaucracies, politics, and greed, just like governments.

    3) These responsibilities should not be given to religious organizations which are politically involved in controversial issues. Catholic Charities is a wing of the Catholic Church, whatever their legal status.

  5. Brian Castner October 7, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    @ Mark: Administering WIC is not the county government’s responsibility. In NY, we confuse things the government must do with the things government does do. There are many other options.

    @ Alan: Collins’ accomplishments may be underwhelming, but I’ll take small victories vs “progress” in the other direction: higher taxes and bigger county government. And do you really think that the county, which you don’t even think should exist, would do a better job running the WIC program than CATHOLIC CHARITIES, one of the most respected non-profits in the area, if not the country? Don’t let your partisanship get in the way of your common sense. If you really want that level of government to go away, you should be happy by this.

    • Alan Bedenko October 7, 2009 at 9:46 am #

      @Brian: I am not a big fan of religious organizations running federally funded programs intended for the eligible populace-at-large. I think it’s violative of the Establishment Clause, and I don’t trust a religious organization to keep the proselytization out of it. If there was no county government, then the state could administer it.

      Furthermore, so far the handful of Collins defenders are missing the bigger point. Where is the savings? How is government smaller? If there is a cost savings and a diminution of “government” resulting from this plan to shunt these programs (which overwhelmingly go to help city residents) it’s not reflected in the budget for 2010, so that makes it a “smaller/cheaper government” FAIL.

      I’ll add, too, that Collins is as big a disappointment for the region as a whole as Byron Brown is for the City of Buffalo. My biggest beef with Brown is that he has the political capital to do great things and to push the city in directions that it might not otherwise go, but he lacks the foresight and political will to do that and instead maintains the status quo. That’s an epic opportunity lost.

      By the same token, Collins is supported widely by the suburban population. He is loved in the suburbs, and he could push the entire county and region in directions that it might not otherwise go – regionalism, consolidation. You know, actual, genuine change. A real push towards less government, fewer government, more efficient government, a more streamlined and customer-centric regional government. Instead, he plays political games, creates big-dollar jobs for friends, gives the poor the finger, builds jails instead, tries to stack the legislature to push through his lame, weak, status quo agenda, and otherwise is a big zero. A big nothing. There is no change. Nothing’s being run like a business. He’s had 2 years to make an impact, and that impact could best be compared to the floaters at the bottom of a port-o-potty.

  6. AnswerLady October 7, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    My original numbers were a little off. It looks like Collins is proposing an increase in Bills spending of 20% over 5 years (2008 -2013).

    2008 $3,657,200
    2009 $4,212,581
    2010 $4,185,730
    2011 $4,311,315
    2012 $4,440,615
    2013 $4,573,874

    Over 5 years, county tax payer will spend over $25 million dollars on Ralph Wilson’s $900 million private property.

  7. Chris from OP October 7, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    How much is budgeted for the inevitable litany of losing lawsuits looming due to Tim Howard’s incompetence?

  8. Buffalo Mark October 7, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Folks, wait until next year. While the 2010 budget was made manageable by the Medicaid stimulus money we are receiving, 2011 is going to be a mess because the stimulus money ends after next year.

    As of today Collins is projecting a $50 million shortfall for 2011, $58 million for 2012 and $63 million for 2013. Depending on how you count discretionary spending of the county, that’s roughly 50% of the discretionary costs. Collins has downplayed it, but in his 4 year plan he lists a number of broad stop-gap measures, including a property tax increase, without really specifying how he would address the shortfalls.

    There is no way to cut our way out of this shortfall without decimating discretionary spending, which is the type of spending people want to see (highway department, libraries, emergency services, parks, etc.). I don’t see a dramatic increase in the sales tax by then, so very difficult decisions will have to be made, and these are decisions no one will like.

    The control board is meeting Friday to review the budget and 4 year plan and there is word they might return to control status because the 4 year plan is so bad they would be left with no option but to trigger a control period. I have been asked to attend to comment on the budget and plan.

  9. STEEL October 7, 2009 at 9:58 am #

    With both crime and the local population in decline why is a NEW new jail needed. The OLD new jail isn’t even that old.

  10. Smoke and Mirrors October 7, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    “As of today Collins is projecting a $50 million shortfall for 2011, $58 million for 2012 and $63 million for 2013. Depending on how you count discretionary spending of the county, that’s roughly 50% of the discretionary costs. Collins has downplayed it, but in his 4 year plan he lists a number of broad stop-gap measures, including a property tax increase, without really specifying how he would address the shortfalls.”

    Boy, Collins leaves that out of his run for governor stump speech doesn’t he.

  11. Brian Castner October 7, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    @ Alan: First, the savings are in the out years. Long term legacy costs that are avoided by not having 40 some people on the county pension and healthcare insurance programs. The big savings is 10 years from now. I know you understand the healthcare and pension bomb coming – its why we’re having the national healthcare debate in the first place. Asking for the savings in 2010 is missing the point. Its miniscule now, much bigger later. Yes, 40ish people is a small step. But it starts there, and moves on. I assume you are much happier about the services being transfered to Sheehan, as it is not a religious org, and is also shedding costs from the tax payer?

    Second, its disingenuous to say Collins is trying to save money on the backs of the poor. As you have pointed out, county government does little except funnel state and federal money to welfare programs. Its the vast majority of the budget. If you are going to save money anywhere, its going to be in welfare and law enforcement programs. Guess what – the poor receive the majority of that aid, and there is a higher crime rate in the city amongst those poor. Ergo, this will all be done on the “back of the city of Buffalo.” There are folks on WIC in Clarence, and they are affected too by these moves. Where is the complaint that people who live in Eden that receive services the county used to do now have to travel to Sheehan? We’re pouring money into city programs at the expense of the suburbs! Its all bunk.

    Third, of course Collins is supporting candidates for the county legisltaure. Just like Obama in Congress, and every other executive/legislature relationship in the country, he wants allies. When the county legislature is so dysfunctional, partisan, petty and ignorant that they stop non-profit funding of construction projects to insert their union kickbacks, at the expense of those non-profits and the region, its no wonder he needs a new group to work with. Do you expect him to support the 9 Dems currently in office, giving him the finger?

    I wish Collins has done more regionalism, and the county transfer of the parks to the city is a big step backwards. But didn’t we just endure a bunch of regionalism push FAIL? I don’t blame Collins for not wading into that immediately. Try the Gaughan approach – little changes now for bigger changes later.

    • Alan Bedenko October 7, 2009 at 10:23 am #

      1. What’s the actual amount allegedly being saved? For some reason, Collins doesn’t come out front-and-center with that information. This is mostly make-believe. Government is smaller by 100 people out of 5000? Shit, where’s my confetti? Yet the Buffalo Bills get $25 million over 5 years – that we can afford? That is a “legitimate role of government”?

      2. Yes, the fact that health clinics are transferring to Sheehan is better than transferring to Catholic Charities, in my opinion. But he’s also proposing shunting day-care services out, and no one knows where that’s going.

      3. Collins has the political capital to do many very radical things in this community. His political will, however, is quite clearly not aimed at the county performing governmental ministerial functions funded by the federal government on behalf of the county’s poor, most of whom are in the city of Buffalo, where Collins doesn’t have to rely on votes. It’s all very political for the anti-politician. Makes one almost want to become cynical about government and its roles.

      4. I never said Collins shouldn’t support candidates for leg. I question why his hand-picked candidates think that he has anything to do with a platform of smaller government and lower taxes. Chris. Collins. Has. Done. Neither. Nor does he evidently plan to. At least, not next year. The legislature may be “dysfunctional” and “partisan” and “petty”, but so is Collins and his executive branch.

      5. Collins won’t do regionalism because it will piss off the suburbs. A non-politician who wanted to run government like a business wouldn’t care. He’d do what was in the best interests of his constituents regardless of its political popularity. Chris Collins is a politician, and he’s as good as any of them. He will do what is electorally in his best interests and in the best interests of county Republican candidates. He won’t ever do regionalism, unless he’s in the final year of his final term.

      • Alan Bedenko October 7, 2009 at 10:29 am #

        Let me crystallize this:

        If you’re going to cut taxes, then fucking cut them, already.

        If you’re going to cut spending, then fucking cut it, already.

        Instead, Collins keeps taxes the same and cuts spending on THIS but hikes it on THAT, with a net zero change.

        And as our Comptroller points out, the whole thing is propped up by the new pronunciation of the words “tobacco settlement”; “federal Medicaid stimulus”.

  12. Hank October 7, 2009 at 10:15 am #

    Collins is just moving the problems around, not solving them.
    Yep, deck chairs on the Titanic again.

    Though it’s true that non-profits have their bureaucracies, politics, and ego’s, very few people who work for Catholic Charities get paid for what they do, and I think that there is no way they could do worse at running that program than Government would.
    Remember your last trip to the DMV? Post Office? Ride on AMTRAK? Government doesn’t have a good record in customer service.

  13. Hank October 7, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    Oh, and 25 million in subsidies to keep the Bills in town—-with their record since 94, —you’ll be better off without them–that 25 mil could go a LONG way to helping people all over the county that need it.

  14. Brian Castner October 7, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    If you are going to run a county like a business, you look at your revenue forecasts. This year, fine. Next couple years, bad. So I could cut taxes now for short term gain, and then be majorly screwed later, or I could leave them where they are at, and have much smaller deficits to work with in later years. The five year forecast sux – Poloncarz is right. How much worse will it be if we knee jerk tax cuts now. And the small spending cuts he is doing, you complain about. BTW – for the record, I bet when we have a new sherrif in a month, there is a new jail plan. And that will be a good thing.

    • Alan Bedenko October 7, 2009 at 10:54 am #

      The control board is the entity that’s going to look at Collins’ forecasts, and as Mark indicates, they may go back to a hard board. Collins doesn’t have a plan to reduce the size and scope of government. He can’t. 80 – 90% of what the county does is mandated. A trained ocelot could do it and that’s why we don’t need an entire county government bureaucracy to figure out what to do with the remaining 10 – 20% of the budget. The truth of the matter is that there’s little real discretion with the discretionary portion of the budget, because it consists of stuff that people like. Collins could put together a plan for smaller, more efficient government with less personnel, a gradual decrease in taxes and a close look at spending. Where’s our county charter-mandated performance-based budget? What the hell has Six Sigma really accomplished, apart from helping retain new people in newly created six-figure-salary positions (which will draw legacy costs, incidentally)? Why isn’t he at least bully pulpiting regionalism and consolidation? That’s one sure-fire, legal way to maximize cost savings and eliminate redundancies. Like businesses do.

      He hasn’t uttered a peep about it. He’s not running anything like a business. He’s running it like a small-time political hack. Chris Collins is a failure.

  15. mike October 7, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    I miss Joel standing in front of the 1943 steel penny! No word on when they will drop that yet i guess.

  16. Smoke and mirrors October 7, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    Repeat after me, government is not a business, government is not a business, government is not a business…

    Corporations are legally bound to provide the greatest financial dividend to their stockholders

    Democratic Government is not supposed to make a profit. It’s job is to spend the pooled contributions of the citizens (taxes) to provide services to those citizens – health, education, defense, infrastructure. Its created by citizens to provide the necessities of a life unaffordable to the individual.

  17. lefty October 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    This is not a bash President Obama comment. However, I do have a question.

    Right now on the “left” every move that is made by the Democrats in power that has flaws or is less than what people thought it would be…seems to me to get a pass. That past being..”well we are still dealing with the last 8 years”….or something to that effect.

    However, the same logic is not used by said Democrats when measuring actions by a Republican Collins. Please do not try and inject that Giambra was a Republican. With that out of the way, the County has been run by Democrats for a VERY.VERY.VERY long time. So these actions, while small, are a move in the desired direction for MOST OF THE VOTERS in Erie County.

    As to your question Alan about “Where is the savings”…they will come. First what has to happen is for people to realize you do not need layers of public sector workers with legacy costs to provide services like WIC or day care registration or health clinics. One the general public can see small steps can be made without the sky falling, you can move on to lager moves that save even more.

    There is a horrible culture of resistance to change in WNY. People just accept what IS instead of demanding more for less. The boiled frog is a perfect example of this.

    As for your comment of:

    If you’re going to cut taxes, then fucking cut them, already.
    If you’re going to cut spending, then fucking cut it, already.

    I counter that logical changes on how to provide services meet resistance from people who can not see the big picture and are hard enough…swinging for the fence out of the gate is simply the wrong move.

    • Alan Bedenko October 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

      Right now on the “left” every move that is made by the Democrats in power that has flaws or is less than what people thought it would be…seems to me to get a pass. That past being..”well we are still dealing with the last 8 years”….or something to that effect. However, the same logic is not used by said Democrats when measuring actions by a Republican Collins.

      False equivalence. Obama has been in office for 8 months. Collins for two years. This is his third budget. He’s had ample opportunity to seize his opportunity.

      I counter that logical changes on how to provide services meet resistance from people who can not see the big picture and are hard enough…swinging for the fence out of the gate is simply the wrong move.

      Swinging for the fence? Collins didn’t even get lost on the way to the ballpark – it’s not on his map in the first place.

  18. jesse (from ea) October 7, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    @Brian Castner – keep trying the reason. Eventually it’ll sink in. Maybe.

  19. The Humanist October 7, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    However, the same logic is not used by said Democrats when measuring actions by a Republican Collins. Please do not try and inject that Giambra was a Republican. With that out of the way, the County has been run by Democrats for a VERY.VERY.VERY long time.”

    1) “Please do not try and inject that Giambra was a Republican…”? In other words, please ignore the truth and just go along with the ridiculous point I’m making.

    2) lets look at that VERY, VERY, VERY long run in power in Erie County the Democrats have enjoyed:

    Ed Rath (1962-1969) Republican

    B. John Tutuska (1969-1971) Republican

    Ed Regan (1972-1978) Republican

    Ed Rutkowski (1979-1987) Republican

    Dennis Gorski (1988-1999) Democratic

    Joel Giambra (2000-2007) Republican (changed affiliation in 1999)

    Chris Collins (2008-present) Republican

    So every County Executive save one for the past half-century (covering 37 years) being Republican is just solid evidence of Democratic FAIL in the position? What the what?

  20. STEEL October 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm #

    This 25 mill for the Bills is a big problem. If there was some assurance that they were going to be around for any reasonable length of time it might make some sense as national marketing investment. But since their days as a Buffalo team are tied to the death date of a man over 90 years old this is just a waste of money. Is the 25 mill just a way to make sure that Buffalo gets a few preseason games from the future Toronto Bills?

  21. Ward October 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    I don’t suppose this Collins rant has anything to do with his sniffing around for a gubernatorial run, does it?
    Of course we would not want an upstate Republican in that office, lest he recognize and act upon the problems of this region, and devote any less than 100% of our resources to downstate pork..
    I’ll leave it to Humanist’s historical research to tell us the last NY Governor, of any party, who came from Upstate.

  22. Ward October 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Too late, Humanist. Nathan Lewis Miller, a Republican from Cortland, was Governor from 1921 to 1922. (We won’t count Charles Poletti from Elizabethtown, who served out the last 28 days of Herbert Lehman’s term in 1942.)
    So let’s not tamper with tradition, eh? Collins = R = Businessman = Bad.

  23. Steve October 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    @Mark….glad to see your office is so busy conducting audits of employees who don’t use swipe cards yet you have time to blog on a clearly Democrat website during working hours (9:43). Shouldn’t you be doing the peoples business? Hmmm I guess everything you said yesterday about not being involved in political bullshit was just another lie. Can’t wait till your gone!

  24. Steve October 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    @Mark…By the way, who do we call to do an audit on your computer. It would be interesting to see where you go all day….do you accomplish any of the people’s work?

  25. The Humanist October 7, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    @ Ward – George Pataki was seen as the great hope for upstate, given he was the first elected governor since FDR to not come from one of the five NYC boroughs and that his narrow margin of victory in 1994 was thanks to the upstate vote. And he delivered….if your hope was seeing the state’s budget and long-term debt doubled.

  26. lefty October 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    @ Humanist

    Giambra was not a Republican. He was elected with an “R” next to his name. This point is never going to be conceded by either side. Sorry, but the CE was been “Blue” for 20 years before Collins. Added to this, IIRC, Erie County also has something called the ECL. Care to run the same numbers for the Majority of the ECL going back to 1962? No matter how people try to package it, Erie County has been run by Democrats for a VERY LONG TIME.

    The was ZERO change in philosophy as to how the County was run for a VERY LONG TIME. The changes have been gradual and the residents simply became adapt to the changes. Hence, the frog in a pot comparison.

    The items that Collins is doing, while BP considers small, are a HUGE STEP in changing the perception for county residents. You can not correct 50 years of mistakes overnight. If you do not see those mistakes, I suggest you get out of Buffalo for a couple of years and live in an area where you can see a contrast.

    Spew your bile, bash the other side…while it does not make anything change, I hope you feel better inside. The reality is NYS, WNY and Erie County are in fucking horrible shape. Years of little items have compounded to bring what was once a vibrant community to the edge. If you do not see the cliff, once again, I suggest you get out of dodge for a bit an compare it to other areas.

    @BP

    So what you are saying is should no longer try to make changes? Correct me if I am wrong, he is still in office. No? Should he simply give up on doing what 70% of the community asked him to do because a fraction of the voters disagree with him?

    Here is my suggestion to those who do not support these moves by Collins.

    1- Deal with it until the next election! Rally the troops and vote Collins out of office the next time around.

    2- If you can not succeed in doing so…move! Get the hell out of WNY. For decades WNY has lost population because people were sick and tired of the same fucking BS. High taxes, loyalty to unions, excessive social services costs…the list goes on.

    • Alan Bedenko October 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

      @lefty: part of the reason WNY is mired in failure is that politicians never take the bold steps or unpopular initiatives. Instead, they maintain the status quo because it’s safe and helps them get re-elected.

      Collins is taking “bold steps” that are unpopular with a constituency which he represents, but doesn’t care much about since they’re not going to make or break an election for him. They are, however, popular with the constituency that elected him. These are piecemeal changes that do very very little indeed to really improve WNY, make government smaller, or make it more efficient.

      Also, the Erie County Legislature was run by Republicans in the runup to the Red/Green fiasco. I think we can do without a repeat of that for a little while.

  27. Ward October 7, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    Humanist — I love that NYC folks consider Upstate to be anything north of Spuyten Duyvil. You don’t share that geographic concept, do you? If Pataki is Upstate (or a Republican, for that matter) we’re all screwed. (Which we were, I’ll be the first to admit–except for his 65 mph speed limit, and his adoption of the Howard Stern DOT directive to fix roads at night.)

  28. lefty October 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

    @BP

    What Collins is doing be unpopular with some, I think it is a little childish to say he does not care about poor people. At the very least, it is a weak attempt to make a point.

    Several people “care” about the poor in WNY. But this does not mean they should give them everything they want or that they should feel guilty if they say “no” every once in a while. The programs designed to “help” the poor in NYS and WNY are some of THE most comprehensive and costly in the US. Even with the reductions in staff, they are still going to be some of THE most comprehensive and costly in the US.

    Why do people like yourself always run to the argument that doing something that, in the big picture slightly changes the social support programs, as a dislike or war against the poor?

    While these changes are small, everything starts off small. Just as it has taken years for these programs to compound to the point were they are crushing the local economy, it is going to take years and several steps to make the necessary corrections.

    I understand the desire to try and push massive changes to reverse the direction of things..but just look how that game plan worked for President Obama and Congress. As someone who obviously knows WNY politics, I think the only reason why you are saying Collins should have made/make bolder steps or unpopular initiatives is because you ultimately want him to fail. You want things to blog about. You want ammo for the next election.

    IMO, it is going to take decades for WNY to be fixed even if every move made is the right one. It is going to take piecemeal changes to compound to reverse the negative effects of decades of piecemeal changes that caused the problem.

    Erie County needs to learn that it can help those in need without creating layers of government and with a byproduct of public workers with legacy costs.
    Erie County needs to learn that you can have a healthy and productive labor environment without having the iron fist of union rule making the rules.
    Erie County needs to lean that you can find balance with the corporate mindset and the working man.

    These lessons need to be learned…not mandated is massive reform that hit with the weight of a sledgehammer. The mindset needs to slowly changed and progress is going to come an inch at a time.

    • Alan Bedenko October 7, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

      Lefty, Buffalo is easily 50 years behind the rest of the country when it comes to the big-picture regionalism issues. How long exactly do we have to wait? Collins has political capital his predecessors never really had. Giambra tried, but he was too compromised as a purely political entity from jump street.

      I’ll repeat it again – regionalism and good government issues like that aren’t even remotely on Collins’ radar screen. It’s not that he is waiting something out. He fundamentally doesn’t care or believe in them. This is, to me, a damn shame.

  29. Jackstraw October 7, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    “part of the reason WNY is mired in failure is that politicians never take the bold steps or unpopular initiatives. Instead, they maintain the status quo because it’s safe and helps them get re-elected. ” Kinda like Pundit.

  30. The Humanist October 7, 2009 at 11:08 pm #

    @ Jackstraw: how is Pundit = the status quo?

  31. Jackstraw October 7, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    “I am not a big fan of religious organizations running federally funded programs intended for the eligible populace-at-large. ” Why not….I mean you have to have a lot of faith to belive in the institution of government to provide for the populace-at- large to begin with. Faith being a means to knowlege apart from emperical evidence . All history has been is basicly the story of governments making a muck of things. Wars, oppression, etc. So why not give it over to a bunch of faith based folks too ..really how much worse could it be?

  32. Jackstraw October 7, 2009 at 11:15 pm #

    @ Humanist… You can read can’t you? The state is the solution to everything …..which is the solution of every Dem, Repub etc.

    • Alan Bedenko October 8, 2009 at 6:17 am #

      Hey Jackstraw – you glibertarians are fans of the constitution I thought. It’s unconstitutional for religious organizations to accept federal funds. At least, that’s the way the country worked before about 10 years ago. I guess you guys are selective about what parts of the constitution you give a shit about.

      If you’re a Somalian Muslim, why should you have to go to a Catholic charity and possibly be proselytized to in order to get a voucher to buy milk?

  33. Joe Genco October 8, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    You have the wrong impression of Catholic Charities. Someone I know, love and sleep with worked there, as a social worker, for almost 15 years. She is Jewish. No one proselytized, to her, or her clients. Instead, they efficiently delivered better service than what the unionized civil servant at the county could offer. Getting a referral or a consultation from a county worker was a nightmare because of too much bureaucracy and not enough people on the front line. The county workers were overwhelmed. Anytime an organization run by the Catholic Church is more efficient than the government, be scared. Be very scared for those people receiving the services, you know Alan, the ones you think we Republicans are forgetting. In a perfect world, you are right to call out Jackstraw, but even he can appreciate compromise of offering better service with fewer legacy costs.

  34. Steve October 8, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    I guess Mark has no response….as usual when he caught red handed…what a loser!

  35. Pete at BuffaloStuff October 8, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    @Ward – Your formula
    Collins = R = Businessman = Bad.

    Actual formula Collins = jerk = bad
    I don’t care what his party affiliation or his previous job. There’s plenty of D’s that are jerks too.

    I am a religious guy and I agree with Alan. You want to outsource the WIC program, outsource it to a non-religious organization. We can be religious and still have a separation of church and state.

    I don’t believe that Chris Collins is engaging in a war on the poor, but I definitely believe he will cater to the wealthy suburbanites who did vote for him over the poor in the city that probably did not. Alan is also right in the idea that if you are going to make meaningful change then make meaningful change. Collins managed to find nice sized raises for his pals earlier. That’s not meaningful change. Government jobs aren’t supposed to be the best cushiest jobs. Of course I want good people to do the jobs. Hard to believe in this place, in this economy we can’t find good people for less. Except that meaningful change means doing just that, and business as usual means taking care of your pals. So, no, it’s not war against the poor, but the poor didn’t vote for him and probably won’t, so it is OK to inconvenience them.

    I, by the way, am not against changing the way we administer those programs to save money, and I am also not against changing programs in a way that is less convenient for users, but let’s call it what it is.

  36. Brian Castner October 8, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    @ Alan: Religious Organizations got $$$ before 10 years ago. Hell, John LaFalce got tons of money for St Louis Church in Buffalo, just to fix it up because it looked pretty, so they could continue with worhsip services and evangelizing. No social services contracts – no strings attached. So check the glib. You say you want to downsize the size of county government. If you don’t want to outsource some of the major cost centers of county government to private orgs who have a proven track record of doing the work better, how do you propose to downsize government?

  37. Jackstraw October 8, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    “you glibertarians are fans of the constitution I thought. It’s unconstitutional for religious organizations to accept federal funds. At least, that’s the way the country worked before about 10 years ago. I guess you guys are selective about what parts of the constitution you give a shit about.” I think were all beyond the notion that we or anybody in the government has any semblance of respect for the constitution. “Parchment protection” is not a unified belief in libertarian circles. Me personally I think it’s foolish to believe that the state will restrain its power simply because there’s some words on a piece of paper. However, I would prefer a society that adheres to the constitution as opposed to what we have now, I would prefer the articles of confederation to the constitution, I would prefer no state to all the above. By the way I was being facetious about faith based organizations. I was simply trying to point out that those who support the state are a loosely based faith based organization.

  38. Pete at BuffaloStuff October 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    @Jackstraw – so you can’t really have separation of church and state because government is a religion all of it’s own…….it requires faith, but no proof that it actually works?

  39. Jackstraw October 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Pete- I think that people who see government as efficatious or better yet benifical to humanity really require a lot of faith. All the history I’ve ever read (even in government schools) has shown government to be essentially inmical to human well being. The seperation of church and state has always been (far as I know) about orginized religion Judaism, Christianity etc. While one could make the argument that Marxism, Enviornmentalism, Multicultralism etc are forms of religion (all being anti-reason, failth based etc) one could say that we don’t have a seperation at all. These ism’s dominate the culture and have a profound impact on the way that government policy is practiced. Government it self is not a set of ideas it is the result of a set ideas so government is not a religion. I understand religion to be a set of values (ideas) that govern human conduct based on faith as opposed to philosophy which is a set of values (ideas) based on the exercise of reason. To put it loosely.

  40. lefty October 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    @BP

    You want Collins to jump head first into regionalism? That is crazy. While Giambra may have tried it, execution is all that matters.

    The idea of regionalism is awesome and the result would even be better but ideas do not mean shit. Just look at the kickback on this tiny move. It is massive. Just what do you think would happen if a massive move was made. It would be an even bigger failure.

    People who are informed can cite all of the studies and examples they want, people who care can actually have the same view on regionalism, even if they disagree on almost everything else. Just look at the conversation we are having.

    However, most people, on BOTH sides in WNY are narrow minded. They are not stupid but rather ignorant. Ignorance is not a bad thing…it can be fixed. Stupidity, on the other hand, is permanent.

    Fast forward 1 year from today. These small changes made will mean so much more then than they do today. When the next item come up regarding how to provide services or a consolidation/regionalism item is mentioned, we will be able to look back at these moves and see the result.

    For example, did the WIC program suffer AFTER it was taken over by Catholic Charities? I am almost positive it will not. In fact, I think the program can be more productive if run better, something I feel Catholic Charities can do compared to the county. As for religion being mixed into government, ya, I can see where some would have a problem with it. My suggestion is to fucking get over it. If you are not in the WIC program, all you should care about is if the services are being provided and are they being done as best as possible and as cost effectively as possible. If you are in the WIC program and have a problem, get over yourself. All you should care about is getting the benefits for your kids and not who is cutting the paycheck for the person helping you with that task. Everyone needs a little help now and then. Some sometimes more than others. But beggars should not be choosers. Who knows, the SAVINGS from the legacy costs could actually go to help MORE people in need.

    The one thing that Collins is doing IMO, that a lot of people do not see, is slowly moving the county in a different direction. I know some are going to rail on this next comment, but in business you DO NOT make drastic changes if at all possible. Compare Erie County to a large company. This company is made up of several departments each with their own personality and goals. Say the one common fabric for this company is a management software. It has been hacked on for years, it is doing more then it was originally built for and it needs to go. However, every employee has a comfort level with this software. Even though it under performs and they could be much more productive using something better, they are resistant to change. Do you just go out and switch the entire company to a new platform overnight? No. You take a small team and you fold them in first. You see what works and you fix what doesn’t. When this is done, you roll out to other teams in progressively larger groups. Before you know it, everyone has switched over to the new system and the company.

    IMO, if all Collins does in his term are little items like this that prove change can happen without the sky falling, his term is a success. Something small like this is less likely to be reversed. It is a building block. It is going to take a VERY long time for shit to be fixed. Regardless of the D or R next to the name of the next person, we need building blocks to stay up from administration to administration…not knocking shit down every flip in an election.

  41. Sue October 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    All you have to do is look at the general fund and see where it is stacked to do less with more. Most successful county executives, ie Gorski being the most, used grant funding to provide services to the poor because they actually received bad debt and charity funds to cover the balance of what the grant doesn’t cover. Sheehan to cover clinics? Looks like a plan to help out UB Family Medicine. Somehow someone’s talked Collins into the perils of grants, they actually require deliverables and accountability. Hmm, makes you wonder why Collins and his commissioners want fewer grants. Collins needs watching. Joel said those sayings, ie smaller, better, cheaper, and Collins run gov’t like a business. You saw Joel’s version of smaller and cheaper, he increased the payrolls by the hundreds, and they are all still there! Sounds like a business to me (and a politician)…let’s see Collins talk his way out of his management confidential staff raises when he promised in his letter in the budget, NO MORE RAISES! Also, he’s the same guy that when he was running said NO LAYOFFS. Lies once again, he sure is one heck of a politician isn’t he?

  42. Sue October 18, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    Oh, and Chris Collins and the “I hire the most talented”??? Just another lie, they just make more money, but they aren’t more talented, that’s for sure.

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

    […] purposes. Collins’ proposed 2010 budget played with the numbers to keep taxes steady, but no spending was cut. None. Most of you will remember his horrible thing Collins said, calling Assembly Speaker Sheldon […]

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