Collins' Ad Hoc Majority UPDATED

7 Jan

Hey, where will you be today when, around 2pm, the new Erie County Legislature holds its reorganization meeting, whereby Chris Collins attains an ad hoc majority?

Yes, there will be a bloc of nine pliant and compliant legislators who are part of a complicated set of wheeling and dealing that will, among other things, help Chris Collins ram his agenda more easily through the legislature.

The Republican members of the legislature are expected to join a handful of Pigeon-friendly Democrats to elect Grassroots member Barbara Miller-Williams as chairperson of the Legislature. Make no mistake – everyone has received a pro quo for his or her quid. When people voted for Democratic legislators in their various districts, I wonder if they knew they were voting for someone who would cut deals with Chris Collins and help advance his agenda?

For the record, the blocs shape up thusly:

Nine for Collins: Kennedy, Bove, Walter, Fudoli, Dixon, Mills, Rath, Hardwick, Miller-Williams
Six Democrats: Grant, Kozub, Whyte, Mazur, Marinelli, Loughran

The Erie County Legislature was never a place where good government was king. Now, “good government” has been relegated to obscure serfdom, supplanted by short-term personal power, privilege, and convenience. The Republicans have teamed up with the Pigeonistas to stick a shiv in the back of checks & balances.

Good luck with all of that.

UPDATE: Barbara Miller-Williams was elected chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature this afternoon. John Mills remains minority leader, and Maria Whyte remains majority leader. I’ll have much more on this later, but the divide in the legislature is deeper than I’ve ever seen it before. I don’t know if this is good or not but make no mistake – the Democrats are in the minority right now. This is akin to a coup orchestrated by Collins, Pigeon, and a group of, as Betty Jean Grant called them, “renegade Democrats”.

To add to the coup-y flavor, a coterie of armed Sheriff’s Deputies were on hand to “escort” fired staffers out of the building.

And that so-called “reform coalition”? One of the first things it did was propose the creation of two new patronage jobs – Chief of Staff for the minority and majority caucuses. That is not reform. That is not good government.

Follow the goings-on on Twitter by searching for #ecleg, or #WNY.

23 Responses to “Collins' Ad Hoc Majority UPDATED”

  1. Paws January 7, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    The choice of Barbara Miller Williams is much more complex than providing a compliant legislature, in fact in many instances they want her to be non-compliant. The biggest issue for Collins on the Republicans is having BMW block reform, especially downsizing. Last year, downsizing the Leg to 9 members would have worked out great for the Reps, cutting 4 to 5 Dems out of the Leg to just 1 Republican. Now reducing the Leg to 9 would almost guarantee that 3 of the 4 Republicans who just won election Dixon, Fudoli, Hardwick and Walter would lose their seats. The Democrat who would definitely lose their seat, Barbara Miller Williams.

    For the Republicans the get a black, inner city boogey woman who they can attack for blocking for reform while at the sametime maintaining the best outcome in terms of Legislature composition they can hope for. It is very cynical politics playing off a few people more concerned with themselves than anything else.

    Also, the Republicans are getting a bunch of patronage jobs in the deal.

  2. Ward January 7, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    “…pliant and compliant legislators who are part of a complicated set of wheeling and dealing that will, among other things, help Chris Collins ram through his agenda more easily in the legislature.”

    Doesn’t seem to be a problem in Washington, though–does it? I wonder if the Leg will have midnight votes on Saturday or on Christmas Eve, or disregard a campaign promise made eight times, to televise debate on a major bill.

    Welcome to our world, Pundit.

  3. Mike In WNY January 7, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    The Marinelli faction was so beneficial, they will be missed (by the unions). . .WAKE UP, reality check time.

  4. jesse January 7, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Wait, because the legislature of the last, oh, I don’t know, I’m 36 years old… was just so stellar?

    I’m with you Pundit: Shut the whole damn useless thing down.

  5. Grey Goose January 7, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Chris Collins doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Barbara Miller-Williams or the people she represents. Byron Brown gave Miller-Williams and Tim Kennedy to Collins as repayment for a no contest in the November General Election. Steve Pigeon recruited Bove on his own. Hey Erie County Legislature, welcome to the chaos that was the New York State Senate last year. What Pigeon touches, he contaminates!

  6. Fat Tony January 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Yes, because the other legislative bodies that all have pilant and compliant Democrat members…City Council, State Assembly, House of Reps and US Senate are functioning so well. The issue is the lack of quality people from both parties stepping forward to run for office. I guarantee you that out of the 15 members of the Legislature, maybe 3 or 4 could fine gainful employment in the private sector.

  7. Fat Tony January 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    I should have added a caveat that anything that give Chris Collins additional influence can only end badly. He is a tyrant-wannabe with no respect for the separation of powers.

  8. Jon Splett January 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    Nice to see the police have managed to solve all the crime in the county and have the free time to escort fired employees out before they do something crazy like steal a stapler.

  9. Pauldub January 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Yeah, and Hardwick campaigned on making government smaller and more responsive. Hope he enjoys his single term in office…
    I’m starting the “Anyone but Kevin” platform

  10. Paws January 7, 2010 at 7:13 pm #


    Hardwick also pledged to eliminate the position of Minority and Majority leader.

    • Kevin Hardwick January 8, 2010 at 7:31 am #

      Eliminating the positions of majority leader and minority leader is a pledge I reiterated on the floor during the meeting. I never promised to eliminate the positions at the first meeting. Nor did I promise to bring about downsizing to 11, term limits, recall and other reforms 6 days after assuming office. Electing a chair who is open to a floor vote on such measures, however, is an important initial step.

      • Pauldub January 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

        Some voters assume that their elected officials wil make good on their campaign promises as soon as they are sworn in. Or at least make the effort. What time frame can we look forward to when you will start?

      • Kevin Hardwick January 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

        Voters have every right to make that assumption. The pledge was to work for these things, not to get them done in 6 days. Toward that end, I’ve been lining up support since election night. I’m hopeful of getting at least 2 done this year.

      • PJ January 8, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

        6 days is too soon but when you make bold promises people don’t forget. You have two years to get it done but the clock is ticking.

  11. tom January 7, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    The minority last year had 2 staffers. I don’t see how giving them a chief of staff after doubling in size is a problem. You’ll note that all 6 will NOT have district offices, something they all campaigned on. that IS reform. Executives on every level seek to “work” the legislature. Your disdain for CE Collins is clouding your judgement.

  12. Seth Payson January 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    LOL, what do you say about a line up that makes Betty Jean Grant look good.

  13. Leonard Sawicki January 7, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    2010 is shaping up to be a very progressive year for Women of Color in The Queen City. You got Betty Jean bein’ all powerfull and stuff, you got Barbie Miller Williams bein’ important now, you got the HR woman in City Hall telling the auditors to “talk to the hand”, you got Ms.Parrot Johnson in City Hall gettin’ reappointed because of all the positive things she has done in City Hall, you got the two “ladies” who “allegedley” stabbed the other lady because she thought was a thespian, Lordy,Lordy,Lordy, it’s gonna’ be a good year!

  14. PJ January 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    This is all vaguely familiar and I don’t mean the senate last summer. How about the county ledge 5-6 years ago. Renegade Dems cutting deals with GOP for leadership positions to give the GOP control when they are in the minority. Wasn’t George Holt from the same district as BMW. The state senate was just using the Erie County model. BP you have it nailed. The county ledge and senate are both worthless. Wanna bet when the ledge fails the GOP blames the “Dem controlled legislature”. Fast forward to 2010 senate elections. The Dems will pay for the senate dysfunction of 2009 and the GOP will benefit eventhough they enticed the flippers. Not that I am entirely blaming the GOP. The Dems repeatedly fall into the trap. It is just a tiresome game and Pigeon as learned how to play both sides of the gameboard. You have to admire the his genius. He wins, we lose.

  15. MRodgers January 7, 2010 at 11:06 pm #

    PJ, that’s interesting, I think of BMW as Butch Holt in a dress. She didn’t do anything for Ellicott when she was in office, she’s full of idle promises to constituents and she bragged about how she knew where the money was to can get certain pet projects done. I’ve seen it and heard it, personally (except for the real Holt in a dress – wouldn’t ever want to see that).

    • greygoose January 8, 2010 at 12:49 am #

      MRodgers,you are so right. Both you and I know the unfilled promises of BMW. As Ellicott District Councilmember, she told her constituents what she thought they wanted to hear, not what she was going to do for them. I am embarrassed and feel like apologizing to the residents of Erie County because I know how badly she is going to screws things up. Tim Kennedy, Mayor Brown and Steve Casey need to be ashamed of themselves for sicing Steve Pigeon on this woman. Red and Green budget? This is going to be 100 times worse!


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