Collins: A Government of One

4 Oct

The Buffalo News’ Colin Dabkowski beautifully sums up how and why Chris Collins’ decision to only fund culturals which he sees as drawing in visitors from outside the area harms local residents. To him, the cultural life of the region is seen only as a piggy bank – it’s an entry in a ledger, not something that keeps people here in this otherwise depressingly broken place. From Dabkowski’s excellent column:

His approach is focused entirely on bringing new tax revenue into Erie County through cultural tourism.

“The big, five, seven, eight organizations, they bring people in from outside the area. That’s what I’m after. I want dollars coming in here which wouldn’t otherwise come in here, which makes our economy bigger,” Collins said. “From my perspective as chief budget officer of Erie County, it doesn’t matter to me whether they go to the Albright- Knox or the movies. I get my sales tax. Period. I’m not focused on churning within the community.”

In that same interview, Collins said he would support “to some extent” the cultural organizations that add to Erie County’s quality of life, but which don’t necessarily have the potential to bring in outside tourists. If by “some extent” he meant “not at all,” Collins just delivered on his promise.

It’s not that Collins doesn’t acknowledge the importance of culture to the vitality of Western New York. It’s written into his vision statement, which declares one of Erie County’s four major selling points to be its “arts, architecture, and cultural heritage.”

“I don’t care how bad our budget situation ever gets,” Collins said. “I’m going to take care of the roads, I’m going to take care of the parks, the beaches, I’m going to make sure the bridges are open and I’m going to make sure we properly fund the culturals that are helping make our vision a reality.”

But that vision –which hinges on making Erie County “a place where people want to live, businesses want to locate and tourists want to visit” –depends more than Collins understands on the large number of small and midsized cultural groups that county dollars help to support. Those organizations, from theaters to community groups on Buffalo’s underserved East Side, serve a vital function for Collins’ constituents, with whom he seems to be woefully unconcerned. They are the people who live, work and spend money here.

Let’s test Collins’ “draw people from outside the area” theory. Specifically, let’s focus on one of the cultural institutions that’s set to receive funding. The so-called “Hamburg Natural History Museum”.

Unless he’s talking about Hansestadt Hamburg in Germany, a Google search reveals the existence of no such entity. If you add “NY”, something does come up, but not with a website. How, precisely, is an unfindable natural history museum going to draw in people from outside the area?

What they’re all talking about is the Penn Dixie site, which is supported by Republican County Legislator Lynne Dixon and Paladino’s proof of non-racism, Thurman Thomas.

To be honest, I’ve lived here almost 10 years, and I’ve never heard of the Hamburg Natural History Society or the Penn Dixie site. I have, however, heard of Shakespeare in the Park, Music is Art, the Alleyway Theater, and Hallwalls. I also think that if my tax dollars are being used to fund cultural entities, they should fund cultural entities that make life here better for the people who live here.

Read Dabkowski’s whole piece.

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42 Responses to “Collins: A Government of One”

  1. peteherr October 4, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    If lowering spending to the culturals was the goal, a better funding model would have been to lower the pool to the whole group and then fund at the same percentage of the total pool that each group got last year. I understand, and endorse, the need for belt tightening, however, I would hope the belt tightening was more intelliegently concieved than Collins scrapping the organization that recommends who needs funding, cutting many smaller groups out of the picture completely, and arrogantly supporting a small, little-known group that benefits few and is clearly the pet project of his political supporters.

    Is there money in the budget to legally change the name of the county to Collins County to honor him after he has rescued us from our fiscal irresponsiblity and also our quality of life?

  2. Derek J. Punaro October 4, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Perhaps it’s because I lived in Hamburg, but I thought the Penn Dixie site was fairly well known. They offer the ability to dig for fossils, hold astronomy nights, and things like that. It’s a good school field trip type of place, which is great, but I’m not sure how that fits into Collins’s justification, as I wouldn’t expect it to be a big draw from outside the area, and certainly not one that generates any tax revenue.

  3. Brian Castner October 4, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    I’m going to write more on the budget this week, but let me echo Derek on the Penn-Dixie site. Just cuz you haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean its not significant. I think you are scraping the bottom of the barrel if your guilt-by-association list for it is Dixon and Thurman Thomas – one Paladino commercial and he’s not still Mr. Buffalo Booster? They are in the middle of a capital campaign for a science center (well attended by school kids), which is being supported by evil Paladino supporter Brian Higgins (http://higgins.house.gov/fy-2011-appropriations-requests.shtml). If you want to support culturals generally, I don’t see what you gain by knocking down one’s you just don’t happen to have heard of (especially when you admit you don’t like doing stuff like that – see previous post about nothing to do in Buffalo).

    • Alan Bedenko October 4, 2010 at 9:25 am #

      1. Thomas and Dixon are high-profile Republicans and friendly with Collins.

      2. Not having heard of the Penn Dixie site despite living here with kids for almost a decade is to establish that it isn’t a draw for out of towners and therefore fails to meet what appears to be Collins’ sole criterion for county funding. I’m not saying it’s not worthy – I’m saying that by Collins’ own test, it’s no more worthy than Shakespeare in the Park.

      3. It’d be swell, would it not, if Collins explained how Penn Dixie passes his test, thus leaving me no reason to extrapolate that the reason is probably that it’s supported by friends of his.

  4. Brian Castner October 4, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    @ Alan: Full disclosure – I know folks on the Penn Dixie board. A couple things:

    1) I know the name “Hamburg Natural History Museum” is how its listed in the county budget, but that is a clerical error, and not how the group publicizes itself. Penn Dixie has tried to get it changed for years – I think we can all agree the county is dysfunctional enough to get it wrong for years without changing it. So, you searched in Google for something that doesn’t exist, and they know it. I can search for “Shakespeare Theater” and get the name wrong, and not find Shakespeare in the Park, but what does that prove?

    2) Penn Dixie has been around 20 years, and got aid when Reynolds held that seat, and he was no friend of Collins.

    3) I think the reason Collins is not spending time defending the funding is that its $41K out of a $4.1M culturals budget.

    4) Having access to numbers you don’t (because I know people on the board), I can tell you Penn Dixie’s numbers for 2009 were 74,000 visitors from 38 states and 10 countries, and 378 off-site programs. You don’t like to dig fossils. That’s fine. It may surprise you to hear that people travel to WNY to dig fossils there because its one of only about 10 places in the country to do it – its illegal to dig fossils to keep on federal land, and most state land. So people travel the Great Lakes to watch freighters. They travel to see FLW. They travel to dig for fossils. I don’t understand how your criteria for whether something is a draw is whether you have heard of it or like it. I haven’t heard of half the places you go in Toronto, but I assume they draw people.

    @ Pete: Is the small, little known group that benefits few that you are referring to the Colored Musicians Club? Oh wait, Collins doesn’t just support culturals in the suburbs? He wants to give most of the money to the city? I’m confused by your criticism.

    • Alan Bedenko October 4, 2010 at 10:53 am #

      I’m not really understanding the hostile tone, Brian. Maybe it’s because I was mean to Thurman Thomas or Chris Collins, or perhaps it’s your connection this Penn Dixie thing. Either way, I can be hostile, too, if that’s what’s required here.

      I’ve already said it once, but I guess you ignored it or didn’t read it, but I hope Penn Dixie gets whatever funding it asks for. I also hope that Shakespeare in the Park gets whatever funding it asks for. Shakespeare in the Park attracts about 50,000 people per year to a small, professional production held in a public park. It enriches the lives of people in the area – the people who pay these taxes that get redistributed to places like Penn Dixie and Shakespeare in the Park. I never insinuated that Penn Dixie isn’t worthy, so you can drop that meme, k?

      Twice now, you’ve alluded to a post I did quite some time ago about stuff to do in the City of Buffalo. Hamburg/Blasdell are not in the City of Buffalo, so your allusion thereto is irrelevant. Also, where did I write that I don’t like to dig fossils? Seriously – can you link to that? Can you tell me when I said or wrote that? Because I don’t recall that. I’ve never dug a fossil, so I wouldn’t know whether I like to or not. Is it because I wrote that the Buffalo Zoo is sort of played out for my 10 year-old? Because it is. It’s a small zoo we’ve done 100 times. But you keep bringing this “I don’t like to dig fossils” thing up, so I’m sure you’ve got a point there, and some semblance of facts to back it up.

      And yeah – because I haven’t heard of it, I can only assume it’s not that well-known. Christ only knows how those 74,000 visitors from 38 states and 10 countries found the fucking place, because I’ve never even so much as had someone mention its existence to me until today. Presumably, some of the parents of some of my kids’ friends would have a passing knowledge about this phenomenal Blasdell-area digging place. That was my point.

      And ultimately, the criticism isn’t about who gets the money or why they are or aren’t worthy of it. The criticism is that Collins has unilaterally made the decisions for us, because he’s running government like a closely held family business.

  5. Nick Mendola October 4, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    I haven’t been a massive follower of Mr. Collins, but I understand his viewpoint entirely. It appears we’re requesting that budgets be delivered… as long as their cuts don’t piss us off. What do you propose we cut? Honestly, that’s something I would need to hear before I justify flipping out about cuts to arts. For the record, I generally vote democrat and am a musician, writer and big time fan of the arts, including Shakespeare in the Park and Irish Classical Theatre.

    As for Penn-Dixie, the quarry was a solid field trip for every science class in my high school, and one of my favorites. In fact, I’m wondering why it’s classified as a “cultural.”

    Cheers,
    Mendola

    • Alan Bedenko October 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

      @Nick Mendola:

      That’s the fun part of all of this, isn’t it? The fact that only 15% of the county’s budget is in any way discretionary, and the remainder of which goes to fund state and federal mandates handed down to us by the state? That we have all this argument and acrimony over only 15% of the budget that’s under local control?

      The question really isn’t “what do you propose we cut”, because I don’t really care if none of them get funded, or all of them get funded. What I don’t like is the notion that this one guy is going to make the decision for us, and do so quite abruptly. I don’t know what the process is for culturals to beg for funding, but I know that the legislature might elect to make additions to Collins’ outlay, and there will be a public hearing about all of that.

      But the first place I would cut would be Collins’ own staff, by 30%. Some leadership by example might be in order.

  6. Brian Castner October 4, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Wasn’t trying to be hostile, or have that tone – I guess my intertube wires got crossed. Are you sure you aren’t just defensive because I blew up your “political connections” funding story, and the “no one knows of or visits this place” meme (ok, that was snarky).

    To me this isn’t an either/or for Shakespeare (which I like) or Penn Dixie (which I like). Collins likes one and not the other, not me. I’m merely responding to you that you feel Penn Dixie doesn’t meet Collin’s own critieria, because you couldn’t find a museum that doesn’t exist in Google, and you hadn’t heard of it. But “Alan has heard of it” is not the criteria. The criteria is “brings in people from outside the area,” which this does. Whether that should be the criteria is another story.

    Oh, and I assume you don’t like digging fossils, because if you did, you would have visited by now. Maybe you should try it? You might like it. Its kinda fun – my kids get into it. But don’t go 100 times, like the Zoo, or you’ll get sick of it too.

    • Alan Bedenko October 4, 2010 at 11:34 am #

      Maybe they should spend a few shekels on marketing in a way that goes beyond a 90s-vintage website.

      Other than that, you still miss my point and made something up completely.

      And BTW, it seems that the site is in Kozub’s district. But it’s a project that a couple of Collins allies have taken an interest in. There’s nothing unreasonable about inferring the existence of a political transaction when Collins is involved.

  7. Brian Castner October 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    I thought I got your point – you’re not saying its not worthy, you’re saying the whole process is bullshit, and Collins sucks. Since this is WNY, I would also assume politics is always involved. I thought this was in Dixon’s district, but I could be wrong.

    But I think you picked a bad target to make your point: it is getting a pittance and it does demonstrably draw from outside. It could get a new website but it appears to be outdrawing Shakespeare in the Park without it, so it must be doing something right.

    Honest question: when culturals put together their requests for funding, did they know the funding criteria would be based upon outside draws? Because if I were leading such a group, that’s how I would sell myself to EC. Of course I haven’t seen Shakespeare in the Park’s proposal, but I doubt they can say how many people come from outside the area when they don’t ask you when you sit down on the lawn. That’s a good group shooting themselves in the foot, if there was some foresight possible with this funding plan.

  8. BobbyCat October 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Why does Penn-Dixie need funding? Although I have driven by it a thousand times I never drove in to eyeball it. Isn’t it just a gravel pit full of fossils? What’s needed to remain open, portable johns?

  9. Mike October 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    I loaded the kids up in the car one day and tried to find that Penn-Dixie site using the helter skelter signs in the vicinity of it but couldn’t actually find the place. I think we must have driven right by the damn thing.

    Peace

  10. lulu October 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    I do not believe my tax dollars should fund cultural organizations at all, but I also do not think it is right for our CE to decide which ten organizations receive tax funds. And Brian, your question (in comment #10) about requests for funding suggest there was a competitive request for proposals issued by the county for which the resulting 10 organizations applied and were chosen. I am not aware that any such competitive process took place (and usually keep an eye on such things), so perhaps this decision is even more discouraging than it first appeared. Should I be wrong or if anyone knows for sure whether a competitive process was followed or not, please advise.

    • Christopher Smith October 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

      @lulu I don’t believe my county tax dollars should pay for sheriff’s road patrols in Clarence, maintain county golf courses, pay for toboggan runs at Chestnut Ridge Park or to pave roads in Tonawanda. So, what do we do then?

  11. bill October 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Alan, any interest in responding to Mendolas post?

  12. Brian Castner October 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    @ BobbyCat – they do off-site science education workshops, in addition to the science programming (geology, astronomy (not many lights out there)). I believe the grant pays for some of that. They are doing a capital campaign for a new science center (see the Higgins funding), but this is not for that.

    @ lulu: I would HOPE there is a competive campaign for funds, and the county simply doesn’t give all the money to the groups it always has. Since this is Buffalo, its probably the latter, because when you do add or cut groups, you raise a political firestorm over peanuts.

    @ Chris: You have a discussion about what businesses the county should be in, and which they shouldn’t. Running parks? Patrolling the roads? Funding culturals? Running a nursing home? Providing health care directly? Paving roads? Then we could have an adult conversation about those priorities, and fund the one’s our elected leaders agree on, representing the views of their constituents. I’m having trouble typing right now because I started laughing at the word “discussion.”

    • Christopher Smith October 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

      @Brian It’s pointless as anyone can pick and choose what they don’t want to fund but if we’re not going to be reasonable, then it’s just a circular loop. My point was that any discussion starting with “I don’t want to fund culturals” can easily be met with “Oh yeah, well I don’t want to fund roads!” Where do we go from there as a community?

  13. lulu October 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    @ Chris – I am unsure how to respond to your:”what do we do then?” question, because we either A., pay our taxes, or B. don’t pay our taxes, but either way, not sure what you are asking. Perhaps my initial comment was unclear. I favor cutting ALL county tax support for non profit cultural organizations as there are many other means of funding for such organizations. I do not favor our CE choosing ten to support without a competitive process. And for the record, I don’t like my taxes supporting golf courses or toboggan runs either, but this is not the forum for other sprawl related examples you listed, so until I see a list of all things supported with my county taxes (and in what amounts), I would be remiss to prioritize how I’d like to see them spent.

  14. Fat Tony October 4, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    After reading all of the previous posts, BP’s very last one makes the most sense. All of this hand-wringing over 15 percent of the budget and the rest is state mandates. Worse yet, those mandates, especially Medicaid, should be part of a grown-up conversation right now in the governor’s race rather than who screwed around on who. Cuomo offers nothing in this regard other than the same stale rhetoric that every Governor before has offered and Paladino talks about cuts and offers no specifics because I doubt he has any….he’s too angry to talk specifics, I guess.

    So, we’re left to argue between haves and have-nots for cultural funding and assess blame locally while our entire state delegation is up for re-election and aren’t being held accountable at all for their mandates. Ugh.

  15. Mike In WNY October 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    @Chris, I like your proposal, then we would all be allowed to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

  16. Ray Walter October 4, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    Alan, you stated that you don’t like “the notion that this one guy is going to make the decision for us, and do so quite abruptly”, bu that is the job of the County Executive. If enough people don’t like where he has placed his priorities then he won’t get re-elected. Also, each of his budgets have cut back and the number of organizations funded and the amount of funding. He has also repeatedly stated that cutural organizations should view taxpayer dollars as the last dollars in the door not the first. Anyone who thinks this decision is abrupt hasn’t been paying attention. Don’t forget that the budget is a zero sum unless you are willing to raise taxes, which I am not.

    • Alan Bedenko October 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

      @Ray Walter, I’d rather Collins cut his staff by 30% and the county workforce similarly and ensure that the ECRAB make the decisions as to funding. I don’t mind if cultural funding remains the same or is even reduced if the numbers merit that, but to limit it to 10 and excluding others under some pro-tourism rationale is not the best way to make decisions.

  17. Ray Walter October 4, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    I am a terrible typist excuse all of the typos.

  18. Starbuck October 4, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    If a County Exec’s proposed budget funded 100 cultural orgs instead of 10, wouldn’t that still be “one guy” “unilaterally” making the decision for us?

    Wouldn’t even 100 of them still be a subset of the total cultural orgs in Erie Co?

    • Alan Bedenko October 4, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

      @Starbuck No, because there was a nonpartisan Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board that made recommendations for cultural funding. Collins has unilaterally gone above that board’s head and pretended it doesn’t exist, although it’s worked perfectly well in the past. The issue, naturally, is that Collins doesn’t have complete dictatorial control over the ECRAB, so he decided to just ignore it.

  19. Brian Castner October 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    @ Chris: I understand your rationale. Of course, not all requirements are created equal. County roads are inherently more of a governmental responsibility than culturals funding. You can line up your golf courses against culturals, I think, far more logically. Don’t we need to have a discussion as community about what jobs the government should do, not just what I personally want (or, more often, take advantage of)?

    @ Alan: Why should the CE cede power of the budgeting of $4.4M of his budget to an unelected and unaccountable ECRAB? And if the end result was that he funded the “Top 10” that have been funded for decades anyway, what are we really complaining about? That he’s a dick? You want Collins to cut his staff. Fine. He did not give raises to some folks, and is laying off 223 people. Not his top 6 Sigma ninja, but its a start. Some even from the sacrosanct sherrifs office. So, yes, Collins does not play well with others. Would you feel better if he had kept the $600K in funding, but still released the results without a press conference or a word of explanation (besides the logical result of previous statements, as Ray correctly cites)?

    • Alan Bedenko October 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

      Because, Brian, that’s how it’s been done since 1986 fairly and without incident.

      Since 1986, funding for eligible cultural organizations has been guided by the Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board (ECCRAB), which is composed of 25 community volunteers with considerable business, philanthropic and cultural expertise. The primary responsibility of the Board is to review, evaluate and make recommendations to the County Executive concerning annual cultural funding requests and related issues impacting Erie County. This entire process is based on specific values that reflect Erie County’s policies and objectives. The current application for funding and related materials are available under the “Related Links” section of this webpage.

      ACT also administers Economic Development and Community Improvement activities. Funding for these activities is intended to assist not-for-profit organizations that may not necessarily have a primary cultural purpose, but that nevertheless provide meaningful community services with significant social and economic impacts in Erie County, such as the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau, as well as environmental agencies such the Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County.

      Yeah, that’s all touchy-feely crap where volunteers with some “knowledge” and “experience” make recommendations. It’s better for Collins to just motherfuck about 15 – 20 recent recipients, and unilaterally pick winners and losers not based on what’s best for local residents, but for tourists.

  20. Brian Castner October 4, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    I have this funny feeling the ECRAB picks the Albright-Knox, the Buffalo Zoo, and the Burchfield Penney every year, something I can do without their vast experience and knowledge. This isn’t about what got picked. This is about Collins being a dick – see your own headline. If Collins said all the money should go to some farming non-profit in Clarence, or the GI Historical Society, and cut out everyone else, with no word of explanation, then I can see the uproar. But he funded the same stuff that gets funded every year anyway, except for the theaters. Like I said in a previous article I wrote about Colorado Springs, we don’t even know what government cuts are in Buffalo – they cut parks funding from $20M to $3M, a $17M drop. You want to put the dick in dictator – Collins could have done that.

  21. Ray Walter October 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    As a former member of ECCRAB I can tell you that it was loaded with people who had a personal interest in the organizations they were reviewing. I can also tell you that the ultimate decisions regarding what went into the budget still rested with the Executive. The board served solely at the pleasure of the Executive and is not required by law. Despite this process that you are holding out as the way it should be done, the Legislature inevitably would make changes at their whim, regardless of what the ECCRAB recomendations were.

  22. Mike In WNY October 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    Brian, that’s how it’s been done since 1986

    That is one of the fallacies I learned in high school, back in the day when logical thinking was still taught in public schools. At least it was by an English teacher in my school.

    • Alan Bedenko October 5, 2010 at 6:34 am #

      @Mike in WNY, tell me which fallacy I’ve employed when responding to:

      Why should the CE cede power of the budgeting of $4.4M of his budget to an unelected and unaccountable ECRAB?

      thusly:

      Because, Brian, that’s how it’s been done since 1986

      The point being that Collins isn’t ceding anything. That work had been ceded some 24 years ago, and is now being retrieved. But this is another example of libertarians enjoying one-man undemocratic rule whilst making mouth-noises about individualist people power.

  23. Starbuck October 5, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    a nonpartisan Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board that made recommendations for cultural funding. …it’s worked perfectly well in the past.

    Who says it was more “perfectly well” when a board decided which dozens out of many hundreds of small culturals received county money and how much? It sounds 100% subjective either way – with a board deciding or a CE. Are we to believe the board didn’t have biases comparable to Collins’ biases due to any board member direct or indirect political/personal connections to any culturals? That’s hard to believe.

    I’m also skeptical if you say legislators and CE’s have always obeyed board recommendations since 1986 without any politically-motivated changes or quiet lobbying of the board. Did the leg ever not follow board suggestions? If so, was it being dictatorial and unilateral?

    Voters choose a CE, who then chooses culturals. And even then, can’t the leg still delete from the CE’s choices (majority vote) or add to it (2/3 for override)? Considering the legislative role, isn’t it all more small-r republican than dictatorial? Compared, for example, to state leg member items to culturals, which really are only one person deciding recipients with no possibility of deletion or override?

    • Alan Bedenko October 5, 2010 at 6:31 am #

      The legislature? I don’t want Steve Pigeon deciding which culturals get how much money, either.

  24. Mike In WNY October 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Having a politically connected group (ECCRAB), with personal vested interests, making recommendations to spend taxpayer money does nothing for the advancement of liberty (individualist people power). Spending cuts, on the other hand, are something I can relish.

  25. Mike In WNY October 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Appeal to Tradition is a fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is older, traditional, or “always has been done.”

    • Alan Bedenko October 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

      But I never said in the line you cite that ECRAB was better or correct. I was answering a direct question directly.

  26. eliz. October 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    There is a lot more to the ECCRAB process than just sitting around and arbitrarily picking people. There are applications and reviews and presentations that the cultural organizations have to do. They have to prove their outreach and service. It’s a process and a rigorous one. From what I have heard, they are better.

    I knew right away that Hamburg Natural History meant Penn Dixie, but I don’t think the attendance figures are representative. Unlike Shakespeare in the Park, an evening event, a lot of the P-D attendance is busloads of kids, taken there on a school trip. Which is fine–I approve of that–but it is not the same. Like Alan, I think they, and all the culturals who were left out, should be funded, but I don’t see the tourist thing. 

    P-D doesn’t do much PR. That I can say for sure. I like them–fossils are cool, and they are unique, but I am not at all surprised that Alan has not heard of them.

  27. Starbuck October 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    The legislature? I don’t want Steve Pigeon deciding which culturals get how much money, either.

    What makes you suppose Pigeon and other politicos don’t have influence with ECRAB members? Don’t they all attend the same social events and campaign fund raisers?

    The legislature has always made final decisions, subject to veto from the CE, just like they do about golf course funding. Still true, no? If reducing to 10 culturals is such a bad idea, can’t the leg raise it to 20, 50, or anything they want?

    Choosing a narrow subset (even 100) of culturals for county money sounds at best very subjective. And at worst I’d suspect the choices and amounts have always been influenced by personal or political connections.

    Even if ECRAB had a rigorous process as eliz said, in the end it’s still people making choices of who to fund, what criteria to have, and who to assist along the way with the rigorous process. Sounds like they’ve always had plenty of opportunity to steer decisions no differently than how Collins may have for some of his choices.

  28. Hank October 6, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Alan said it best when he said “I don’t really care if none of them get funded,”

    Too many people weren’t listening in History Class. Culture/Arts funding was done properly in the 19th century when the big venture capitalists (Carnegie, Vanderbilt, etc) and local wealthy individuals funded the arts and cultural venues in a city. Like the Knoxes for example.

    Government has NO PLACE funding the Arts. Let places like ECHS, Penn Dixie and other local groups lobby the people in town that hold the big bucks to fund their programs. hire professional fundraisers to hold events to support the arts. Lobby foundations for grants. There’s plenty of ways to raise a buck. That would end the discussion

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bad Government, Worse Politics « WNYMedia.net - October 5, 2010

    […] Alan Bedenko points out, it is only because the county has control over such a small percentage of the budget that […]

  2. Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy | Buffalopundit - December 2, 2014

    […] then turned his ire towards the culturals, and this teed off the central theme of the 2011 County Executive race. The budget process in late 2010 was uglier than ever, and more […]

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