The Erie County Legislature of 2011: More of the Same

10 Jan
Chris Collins, New Erie County Executive

His Highness, King Chris du Lac

By the way, last Thursday, the Erie County Legislature held its annual “reorganization” session to elect this year’s Chair.

Despite the backstabbing and rancor of the 2011 budget process, three Democrats yet again broke away from the rest of their caucus to reconstitute the so-called “reform coalition” with the Republican minority (including Lynne Dixon, of the Independence Party).

Buffalo’s Grassroots political club is aligned with Chris Collins and Steve Pigeon, the former county Democratic chair.  Grassroots and Byron Brown basically have a deal whereby they stay out of the county’s business, and Collins largely stays out of the city’s business. Barbara Miller-Williams, who is aligned with Grassroots, was joined by Christina Bove, who is closely linked with Pigeon, and Tim Kennedy’s replacement, Tim Whalen to vote with the Republicans for Miller-Williams as chair.

This means nothing changes and the county legislature will operate in 2011 much as it did in 2010.  There will be no changes in the way the county puts its budget together, there will be no progress on the issue of spending or taxes, there will be no examination of better ways in which the county could do its largely ministerial duties.

Seriously, I might as well just re-submit this paragraph from my 2010 roundup:

In the meantime, a so-called “reform coalition” was formulated in the county legislature, giving County Executive Chris Collins a de facto majority. Democrats Tim Kennedy, Christina Bove, and Barbara Miller-Williams broke away from the remainder of the Democratic caucus to form a coalition with the minority Republicans and help progress the Collins – Pigeon – Brown agenda. It was the embodiment of the alliance of the Collins and Brown political machines, and died hard just 12 months later. Some of our writing got a bit inside basebally, so Chris and I wrote  “Profiles in Fail” to help fill in some blanks. The legislature became what we termed an “orgy of transactional politics”, and we explained the legislature coup in some more detail here:

Two things: firstly, Democratic counsel Jen Persico was summarily dismissed on Thursday, replaced by Shawn Martin, the West Seneca town attorney.  Persico was appointed a few years ago by then-chair Lynn Marinelli, and this change appears to be Bove’s price for her continued role in the “reform coalition”.  The second is redistricting.  Over the next several months, a seemingly democratic process will be implemented to reduce the number of legislative districts, but in the end Chris Collins will pull out all the stops to get his way and eliminate districts represented by legislators who give him trouble.  Think “Kozub” or “Marinelli”.  Maybe “Loughran”.

So, we leave you again with a video we did last year to explain what’s behind this process.  The language is NSFW.

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17 Responses to “The Erie County Legislature of 2011: More of the Same”

  1. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Why does this story remind me of that coalition of state senators you mentioned a few articles ago?

    It looks like republicans aren’t the only party being “troubled” by a grass-roots effort to defy their establishment…. at least here in NY.

    It fills me with hope.

  2. Brian January 10, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Yes, Democrats elect Democratic candidates in the hope that they will join Republicans in doing what Republicans ALWAYS do:  screw the workers.

  3. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Brian, you’re no kid with a viewpoint that started with the last headline. You watched Johnson destroy our city and the steel industry across our nation with his trade policy. You watched Clinton destroy all the rest of the industrial sector with his trade policy.

    Republicans side with industry to keep industry profitable, which generated tax revenue and keeps people working. Democrats put the workers out of work with little hope for recovery.

    Used to be that a poor kid with no hope for affording an education could get a job at the steel mill that allowed him to buy a home and educate his children. What’s left for that poor kid in the wake of the Democrats’ policies?

  4. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Actually – what’s left for the nation, except more borrowing?

  5. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    @Alan – thank you for these heartening posts. Are there other, similar stories out there from other communities in NY? Maybe there’s hope for us yet…

  6. Warrey January 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Didn’t Miller-Williams, Bove and Whelan all vote to override ALL of Collins’ vetoes? Aren’t these three democrats? Just because they didn’t agree with the Marinelli-Whyte crew of status quo democrats they are evil traitors.

    Lenihan has been a failure as dem chair. He has lost the county exec race to Giambra and then Collins, he lost the sheriff race to Gallivan and a very weak Howard, and he lost the super majority on the legislature. How about Stachowski and Thompson? Frank Max, Lenihan’s heir-in-waiting attempted to take over the legislature with has pal Tom Mazur, who ended up under the bus. Whyte, Kozub, Marinelli and Grant all personally attacked Miller-Williams, Bove and Whelan because they voted for a different democrat. It was so vicious that an embarassed Tom Mazur got up and apologized for the hateful rants of his supporters.

    Kozub got up and accused Miller-Williams and Bove as being street walkers just like the women who walk on Genesee Street and Chippewa Street at night. A real class act that Dan Kozub. His wife can be very proud of him. Whyte, Grant and Marinelli were just as bad. Remind me why Miller-Williams, Bove and Whelan should vote for this caliber of toxic legislators?

    And oh, let’s not forget the cooperative attitude these “hard working” status quo legislators represent.Marinelli once again has stated that she will not chair any committees and Kozub said he will not only refuse to chair any committees but to serve on any. I’m pretty sure that Whyte and Grant will also refuse to chair committees just like they did last year. These people do nothing for the people of Erie County other than pick up a check. What are these people doing on the legislature anyway? I guess every good democrat should support them for stealing taxpayer money. I’m glad some democrats on the legislature stood up against their crap.

  7. Gabe January 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Leo, you’re major a dolt if you think there’s any serious differences between the two parties….more like two heads of one big corporate teat fiesta. Money is the ruler and calls all the shots, everything else is window dressing. Both parties were more than complicit in destroying our industrial sector with their support of so-called “free trade policies”…of course “free” being in the Orwellian sense.

  8. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    @Gabe, I don’t think I could shake your opinion of me and the views I express with a jack hammer. No biggie, I believe our respect is mutual.

    I couldn’t agree more on your substantive point. I probably see a different cause than you do – 50 consecutive years of one-party control of congress and the purse established a true “culture of corruption” in which whoring for campaign contributions is the established way business is done.

    What you describe, Gabe, is what motivates grass-roots resistance to the establishment. Maybe you should become part of the TEA movement, or rally to support these Democrats who break with their establishment for the sake of the people?

  9. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    I have solutions to propose, Gabe, which I’ve expressed on this site already. Problems with whores? Arrest them. Classify any contribution that comes from an entity that cannot vote in an election to seat a representative a “conflict of interest” and force any legislator that has accepted that vested interest in outcome (contribution) recuse himself from voting. It works for our judiciary. Add remedies for violations that include dismissal from office, hefty fines and jail time, and the incentive to act like a whore will be gone. No need to change the bill of rights.

    People out of work? Restrict the government, force them to by US manufactured goods with the tax money they collect from US tax payers. Steel for roads and bridges needed? Force the government to buy steel smelted in US refineries from US-mined oar. Gun control? Take the guns away from the police to illustrate that we don’t need them. Health Care? Apply that 80% medical loss mandate to the UMMC, or HCFA, or whatever they’re calling it.

    Most of our big problems can be addressed with the “American Solution”: limit the government’s activity and power to facilitate the people.

  10. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    @Gabe, and… we also need a realistic, honest re-assessment of the power that is even possible in light of an industrial sector that’s gone. It was the driving force of our economy, and without it, we cannot afford to continue spending like we still have a revenue stream from it. It’s gone, and so are the tax revenues that it generated. To answer my question to Brian: What the nation can do is stop the out-of-control spending. We don’t have the money anymore.

  11. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Here’s the difference between a contribution-motivated whore in office and one on the street corner: the person in office screws EVERYONE.

  12. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    small correction: Two posts ago, it should have read, “Limit the government’s activity and power, to facilitate the people.” Amazing the difference a comma can make.

  13. Gabe January 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Well, seems like the solutions you outline above involves giving government bodies much stronger powers to regulate the system, yet in the same breath you call for the shrinking of government? I don’t quite understand, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Wouldn’t getting government out of the way just lead to more big Capital running amok, being able to further corrupt the system?

    Capital has become international in scope, it jetsets all over the globe in search of whatever is cool for the next hot minute. Capital doesn’t really give a shit about nation states, localities, traditional cultures, established traditions or long-term goals. it’s loyal only to short term gains. The more powerful it becomes, the more it completely infiltrates our political system and completely bends it to its relentless demands. It dismantled our industrial sector because that’s what made it the quickest buck at the time. The rich who run our industries are idiots too drunk on their own avarice and ego-highs to realize that slowly decimating your own economic base would eventually lead to their own downfall once consumers are too broke to buy all the shit they produce. The downfall of our auto industry is a telltale example of how this has all played out. Shit rolls downhill, read up on it a bit.

    Unbridled wealth accumulation has become a be all/end all mantra (arguably a religion in its own right) in this country, regardless of its broader social ramifications. It’s a lot like a crack addiction; more and more is never enough. This is why government exists. Business has an imperative to make money any way possible within legal constraints. And that’s just fine, business shouldn’t be anything else–but it’s merely one element of the whole social equation. We need checks and balances to make the entire organism a coherent whole that can sustain itself and stand the test of time. And here I’m not just indicting the wealthy; the same social disease has infected our entire culture. We’re all guilty in a sense, no one should get a free pass. Though once again, I’ll invoke the “shit rolls downhill” adage.

    I’m all about an American solution as well. I’d love to see our culture once again embrace sane values like humility, delayed gratification and long-sight. It seems we want the same thing, we just have different ideas about the type of road that should be paved to get us there.

  14. Gabe January 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Alan, sorry for leading your topic on County Leg dysfunction way the fuck off topic. Three cups of coffee and I’m up on low earth orbit…

  15. LeoInTheSnow January 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Yeah, what Gabe said, re: topic drift. Sorry!

  16. chris smith January 11, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    I enjoy topic drift, more interesting than the county legislature.

  17. Clinton's Ditch January 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    It appears that Alan must have struck a nerve with the right “honorable” Byron Brown’s people. Between their seven hour breaks and commenting on here, I doubt very little work is getting done at City Hall this afternoon. The fact is that any and all respect that Brown and crew had with most voters is gone….

    Barbara Miller-Williams should be congratulated on being elected the first African-American Republican woman chair of the county legislature. Too bad she doesn’t have the courage to let the folks in her district know that she’s become a fire breathing Republican. Credit must be given to Collins for expanding the Erie County GOP tent to include the corrupt and inept elements of Grassroots. God help us all!

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