Regionalism: Time to Party Like it’s 1999

8 Mar
Erie County Hall. Buffalo NY

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve heard it said that Buffalo is where good ideas go to die.

I don’t think of it like that. Buffalo is where good ideas are made to inhale chloroform, dragged around to the back of the abandoned house, and murdered by status-quo driven self-interest.

Buffalo in 2011 is besotted with the same problems, the same issues, the same concerns, and – strikingly – the same debates it had a decade ago.  Save one.

Regionalism.

Regionalism was murdered in 2005 after being debilitated by people who have an interest in maintaining the status quo, and then unintentionally killed by a politically beleaguered Joel Giambra; it was manslaughter.  After all, during the last few years of his 16th floor Rath Building tenancy, Joel Giambra was political poison. If he was for pink bunny rabbits and sun-shiny days, polls would show that 20% of WNYers agreed with him, while 70% hated bunnies and sunshine, and a further 10% didn’t know.

But as wrong as Joel Giambra was about a lot of things, he was right about one – that western New York needed to seriously consider the implementation of regional, metropolitan government. The champion of this idea was Kevin Gaughan.

Gaughan recognized that regionalism – a concept whose entry in the regional socio-economic-political discussion began through a forum held in 1997 at the Chautauqua Institution – was a non-starter due to its support from, and association with the toxic Giambra.  He turned his attention to another crusade – the “Cost“, which studied and determined that we ought to remedy a symptom of too many governments in WNY – i.e., too many politicians and appointees – and begin eliminating villages and downsizing town boards and other legislatures.  That has been met with some success, more failure, and bypasses the disease itself.

Yet those familiar with the internet’s Way Back Machine can still access Gaughan’s arguments for regional metropolitan government.

One of the opinions I’m most known for is the idea that county government ought to be abolished. It was done in 1997 in Massachusetts, which recognized that county government largely adds no value to the work already done by cities, towns, villages, and – most importantly – the state.

We have so many redundant and needless governments in western New York that the regional is factionalized and fragmented.  The Balkanization of western New York helps ensure that there is no unified plan – with a set vision, and a series of distinct goals – for moving a region into a 21st century reality.

We rely on the Sabres and the Bills to keep convincing ourselves that this is a major league city. It isn’t. Our infrastructure planning assumed that the City of Buffalo and Erie County would grow to a population of over 2 million people. It hasn’t; it’s shrunken. People clamor for change, yet moan about its actual implementation. As if by abolishing a village government you abolish the village itself and displace its people.

We are the ultimate hoarders; hoarders of pointless governmental entities that add no value to the civic equation. Why? Could it be as simple as my hypothesis – that there are too many people dependent on the maintenance of the status quo to permit change to be implemented?

It’s time for us, the people of Erie County and western New York, to start talking again about looking forward.  The governmental number and structure of the 50s needs to change, or this region will continue to decline.  The age of industry has given way to the age of knowledge and information.

The city of Toronto, Ontario is a municipal entity comprising over 2 million people. It has a directly elected mayor and a unicameral legislature made up of 44 councilmembers representing a geographical constituency. In 1998, Toronto and six surrounding municipalities joined, making up the amalgamated Metro Toronto. Buffalo also has a changed demographic reality, one that could do with some radical change.  You mean to tell me that 45 elected officials to handle a population of 900,000 isn’t doable? Western New York has 45 separate and distinct governments, comprised of well over 300 elected officials.

This is the first in a series, and it’s my hope that we can re-spark this discussion and come up with ways to implement and design this new reality for western New York. I sincerely think that by making this switch to metropolitan government is the best chance for lurching us out of a 50s growth & infrastructure mentality that has been an anachronism for decades. This is an idea that will be fought tooth & nail by those who benefit from our stagnated status quo, but some of their points will be valid and need to be addressed.  I hope to conclude with an action plan that will enable people to lobby, advocate, agitate, and cajole for this idea.

Downsize? Let’s downsize from 45 to 1.

Sometimes, old forgotten ideas are worth reviving.  Let’s do that.

49 Responses to “Regionalism: Time to Party Like it’s 1999”

  1. peteherr March 8, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    I’m in.

  2. Jeremy March 8, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    Alan, I’m in, but an important question needs to be answered up front. What’s going to be done with all of the displaced politicians?

    It may sound like I’m joking, or that a funny answer would suffice. I’m serious. Because the only way this is going to happen is with a smart exit strategy for most of the people who are making salaries to push paper around. There needs to be a consolidation plan that mixes upward incentives (the prospect of holding a superior region-level office/salary) with exit options that let people transition out from all of the displaced positions. Once this part is properly developed, there’s a prayer that it can happen.

  3. Ray Walter March 8, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    I would stick with your abolishing county government idea.

  4. Michael March 8, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Sign me up, this alarming collection of common sense should be a mantra

  5. Mike In WNY March 8, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Regionalism is a “feel-good”, silver bullet concept that has its own set of problems. The main ones being the watering-down of community voices and an increased lack of accountability by politicians. Decentralization is what is actually needed, moving the decisions that affect home back to home. The problem with county government is that the state mandates too many things that should be left in the hands of the counties, towns, villages and cities.

    • Alan Bedenko March 8, 2011 at 9:11 am #

      In WNY, those “community voices” have done wonders to prevent change and progress, and to ensure that the region is Balkanized and without a plan. We’ve been decentralized forever. It isn’t working. We have 45 governments with 45 separate and distinct set of rules, with 45 separate and distinct ways of doing business, of building things, of tearing things down, etc. That’s 44 too many cooks in the kitchen and it’s hurt us almost beyond repair.

      The problem with county government isn’t state mandates. The problem with county government is that it’s not at all needed. It’s an entity with no real purpose, which adds absolutely zero value to anything. For the state, it’s a pass-through. That it controls less than 10% of its own spending means that it’s 90% useless. Centralization won’t make everyone happy, but it’ll sure as hell make sure that the region can move forward as a region.

  6. Brian Castner March 8, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Buffalo has neighborhood constituencies without redunt political frameworks. Every block club and community group wields enormous power (too much, IMHO) without need of a political boundary. I think we could go from 45 to 1 and the Elmwood Village, Williamsville and Grand Island would still have plenty of community voices that keep plenty of decisions local. Unless you feel like South Buffalo and North Buffalo are totally homogenized by being within the same political boundary?

  7. peteherr March 8, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    I am a big fan of the fact the Ray Walter is OK with doing away with his own job. 1 down 15 to go. (I am including Mr. Collins in my tally)

  8. Max March 8, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    I’m aboard as I believe that the benefits which regionalism offers will be our only redemption before our cupboard’s entirely bare.

  9. STEEL March 8, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    I love that Mike comes on arguing for more government. Just keep repeating the large number of governments, the large number of politicians, the large number of school boards, the large number of economic development agencies. The numbers in WNY are so absurd that the system will start to be indefensible.

  10. Mike In WNY March 8, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Steel, your characterization of my position is completely off the mark. First, I would like to markedly reduce the role of state and federal government in many areas. Second, eliminating county government will not significantly reduce the amount of politicians in this region. Third, the myriad school boards should be eliminated and the duties incorporated with the elected local officials. Forth, economic development agencies should be eliminated. Fifth, we should consider going back to a Board of Supervisors, with a Professional Manager. Sixth, consolidate purchasing and services, without diluting local representation.

  11. Brad March 8, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Not a forbes list, but a valid study where Buffalo again misses the mark – http://icma.org/en/Article/100996/Study_Scores_95_Local_Government_Websites_for_Civic_Engagement?pub=104&issue=

    Regionalism would provide the scale necessary, the citizens would demand a more transparent gov’t that effectively harness technology.

    Buffalo’s CitiStat spent it first 5 yrs by posting nearly useless powerpoints six months after a meeting.

  12. STEEL March 8, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Mike Pundit has it backwards. Erie County can be a framework for regional government. It is all the little towns and separate cities that are useless. We just pretend that they have a reason with all their silly little department heads and mayors running around in their Napoleon outfits. Just keep repeating the statistics of excess government in WNY and ask the all the little Napoleons if they really can defend it.

  13. Allen Miller March 8, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    Good Luck, Like I said in the previous post about PA, Rochester had an election around this concept. Bill Johnson Mayor (D) wanted it. Maggie Brooks County Supervisor (R) did not. Johnson went down in flames. The main reason was because the city had done such a crappy job. Johnson had put an albatros around the cities neck with a fast ferry to Toronto. Towns saw him and city legislators as poor managers and resoundly voted him down. (he had done well in city elections). The towns wanted no part of a centralized government run by people who could not manage their municipal services. There however is a bright side, with a larger government run by towns who are mostly conservative liberal ideas from the poorly run cities would be diluted.

  14. JSmith March 8, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    I don’t think regionalism is a panacea. Besides eliminating a the expense of a bunch of lawmaker offices (and reducing representation), I wonder how big a difference metro government has really made for Toronto. I’m not that familiar with the issues there, but I know that city-dwelling Torontonians were quite mortified that metro government allowed a tone-deaf suburban conservative to be elected as mayor last fall.

  15. Tom Marcheson March 8, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    So, are we abolishing Erie County Government and the lower municipal structures in order to create one big Buffalo government?  Or are we using County government to serve as the skeleton for a new regional Buffalo?   What are the mechanics of this happening, it’s confusing.

    What obstacles (aside from local voices) that make this difficult?  Are there state rules and laws which prevent regionalization?  Home rule laws?  Taxing entities, existing bond agreements, etc.

  16. STEEL March 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Tom,

    Don’t be confused – nothing is happening and nothing likely will happen.

  17. Ray Walter March 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    A regional government would be dominated by the first ring suburbs. The interests of Amherst, Cheektowaga, Tonawanda, West Seneca, etc. would be paramount because that’s where the people are. Rural and urban interests would be secondary to the suburban. All you urban hipsters who hate everything about the suburbs, the strip malls, the SUV, the single family homes would now be under their rule. There are certianly things that should be consolidated like a county wide buliding code, but the problems of upstate NY have far more to do with the policies that come out of Albany than they do with our balkanized government structure.

    • Alan Bedenko March 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

      Careful districting would ensure that every type of community is adequately and fairly represented. Your comment presumes that Amherst, Cheektowaga, Tonawanda, W Seneca would all vote as a sort of anti-city/anti-rural block, but that’s not necessarily the case.

  18. Warrey March 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Give away your representation? Think again. Look at what is going on in West Seneca. The Supervisor and his County Political Party lawyer friend have found a way to bypass the Town Board by going to court. Is it a coincidence that the cases have gone in front of the same judge that gets political endorsements from said lawyer. The judge feels he can legislate from the bench to help his friend, and invalidate the elected Town Board. A 2-1 vote seems to be irrelevant in court. What if the vote was 4-1. I am quite sure the judge would be more reluctant to give the Party Chairman/zoning lawyer political favors. The system is corrupt and the system becomes more corrupt when you have fewer elected officials that are in a position to question things. West Seneca hasn’t downsized its Town Board to 3, in reality it is a Town Board of 1. The flaw has been exposed. Just go to court.

  19. Mike In WNY March 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Careful districting

    That’s a mouthful worth spitting out. It’s kind of like saying we just need to elect the right progressive and everything will be OK. Hasn’t happened yet and never will.

  20. John March 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    There was a report last year that Buffalo is the 50 largest metro in the US and has the 4th largest government.  There is something terribly wrong with that.  I am on board for regionalism and that we have too many different agencies.  Let’s consolidate them.

    As for economic development.  Nothing will be perfect but we can’t be held back by groups that have nothing better to do with their time than complain.  As they said in the movie drum line: “Let’s mix your old with our new.”  Plus all the people that get in the way of projects getting done, did you notice that they have nothing better to do with their time.  I say if you want to stop something from happening bring a valid point, support with evidence, and don’t whine like a little kid who didn’t get their birthday cake.  

  21. Tom Marcheson March 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Steel, it seems to be counterproductive to immediately attempt to shut down debate or consideration before it even gets going.  Lets start with the individual towns and examine what it would take for the discussion to even begin.  I currently live in Kenmore, which has fought every possible attempt to consolidate with Tonawanda in recent years.  What can we learn from previous failures?  Are there incremental steps we can take that make the overall fight less daunting?  

    Which town/city are you in?  Have you previously worked towards a regionalism/consolidation effort?  If so, what did you learn from the process?  Sounds like you may have been burned before.

  22. Mike In WNY March 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I do not think the comparison of New York with Massachusetts is valid. NY has roughly 3 times the population in an area that is roughly 5 times as large. NY’s population density is less than half that of Massachusetts. 68.4% of NY’s population is in NYC and its 8 suburban counties.

    • Alan Bedenko March 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      92% of all New Yorkers live in an urban environment.

  23. STEEL March 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Tom,

    I just don’t think we will ever see a Metro Buffalo where little black boys from Buffalo will be going to school with little white boys from Amherst or Kenmore or……

    The concentrated poverty and its associated problems of inner city Buffalo are less of an issue to the majority of WNYers as long as they can keep it on their preferred side of the randomly located invisible political barrier.

    • Alan Bedenko March 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      @Steel, your comment about “little black boys”, aside from sounding like a line from an Agatha Christie character, is veering the conversation off-topic. The issue isn’t whether we will integrate the entire school system in Erie County willy-nilly without regard to need, neighborhood, etc. The issue is consolidation of governments and their functions. While this would include and incorporate a unified regional school district, I wouldn’t expect a kid from Amherst to commute 30 minutes to South Buffalo any more than I’d expect a kid from the City of Tonawanda to commute to Sardinia to go to school.

  24. Brad March 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Steele – please try to engage in the conversation before exploiting…

    Wikipedia says Amherst is 4% AA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amherst,_New_York
    Amherst Central Schools 16% AA https://www.nystart.gov/publicweb-rc/2010/cd/AOR-2010-140201060000.pdf

    Not comparable to Buffalo but the sky is not falling, Amherst Tigers still pretty respectable.

    Regionalism is not an impossible premise – thanks to BP for spurring an important convo

  25. Ray Walter March 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    If we could consolidate incrementally, whether it be a countywide building code, or assessors as the Comptroller has suggested, or tax collections (no brainer) and show each of the municipalities a real savings by doing this and continue to expand from there and continue to show savings (biggest obstacle) then it might work. If you come out of the box talking about regional governments or consolidating police and fire and schools you will be dead in the water. The beauracracy needs to be attacked – that’s where the savings are. Gaughan and his absurd downsizing quest has completely missed the mark and probably set back progress on greater intermunicipal cooperation.

  26. Ray March 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    A few years ago, I was trying to help somebody out who had a City Hall problem- taxes, code violations, I forget what. I do remember, though, that when I went down to that Gotham Cityesque monolith to look up the information, I discovered the basic unit of organization of property in the city. It’s not by address, or census tract, or zip code; no, it’s by councilmanic district. Built into the very organization of the system is the notion of “Go see Betty Jean” or “Mickey will take care of it,” and that’s why there’s so much resistance to taking away the lowest levels of government, since the in-the-knowers would lose the influence they’ve been able to gain in working the system by having access to this kind of thing. Of course, if you’re Leonard Stokes, you get to bypass that level of bureaucracy and call Urkel on his cell;)

  27. Fat Tony March 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    The real dollar savings is in school district consolidation and there is no better example than schools to point out the “haves” and “have nots.” If you have deep pockets and love the city, you can afford education choices that are some of the best in the area. If you are at the wrong end of the socioeconomic ladder, you are stuck with terrible schools, save a few exceptions. And if you’re in the middle and love the city, you are then forced to make a very difficult choice. More often than not, these young, middle-income families bolt to the suburbs for the schools.

    School districts drive the population movements and building decisions in this region. Thus, acting regionally begins with schools. Let’s just start in towns that have multiple school districts and consolidate down…Amherst, Cheektowaga, Hamburg for example. Cross those bridges, which should be the low hanging fruit in this debate and then you can tackle the big stuff.

  28. STEEL March 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    Alan,

    Pretending that inner city problems including the issues associated with inner city African American poverty and such is not a big impediment to true regionalism then you have your head in the sand. If you somehow managed to get one Erie County regional school district the entire county would then be subject to the busing and equal schools issue that Buffalo is not governed by and is currently restricted by arbitrary political boundaries. If you believe that Joanne and Howard Amherst are going to let that happen then you are drinking happy juice. See how fast the suburban right wingers start running away from “school choice” when children from the east side start choosing schools down the road from them.

    • Alan Bedenko March 8, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

      Steel, don’t lecture me on what can’t be done. Instead come up with a way to sell it.

  29. STEEL March 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Fat Tony has it exactly right

  30. Chris Smith March 8, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    No one has their finger on the pulse of WNY like Ol’ Chicago Dave Steele!

    No one brought up schools until you did.  Primarily because that’s not a part of the regionalism conversation.  The school districts would presumably remain special taxation districts within the metropolitan government. That’s the way it has been done in other regional constructs.

    I would think a regionalism conversatioon begins with shared services, consolidated tax assessment, regional building codes and other back office stuff as a proof of concept that cost savings can be achieved. Once that is accomplished, we move on to consolidating municipal governments.  

  31. STEEL March 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    I am with you Alan not against you on this. Just that schools are the big boogy man in the closet that cannot be ignored. They are also one of the biggest most bloated segments of local government. They are also, as FT noted, one of the biggest drivers of sprawl in the region.

    I think the way you make this work is to make state aid contingent on consolidation. The state should enact policy which requires certain consolidation in order to qualify for road funding, school funding etc. “You want your municipality to keep its independence then so be it but you need to pay your own way then.” This could be sold as a way to cut state spending as well as local spending. Consolidated local government will inevitably need less state assistance. Consolidated municipalities will also have more pull in DC which means more ability to get Federal money for stuff.

    • Alan Bedenko March 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

      No, you’ve come up with a way to force it, not to sell it. I want you to seriously think about a way in which a consolidated countywide district can be sold to all stakeholders. But I don’t want you to post it in this thread. This is a topic for another post.

  32. Ray Walter March 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    One thing I know for sure – it has to be a bottom up approach. It’s one thing for the Comptroller to do a study that says we’ll save money doing county-wide assessments its another thing to go into each Town and convince the people and the local officials that’s its a good idea. Get the Supervisors and Councilman to buy in and have them sell it to their constituents as if it were their idea. You can’t do that when your idea of leadership is doing a half-assed study and then issuing a press release (yes I’m talking to you Mark). Let’s take the lowest hanging fruit – tax collections – come up with a plan for a municipality to turn it over to the County and without any fanfare go and talk to the Town Clerk and the Town Board. Give them the ownership of it and show them how it will save time, money and aggravation. I’ll even volunteer to use one of the Towns in my district as a test case and I promise to take the plan to the Town officials along with the Comptroller – no press releases – no politics – let’s just see what we can get done. I don’t know if it is legally feasible to do this on a piecemeal basis but if it is, it’s a start. What do you say Mr. Poloncarz?

  33. Betty Jean Grant March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Here we are talking about regionalized government and we could not even get 10 votes to override County Executive Chris Collins’ veto of of the Regional Planning Board championed by majority leader Maria Whyte and others last year. We had democratic legislators not supporting the concept because individuals in their respective legislative districts saw a loss of power or whatever, in the concept of a regional planning board. As for getting rid of county government, I think it is probably a good idea. I even supported Joel Giambra’s idea of regionalism until he talked of designating Buffalo as a ‘service area’. Legislator Walter talked about Tonawanda, Amherst, Cheektowaga and West Seneca being critical to the regionalized idea, based on their population. I think the good legislator must have had a slight memory lapse; he forgot about Buffalo! Buffalo has twice the population of Amherst and almost four times the population of Cheektowaga. Laugh Ray, I am only kidding, I think?

  34. Ray Walter March 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    Ahh Betty Jean you missed my point – I was simply stating that the first ring suburbs as a whole have the bulk of the population and would naturally dominate a “regional government”.Amherst, Cheektowaga and Tonawanda combined have more people than Buffalo. As for the planning board idea put forth by Legislator Whyte two years ago it was a sham. It did nothing other than take the exact same functions that are being performed by the professionals in the DEP and transfer them to a seperate board without any addittional power or function than what already exists.

  35. Brian March 9, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    I doubt the residents of Amherst think the children of Buffalo should receive the same quality of education and funding as their own little darlings.  After all, if you scant the other kids, your own have a better chance.

  36. peteherr March 9, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    @Ray Walter – taking the politics out of politics doesn’t sound like a possible idea. I can assure you that if your plan failed, Mr. Collins would love to politic about it. Politics IS the problem. On the county level, the state level and the federal level. Why can’t we reform the Social Security program, Medicare/Medicaid, and even health care? Because of the politics. Unless we finally get some leadership in BOTH parties on all of those different levels that is willing to work together and agree that no matter the results, it is off limits on the campaign trail……meaningful reform isn’t gonna happen. You and Mark Poloncarz and Betty Jean can poke at each other on a blog thread, but that isn’t going to get the things done that need to be done, because you can’t take the political hit by actually working together on meaningful issues. Gosh, imagine what could be done elected officials realized that they served all of the people, not just the ones that voted for them. The County Exec certainly isn’t representing my interests, nor is Dean Skelos or John Boehner.

  37. Ray Walter March 9, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    @PeterHerr that’s where you are wrong. We work together everyday. 95+ % of the votes we take are uninamous, but working togther and getting things done doesn’t sell newspapers or generate page views. Negativity, controversy, and friction is what drives the media, old and new. I’ll give you a perfect example – when the County Executive transferred the WIC program from the County to Catholic Charities it made headlines. That was about a year and a half ago have you seen a follow up story? No, because it was very successful and Catholic Charities has done a better job than the County was doing. Another example is the controversy over closing the health clinics and transferring the services to the Sheehan Health Network, big news at the time but you haven’t seen a follow up because it is working. The County Exec, Dean Skelos and John Boehner may very well represent many of your interets but you’ll never know about it becuase the stuff they do right never gets reported. This carries into the voting booth because the controversial stuff gets reported and that’s what motivates the base of each party to get out and vote.

  38. Sean C. March 9, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Talking about this gives me a headache. Regionalism is a great idea that will never happen in WNY. 

  39. Ray Walter March 9, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    @Sean C. stop thinking about it as one giant issue and strat thinking about it as whole lot of little issues and your head might stop hurting.

  40. peteherr March 9, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    @Ray Walter – I agree with you that the mundane doesn’t sell newspapers/ads on commentary TV. Sadly, the political stuff that politicians can’t seem to get right due to politics is the big ticket stuff. While Mr. Collins is certainly working in my interests when he negotiates a new way to pay for our road salt contract, that isn’t a big ticket item. The thousand(s) dollar savings isn’t impacting the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in deficits we face. (This is used solely for example purposes and is a purely hypothetical situation. Any resemblence to a real situation is purely coincidental) And, Ray …. I’ve seen a lot of “going political” out of the EC Leg. You and I discussed legitimate solutions for the cultural funding issue, that were never on the table because of the partisan politics of the issue. So instead of having a sustainable solution that benefits the most people, we have a partisan solution that benefits the County Exec’s constituents. It’s like the stupid Bike License Plate debate that was thankfully withdrawn. It would raise $1.8 million in revenue. There’s 19 million people in NYS. That’s less than a dime a piece. What was the savings on the cultural funding? $400 million…..and there’s 1.2 million people in WNY…..33 cents a piece? Seriously? Raise my taxes a buck to cover my whole family in order to maintain one of the few things that actually gains us outside praise. Just seems penny wise and pound foolish to me.

    Looks like I slid alittle off topic. Go Regionalism!

  41. Betty Jean Grant March 9, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    To my fellow legislator, Mr. Walter. p[lease let’s be honest about voting and working together as a bloc. When there are issues that benefit the suburban and rural areas;whethet it is road patrols, roads and bridges or even a new county structure, there has been almost no time that urban Democrats have not supported our fellow rural or suburban legislators. But let there be a city issue-especially the ones that Collins does not support like the health clinics, WIC or even inner city cultural organizations, the Republican legislators run away from them like they were some newly created diseases. Bi-partisan legislative support should run both ways not just the ones in the direction our city-hating county executive is supporting.

  42. Ray Walter March 10, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    I’m sure that’s the way you see it Legislator Grant, it doesn’t make it true.

  43. Mark March 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    The important thing about government isn’t how much money it costs. The important thing is how democratic it is. I’m not interested in anything that increases the number of constituents per legislator. Reducing the number of governments and the number of representatives at the same time will only tighten the grip of the rich and well-connected. Present a plan with a legislature no smaller, but preferably greater, than the total number of board/council/legislature members presently in the region, and I’m interested. Otherwise, no way.

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