Blizzard Things

9 Jan

The blizzard of 2014 showed that government can work. The way in which the county in particular handled the storm, public affairs, and its response was impressive. County leadership, led by County Executive Mark Poloncarz, used social media in particular in one of the most effective ways I’ve seen any local elected use it. Poloncarz was tweeting live updates from the county’s command center day and night during the storm, and was answering people’s questions and otherwise keeping us informed about conditions.

City government, however, was attempting to maintain a “business as usual” mode, not declaring driving bans while surrounded by them, and with Mayor Brown silent on social media. It led to a short-lived #whereisByron hashtag on Tuesday night, as people wondered where the Mayor was (answer: trying to get to Albany for a pre-state-of-the-state fundraiser. He didn’t make it.) 

With that said, in light of the State of the State Address on Wednesday, where Andrew Cuomo again pointed to “too many governments” as the main reason why taxes are so high, there is no reason why we need to maintain a county government as a separate deliberative taxing authority. Since almost all of its tasks are ministerial in nature – mandates from Albany amounting to imperatives like, “feed the hungry”, “heat the homes of the poor”, “administer Medicaid”, “administer [insert state program here]”, and “plow the roads”, we don’t need a separate legislature and all of its ancillary costs in order to accomplish these basic tasks.

Speaking of the State of the State, Cuomo indicated that Buffalo will get a $100 million to research genome therapy. This is huge – the ability to treat disease by replacing defective genes is the next frontier in medical research. 

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4 Responses to “Blizzard Things”

  1. Ridgewaycynic2013 January 9, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    It’s surprising there’s not one for #WhereIsDennis

  2. JordanThen January 9, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Eliminating county government would save very little money. Sure, the legislature would be eliminated, but we would likely have to create new special taxing districts to run the library and sheriffs department. Alternatively, towns without their own police departments would likely have to create one, or the state police would have to expand to fill the void. Also, managing ministerial state programs at the city/town/village level vs. the county level would make it immeasurably harder on Albany as they would be dealing with thousands of local governments instead of the 62 counties.

    What we should think about instead is eliminating all governments below the county level and creating 62 unified county level governments in New York State (we could probably even merge some of the counties). Why eliminate one legislature, when you can eliminate dozens in every county? Each county would then have one PD, one school district, one parks department, one of everything. To address concerns of lack of representation you can expand the county legislatures to 25-35 legislators in order to ensure their number of constituents is small enough that local voices can be heard.

    Let’s go for a big transformative change rather than perpetuating a slightly modified status quo by eliminating counties.

  3. Hank Kaczmarek January 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Poloncarz showed leadership, and he did an impressive job. City of Buffalo made a great contrast. Of course most realize Buffalo has no leader, but one hell of a figurehead. I’d hate to think how the county would have fared without a leader like Mark on the job. At least when Griffin was mayor, you knew South Buffalo would be plowed out first, and Riverside last. Now there’s no pattern at all.

    • Black Rock Lifer January 10, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      There was no problem in the City of Buffalo, business as usual. Not saying the mayor did anything special but the streets department is much better run than in the past.

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