Freshman Erie County Legislator Tim Kennedy will be switching his vote from "no" to "yes" on the Giambra penny, because the legislature will pass his bill establishing a "citizens budget review commission". With all due respect to the obviously politically brave Legislator Kennedy, don't we already have a "citizens budget review commission"? Isn't it called the "Erie County Legislature"? Anyway, this tidbit is interesting:
The commission proposed by Kennedy would not have the power to subpoena documents and witnesses, a change that wins support from both sides of the aisle. It would have to use the Legislature's subpoena power. The new version lets Giambra's lawyer, County Attorney Frederick A. Wolf, sit on the panel but not vote. Other ex-officio members would be Budget Director Joseph Passafiume and County Comptroller Nancy A. Naples. Giambra would appoint one of the 11 voting members, the business community would appoint two, and organized labor one. There will be 11 voting members in all, and their meetings would be subject to New York's Open Meetings Law. They won't be paid. Giambra over the weekend recommended another budget review commission, one composed of financial experts offered by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. But his spokesman said Giambra is willing to accept the citizens panel proposed by Kennedy.
Thank God the commission won't be paid - but how long will that last? And won't they have to have some sort of budget, even for simple things like paper and pens? Since the Giambra penny, (which, even with Kennedy's vote, is still lacking one vote for Albany to consider it), will supposedly raise another $108 million, how much of a budget will Kennedy's commission get? And what of Giambra's patronage? Is any of that cut? In any way? We already know that Getz has been reassigned to a lower-paying job, but one with overtime potential. We also know Giambra apparently still needs a driver (as Kings do), and that this retired Sheriff will earn $30,000 plus his state-tax-free state retirement pension, meaning probably about $90,000 net per year. The leg has some nerve passing a tax hike without taking a hard look at spending and efficiencies and processes, and ensuring that every penny raised via taxation is a penny that's really needed, rather than merely convenient for our bloated government payroll. I said it before, and I'll say it again: it's time to abolish all county government and let Albany sign its own checks for its own programs.

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