How Not to Govern

Courtesy of the best local paper in WNY, the Niagara Falls Reporter. The NFR's own David Staba (who also writes for the NY Times), covers the rise & fall of Joel Giambra
"In 1999, Joel Giambra rode into office as a new kind of politician, one offering a vision of regionalism that would save not only Buffalo and Erie County, but eventually all of Western New York. Forget that Giambra never offered more than vague details about what 'regionalism' actually entailed, other than impaneling blue-ribbon commissions and scolding the City of Buffalo for being poor -- at least when compared to much of his suburban power base and the county rich with surpluses left by his predecessor. Details didn't matter to the honchos at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership who paid for the former Democratic city comptroller's bid to remake himself as a Republican county executive. Nor did they count in the offices of the Buffalo News, which bought into the warm, fuzzy concept of 'reform,' then helped sell it to voters. Well, maybe all those movers and shakers should have stood still for long enough to pay attention before jumping on the bandwagon. Giambra's blueprint for regionalism turned out to be little more than a few crude notes scrawled on a bar napkin, a document that vanished in the flames of taxpayer anger last week. When the Good Ship Erie County crashed on the rocks Tuesday afternoon, what little momentum he had built toward eliminating the multiple layers of government that weigh down the region's economy vanished as quickly as the tenuous support for Giambra's same-as-it-ever-was 'green budget' and its 12 percent sales-tax increase. 'If you have two dysfunctional governments and you consolidate them, the best you can hope for is one dysfunctional government,' said county Legislator Barry Weinstein (R-Amherst) when asked what the fiscal meltdown meant for the future of a merger plan Giambra had hoped to get on November's ballot. Friday, Giambra departed on what might stand as the most ill-timed vacation in local political annals. He did, however, leave a primer for his peers in Niagara County -- and the rest of the democratized world, for that matter -- on how to screw things up as badly, and as quickly, as possible.
1. Abandon your Party. 2. Give everyone you know a job. 3. Act Invincible 4. Blame everybody else. 5. Try scaring taxpayers into paying more taxes 6. Go on vacation. That's our Joel!

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