"This has never happened in the history of Erie County government," said Legislature Majority Leader Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda, who voted to raise the sales tax. "The fiscal and operational chaos to ensue will be like nothing we have ever seen."I don't think Giambra's going to get very far by demonizing the 6 legislators who voted against the Giambra/Getz penny, do you?
Giambra, visibly angry, told reporters at a news conference late Friday afternoon that all services not mandated by Albany or Washington or the County Charter will end. "This is the day that six of our Erie County legislators told the world they'd rather turn out the lights than pay the bills," he said. "I am in shock."
Later, he said he's searching for 10 lawmakers who might be willing to repeat the process - writing a new budget and pursuing a sales tax increase to start June 1, the earliest it could begin under rules set by the state Department of Taxation and Finance.
Giambra has consistently painted the unbridled costs of the state-mandated Medicaid program as the underlying reason for the county's financial meltdown, but the course established by Giambra and the Legislature five years ago also led to today's problems. They cut property taxes at the start of the decade then drained once-ample reserves to meet everyday expenses, while Medicaid costs soared. Now, the reserves are nearly gone and Erie County needs a new source of income.
"The county executive miscalculated the effect of the red budget," said Legislator Barry A. Weinstein, R-Williamsville, who refused to raise the sales tax without government reforms. "He antagonized the community like I've never seen. You had kids begging for their libraries. It's a sad situation."
Weinstein is absolutely right: if Giambra wanted that penny; needed that penny, there was plenty that he could have done, as a good leader, to steward the county to that end.
He didn't. Because he's not a good leader, and he's not a good steward.
He's a schoolyard bully with a glass jaw and a quick excuse.