Joel's political demise

Ed. - I'm going to keep this up top for a while. I remember back in 1987 - during my freshman year of college, a Pennsylvania's treasurer, R. Budd Dwyer, was convicted of accepting bribes in connection with a government contract. On the eve of his sentencing, he called a press conference, and the press dutifully packed the room. Mr. Dwyer whipped out a revolver and, in the presence of all the reporters, shot himself in the mouth. In early November 2004, Joel Giambra committed suicide, too. Metaphorically. Figuratively. He committed political suicide as deadly to Joel's career as that bullet was to Budd Dwyer's body.
This photograph depicts the end of a promising political career. Joel Giambra thought that he could force a crisis that would galvanize the community against Albany. He figured, people won't tolerate another sales tax increase, but if the alternative is a complete abolition of our quality of life, I can make them swallow it. That's what he thought. That we could easily be manipulated. That we were stupid. So, people flocked to public meetings with the EC Leg, begging them to keep our libraries open. To keep our Sheriff's patrols and probation department running smoothly. We would gladly pay the extra penny, they said, if only we can keep these things that make WNY a great place to live.
But others (myself included) asked the legislature to approve a penny increase only grudgingly - and to do so on the condition that excesses in the County budget were examined and eliminated. Especially patronage and pork. The leg voted for the penny increase 10-5. They voted for Giambra's piece of shit budget 8-7. But that wasn't the end of it. In January, we found out, another vote was needed. One for the home rule message to Albany. It passed with some difficulty. It passed the Assembly and Senate in Albany, too - but most of the WNY delegation refused to vote for it. The measure was returned to Buffalo for one last vote. It was supposed to happen last night, but did/didn't. The vote was 9-6. As I posted earlier, DeBenedetti withheld his approval of the penny until he got some concessions from Joel Giambra on the patronage and pork. Giambra was not forthcoming. He offered NOTHING. And in DeBenedetti's "no" vote there just may have been a revolution in New York. A possible turning point. His vote was a manifestation of the clamoring of average citizens who said: NO MORE.
  • No more will we allow our politicians to spend freely and stick us with the bill.
  • No more will we allow unions and targeted special interests to benefit at the expense of the community-at-large.
  • No more will we permit our politicians to treat us like a bottomless piggy bank, just waiting to be tapped.
  • No more will we permit ourselves to be the most highly taxed people in the most highly taxed state in the country.
  • No more will we accept rising taxes without a simultaneous reexamination and elimination of waste, pork, and patronage.
The people of Western New York are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. The news will be filled with scenes and sounds over the next few weeks of county workers who have been laid off. I sympathize with them. The future of this region, however, is at stake. But from a macro perspective, if this results in a diminution by one-third of county personnel, that's a good thing. And if this results in, ultimately, a reduction of our sales tax back into the 7% range, we become competitive with neighboring jurisdictions again. And if a leaner, more efficient government is the result, then costs will be contained, and our tax burden may lessen. Then those 3,000 will find jobs in the dreaded private sector, which will flourish. Of course we need fundamental reform in Albany. Albany needs to take ownership of its mandated programs and find a way to cut them and render them more efficient. But Joel's career is over. He's not the guy who can go to Albany and try to convince lawmakers there to cut Medicaid. Joel has proven himself to not be the guy we thought he was. We thought he had vision. We thought he had brains. We thought he would help to make this place better. He didn't, he doesn't, and he won't.
Joel Giambra must resign. For the good of Erie County.

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