|Thomas J. Mazur - District 8
JUNE 8, 2009
DOWNSIZING: WILL YOU GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR?
Currently, our county is partaking in the downsizing frenzy that has become the new fad. I've never had a problem with downsizing if done correctly. As many of you well know, there is a system already in place that has downsized the County Legislature twice since its inception in 1961. We went from 20 members, down to 17 and then down to our current 15. Even today, I hear people say that they would love to have the Board of Supervisors back, which consisted of 54 members.
Anyhow, the thing that I find most interesting is this huge rush to cut and downsize. If we would wait until next year after the census is taken, we would be able to determine if our population has diminished to the point where we need less representation. It worked in the past, so why shouldn't it work now?
But there seems to be a move – although I'd argue it is a knee jerk reaction – that the people want everything downsized. And what I'm seeing lately is a dangerous mix of voter anger and voter apathy. I don't know about you, but I have found that when things get downsized too much in the corporate and business world, the service I receive is not better, and more times than not, a lot worse. There's no longer such a thing as a ten-minute oil change, or a sales clerk who can help you find your correct size or even a live body that will talk to you on the other end of your phone.
Here are some points I'd like you to consider regarding downsizing:
1)In the case of the two towns who recently voted to downsize, less than 1/3 of the eligible voters voted. That leaves more than 2/3 of the voters who gave a hoot less. Now consider that apathy when three members of a board are left to their druthers when it comes to making major decisions regarding your services and your taxes. A fundamental maxim for our forefathers was this: no taxation without representation. So, the way I look at, the less representation you have the less voice you as a citizen have. I was quoted in the Buffalo News the other day saying "be careful what you ask for, you might get it."
2)There are many ways to cut costs and consolidate efforts but chopping without having a transparent plan can be dangerous. Before any local law is presented to the voters this November, I would like to have the citizens see how these districts will be drawn. In Erie County we're a unique mix of urban, suburban and rural and without transparency there's a good possibility that you as a taxpayer would be short changed.
3)As for changing the term of the legislature from 2 years to 4, I'm not sure that would ensure better representation: with a two-year term, at least you have a choice every two years.
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