Written by Carol Frank Wednesday, 03 June 2009 16:55
Many years ago, when we had young children and lived in a village that had an unsafe, uninviting playground, we got involved in lobbying to improve it. We, the parents, got ourselves educated about fun-filled, yet safe, play equipment, networked with other parents and eventually convinced the mayor and trustees of the village that it was high time to invest in a play area that would enhance the quality of life in the village. That was when we fell in love with the reality of local government, close to home and responsive to the people. That was when we learned that a few people can make a difference. It was a thrill!
Now, local government is being scapegoated as upper-level politicians seek to find somebody to blame for the sorry state of the economy and seek to further their own political ambitions. The bills in the Assembly and Senate are numbered A08501 and S5661, but what is noteworthy is the title: The New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment act.
Keep that name in mind as you consider that if your village were forced to hold a referendum for dissolution or consolidation, you would not know how its assets or liabilities or ordinances or employees would be handled until after you voted. You would not know if there were real savings and a reduction in your property tax bill or not. You would be voting in the dark.
There should be a manageable process for allowing local entities to dissolve or consolidate if there is a true groundswell of public support. But to go from 33 percent of the registered voters required for a petition to force a referendum to 10 percent is opening the door to mischief making, chaos and unnecessary expenses.
The flawed bill is about as far from “citizen empowerment” as the Iraq War is from “mission accomplished.”
Let’s don’t be fooled again.