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Same suits this time around?

January 20, 2016

Many years ago, my business manager said (after elections), “The suits will be the same, only the faces change.” Will the 2016 legislature alter that axiom?

For example, will there truly be an open government, or will it be the typified by the phrase, “this is the way we have always done it?”

My point here is that we, the public, can only comment after a committee meeting and at the beginning of the full legislative meeting. We cannot question or challenge any of the presentations or the speakers during the meetings.

Case in point: at the November 12, 2015 public works committee meeting, La Bella’s Mark Kubuvka presented the new jail’s design and costs. Legislator Cora Edwards was the only one who asked any questions. I, too, wanted to ask some questions. For example, who will be the project manager? In brief, the project manager is the county’s representative who will oversee the jail’s construction. After his presentation, Kubuvka and his team were shuttled out of the meeting before the comment period.

I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of free speech for radical groups such as the KKK, skinheads and neo-Nazis.

Moreover, the six new legislators have inherited county projects that are estimated to cost over $200 million. Some of the projects are bridges, roads, the new hanger and, of course, the jail. It will be interesting to see how those projects will be prioritized, and how they will be funded with a $207 million budget.

A new issue that all the legislators will have to contend with is the equitable sharing of casino sales tax. In my opinion, Legislator Mark Mc Carthy has the correct concept, i.e., use the tax revenue for line-item infrastructure only. This will prevent cannibalizing one source of revenue to bolster a loss leader like the county airport.

Chris Leser
Burlingham, NY