Friday, February 26, 2010

Reduce the Number of County Legislators?

Somewhere in Monroe County Democratic Headquarters there's a computer program showing that 15 is the optimum number of seats in the County Legislature for the purpose of maximizing Democrats' chances, in redistricting, for new district lines that make a Democratic majority most likely.

That's the real reason why county Legislature Democrats today proposed reducing the legislature from 29 members to 15.   Not because it could save what, in the context of the County budget, is a small amount.

Democrats point out that other similarly-sized counties -- Erie, for example -- have only 15 legislators.   What they carefully omit is that each of those 15 Erie County legislators is paid $42,588 per year (as of 2007; it may have increased since then.)   Monroe County legislators are paid $18,000 per year, an amount that hasn't risen since the early to mid-1990's.

It doesn't end there.  Erie County pays for a district office for each county legislator.   Monroe County legislators?   No district offices.

You won't read any of that in the Democrats' press release.   Or on the WHEC Channel 10 news site, which just shows the number of legislators in other selected counties, including Erie, without showing the cost data that tells the real story.   What do you expect from a station whose main newsreader, Jennifer Johnson, is Mrs. Vinnie Esposito, right-hand man to Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle and one of the County legislators behind today's little deception?

If the Democrats are really serious about saving money by eliminating legislative seats, why stop at 15?   Counties throughout the country operate with 5- and 6-member boards of county commissioners.   And let's save on the expense of redistricting, while we're at it.   How about a 5-member county board of legislators elected at large, county-wide?   That's how it is in counties across America.

If you're sincerely interested in saving money, this would make the most sense.  But somehow we think County Democrats would never let go of those one-man, one-vote, one-time City legislative seats where Democratic candidates are elected for life, at least.

And while we're saving money, why stop at the County level?

Rochester City Council members are paid $29,000 per year, with automatic annual increases through a cost-of-living adjustment.   Council has 9 members.

Here, with a one-party government, we have a real opportunity for savings.   Instead of nine City councillors who always vote with the Democratic Mayor, why not cut it down to three City councillors who always vote with the Democratic Mayor?   The outcome's the same, and you've just cut 2/3 of your City Council salary costs.   Not to mention benefits.

When the Democrat and Chronicle does its editorial in the next few days backing the Democrats' plan to reduce the county legislature, we're betting they won't be looking for similar savings in City Council.

If Democrats in the County Legislature are really serious about saving on legislature expenses, and since they look to Erie County as a model, they could take a page from the book of the minority Republicans in the Erie County Legislature.   The Erie Republicans just closed down all of their county-paid district offices, to save the county money.

Since Monroe legislators don't have offices in the first place, or county-paid cars, how about Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature really sticking it to those Republicans by giving up their $18,000-per-year legislative salaries?

And just one question more:   Why is it a blogger making all of these points and not the Republicans in the County Legislature?!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you notice how the channel 10 reporter asked Bronson the dumb question if Harry would give up his seat? No sh*t he said he would! He's running for state assembly and could care less about the county legislature. Harry's a lame duck for the rest of the year.