Thursday, May 17, 2007

Get Out There And Vote -- Again!

Super Tuesday Is Behind Us, But There Must Be An Election Out There, Somewhere

We managed to get all school budget elections on the same day every year -- the second Tuesday in May.

So, when do we vote next?

Well, there's bound to be a special election, here or there. Maybe a mayoral contest in a nearby village. And, of course, those Sanitary District elections will be coming up this summer, on a date to be announced -- or not.

Seems that every time you turn around, there's another election. With the Special Districts and their many Commissioners, its almost a shame to put those antiquated voting machines away, the polls being open -- limited voting hours and literally no publicity notwithstanding -- almost every other week.

Governor Spitzer's newly-minted Commission on Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness (yes, yes, a misnomer all around), will no doubt be looking at the broader issues, such as where we can consolidate or, better yet, eliminate. Still, the Commission should hone in on some of the more provincial ills -- perhaps more readily remedied -- like a single day for voting in ALL Special Districts (i.e., Fire, Sanitation, Water). We can call it Trashy Tuesday or Waste Wednesday.

We're still baffled by the the fact that a Sanitary District in, say, the Town of Hempstead -- serving 35,000 homes -- requires 6 Commissioners, while New York City's Department of Sanitation, serving over 8 million residents (and, unlike the local Sanitary Districts, is responsible for street cleaning and snow removal, as well as garbage collection), somehow manages to get along just fine with a single Commissioner. [And, by and large, the streets are cleaner in NYC than they are once you cross the invisible border into Nassau.]

If you choose to address the Commission on Local Government using an acronym -- okay, a slightly twisted acronym -- we'd go with New York Commission on Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness, NYLGEC -- a somewhat perverted, if not Dyslexic, take on NEGLECT. Just add a "T" for the temerity of local government in perpetuating the myth that special taxing districts serve a public benefit that we, the people, would not be better served, with greater efficiency, and less expense, through other means.

Let's start with the premise that local government is anything but efficient. That's a given. Town Hall is a bastion of failed initiatives -- assuming any initiative in the first place. As for "competitiveness," well, considering where the money has gone in the past, and who gets those "sweetheart" deals, we think you can add "competitiveness" to the garbage heap as well.

Sure, we "enjoy" having 7 collection days per week. 3 for garbage. 1 for recycling. 2 for yard waste. 1 for bulk. Would it matter much -- other than in our wallets (which contain more IOUs than greenbacks) -- if we cut collections by a day or two?

Efficiency and competitiveness, like much in government and politics, is local. The mechanism -- and the desire -- for change must be grassroots. Change, if it comes at all, is not likely to come from a State Commission or a Blue Ribbon panel. [Why are the ribbons always "blue?"]. Change, if and when it does come, will be the byproduct of local, community advocacy and activism. Change -- and no small change, at that -- must begin with YOU!

Please put your trash in tightly sealed containers, placing same out for collection no earlier than 7 PM the night before. And please, don't forget to vote.

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