Friday, June 06, 2008

Albany Needs To Pick Up The Ball On Local Gov Efficiency

And The Long Island Delegation Should Take The Lead

Special District Commissioners serving without compensation or benefits. [Yes, true community volunteers.]

The transfer of garbage collection and recycling services from the Special Districts to the Towns in which they operate. [One Town. One rate. One standard of service.]

Special District Elections all on the SAME day. [What? No more Fridays, Tuesdays, and alternate Wednesday nights in August or December?]

All wonderful -- and potentially cost-saving ideas -- proposed not only to give true meaning to the term, "local control," but to curb (and perhaps bring an end to) the burgeoning abuses that accompany the unbridled proliferation of an unnecessary layer of medieval government.

So, where is Long Island's Assembly and Senate delegation, now that there are real solutions crying out for practical legislation (all supported by Governor Patterson) on the table?

Seems awfully quiet out there, as the legislative session winds down.

Long Islanders should be making some noise, and asking, "Why the silence on local government efficiency?"
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Click HERE to contact your STATE LEGISLATORS
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From Newsday's Editorial Page

LI delegation should step up
Reform bills are withering in Albany, and there's no excuse for that

So many good ideas to reform government spending on Long Island have been raised this season. Yet they are in danger of suffocating in the State Legislature. Most bills can't find sponsors among the Island's many lawmakers.

This situation is pathetic. With gas prices rising, foreclosures growing and all of us watching our pennies, the State Legislature should do its part and pass bills to limit special taxing districts.

First, lawmakers should eliminate pay and benefits for district commissioners. Long Island is the only place in New York where these people are paid; elsewhere, volunteers serve out of civic duty. This measure alone would cut off the blood supply that feeds the greed. Some commissioners receive full pensions, fully paid medical benefits, cars and even homes.

This reform was suggested by the state Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, and originally incorporated in former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's budget. Senate Republicans opposed it, and it would have died there, had Gov. David Paterson not adopted it.

He added another reform, shifting responsibility for sanitation cleanup to towns. But as of now, not one elected official from Long Island will sponsor this bill in the legislature.

What did we put them in office for, anyway?

Another bill, pushed by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, would require special districts to post their financial information and meeting dates on their town's Web site. Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assemb. Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) are sponsors.

A final effort is Suozzi's plan to reduce the confusion of 22 special district elections, to coincide with either the May school vote or the general election in November. The current arrangement not only guarantees low turnout but promotes voter intimidation. One election was held in the commissioner's kitchen. Is this any way to run a democracy?

The Suozzi plan also needs sponsors. And, by the way, we're still waiting for action on school pension double-dipping, as well as a halt to part-time consultants qualifying for school pensions.

Something is seriously wrong with our representation in Albany if, now that the problem's been diagnosed, Island residents cannot receive the medicine we need to make it better.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

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