Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the other hand...

Chris Collins, Erie County Executive, recently announced his candidacy for a second term. He's considered the big favorite to win reelection, mostly because he has a large campaign war chest ready to come out of hiding, while possible opponents won't be nearly as well financed.

Collins has admittedly gotten the county's finances in better shape than they were before he arrived, which isn't saying much. He reported in his State of the County address that the County has a fund balance of about $70 million.

I've been a fan of the always fascinating political process for many years. I have laughed this month when a Jane Corwin for Congress ad talks about Kathy Hochul as Nancy Pelosi's hand-picked candidate. Think Pelosi even knows Hochul's name at this point? Hochul probably will link Corwin to Michelle Bachman's knowledge of history in response any day now.

From this view on the sidelines, I could see the advantages of working on a campaign for Collins. For starters, you'd probably get paid -- which would be a step ahead of Carl Paladino, according to reports.

But wouldn't it be more fun to work for a Collins' opponent? The mischief-maker in me might have fun with ads concerning some of the other parts of Collins' record on the job:

* The classic moment in Albany when Collins told a woman that she'd have to give a lap dance to get a seat at the State of the State address. He later apologized.

* Collins turned down federal grants that would have funded jobs and programs without strings.

* Collins called for medicaid to not pay for clients' eyeglasses and hearing aids. Ever try to function when you can't see or hear?

* Collins thought it was a good idea to give full-time work to part-time workers, handing out less pay, more hours and fewer benefits for the same job. A court disagreed.

* Speaking of courts, Collins has consistently refused to follow the legislation passed by the County Legislature, leading to millions left unspent and a string of lawsuits. His record in those suits makes the Bills' record seem almost shiny.

* There's only one agency charged with oversight of the County Executive's financial activities, and Collins cut several auditors from the Comptroller's office out of his last budget.

There are others, but you get the idea. Throw a tagline in -- I'll let you write that -- and it's an instant campaign. We'll see if the so-called experts do better in the months ahead, and if it makes a difference.

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