Gaughan Effect Causes Downsizing at Buffalo News!
by Geoff Kelly - posted 5:14 pm, August 12, 2009
AV’s courts and utilities correspondent, John Duke, sent us this dispatch today, occasioned by Monday’s front-page Buffalo News piece on Kevin Gaughan’s downsizing government campaign:
In a poorly written and misleading article printed on the front page of the Buffalo News on Monday, a reporter claimed that the man who started the government downsizing revolution in Erie County, Kevin P. Gaughan, may not be able to control it and should let local politicians assist him in removing their positions from the taxpayer’s bankroll.
The Buffalo News doesn’t agree with Gaughan’s common sense. He has always said, “The petition process to get downsizing on the ballot must be pure; and purely grass roots. This effort is nonpolitical and citizen-driven. There’s just one class of people I don’t think have a place in it, and that’s people running for office. I do have to guard the integrity of the effort.”
Supporters and opponents say Gaughan has tapped into a pent-up desire for change. After pointing out a provision in state law allowing the votes, Gaughan organized the successful petition drives and campaigns to reduce the town boards in West Seneca and Evans from five members to three. He can also take credit for downsizing efforts in North Collins and votes in Lancaster and Depew.
“It’s very difficult to find a politician who supports this, but it’s almost impossible to find a citizen who doesn’t support this,” Gaughan said.
Gaughan has accepted the support of West Seneca Supervisor Wallace C. Piotrowski, who welcomed him into the town. “I would tend to agree with Gaughan. After this decade long fight for him, he doesn’t trust politicians. We don’t need any help from political parties,” Piotrowski said.
Paul Becker, of Orchard Park, the former municipal liaison for the Erie County Water Authority, said he always has been interested in good governance, and he thought Gaughan’s proposal sounded good. Becker collected signatures to get the measure on the ballot in Orchard Park. “People have a pent-up desire to see some kind of change. People feel they want a voice. I think this is a good opportunity to have a voice,” Becker said.
Downsizing votes are scheduled next month in Alden and Orchard Park. Gaughan said those two communities can expect a discussion on the nature and purpose of local government.
Will the movement continue in Orchard Park and Alden; is it unstoppable? Opponents in both towns predict it will pass.
With successful votes taking place and with thousands of Erie County residents signing on to the idea, Gaughan said many of his volunteers found him through his Web site, http://www.letpeopledecide.org/ , where more than 19,000 people have registered.
“Sometimes I ask myself why the hell I do this,” Gaughan said. “I think this is the finest community in America, and it deserves the finest government. It doesn’t have it.”
It may be news to the News; but Erie County is very fortunate to have an activist such as Kevin Gaughan looking out for us. Can you imagine if we left it to the politicians?
I believe—and I’m pretty sure Gaughan would agree—that the number of politicians in our region is not as big an issue as the number of governments, and the duplication of services, and the resulting proliferation of patronage jobs and contracts whose beneficiaries protect the status quo like a growling dog hovering over a bone. (You can read about Gaughan’s campaign here and decide for yourself if you agree with what he’s doing.) But, like John Duke, I also didn’t quite get the point of the News article. Gaughan should not take credit for his work? He should welcome the co-option of the campaign by politicians and the politically motivated?