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Collins’ Outside Counsels

Filed under: Erie County

Those following the county budget drama today will have already read Matt Spina’s account of Judge Glownia’s ruling that Erie County Executive Chris Collins does not have the power to declare null and void the Legislature’s amendments reducing some of his proposed expenditures.

What struck me was the last line:

“The charter does not give the county executive the right to declare reductions null and void,” [Glownia] said, as an outside lawyer for Collins listened by telephone.

The outside attorney representing the county executive today was Todd Bullard of the high-priced firm Harris Beach. One can make the case that the administration needed outside counsel in this circumstance, since the county attorney is meant to represent all of county government, and here two branches of county government are at odds. In factm however, Collins has treated the county attorney’s office as representing his will alone, a department that essentially answers to and represents the executive branch. (See: former Erie County Attorney Cheryl Green.) And, of late, more and more of the county’s legal work has been farmed out to private firms.

  • RaChaCha

    Fascinating. I once served on the staff of the president of the Monroe County legislature, at the time that Monroe County government was being taken over by a crop of Republicans very much in the Chris Collins mold. H. Todd Bullard was a Democratic Monroe County legislator who has a great deal of experience with Democratic legislative opposition to an overreaching Republican county administration. And now he’s putting that experience to work advising those on the other side of the fence. Fascinating.

    There’s a bit about Bullard in this retrospective piece by my friend and publisher of the Smugtown Beacon, former Monroe County Legislator Chris Wilmot:

  • RaChaCha

    Why is the time stamp on my comment 5:06 pm — that’s an hour from now 🙂

  • Lloyd Marshall Jr.

    The vetoes held up; no tax hikes, and the culturals have to tough it out.

    If households and businesses have to make cutbacks, so does government.

    Last I checked, government is supposed to REFLECT us; not work against us.

    THANK GOD for Collins!!

  • RaChaCha

    ^^^ Says the guy from Lockport, Niagara County, NY

  • jhorn

    l.m. jr.- an idea to follow up on yours: 2008 median household income for erie county was $48,427. round that up to $50,000 to account for inflation and make that the maximum salary for county government employees. then the government will more accurately REFLECT us as you say it’s supposed to do. as a bonus, the rebated portions of messrs. collins, howard, mohr, ward et al. salaries should fill the hole in the library budget and fund the culturals as well.

  • James Derry

    What puzzles me in all of this is the pointing of fingers between all parties invovled. At the end of the day if you can’t up rvenue then there is nothing to spend.
    On one hand we endlessly complain about taxes in this area, yet we wnat service levels that come at a significant cost.
    The only thing that really puts me off about this fiasco is Collin’s hand picking the not-fors he had personally decided should receive full funding. What the hell is that, cut them across the board equilly, but for one guy to pick what he deems of value is just off the charts.

  • Lloyd Marshall, Jr.

    @RaChaCha: not only myself, from the Commonwealth of Niagara(of which Erie County is also part), but anyoone of sound mind also would say “Thank God for Collins!”

    @JHorn: Regardless what the “median” income is for any community, let’s make something clear right now… when households and businesses come upon hard economic times, they cut back on(or even cut out altogether) certain activities. What makes government so special that they don’t have to live by that same standard? Which is why I say again… government is supposed to REFLECT us!

  • Lloyd Marshall, Jr.

    Per my most recent posting: Let’s just stick with funding for those things that are necessary and vital to the safety and security of the community; all else is frivolous and should be treated as such.

  • uncabobbo

    Perhaps ZMr. Marshall Jr.has a point. I jusrt wonder why he doesn’t mention IDA funds, tax breaks for developers and tax deals for guys who live in the penthouse apartment of waterfront condos?

  • Lloyd Marshall, Jr.

    From UncaBobbo: “I jusrt wonder why (L. Marshall) doesn’t mention IDA funds, tax breaks for developers and tax deals for guys who live in the penthouse apartment of waterfront condos?”

    What do I care about those things? They mean nothing to me.

    Government should just stick to what is needful for the safety and security of the community at large; all else should be treated as frivolities.