In reply to yesterday’s story about Chris Collins’ pledge to examine the Niagara Falls air base and Batavia VA center for “efficiency”, and go along with their closure if they weren’t up to Collins’ standards, Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy writes:
The allegations that Chris Collins called for the closing of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station or any of Western New York’s VA facilities is preposterous. He did not say anything close to that. What he did say is that we should strive to have the best services and most efficient federal facilities possible in Western New York and that is the reason why they should stay open. There were over 100 people in attendance at the event. The crowd gave Chris Collins a resounding ovation and became very angry when it was announced that a press release had gone out from one of his opponents attacking Collins and grossly distorting his comments.
But Bellavia’s people were told that Collins threw a fit at the meeting when shown a Tweet from Michael Caputo / modified tweet from Bellavia himself:
A woman came forward to release the following press release midday Sunday, posted as a comment to the earlier piece:
My name is Carrie M. Christman. I am a veteran of the United States Air Force and a Republican Committeeman from Brighton in Monroe County. On Saturday, April 14, I attended the Erie County Republican Roundtable where former Erie County Executive Chris Collins was a featured speaker. After his speech, I asked him a question about keeping the Batavia Veterans Administration Medical Center open and a follow up question about keeping the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station open as well. He told me “you may not like my answer” and went on to say that these facilities must be examined for efficiency and forced to operate in a more cost effective manner. It was definitely my impression from his answers that if the Batavia VA and the Niagara Falls air base did not meet his efficiency standards that he may not consider keeping them open.
My take is, if there are inefficiencies – and I believe we all know that is a major problem with our government – we need to find out what are the causes for these inefficiencies. The solution is correcting the problem at the source. Let’s find that out, then we are on the right path to solving our nation’s problems.
So, there’s some dispute there over whether Collins said he’d close the facilities he deems “inefficient” using some undisclosed standard of efficiency, or whether Christman inferred closure from his remarks, although Collins never expressed precisely that sentiment.
I submit that it hardly matters.
When you’re dealing with the matter of providing medical services to veterans, or the duties carried out by the NY Air National Guard – only a cold, sick technocrat who has no experience with military matters or respect for veterans would first jump on the Six Sigma efficiency bus before wondering whether the institutions are adequately funded and staffed to carry out their duties.
There is more to government than penny-pinching – especially when it comes to medical care for veterans.