We all wondered when Donna Owens was going to do something.
Hired in June at a salary of $110,000 a year, Owens has largely worked four-day weeks since, only occasionally deigning to come in on a Friday. In addition, she has set the world's record for going on vacation, taking as many as five weeks off during the first five months of her employment, according to several City Hall sources.
As we've pointed out, Owens' salary is greater than that of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Erie County Executive Chris Collins, state Sen. George Maziarz and pretty much everyone else involved in municipal government along the Niagara Frontier.
So last week she did something. It came in the form of a memo.
"Beginning Friday, Jan. 2, 2009, City Hall will have a police presence on duty Monday through Friday during the hours of 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.," Owens wrote. "(An officer) will be stationed on the first floor. (The officer) will request that visitors sign-in as they enter City Hall."
The fact that Owens did something was considered such a newsworthy event that the local daily gave it top-of-the-front-page treatment in its Sunday edition. The article failed to explore whether having a city police officer sitting outside Owens' office door for eight hours a day constitutes an appropriate use of police time here.
Ask any cop on the force here whether there are enough officers out on the street at any given time, and he or she will look at you like you must be stupid. Often, sheriff's department, state police and parks police officers have to be called into the city to help quell some disturbance or look for a bad guy with a gun.
The detailing of an officer to do nothing but protect Owens and her office door is beyond absurd in a city where overworked policemen put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizenry from what seems to be an ever-increasing population of thugs.
But perhaps Owens can be forgiven. Prior to her appointment, Niagara Falls was nothing more than a picture on a postcard to her. And since her appointment, she's spent so little time here that she might not be expected to know that our cops need to be out on the street, where they belong.
The entire episode serves to illustrate a sad administration so detached from the residents that they feel the need for cops to protect them from the very people they were put there to represent.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||January 6 2009|