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NOV 19 - NOV 26, 2015

Only in NT: More Suggestions for Elected Eight People in a Room

Sweeney Payne

NOV 19, 2015

Sweeney Payne

A suggestion for our “newly elected” eight people in a room:  Most successful private businesses put a great deal of emphasis on innovation, new products, and ways to deliver services. Local governments always also need to continually seek ways to deliver services better, less expensively and faster.

NT, however has had a problem, for at least the last decade of ordering costly studies, consultant reports, etc., and announcing them as a fait accompli (something that has been done and cannot be changed).  Unfortunately for NT residents, the only thing that ever seems to be “done” is the issuing of these studies and reports with all the political braggadocio those in office at the time could/can muster, with braggadocio being the annoying and exaggerated bragging of those proudly trying to sound like they are accomplishing things by publishing the results of studies and reports.

 A review of the last ten years, or in fact, fifty or more years, of the former Tonawanda News, indicates a serious amount of taxpayer funding at some level or other going into such studies and reports, with little ever resulting from them.

Employees of NT have ideas for improvement of the bureaucracy, but leadership at the top (department heads) is needed to make it clear to “upper management” (Mayor and Common Council) and all employees that new ideas are wanted from them (not resented nor their being penalized for suggestions).  Their knowledge and ideas are worth so much more to NT than the bought-and-paid for writings of overpriced consultants who don’t live here.

Why not create competitions and an innovation fund to encourage employees to step forward with new ways of doing business?  Dedicate a small portion of the annual budget to encourage better, faster and less expensive ways of delivering services. That, if not smothered by the eight people in the room, would no doubt eliminate the waste of paying for studies that never go anyplace after the photos in the paper with the announcements of their completion.

Why not create an “innovation fund” and set aside $1 or $2 million to be used for seed money for one-time investments in projects that would enhance services, save money, provide better customer (taxpayer and resident) service, etc.  Projects that will cut the red tape for businesses and make it easier for citizens to access city services should be considered for these loans.  

Create an apolitical panel (if such a thing is possible in NT or Niagara County)and use the fund for loans to be paid back within five years, with city agencies or departments providing business plans showing how they expect to meet their obligations for developing the concept.

Beyond a doubt, NT’s website is an embarrassment which the newly elected City Clerk-Treasurer has promised to give attention to.  One thing missing from the website is an email address for the City Clerk-Treasurer’s office.

Why does the City Charter posted on the website have (Article III, Division 1, Section 3.004 (a)): "The city clerk-treasurer is subject to removal or suspension by the mayor in accordance with the provisions of this section. All appointed officers are subject to removal or suspension by the appointing authority in accordance with the provisions of this section."

The posted charter continues with more instructions. Why are we voting for a city clerk-treasurer if he/she is subject to removal or suspension by the mayor? Is this just a case of the wrong version of the charter remaining on the website? Or perhaps not properly corrected when it became an elected position?

Section 3.029 does say, "The officials of the city elected by the voters are the mayor, the council members, the city attorney and the city clerk-treasurer."

At the end of the charter (which went into effect January 1, 2002), under Article VII, Se. 7.004 2008 it lists “Revisions to the charter”: "Effective on March 1, 2009, the position of city clerk shall be abolished. All duties and obligations formerly held by the city clerk shall be assumed by the city treasurer, whose position shall be renamed as the city-clerk treasurer." This still doesn't clarify that the city-clerk treasurer is stated in the earlier portion as "subject to removal or suspension by the mayor."

When “revisions” are made, perhaps the use of asterisks could be used in the relevant portions to denote that a change is listed at the end?

The charter also needs to include term limits.  NT needs an intelligent, informed electorate that tosses out bad politicians in elections and insures that genuine public servants are kept in office.  It isn’t supposed to be a lifelong income.  Two terms are plenty for any elected official.






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