We Here Highly Resolve, Part 2
by Paul Wolf, ESQ.
A spotlight on two county legislators who aren't doing much
For the past several years I have analyzed what the Erie County Legislature does. Recently I reviewed the meeting agendas for calendar year 2014. In 2014 the Erie County Legislature addressed 683 resolutions. Of these 683 resolutions, sixty percent honored individuals and community groups, twenty five percent honored people who recently died and only fifteen percent addressed county business.
In November all eleven Erie County Legislators are up for re-election. Sadly only six legislators have an opponent, so many will be re-elected without any real examination or debate of their record. Through this article and others to follow, I will be taking a closer look at incumbent legislators who have an opponent. Ted Morton represents a district covering the towns of Lancaster, Alden and part of Cheektowaga.
Legislator Morton—Zero Items of Substance In 2014
Ted Morton was elected to the Erie County Legislature in 2013, taking office in January of 2014. As a financial planner Morton violated ethical rules by borrowing $315,000 from seven of his clients between 2009 and 2012. Morton was fired by his employer for his conduct and fined $5,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency and he was suspended from acting as a financial planner for six months. In order to pay off his debts Morton had to sell his business and recently sold his home, with the closing targeted to occur in November.
In 2014, as a rookie Legislator Morton learned fast how to troll for votes by introducing resolutions honoring individuals and community organizations. Morton filed thirty-seven resolutions honoring people, which tied him for fifth place out of eleven members. Morton also filed twenty-four resolutions honoring dead people. Honoring the dead is a tactic politicians use to ingratiate themselves with voters. Morton’s obituary efforts tied him for third place among eleven Legislators.
When it came to taking the initiative to file items of substance related to county business, Morton was the prime sponsor of zero items, putting him tied for last place with Legislator Thomas Loughran of Amherst. Morton will frequently add his name as a co-sponsor of items filed by Republican members, but he did not step forward once with an item of substance brought by his own initiative.
When Morton announced his candidacy in 2013 he stated “I am running for the Legislature because I believe there needs to be louder voices advocating for lower taxes and smaller, smarter government.” If you are interested in seeing how Morton spends his time as a Legislator take a look at his 2014 schedule, available here.
Morton is being challenged by Debra Liegl in the November election.
Legislator Dixon—The Queen of Honoring the Dead
Lynne Dixon was elected to the Erie County Legislature in 2009. Her district includes Hamburg, Lackawanna, Blasdell and part of South Buffalo. In 2014, Dixon filed thirty-six resolutions honoring people and community organizations, placing her in sixth place for such items.
Where Dixon really shines is that she was number one in 2014 for filing resolutions that honored dead people. She personally or more likely a staff person spends a lot of time reading the obituary pages and writing up nice flowery resolutions honoring constituents who recently died. Dixon campaigned in 2009 on a platform seeking to reduce the cost of the Legislature. Yet countless staff hours and the Legislature’s time is spent on items that have nothing to do with county business. As previously pointed out, eighty-five percent of the items Legislators spend their time on have nothing to do with county business.
In 2014, Dixon was the prime sponsor of three items of substance. 1) A resolution requiring Erie County Department Heads to create a voluntary database of individuals with chronic conditions so those individuals could be located and assisted in emergency situations. 2) A Local Law that penalizes individuals for allowing consumption of alcohol by minors on their property. 3) An item that amended the Erie County Charter regarding the Erie County Community Coordinating Council on Children and Families.
In a body that passes few items of substance, Dixon, unlike many of her colleagues, has actually taken the initiative to at least propose something. Dixon’s 2014 schedule is also available here.
|Dixon Calendar||Morton Schedule|
Daniel Hawrylczak is challenging Dixon in the November election.
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