Thoughts collected while wondering whether democracy is way too good for people like us:
• Apparently, the prospect of a government shutdown, default on our debt and downgrading of the U.S. credit rating wasn’t enough to convince Erie County voters of the perils of divided government.
While Republicans in Washington prove every day what a party can do when bent on obstruction regardless of the cost to the public, voters here turned over control of the Erie County Legislature to the GOP.
That means Mark Poloncarz, the Democratic county executive, can expect roadblock after brick wall after political sucker punch in his effort to resuscitate libraries, culturals and other services maimed by his GOP predecessor.
And if that wasn’t enough, voters also endorsed the tactics of Republican County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, whose misleading account of how his office ended up with social service recipients’ private information in the infamous garbage tote controversy is a precursor of the partisan gridlock to come.
If nothing gets done over the next two years, voters won’t have to look far to affix blame.
• Latch on to the right issue, and it doesn’t matter how badly you screw up. Despite the fact that Bucky Phillips escaped from his jail – killing one state trooper and wounding two others while loose – and the fact that prisoners he has managed to hang on to end up hanging themselves at alarming rates, Sheriff Timothy Howard hung on to his job.
In fact, he didn’t just survive – he actually got a majority in a three-way race, meaning he would have won even if Democrats hadn’t acted like Democrats and split their own support.
Howard pulled in 52 percent of the vote against Democrat Richard Dobson and Democratic primary loser Bert Dunn, who stayed in the race.
Too bad Howard didn’t have the manners to thank Andrew Cuomo in his victory speech. He owes his continued employment to his strident opposition to the governor’s SAFE Act gun-control law.
Every time an otherwise-responsible gun owner gets ensnared by its ridiculous provisions, it makes Howard look heroic for refusing to enforce it, even though it’s the job of judges – not cops – to interpret a law’s constitutionality.
Given the number of anti-SAFE Act lawn signs around, Howard might as well have named Cuomo his campaign manager.
• What a relief! It was so easy to buy into the blather about this being a poverty-stricken region led by blind visionaries and forced to pay high taxes for duplicative layers of government, none of which listen to residents. That was the myth.
The reality, validated by Tuesday’s 30 percent turnout, is quite the opposite. When fewer than a third of voters bother going to the polls, it means Erie County has achieved civic nirvana.
• While part of the national GOP tries to woo one fast-growing population, the other wing favors moats and drawbridges to keep many of them out. But there is no such schizophrenia in Erie County.
The decision to toss Buffalo mayoral candidate Sergio Rodriguez under the bus to depress city turnout and inflate suburban impact will raise chuckles when local GOP leaders at some point reverse course and insist, “Some of our best friends are Hispanic.”