Black don t believe the hype T Shirts 150x150 The Smoke & Mirrors Of The Erie County Legislature

It is only a press release and I should not let it bother me. Lynn Marinelli is a nice person who means well and I should just let it go; but I feel compelled to highlight the smoke and mirrors of a recent Marinelli press release.

Not much of substance typically happens at a Erie County Legislature meeting. A typical Legislature meeting consists of resolutions honoring people who recently passed away, tabling a few local laws that have been introduced, receiving and filing some letters and passing a few symbolic resolutions that call upon the state or federal government to do something.

You can view the minutes from past leg meetings and see the agenda for upcoming meetings here. As not much substance happens at a Legislature the headline for Marinelli’s press release caught my eye: Legislator Marinelli Tourism Initiative Receives Unanimous Approval.

Interested in learning what great idea of Marinelli’s received unanimous approval I read the press release. What the Legislature unanimously approved was a resolution that supported continuing the operation of the Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist. The press release stated further that “Marinelli’s initiative also supports continued state investment …for ongoing infrastructure improvements to walkways and other visitor amenities”.

So what exactly is Marinelli’s “Initiative”? It is the passage of a symbolic resolution regarding a tourist attraction that the Erie County Legislature has no say over, that supports the expenditure of state dollars.

Marinelli’s resolution is nothing but smoke and mirrors. It gives the impression that she and her fellow Legislators are doing something of importance. There is no idea contained in this “initiative” and no expenditure of county dollars, just an expression of support.

Marinelli is not the only elected official guilty of exaggerated hype in a press release but her press release is an example of how far elected officials have to stretch to make it appear that they are doing something signficant. Check out the web pages for County Legislators touting their efforts and what you see is Legislators sharing information about free rabies clinics, income tax filing assistance, civil service exams. All nice things, but nothing really of substance.

I have contacted every Erie County legislator by email on three different occasions and offered to assist in drafting resolutions regarding:

- The establishment of an independent Citizens Budget Review Commission, where members are selected by community organizations and not Legislators.

- The establishment of 3 high priority goals for each County department. Without agreed upon goals between the County Executive, Legislators and department heads, it is difficult to accomplish anything and to hold people accountable.

- The adoption of an Open Government policy, which would require taking specific steps to make County government operate in a more open and transparent manner.

Not a single legislator expressed an interest or willingness to introduce any of the above resolutions. In fact most don’t even provide the courtesy of acknowledging receipt of my email. Yet meeting after meeting time and effort is spent on resolutions that honor folks or hype “initiatives” that really aren’t.

Oh well, I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

www.reinventinggov.org

About The Author

The definition of reinvent is:to replace with an entirely new version, to make over completely, to recast something familiar or old into a different form.In my opinion we need to reinvent government, business and ourselves. Today’s world is about constant change driven by the power of new ideas.For the past 17 years as an attorney, I have worked in government at the county, city, authority and school district level in the Buffalo, NY area. I have seen first hand the need for reinventing how government operates. For a period of four years, I served as Chief of Staff to the 9 member City of Buffalo Common Council. Government must engage the talents and skills of its citizens by becoming more collaborative and transparent in its decision-making and operations. Utilizing technology as a tool to engage citizens is something all governments need to explore.I have great respect for entrepreneurs as they put their passion into a vision, which results in new products, new services and new jobs. Entrepreneurs are on the front lines of change. As an adjunct college instructor, I see how students and everyone for that matter must continually change and reinvent themselves to survive and be successful in today’s crazy world economy.Some of my favorite change agent writers are Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Gary Hamel and Guy Kawasaki. I welcome the opportunity to meet new people, to further my own learning and to share ideas.On a personal note I am 47 years old, my other half Cheryl is an attorney in private practice and together we have three children, Michael age 20 and Joseph age 14 and our newest shock of an addition Julia, born 11/2/11.