The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) has an important public mission. Thousands of people (many of them low-income) depend on the NFTA for bus and train transportation service.

The Buffalo News has an amazing article about a recent meeting where a discussion took place about fixing a broken escalator at an NFTA subway station. The simple issue of fixing an escalator which has been broken for four months shows government at its worst:

– How is it that an escalator at probably the busiest station in the Buffalo subway system has been broken for four months?
– Normal bidding procedures are not being followed in awarding a $332,000 contract on the basis that the repair is an emergency
– One board member abstained from voting due to his business relationships, then asked to vote “no”
– Board members shouting at each other with one stating to a fellow member “I am sick of you”
– A member walking out, which prevented a board meeting from taking place due to a lack of quorum

An escalator broken for four months and counting is but a symbol of a government agency at its worst. While board members concern themselves with patronage jobs, government contracts and jockeying for political power, average citizens suffer. I endured similar pathetic meetings as General Counsel to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. Some how the politicians who nominate/appoint board members are rarely held responsible for the damage such board members unleash. It is a vicious circle of self interest at the public’s expense.

What do you think about all of this escalator drama?

www.reinventinggov.org