In an incredible example of partisan childishness, the Democrats on the Erie County, NY county legislature looked a gift horse in the mouth, then publicly berated said horse’s owner until he rescinded the gift.
The big picture: Erie County budget cuts chopped funding for many smaller cultural organizations. A private foundation tried to save the cultural groups, using private money. The foundation representative presenting the proposal to the legislature was publicly grilled and insulted. Said proposal was scrapped a day later, and the organization is distributing the money without the ‘help’ of a legislature more intent on scoring political points rather than actually helping the groups they SAY they want to help.
The current Erie County Legislature is made up of 9 Democrats and 6 Republicans. The county executive submits a budget, and the legislature can choose to add or delete items. The county executive can veto additional expenses, but not decreases. The legislature can override the vetoes with a 2/3 vote (10 needed for override).
Executive Chris Collins (R), submitted a budget that funded only the ‘big 10’ cultural groups. The Democrat-controlled legislature decreased funding for several items that Collins funded, then added back funding for much of these cultural cuts. Collins vetoed all increases, and the legislature did not have the 10 votes to override.
In comes the O’Shei foundation, an evil, rich mostly lily white private group that has done nothing but bad things for western New York. OK, maybe NOT. Robert Gioia, President of the O’Shei group, got wind of these budget cuts back in October. He reportedly approached County Executive Collins with a proposal for a 400 K / 100K private/public funding of these culturals. He then approached Democrat legislators Lynn Marinelli with the same plan. When the county budget process still did not provide any funding for these culturals, Gioia presented his proposal to the Republican caucus of the legislature. This time, Gioia was successful, and he was invited to publicly present this proposal to the full legislature. What happened then was simply unbelievable.
Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams showed up late to the meeting and missed Gioia’s initial presentation. Miffed that she knew nothing about this GIFT to the public trough, she grilled, berated and insulted Mr. Gioia. Let me put it another way. Evil, rich white people were trying to GIVE money for the public good, and Ms. Miller-Williams was unhappy because Democrats did not get to take credit for saving the day.
Mr. Gioia and the O’Shei Foundation sent a letter to the legislature the next day, taking back their proposal. They will be distributing the foundation’s money as THEY see fit, without the legislature getting to politicize any of it.