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New Government Structure

Reform at the County Level?
By Daniel T. Warren
Apr 30, 2006, 20:39
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Is the Erie County Charter Review Commission listening to the people of Erie County?

I was one of the first speakers at the ECCRC December public hearing. I talked about extending the term of office for legislators from two to four years with a two term limit. There were others that spoke and stated that they also wanted term limits. However, on April 7, 2006 at a joint meeting of the Commission's Committee on Form and Scope of County Government and its Committee on Administration and Legislature they resolved to recommend to the full Commission to reject any term limits. According to the minutes of that meeting:

"Mr. Magavern introduced law student Sean Cooney, whose report on term limits is attached to the Notice of this meeting. Mr. Cooney summarized his report. This led to an extended discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of term limits in general and in various specific forms. On motion of Mr. Magavern, seconded by Mr. Duquin, and carried, with Mr. Comerford in the negative, it was resolved to submit to the full Commission a report that will: (1) attach a copy of Mr. Cooney's report; (2) recommend against revision of the Charter to establish term limits and summarize the Committee's reasons for that recommendation; (3) recommend, in the alternative, that if the full Commission should determine to propose term limits, it should propose: (a) term limits of three four-year terms for all elected officers, (b) staggered four-year terms of office for members of the County Legislature, one-half of whom would be elected every two years, and (c) a minimum two-year period out of office before a Legislator becomes eligible to run again."

This combined with the Commission's misguided trip down a "hybrid" form of government route, one has to wonder whether this commission is interested in obtaining passage of any meaningful reform. It has been previously noted that whatever proposed amendments the Commission recommends must pass the Legislature and the voters.

Unlike Congress or the State Legislature committee assignments are not made based on seniority in the Erie County Legislature. The concerns that are present in regards to term limits that are present in Congress is not present at this level. No term limit is not an option. In my opinion the Committee's alternative is better than none at all.


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