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Friday, October 30, 2015

I read with great interest the letter by Ken Genewick urging Lockport voters to vote "Yes" on the referendum to change the job description of the City Treasurer, a referendum, if I am not mistaken, that he coauthored.  The letter was very interesting, to say the least, conflating space travel, fighting wars and invention of the television with the current situation.  Entertaining?  Yes.  Informative?  Not really.

I can agree with Mr. Genewick that many things have changed in the past 100 years.  But Mr. Genewick would have voters believe that within those 100 years the City Charter has become outdated and needs to be changed.  The charter's principles worked 150 years ago and they work today.  It is only with the administration of Mayor Mike Tucker, with its lack of communication with the Treasurer's Office coupled with indiscrete spending, that city finances suffered.  No amendment to the City Charter is going to fix a problem like that.

What is needed to fix those problems is leadership, and sadly the Lockport voters have not gotten that.

The Treasurer's Office has long been understaffed.  A leader would have come in and remedied that
problem, giving that department's employees the resources needed to complete their duties.  The Treasurer's Office needed permanent resources, not temporary agency help, to correct the deficiencies that had accumulated over the years since Mike Tucker was Mayor and to be able to go forward.

But, instead of taking $95,000 of taxpayer money and hiring the clerical help needed, the current Mayor and Common Council decided to use those resources to hire a Director of Finance with duties overlapping those of the Treasurer and accountable only to the Mayor.

So let's get this straight.  To fix a problem of chronic understaffing of the Treasurer's Office the solution has been to fail to staff them, to change the City Charter in order to strip the Treasurer of his duties, then hire a Director of Finance who reports only to the Mayor thus eliminating the checks and balances needed between the fiscal and executive branches of city government, and for good measure to throw the Treasurer under the bus, making him a scapegoat for the city's financial woes.  Is this leadership?


Mr. Genewick's letter would also have voters believe that the current Treasurer is minimally qualified for the position (over 18 years of age and a city resident) and that he is only there because he is well-liked.

This is untrue and meant to mislead you.  He tells us that the city cannot afford to have such a person solely responsible for overseeing the finances of a 33 million dollar operation.  Again, this is misleading.

The Treasurer has never been solely responsible for overseeing the finances.  There were checks and
balances in place to guard against that.  By hiring a Director of Finance accountable only to the mayor we are eliminating those checks and balances and concentrating those powers within the Mayor's Office which is a step in the wrong direction.  The voters should demand more transparency and accountability, not less.  And if you vote "Yes" on the referendum you will be getting less.

I urge everyone to do their homework and vote "No" on Election Day.

-- Molly Ennis is a Lockport resident

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the clarification. I hope all voters read this.


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