January 7, 2005

Etna fire coverage, schools out yesterday

Today's Ithaca Journal provides more information on the Etna fire coverage agreement that was discussed at Tuesday's Town Board meeting. The article looks at the agreement between the four Dryden fire departments as well as the new Mobile Response Vehicle that Dryden Ambulance is keeping on the west side of town on weekdays.

An article on yesterday's snow day talks to Dryden Superintendent Mark Crawford as well as a number of Dryden parents about how they dealt with school and childcare closings.

An article on plans for a SUNY tuition hike notes that it wouldn't affect TC3.

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is quoted in an article about some legislative process reforms the Assembly and Senate passed yesterday:

"The 14 new rules that have been agreed upon, so far, by both sides of the aisle will make for greater openness, transparency and involvement of rank-and-file Assembly members, and will also lead to more involvement on the part of the public and greater trust as well."

Interestingly, on empty-seat voting, an issue I wrote Lifton and Senator James Seward about, the chambers' decisions mirror the responses I received. Lifton opposed the practice, and the Assembly got rid of it yesterday. (At least they're requiring members to be present. The article doesn't say if fast roll-call voting is also disappearing.) Seward defended the practice (with badly misleading claims, I'd say) and the Senate left it alone.

The Senate did reduce the number of committee assignments for Senators and add additional time for floor debates. The Assembly adds more time to introduce bills, makes it easier for bills to reach the floor for a vote, adds a Tuesday session, and bars lobbyists from a hallway outside the chamber.

It's an improvement, certainly, but I can't help but think the chambers are doing as little as they can to claim that they're providing much asked for reform. The article notes that the Senate and Assembly leaders retain their immense power over staffing, and I'll be curious to see how much these changes affect the flow of legislation, especially in the Senate, where bills can still be easily blocked. It's probably time for another letter to our representatives. (The Assembly changes, in addition to doing more, were endorsed by both parties; the Senate changes were just the Republicans doing what they see fit.)

Update: The New York Times (registration required) has more on empty-seat voting, including discussion of the Assembly and Senate actions and coverage of the rally yesterday. (I wanted to go, but the weather... oh well.)

The Journal's editorial looks at the challenges facing the County Legislature, including emergency communications, the decline of US Airways and potentially our airport, the state's slashing of the county jail capacity, and continuing state pressure on county budgets. It notes that two Dryden legislators hold committee chairmanships - Martha Robertson at Health and Human Services and Michael Lane at Government Operations.

Posted by simon at January 7, 2005 7:53 AM in , , , , , ,
Note on photos