May 9, 2007

Honoring Cam Viall

Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk reports on the Dryden Grange's giving Cam Viall their Grange Community Service Award. The mother of 10 children, Viall helped run a variety store, has been active in the American Legion Auxiliary, and worked as an election inspector. The Grange also honored the "My Brother's Keeper" quilt group for their work in making 2200 quilts (supplemented with supplies) for Cortland and Syracuse rescue missions.

This Saturday will be busy, as Wakeman reports on the bike safety rodeo from 9:00am to 11:00am at Dryden Elementary school, and a Boy Scouts barbecue at Clark's. The Dryden Middle School/High School art show will be next week, opening at 5:00pm on Tuesday, and the "Hearts of Gold Worship Dance Team" will visit Holy Cross Church on George Road next Saturday the 19th.

There's a report on the many problems with Empire Zones (and Industrial Development Agencies) across the state. Dryden's two zones are too new to be included, and I really hope the Tompkins County board learns from these problems elsewhere.

On the opinion page, Joe Laquatra of Freeville calls for Vice-President Cheney's impeachment.

The Journal's editorial wades into the minefield of government consolidation, citing the potential for 10% savings on local government based on a study comparing Long Island to Northern Virginia.

It's hard to express what's wrong with this editorial briefly, but here's a short attempt:

  • The headline talks about "a cheaper form of doing business". Government and business have painfully different priorities.

  • They're startled by the difference in the number of levels of government between Virgina and Long Island, but don't start to ask why.

  • Worse, they don't pause to ask whether Long Island's ideal government structure looks anything like the right structure for an isolated college city surrounded by more rural areas.

  • Even when they list the government structures in Tompkins County, they don't stop to ask if they're appropriate.

  • They don't pause to ask what the costs of consolidation will be, except for "letting go of some local control". "Letting go" is not exactly a neutral phrase in this context.

  • They stay at the nice happy abstract level, completely dodging all of the hard questions of which things get consolidated and why.

Just to address that last hard question in a specifically Dryden context:

  • Should the Dryden school district consolidate with the Ithaca School District? Or possibly the Cortland District? Or should Tompkins County have one school district for the whole county? (Should all counties go to a single district?)

  • Alternately, should schools run on a town-by-town basis, with Dryden taking in the whole Town of Dryden and shedding its territory outside of the town?

  • Should the Villages of Dryden and Freeville dissolve into the Town of Dryden?

  • Should the Town of Dryden dissolve into Tompkins County?

  • What happens to all of the water and sewer districts?

  • Should the McLean Fire District, which crosses town boundaries, be dissolved, and its responsibilities handed to the towns?

None of these are fun questions. I'm sure there are a few rootless people who don't care much what shape government takes, but I don't think making any of these changes is as simple as promising a 10% property tax reduction.

Posted by simon at May 9, 2007 12:21 PM in , , ,
Note on photos


KAZ said:

I think Dryden CS consolidating with Ithaca isn't in the cards, but there has been talk over the past few decades about Newfield/Ithaca, Newfield/Odessa-Montour (which of course was once Odessa and Montour Falls pre-consolidation), and Dryden/Groton, among others. Of course the article is simplistic, but the issue is not simple at all. At least they got us talking about it.

Mary Ann said:

Interesting. I've been drafting an article for Dryden Democrats looking at the differences between the Town of Red House with 38 people and the Town of Hempsted with 756,000 people. And, closer to home, the differences between Cortland County with 15 towns averaging 2,000 people each and Tompkins County with nine towns averaging 7,400 people (Town of Dryden has 13,500 people).

I haven't seen the print copy of the IJ consolidation article. But I imagine it's a Gannett News Service article - not a local reporter. It would be a good thing for a local reporter to pick up.