With the end of 2010 less than one week away, it is time for the OBSERVER to look back on the newsmakers for the past 11 months. They are events, people and decisions - decisions that sometimes leave people shaking their head and wondering what happened to common sense.
The following is a recap of the monthly issues and a portion of this newspaper's opinion.
JANUARY - One more reason 25 county lawmakers is too many. "For some who serve, it is doing what is in their best interests," we wrote.
FEBRUARY - Team effort gets tall order of fighting Masonic Temple building fire in Dunkirk under control. "The reality - and lesson - from the major fire is this: there was no boundary in a time of emergency. All those who were needed from across the county showed up. All are members of the Chautauqua County Fire Department. They live in Dunkirk. They live in Mayville. They even live in Ashville."
MARCH - Support grows for freezing wages in public sector. "The overwhelming majority of state and local government employees were insulated from the worst recession since the Great Depression," the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle editorial said. "That's because at least 70 percent of them were protected by union contracts."
APRIL - Brocton's merger opponents who teach. "All voters should go back and ask those district employees who were key players in the 'Save Our School' (anti-merger) campaign if they are willing to go without a raise next school year or if they have any ideas to ease this unfair pain (of tax hikes and program reductions) on district students and residents? Their answer to each question will likely be consistent with their sentiments of last December: 'No.' ''
MAY - State has no say in local contracts. "Public wages are one of the major factors driving taxes up in Chautauqua County. Those contracts are not negotiated in Albany - they are negotiated right here - by our representatives elected to oversee our villages, towns, counties and schools."
JUNE - County Executive Greg Edwards' potential impact of being a state lieutenant governor candidate. "We would rather hear our county executive talk about ways to spend less than tell us about the woes the county is facing from New York state."
JULY - School teacher unions protect salaries, not jobs in latest contracts. "These contracts (in the Dunkirk and Westfield school districts) - approved as the nation comes out of a recession and the state continues in a major fiscal crisis - prove once again that in public-sector unions, it's never one for all and all for one. It's really all about keeping the ones at the top 'happy' even if 'it's terrible' those at the bottom - or the most recent hires - are losing their jobs."
AUGUST - In tough times, federal funds flow to area. "Some staff members who have been laid off in past years have been brought back to work, thanks in part to these grants or from stimulus dollars in 2009. But to keep throwing (federal) money to allow for more positions in our schools is not the answer."
SEPTEMBER - Can Andrew Cuomo ignore Carl Paladino? "Other polls continue to show a 2-to-1 advantage or a 16-point lead for the Democratic favorite. ...The Paladino train (has been) picking up steam. Lazio tried to ignore it, which worked greatly to Paladino's advantage."
OCTOBER - Don't worry if you're a county legislator, be happy. "What accomplishments for business can county lawmakers, especially those in attendance at (the annual Chamber of Commerce) event, point to? Have legislators been business friendly over the past decade? Have they reached out to business and reduced taxes? Have they cut county spending? Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is a resounding 'No.'
NOVEMBER - Only inflation coming from our government. "So while the public sector continues to fatten its pockets - with no regret whatsoever - those who are longtime and loyal taxpayers collecting Social Security will go without an annual increase in their pay once again.
"Where is the fairness in that?"