Place a blindfold over your elected officials and give them a proposed budget. It would be just as effective as what takes place right now. Few comments, little discussion and no questions. In the end, those budgets continue to feed the beast of bloated governments and school districts.
Stephanie Kiyak no longer wanted a part of it.
On Tuesday afternoon, City Hall was buzzing after the councilwoman at-large turned in her resignation. Her statement said only, "I've served my community to the best of my ability. I need to step down at this time."
Longtime local political followers are quick to point out she was not capable due to the fact she has only lived in Dunkirk for about five years. We believe just the opposite: it is why she was very capable.
Kiyak had no loyalties to anyone or anything. It is a much different situation than what we currently see on our many school and municipal boards.
She was not tied to the city or any of its workers. She just sought answers. Which is why at one of her last meetings she attended - a city finance committee meeting - her frustrations had reached the limit.
"Everything is an emergency," she said on July 28. "We wait until the last minute and they go ahead and they just plow through and do what they want to do because 'it's an emergency.' All the rules and everything else just go out the window."
One of the toughest things for any person to do - elected or serving on a board of directors - is to go against the majority. To make a point that upsets the applecart.
Kiyak had been doing that. And because she actually questioned current policies and dealings, she was the bad guy. Questioning was making things tough.
How wrong this attitude is.
City government costs $22 million. It serves 12,000 residents. That is a very high cost that has led to the demise of a region. In payroll alone in 2013, the city spent nearly $10 million. Add in benefits and compensation for personnel totals nearly $14.5 million.
There is not much left for anything else.
Kiyak, as a person who is not a lifelong resident, knows how ridiculously high the tax burden is here. She has lived elsewhere - places where the problems are more about population gains and where is a community going to develop because it is running out of room.
She made a choice to serve Dunkirk in an attempt to change a regional culture that allows government to dictate, not work for its citizens. It became so frustrating, she had no other choice.
Said councilwoman Stacy Szukala: "I think her heart is in the right place and I think she let the things that have continued to happen, business as usual, get to her, because there's so many things she has tried to change and we have tried to change as a council and those things just keep happening."