Newsmaker of the month: A whole lot of nothing going on

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward Dunkirk Common Council.

A letter writer posed an interesting point last week in a commentary in this newspapers regarding Dunkirk Common Council: “Taxpayers have the right to know what the Common Council achieved during the year 2020 for the betterment of the city.”

In a municipality that has a population of 12,000 residents, you could make the case that for all the bickering and debate that occurred over the 12-month period did anything occur positively that improved the lives of those paying for services.

Sure, the council axed a couple of positions, reduced the salary of another.

But in the end, it was the same old government representation that the region — and Chautauqua County — has come to expect. Just more of the status quo.

Let’s face it. Those elected are not trying to improve the communities in which we live. They are just trying to keep a flawed two-century system in place.

Over the last year when the world faced a pandemic and a number of job losses due to the virus, government was untouched. Yes, they continued to provide all the necessary items we expect –policing, fire, emergency, water and sewer — but nothing out of the ordinary.

In fact, most governments — due to worries over finances — are expecting residents to pay more at a time when uncertainty remains even though a vaccine for COVID-19 is being offered.


¯ Dunkirk raised its tipping fee and sewer fees to users this year.

¯ Chautauqua County raised property taxes.

¯ Fredonia passed a budget that most of the trustees did not understand.

– Other area towns and villages raised property taxes during the downturn.

Bluntly put: government is not here to help its residents. It best functions when helping itself by fortifying what it has — no matter what the cost to those it serves.

Many residents here like to blame outsiders, especially those in Albany and Washington, for the problems right in our own back yard. What they forget is how stubborn they themselves are.

If government is so bad elsewhere, why do we consider our locals to be such a good model? Last week’s letter questioning Dunkirk Common Council was right on the money — especially when we look at the bigger picture countywide.

What exactly is better for those who live here today than even five years ago with our municipalities? If you cannot name one example within 20 seconds than the answer is obvious.

Nothing has changed.


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