Fewer legislators, more results

For more than eight months, history has been taking place very quietly in Mayville. Without a lot of fanfare, 19 county legislators are doing the work that was previously being done by 25.

By all indications, the workload for the 19 has not greatly increased. But what has decreased is the political nature the 25-member Legislature once represented.

Before January, it seemed the Legislature was more interested in politics than it was in getting the job done. February’s meeting changed all that.

In one of the most monumental decisions made by this legislative body in a decade, the sale of the Chautauqua County Home was approved. It was not a vote on party lines, but a vote based on where legislators called home.

One of those legislators who voted “no” to the sale did not overwhelmingly reject it. Legislator Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk, was quoted on a WDOE “Viewpoint” program in the winter in which he said if the sale did not happen, the value of the property would continue to decrease for potential buyers.

His “no” vote was all about representation. Those in his district, where the Home is located, were against the sale.

He stuck to his word – as did the others in the region who voted “no.” In the end, just enough votes that were needed for the sale were received – 13.

Since then, the Legislature’s meetings have been all business – though a lot of it has been fairly mundane. There has also been some disagreement, and not always along party lines, which is a good thing.

Consider recent contract approvals. Many Republicans voted yes, but there were others who voted no.

Forestville’s bailout was nearly unanimous, with only Legislator Lisa Vanstrom of Ellicott voting “no.”

We also have not heard the parroting of excuses dealing with “state mandates.” This group is taking, as it always should, responsibility and accountability for its actions.

So – for the first time in a long time – this corner cannot state the Legislature has had another year of no accomplishments. This year, with fewer lawmakers, there has been a tremendous change.

Now comes the next hurdle. County Executive Vince Horrigan will soon be presenting this group with a proposed budget. It will be his first.

Can this Legislature manage to keep the budget within the “tax cap” guidelines? Can this Legislature take an even bigger step to reduce taxes?

Time will tell. But it seems 25 in Mayville meant gridlock. Nineteen, for the time being, is getting the job done.

Unflattering ranking

What National Football League crowd drinks the most? According to Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal This Morning, after visiting all 32 NFL stadiums in 2013 author Sean MacDonald proclaimed that notoriety goes to those who attend games in Orchard Park.

“As you can probably guess, Bills fans are the drunkest I witnessed on my trip,” he wrote in the book.

In “Ultimate Football Road Trip,” MacDonald says the fans are spilling beer and moving around far too often once inside the stadium.

This distinction has apparently not hurt ticket sales.

Team officials this week reported 46,000 season tickets had been sold for the home schedule that begins next week. That is an increase from last year.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.