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August 10, 2009 - 12:39pm

Bill Kauffman speaks in Alfred on localism

posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman, localism.

Yesterday, Sunday, I rode with Batavia native, Elba resident, nationally known author, Bill Kauffman and WNED reporter and Darien resident Jay Moran down to Alfred to hear Bill deliver a speech on localism to a Green Party gathering at the university there. The video is broken into three parts because of YouTube's upload limits. The total runtime is less than 20 minutes.

Next two parts after the jump:

Bea McManis
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Well done, Bill. Totally agree 100%. This is why we gather here to remember the past and speak the names of those gone before us. None of us will ever step foot in many of the local businesses we remember, but someone did. Someone made those businesses flourish. We will never know the inside of Colgrove and Ryan or the Hotel Richmond, but just keeping their names alive keeps the history of Batavia alive. His message is timely. Thanks, Howard for bringing it to us.
Howard B. Owens
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Bea, the goal though, is to look forward -- there are still many great local businesses -- each unique to Batavia in its own way -- that need our support first and foremost; and to keep the spirit of local community alive, get involved, as Bill says, in the local community. Instead of watching "Friends," make friends. Turn of the TV and show up or volunteer at a community event. Glad you liked the videos. Bill's a good speaker backed by wit, knowledge and insight.
Bea McManis
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I understood the goal. I also understood the comment about knowing our history in order to do just that. We can't undo the distruction but we can work toward building our community spirit back (and that includes doing business locally). Without knowing and remembering the history you are bound to repeat the same mistakes.
Charlie Mallow
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I understand and support localism; I just can’t stomach this part that glorifies the existence of more government entities. This mutation puts the Boss Hogs of the world up on a pedestal and tells us they don’t have their own greed at heart. It is the same old path that has lead to our region’s economic decline and makes us uncompetitive. The reason for our decline cannot be the path to its salvation no matter how many eloquent words you wrap it in. Small taxing entities take more from people than they give. They drain the life blood out of us and need to be eliminated like the vermin they are. I would rather have a Wal-Mart on every street corner than a New Town Hall.
Howard B. Owens
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As near as I can tell, Charlie, your regular harping on the need to consolidate small town governments and school boards is a straw man. I've yet to see how there is actually any benefit, outside of theory, to tax payers. Certainly, there's very little evidence of actual cost savings in the Batavia consolidation. And the historical fact remains, biggness equals more costs and more bureaucracy, not less. No if you actually believe in taxpayer savings, then you believe in small governments, not big governments. And if you believe in power to the people, you believe in small governments. As Bill talked about during the Q&A, he (and you and me) have no impact on what goes on in Albany or Washington. But we can make a difference in Elba or Batavia. You like to position this argument as some mindless nostalgia for "Americana," but that cute sounding framing belies that lack of facts to support the push for more and more bigness. The answer to lowering taxes doesn't lie in making bigger governments. It lies in chopping apart the big ones we have. New York should become four or five states, or maybe six with no state capitals.
Bea McManis
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The answer to lowering taxes doesn't lie in making bigger governments. It lies in chopping apart the big ones we have. New York should become four or five states, or maybe six with no state capitals. Then, by that model, why not make each county a state. Or if that is too big, make each city a city-state. While you and Charlie both think you have the right solution, there has to be a middle ground. Both of you are taking it to an extreme. Charlie wants to see a consolidation. Howard wants a state with no government (no capitals). No matter how you slice it, there will still be people leading the pack. Some may be good, others an abomination. I would like to see working models of both concepts and learn how they are faring.
Howard B. Owens
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I think power should devolve to the smallest unit of government possible. Sociology studies show that bigger groups are less cohesive and effective. I've said this before: I advocate taking away the power and state and federal governments to levy taxes. All taxes should be a local decision, with some percentage of taxes beyond the local need being sent upstream to the state and federal governments.
Karen Miconi
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Well Stated Bea. You are a very Politically Intelegent Woman. I like that you look at all points of view, and not just your own. The government needs to do something BIG, to gain back the peoples trust. This is a FREE country, and in it so many different veiws on government. We need to look at the BIG Picture, and CHANGE the way government controls our money. Will it ever change?? Probably Not...
Richard Gahagan
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Nothing will change in WNY until private sector jobs are created and public sector jobs eliminated. WNYers are too dependent on government jobs. http://www.regional-institute.buffalo.edu/Includes/UserDownloads/PublicS...
Karen Miconi
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Big Paying Government Jobs, and Big Government Healthcare Plans need an Overhaul for sure. It is said "You cant fight city Hall" I say YOU CAN.
Charlie Mallow
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Howard, you want me to detail who will lose their jobs? When hell freezes over, don't be silly. Show me how much we save staying on the same course?
Howard B. Owens
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Charlie, it would be perfectly reasonable to point out three or four scenarios, these are how they might play out, what the cost savings (or not) of each, and spell out what the policy decision will be (levels of service vs. cost, etc.) that a new City Council will need to decide. Going forward with consolidation makes no sense unless all of the options are on the table. In the case of Batavia, I'm not per se against consolidation, but without the major cost savings addressed first and foremost, I don't see why anybody, city or town, should support it. It's a major step and a major decision. All of the implications and consequences should be clearly understood. Otherwise, we're just flying in the dark.
John Roach
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To a point, I have to agree with Howard and Councilman Bill Cox. By not addressing the Police and Fire Departments, there is too much unkown about how much we will really save. And so far, most of the "savings" are the State payments. They have to addressed.
Charlie Mallow
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I wouldn't worry about it Howard. Big government is alive and well in little Genesee County.
John Roach
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The fact that the Council voted to table the vote does not mean the end of the world. They were being asked to vote on something nobody on Council had a hand in writing. And there is no real rush. If done right, the new commission will still be able to have a proposal for the public to vote on by Nov. 2011. But without at least the support of 7 out of 9 Council members, then what kind of support would the general public give it?

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