Libertarians say their message resonates locally, ready to compete in City Council race
"Liberty is local" was a recurring theme of speakers today at the inaugural convention of the Genesee County Libertarian Party.
Some 60 people gathered Homestead Event Center in the Batavia City Centre to ratify the party's charter and nominate the party's first two candidates for office.
Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead will be on the November ballot as candidates for at-large seats on the Batavia City Council.
"The Genesee County Libertarian Party is going to represent trust, transparency and truth," said Phil Ricci, party chairman. "We're not going to tell you what to think. If you disagree with our position, we will try to educate you on why we believe what we believe. The Republicans and Democrats will tell you that we're on the fringe, but we will show people we're on the local level, we're here to represent you."
Guest speakers included Drew Beeman, Greater Rochester Libertarian Party chairman, attorney Paul Wolf (first inset), and Mark Axinn (second inset), chairman of the New York Libertarian Party.
Beeman congratulated the Genesee County Libertarians for coming together with an energy and numbers that is unique to the region.
His group represents all of the counties surrounding Rochester and he said he would welcome more counties breaking way and forming their own parties. It will take that kind of energy, he said, to reverse the trend statewide and in the nation to constrain individual liberty.
"Gary Johnson got 1 percent of the vote," Beeman said. "Are you going to have a Libertarian Party president anytime soon? Probably not. But we could have a Batavia City Council member. We could have a school board member. Liberty is local."
Picking up on Ricci's comment about the propaganda of the major parties to portray Libertarians as on the political fringe, Beeman noted that when you sit down and talk with people about their views of individual liberty, they actually believe what the Libertarian Party believes.
"The Libertarian Party is for people who don't want to push around others nor be pushed around themselves," Beeman said.
Wolf is an expert on reinventing government. He's registered as a Democrat, but Ricci said after reading his Web site, he told him, "No, you're a Libertarian."
There are three themes local Libertarian candidates can run on, Wolf said: That there is too much government, that there is wasteful spending and there is a culture of secrecy.
Wolf was critical of New York's layers of local governments -- villages within towns, authorities and agencies covering overlapping jurisdictions.
Mentioning a consultant's report in the City of Batavia that faulted local residents for having negative attitudes, Wolfe said, "Isn't it funny that the study said it's the attitude of citizens that's the problem. I think it's the attitude of politicians that's the problem."
On wasteful spending, he was critical of the Genesee County Economic Development Center's tax subsidies to COR Development for Dick's Sporting Goods, mocking the perception that the GCEDC board declared Dick's a tourist destination (the board didn't do that). He also questioned the $240,000 Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, earned in 2012.
"This spending is not sustainable and it doesn't make sense," Wolf said.
Government likes to operate with as little transparency as possible, Wolf said. He said he did a study on three years of meeting minutes for his local City Council and found that the council went into secret session at every meeting it held during the three years. Those private sessions lasted an average of 60 minutes, while public sessions lasted an average 54 minutes.
"They're not used to being held accountable, not used to being questioned," Wolf said. "So what you're doing is important."
The message of individual liberty and smaller government appeals to most people, Axinn said, if they're used to pulling levers for Ds or Rs.
"Most people have a live and let live attitude and they need to realize that it works at the government level, too, if they will vote it in," Axinn said.
What is happening in Genesee County for the cause of liberty is important for the whole state, Axinn said.
"We're a small voice in a symphony of bigger government, but the truth is, we're a necessary voice and an important voice and thank you all for being that voice in Genesee County."
In running for City Council, Whitehead said she will hold true to her libertarian values, which includes promoting a business-friendly city and lowering taxes.
"We should be creating an environment that is friendly to business, not crushing it," she said.
"Shouldn't all people be entitled to keep the fruits of their labor," Whitehead said.
Rosenbeck said Libertarians are already making a difference in local politics. The issues have ranged from garbage collection to licensing landlords.
"You will remember, we spoke out to remove the City of Batavia from the garbage tote and trash collection business and they did just that," Rosenbeck said. "Guess what? The sky didn't fall. Somehow everyone's garbage got picked up this week. Freedom and choice is a good thing, my friend."
The Libertarian message opposing retail tax breaks has also resonated with local voters, Rosenbeck said.
"As elections approach in the fall, political insiders will attempt to frame us as a fringe movement," Rosenbeck said. "They will try to marginalize us and dismiss our message. They will patronize us and treat us as if we are just petulant little children. They won't take us seriously because for way too long, it has been all about duopoly. It has been all about two parties defining the message and providing the candidates, but remember we are the voice of reason. Our message resonates in our neighborhoods. We are here, we are engaged and we are on point. It's time to reject the status quo."
Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead
The libertarians speak to a small minority of hard working people who are over taxed, self motivated, under represented and under appreciated. They are type of people who are actually willing to assist and know how help in a crisis. There are so few of them left that it would seem unlikely that they can gain much political traction. The vast majority of voters are focused on some sort program or regulation that will benefit only them and the push for simplified and non intrusive government appears futile.
As for Steve Hyde, he fits squarely into the group that is over taxed and under appreciated. I disagree with the COR giving financial assistance to retail, but who is to say that Steve is overpaid. I hope he can ignore the negative press and hang around to put together more deals like the yogurt plants. He may seem like a real bargain when we lose him.
Steve Hyde's salary and the entire GCEDC is merely a symptom of the disease. The problem, as anyone with any common sense knows is the over-taxation, over-regulation and general intrusiveness of the NY State Government. We are surely in a very difficult place there, there really isn't a whole lot we can do about it, except keep up the fight and encourage groups in other counties to form an organization and help with the campaigns of liberty minded and small government proponent candidates.
Along with identifying redundant areas of our local governments that can be eliminated or consolidated, and looking for better cost-effectiveness everywhere; I know of one solution I will offer that might help immediately as much as tax abatements towards promoting retail stores to locate here. Stop charging the extra 1% sales tax here in Genesee. We would be at least 1% cheaper than the surrounding counties and that should encourage people to come here from outside the local area to shop. Giving up 1.8 million dollars to renovate a retail shopping center and then a week or so later asking NYS to extend the "temporary" (yeah right) 1% sales tax seems rather counter-intuitive to me. If we did that after a while, when there becomes more demand for more retail space, they can build WITHOUT any EDC assistance. Then everybody's tax bill can be reduced, and we can maybe knock another % off the sales tax. Now you have lower sales tax and lower property tax than the surrounding counties and people and businesses will want to move here without incentives, and buy homes thereby helping to solve some of the rental tenant problems as well. Hopefully at the same time, government will be reducing itself as well and taxes will drop even further.
It can happen, but only if you want it to.
Each and every journey begins with a single step.
Steve Hyde's salary is contingent on what (some?/enough?) people agree that he is (worth?).
Don't know the man, never met him, believe he may be some relation to one of my (deceased) fathers' best friends (from LeRoy Hydes'), but could just have the same last name, don't know.
Personally, I think I would put him in the same category as a (preist, minister, rabbi, what-have-you). Or, sports guy, movie actor, radio talk-show host, etc. He markets himself, and the people who believe in him will pay him x-amount of $$. The only difference here is, he is part of a pseudo-gov't agency, so his "salary" is taxpayers money (I'm assuming).
If you don't like a certain actor, singer, priest, etc., then you won't support their "gig". But being on the taxpayers dime, unless you know of a way to 'can' him, you're just stuck with him. It could be he's worth his weight in gold - Guess only time (and mucho $$ from residents) will tell.
My apologies for not saying this earlier. Thank You Howard for coming to our convention and publishing this on your site. We truly do appreciate it and I personally was happy you took a few minutes to visit, as did, I know, others. All of the speakers, Jim, Lisa, Drew, Mark, Paul and Phil were great; on point and interesting. Everyone I spoke with afterwards agreed. Thanks to all who attended.