Every so often, a motivated and bright person comes along convinced they can solve New York's ills.
It doesn't take long for them to generate dozens of very good ideas that are praised effusively by the powers that be - and are promptly forgotten.
This year's motivated fixer of New York's problems is Mike Hein, Ulster county executive and the brains behind PayGo NY, a movement to engage county, town, village and school district officials. Hein has led forums and discussions around the state to find ways to find solutions to problems faced by local leaders, with a particular interest in identifying great ideas blocked by bureaucratic or regulatory hurdles. Sometime this fall, Hein plans to make a report to local and state leaders with the tour's findings.
It is a worthy and noble effort - albeit an effort similar to ones we have all seen before from such groups as the New York State Association of Counties and New York Conference of Mayors.
We note particularly the 2008 Report of the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness. Area residents might know it by its informal name, the Lundine Commission, named after Stan Lundine, an area resident who has served as mayor of Jamestown and as lieutenant governor of New York state. The commission made dozens of worthy recommendations, such as empowering the state education commissioner to order school consolidation, facilitating consolidation of back office services and regional high schools, requiring minimum employee contributions for health insurance, enabling multiple counties to share functions like weights and measures and health directors or encouraging justice court consolidation. Five years after the report's release, many of these recommendations have yet to get off the ground.
Experience has taught us New Yorkers are great at throwing out suggestions and identifying problems. New Yorkers are great at saying the right things. It's doing the right things that have been tough going.
We applaud Hein for his efforts, but we should all need to see some concrete results before we get too excited.