Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jamestown and Governor Cuomo

The smell of coffee woke me up this morning.
I glanced at the clock, it was 5:30am.  Just enough time to shower and dress before my friend Dan would arrive for our trip to Jamestown.
It didn't take long to finish two mugs of coffee.  I hit the computer to print out a few things the shop would need for the day.  Our first order of cupcakes would arrive while I was gone.  I needed a poster to put on the wall letting folks know.  I, also, needed to print the cheese order I placed last night.
I went downstairs.  The halls are empty at that hour.  I dropped my coat and purse on a sofa in the lobby. walked down to the shop to leave the poster and order.  I left a few notes for those who would be working, then back to the lobby to wait for Dan.
He was right on time.
Our first order of business on this snowy morning was a quick stop at Wilson Farms for a coffee for the road.  Then we gassed up and we were on our way.
It wasn't really snow.  It was more like rainy sleet that hit the windshield leaving a thin film of ice.
That rainy sleet was with us from Batavia to just beyond Depew.  Then, we had great road conditions for most of the trip.
At 8am, just as we were approaching the toll booths after the free section of the thruway, I called Nick.
Nick was coming in from the east.  He was just passing Batavia, which meant he was about 35 minutes behind us.
As we approached Fredonia, the snow started in ernest.  We stopped, just outside, of Jamestown for more coffee.  Nick had closed the gap, he was in Mayville. 
Then, Dan and I got lost.  Not seriously lost, but we had to call a friend of Dan's who came to rescue us and lead us to our destination.  Nick, in the meantime, got ahead of us and was warm and snuggly inside while we were in a line (outdoors) waiting to enter the building.

It was well worth the wait. 
Governor Cuomo's speech was uplifting and brutally honest:
"We need literally a transformation plan for a new New York and we have four principles that will guide our new government.
  1. we want a government that pays for performance. No more blank checks.
  2. we want a government that actually gets results in real time.
  3. we want a government that puts the people first and not the special interests first. 
  4. we want a government that is an icon for integrity where New Yorkers can be proud of their government once again."
He spoke about the bloat that has dragged New York State down for years:
"We must transform our state government. The last time the state government was reorganized was 1927 under Gov. Al Smith. 1938 a reform was passed, a constitutional amendment, that said there could be only 20 executive departments – 20 - so what has happened since then. Well we couldn't create any more departments but the law didn't say anything about creating councils, advisory panels, working groups, facilities, offices, task forces, institutes, boards and committees. So what do we now have?
The Department of Health, only one department in compliance with the law, however there are 87 other organizations that have been added to the Department of Health, 46 councils, 6 committees, 17 boards, 6 institutes, 2 task forces, 5 facilities; it's time to organize the government make it professional make it efficient make it effective."

There will be no more blank checks for schools:
"When it comes to Education funding, as I mentioned earlier we're number one in spending but thirty-four in terms of results, that has to change.
The current education funding goes out by formula grants, meaning there are no performance incentives in the grant process.
A school district gets their numerical formula and that's what they're going to get, whether they do a good job, a bad job, it doesn't matter; they get the same level of funding every year.
The federal government is actually more innovative in this area. They're doing it now in the area of education where they run competitions, and for example, when they fund a state government, if the state government wants to qualify for the federal money they have to win the competition.
We know in New York how effective those competitions were in making the state government actually move and pass a piece of legislation authorizing charter schools so we could qualify for the Race to the Top money.
Competition works.
When I was in the federal government ten years ago, we moved from block grants to competitive grants. Everything was performance grants, because when you just give people cash with no results, you take the incentives out of the system."

The Governor spoke about the corruption in state government and his plan to clean it up:
"We will propose a clean up Albany plan with real reform. This is not going to be a situation where the people of the state will have suffered for years and lost trust and now were going to give them a watered down or half baked ethics reform bill. They're going to have real ethics reform. Were going to end pay to play. We're going to have full disclosure of outside income."

What impressed me?
I'm cynical enough to expect that someone in office will change their perspectives and goals.  Governor Cuomo proved that he is true to his word.  His speech, while specific to the state of the State of New York, echoed the goals he proposed at the Rural Democrats Conference in Niagara Falls this summer.  He is doing what he promised. 

We had a safe trip home.  The snowflakes danced by the car almost the entire way.  I had just enough time to catch a little nap before Dan arrived to take us to the Genesee County Democratic Committee meeting at L.B. Grand in LeRoy. 

All in all, it was a great day!