Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 22, 2013

OUR VIEW: Cheers and Jeers

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Cheers: Over the past two to three months there has been a noticeable upswing in the number of welfare fraud arrests announced by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office. Starting with an announcement in February that more than a dozen were arrested for bilking county taxpayers, the sheriff’s office continues to crack down on these cheaters. Investigator Amanda Irons deserves much credit for the arrests, and she’ll be getting some help with the county legislature’s decision last month to create a second welfare fraud investigator post. It’s obvious that the department was looking to generate publicity to get that second post, but there’s another benefit to taxpayers: it will make some people think twice before trying to gain illicit funds.

Cheers: Lockport resident Jonathan Gidley is a shining example of the best of today’s young people. Earlier this week, Gidley received the highest honor to be bestowed on America’s Youth: the Congressional Award Gold Medal. President Reagan describes the award thusly: “By encouraging such personal initiative, achievement, and service, the Congressional Award program promotes the well-being of our children and ensures the welfare of our country.” Established in 1979, Gidley is the first from the Lockport area to win the award. Nice job.

Jeers: Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature still don’t get it. Their so-called tax breaks may be windfalls to the companies that qualify for them, but what about the existing businesses that have put up with the stifling taxes over the years? The latest program “designed” to award companies that move to the Empire State and align themselves with public and private colleges was called “Tax-Free New York.” But now it’s called “Start Up New York;” Cuomo said the enw name is “more descriptive,” while Sen. Jeff Klein, a downstate Democrat who aligns himself with Republicans said the program has “bold and creative ideas.” The only thing bold and creative about it is the boldness used to promote the program and creative way in which it will force more of the state’s financial burden on residents and existing businesses.

Cheers: The Niagara County legislature is hoping to introduce broadband Internet service to rural parts of the county. In the Town of Lockport alone, up to 20 percent of residents cannot get the high-speed service. Most town officials appear interested in getting their residents connected, but one councilman questioned the need for government to get involved. But if not the government, then who? Most businesses are moving too slowly to expand broadband capabilities, and high-speed Internet is becoming increasingly necessary in this high-tech world. Perhaps some government action will give Internet providers a swift kick in the seat of their pants.