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Our speaker this morning was Steve Levy. While in office he pushed very hard to reduce costs and while he was sometimes successful, he often was not. The tide and pull of forces on an executive are difficult to overcome. Vested interests have a way of wearing down your efforts.
This valuable experience has made him come to the conclusion there needed to be a new approach. Perhaps it is better to be outside of government in order to effect change. Levy has embarked on an effort to counter the forces that perpetuate the inefficiencies that make living here so costly.
He has assembled an array of Long Island leaders that is impressive. None of those he mentioned are presently in public office. They are owners of formidable businesses and respected organizations. The formal name of the organization is "Center for Government Savings". Mr. Levy discussed several situations that he felt were good places to start. One of them was a fire district, Gordon Heights. That fire district has a cost that averages $1500 per household. Bureaucracies once entrenched are difficult to get rid of. They’re many people in that fire district that want to consolidate with another near-by district, and those that benefit directly want it to continue. Changing things means having the foot-soldiers canvassing the neighborhood, informing the people of a better option, and signing petitions.
Another example he gave is a water district in Farmingdale with its own bureaucracy. Each of these fiefdoms have there own administrators being paid over a hundred thousand dollars for a part-time job, a job where little work needs to be done. Levy poses the question of "why not take these small, but egregious examples and marshal the resources of many communities"; including "good government" groups and solve one problem at a time.
As successes mount up, bigger problems will be addressed. When asked about school consolidations Levy felt that item was a big fish, better left to when the group matures. The MTA tax will be revisited and completely removed, but that is down the road as well.
In the meantime much thought and preparation has been started. An arrangement to have the group headquartered at Tauro Law School will be conducive to having law students volunteer their time getting real-life credits and guiding the efforts of the various organizations.
LIMBA will work with Mr. Levy and provide an update in about six months. Steve can be reached at Steve@commonsensestrategies.com