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|Tuesday, January 4, 2021||
hundred and thirty years ago, the people of this region and all
Speaking to more than 250 students, elected officials and community members at Westmoreland High School, Griffo called for reforms at all levels of government and a reduction in the size and scope of costly programs such as Medicaid.
Speaking directly to the students at Westmoreland as well as those at Remsen and New York Mills viewing the speech live on the BOCES Distance Learning Network, Griffo said: “Today, in New York State, you are living in an unprecedented time when people have lost confidence in their government, and have turned away from it instead of trying to fix it. The cost of that disconnect is draining their bank accounts dry. There is a lesson here. When the people who hold the power in a democracy do not use it, government drifts out of control. Democracy functions when citizens take an active, aggressive role. It is not a spectator sport.”
“Today, I ask you and all of
Griffo said he reform-oriented agenda calls for every level of government to make its top mission to reduce its size and scope.
called on the state Legislature to pass legislation for a constitutional
convention, which would then face voter approval. He also called for the
state to give New Yorkers the power of initiative and referendum. “
Griffo called for a state takeover of Medicaid, or at the very least a cap to limit county costs. Medicaid is projected to cost $63 million in the county budget for 2005 and could balloon to more than $100 million by 2009. He also said that the county would seek to join existing lawsuits alleging drug companies overcharge Medicaid, unfairly increasing its costs.
also called for a reduction in Medicaid benefits, noting that drugs such as
Viagra must be paid for under federal rules. “In 2003, Medicaid patients
“Benefits exist for the needy, not the greedy. If anyone thinks they can just walk into Oneida County and start running up a tab, they need to think twice,” Griffo said, announcing that he would build upon existing anti-fraud efforts to increase time Social Services workers spend fighting fraud, even if that means reducing hours when new cases can be opened.
also announced that
To reduce the cost of government, Griffo said changes are needed both in county government and in other local governments.
Griffo’s plan calls for:
Exploring the creation of a “Community
Services” Department to bring together many human
· Creating fiscal and programmatic performance goals in every department, with increased internal audits by the Comptroller’s office to identify poor-performing programs and areas where new policies are needed to improve operations.
· Studying and implementing a federal government model to create a competitive bidding process in which private sector businesses would have increased opportunities to bid on work now done in county departments.
· County charter reform to streamline operations and eliminate red tape.
· Moving the budget adoption date from November to December, as is done in Herkimer and Madison counties, to better adjust to late state and federal budgets.
· Creating an easier-to-understand county budget format.
· Implementing an early retirement program, if it saves the county money.
· Adopting video arraignments
“Change must cut across all levels of government to provide real relief,” Griffo said. “No one would impose on anyone our current patchwork of village, town, city and county governments along with special taxing districts, school districts and authorities. It is wasteful, inefficient and creates a system filled with barriers to cooperation. Even when we all are trying to do the right thing, it is a waste of money we no longer have.”
Noting his personal opposition to “Big Government,” Griffo called for regional restructuring of government “in high-cost, essential areas such as law enforcement and public works to determine whether these are better done at the highest or lowest levels of government, as long as they do not continue at every level.”
In other issues, Griffo said:
· Regional unity is vital to winning the expected effort to protect Rome Lab from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. “Winning the fight for the Lab is our major challenge for 2005. Instead of focusing on small issues that divide us politically or geographically, we need a unified stand that sends the right message to BRACC,” he said. “Our efforts must develop an urgency and unity so that we can tell our story to the right people in the right way. “
He hopes an agreement between
· He will continue to play an active role through litigation in the courts and lobbying state officials in the effort to bring the right ownership to Vernon Downs so that the track can once again be a premier attraction.
· Aggressive action will be undertaken to speed up development of the new Griffiss Airfield, and that action will be taken in 2005 to formally designate Griffiss as the county airport, once work is completed, and ramp up planning for the current Whitestown airport.
Griffo said the effort to become a part of
the regional CENTRO system is moving forward, but cautioned that “ without
CENTRO, mass transit in
Griffo called for
an Oneida County College Council “ so that we can take full advantage of the tremendous resources our
colleges bring to our county and help develop an ongoing process of economic
and community visioning that can keep our region focused on the future.”
The Oneida County Council on Sports, Fitness and Health will be created to develop programs for exercise and nutrition that can be adapted by schools and agencies that work with young people, as well as programs for older adults.
have to make a stronger commitment to the environment, to embrace all the
assets we have in the county,” Griffo said. “Through a combination of a
county-supported environmental planning efforts, local partnerships and
service learning projects for our youth, we can develop stronger and more
also recognized several area residents, including NHL star Rob Esche for his
efforts on behalf of local children; Jimmy Joseph of the Wheelchair Curling
Team from Utica, who is representing the United States in the World Curling
Championships; Frank Gaetano, who just retired from County Government after
years of outstanding service running the print shop and who was cited by
Griffo for his outstanding can-do spirit; and Donna Beckett, Carol Sweet,
Lori Dutcher, and Lynda Mallabar of our Department of Social Services, who
used their own time to plant flowers and beautify the Oneida County Office