My personal and professional life have been in upheaval due to the hospitalization of my father last week. While we, as a family, were anticipating a hospitalization in the future, last week was not the time we were aiming for such a visit. Yesterday, my father went home for at least one day so I figured I was good to go to listen to and watch both our county executive’s State of the County speech and President Obama’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress.
Unfortunately, I did not get home until about 5:25 for the county speech which started at 5 pm and ran approximately 40 minutes. I have, though, since then read the entire speech. I applaud, even though the speech was not meant as a financial review, County Executive Barbara Fiala’s beginningwith a discussion of the county’s finances. She admits that there is no way to tell what will be forthcoming from federal or state governments so there is nothing to say that the current financial state will not change.
Fiala also spent some time on an area that many living in Broome County believe will bring great savings to both governments and schools – consolidation of services. She announced a reorganization of economic development for the county which is cost neutral. This will also get all marketing and tourism and economic development together so that, not only can it function more efficiently, it may show financial savings in the future. Other consolidation areas that were specifically mentioned by Fiala include law enforcement, tax collection, and payroll.
Prior to discussing accomplishments of the last year, Fiala discuss natural gas production and the Marcellus Shale Formation and the impacts on Broome County. She readily admitted there were both opportunities and challenges in this area but that the county is ready for both.
As 9 pm approached, I saw the main problem with listening to President Obama’s address was going to be my previous weeks’ schedules. I was tired and fading fast. There was no guarantee I was going to remain awake for the entire address. This became more and more of a reality as the pre-president people entired the chamber and the applause was loud and long.
What little I did hear of the Obama speech reminded me a lot of campaign speeches. I did not hear, having fallen asleep, the specifics that were offered. As I have been all along, I am concerned about some of the numbers being quoted from the speech.
While President Obama says that housing help will be targeted to those who are/were responsible, there is no way to do this targeting. There is no way to help just the “responsible” home owner who is in trouble. One reason is that there is no specific definition of responsible. Another reason is that not all people understand where they went wrong so helping or not helping will look skewed to the American people, particularly those who feel they should get help but don’t.
President Obama misspoke when he said we import more oil now than ever. In recent years, oil imports have actually, and are predicted to continue to , declined. This is something that the American people need to know and be applauded for. It is actually an area that may need some research to see how it was accomplished so it can be further implemented.
I am not interested in long term savings or cuts into the deficit which has ballooned in recent years. I would love to hear a president, any president, address just the time he has – four years – and not, at the beginning of his first term, start looking for what can be done in eight years and definitely not what could be done after two terms since the administration will be gone.
I also feel that Obama needs to spend a bit more time understanding what the major difference is between his new “executive branch” position and his former “legislative branch” position. He can suggest cuts in spending. He can suggest getting rid of redundant and fraudulent practices in areas such as Medicare and Medicaid. He cannot force any of these as he is not a legislator.
I also still have a huge issue with the term “create or save” when discussing jobs. There is no way to quantify “saved” jobs. So, please Mr. President, don’t use these numbers in a speech or in any discussion because we can’t be sure you can do that since it is not a quantifiable area.