By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette — If anyone expected any more out of Niagara County’s Legislator Owen T. Steed than the performance that he has yielded over the last 15 months, then it should be apparent by now that they expected more than what he can give. He is a nice enough guy, but he just doesn’t have what it takes to properly represent his 4th District constituents.
In fact, he may be doing more harm than good for the people whom he is supposed to be championing. After his weak and near capitulating defense of the Democratic elections commissioner, the best thing that I can say about him at this is juncture in his tenure is that at least he didn’t cry when he seemingly hung her out to dry.
If anyone had tuned into LCTV and watched Steed’s performance on the legislative floor during the most recent legislature meeting, then his words and actions, or lack thereof, in the defense of Lora Allen should have felt a flash of embarrassment flood through their bodies.
Like me, Allen is one of Steed’s own constituents, and I believe that he has let her down and certainly know, even though my expectations of him were initially low, that he even let me down.
For those of you who don’t know, here is what happened.
The Niagara County Democrats recently named Allen as their elections commissioner. In fact, Allen is the first black elections commissioner in the county’s history. However right or wrong that the majority caucus might have been, they passed a resolution condemning Allen for not firing her deputy.
With Quixotic resignation, Steed should have lead the fight in her defense, even if the effort would turn out to be nothing more than tilting at windmills.
Instead of Steed defending one of his own constituents, he abandoned that fight to his Niagara Falls colleagues, Legislators Dennis Virtuoso and Jason Zona. They were more like Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, galloping in full charge towards Allen’s accusers, while Steed followed far behind them as if he were Sancho Panza on the back of a slow donkey.
I think that many people would agree that Steed is not up for the fight for his county, city or caucus if he could not even fight for his own constituent.
We know how things went when he demonstrated his fighting spirit when the Office of the Aging closed the Chat ‘n Chew lunch program at St. John’s AME Church, the only such facility that was in his district.
From his apparent belief that landlords do not deserve to receive the rent money that taxpayers give to them through their tenants who receive TANF grants, and through his support of those who have kept the Niagara Community Center closed for all of these years, one has to wonder if Steed really understands his job as a county legislator.
Steed needs to understand that his county job is not like his city job as a community liaison for the city’s police department, whereas his duties seem to be little more than to glad-hand groups and individuals who already respect the police department, such as myself.
As a legislator, it is important that Steed knows that he is required to stand for a district whose members have obviously received very little respect in the past.
Whether Allen was right or wrong, she deserved much more from Steed. It is evident that she did not get it.
Steed’s constituents deserve much more from him, too, and most of them are all still waiting for it. They may have to wait a very long time for it.Contact Ken Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.