Niagara Gazette

September 22, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Lewiston looking for real leadership

By Paulette Glasgow
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — In his best-selling book, Lee Iacocca asks, where have all the leaders gone? To be honest, these past four years have asked myself that same question as I observe the actions and inactions of the Lewiston Town Board. The recent state and federal investigations at town hall scream one thing, there’s a desperate need for change. I have watched as town board members treat their tenure as if contestants on “Let’s Make A Deal.” Either bartering away public money in order to make deals or sitting silently by doing and saying nothing while deals are bartered.

These past four years we have seen a town board that has yearly voted us deeper and deeper into debt. We have seen a town board that spends hundreds of thousands of public dollars in a wasteful and ridiculous manner. We have seen a town board who has failed to comprehend the real needs and priorities of the community it serves. And we have seen a town board that has shown an ineptness and complacency with regard to the criminal activity happening under their noses.

Leadership is a quality that is natured. It’s a quality that exists within and only surfaces in time of need. Leadership can’t be sold as if it were an item in a store. Money doesn’t create leadership. It is the actions of the individual that makes a leader. Leadership is how an individual responds to a problem and the solutions they present to solve that problem. Leadership is being intellectually curious and informed. Leadership is comprehending the duties of your office so that you can use those duties to better serve your community.

Leadership is taking the time to listen to people and hear their opinion. Leadership is about giving a voice to the voiceless by proposing ideas that benefits an entire community. Leadership is about protecting the public’s property and spending their money wisely. Leadership is about knowing and fulfilling your fiduciary responsibility. And fiduciary responsibility shouldn’t evoke the idea of penny pinching the bottom line but understanding that you have been entrusted with a legal, moral and ethical responsibility to be accountable not only for your actions but the actions of others. Leadership is about showing gravitas when making decisions. And finally, leadership is about showing courage and integrity to correct wrongdoing and unethical behavior especially if you’re an officer of the court or a law enforcement officer.

Part of leadership is to be accountable for one’s actions or inactions.

Passive negligence is negligence due to inaction, omission or failure to do something you are legally obligated to do. On taking the oath of office an individual agrees to administer all the responsibilities associated with that office. Part of those responsibilities is to ensure public property and money is overseen, managed and spent wisely. For years, Lewiston residents have publicly commented on the wasteful spending and questionable activity under federal and state investigation. Did any of these gentlemen fulfill their fiduciary responsibility? Where they intellectually curious enough to investigate? And on discovering wrongdoing did they display the courage, integrity and gravitas to correct the problem?

Certain members of the town board are attempting to convince residents they aren’t responsible for the wasteful spending or inaction when informed that public property was being used for personal gain. Iacocca notes when someone comes trying to convince of this, watch out.

We must all obey the great law of change, Edmund Burke wrote, it is the most powerful law of nature. Change, especially fundamental change, is always painful but in order to move forward and face new challenges it must be initiated. What these past four years have shown is Lewiston’s yearning for change.

Paulette Glasgow is a resident of Lewiston.