Friday, June 4, 2010

Balles or Ball-Less?

“Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”- Unknown

Fire Starter has recently learned that Johnson City Village Board member Rick Balles has decided to run for another term. This came as some surprise as it was rumored that he had decided not to run. Since Rick has decided to throw his hat in the ring again, it may be a good time to examine his record.

As of late, he has given the appearance of being Mayor Dennis Hannon's "separated at birth" twin. No matter how short sighted or idiotic the approach, Rick has been there to support his friend Mayor Hannon.

Balles has supported the excessive litigation and spending on legal bills. He has supported the "reach no settlement" approach to labor disputes and contracts. Difficult issues are deferred to an undetermined future date with the fantastical belief that somehow they will resolve themselves:

Illegal Layoffs

Abuse of Discipline in the Police and Fire Departments

Leaving the Police out of Contract for Over 5 Years

Running up Unprecedented Legal Bills

And Rick has been there all along cheering on mayor Hannon. He claims to be a "forward thinker" but has apparently put no thought into how the Village will pay the layed off fire fighters when they are ordered back to work and owed substantial retroactive pay. Or How the Village will fund 5 years of retroactive pay increases to current and recently retired police officers. Or how a village of Johnson City's size can continue to foot needless legal bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis.

This is not "forward thinking", it is "non-thinking". But this should come as no surprise to those who have followed Balles' career.

The one skill Balles has shown time and again is the ability to throw principle aside in favor of political advantage. Rick always positions himself to come out on the winning side of an issue, regardless of his true beliefs or principles.

Case in point: the "controversial" fire fighter's contract. Who is the only Village Board member to have voted for and against this contract? You guessed it, Rick Balles.

Fire Starter has learned that Balles voted for the contract when it was first voted on July 23, 2007. At that time, a unanimous Board approved the contract with the "controversial" pay increases. However, when the Village re-negotiated a better deal from its standpoint, Balles changed his vote to "no". Why is that? Because by then, Hannon had begun in earnest his campaign of disinformation and Rick was too scared to stand on principle.

And he did it again with the proposed speech policy for Village Board meetings. He initially was in favor of stifling dissent at Board meetings. When the public rose up against the policy, he turned tail and ran. The policy was wrong from the begining, but Balles' instincts were obvious.

Is this the sort of leadership Johnson City needs? Is this any sort of leadership?

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