Politicians should not vote to give themselves a pay raise. This is a fundamental principle enshrined in our constitution in the 27th Amendment. It allows members of Congress to vote to increase the pay of the NEXT Congress, but NEVER for themselves. Our founders sought to protect against the obvious corrupting influence of money in politics, a principle we struggle with to this day.
In the 2019 Cicero Town Budget, 3 members of the town board voted to give themselves pay raises (see pages 2 through 4). Over the last 5 years, our Town Board gave councilors a 2% pay increase each year, but also gave the Supervisor a staggering 21% pay increase with our tax dollars.
We should amend our town code to prevent this from ever happening again by simply adopting a measure that says no salary increase shall take effect until an election has occurred. This allows the voters to decide whether they agree with the increase by voting out anyone who voted for it. It also ensures that our Town Board members serve the community and not themselves.
We need to re-prioritize our budget. For too long now we have seen taxes go up without any improvement in basic services, such as our roads. We currently budget to re-pave less than 5 miles of road in the Town of Cicero each year. In 2019 we will only re-pave 3.8 miles of road despite having roughly 130 miles of road in the Town of Cicero. This is unacceptable. Too many of us drive on ankle-twisting, suspension-ruining potholes on our roads. The current system of bandaid fixes simply won’t do any longer.
We need to aggressively tackle this problem by budgeting for long-term solutions, such as using new, more effective compounds and digging into the subgrade to repair cracks. We also need a new study to re-imagine solutions to the problem. The most recent Cornell Local Roads Program evaluation for Cicero has not been updated since 2012 despite the study itself recommending re-evaluation at least every 5 years:
The Town likes to say it is following the Cornell study for re-paving, but it does not. We also no longer follow the paving plan set-up in the Cornell Study, which called for $800,000 in annual spending, which should have resulted in roughly 36 miles of fixed roads over the past 4 years. Instead, we got not even half of that, 17.74 miles of roads re-paved. The Town of Cicero has broken its promise to us as voters:
Our Town Board members acknowledged publicly 2 years ago how bad the problem was, but then did nothing about it. A new layer of asphalt or filling in individual potholes does not fix the problem. We need Town Councilors that will work toward long-term solutions and re-prioritize our budget to care for our roads.
End politics as usual in Cicero. Our town code requires that that no more than 2 members of the ethics board should come from the same political party. We have 0 Democrats, Working Families, or Conservative voters on the ethics board. We have a planning board that has always been filled with political appointees. We can change all of this by amending our town code to adopt fair, merit-based system that ensures the ethics and plannings boards are filled by qualified people of all political backgrounds.
Expand our drainage committee. Too many of our residents have serious drainage problems in their yards. They have easements in their yards that cause water to pool. Their homes and their neighbor’s homes have settled over the years turning yards into swamps they can’t maintain. We have a two person drainage committee overwhelmed by drainage complaints from 30,000 residents. We should expand this committee and provide them the resources needed to more aggressively tackle this wide-spread problem.
No Bus Barn on South Bay Road. While others remained silent or couldn’t come to the meeting at Gillette Middle School, I showed up for you. Nate spoke out against the proposed bus garage on South Bay Road and organized as many people as he could to join him. The Eagle News quoted him in opposition to it. As your Town Board Councilor, Nate will continue to fight for appropriate zoning that prevents turning neighborhoods into traffic jams.
Increase Transparency. The Cicero Town Board meetings are difficult to follow. If you haven’t followed the meetings for years, you miss a lot of what’s being discussed, despite facing the same problems year after year. Nate started a newsletter to make these meetings easier to follow (see below). Nate thinks all of the town’s meetings should be streamed online and archived on our town’s website. One town resident records the meetings and posts them to his private YouTube account, but his time and resources are limited, and he shouldn’t shoulder this enormous burden. Our local government should host these videos online as a service to its citizens.
About Nate Riley
Nate is an attorney with 10 years of experience practicing in appeals, civil rights, and disability law. When his wife, Ellyn, got her job at SU as a professor 5 years ago, they chose to make Cicero home. Their daughter, Keira, attends Cicero Elementary.
When the Riley family came to Cicero, Nate took a job with a disability rights firm, successfully representing disabled children, adults, and veterans that could no longer work or afford the care their disabled children needed. He did this important work for 3 years. He currently fights for poor people in Onondaga County that have no money to pay a lawyer as part of the Appeals Program at Hiscock Legal Aid Society. In the fall, he works as an NCAA and Section III high school football official.
Nate has worked for the poorest among us not because they deserved or expected a hand out, but because they needed someone’s hand to help them back up. He believes in the ability of every American to change their circumstances for the better if we give them a fair shake. His unique experience serving the poor in our community gives him great insight into how local government profoundly impacts the lives of everyday, working class voters.
Please join Nate as he knocks on doors this fall to get the word out about his message and candidacy. If you have an idea to improve Cicero, or if you have other ways of rolling up your sleeves to help the campaign, contact Nate on Facebook, Twitter, or by email.
If you don’t have time to knock on doors or make phone calls, please contribute to the campaign online through ActBlue. Thank you!