Q: If libraries are forced to close due to budget cuts, would you blame Erie County Executive Joel Giambra or New York State?
Joel Giambra absolutely deserves 90 percent of the blame. He has placed his political future all upon this idea to raise the sales tax 1 percent. He seemingly has not explored any other avenues of compromise and has made this an all-or-nothing gamble. Giambra must be blamed for the financial crisis. But the state is not completely blameless either.
Timothy Binga, Buffalo
Blame both. In fact, blame all politicians. Their No. 1 priority should be to bring the state's Medicaid costs in line with the rest of the country. Follow the example of other states and fund the minimum. Erie County passing these costs on to the state is not the answer. We are the state and we need relief from Medicaid. Libraries are assets we can all utilize and they need to be preserved.
Linda Kuroski, Buffalo
Blaming Giambra or the Legislature for library closings allows the citizens of New York to sidestep their own responsibility for this problem. Election after election, we return politicians whose policies drive businesses, jobs and people from this state. There is no longer enough community wealth to fund "everything." But nothing will change until voters elect representatives who value libraries and other vital services.
Ed Howard, Getzville
If the libraries close, I would blame New York State. I do not think it is necessary to close the libraries. Perhaps a fee could be charged to the users until the budget mess can be cleared up. A charge of 50 cents to use the library and 25 cents to borrow a book would be a reasonable alternative to closing the libraries.
Marian Di Marco, Lancaster
If the libraries are closed due to budget cuts, I blame both the county and state. The situation reminds me of a dysfunctional marriage where both partners are blaming each other for their problems rather than finding a solution to make it work. Unfortunately, the citizens of Erie County are caught in the middle.
Paula McCarthy, Amherst
When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. If Giambra hadn't slashed property taxes and squandered the surplus and tobacco settlement, we wouldn't be in this predicament. He's the one wielding the shovel.
Cynthia Van Ness, Buffalo
Giambra provided a 31 percent tax cut, and did nothing to curb spending. This is his fault. He should have raised taxes, incrementally, or cut services. Raise my property taxes, and keep libraries, cultural institutions and social services intact.
Deborah Shiffner, Williamsville
I would blame Giambra for closing the public libraries. New York State government is indirectly responsible, as is the federal government for dumping this cost on the states.
Nancy A. Cunningham, Buffalo
Giambra is squarely to blame for the fiscal crisis. The County Charter designates the county executive as the chief budget officer. Medicaid funding is not something that popped up overnight. There was a decent-sized budget surplus, as well as millions in tobacco money. Giambra either is incompetent with fiscal matters or has some hidden agenda.
Michael Rebmann, Buffalo
Giambra is responsible for the mismanagement of the county budget and I blame him for any cuts to county services, like the closing of the libraries. He cut taxes without planning for future expenses and spent the tobacco settlement money and other funds like a drunken sailor.
Beth Bradley, Buffalo
I would blame both Giambra and the State Legislature. State officials need to find ways to reign in the costs of Medicaid. However, Giambra's ridiculous level of tax cuts is a big part of the problem. Yes, we have higher taxes than most, but we also have better services than most. The cost of those services has to come from somewhere. Raise my taxes!
Scott Johnson, Tonawanda
I would blame Giambra. Doesn't he know he is hurting the kids who depend on the libraries for homework and research? Once the 1 percent sales tax is added, it will be forever. He is cutting things that will harm the county. Now we know why people move out.
Joan C. Schlegel, Akron