Though Ronald Benderson's $20,000 offer to seek alternative methods for deer management in Amherst was given with good intentions, it sets a very dangerous precedent within government, especially on a local level.
The acceptance of the money under Benderson's conditions, opinions and desires amounts to bribery, and the failure by the board to make this distinction is appalling.
Mr. Benderson should have used the money for an independent and impartial study for the board to consider -- while the bait and shoot continued -- to properly address the current safety issues with an over-populated deer herd.
The Amherst Town Board, with the exception of one Council member, has made it clear that it is up for sale. They have abdicated their responsibility as paid elected decision- and policy-makers to govern. Their primary responsibility is to protect their citizens, and they have failed.
The winners in this mess will be the "experts" who will submit a neatly typed biased study of possible solutions that have already been studied, evaluated and recommended for seven years by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Individuals buy off government
As a Buffalo resident who works in Amherst, I feel less safe today because Amherst discontinued its hugely successful bait-and-shoot program, and did so in response to what can only be called a bribe.
The town set a shocking example by reversing its policy because a private citizen waved a checkbook. It was deplorable of Ron Benderson to try to prevent the democratic process this way; it is reprehensible that Amherst so openly took him up on it.
Animal rights vs. motorist safety is no longer the issue in Amherst. The issue is government integrity. When any individual, however wealthy or well-intentioned, can pay to have the law reshaped to his or her desires, government integrity is obviously a thing of the past.
But the fact that the Town Board prostituted itself isn't as offensive as the fact that board members sold out so cheaply! Amherst Town Board decisions influence tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of dollars in public spending, private investment and consumer behavior each year.
It is frightening that the board offers up "government a la carte" for a mere 20 grand.