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Legislature clerk’s post should be cut

August 30, 2011
Westfield Republican
Would that Chautauqua County lawmakers take the occasion of Ron Lemon’s resignation from being clerk of the legislature to answer dispassionately the question of whether there should even be this purely political post.

It goes without saying the legislature clerk’s office does invaluable work that needs to continue. But with the clerk appointed every two years by the political caucus that holds the majority in the legislature, the position is the ultimate example of political patronage.

Democrats and Republicans use their power of appointment of the full-time clerk’s job to reward loyal party members - regardless of whether they have skills that are of any use whatsoever in completing the tasks required of the office. While sincere, well-meaning people have occupied the post on occasion, the job has also been used as a reward for loyalists who carried the party banner in a losing bid for elective office, for party worker bees who just needed a job, and as a way for retired elected officials to get in a few more years toward their government pension.

From the point of view of county residents and taxpayers, it’s a rotten system.

Everyone knows the core of actual work is done by the permanent employees in the clerk’s office. Would not county residents be better served with a professional-level office manager who could help carry some of the workload?

County residents simply do not need and do not benefit from having a politically appointed county legislature clerk.

Oh, would that county lawmakers take the occasion of Lemon’s resignation — he wants to go back to his old job of driving a school bus in Frewsburg — to do away with this blatant and wasteful form of political patronage.


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