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Chris Collins is tone deaf

It's a good thing Chris Collins isn't political.

Too bad he's tone deaf.

As you no doubt recall, a company partly owned by the county executive recently won a bid to repair small motors for the county sewer system. Such contract awards are usually subject to review first by the county Legislature before being passed on to  the Control Board. The contract for Volland Electric Equipment Corp. was sent directly to Control Board, however.

To add insult to injury, the county put Volland to work even though the Control Board hasn't acted on the contract.

All this takes brass ones. First to bid in the first place, then to try and bypass the Legislature, and finally to authorize work before the Control Board acted.

Does Collins not realize how this looks? Or does he simply not care?

I guess he gets it ... kind of  ... belatedly. He now says he'll ask those running the companies he owns to not bid on county business.

"Even the appearance of a conflict of interest is something I cannot allow," he now declares, his hand stuck firmly in the cookie jar.

He said this not in an interview, but through a "statement." That's the way pols like Collins hide from fielding questions from those pesky reporters. Besides, he needs to keep busy his growing roster of PR people hired at taxpayer expense.

Elsewhere in his statement, Collins takes a shot at "career politicians."

This from a guy who promised the GOP line to a Democrat if she was willing to run against County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz, who was out beating the bushes for a candidate to run to succeed Tom Reynolds in Congress, and who is now said to be trying to drum up opponents to run against county Legislators he doesn't like.

Collins may be new to the game, but he is neck deep in it just like the rest of 'em.

For more on this, read Donn Esmonde's column in today's paper.

Opines Donn:

I can think of a few things wrong with it: It looks bad. It makes people think you are using your public position for personal gain. It chips away whatever is left of people’s faith in government.

What was obvious to most people was apparently a blind spot for the leader of county government. After a few days of blowback, Collins —to his credit— Monday tore up the contract and said companies he has a stake in will no longer bid on county work.

Collins can claim from now until forever that all was fair, and maybe it was. But somebody needs to remind him that the days of people taking a politician’s word for anything expired about a dozen scandals ago.

What do you think?

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Local Government
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