Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to Ellen Barnes, Lakewood village trustee, for recognizing what too many at all levels of government forget. Barnes recently opposed the Lakewood Village Board’s decision to increase franchise fees for Spectrum Cable from 3 percent to 5 percent. The additional fee is expected to bring in an additional $20,000 in revenue to the village, which Mayor Cara Birrittieri proposes to use for a new playground in East Lakewood. Nearly every municipality has such a franchise fee, with roughly half of the governments in Chautauqua County charging a 5 percent fee. Barnes, however, opposed increasing the fee because the increased fee will be passed on to customers, meaning the village’s decision will end up being paid for by cable customers and hurting the lowest-income cable customers the most. Kudos to Barnes for realizing a couple of dollars a month means a lot to people who don’t have a couple of extra dollars a month to spare.

Thumbs down to a $22 million mistake by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York state. The Federal Highway Administration announced this week that it would withhold $14 million in highway funds from New York for the installation of more than 500 ‘I Love NY’ signs across the state. The announcement comes after more than four years of warnings from the Federal Highway Administration during the administrations of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump not to install signs the federal government deemed promotional advertising for the state’s I Love NY branding. It cost $8 million to install the signs, and now the state could lose an additional $14 million in highway funding, all because Cuomo and the state Transportation Department refused to listen to guidance from the federal government. What a mess.

Thumbs up to new LED street lights that are being installed throughout Jamestown. According to Mayor Sam Teresi’s 2018 State of the City address, the city expects to change out roughly 1,100 of the city’s more than 3,700 older street lights with energy efficient LED models. Those who live in neighborhoods where the new lights have been installed have taken notice of the increased brightness of the new lights; it is much easier to pick out pedestrians walking in the street or deer standing in the middle of the road than it was before. It’s a small change, but a good one.