"Who's to blame for what doesn't matter. What matters is that everybody — federal, state and local officials — come together and figure out how to get the problem fixed."There are two problems with this paragraph.
First, who's to blame does matter, because consent orders only are required for violations of law. If a public building were to be vandalized, would not the editors want the perpetrators caught, brought to justice, made to provide restitution, and taught a lesson so that the crime is never committed again? What is different here? Are the editors suggesting that the state government should look the other way because local government is the guilty party? Here, the Mohawk River has been vandalized. That is unacceptable, and is a crime under the Environmental Conservation Law Articles 17 and 71. The editors seem to be saying that breaking the law is OK as long as the governmental units or officials that the OD favors do it.
Second, it is not the state or federal governments' responsibility to fix a problem that local government has created. This is not some new mandate. The laws have been on the books for 20-30 or more years. State and Federal governments have shelled out perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars (if not more) to aid municipalities -- including Oneida County -- to bring about compliance. Oneida County is in a position to control use of its sewers. It could have banned hookups long ago pending funding and expansion of facilities by municipalities that would benefit from new development. It chose not to. Instead, it looked the other way, rubber stamping local development plans. Why are the taxpayers paying for a County Planning Department if it cannot foresee the cumulative impacts of local projects? The editors are encouraging recklessness, irresponsibility and incompetence by local government when they say that state and federal governments must participate in the solution. The State and Federal governments have already done their part and have no responsibility to do more other than to enforce the law.
Yes, this area is economically in the dumper, and the State's actions to enforce laws or agreements may exacerbate the problem. There seems to be an attitude prevailing among some local officials that any infraction, any abuse, whether it be of the law, an agreement, taxpayers or rate payers, should be excused in the name of economic development. The OD appears to have adopted their position. But there is no excuse.
In an era when respect for the law has waned, the OD's position is irresponsible.