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Slim majority gives Brooks thumbs up

Rochester Business Journal
April 25, 2014

A slight majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll gave Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks positive approval ratings for her overall performance and in the areas of economic development and fiscal management.

Her approval ratings were down from 2009, early in the second year of her second term.

Brooks recently delivered her 10th State of the County address and is midway through her final term as county executive.

In her speech, Brooks said that since she took office, Monroe County has helped to create or retain more than 100,000 jobs—nearly one-third of the 367,000 jobs in the county today. “That’s the best proof yet that our economy is on the fast track to prosperity,” she said.

Brooks also said both the county’s workforce and its property tax rate have been reduced during her time in office.

In the area of economic development, 53 percent of respondents approved of Brooks’ performance, with 18 percent saying they strongly approved. Another 18 percent strongly disapproved.

When the same question was asked in the 2009 Snap Poll, two-thirds of respondents approved of Brooks’ handling of economic development; 13 percent strongly disapproved.

In this week’s poll, 52 percent of respondents said they approved of Brooks’ performance in fiscal management. Five years ago, 60 percent gave Brooks a positive approval rating for fiscal management.

Readers were closely split this time on Brooks’ overall performance. Fifty-one percent approved, compared with 49 percent who disapproved. In 2009, 66 percent approved of her overall job performance.

Roughly 850 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted April 21 and 22.

What is your opinion of Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks’ performance in the area of economic development?
Strongly approve: 18%
Approve: 35%
Disapprove: 29%
Strongly disapprove: 18%

What is your opinion of County Executive Maggie Brooks’ performance in the area of fiscal management?
Strongly approve: 21%
Approve: 31%
Disapprove: 28%
Strongly disapprove: 20%

What is your opinion of County Executive Maggie Brooks’ overall performance?
Strongly approve: 19%
Approve: 32%
Disapprove: 26%
Strongly disapprove: 23%

It has been one scandal after another and one blunder after another. She should’ve stayed in broadcasting.
—Jason Sumner, Rochester

With a daily newspaper that will never allow her any latitude nor give any credit, with a state government loading on expenses while keeping more revenues in Albany, with a crybaby county legislative body, Maggie stands tall among politicians. Is she perfect? No, but neither is the system overall. Just look up and down the Thruway—no one does better, and no one gets results as strong as hers.
—Bob Miglioratti

Monroe County is one of the highest taxed counties in the state. Republicans typically believe in fiscal responsibility, and when you hear Maggie speak, you are led to believe that is what she represents. Nepotism isn’t cheap, but you can probably buy a Democrat for less than a Republican.
—Phil Plossl

Unemployment is down, and real estate values are rising. Meanwhile, Maggie Brooks has done her best to keep taxes low without receiving any substantial entitlement relief from Albany. Her job performance has been outstanding.
—Peter J. Gregory, Rochester

Monroe Country has the highest property tax as a percentage of assessed value in the country. How much is due to “unfunded state mandates” versus a bloated administration I do not know. But it appears there are patronage jobs aplenty around here. Why exactly are there LDCs in Monroe County? What actual service do they provide? Also, why does every hamlet have its own local government with paid town supervisors? Consider also that we have private trash collection in this county that hits households for another $400 a year, a mostly volunteer fire department, and virtually no lamp posts on roads. These are all costs that other counties, most counties in the country, incur but Monroe County avoids. Taxpayers are not receiving value for money.
—Chris Pantaleo, Penfield

I think that Ms. Brooks has done a credible job as county executive. However, that being said, the heart of the county, the city of Rochester, is still viewed as a lost cause. The city has lost ground financially, educationally and in the area of business and job growth. Towns and suburbanites view the city as a place where they occasionally must go for a theater performance or a sports event, but then they flee as quickly as possible. We need city-county leadership instead of the GOP-Democrat standoffs that predominate. Certainly Monroe County, with one of the highest tax rates in the country, can afford to come up with a unified plan of action.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

At least she’s not playing childish verbal games with Rochester’s mayors as her predecessor did.
—Ken Maher

I wish she spoke honestly about her opinions. She has the most slippery means of agreeing with whoever is present at the moment. And her acceptance of the legislature’s self-serving politics is not at all representative of the will of the people.
—Devon Washington, Fairport

Ms. Brooks’ tenure as county executive has been marred by some unfortunate scandals at the airport and several other county agencies. To her credit, she took immediate action to correct them once they were pointed out; however, cronyism, nepotism, contracting improprieties and private use of public resources should not be tolerated by any administration.
—Frances Reese, Reese Environmental Consulting

Before Maggie Brooks took over as county executive, the county and the city were drowning in red ink. As a Republican, Maggie Brooks now has us going in the right direction. In her time in office, Maggie Brooks has created or retained 100,000 jobs. With President Obama, we are barely back to where we began at the start of his administration. I’ve been particularly impressed that Maggie Brooks has been able to lower the property tax rate.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

Maggie continues the corruption of insider deals and “good old boys” network. She has not helped Monroe County.
—Rick Corey, Penfield

Teflon Maggie.
—Ed McDonnell

She has established an aura of mistrust. Her use of independent entities that are not subject to governmental controls and in which very high salaries are paid is egregious. She has never justified, to my knowledge, her selection of the high bidder for communications; (it) is unacceptable in my opinion. Finally, the exclusion from discussion of opposing points of view in the legislature weakens the performance of her government. To the extent the Democrats have done the same thing, (it) makes me say, “A pox on all your houses.”
—David Rubin

Her management skills in the area of oversight are non-existent.
—Gary S. O’Dea

I think she turned out to be a real lightweight. I give her management skills at best a D– rating. Why? She was always a reactionary, never questioning the veracity or integrity of her managers or the many board appointees. As long as they “whistled the same party tune,” they must be OK. Soon after the many scandals broke, she showed her resolve with press conferences, hiring expensive attorneys (at taxpayer expense), etc. Had she done some digging on several fronts, she may have learned that everything is not what it appears to be. This is why it is important to have individuals who don’t always agree with you give his/her input, so you are not always surrounded with yes people. I think she let a promising political career slip away. And now we here in Monroe County are paying the price.
—Peter Bonenfant

When we moved to Rochester in 1999, there was a strong entrepreneurial spirit here as contrasted with Albany, where there seemed to be more dependence on government aid and stimulation. Over the 15 years we have lived here, it appears that the entrepreneurial spirit has eroded and we see an expansion of government involvement in the economy. For the part that she has played in that transformation, Maggie Brooks should be held accountable.
—Robert W. Zinnecker

Given what Maggie Brooks had to work with, I think she did a satisfactory job. She constantly was looking for ways to balance the budget and encourage jobs in the private sector. However, even with oppressive mandates from the state and federal government she was able to keep tax rate increases relatively low with consolidation of services and personnel. She also is a good communicator. Her decision to opt out of the traditional Medicaid reimbursement system a few years ago with the intercept concept saved tens of millions of tax dollars and turned out to be a brilliant strategy. It was a risky decision but her timing was perfect. I think Monroe County was the only county to do this. Of course her support and implementation of local development corporations resulted in some indictments for alleged corruption within the LDCs. However, the LDCs overall gave some relief from the mandates and bureaucracy of government on all levels. Of course the state attorney general’s office has shown extreme bias in this matter and already has been chastised by one of judges hearing the case regarding unethical conduct and violation of law. I wish the Attorney General showed the same vigor going after the corruption in Sheldon Silver’s and Governor Cuomo’s world. On the negative side, I have been critical of Maggie Brooks in regards to not doing more to reduce county taxes. Before she took office Monroe County had one highest tax rates in New York State, and that remains today. She refuses to seriously consider a financial control board and should be more aggressive in negotiating with the public unions on behalf of the taxpayers. Finally, she should use her pulpit to lobby the state legislature to make New York State a “right-to-work” state, which would diminish the outright hijacking of our state by the many powerful public employee unions. This is the real problem for taxpayers.
—John Rynne, president Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.

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