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New Year, New IDEA?

In what feels like is becoming a trend here, our elected officials once again voted unanimously to bring in outside consultants to the Town of Bedford. At last Tuesday's Board meeting, the Supervisor announced that they would engage The Office of Multicultural Affairs at Pace University in order to gain more working knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This comes on the back of recent hires like a new full-time Chief of Staff and a Bedford Promoter - a paid consultant tasked with strategizing and delivering hamlet revitalization. Ironically, our elected officials ran on campaign promises that each one had ideas and experience to deliver hamlet revitalization. Nevermind that. While New Yorkers face financial hardships, our elected officials are busy outsourcing work that we thought we elected them to deliver. Town Board members are paid by public tax dollars to do their job. Prior Town Boards have rolled up their sleeves to handle these tasks. That the current board is paying someone else to do it is not only an abdication of duty but it's also double dipping in our Town budget.

It is notable that at the same time the Town Board agreed to hire a consultant to address diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), they suspended Bedford's existing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity Committee (IDEAC). My question is why? The Town has over 20 boards and committees composed of volunteer residents and has never previously suspended a committee to my knowledge. Why did that happen here? The IDEAC was formed - to great fanfare among the five board members - during the summer of 2020 to advise the Town on matters relating to DEI. So what transpired in the past 2.5 years that has led to the suspension of these local volunteers - who they themselves appointed - and pushed the Board to seek an external paid consultant? The Board did not provide any reason for their decision. View the video replay for yourself - beginning at 0:59:30 here. In 2020, Councilwoman Bobbi Bittker proudly took credit for advocating for and authoring the draft resolution that created the IDEAC. Yet she was silent last Tuesday during the suspension of her committee. Bedford deserves to know why the Town Board scrapped this committee and decided to spend unbudgeted taxpayer funds to hire another new consultant.

I am growing increasingly worried about the behavior of our elected officials who are operating less like a Town Council and more like purchasing agents. Gone are the days of a thinktank-like environment where local leaders come to these meetings with thoughtful and prepared prepared solutions for problems. Today we see a governing mentality that is nothing more than rubber stamping the next outsourced responsibility. You can't talk to us in November about rolling up your sleeves only to spend the in-between months reaching for our wallets to pay someone else to do your job.

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