By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Last week . . . actually on April first
. . . it struck me. For the 18th year in a row, the State Legislature had
failed to pass an on-time budget. Now you’ve read it before and I’ve
written it before, these Albany jokers just can’t do their job.
Approving a budget by which to conduct
the business of New York State is not a casual matter — it is not a
matter that can be pushed to a back burner or relegated to the pile of
political deals that continue in the abhorrent, inane legislature which
knows not how to do the business of the State.
Certainly, no responsible business of
any size would approach a new fiscal year without a budget in place. For a
business the size of New York State do to so is the epitome of arrogance
and incompetence. The leaders of both parties – Democratic Assembly
Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno –
are the culprits that lead the inept legislature to the blind edge of
failure. The Governor, sadly, has not exercised any leadership to solve
the problem. However, George Pataki, this Republican governor, is only
failing for the eighth time. His Democratic predecessor — you remember
him — Mario Cuomo failed for the ten prior years.
So, with a GOP Senate, a Democratic
Assembly, and a Governor of either party, you get failure. . . . complete
and utter failure. Those that tell you otherwise are lying to you.
We send our Assembly members and State
Senators to Albany to represent the best interests of the people of our
State. We send them there to run our government, watch our money and keep
us safe. We elect them and entrust them with the business of government.
And whether I like each and every one of
the Albany legislators or not, they are all failures . . . dismal,
pathetic failures. They blindly follow Silver and Bruno and, to a man (or
woman), do not raise their voices in condemnation of a process that fails
to produce a budget. Not one member has shouted out for a solution. And
friends, if they are not part of the solution, they are part of the
problem (thank you Eldridge Cleaver).
The next time you see or hear from your
State legislator, ask them, “Where is our on-time State budget?” If
you get mail from them paid for at public expense, write on it.
““Where is our on- time State budget?”
Now, you’re going to be seeing these
guys and gals. Current redistricting has caused lines to change. Some face
very different districts than they did before. Others have it easy. But
this is the once-in-ten-years when incumbents worry about reelection. They
will be out there campaigning — at community meetings, at bus and subway
stops, at supermarkets. Remember, don’t listen to their pitches. At the
top of your voice say to them and the surrounding crowd, “Shame on you!
Where is our on-time State budget?”
Now, I like Mike and Brian and Audrey
and Nettie and Mark and Cathy and Ivan and Toby and Serph and Malcolm and
company. And Frank and Jeff and Ann-Margaret and Bill and company have all
done their jobs pretty well. And the rest of them, Marge and Barbara and
Dan and Vivian and George and Ada and Tony and Mike (the other one), go to
Albany, raise their hands and many try their best. They have failed you
— each and everyone. My powerful friend Brian, my earnest friend Mike,
my longtime friend Nettie, my dynamic friend Malcolm, each and every one
of the Queens legislators get a resounding “F” for performance.
Until they pass an on-time budget or vow
to oust the leadership so mired in politics as to disregard the best
interest of the people – friends or no friends – they don’t deserve
I wonder, if the lot of these jokers and
all their upstate colleague jokers were term limited, would a new class of
legislators come in and give us an on-time budget and an honest day’s
Gee, I was never for term limits. After
18 years of not having an on-time budget, maybe it’s time to throw the
whole bunch out!
Commuter Tax Repeal
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall
released her Proposed $471 Million Reallocation Package to the Mayor’s
Budget. Leading the list are such vital budget restorations as $346
million to the Board of Education, $10.5 million to Queens libraries.
In requesting the reinstatement of
significant funding cuts, the Beep also proposed revenue enhancements that
would raise more than the $471 million she was requesting.
However, the largest portion of the
increased revenue, some $453 million, would come from the re-enactment of
the NYC commuter tax that our Democratic-controlled legislature allowed to
be traded away some two years ago in a useless political maneuver by
Speaker Sheldon Silver. They gave it up and got nothing in return.
This writer yelled back then and
remembers speaking to one of the then- freshman Assemblymen, telling him
that his vote would come back to haunt him.
Well, while Marshall is pleading to deaf
ears if she expects the Republican Senate to participate in an effort to
reinstate the tax, she points to Governor Pataki as the man who eliminated
the Commuter Tax.
Marshall’s statement says: “The
Commuter Tax, a tax imposed on wages earned by New Yorkers who commute to
work into each of the five boroughs, was eliminated in May of 1999 by
Governor George E. Pataki.”
Sorry Helen, it wasn’t the Governor.
If you’re looking for someone to
blame, try your own party’s Assembly Speaker and a number of Queens
Assembly members who voted in favor of its elimination. The people can
only support your efforts if you can affix blame where it belongs and not
on the basis of party or friendship. The fiscal health of our borough is
above party and politics.
It is this writer’s guess that if
anyone is going to come up with and get enacted a revenue stream to
replace the lost commuter tax, it is going to be a Republican. Mayor Mike
Bloomberg has demonstrated the independence and fiscal creativity to
tackle this problem.
How can we rely on the numbers in a
proposal which blames the Governor for the failure of the Democratic
Speaker and a number of Queens Assembly members?
This lifelong Democrat is not loyal to
party but to performance.
Helen, we must all stand up and be
counted. Blame and name the Speaker and the Queens members who voted for
the commuter tax repeal.
A Special Election will be held next
Tuesday, April 16 to fill the term of the late Pauline Rhodds-Cummings in
the 31st Assembly District.
Democratic District Leader Michelle
Titus – with the Democratic, Liberal and Working Families lines –
faces Republican Marina Rejas and the Independence Party’s Michael
Special Elections with party
designations are decided by the party, not the voters. Titus, the
Democrat, will walk away with this one.
I’m not making lists. But I have in
the past toyed with the exercise of creating a list (in order) of the 10
most powerful Queens politicians today. It’s never an easy game, but it
seems pretty clear who the top three names are. They’ve been up there
for most of the past decade and continue to exercise the greatest
influence over the politics of our borough — former Congressman, Queens
Democratic County Leader Tom Manton, former Congressman and pastor of the
Allen A.M.E. Church, Reverend Floyd Flake; and president of the Central
Labor Council of New York City, Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin.
and Bill Clinton will
launch the William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club
Now, this is not meant as a slight to
Archie, Gary, Joe, Helen and a whole host of influential Queens
politicians. But Tom Manton, Floyd Flake and Brian McLaughlin, each in
their own right, are giants influencing the Queens political process –
One of those giants, Brian McLaughlin,
is about to take another giant step.
McLaughlin is president of the Central
Labor Council, an umbrella organization of unions representing more than
1.5 million working men and women. He has served as Assembly member from
Flushing since 1992 but has been seriously impacted by this year’s
redistricting and is about to run in a district which contains less than
20 percent of his former one. He has been the powerful district leader of
his New Century Democratic Club building a local force which elevated John
Liu to become the first Asian American in the New York City Council. He
has become, in New York City, one of the three most powerful and respected
spokespersons for labor.
McLaughlin is about to launch his
campaign for reelection in the new district. He is about to make his
established Democratic Club more powerful. He is about to reassert himself
as a major force in Queens politics and he is about to stake his claim on
the future of New York City.
On May 14 (although the date is not yet
firm), Brian McLaughlin is being joined in Flushing by his friend, former
President Bill Clinton as they rename Brian’s Century Democratic Club to
the William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club – the first political club
in the nation to be named for the former president. Brian is also about to
announce some major initiatives of the club that will promote the Clinton
legacy and “make this world a better place for our children and for the
working men and women of our City.” According to those working on it,
this new political organization will be a vehicle to promote community
service “that will enhance the human condition and benefit the
neighborhoods of our City.” It sounds pretty clear that this
organization will not stop at the limits of local community service.
Follow this one. It could be the start
of something really big.
What we believe is happening is the
first step in the launch of a campaign that will take Brian McLaughlin
from the top of the list of the most powerful in Queens and move him to
the top of the list of the most powerful in New York City.
And then, Mayor Brian?
by Dom Nunziato