Democratic New York Is As Dysfunctional As Ever
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
So New York is finally a Democratic State you say.
Well, somehow the Dems find ways to quickly give back what they spent many years acquiring.
Okay, we often just guess in politics.
Being a columnist, pundit or real insider requires you to play the “what if” game.
You have to consider a whole lot of conditional possibilities, figure people are keeping their cards close to the vest and, when they start to play, you have to read their hands – and figure out how the people will react.
You also have to figure out how a not-so-united Democratic Party can take the best case scenario and watch it all drift away.
And so, based on little evidence or inside knowledge, we look Statewide and ask “what if?”
What if Anthony Weiner’s “sabbatical” from the Mayor’s race is the beginning of a 2010 Weiner for U.S. Senate run?
With newly appointed U.S. Senator Kristen Gilibrand perceived as pro gun and pro tobacco – even though she is moving to the left daily – we expect to see her challenged in a primary. After all, anyone who was handed a seat by an accidental governor – or even an elected governor – deserves a challenge. But if you take the gal who got the seat after the seeming bashing of an iconic Kennedy and couple with that her record on gun control and tobacco being out of step with an overwhelming majority of state voters, you can count on a primary. Then, listen to the electeds who are critical of her (former) pro-gun stance start yelling about her lack of commitment and loyalty when she begins to move closer to their position; you can bet that the party will be far from united in defending her brief incumbency.
Gilibrand’s best bet for election in 2010 is that there is a large field challenging her for the Democratic nomination. Long Island’s fast moving Congressman Steve Israel is out raising money for a challenge. Manhattan Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has indicated her interest. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy has made it clear that she will run or back a challenger on the gun issue alone.
There are of course others, including some real heavyweights.
Andrew Cuomo, presently the most electable person in the State, could go for Senator if he decides challenging David Paterson would be perceived negatively after his failed run at Carl McCall in ’06.
Nassau County Exec Tom Suozzi is a formidable figure for any statewide office. We’d expect the state’s hardest campaigner to go for Governor or Senator – the one that Andrew Cuomo doesn’t, although a vacant Attorney General’s post which launched both Spitzer and Cuomo, would be a natural for him.
But you can count on Ms. Gilibrand being challenged and challenged hard. And unless there is more than one challenger, we’re picking the other guy (or gal) in the race to win.
But knowing the Dems, watch for more than one.
And then “what if” Gilibrand survives her Democratic test due to multiple challengers or Chuck Schumer or the advantage of incumbency or even dumb luck?
Then, look out for the GOP to have a proven election star waiting for the damaged prey – what is George Pataki doing now?
Yes, our new junior Senator has another year before she is in the heat of the fray, but she’s had a lifetime to establish that she is out of step with most New Yorkers on some real important issues.
And her political rabbi, a fill-in governor, has not much better of a chance of surviving the 2010 election, based on what we’ve seen so far.
Paterson will likely be tested in a Democratic Primary by Andrew Cuomo or Tom Suozzi. That is, if the New York Democratic establishment doesn’t draft Cuomo and convince the accidental Governor that his talents are better used elsewhere. The guy should have appointed himself U.S. Senator and let chaos ensue in the State government. After all, things are no better right now.
Yup, we think it will take major league repair and turn-around for David Paterson to win over the Democratic voters of this State. Don’t hold your breath.
And should that miracle occur, Rudy Giuliani might just be there sitting and smiling. The GOP is looking forward to 2010.
And the fabled victory of 2008 where the Dems finally captured the State Senate for the first time since a brief stint in ’65 could also be a passing fancy.
The Dems are delivering an on-time budget, but that’s about it.
They have continued the worst of what dysfunctional Albany has to offer.
Although the budget is not yet passed as of this writing, a brief look at it and the process reveals: It was three men in a room – all Dems; zero transparency; the minority party was entirely excluded; in the middle of a recession, spending is up almost 9%; billions in new taxes are being levied on an overburdened population; they keep their precious member items ($170 million worth) but cut critical aid; and the only saving factor is that they made ends meet by using $7 billion of Federal stimulus money.
The Albany joke continues and sadly, it is those in office who are laughing at us.
And you can bet the the Republicans will blame it all on the Dems in the 2010 election. And you know what, it was the Dems who did it all.
Yes, Queens’ Malcolm Smith is the new one of the three men in the room, but we’re afraid that the stench seems to be unchanged.
While this is the first time in our memory that the Democratic Party in New York State holds both U.S. Senate seats, the Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General and control both houses of the legislature, the future in New York does not look so great for the Democratic party.
As a matter of fact, it doesn’t look so good for the people either.
Tabloids Trash Albany As Corrupt and Secretive
The New York State Legislature, long a target of newspapers and reformers, was assailed by the Daily News last week, “State Of Shame.” The article by Albany bureau chief Ken Lovett begins under a ribbon across the top, The Dysfunctional Government, and sports a rather judgmental but vivid headline “You Guys Are A Disgrace!”
“Its time to clean up the mess in Albany!
“New York’s state government dubbed the most dysfunctional in the nation is living up to its reputation now more than ever.
“In the last two weeks alone, a massive corruption scandal in the controller’s office was highlighted in an indictment, the governor and Legislature were finalizing a budget deal containing massive tax hikes in complete secrecy and a state senator was indicted on charges of beating his girlfriend.
“A lack of public input and accountability has locked citizens out of their government and made the Capitol ripe for corruption and favoritism.”
A News editorial titled Capitol Offenses begins:
“Of the people. By the people. For the people. Those precepts are the birthrights of self-governing citizens in a representative democracy. But they do not apply in New York. Here, “Damn the people” is more like it. New York deserves better.”
This amounts to the strongest condemnation of Albany’s politicians and the ways they transact business that we have read in some time.
The Legislature is not the only branch of state government under fire. The Post state editor Fredric Dicker wrote his regular Inside Albany column headlined: “Meet Gov’s Bureaucratic Boneheads.” The lead:
“This is Gov. Paterson’s wrecking crew of Democratic operatives and bureaucratic functionaries who helped New York’s accidental governor betray his core promise of fiscal prudence and government downsizing.
“This is the demolition squad that conspired with the Assembly’s hidebound eminence grise, Speaker Sheldon Silver, and the Senate’s clueless new Democratic leadership to prepare a budget with the biggest set of destructive tax hikes in already-overtaxed New York history even as Wall Street collapses and suburban and upstate residents continue to flee.”
There were two editorials in the Sunday Post relating to Albany follies. One deals with city employee pensions under which certain employees can retire in their 40s after working 20 years, receive half pay pensions plus bonuses, live to their 80s, on average, and receive more money in pensions than they did in salaries while they worked for the city. This does not even count the health benefits which get higher as retired employees get older. Think General Motors.
The second editorial, “Monserrate’s No Victim,” is self-explanatory.
“Even though he’s been freshly indicted on six counts of assaulting his girlfriend with a broken glass, Queens state Sen. Hiram Monserrate is sticking to his story: He’s the real victim.” He thinks the district attorney is picking on him, and wants the governor to appoint a special prosecutor who will know he is innocent, and that the girlfriend suffered the cuts to her throat, which required 20 stitches, when she accidentally fell on broken glass.
Despite other cuts, we read that lawmakers’ pet items, totaling $170 million, will not be reduced. Why should they be? It wasn’t the state legislators who brought on the recession. Why should they be punished just because schools and health care have to be cut?
We have not commented much on the material we are referring to, because most of it is pretty easy to understand, even if it is difficult to comprehend how they can do it. The solons were scheduled to gather in Albany this past Tuesday, if all the bills were ready for thier approval by then.
Most of this article is the work of professional journalists who cover Albany. They describe what they have seen and heard, and it is not pretty. This is not the moment to discuss their observations and conclusions. We will come back to offer suggestions. Meanwhile, if any of you have ideas as to what to do, let us know.
Not4Publication.com by Dom Nunziato