A Little Ditty To Our NYS Legislators
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Another poem, another dollar,
State is failing, people holler.
The sky is falling on New York State,
We’ve got a government, not so great.
It’s the worst in all the land,
New York’s failure is mighty grand.
The New York Senate, chaos and worse,
The Assembly’s self-serving, so perverse.
Governor ain’t functioning, doesn’t come near,
Albany’s in free fall, it’s worse than we feared.
The budget so late, we can’t pay our bills,
Reverberates Statewide and gives us the chills.
Laws are not passing, dialogue’s a joke,
The State cannot breathe, it’s starting to choke.
Reform’s just a word for campaigns and for show,
The folks up in Albany don’t seem to know.
The voters have had it, we know you’re a fake,
You’re institutional failure, while you’re on the take.
Welcome New York Uprising and a Cuomo decree,
We’ll side with these folks who don’t side with thee.
We shout out for change, reform we will back,
And if you don’t vote for it, we will attack.
We’ve got Ed Koch, the goo-goos and more,
We’ve got Andrew Cuomo, we know the score.
The electeds in Albany, must make a choice,
Support our reform, we must hear your voice.
Cause the State is in crisis, you face a test,
Your performance thus far is pathetic at best.
The job market is bad, budget failure’s a crime,
The end is approaching, perhaps it’s your time.
So Mr. State Senator and Ms. Assemblymember,
Something for you to always remember,
You’re a servant of the people, we are the boss,
And this year perhaps it’s time for divorce.
We cannot fathom how it’s reached such a low,
You’ve taken the office, but are not in the know.
You’ve got the title, you’ve got our money,
Mr. and Mrs. Legislator we don’t think it funny.
Election is approaching, perhaps the end is in sight,
The people are amassing, to do what is right.
We don’t care which party, you both are to blame,
We don’t want finger pointing or more of the same.
We want you to change and sign the reform agenda,
For independent redistricting, be a people’s defender.
Listen to Cuomo, to New York Uprising,
Listen with care is what we’re advising.
Though we may like you, be beguiled by your charm,
What you have brought us is nothing but harm.
If we don’t see reform with you on the right side,
We’ll back your opponent, give you nowhere to hide.
We’re counting the heads, we’re printing the names,
We’re bringing an end to the Albany games.
And if it all doesn’t happen by this November,
We’re not going away and we will remember,
Names of each legislator who failed us once more,
We’ll shout them from rooftops till all know the score.
The poem is now ending; it’s the end of the dance,
Sign a pledge for reform; it’s your last chance.
Cuomo Would Pick Ticket, Seeks Pledges for Reform
By HENRY STERN
By HENRY STERN
Although Andrew Cuomo announced his candidacy for governor this past weekend, prior to that, he began to shape the Democratic ticket and secure commitments from candidates for the Legislature to support his program.
His activity was described in a comprehensive article in last week’s Times:
“In the weeks leading to the state Democratic convention next week, aides and allies of Mr. Cuomo have moved quietly and methodically to bolster Kathleen M. Rice, Nassau County district attorney and the candidate widely believed to be Mr. Cuomo’s preferred successor.
While the candidate for governor traditionally chooses his lieutenant governor (even though the lieutenant governor is chosen separately in the party primary) the Cuomo forces’ attempt to select the rest of the ticket raises other issues.
The first is the attempt to secure a balanced ticket, geographically and ethnically.
A more threatening possibility is that by dictating the choice of his party for Comptroller and Attorney General, Mr. Cuomo is assuring himself that these officials, once elected, will be indebted to him and act favorably in matters in which he has an interest. The Comptroller, for example, is the state’s chief fiscal officer. He certifies the budget and performs many other duties under the State Constitution. He is also the sole trustee of the state employees’ pension funds, which now exceed $129 billion. The position provides many opportunities for personal enrichment, which some comptrollers have used for their own advantage.
The current Comptroller, Mr. DiNapoli, was chosen by the legislature to replace the fallen Alan Hevesi, who had just been re-elected. His principal sponsor was Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was determined to choose the new comptroller from among the Democratic legislators.
The Attorney General, who has the ability to prosecute public as well as private corruption, is a powerful public figure. The last two AGs, Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, both found the office a path to the governorship. Each gained a solid public reputation, in part because of cases they brought against Wall Street. It is obviously helpful to the governor to have a friendly attorney general, preferably one who he has helped install into office.
Andrew Cuomo’s actions to direct the choice of other elected officials indicates a predilection for a strong governorship. That would be a direct contrast with the situation under Governor Paterson. The current governor, however, did not have the sanction of election by the public, which his successor will presumably enjoy.
The real issue next year will be whether Governor Cuomo or Speaker Silver (if they are both elected) will be the alpha male of New York State government. We read in last Wednesday’s Times that five lawyers from Weitz and Luxenberg, the Speaker’s law firm, had contributed $236,698 to Kathleen Rice, who is assumed to be Cuomo’s choice for attorney general - Irish, a woman, suburban, tough on crime, elected DA.
That works to the detriment of Senator Eric Schneiderman, the candidate of the left wing of the Democratic Party. From a purely practical point of view, however, and without making a judgment on the merits, Cuomo needs Schneiderman like a lochenkopf. Four other candidates have attracted little support despite their vigorous efforts.
It is, of course, possible that Cuomo and Silver will co-exist in peace, at least for two years. We will see how the Speaker’s home district is redrawn after the decennial census results are published in 2011. That will depend in part on who draws the lines, and whether personal considerations are involved in the process.
CUOMO SEEKS COMMITMENTS
The Cuomo initiative was reported in the Daily News. The lede:
“If you want Andrew Cuomo’s backing, you gotta have his back.
“The state attorney general, who plans to announce his run for governor soon, will ask candidates who want his support to sign a pledge to stick to his agenda, the Daily News has learned.
“Cuomo is developing a ‘citizens pledge’ that will detail reform ideas he wants enacted if he is elected, a source close to him said.
“The Democrat will travel to all 62 counties during the campaign asking for citizens and candidates from all parties to sign the pledge.”
To us, this is a good idea. New York Uprising, a group founded in March by former Mayor Ed Koch, Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, and this blogger for New York Civic, is circulating pledges to candidates for state office, asking for their commitment to a reform agenda on redistricting, conflicts of interests, financial statements and transparency. Mr. Cuomo responded to us specifically promising his support for those goals.
It makes enormous sense for a candidate to seek commitments on these important issues before endorsing anyone. The proof will come in what specifically the candidates are asked to do, and how and by whom they will be held to the pledges they make.
There is one other problem. The News story is attributed to an anonymous source. This means that there is still plausible deniability if the candidate changes his mind. We rely on the integrity of the source and the candidate.
Andrew Cuomo has an opportunity to turn the shambles that is Albany in a new direction. Eliot Spitzer had that opportunity, and completely blew it, even before the scandal.
We wish for the best for New York State, but experience limits our optimism. Perhaps the strong leadership which has been missing for many years will make a difference. But strength has its own weakness, which we hope the new governor will avoid.