Koch Calls ‘Enemies of Reform’ to Task
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
New York Uprising is a non-partisan, independent coalition formedby former Mayor Edward I. Koch that advocates for meaningful government reform across New York State. Its mission is to put anend to corruption in Albany and reinstate the public’s faith in government by offering real, honest and sensible solutions that legislators and candidates can implement, adhere to and be held accountable for executing once elected.
New York Uprising advocates for meaningful government reform in three areas, and has invited candidates to pledge support for specific reforms in each.
Non-Partisan, Independent Redistricting: Elections are supposed to allow voters to choose their representatives, but New Yorkers have been denied true choice because elected officials have historically been able to draw district lines to choose their voters. New York legislative races are typically non-competitive because of these gerrymandered districts. Consequently, it is not surprising that New York State’s legislature has one of the highest rates of incumbency in the nation. It is our common desire to improve New York State Government and the democratic process in the State by ensuring that redistricting pursuant to the 2010 Census be constitutional and fair.
Responsible Budgeting: It is widely acknowledged that New York State’s budget process and practices are detrimental to the long-term future of the state. They produce budgets that are routinely late and include spending that outpaces inflation and revenue growth. To accommodate spending more money than they have, the leadership in Albany has often balanced budgets with gimmicks that push obligations into the future, resulting in structural imbalances and the accumulation of a crushing debt burden, an unhealthy share of which has been incurred to fund operating expenses. Simply put, we are living beyond our means.
Ethics Reform: The public demands that their elected officials and candidates for public office maintain the highest degree of ethics while running for office and serving in government. They have not, to put it mildly. To reform New York State’s government, the enactment of comprehensive ethics legislation by the Governor, Assembly and the Senate is mandatory.
Assem. Nettie Mayersohn (D-27)
Assem. Margaret Markey (D-30)
Assem. Michele R. Titus (D-31)
Assem. Vivian E. Cook (D-32)
Assem. Barbara Clark (D-33)
Assem. Michael DenDekker (D-34)
Assem. Jeffrion Aubry (D-35)
Assem. Catherine Nolan (D-37)
Senator George Onorato (D-12)
Senator Malcolm A. Smith (D-14)
It’s Finally Over
Four months and the budget left hanging,
Against the wall, our heads were banging.
Anger had led to our poetic frustration;
Definitions warped, no rhyme syncopation.
And really, there was no use of meter at all
Michael Schenkler had a poetic ball.
The day has come, so let's rejoice.
He has to stop now - he has no choice.
He promised it'd end should the budget be passed;
These awkward rhymes will finish at last.
We're glad it's over, but alas,
Albany, though, can still kiss our ass.
- Harley Benson
Assem. Audrey Pheffer (D-23)
Harold Paez (R-23)
Assem. David Weprin (D-24)
Bob Friedrich (D-24)
Steve Behar (D-26)
Ed Braunstein (D-26)
John F Duane (D-26)
Vince Tabone (R-26)
Joe Fox (D-28)
Alex Powietrzynski (R-28)
Assem. Andrew D. Hevesi (D-28)
Assem. William Scarborough (D-29)
Anthony Miranda (D-35)
Aravella Simotas (D-36)
John C Ciafone (D-36)
John K Wilson (R-37)
Assem. Mike Miller (D-38)
Donna Marie Caltabiano (R-38)
Francisco Moya (D-39)
Senator Shirley L. Huntley (D-10)
Lynn Nunes (D-10)
Tony Avella (D-11)
Senator Frank Padavan (R-11)
J. Patrick Tina (R-12)
Assem. Michael Gianaris (D-12)
Senator Jose R. Peralta (D-13)
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D-15)
Anthony Como (R-15)
Isaac M Sasson (D-16)
John A Messer (D-16)
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-16)
Albany Mulls Sale of Wine In Groceries
By HENRY STERN
We often complain about laws or conditions that we believe are wrong or unjustified. Sometimes we ask how these conditions are allowed to continue, when the injustice of the situation is relatively apparent.
The answer to that question is often simple: the forces that benefit from the injustice have more influence in the legislature than those who suffer because of it. There are numerous situations in which a law or regulation benefits a small number of people, or businesses, at the expense of the general public. Those with a specific interest in particular situations hire other people, known as lobbyists, to influence the legislature on their behalf.
Lobbying is a legitimate industry, protected to some extent by the First Amendment rights of individuals, and now, of corporations. It also professionalizes contact with lawmakers, which many people just do not know how to do.
The problem is that lobbyists have a tendency to monopolize access to legislators. Ordinary people, without the time or resources of a lobbying firm, often have a hard time getting through the door. They find it necessary to hire a professional in order to be heard. Also, lobbyists bring money, in the form of campaign contributions from their clients, which create a general feeling of good will in the recipient toward the donor. That is human nature, and if a legislator did not appreciate contributions he would be considered arrogant, indifferent and ungrateful. If he responded only to contributions, he would be corrupt, but that is a difficult matter to prove.
It is true that both sides to a controversy can hire lobbyists, and equal contributions by people with opposite interests can level the playing field for legislators’ favor. Unhappily, the general public interest is less likely to organize itself than a specific commercial group, which is likely to have a direct financial interest in the particular piece of legislation.
This issue is clearly presented in Governor Paterson’s proposal to allow the sale of wine in liquor stores, on payment of a licensing fee to the state. The governor sees this as a way to increase revenue, and he estimates that the tax will raise between $147 and $300 million in the next two years. The fee would rise for stores with larger total sales, so large supermarkets would have to pay more. Thirty-five states currently allow the sale of wine in supermarkets, and according to a February 22, 2010 poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute, New Yorkers support making our state the 36th to do so by a margin of 58 per cent to 39 per cent.
As even the most casual sommelier knows, New York State is a producer of wine, particularly in the Finger Lakes area. If wine could be sold in more places, that would presumably help the agricultural portion of the New York State economy. Upstate needs all the economic stimulus it can get, and the increase in the sale of wine would benefit vineyards in the Finger Lakes region, among others.
The people who would lose under the governor’s proposal are the owners of liquor stores, which now have a monopoly on the sale of liquor, although they can, and do, also sell wine. There are over a thousand independent liquor stores in New York State, many of which are so-called “mom and pop” stores, although we do not see too many moms selling liquor.
Opponents of the bill say it will hurt their business, and it probably will. If people can buy wine at supermarkets, they will have the advantage of convenience as well as lower markup.
At least one union objects. According to a press release from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), circulated on the New York State Liquor Store Association’s website, “This bad idea will force more than 1,000 stores to close across New York State - and that will mean the loss of hundreds of jobs for union members who sell and deliver to these stores. Fewer stores mean fewer delivery jobs and fewer sales jobs for our union members, both upstate and in the New York City region, since Big Box stores have their own networks already.”
A winery owner makes a different argument against the bill. He says that liquor stores are not allowed to be open 24 hours, must pay their bills within 30 days and are subject to State Liquor Authority inspections. He sees teenage supermarket clerks selling wine to teenage drivers late at night, a scenario where car crashes and fatalities are predictable. The force of those objections is weakened by the fact that supermarkets are already allowed to sell beer on payment of a license fee to the state. Teenagers can get drunk on beer, and often do.
The general public interest, it seems to us, would be furthered by the availability for sale of wine in supermarkets. That is the law in 35 states.
The wine in supermarkets issue is current. Legislators will make their decision on the basis of political and economic considerations. Unfortunately, many will decide on the basis of how these factors affect them personally, rather than on how they affect the general public. That is Albany dealing with a substantive issue.