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You are to blame for Albany’s mess

Columnist Greg David wrote an excellent, if blunt and uncomfortable, reflection on the coup in the NY State Senate. I would also add to his list of why WE the people of NY are to blame. (See my thoughts at bottom.) – KW

(excerpt from) Crain’s NY Business
You are to blame for Albany’s mess
Greg David / June 14, 2009

Almost exactly five years ago—in July 2004—the Brennan Center for Justice put its finger on what was wrong in Albany: There was no democracy in the state Legislature…

The Brennan study’s stark and easy-to-understand findings had enormous influence and became the foundation for a crusade to reform Albany…

Last week’s coup is a reminder of how completely the reform movement has failed. It’s not just that two renegade Democrats joined with Republicans to retake control of the state Senate in an undemocratic grab for power that overturned the results of the last election. It’s that the fight has nothing to do with the important issues of the day.

But the outrage reflected in the media isn’t really universal. More than a few [business people, landlords and] executives smiled Monday night when they heard that the Republicans would again hold sway in the Senate…

Most telling is the reaction of gay-rights activists. Desperate to enact a gay marriage law, they immediately said they were neutral in the fight over control of the Senate, not wanting to offend anyone as they try to put together the 32 votes needed. Their tactical response is ironic, since they are suffering the most from the lack of democracy in Albany…

The last thing legislators want is accountability. They avoid it by concentrating power in leaders who make decisions behind closed doors. Legislators hardly ever need to cast controversial votes, and Albany’s policies are disastrous because of that. Reform would benefit New York. But as last week showed, no one is really committed to it.


Thoughts of Kimberly Wilder: Other reasons for blame…

Other reasons that we, the people of New York, are to blame for Albany’s mess:

We keep re-electing incumbent State Senators; we have not understood that having two parties creates a structure of the “gentlemen’s agreement duopoly” against the interests of the people; and many of us have been so interested in vote counting, we have overlooked a million other important discussions, such as the charges against Espada and Monserrate, and the climate those charges create for trust (or lack of trust) among legislatures and citizens.

Tom Golisano–in defending Espada for possible money-steering and Monserrate for possible domestic violence–claimed his allies had mere “personal problems” which should be set aside. And, the press and the citizens did not react to that pronouncement, and people have indeed set those concerns aside. So, now we have allowed domestic violence to be characterized as a personal problem. That is a whole other shame.

3 Responses

  1. The blame is much more simply cast on the citizens. The first thing that came to my mind with Monday’s revolt is, we’re getting what we deserve. It’s not the first time I’ve said it either.

    Often, the citizens elect people based on name recognition. I know it’s true because, when I was young, I did it. Espada was elected because of his name and the district he represents (not that he lives there.)
    So, we pull the lever cause we’re “supposedly” fulfilling our civic duty but often, certainly in the case of Espada, we are doing more harm than good. People need to educate themselves before entering the voting booth. With today’s technology, there is no excuse for not being informed.

    The second part of this equation is the most important, after electing the candidate, keep watching them. I go to every meeting, I see the deals being made, I know who is representing their constituents and who is not. I know the good, the worthy from the bad.

    Every citizen that is not seeking the information to make the best electoral decision and every citizen that is not monitoring your elected official is responsible for the circus going on down the street from me.

  2. […] is the ultimate insider, the son of a former Governor. And, if you told me months ago, during the NY State Senate Coup, that New Yorkers would have a lovefest with their legislators again, I would have thought you were […]

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