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Sunday, March 29, 2009

NY Daily News: NY Lawmakers Worst of Worst

Capitol offenses: New York's Legislature is the worst of the worst
New York Daily News EDITORIAL - March 29th 2009

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. The government of this great state has become a civilization unto itself, separate and apart from the 19 million men, women and children who are supposedly in charge. It has become a closed, unaccountable society, afflicted by corruption. The rot emanates from a Legislature whose ways and procedures bear no resemblance to anything ever written in a handbook on U.S. civics. Legislation is drafted in secret and negotiated in secret. No record is kept of debate because there is no debate. Bills as large and complicated as the state budget are introduced and passed in a matter of hours - unread by anyone but the bosses.

The Daily News today begins a series that shines a glaring light on the open, disgraceful scandal that is Albany. It makes for timely reading because the Legislature is in the thick of the worst backroom dealing in years. Battered by an unprecedented national economic meltdown, New York is suffering an enormous, well-chronicled fiscal crisis. Spending must be slashed, or taxes must be raised, or both - all within the next few days. But no one has any idea what proposals Gov. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco and Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos have put on the table. Beyond the most general outlines, no one outside a small circle knows what programs will be cut and by how much, or how high certain taxes will rise. Although politically connected lobbyists have been hard at work, the public at large has had no say over any of the matters.

Neither house has introduced a budget bill, let alone held a hearing. Both houses have blatantly disregarded rules requiring them to settle differences in public in conference committees - standard in Congress and state legislatures across the country. But not in New York. In New York, lawmakers can do as little as they please in the open. Because they have, with methodical efficiency, rigged the system to deny would-be candidates fair shots at challenging incumbents. Then, established as impregnable, they have all but eliminated ethics and financial disclosure rules. Agencies charged with policing conflicts of interest and worse have been eviscerated. Sure as night follows day when politicians operate without public accountablity, Albany has descended into a culture of chiseling and outright crime. Soon we'll be able to establish an Indictment of the Week club. Whose fault is all this? In the largest sense, we have met the enemy and he is us. We haven't thrown the bums out, so they respond to all criticisms by claiming to be beloved of the people. Which is, of course, crap. Next to blame are rank-and-file lawmakers. They have surrendered their initiative and independence to bosses who buy loyalty with extra pay and perks. And the pols sell cheap.

New York deserves much better. Over the coming days, we will lay out a reform agenda, calling for specific actions in areas ranging from redistricting to establishing a muscular, independent investigative authority.We'll do so understanding that those who can make change have grown quite comfortable with the way things are. Nothing will happen until even a few lawmakers recognize that they have devalued and demeaned the offices to which they were elected. Put most simply, they need to regain their self-respect.


Anonymous said...

One big reason the courts are so corrupt is because the lawmakers rig the rules that way. DISGRACEFUL!!

Anonymous said...

They rig the rules and change the laws when it fits their agenda..and that is a fact!

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2
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