Wednesday, July 9, 2008

MCC Board Appointment Rammed Through

Let's make the points of contention clear:

  An appointment to the Monroe Community College Board of Trustees is presented in summary fashion.

  Stakeholders -- not just elected officials, but also faculty, students, and members of the community that supports this Community College -- are not given adequate time to review the appointment before it's approved.

  Members of the County Legislature are denied the right even to interview the nominee, or to question him in open public session.

  It's an appointment that almost everyone agrees looked solid (to borrow the words of newspaper editor Jim Lawrence), if only because the new trustee has served on the board of the MCC Foundation.   But it's the way it's done -- the process, that undermines public confidence.

For these reasons, the entire community should deplore the appointment of Howard Konar to MCC's Board of Trustees, by Governor Paterson.

Only nobody's doing any deploring, at least not of the Konar appointment. 

Instead, Democrats in the County Legislature spent last night denouncing the appointment of John Bartolotta to the college's Board of Trustees, for every one of the reasons stated above.  Editor Lawrence followed suit this morning.  Yet none of them said a word about the appointment of Konar, to which every one of those points of contention apply.

Even casual observers of the local political scene will recognize immediately the reason for this monumental hypocrisy.   The factors listed above apply every bit to both appointments.  The difference in the reactions is that Konar was the appointment of a Democratic public official, so, of course, it's blameless, while Bartolotta is the appointment of Republican elected officials, so of course it's denounced.

We applaud Maggie Brooks for seeking a new era of cooperation in government.   But we hope she has no illusions of the environment in which she must pursue it.   County Democrats and their cheerleaders like Mr. Lawrence understand "cooperation" to mean this:

"What's ours is ours.   What's yours is up for grabs."


Rottenchester said...

I understand your general point that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, but in this specific case, I don't agree.

Gov Paterson has no history of trying to ram through a political appointee of questionable qualification to a non-partisan post. Brooks does. So it's natural and expected that her appointee will get extra scrutiny. Even though she's declared that "things have changed", the political reality is that she's going to have to show extra transparency when dealing with the MCC board, at least in the short term, to repair the trust that's been lost.

Anonymous said...

Rottenchester wrote "I understand your general point that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, but in this specific case, I don't agree."

Gee, who would have seen that coming? A dem does the exact same thing as a republican and you find some "difference" to make it all o.k. You can always rationalize away when it is pointed out the dems do the exact same thing can't you?

Partisan over logic much?

First, define for me what you believe is a "non-partisan post"?

Next, can you really tell me that Gov. Patterson's appt to MCC was not a life-long dem who will pretty much vote the way you would expect a dem to vote on each and every issue? Really? If you really want me to I can find plenty of instances of state/local dems ramming people through who have "questionable qualifications". Suprise suprise - in your mind beina republican is a questionable qualification. In my mind anyone who believes any leftist idiocy has limited mental capacity and therefore "questionable qualifications". Thus, I doubt we will ever agree on what constitutes the right qualifications for any job. Certainly, the PD craziness by the dems demonstrated that qualifications weren't the issue, instead they wanted to be able to control the process that we actually had an election to decide (remember, the GOP won a majority on the County Leg and has the authority to make the appointment - I'm always amazed that dems hate democracy so much).

And, really, when was the last time any dem gave up their power of appointment to someone else who was not on their own side of the aisle? I know that it is probable that in your mind the black minister, Grawa, minority bar association, etc. are all "non-partisan" and therefore should have been allowed to pick the PD. Despite the fact that each of those organizations is about as hyper-partisan left-wing as it gets. And don't get me starte on Tom Smith and the Monroe County BAr - I know Tom Smith and he is a life-long hyper-partisan dem. And, the MCBA never took any kind of survey or vote as to where its membership stood on the issue and was forced to write many editorials in the MCBA Bulletin defending its action b/c so many members voiced disgust over the abuse of the MCBA that Tom Smith did.

I get so tired of this inane kind of argument (demos = good / republicans = bad). When the City Council and the RCSD allow republicans to have the power to vet and veto appointments that the City Council and RCSD have the authority to make, come back and talk to me. Until then you are either ignorent or dishonest. The dems win an election they get to make appointments. The republicans win and they get to make appts, and both sides pick people from their own party and almost always pick people who have been active in the party. Yes, sometimes the people picked aren't the best of all possible candidates and it is merely giving away political spoils to reward a party loyalist. But, this claim that only the republicans do it is so dishonest that I find it to verge on blatant lying if the person claiming it has any political knowledge whatsoever, which you purport to have.

I have to ask - do you really, honestly believe that the local dems are pure as the driven snow, don't play politics and arn non-partisan but that the local republicans are evil and partisan? Please, again, define partisan. Your definition seems to be "opposing anything democrats want" makes one a nasty partisan.

As to things "changing" under Brooks. I hope she is just talking the talk and doesn't really try to be "non-partisan". The local dems are as hyper-partisan and play politics on every single issue (with the complete support and cover of the local media) and I hope and pray that republicans continue to do the same rather than giving in to the crazy ideas that dems have.

- Great Banana

Rottenchester said...

First, define for me what you believe is a "non-partisan post"?

The presidency of a college is a non-partisan post, because the best-qualified candidate, regardless of their party affiliation, should be chosen.

Perhaps "patronage" would be a better term than partisan. The MCC president is not a "patronage" post. The dust-up over the recent MCC presidency search was because it was treated as such. Two candidates who did not have the professional qualifications for president of a community college were inserted into the process by Monroe County Republicans.

MCC faculty and staff recently voted almost unanimously for a no-confidence vote in the current board. Maggie Brooks fired the chair of the local Republican party and has made statements about a new era of cooperation, and most think the MCC dust-up was part of the reason.

So, I think it's fair to say that there's a widely-perceived issue of excessive partisanship surrounding the MCC board of trustees.

Next, can you really tell me that Gov. Patterson's appt to MCC was not a life-long dem who will pretty much vote the way you would expect a dem to vote on each and every issue?

No, and I didn't say that in my short comment. What I said is that he "has no history of trying to ram through a political appointment of questionable qualification to a non-partisan post".

I believe that statement is true. Paterson has no such history as governor. I fully expect Paterson to make a huge number of patronage appointments. That's how the system works, and I'm not debating it here. He hasn't tried to turn non-patronage posts into patronage appointments. That's the difference.

My point was a simple one: the Brooks administration tried to treat the MCC presidency as a patronage appointment. Therefore, everything she does at MCC in the short term will be getting extra scrutiny. I agree with Philbrick that it isn't strictly fair, but, politically, it should be expected.

The rest of your comment consists of refutations of claims I didn't make. If you want to have a serious discussion, please restrict yourself to the point at hand. If you want to fulminate about "typical Democrats" then keep me out of it.

By the way, you are very wrong about my attitude towards many local Democrats. For example, I think many of David Gantt's actions are deplorable, as is his attitude, and have said so in comments to that effect on Rochesterturning:

Philbrick said...

The link that Rottenchester included at the end of the immediately preceding comment was cut off in posting.

Here's the complete link: