Tuesday, October 19, 2010

OK. They Really Are Fed Up

We were wrong.   (So what else is new?)   The editorialists of the Democrat and Chronicle really mean it when they say they're fed up with Albany.

The first indication came Saturday.   The Editorial Board had asked state legislative candidates to answer three questions.   One went right to the heart of one of the key policy disasters that makes government in New York the most expensive in the country:   "Do you favor repeal of the Triborough Amendments?"

Wow.   Little known beyond Albany insiders and policy wonks, the Triborough Amendments represent a bright-line litmus test to show who's serious about reforming Albany and who's faking it.

A Rockefeller-era change to state labor law, Triborough was eagerly sought by the public employee unions.   Normally when a union contract expires, negotiations for a new contract start at zero.   Everything's on the table, and the union risks losing benefits its members had under the old contract.   Triborough changed that.   Now, if a municipality's contract with a public employee union expires and the parties can't agree to a new one, the provisions of the old contract continue.

This deprives the local government, representing the taxpayers, of their main means of leverage in negotiating with a union.   The union has nothing to lose.   It's guaranteed at least everything it already has.   And so, absent unusual circumstances, the cost of government rachets up with every contract, never down.

We'll have more to say in an upcoming post about the candidates' responses to the paper's Triborough question.   For now it's enough to note that this was an incisive, separate-the-wheat-from-the-chaff question on a issue central to New York's recovery.

Then came Sunday's endorsements.

We can accord the Democrat and Chronicle no higher praise than this:   their take on the candidates is the same as ours.   They called out incumbents who have "failed New York" and whose "go-along to get along approach ... is a big part of the Albany problem." Amen.

Local Republican State Senators haven't done a thing to reform a broken system, even when they had the majority.   They do one thing consistently and well:   ensure their own re-election.   Beyond that, it's just go-along, get-along and preserve a rotten system.

Maziarz has "no concrete suggestions on how to balance [the State's] budget."   Alesi's had 14 years to change things and has changed nothing.   Nozzolio "epitomizes the career politician interested in protecting special interests."

Joe Robach, Alesi and Maziarz all said they want to keep the offending parts of the Triborough Amendments.   Nozzolio gave a mealy-mouthed non-answer.   All get substantial contributions from public employee unions.

Nor is the paper taken in by Joe Morelle's flamboyant political cross-dressing for election season:   He "has become the quintessential Albany insider [who] refuses to hold Sheldon Silver accountable."   "Morelle has proven he's a pro at the Albany game [but] at this juncture the people of New York need individuals ready to change the game."

David Gantt "too often has aligned himself with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver" and his "voice has too often been mute amid calls for desperately needed legislative reforms."

David Koon's heart is in the right place on certain issues, but he can't get anything done.   "He's been unable to build a coalition of reform-minded Assembly members, and consequently, he has become part of the problem."   A cipher marking time to a state pension.


We never doubted the D&C's understanding of the policy-level problems that beset the state.   Yet we expected that, as the election drew closer, their sense of being fed up with Albany would yield to their customary political predispositions.

That didn't happen.

With clarity and intellectual integrity, the Democrat and Chronicle called it like it is.   A shining moment of lucidity.

Then this morning they fell of the wagon and endorsed an unqualified judicial candidate for no reason other than the color of her skin.   And all the incumbents they criticized are going to be re-elected.   Still, on Sunday the D&C showed that it can muster at least a glimmer of integrity once in a while.


Anonymous said...

The Republicans in the state senate are not really Republicans, if by Republican you mean fiscally conservative, pro-taxpayer, pro-small government. Robach, Nozzolio, Alesi and Maziarz are all pro-union lackeys who voted for all of the Pataki-era bloated budgets and Medicaid enhancements that have given us the highest property taxes in the country. They are also spineless in that they are unwilling to be honest with the voters about their Big Government inclinations. If the GOP holds the senate, the first order of business has to be building a bench so these guys can be primaried the next round.

Anonymous said...

Philbrick, you've been around long enough to have known better with the D&C's editors. They feign outrage at Albany, but let's do a bit of onion peeling on their real agenda here. They endorsed Republicans for the Assembly seats, where the Democrats have such a lopsided majority it won't matter a twit if a few more Republicans are elected. In other words, it won't cost their liberal friends anything if a couple more Rochester Republicans are roaming the halls. But now look at there this election year counts -- the state senate -- and their endorsements are all liberal Democrats. This isn't by accident. Nothing has changed at the D&C -- still so very liberal in every way.