Tag Archives: Albany politics

New York State: Taxaholic, Spendaholic

30 Jun

I absolutely love this cartoon.

HT Marquil at EmpireWire.com

Marc Coppola Running in SD-61; Calls for End to Fusion Voting

23 Jun

The political system is remarkably broken and corrupt. As a result, the policies that emanate from Albany are generally stupid, short-sighted, and designed to ensure re-election and the pleasing of various lobbyists and other special interest groups.

It’s easy to lapse into the habit of criticizing what amount to the symptoms of our broken politics, but oftentimes it’s important to go for the cure, instead. Two antibiotics would help to kill the infections that sicken Albany. Firstly, the legislative reform proposals that NYU’s Brennan Center has been pushing for almost half a decade should have long ago been implemented. They won’t be, however, because the current three-men-in-a-room system is advantageous to the legislators, who seldom have to do much or act effectively or responsibly.

Secondly, electoral fusion must be abolished because it is corrupt and corrupting.

Electoral fusion is the system whereby meaningless, pointless, and redundant special-interest groups and PACs get to call themselves political parties. But instead of actually running candidates for office, they simply cut deals to endorse major-party candidates. The minor parties get something in return, of course. Usually jobs or the promise of jobs. If the parties call themselves something catchy, they may garner 50,000 votes in any given gubernatorial election, thus ensuring that they remain on the ballot statewide for the following four years, cutting deals and endorsing major party candidates.

You think of yourself as a conservative, and refuse to vote for a Democrat like Tim Kennedy? Kennedy got the Conservative Party line! So vote for him there, pretend your conscience is clear, and help somebody’s brother’s cousin get a job at some state authority.

You think of yourself as an independent voter and enroll in the “Independence Party”? Welcome to the world of Steve Pigeon and Frank MacKay, as well as Tom Golisano’s money. At least Sandy Rosenswie got a job out of last year’s endorsements. Whew!

It’s particularly noteworthy and appreciated, therefore, that former Buffalo City Councilman and former State Senator from SD-60, Marc Coppola, has come out swinging in his current, new campaign against State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer in SD-61. Instead of criticizing his opponent’s lack of leadership or ideas, he’s swinging against the system itself.

Coppola has pledged not to seek or accept the endorsement of any minor party lines, and has also promised to introduce legislation to abolish electoral fusion in New York State. Ours is one of only eight states in the Union that still allow minor parties to endorse members of other parties and to count the aggregate votes towards the total. This ensures that petty power brokers continue to wield influence that is disproportionately large in relation to the actual number of party members or voters.

Coppola’s effort is radical – and that’s unfortunate. Every candidate should stand on principle and transparency, but few of them do. Indeed, many of them create their own little party lines for vanity or strategy. Carl Paladino is doing it right now for the tea party, and Chris Collins did it with the “Taxpayers First” line.

You can’t clean up Albany without abolishing the anachronistic fusion system, which exists solely to encourage transactional politics and discourages good government. Here’s the text of Coppola’s press release on the issue:

Town of Tonawanda resident and candidate for NYS Senate Marc Coppola is calling for an end to political corruption in Albany. Several minor party leaders are now under investigation for alleged illegal activities.

Coppola, who is the endorsed Democrat for State Senate running against Mike Ranzenhofer for the 61st district, believes fusion voting is part of the problem. It’s an election system that allows for candidates to run on multiple party lines. “Minor parties and their leaders have a disproportionate amount of influence in New York State politics and our government,” said Coppola. “It has proven to be a pay to play system and a breeding ground for corruption. New York is one of only several states in the country that allows the tail to wag the dog and the voters and residents of this state deserve better.”

Coppola has not requested and will not accept any party nomination other than his own and challenges his opponent, incumbent Mike Ranzenhofer to do the same. “As long as candidates participate in this system that has become disingenuous, sometimes corrupt, and an insult to voters, it will continue. I for one choose not to.”

If elected, Coppola will sponsor legislation ending fusion voting in New York State.

Now, here’s the question: will Mike Ranzenhofer do the same thing? If not, why not? Will anyone ask him?

Misguided Anger

22 Jun

To the extent that any given, nominal “tea party” candidate has a platform or ideology, it can be summed up by, “angry” and “anti-Obama”. Naturally, those two platform planks work best with outsiders, so anti-incumbency is folded into that.

Carl Paladino, for instance, has a few policy proposals that are as facile as they are unlikely to occur, but that’s not why his campaign gets attention. He gets attention because he’s “mad as hell”.

The candidates in 2010 who express anger in that way will definitely attract the disaffected McCain voter, which is in essence who makes up the overwhelming majority of the so-called “tea party” alleged “movement”. But what about independent voters? What about swing voters? These people may be unhappy with the administration’s weak economic stimulus or the watered-down health care reform bill, or the oil spill – but is anger enough to motivate them to vote for a tea partier? Hell, if they want better action from Obama, elect more Democrats. Especially to the Senate.

Because most Americans – the overwhelming majority of them – aren’t partisan ideologues on either side of the spectrum. They’re pretty middle-of-the-road. And those voters aren’t going to be swayed by anger alone. David Frum explains in the Daily Telegraph that the Tea Party has shot the domestic political right in its own foot in Kentucky and Nevada – and even in Pennsylvania. Whereas Harry Reid was vulnerable this cycle, the Republican Party nominated a tea party candidate so nutty that she’s been forbidden by the state party to speaking with the press for the foreseeable future. Likewise, while Rand Paul announced that the tea party had spoken the night he won the Republican primary for US Senate from Kentucky, his mainstream opponent, incumbent Jim Bunning, held a 30-point lead against the Democrat, Jack Conway. Rand Paul is such a carbon copy of his father, Ron, that he now holds only a 6-point lead against Conway.

New Yorkers are among the most taxed people in the nation. Not for nothing former Governor Spitzer referred to upstate’s generations-long malaise as having turned it into “Appalachia”. We’re all angry. But Carl Paladino’s “I’m angry, too” campaign isn’t going to do anything more than siphon off votes from Rick Lazio.

It’s difficult for a political party to think strategically after a political defeat as severe as 2008’s. But the Tea Party elevated the inability to think strategically into a fundamental conservative principle. Its militants denounce those Republicans who have resisted the movement as ideological traitors: “Republicans in name only” or even (charmingly) as “Vichy Republicans”. In fact, the unthinking rejectionism of the Tea Party has strengthened Obama’s political position. Now it threatens to deplete Republican strength in Congress, losing races that could have been won.

David Cameron’s Conservatism responds to local British conditions. It’s not an export product. But there is at least one big lesson that Americans could learn from him when the Tea Party finally ends: yes, a party must champion the values of the voters it already has. But it must also speak to the voters it still needs to win.

Carl Paladino might as well be on the Cuomo payroll.

HT Andrew Sullivan

Cleaning Up Albany With a Baseball Bat and Whatnot

15 Jun

Manhattan Grand Jury Indicts Paladino Petitionmeister

14 Jun

I’m looking around, and I think it’s safe to say that this site was the first and only news portal of any kind in WNY to report on the legal troubles surrounding John Haggerty, whom Carl Paladino tapped several months ago to coordinate his petition-gathering effort.

Just 10-ish days later, a Manhattan grand jury has indicted Haggerty for allegedly misappropriating, laundering, or otherwise converting about $1 million in campaign contributions made by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the state Independence Party.

One of the attractions of the Paladino campaign is that he will ostensibly run an ethical administration, pledging to clean Albany up, with blunt instruments, if necessary. He accuses Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of crimes for which he should be sent to Attica, yet Silver has been indicted by a grand jury on zero occasions. Mr. Haggerty, on the other hand, is under indictment for grand larceny, money laundering, and falsifying business records.

You’ll note that Haggerty is the member of a rogue group of Republicans that has broken away from the Queens GOP establishment – a group which includes Paladino’s running mate, Tom Ognibene.

One would expect a reform campaign that bases part of its platform on transparency, openness, and responsive government would disassociate itself from an indicted alleged felon, if for no other reason to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Instead, they’re doubling down, as seen here in the reviled comments section of the Buffalo News:

Antoine Thompson Deflects the Easy Questions

8 Jun

Check out WGRZ’s Ron Plants trying to ask Antoine Thompson what could possibly be the simplest, most basic question a reporter could ask a useless state legislator.

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HT Shredd & Ragan

Cuomo Reax

24 May

The New York State Democratic Convention will be  – well, convening – in Rye Brook this week.  Chances are good that WNYMedia.net will head downstate for some nominating action, although that’s a lot of driving for dull speeches and foregone conclusions.

I wanted to highlight a few reactions to Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign announcement:

1. The Brennan Center is cautiously optimistic, and pleased that some of the changes it has been advocating for have made it into Cuomo’s plan.

2. The Albany Project discusses the desirability of having a policy wonk as governor.  Specifically, there’s this book that Cuomo put out (.pdf, 224 pages), detailing his plan for New York.

3. Cuomo’s campaign logo is … unwieldly.

4. Cuomo’s pledge to reform New York’s campaign finance “system” is familiar and repetitive – time will tell if anything actually comes of it.

NB: A 224-page book is greater than being mad as hell.

Disreputable and Discredited

23 May

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

Cuomo vs. Albany

23 May

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire

Albany Math

18 May

Teddy Roosevelt haz a sad

As David Paterson continues to beg and plead with the State Assembly and Senate to work on the long overdue New York State budget, I found a video that might help solve the stalemate over the $9,000,000,000 deficit.  It’s all in how you add up the numbers, you see.  These guys need to use the “new math” in order to close the budget hole.  Using these tested and trusted Wall Street like accounting techniques, the budget gap will be closed in no time at all.

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Just get it done, already.