Tag Archives: WNY Taxpayers

What a Bullsh*t State this Is

17 Feb
Shhhh.  Their brains are sleeping.

Shhhh. Their brains are sleeping.

The premier statewide liberal political blog highlights the fact that assemblyman and congressional candidate Jim Tedisco cost the taxpayers about $40,000 in free cars to himself and staffers. On what planet – under what circumstance – does an assemblyman or state legislator of any sort need or deserve a free car? Do what those of us in the dreaded private sector do, and get reimbursed for the mileage on your personal vehicle when traveling on state business.

To make it even more bizarre, Tedisco’s commute from home to Albany is 20 minutes, and he’s billed $21k in gas and oil reimbursements.

There’s also a report that Governor Paterson gave staffers a super-secret raise in the midst of a hiring and pay freeze and epic state fiscal imbalance.

The entire system is set up for cronyism, waste, unfairness, and appears to be backed up by a sense of greatness and entitlement that the ignorant and incompetent in Albany seem to have.

Legislative work in the state of New York is not supposed to be a glamor profession. It’s not supposed to be a ticket to the high life. It’s not an invitation to pair stupidity with arrogance and fleece the ailing taxpayers day in, day out.

A million taxpayer march. That’s what we ought to organize – taxpayers from around the state marching on Albany, expressing their outrage at the secretive, byzantine thing that passes for state government in New York. If you’re not wicked pissed, you’re not paying attention.

Morning Roundup

27 Jan

WNYMedia.net cameras capture Senator Schumer discussing Senator Gillibrand’s qualifications:

Some people in the Hudson Valley are quite pleased with the notion of Senator Gillibrand, and have even begun marketing the notion. Politicker counts about 30+ people interested in her congressional seat.

I can’t quite understand Republicans’ opposition to spending $875 billion to stimulate the domestic economy, given the trillion-ish dollars we’ve spent and thousands of lives lost to transform Iraq from a totalitarian kleptocratic dictatorship into a para-failed state with sectarian schism and violence, and a very close relationship with Iran.

New York’s former Health Commissioner, Dr. Antonia Novello, apparently loved to spend taxpayers’ money on a whole bunch of crap no one wanted or needed. She also treated aides and employees as if they were her private household staff. The notion among some politicians – particularly those in New York State – that public office is a sort of latter-day, New-World, nouveau nobility is one that needs to be hunted, quashed, and prosecuted. But do you know who I am?!

This story about SoS Hillary Clinton giving Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) a tongue-lashing is precious.

The Taxpayer Lawsuit Cometh

2 Dec

I wanted to make a joke about hyperbole and Jim Ostrowski, because the two are seldom parted. Ostrowski, the libertarian gadfly, is counsel for a set of plaintiffs who have sued the state of New York over what they term “corporate welfare” – giving tax breaks, incentives, and sometimes outright handouts to private entities to induce them to do business in the state. The plaintiffs in the suit claim that the amount approaches $2 billion. The case is Bordeleau v. State of New York under Albany County Index no. 6258-08.

Tomorrow, Judge Michael Lynch will hear argument on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Naturally, a rally will be held on the Capitol steps at noon in support of the lawsuit, and people are being encouraged to travel from throughout the state to attend.

The case documents are available online here, and Ostrowski is posting news about the case here. The plaintiffs claim that the use of state money in aid of private enterprise is violative of the state constitution. If they’re right, they claim that the state can save tens of billions of dollars over the next several years, and “pave the way for the outright repeal of the oppressive New York gas tax of 32.4 cents per gallon.”

That’s all well and good, but I would add that the success of this lawsuit:

1. would set New York even further back, as it would be unable to compete with other jurisdictions for whom incentivization is not illegal; and

2. what does the gas tax have to do with it? When people are asked to list the oppressive or excessive taxes and fees that they pay, the gas tax – which is based on actual consumption – isn’t it. Property taxes are the most onerous statewide, and our income taxes and generalized sales tax is nothing to write home about from Charlotte, either.

So, while the merits of the lawsuit are interesting from an esoteric legal standpoint, I’m pretty sure that the court will dismiss the suit regardless. After all, using Ostrowski’s own theory, they’re all part of the political class, and the courts will kill the case rather than permit the state to be embarassed.

Subsidizing Nonsense

5 May

As much as we bitch and moan about the perks offered to the members of public sector unions (comp time, generous vacation and benefits packages), often overlooked are the perks offered to electeds.

Much was made back in the day about Joel Giambra’s massive SUV with driver.

But what of Tom Reynolds’ Mountaineer? What of Louise Slaughter’s Buick Lucerne or Brian Higgins’ Ford Exploder?

The News detailed that taxpayers pay $500 per month for the Mountaineer, $411 per month for the Explorer, and a mind-boggling $808 per month for Slaughter’s Buick.

At least you can hand it to the local delegation for buying American.

Down in the City…

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-Queens, leases a Lexus for $998 a month; Rep. Charles Rangel takes a 2004 Cadillac DeVille for $778 a month; Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Middletown, leases a BMW 530i for $500 a month and a Nissan Altima for his chief of staff for $200 a month.

The vehicles are supposed to be for official business only. But it’s difficult to determine if members indeed use their vehicles only for job-related duties.

Most likely, Slaughter’s lease costs $808 because her district is about 80 miles long and the lease probably incorporates a high mileage allowance – more than the standard 12k per year.

But why on Earth should taxpayers be paying for a Lexus or a Cadillac or a 5-series? Why can’t these people just use their own personal vehicles, and get reimbursed for the mileage like most of us? If we expect public sector unions to sacrifice, how about showing them how it’s done, for God’s sake?

The salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $169,300 this year. Taxpayers subsidize meals at their cafeterias, haircuts and memberships at their special fitness clubs. They can zip into free parking spots near the terminals at Washington’s airports.

Some federal representatives probably know the shock of paying for their own gas these days. Higgins says he fills his wife’s minivan and the personal auto he drives when in Washington.

Their salary is ample. Their perks are legendary. If a Congressperson wants to buy a gas guzzling SUV, then by all means, go for it.

On your own dime. And pay for your own gas, too.

I don’t mind subsidizing food stamps for the poor, and I don’t mind subsidizing health care for the needy.

I do mind subsidizing dumb vehicle choices for well-to-do, privileged members of Congress.