Does the citizen stand a chance?
The men and women who count in Albany have finished their work. Legislators now want a pay raise which has, to say the least, annoyed all those folks who need more money like the civil servants who carry the bedpans and all those who might have had a minimum wage increase. In some places they call that gall; in others chutzpah. After all, they did not actually distinguish themselves this year. If one bothers to look, the record is pretty clear. Let’s just take a look at what happened in the sausage factory we call the governmental process.
There was no minimum wage increase that might have allowed someone making $15,000 a year and trying to support a family, to exist. Predictably, Senate Republicans who want a pay raise for a few months work are telling the folks who have nothing to get lost. They say that raising the minimum wage a few bucks would be “a job killer.” To put it mildly, the failure to raise the minimum wage, something the Democratic Assembly voted for, constitutes a real economic crime. The governor says he is for it but didn’t use his considerable sway with his friends in the Republican Party to make it happen. Of all the terrible things that happened in Albany this year, this made the top of the list.
Then let’s take a look at ethics in the Capitol. The Legislature and the governor got together to pass yet another ethics bill that resulted in something the best real ethicist in Albany David Grandeau called “J-Joke.” It’s real name is J-COPE but Grandeau was right. The new commission has so many holes in it that it resembles a piece of Swiss cheese. Instead of a true outside group to pass judgment on Albany misdeeds, what we got was a bunch of foxes populating the Albany henhouse. Incredibly, the Republican majority was assured of future appointing power even if it goes into the minority. This concession to the prevailing Republicans is so extraordinarily breathtaking that one can only shake one’s head. I’ve been watching the governmental circus for a long time but this one really takes the cake.
Naturally, no look at the legislative record would be complete without the granddaddy of the chutzpah parade — reapportionment. When he was campaigning, the governor properly said he would veto any bill that did not give the reapportionment power to an outside group. He didn’t. Once again. Dean Skelos who is the Senate majority leader was allowed to draw the districts for his house and even to add an extra seat to give his Republican caucus some extra wiggle room. The Legislature then covered their tracks with a highly suspect constitutional amendment to be named in the future. Even if the phony fix passes, it will leave things pretty much where they are now with the legislative majorities in the driver’s seat. The whole thing stinks so badly that we can only suspect that someone left a bunch of rotting fish in the Capitol.
Of course the highly paid and appointed public relations teams for the three men in the room are practicing the art of what Governor Mario Cuomo once called “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” This is the art of making stuff up after the fact. We are now seeing every traditional use of media plus the new social media to get the word out. Your tax dollars are being used to create false propaganda that is unrivaled in New York state. This little column will hardly counter this massive army of PR people who are out there making up a false reality. The truth is that once again what the late Peter Berle once asked, “Does the citizen stand a chance?” can only be answered, “No.” Sad. Very sad.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 6/25/12Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized