2007-10-25 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Our State Lawmakers: Just A Bunch Of City Brats
By Charles Rogers

By Charles Rogers

You don't have to look too closely nowadays to see and hear two leaders of New York State government arguing like schoolboys so vehemently that nothing is getting done in Albany.

One brat doing a lot of yelling is Eliot Spitzer, our Democratic Governor; the other is State Senator Joseph Bruno, the Republican Minority Leader in the Senate, one of two houses that comprise the legislative branch of our state government. The other house is the State Assembly, which is headed by Speaker Sheldon Silver. It's the same setup as our federal government, in essence, including the in-fighting when one is not of the same political party.

Generally speaking, we expect gnashing of teeth between the executive (governor) and legislative branches, especially if the governor is a Democrat and even one of the others is Republican (Bruno). In the long run (or even short), in a democratic form of government, it is geared to work pretty well, since it establishes a form of checks and balances on so many items of importance.

But it doesn't work well if they, like schoolboys, hate each other so much they're starting to throw spitballs across the room and call each other nasty names. One of these days, one of them is going to have to go to the principal's office.

In any case, nothing is getting done! Oh, yeah, without checking with the others, Spitzer already decreed that illegal immigrants will be allowed to pick up their driver's license without any problems, but, although he's sticking to his guns, he'll talk about it some more before implementing it statewide.

That said, what he is doing is showing us (me) what kind of man he is, and the first word that comes to mind is vindictive, followed closely by vengeful.

I figured when he was running for office that he might be a good choice. After all, he's been around a long time; knows the ropes; appears to be one of the honest guys that can't be bought and was a pretty damned good attorney general. A nose to the grindstone kinda guy!

Little did I know that those who oppose him had better either know their way around state politics better than he or had better be very, very self-reliant, 'cause he'll come down on them like a tornado; a brat of a tornado.

A couple of cases in point: Our pal Republican Joe Bruno had fought Spitzer on a couple of bills, so the governor allegedly had his aides check out several "politically oriented" trips Bruno made by helicopter from Albany to Manhattan, for which he billed the state, noting that regular Senate business was conducted during the trip.

Bruno said Spitzer had "sicked his State Troopers" on the senator to see if his allegations might be true. Well, when word got out that Bruno had allegedly used helicopters in that manner, he accused Spitzer of having state troopers spy on him. It came to a point where the current attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, finally conducted an investigation that said Bruno did no wrong and Governor Spitzer should not have sent his troopers.

When Bruno got that word, he was elated and his GOP cronies said they wanted to turn the situation around and have the Governor investigated too. They contacted the county district attorney, who said he wanted to have Spitzer testify under oath that there was no collusion with the state troopers. Of course, the Governor says he won't testify and the case is being investigated by an ethics commission.

Another case in point: Are you familiar with the name Assemblyman James Tedisco? He is the Assembly's Minority Leader who opposed Spitzer's plan on illegal immigrants' driver's licenses. It's a big deal with the Governor, and, although he has already put his signature on it (without letting people from either legislative house know), he's getting a lot of flak from Tedisco.

You know what he did? He had his budget director halt more than $300,000 worth of funding for various projects within Tedisco's Assembly district (Upstate); money that meant jobs and was practically in the bank.

I guess one can ascribe all this stuff to being "just politics" because, like it or not, it's a reality show - and right now it has no ending.

Maybe by the end of the day the Governor and the rest of the brats will stop playing in their sand box long enough to, uh, govern.

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