Unpopular Governor & Sunday’s Best Editorials

Empire Page readers gave Governor David Paterson a very poor grade in last week’s poll.  Of the 296 readers who graded the governor on a scale of 1 to 5, only 14 (5%) gave him a 1 and only 8 (3%) gave him a 2.   The vast majority gave him a 5 (64%) or a 4 (16%).

There’s only one way that David Paterson can save his governorship and perhaps still have a chance at being re-elected…and that is to stop worrying about being re-elected.  For the past year we have seen him engage in a pattern of behavior that is guaranteed to alienate everyone.  First, he identifies a problem and takes a stand, advocating a (most of the time) logical solution. Then, however, he appears to back down when the inevitable opposition arises.  The Gov. must learn not to speak up until he’s ready to go to the wall on an issue.  He should also stop caving into Speaker Silver. While admittedly it may be too late, he must put the needs of the state as a whole ahead of his political future – which after all is what a governor is supposed to do.

Sunday’s Best Editorials and Columns

If you want the benefit of sharp thinking about NYS problems, read Sunday’s Buffalo News’ editorial on Wicks Law, the Times-Herald-Record of Middletown’s editorial “New Yorkers get the information that they need” and two columns: Alan Chartock’s piece in the Sunday Freeman “Same old, same old in Albany” and Bob McCarthy’s “Who’s at fault for the budget”.

The Buffalo News continues to tear into the state’s political establishment these days.  This week they endorse the views of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state of New York that argues that last year’s so-called reform of the Wicks law violates both the NYS and US Constitutions.

The Wicks Law artificially inflates construction costs on large public projects.  Frankly, it exists in order to force contractors to hire union labor, demonstrating that organized labor has considerably more political muscle than the business community in NYS.  If the courts overturn last year’s “reform” perhaps Albany will find the backbone to do the right thing, which is to make the bidding process truly competitive.

In their Sunday editorial the Times Herald Record applauds Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for creating a website where citizens can learn “how much a candidate or elected official donated or received, look at the lobbying efforts and expenditures that get bills passed, see who got what in terms of member items and study dozens of other pieces of information that make for an informed citizenry.”  You can access the site at www.sunlightny.com.

The THR also applauds access to a database assembled by the Business Council, Manhattan Institute and other groups that allows citizens to compare what they pay in taxes with taxpayers in other parts of the state.  You can access the database at www.seethroughny.net.

Poor Alan Chartock and Bob McCarthy!  Each week they have to churn out a column about NYS government and politics. The problem is that it’s tough to find much positive to write about these days.  Instead they see the “same old Albany” operating in the way it’s done for too many years …even after the cast of characters has changed.

The problem with New York’s political system is that little good happens until a “knight in shining armor” becomes governor and rescues us from a Legislature that is dominated by regional and special interest loyalties. But given the recent record of knights in shining armor, it’s time we recognized that’s no longer the solution.  Instead we need structural reform not “better” leaders.  Read the Federalist Papers.  Our founding fathers understood that you need countervailing forces to balance interests.

In New York the Legislature is too strong relative to the Executive branch.   The Legislature prevails because it is not democratically elected or run.   We live in the world’s greatest democracy except in NYS, which in truth more closely resembles the way things are done in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Take the power to draw their own district lines away from the Legislature and impose reforms that reduce the powers of the Speaker and New Yorkers will be able to look forward to an exciting future.

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