It’s tough being a father. You want your children to do well and will do just about anything to help them succeed. Take the case of Pedro Espada. Pedro is a successful politician. He recently became the majority leader of the NYS Senate — albeit over the body of Malcolm Smith who had been elected last fall after the Democratic Party won control of the Senate for the first time in four decades.
Pedro sees his son struggling — earning less than six figures laboring in New York City’s political trenches. Naturally he wants to be able to use some of the perks that come with his job — namely, the ability to hire people — to help his son. He tries adding him to his staff, but finds out that’s against the law. Then one of the leaders of the operations side of the Senate creates a $120,000 year job for Pedro, Jr. Was he asked or did he do it because he realized he would be earning the gratitude of Pedro, Sr.? Does it matter?
But word gets out, the AG investigates and the father has to talk his son into resigning. What is the lesson we can learn from this soap opera episode?
To some people politics is all about getting into the position of handing out money and jobs to your friends and family. If you’re a member of a minority ethnic group, you can justify this in your mind by refering to the past when your people were not welcome at the public feeding trough and when that’s how other ethnic groups operated.
But is that the kind of people we want holding public office today? Is the concept of a elected official operating as an impartial mediator realistic? Can we expect elected officials to accept donations to their campaign committees and not be influenced? The Empire Page will take up this topic. Watch for upcoming interviews and panel discussions in the Improving New York section of the website.