Among the most important news stories, editorials and opinion pieces to appear in the state’s press this weekend were ongoing warnings about the cost of pensions, ongoing support for ethics reform and a constitutional convention and editorials critical of Legislative leaders.
Links to all the stories listed below can be found on the Empire Page, which posts 5 days worth of stories on NYS and National government and politics. Subscriptions for individuals start at less than a quarter a day.
Gannett recapped the status of the drive to call a constitutional convention — quoting supporter and detractors. Brian Kolb’s petition website is about to go over 900 signatures. In a separate piece, Gannett covered the potential for the State Senate to vote next week on ethics legislation that passed the Assembly in the Spring. The Assembly’s bills would do away with the Commission on Public Integrity and replace it with three new commissions.
Three Gannett papers — Poughkeepsie Journal, Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin & Elmira Star Gazette — all carried editorials supporting Comptroller DiNapoli’s recommendation that local governments build a reserve to cover future pension costs. The fact that localities will have to increase their contributions to the state pension fund starting next year is going to cause considerable hardships on already strapped budgets. Some communities may have to follow the Poughkeepsie Journal’s recommendation that public employees contribute from their salaries.
The Saratogian blasted the $50 fee businesses that collect sales tax will have to pay to be re-certified and warned that this one-time fee is likely to be made permanent.
The Leader-Herald applauded the State’s inspector general for uncovering personal use of official vehicles. Clearly the lax management by government officials that encouraged personal use of public vehicles has to cease.
Two Men in A Room: Albany’s New Political Reality
The Times Union wins the best editorials award of the weekend for two excellent pieces. They go after Speaker Silver whose approach to fixing the budget is to reduce the process to two men in a room — Gov. Paterson and himself — and call for an uprising by the Assembly’s rank and file. Nice idea, but let’s not hold our breath. Remember what happened the last time someone wanted to introduce the concept of democracy into the Assembly?!
In their second four-star editorial the TU applauds the Watervliet and Green Island fire departments which saved $792,000 by sharing the cost of purchasing a new fire truck which both will be able to use. There’s more where that came from if local officials can get beyond their jurisdictional egos.
Best news story of the weekend award goes to the Kingston Freeman for reviewing the impact of last fall’s election had on the distribution of member item monies to localities. The article includes links to two websites were citizens can track who got what.
Poll Question of the Week
Was the fact that the Legislature passed fewer bills than in the past a good thing? Two thirds of those who voted this past week thought so. Eleven percent think it was a bad thing; 16 percent say neither good nor bad; 6 percent were uncertain.
This week we’re asking about New York’s economy. Is New York’s economy on the mend, struggling or still getting worse? Click here to vote.