New Yorkers have been complaining for many years about their abysmal state government, but it has simply grown worse. The state has become a national embarrassment, a swamp of intrigue and corruption, a $131 billion monster controlled by a crowd of smug officials whose main concern is keeping their soft jobs. By now, most New Yorkers have given up hope that these officials are capable of cleaning up their own mess.Maybe there's a real good reason that the Times had to can another 100 people in their newsroom today. Maybe it has something to do with myopia and a failure to report the massive failure of the state government for years on end that now culminate in a $50 billion deficit due to the state spending billions more than it could ever hope to take in due to unfunded mandates, a bad state economy (and even worse upstate economy that has been reeling for years due to a collapse of the state's manufacturing base and key companies like IBM, Xerox and Kodak).
The clock is ticking. In one year, unless the Albany crowd pulls off some miracle, which we doubt will happen, it will be up to the voters to get them out, all of them.
To recap some recent outrages:
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who promised to reform Albany on Day One, was forced to resign on Day 441 after his bizarre antics with a prostitute. His replacement, David Paterson, has been weak and ineffective. The state comptroller was forced to resign after confessing to a felony involving his misuse of state resources. Three of his close associates have been arrested on charges of bribery and grand larceny.
A dozen legislators in the last few years have been convicted of serious crimes including bribery, mail fraud, extortion and racketeering. Joseph Bruno, the Senate majority leader who resigned last year, is fighting federal charges that he collected more than $3 million in fees from companies trying to do business with the state.
After failing to do the people’s business for years, the Senate was shut down for a month this summer by two Democratic senators. Pedro Espada Jr., one of them, is under investigation for not filing campaign finance forms and over allegations that he funneled state money into his own business. The other, Hiram Monserrate, was convicted last week of assaulting his girlfriend.
How do we let such people anywhere near a legislature? The answer is in voters’ hands. It is time to change the culture.
For starters, voters must realize that the politicians that they've repeatedly reelected to office are incompetent and incapable of making any decision tougher than rubber stamping a decision by the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Governor to produce an annual state budget that empties taxpayer pockets and leaves the state budget in tatters.
They also have a way of electing politicians who assault their girlfriends and engage in all manner of illicit activities. To their credit, Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kristen Gillinbrand (both Democrats) called on Monserrate to step down (but don't expect that to happen, or expect voters in his district to even notice).
And the problems aren't just in Albany. The same exact problems occur in Washington; Speaker Pelosi promised to drain the swamp of corruption, and yet she ignores multimillion dollar multiple ethical, legal and tax problems with none other than senior New York Congressman Democrat Charles Rangel. The Times called on him to step down from the post, but that's met with deaf ears.
The problems are also severe in New Jersey, where dozens of politicians have been indicted and convicted on corruption charges. Yet, we've got Republicans pushing candidates who apparently have unsavory connections to the porn industry, while Democrats have to run away from their "achievements" like Jon Corzine, because the economy is in tatters, state taxes have risen, and the only growth has been in the size of the state workforce.
It's time that the taxpayers cut through the crap spewed by the politicians. That means journalists doing more actual reporting of the news and less editorializing in hard news stories.