Democrats took control of the State Senate last month after more than four decades of Republican rule, then set out to determine how the Senate’s own budget of nearly $100 million and its attendant perks were being distributed.It's true.
They are still trying to figure it out.
They recently realized there are some 75 employees working at the Senate’s own printing plant, a plain brick building on the outskirts of Albany. On Long Island, they found a small television studio, which had been set up — all with public money, with two press aides on hand to help operate it — for the exclusive use of Republican senators to record cable TV shows.
Democrats also came across what they are calling the “Brunomobile,” a $50,000 specially outfitted GMC van, with six leather captain’s chairs (some swiveling), a navigation system, rearview camera and meeting table. Joseph L. Bruno, the former Senate majority leader who was recently indicted on corruption charges, traveled in the van after his use of state helicopters sparked a feud with the Spitzer administration.
Then there are the parking spots, always at a premium near the Capitol. Democrats had been given roughly one spot per senator — there were 30 Democrats last year — and guessed there were perhaps double or even triple that controlled by the majority. Instead, they have learned, there are more than 800.
And Democratic leaders must determine what to do about 45 workers toiling away in a building close to the Capitol who appear to have been engaged in quasi-political research for the Republicans.
They did spend quite a bit on pork and the perks of being the party in power for decades. That's taxpayer dollars wasted on pork barrel projects and programs designed to maintain the political status quo.
Here's my problem.
Why didn't the New York Times do anything to uncover any of this use and abuse of our taxpayer dollars before the Senate changed hands from the GOP to Democrat control this year? These are longstanding issues - some going back decades, and yet only now the Times is getting its story?
One has to wonder what the Times could uncover if it bothered to check out what the Assembly Democrats have concocted for decades, given that they have held on to that chamber for as long as the Senate Republicans held on to that chamber.
Albany is an equal opportunity porkfest and given how until this year the legislature was split between Democrat Assembly and Republican Senate, both legislative leaders (Speaker Shelly Silver and until last year Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno) were signing off on the spending for both chambers and the larded up porkfest that are called member items.
The press covering Albany has been lackluster in showing just how the state spends our money and wastes our money on such perks of power.