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The Farce Continues in Albany

Posted by Pete Healey on January 22, 2010 at 1:23 AM Comments comments (12)

When the state legislature wants to act, they can act quickly and decisively. Just the other day both houses passed an ethics reform bill and there were only three votes cast in opposition(we will endeavor to find out their names and applaud them here in the near future). This action was in response to the Governor's call for sweeping ethics and election reforms for state government in his state-of-the-state speech just ten days before. The Governor for his part has already sworn that he will veto this legislation which he says doesn't go nearly far enough, and legislative leaders have already responded that they intend to override his veto. This is Albany at work, full of half measures and politically charged threats. The real prize for this year, apart from the governorship itself, is control of the state senate, which will determine how the legislature is governed for the next ten years. You see, the legislature elected this year will determine district boundaries next year during the apportionment process, which happens once every ten years, after the census. If the Dems take control, they will draw radically new senate districts which will ensure their control of that house as surely as they control the Assembly now and into the future.

Redistricting was the one major area of ethics and election reform that the governor never mentioned in his recent state-of-the-state address, and we're not surprised. The Governor may find it politically advantageous to attack the legislature but he's not interested in bringing modern democratic reforms to Albany. He sat quietly in the state senate in his own gerrymandered seat for more than twenty years and assumed the governorship without being elected to that post. We await the day, far off in our point of view, when David Patterson will turn away from a career spent as an insider in an insider's game, and call for a constitutional convention in New York, and real modern electoral reforms like a single house legislature with 200 members, half of whom are elected from districts drawn up by a nonpartisan commission, and the other half elected by proportional rules in a statewide ballot, with a 3 or 4 percent minimum threshold for parties to gain seats. Until then, we'll call a farce a farce.