Article Archive

Senate Dems Put
Squeeze on Labor
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Thursday, March 25th, 2010


There is often a gray area between a crime and what is merely outrageous behavior. This is true not only in the legislature, but also in political life generally.  A solicitation by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee falls into that murk: the Attorney General or a District Attorney could convene a grand jury to seek an indictment, or he could decline to do so.

As Fred Dicker reported in the New York Post yesterday and today, the Democrats have written to a number of union leaders in New York State asking for $50,000 each in donations to the party.

Senate Dems Cut Schools,
Show Awareness of Deficit
But Are Still Billions Short
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Eight days from the deadline for adoption of the New York State budget for fiscal 2011, the legislature has begun to move on questions of finance.

Yesterday the State Senate, which has been the less functional of the two houses, took a step which has distressed what is probably the state’s most powerful interest group, the education lobby.  The Times' account of the action, by Jeremy W. Peters, appears on pA25, under the head, STATE SENATE, TRYING TO TRIM DEFICIT, OFFERS BUDGET PLAN CUTTING $1.4 BILLION FROM SCHOOLS.  The lede:

Mon Serrate, Serrate
Senate Expelled Him,
Voters Keep Him Out
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The Monster Rat has met his match.  By a 65 to 27 margin, former Senator Hiram Monserrate, who had the distinction of being the first State Senator expelled from that august body in over a century, lost his bid to regain his seat to Assemblyman Jose Peralta, who has serious ethical issues of his own, but is not prone to beating up women.  Peralta's sins are on the financial side: he is a non-violent offender.

The Republican candidate for the Queens Senate seat, Robert Beltrani, an administrative law judge who is neither a thug nor a crook, received seven per cent of the vote in the largely Spanish speaking district.  Peralta will resign from the Assembly to become a Senator, and his newly vacated seat will be filled in another special election, to be held in a month or so.

Governor Catches a Break,
Cuomo Names Judge Kaye
As Independent Prosecutor
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, March 12th, 2010

Governor Paterson has at least temporarily escaped from the drumbeat of criticism and demands for his resignation that followed his intrusion in a domestic violence case and his efforts to cadge World Series tickets.  The newspaper accounts of the alleged victim's January purchase of a new Lexus for $40,000 have disappeared, at least for now.  A witness is reported to deny the story that the governor either threatened or bribed the complainant, either of which would be a crime. 

Ravitch Would Borrow Billions,
Impose Curbs on State Spending
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The plan submitted by Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch to deal with the state's budget deficit for FY 2011, estimated at between 8 and 9 billion dollars, is now on the table.  It basically consists of borrowing additional billions of dollars to postpone the pain of substantial budget reductions which would otherwise be required to take place by June 30.  You can link to the press release describing the plan here and get the entire plan (19 pages) by linking all of it.

Covenants and sanctions are built into the plan to prevent future overspending and to promote repayment of the newly borrowed money, but one should never underestimate the ingenuity of the legislature's staff in finding ways to evade any restrictions that may be imposed in the current scare.

Ethics Panel Charges Paterson
On $1700 World Series Tickets
Paid for by a Backdated Check
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Events in Albany are unfolding so rapidly that this column may be outdated before you read it.  It still may be helpful to get a snapshot of the situation as of Wednesday noon.  We also prowl through history to provide a little background on the subject.

(We were right about that.  This just came in from The New York Times: PATERSON BROKE ETHICS LAW ON RECEIVING GIFTS, PANEL CHARGES, by Nicholas Confessore and David M. Halbfinger.  The Times' lede:

"The state Commission on Public Integrity charged Gov. David A. Paterson with violating state ethics law when he secured free tickets to the opening game of the World Series for himself and others.  The announcement came as the governor, already mired in scandal, met with his cabinet and insisted he would stay in office.

What Went Wrong
With Government.
Can It Be Fixed?
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Monday, March 1st, 2010

Three days ago we wrote on the Paterson issue under the headline: TABLOIDS PURSUE GOVERNOR, SAY HE SHOULD RESIGN BUT PATERSON LIKES THE JOB.  That's about the way it is today, with the governor insisting that he can function while everybody else believes, to a greater or lesser degree, that he can't.

The 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with Presidential disability, as well as procedure for the selection of a vice president to fill a vacancy.  It was adopted in 1967, and first used in 1973, when President Richard Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as vice president to succeed Spiro Agnew, who had resigned because he was caught taking bribes six years earlier, when he was Governor of Maryland.  As part of a plea bargain, he resigned.  The 25th Amendment was relied on a year later when Ford, who had become President on the resignation of President Nixon in August 1974, nominated Nelson Rockefeller, four time governor of New York State, as vice president.  Rockefeller served the balance of Ford's term, but was dropped from the GOP ticket in 1976 because of conservative opposition.  The Republicans nominated Senator Robert Dole as Ford's running mate.  They lost to Carter-Mondale, who in turn lost four years later to Reagan and Bush the elder.