Thursday, March 26, 2009

Camara Makes His Stand To Fix Albany

Assemblyman Karim Camara knows the degree to which our state government is dysfunctional. Everyone there knows it, but the question is what do you do about it? Most go along with the all-powerful leadership. Do as they say...and you get rewarded for it. However if you call attention to the problem and worse, propose to reform it, watch out for the wrath of Shelly Silver and his captains. Camara, for one (at least at the moment) is ready to take on what the leadership will throw at him.

From The Capitol:

An upcoming “white paper” Camara is set to release—suggesting a number of radical Assembly rule changes that fly in the face of Democratic leadership—may test his faith.

While the report is not yet fully fleshed out, an outline Camara shared with The Capitol tentatively titled “How to Fix Albany”, offers seven suggestions that would increase the power of the Assembly’s minority Republicans and all of its rank-and-file members.[...]

Perhaps his most controversial proposal would place term limits on all legislative leadership positions, including 15-year Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). That is a step even further than a recent Brennan Center for Justice report—which nonetheless proposed enough changes to have Silver call it “nonsense”—dared to go.

Modeled after the operations of Congress, Camara’s plan also calls for equal distribution of resources among all members regardless of party, leadership position to be voted on by the whole body, for committee chairs to hire and fire their own staffs and for the open sponsorship of bills.
Good government groups are loving this, and as the article notes, in some areas Camara's proposal even goes above and beyond what the Brennan Center advocates for. Now this will be a tough battle, and one that is highly unlikely to succeed. There are just too many Assemblymembers that want to keep the system in shambles because it is so personally rewarding to do so. A few others who do want reform are scared of being rebuked by Shelly Silver. So to stick your neck out like Camara is is a big deal. What'll happen to him? Who knows, but he is doing the right thing, and that is a breath of fresh air in Albany.