Thursday, June 25, 2009

Times-Union Staffers Debate "People's Business" And "People's Work"

When you are a politician and current New York State Senator, which cliché works better? Yeah, it is a tough question considering the current predicament.

The Victims Of NY Senate Chaos Aren't In The Capitol

There are plenty of crybabies in the senate chamber. Some, but not all senators have been seen throwing temper tantrums over the pledge of allegiance, who gets to sit on the rostrum as well as sneaking in before business hours to lay claim to the prestigious shameful institution of government that is the state senate. The theatrics mesmerize the eyes of the press and earn the scorn of the voters. In these tough times, a good deal of those voters are depending on their government to provide financial assistance so that they can get back on their feet. Unfortunately for them, petty politics trumps the needs of New Yorkers.

From The NY Times:

Despite having the support of the governor, labor leaders and advocates for the unemployed, a bill to raise weekly jobless benefits on July 1 and close the gap in the state’s unemployment trust fund was not addressed by state lawmakers before their regular session ended this week.

The maximum benefit, which had been $405 a week for about 10 years until the federal economic stimulus program temporarily added $25 a week, is significantly smaller than those available to residents of New Jersey and Connecticut. New Jersey’s maximum is $584 a week; Connecticut’s is $576.

Negotiations to make the bill more palatable to employers continued through the weekend, giving its supporters hope that Gov. David A. Paterson would present a compromise that could be enacted. But with party leaders distracted by the battle for control of the State Senate, no progress was made.
No progress, none at all. Meanwhile, people are going to be out there suffering from Albany's ineptitude and their neighbors in Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are going to be blanketed by their state legislature. These senators who are at fault should be ashamed, and at least two of them, the turncoats, should be in jail (though each has his own reasons).

NY Blade For Bloomberg??

The New York Blade has already endorsed the main opponent of Bloomberg's chief ally in the City Council, so why on Earth would they think about endorsing the Mayor's re-election? It is a potential endorsement that Matt Arnold of the NY Liberal Examiner thinks is bizarre given Bloomberg's record on LGBT issues (before the beginning of election season of course). Arnold makes the case for the Blade to think again before sending that issue to print.

From The NY Liberal Examiner:

I’ve heard from a reliable source that the New York Blade, one of the city’s main LGBT newspapers, plans to endorse Mike Bloomberg for re-election. Which would be pretty bizarre, unless they’re wanting to narrow their readership to Log Cabin Republicans.

Mike Bloomberg could never be mistaken as an advocate for the LGBT community. When Gavin Newsom was marring gay couples in San Francisco in 2005, Bloomberg instead appealed against a court ruling that would have allowed gay marriage in New York City, and he won, which is why gay people are now forced to look to the State Legislature to make marriage equality happen. And when the city council passed the Equal Benefits Law, requiring that contractors who do work with the city avoid discrimination and offer gay employees the same work benefits offered to straight couples, Bloomberg again sued to prevent that from being enforced, and again he won.

So Bloomie has damaged the LGBT community in very concrete ways. It’s nice that Bloomberg has had an election year conversion and now thinks that the time is right to press for gay marriage (in 2005 he told a HRC fundraising audience that gays needed to be “patient.”) But switching over this year doesn’t undo the damage his administration has caused. Honestly I can’t imagine what the Blade would be thinking by endorsing him. Unless, perhaps, it has something to do with all that ad money Bloomie has been spending on the paper?
Advertising is an important factor in the health of newspapers these days, but I hope the Blade isn't susceptible to that type of influence over their editorial decisions. That would be a real shame given their usually stellar record.

Welcome To The Jungle, Er, I Mean Albany

New York, this is your State Senate not at work. After the pledge of allegiance, both Dems and Repubs try to hold dueling sessions.

I wonder what's in store today? Since the Governor is threatening to withhold pay, both sides now seem willing to show up.

Contrary To GOP And DINO Spin, Public Option Will Save Us Money

The Democratic caucus may have a majority, but DINOs (Democrats in name only) have been trying to appease their Republican friends in the Senate to nix any and all possibilities of giving Americans a choice on whether they want a public or private health care plan. Allies of private insurance groups (like all Republicans, Sen. Max Baucus(D), Sen. Conrad (D) and other conserva-dems) protest that a government-run health care plan would cost more money and put bureaucrats between you and your doctor (as opposed to the bureaucrats that work at Cigna, Blue Cross, Aetna and so on). However, when the plan is actually thoroughly studied, we see a different reality from the naysayers spin.

From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A nationwide health insurance exchange that includes a Medicare-like government option could save $1.8 trillion more than if only private plans are offered, a prominent private U.S. health policy group said on Wednesday.

Federal spending on health-related costs would still rise from 2010 to 2020, but they would be less with a plan that pays doctors and hospital rates similar to the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund.

The New York-based health policy research group compared possible savings a health insurance exchange could bring under three different scenarios. One would include a Medicare-like plan along with private insurance. Another would instead offer a government-run plan with rates somewhat higher than Medicare. The final one would be private insurance with no government plan at all.

In our society, competition is a healthy thing for the economy. Why opponents who generally like the free-market (or so they say) want to limit consumers' choice is just a bit confusing. I guess they can toss aside their principles when a nice fat campaign check will suffice.

Of course, both sides know that a public option will ultimately benefit Americans who want good, quality health care. The difference is that one side wants people to have it, and the other doesn't.

Bloomberg Shows His Warmth For The Homeless

There have already been stories about how much empathy Bloomberg has for the least amongst us in the city. The latest to come from the desk of the plutocrat Mayor is sadly, not much different. His biggest supporters say that because he runs a media empire, running a city government should be pretty much the same way. Bloomberg prefers efficiency, expediency and a business model to good government, fairness and dedication to the public good. Unfortunately, one does not lead to the other and unless you are trying to make a profit off the city than that idea needs to be dropped in a hurry. Just like with Mayoral Control of the schools, Bloomberg is looking to bring "efficiency" to the city's homeless.

From The Gothamist:

The number of families sleeping in shelters is near an all-time high; according to the Department of Homeless Services, there were 34,774 people in shelters last week, including 9,361 families. The Bloomberg administration is now seeking state approval for a new set of policies intended to move families out of shelters more quickly and, according to the Times, apply the "market-driven, incentive-based philosophy to homeless shelters that it has used in schools." Under the new rules, the city would pay shelters more than the usual rate, which is roughly $100 a day, for the first six months that it houses a family. But after six months, if the family has not found permanent housing, the shelter would be paid 20 percent less than the standard rate. Homeless advocates deem the new policies "mean-spirited" and worry that families would be forced out after six months. But Linda Gibbs, deputy mayor for health and human services, insists families would only be ejected for "refusing to look for housing, refusing to seek employment, anything that is an unreasonable refusal to participate in the steps they need to take to overcome their homelessness." In April, homeless advocates blamed Bloomberg for the rise in homeless families.
Bloomberg meanwhile lives in his own world where those numbers are falling, thanks to some faulty calculations. The key thing is that the Mayor is looking to strip funding from homeless shelters when in these times, we need more assistance in that area to catch people who are falling behind. This isn't about market equilibriums and cost-benefit analyses, we are talking about real, live human beings and our city's government should be able to recognize that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sanford May Be Toast??

Well it has certainly been a crazy day down in South Carolina. The pundits are going overboard in talking about this scandalous subject. GoOPer Ron Christie think Sanford may be toast for having an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman for several years but I think we all know that Sanford is beyond toast, he's completely and utterly finished in politics.

Forget the Presidential run in 2012, he should be brought up on impeachment charges for leaving his state unattended with no one in charge lest an emergency come up. Not only did he disgrace himself and his family, he put all of South Carolina at risk.

Right Idea, Wrong Man

Albany is a wretched mess and everyone knows it. Legislators are failing to take care of the public's business thanks to a dysfunctional system that fosters corruption and subsequently a few of those corrupted legislators made a power grab that shut down the government. While most of us would love to see a power sharing agreement where both sides kiss and make up something equitable, the reality is that our leaders are a bunch of petulant children who would rather strut their stuff than get anything substantive done. Even the stuff that got done yesterday is all for nothing.

The question though is what to do about it. Beneath the chaos of the moment, there are so many problems with how the institutions of our state work that there is no realistic way for them to work with the benefit of the people in mind. What we need is to re-write the rules so that government works for us, but the man that is talking about these comprehensive reforms should not be allowed anywhere near the process.

From The Daily Politics:

The former mayor’s plan, outlined in an OpEd in the New York Times, calls for a constitutional convention that would, among other hot button proposals, impose term limits on all Assembly and Senate members, as well as all statewide elected offices.

In addition, Giuliani said he would push to empower the governor to set revenue estimates on his own; change the deeply partisan way in which state lawmakers draw electoral districts; toughen campaign finance laws; make it harder for legislators to boost taxes; and establish clearer lines of succession for the LG's office, which has remained vacant since last March when Gov. David Paterson took over for the scandal-scarred Eliot Spitzer.

Not Suprisingly, Espada's Very Late Campaign Finance Report Says Nothing

More than seven months after the 2008 election, Pedro Espada finally filed a campaign finance report with the state. He had hurriedly filed after learning prosecutors were about to file criminal charges against him. Despite that belated "compliance," what's in that report is what counts and by looking at what he wrote, there's really nothing there.

From Newsday:

Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada and his campaign committees owe the state Board of Elections roughly $13,500 for filing late. Espada owes about $3,200 of that and told the board the check was in the mail.

The treasurers of his campaign committees are responsible for the rest of the fines and reports, which still haven't been filed.

In his personal filing, Espada says there were no reportable contributions or expenses.
"The check's in the mail," he says. Sure Pedro, we believe you. The fine he owes might never be paid (unless under threat of a judge) but that $3,200 pales in importance to the missing contribution and expense reports. All candidates are required to give detailed accounts of what is taken in and spent so they can be examined by the people they represent (or the watchdogs in the middle). Espada however, could care less about the law and the people it is meant to serve. The fact that that information is missing speaks volumes about what he is hiding. Just one more reason why this criminal needs to be booted from state government (and into state prison).

Excellent Question Congressman Kucinich

Currently the Congress is considering the issue of climate change and how the U.S. should start getting their act together. While the Republicans complain that there is too much in there to help the environment, Congressman Kucinich sees it the other way.

Scary Thought For The Day: Albany Is Run By A Bunch Of Five Year Olds

It's chaos.

Sixty-two Senators (not all of them bad mind you) who collectively, supposedly, represent millions of New Yorkers in one house of a bicameral legislature are as a whole, failing us miserably. Yesterday Paterson called the first "special" session into the senate chamber and while they did pass a hundred bills, the legality of that is in doubt.

What's worse was the way it was all handled. First the Democrats ran into chamber at 12:30pm and locked themselves in, then the Republicans pounded on the door to start their own session at 2pm and the Democratic caucus joined in around 3pm. The place looked more like a kindergarten class than a primary institution of our state's government.

Quoting heavily (but deservedly) from The Times-Union:

And so it went, with the Democrats acting as if there were no one else in the chamber, until 3 p.m., when Stewart-Cousins gaveled in for Paterson's special session, kicking off 20 minutes of wildly dysfunctional governance.

Stewart-Cousins recognized Smith, who noted that the chamber had not yet received copies of the bills listed in Paterson's call for a special session. Winner and Skelos attempted to interrupt Smith whenever he rose to speak, and Stewart-Cousins did the same to Skelos.

Stewart-Cousins then ordered the Senate to stand at ease until 5 p.m., and the Democrats began to carry on conversations and exit the chamber.

The Republicans made a quorum call to determine if 32 members were present, and Winner called out the names of Democratic members who were in the Senate but not responding to the roll call ("Sen. Adams is present ... Sen. Aubertine is present in the chamber").

Although Winner declared that quorum was established, the absence of the governor's bills prevented the Republicans and Espada from moving forward with the legislation.

Stewart-Cousins banged her gavel. "Senate stands at ease," she said.

"Senate is in session," Winner declared.

As the scene unfolded, the Senate began to devolve into something resembling an unruly study hall. "You gonna punch somebody, Parker?" Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, said as Kevin Parker spoke to the Democratic side of the chamber. (Parker faces assault charges for an incident involving a New York Post reporter.)

"Don't you dare tell me I'm out of order -- you're out of order!," Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Bronx/Westchester, exclaimed after Winner attempted to gavel her down.

The GOP and Espada ultimately left the chamber, saying they would return once the bills had been received. But it was the Democrats who returned to the chamber first after the bills had been distributed.

Although there were at that point only 31 members in the chamber, the Democrats claimed that since all 62 Senate members had stood for the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the 3 p.m. session, quorum had been established. In order for that quorum to be questioned, one of the Republicans or Espada would have had to enter the chamber to do so -- which would, of course, had given the Democrats the 32nd member needed for a quorum call.

After the Democrats had passed the legislation on the governor's list and left the chamber, Republicans returned to adjourn for the day.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is your state senate.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Problem With Idle Teachers? Hire More Arbitrators

The news about New York City's idle teachers went national today, highlighting the tens of millions spent on teachers that sit around all day on the taxpayers' dime. Several hundred of them exist here and there are many other cities, like Los Angeles, that have a similar problem because teachers who are in limbo are protected by their unions so that they aren't just thrown out on the street because some kid or fellow educator accuses them of wrongdoing. It is a great story because the waste of money is just ridiculous. Yet the solution is incredibly simple.

From The Huffington Post:

Teachers awaiting disciplinary hearings around the nation typically are sent home, with or without pay, Karen Horwitz, a former Chicago-area teacher who founded the National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse. Some districts find non-classroom work _ office duties, for example _ for teachers accused of misconduct.

New York City's reassignment centers have existed since the late 1990s, Forte said. But the number of employees assigned to them has ballooned since Bloomberg won more control over the schools in 2002. Most of those sent to rubber rooms are teachers; others are assistant principals, social workers, psychologists and secretaries.

Once their hearings are over, they are either sent back to the classroom or fired. But because their cases are heard by 23 arbitrators who work only five days a month, stints of two or three years in a rubber room are common, and some teachers have been there for five or six.

Being in the "rubber room" for up to three years is appalling. Having 23 people who work once of twice a week to remedy teacher misconduct situations is simply a bad case of mismanagement. So let the teachers keep their strong protections, this isn't a case of a union having too much power. If anything, with so many people making complaints about other teachers for minor infractions (just read the rest of the article to get a picture of what I mean), the teachers need to be properly protected until an arbitrator can determine if there really was a problem in the first place.

The simple solution of course.....hire more arbitrators, or simply make the ones the city has work more hours. Easy. Simple. Case closed.

Obama Issues A "Major" Smackdown On Iran

Fox News' Major Garrett's question today was meant to knock the President for not being strong enough with the events occurring in Iran. Barack however, saw this one coming a mile away, and puts this fastball way back into the seats.

Howard Dean At Hunter College Today--2pm

Do you have the afternoon off? Interested in meeting Howard Dean? Want to talk about the health care debate going on in America (and the alternate reality the Senate is debating)? Well if you answered yes to those three then there's an event today at 2 o'clock for you. Howard Dean will be at Hunter College for an already packed forum focused on how the legislation for health care reform is progressing in the Congress.

The event is being hosted by several local progressive groups, including one that I am a member of, Democracy for New York City:

Gov. Howard Dean will be in New York City for a public event to speak about his work on behalf of Healthcare for All, co-sponsored by DFA, Democracy for NYC (local coalition group of DFA), Rekindling Reform, NYC for Change, Metro New York Health Care for All, and Three Parks Independent Democrats.

When: Tuesday afternoon, June 23rd, 2-4pm

Where: Hunter College School of Social Work, 129 E. 79th Street, at Lexington Ave., in Manhattan

Subway: 6 train to 77th Street. For other trains and buses, get address-to-address directions at

RSVP: Space is limited! Please scroll down to RSVP.

Join us! There are over 30,000 lobbyists in Washington D.C. but there are over one million DFA Members nationwide. Join Gov. Howard Dean and local grassroots groups to learn how to beat the lobbyists at their own game!

The RSVP list is currently closed but everyone is encouraged to show up anyways as there will be additional room provided in case the space fills up completely. This is one of the most important issues facing the nation, and the more people that are actively participating in the process, the more likely we'll be able to convince the Democratic majority in the Senate to do the right thing and include a public option.

Bloomberg's Fiscal Hypocrisy

When Mayor Bloomberg was making his case for extending term limits to the city council, his public relations front centered around the false premise that because he was rich, he could also manage the city's finances in tough times. Since the bill was pushed through so quickly by his allies in the city council, no one had enough time to properly review (or even let the people decide if they wanted to relinquish the term limit law they had voted on twice) if what he was saying even made sense. Now with the details of the budget and the view of NYC's fiscal future become a bit more clear, we see that the Mayor was a big part of the problem in getting us where we are today.

From The NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is sounding the alarm over New York City’s pension system these days, calling it “out of control.”

Costs have ballooned, he says, threatening to bankrupt the city. Municipal unions and lawmakers in Albany created the crisis, he suggests, and left the city holding the bag.

But interviews and budget records show that the Bloomberg administration itself is responsible for much of the growth in city pension costs over the last eight years, and has repeatedly missed opportunities to rein in the spending.

Since Mr. Bloomberg took office, city contributions to the pension system have jumped nearly five-fold to $6.3 billion, from $1.4 billion, and they now account for one out of every 10 dollars in the city’s budget.
Now don't get me wrong, I love that workers got raises. Yet the role of the Mayor is to have the right leadership to help city workers without over-taxing the city's ability to stay afloat. The worst thing about it though, is that Bloomberg claims to be something he's not. If he were to say something closer to the truth (that he was looking for the support of municipal workers at the expense of the city's financial health) then perhaps we could look at this through a different lens. Bloomberg however wants to be everything to everyone so that he can hold onto power for another four years, and that is something every voter should be well aware of when going to the polls in the fall.

Dr. Dean Discusses The Politics Of Health Care With Olbermann

The battle over health care reform is frustrating for the great majority of Americans that want to see a change in the way our nation treats our sick (whether they be insured or not). Yet while the Republican minority in the Senate are resolute in not helping solve the problem, Democrats are split between helping corporate health interests and the public. Dr. Dean tries to ease hesitant Dems into seeing that millions outside of Washington are watching what choices they make and if need be, will replace them come next election.

Senate Dems' Terrible Idea

Oh my holy god, here we go again. No, not the U.S. Senate, the New York State Senate are considering a deal that includes Espada as one of the leaders of the institution. With more than two weeks behind us since this mess began, Espada has become more unstable and dangerous with his actions and comments. Last week his power began waning with Monserrate's re-defection and claims of having two votes were received with chuckles, not respect. So for the Democratic caucus to consider letting him in on a power-sharing deal is ridiculous.

Yet they are doing it:

ALBANY—After singling him out for attack last week, Democrats are saying that they would be open to a power-sharing arrangement that prominently involves Pedro Espada Jr.

They emerged from a closed-door strategy session to announce that they were seeking to postpone the special session David Paterson has called for tomorrow.

Senator Jeff Klein said that conversations were ongoing toward some kind of a bipartisan operating agreement for the chamber. "Well, if one day we have John Sampson, the other day we have Pedro Espada, I think that's an agreement we could live with," Klein told reporters. "The Senate Democrats have been proposing this power-sharing for a week."

In the post Senator Liz Krueger stood firm with her opposition to him as President Pro-Tem, but she would conference with him while he was still in the Senate. What that means exactly, no one outside the Senate knows. Perhaps he could get a committee he likes (though the one he has now is to his liking) or some other important role. Regardless, what the Dems should be doing is working to marginalize and eliminate his presence from Albany, not help to elevate him based on his wholly unethical political behavior.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dems In Congress!!! Listen To The People!!!

This Democratic senator, and many like her in Washington simply do not get it. They already have federal health insurance and frankly, many are too much like their brethren across the aisle to fully comprehend how much Americans need comprehensive health insurance legislation. The fact is, the current system of making a small number of wealthy people more money by ravaging the status of health care in the nation is not working. Economist extraordinaire Paul Krugman does get it, and I sincerely hope that every single one of these decision makers reads this article in its entirety.

From The NY Times:

America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

The polls suggest that hardly anyone does. Voters, it seems, strongly favor a universal guarantee of coverage, and they mostly accept the idea that higher taxes may be needed to achieve that guarantee. What’s more, they overwhelmingly favor precisely the feature of Democratic plans that Republicans denounce most fiercely as “socialized medicine” — the creation of a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers.
It isn't a radical plan, in fact, it is quite "conservative" in that people get to make the choice for themselves which plan they like better. Yet the Republicans in Congress make it out to be something it isn't and that is something Democratic members like Dianne Feinstein must learn to ignore. The latest polls show 75%, yes, 75% of Americans want some type of universal coverage. So quit buying into that rightwing tripe and do what the people tell you!

Superfund Gowanus!

Despite Bloomberg, De Blasio and Tollhouse Brothers wanting to develop by the toxic Gowanus Canal, the people that live in the neighborhood beg to differ. This half-hour, citizen-driven special is dedicated to showing everyone why the canal must be taken care of by the Superfund. A quick cleaning by the city is simply not enough, so sign the petition to make it so today!

Westboro Hate Church Helps NYC Synagogue Raise Cash

If you haven't heard of Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church, prepared to be sickened. The church sent a few of its members into Manhattan yesterday, primarily to protest Jews for their general support of the GLBT community (I for one, am one of those Jews). The protests started early in the morning and even though I knew it was happening beforehand, I personally felt like getting a couple extra hours of sleep since I get next to nothing during the week. As I expected, for every Phelps-loving hater of humanity, there were more than ten that opposed them. The synagogue happened to be around the corner from Council District 3 challenger Yetta Kurland, and she had an excellent response to the anti-semitism that these misguided souls brought with them.

Now the community response on the streets was fantastic, but what I loved most was that it raised money for the synagogue, to the tune of $10,000:

Leaders of the synagogue, which is currently using rented space in the West Village, asked supporters to pledge a dollar or more for every minute that the six bigoted bumpkins protested outside. After almost an hour, they raised $10,000, thanks to the Westboro Baptist Church protesters, who were vastly outnumbered yesterday by a counter-demonstration of some 150 synagogue supporters. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum tells the Daily News, "The synagogue wants a building so we're hoping this will help us get a building. We're not intimidated by them. We're joining together today to show that we ... simply reject their language, their violence, and we won't be scared away by them."
Not only am I grateful for the fundraising the synagogue pulled off, I am ecstatic that it countered what Phelps is ultimately up to. I believe that Phelps may or may not believe what he encourages his followers to do, but the real motivation is to profit monetarily from that hate. Getting press at military funerals and yes, this synagogue is what Phelps wants, but if it can also raise money for those that have good intentions, then so much the better. Phelps is going to continue on hating and the media will cover him from time to time. So what everyone else should do is to beat him at his own game.

Newsday Supports Campaign Finance Bill In Assembly

I was pleased to see Newsday's quick post about the public finance bill that had passed the Assembly last week. With all of the bills being pushed onto the senate by Governor Paterson, this has to be at the top of the list. Our system of electing people to represent us is fundamentally broken and the power of money has far too much influence on how things work (just ask Pedro Espada). However, the bill...and Newsday's backing of it, hardly goes far enough.

From Newsday:

Last week, the Assembly - that half of the State Legislature that is still at work - passed a bill that would create public financing for state elections. The bill is modeled on the New York City system, which has succeeded in opening city elections to many new faces. Participating candidates would receive a 4-to-1 match for individual donations up to $250, and donors could give just $2,000.

The bill would phase in public financing beginning with the 2010 race for state comptroller. A widening pay-to-play probe of the Alan Hevesi years demonstrates the high stakes; the $154-billion pension fund should be far better insulated.

A phase-in is best, too, when state coffers are this empty. Full public funding would cost $100 million to $125 million over a four-year election cycle. Of course, the potential savings in reduced public corruption are incalculable.
Yes, those benefits are incalculable. I'm 100% with you that we need to get money out of politics, but if Newsday wants to see that as much as I do, then we need to push for real reform. Now I understand that Albany isn't going to do this willingly but proponents must talk about the benefits to get more people on our side and the political will power to not only limit the size of donations, but to make large contributors irrelevant. It already works in Arizona and Maine, it can work here too, but only if we fight for it.

Note To Meghan McCain: Do Not Try Debating Paul Begala

Ms. McCain and Mr. Begala were two of Bill Maher's guests this past weekend. Needless to say, Paul has a lot more political experience than know how than the daughter of John McCain. So she should have known that when she tried criticizing the Obama Administration for something she knows nothing about.

Try not to feel bad for her, she did accept the opportunity to go on. It isn't as if anyone made her debate the big bad Begala.

Paterson Makes Senators Work, But Marriage Equality Is Up In The Air

Today is the official last day of Albany's legislative calendar, but Paterson is calling a special session for Wednesday. He wants the senate to take care of business, though the outcome of a special session is in the hands of the 62 members (or as Espada believes, everything is in his hands). One thing that Governor Paterson is not willing to put to a vote is the marriage equality bill that he had demanded so vociferously a few weeks ago. Or will he?

From The NY Times:

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson said in an interview Sunday night that he would make sure that the State Senate votes on same sex-marriage legislation before it breaks for the summer, hours after he and his administration had refused to commit to forcing a vote on the issue.

The development came as the governor announced plans to call the Senate to a special session on Tuesday, after trying unsuccessfully for two weeks to broker a compromise in a leadership battle that has deadlocked the chamber. But Mr. Paterson dismayed gay rights groups in his comments at a news conference early Sunday afternoon, when he said same-sex marriage would not be on the special session’s agenda.

“It has always been my intention to see same-sex marriage come to the floor,” he said, adding, “I don’t want there to be any confusion.”
Yet sowing confusion is what he seems to do best. Making one comment leaning one way and then backtracking later in the day is just one more indication of what a weak governor he is. We probably will not see that vote come up this week, but if Paterson has the courage to call another session (he says he does at least) then we might, or we might not. Listening to the governor lead the state is worse than going by a two-bit psychic that sets up shop on the sidewalk.

Monserrate Gives A Whole New Definition To "Jesus Freak"

Ah, the egos of politicians who think that they are all that and a bag of chips.

Two weeks ago when Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada jumped ship to the Republicans and put the state senate into chaos, no one knew where this was going (and we probably still don't). Yet one thing we know for sure is that the mental states of Albany's two biggest renegades is clearly alarming. Domestic abuser Republican Senator Monserrate put that on display for all to see this past weekend.

From The NY Daily News:

Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens), who briefly aligned himself with the Republicans before jumping back across the aisle to deadlock the Senate 31-31, appeared with other lawmakers at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

Speaking on Sharpton's radio show, Monserrate commented, "You know, I'm never gonna compare myself to anyone in the biblical context."

And then ... he did.

"I remember Jesus himself, when he saw that in the temple there were merchants setting up shop, [he] began to turn over a few tables along the way ... to get the people's business done right," Monserrate said.

Monserrate clearly has a few delusions when it comes to his place in the world of Albany politics, but at least Sharpton put him in his place by reminding him that even Jesus planned his resurrection out better than Monserrate (especially since he has no chance of coming back from this).

Oh and of course Espada did not stay quiet either, likening his opposition to a "jihad" and claiming that only he has the votes to be President of the senate. Thankfully though, there are cooler heads within the senate that are less than thrilled with the two traitors.

"When Hiram compared himself to Jesus, I vomited a little," snarked one lawmaker present for Monserrate's address.

And a flabbergasted Senate Democrat said "the longer [Espada] runs around the state sounding like Idi Amin, the more he's alienating Republicans, Democrats and everyone else."

Now if only we knew who those Senators were, and more importantly that they are doing something to take down Jesus and Idi Amin.