Mario Cuomo and the Tale of Two Cities

Mario Cuomo passed away on New Year’s Day; the day of his son’s second inauguration as Governor of the State of New York. Mario was the three-term Governor of the state from 1982 – 1994. Mario was a relentless campaigner, a tenacious executive, a skilled politician, and a progressive icon. This speech sums up the thoughts of many who didn’t like how reactionary Americans became in the 1980s.

Here is a Tale of Two Cities, which Mario Cuomo delivered to the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

“Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places; maybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds; maybe if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe — Maybe, Mr. President, if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn’t afford to use.”

How little things have changed in 30 years.

Demand Better from Albany

Albany is a brick shithouse of institutionalized corruption. The people we sent to nominally represent us in Albany are incapable of reform, unwilling to be bold and aggressive, and nothing more than a preening flock of charity cases in Brooks Brothers suits and fat per diems.

It doesn’t matter what I write or what you say – Albany isn’t going to change because it has no reason to try.

213 nobodies get paid big bucks (by WNY standards, anyway) to do nothing. Everything is directed and produced by the governor, the Senate President, and the Assembly Speaker. Unless you’re represented by Sheldon Silver or Dean Skelos, your Assemblyperson and Senator go to Albany generally to moisten seats and rubber stamp stuff.

If they’re good girls and boys, they might be given some money to send home for road projects or other public works, and they get to stand there at the ribbon-cutting and look important.

It’s all a charade.

The upstate gun huggers will quickly tell you that Andrew KKKuomo is a Nazi Mussolini Duce.  That’s foolish. Albany’s a dictatorship, it’s true, but it’s a dictatorship of the bureaucracy. The Albany nomenklatura is typically resistant to change and anything that might shake up the status quo; after all, change means someone’s likely to lose a job, and we can’t have that.

It’s been like this for decades – it was 10 years ago the Brennan Center outlined a set of reforms that would be necessary for New York State government to resemble a contemplative legislative body, yet we’re still talking about it today. Everything from unfunded mandates to three-men-in-a-room to weak campaign finance to vague financial disclosure to a lack of transparency and deliberation have been talked about, and proposed solutions largely ignored. State authorities operate like it’s the 1950s, and do so with poor oversight and budgets that are off the regular state books.

Even when people think that there might be some scant hope of even modest reform – like that undertaken first by Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, now being handled and investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, we get commissions that are abruptly shut down in favor of an on-time budget deal.

An on-time budget is more important than widespread corruption?

Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos are so afraid or opposed to investigating corruption that they make “end the Moreland Commission” a budget dealbreaker? Cuomo claimed he got accountability reforms which gave him enough cover to end the Moreland, but it’s all window dressing.

That’s before we delve into Cuomo’s own alleged meddling in the commission’s work.

How do we know Albany’s and Cuomo’s “we’re policing ourselves!” is all nonsense?

Thanks to Ass’t US Attorney Preet Bharara and the New York Times, we’re finding out more about what’s really going on.

Actually, before we get to Greg Ball and George Maziarz, let’s flash back a few years to a former member of the WNY Albany delegation who was arguably the worst in recent history – Antoine Thompson. This guy, who tried to explain why we even need a State Senate to begin with:

RIGHT. Antoine Thompson, whose staffers destroyed documents en masse when Mark Grisanti beat him in 2010. Antoine Thompson, who used campaign cash to take a vacation very serious and totally above-board trade junket to Jamaica.

Antoine wasn’t the only one.

Republican Senator Greg Ball took trips to Cancun and Acapulco, paid for with campaign dollars. It appears that Speaker Sheldon Silver is under increasing scrutiny for not disclosing all of his outside income, as required by law. Specifically, the New York Times points out three outstanding issues:

■ Powerful politicians — including the governor himself — continue to exploit a loophole in state law that allows corporations to funnel huge donations to them in smaller gifts that disguise the true sources of the money.

■ Lax personal financial disclosure laws, critics say, give corrupt legislators a way to mask political payoffs under the guise of part-time jobs. A 2011 reform presented as requiring disclosure of some clients was so narrowly drawn as to be meaningless, and another enacted this year allowed enough wiggle room that lawmakers could well continue to avoid scrutiny.

■ The line between political donations and outright bribery remains murky. Some politicians used their campaign treasuries as piggy banks for personal expenses, the commission’s investigators found, and bank records showed that lawmakers had failed to report some donations and expenditures altogether. A new, beefed-up Board of Elections enforcement unit has yet to show its strength.

The LLC loophole is what lets Carl Paladino give what amounts to unlimited campaign donations in any given cycle. While corporations can only give $5,000 in any given cycle, LLCs are treated instead as people. So, for the cost of an LLC filing fee, a donor can now repeatedly max out at $60,800 per cycle to any candidate for statewide office under each separate LLC. It also helps keep the true source of the money somewhat opaque.

So when Mr. Cuomo’s campaign wanted to nail down what became a $1 million multiyear commitment — and suggested “breaking it down into biannual installments” — the company complied by dividing each payment into permissible amounts and contributing those through some of the many opaquely named limited-liability companies it controlled, like Tribeca North End LLC.

Brazen. But it gets even worse.

Documents the [Moreland] investigators obtained provided unusual insight into what watchdog groups had long asserted: Corporations were strategically dividing up huge contributions to maximize their giving — and their influence. The use of limited-liability companies concealed the magnitude of their gifts from public view.

In one instance in 2012, the Real Estate Board of New York solicited donations for Lewis A. Fidler, a Brooklyn Democrat who at the time was running for a State Senate seat (whose previous occupant had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes).

James Whelan, a senior vice president for the board, a major lobbying force, emailed a Durst executive, Jordan Barowitz: “If you could find one of your more obscure LLCs, that would be grand.”

The Moreland Commission saw closing the LLC loophole as an easy fix, but since its disbanding, the loophole – which isn’t so much a “loophole” as it is a specific part of the law as it stands today – remains in place.

When it came time to examine the ways in which legislators were spending campaign cash for dubious, non-campaign-related purposes, retiring Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane) “stood out”.

Investigators scrutinizing his campaign spending from 2007 through 2013 found more than $28,000 at stores like Pier 1 and Michaels; $7,500 at Shutterfly, the photo-printing site; and $7,850 for reading material, including a stop at a Borders store at Kennedy Airport.

The Moreland Commission fired off subpoenas to see what books and photos Mr. Maziarz’s campaign had bought.

Investigators also learned that Mr. Maziarz’s campaign had failed to disclose $147,000 in contributions and $325,000 in spending.

His campaign had written more than 300 checks to cash, totaling $137,000; about one-fifth of the checks were never reported to the Board of Elections.

A lawyer for Mr. Maziarz, Joseph M. LaTona, declined to comment. Mr. Maziarz, whose spending is now the subject of a federal investigation, did not seek re-election this year.

And guys like Maziarz have the stones to claim that Democrats are spendthrift? In addition to his Mexican vacations, Greg Ball,

… also traveled repeatedly to Austin, Tex., where he paid $4,000 in bar and restaurant bills — along with a $160 charge at Brooks Brothers. Those trips were, in a way, less surprising: Mr. Ball, who did not seek re-election this year, is fond of Texas, and recently announced that he would move there after leaving office.

Among the unusual outlets for spending from his campaign accounts was Tough Mudder, the organizer of extreme obstacle-course races. (Mr. Ball posted Facebook photos showing him crawling through the mud in a Tough Mudder race in 2012, and said at the time that he was trying to raise money for charity.)

Tough Mudder?!

Anyhow, you’d figure that the State Board of Elections would be on top of – and investigating – complaints of campaign finance irregularities brought to its attention, right? You’d be wrong.

The Moreland Commission saved even harsher criticism for the sleepy Board of Elections. In a preliminary report released in December 2013, the commission wrote that the board had “largely abdicated its duty to enforce our election and campaign finance laws.”

In fact, the board sometimes seemed to be avoiding investigations altogether.

Its policy dictated that anonymous complaints never be investigated, regardless of the information they contained.

Forget DAs doing it, either.

Lastly, the issue of legislators’ outside pay is coming under intense scrutiny, and if you want to know why the Moreland was shut down, look no further than Sheldon Silver and an abrupt change in the way he discloses his non-state income. Not just Silver’s firm, but the Moreland subpoenaed several law firms in hopes of verifying that these legislators were actually showing up to work, or whether their continued employment might be, e.g., an effort to skirt campaign disclosure laws.

Suspicious that some lawyer-legislators were holding no-show jobs, Moreland Commission investigators subpoenaed their law firms for building access-card data and sign-in sheets, invoices, expense reports and records detailing their clients.

Lawmakers became infuriated over the scrutiny, calling it a witch hunt into the legislative branch. Law firms went to court to block the subpoenas, as did the Senate and Assembly.

Mr. Silver’s law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, argued that it was irrelevant “what time Sheldon Silver enters and exits” its office building each day.

The litigation was unresolved when the Moreland Commission shut down.

Yet Mr. Cuomo marveled at how much the subpoenas sent to outside law firms — including Mr. Skelos’s employer, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek — had discomfited lawmakers. “I’m surprised these guys weren’t fired,” Mr. Cuomo told members of good-government groups last spring. The United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, whose office took control of the Moreland Commission’s files around that time, revived some of its investigations, including several involving lawmakers’ outside income.

Mr. Silver quickly became a focus of prosecutors’ interest.

Two people with knowledge of the matter said prosecutors have issued federal grand jury subpoenas to some of the same law firms that resisted the commission’s subpoenas, including Weitz & Luxenberg and Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. (A spokesman for the former firm declined to comment; the latter did not respond to messages.)

If you’re, say, a plaintiff’s law firm paying a legislator hundreds of thousands of dollars for what might be a no-show job, and that legislator also happens to be a huge and powerful obstacle to any attempts at tort reform, how is that not just outright bribery?

It’s time New Yorkers started demanding meaningful legislative and governmental reform, resulting in a true deliberative democracy. We do this by rejecting the notion that Albany pols are re-elected without any opposition. We do this by demanding results that go beyond a few dollars here and there for public works projects.  We do this by limiting the perverse influence that money has on state politics, and by demanding true and full transparency of where the money comes from, and where the money goes.

I won’t hold my breath.

NYAG Wants to Prosecute Police Violence Cases

@schneidermanNY
Courtesy of my friends at the new and improved Albany Project comes news that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman formally asked Governor Cuomo to transfer the investigation and prosecution of excessive police violence cases over to the AG’s office.

The problem stems from the fact that local DAs and police work hand-in-hand as colleagues, and there are questions as to whether these cases are taken seriously and prosecuted as vigorously as non-police violence cases.

DAs are already opposed to the idea.

In the wake of the gobsmackingly unreasonable and astonishing refusal by a Staten Island grand jury to indict the officers who killed Eric Garner, Governor Cuomo demanded a “soup to nuts” review of the justice system, but for some reason lawmakers who think themselves “law and order” types are resisting any such query.

 

Not just that, but in the minds of some of these mostly Republican “law and order” people, that term doesn’t apply to cop conduct. Even body cameras, additional training – not to mention the use of special prosecutors for police brutality cases – appear to be non-starters in New York State.

Now, it’s up to Governor Cuomo to decide whether to let Schneiderman’s office take excessive force cases. Albany Project isn’t hopeful,

No way he hands Schneiderman a victory, even if it means denying meaningful justice for victims of police violence.

The Borscht Belt Debate

Courtesy WNED and CBS2 New York

Despite Brian Meyer’s desperate efforts to keep the format tight and moving, it was unwieldy. With four gubernatorial candidates being provided with equal time, it seemed at times that Cuomo and Astorino were afterthoughts. After all, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Party candidate Michael McDermott threw some good ideas at people last night at WNED’s studio.

McDermott liked to cut through the BS and had one of the best answers about fracking; that his philosophy was that it was important to wait and see what it does to the environment, because you’re allowed to do on your property whatever you want unless it harms someone else. For his part, Hawkins gave super-liberals the red meat they crave – single-payer, a hard no on fracking, social justice, funding for mass transit. 

Alas, Hawkins and McDermott don’t have a credible chance. 

The format gave candidates one minute to answer questions that often seemed to run on for twice that time, and then occasionally a 30 second rebuttal. One of the problems with contemporary political speech is that we’re too reliant on dopey ads and sound bites, and this sort of debate-by-one-liner exacerbates the situation. No one watched that and learned anything. It treated us like dumb assholes, and yet again we’ll get the Albany government we’ll deserve. 

Take my wife, please. 

Republican Rob Astorino came out swinging at Andrew Cuomo, and didn’t get an opportunity to tell us very much about what he’d do. Cuomo gave as good as he got. It was a good time, but not at all a substantive one. 

Where did you get your haircut, the pet shop?

Here’s how it went, as it went along. 

Spitzer Unloaded, No One Exploded

“Jail” FINAL :30 from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Right? Wow.

This is the perfect distillation of a desperate campaign looking to get some attention. Frankly, this reboot of the Daisy ad is perfect in its utter stupidity. Now, I know that Cuomo has been hitting Astorino hard on some nonsense lawsuit down in Westchester, but I thought that the “soup is nice” ad was pretty damn effective. (Dentures are an optional Medicaid coverage that New York State offers, and that Astorino wants to eliminate). The ad resonates because it reminds people that Republicans love to cut, cut, cut things that help actual New Yorkers. True, paying for seniors’ oral care won’t benefit the extremely wealthy, like Carl Paladino and indictee Rick Perry, both of whom can feasibly pay for their own dentures and dental work, but it will do much for seniors for whom budgets are often tighter. 

Astorino’s suggestion that Cuomo could go to jail is pure hyperbole – there’s absolutely zero chance of that happening. Secondly, by bringing that up, it reminds me – hey, isn’t Astorino up to some shady shenanigans, too? Thirdly, if Cuomo went to jail, there would not be a catastrophic nuclear holocaust; there would, instead, be an orderly substitution of Kathy Hochul. Remember Spitzer? Spitzer unloaded, but no one exploded.

 

Zephyr Teachout Attempts to Greet Andrew Cuomo, Shake Hand

Her tenacity is met with a wall of staffers and bodyguards, and a governor who is quite deliberately snubbing her. 

Remember, Democrats: Vote Teachout/Hochul tomorrow!

Democrats: Vote Teachout / Hochul September 9th

Tuesday September 9th is primary day, and Democrats throughout New York State have an important choice to make for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

I’m voting for Zephyr Teachout for Governor, and Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor, and you should, too. 

I am deeply disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s mishandling and abrupt cessation of the Moreland Commission’s investigation into Albany cronyism and corruption. These two topics are, to me, among the most important challenges facing the state today.  The role and power of money in politics, the unmitigated power of incumbency, the dictatorship of Albany authorities and bureaucracies, and the quid-pro-quo legalized bribery of electoral fusion all conspire to keep New York politics dysfunctional, slowly reactionary, and self-indulgent. For this reason, as well as Cuomo’s apparent lies about meddling in the state Senate, I have to register my disgust with the status quo.

These are huge, persistent problems, yet no one in or near power has any incentive to address or change them. Zephyr Teachout has made this the centerpiece of her campaign. 

I don’t do this lightly – my hesitation to denounce Cuomo is informed by how obviously good he’s been for western New York, helping to rebuild the foundation on which a new economy might emerge. We are finally making big leaps into the information age, having long-ago shed our reliance on big industry. We’re also rediscovering the value of skilled trades as an avenue for personal success and entrepreneurship. Having lost the WNY vote to Carl Paladino pretty decisively, Cuomo has paid remarkable attention to our region.  Imagine how good it would be for him to run for national office at some future date, and be able to campaign on how he turned around 50 years of Buffalo’s economic depression. I will enthusiastically vote for Andrew Cuomo in November if he is the party’s nominee. 

Furthermore, the Teachout/Wu ticket is focused on issues that matter only to the 5 boroughs of New York City – risibly so. As the old joke goes, ‘what’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? I don’t know and I don’t care’. Take a look at the five pillars of the Teachout/Wu platform, and the words “Buffalo” and “Western New York” appear exactly zero times. This ticket, as presented, has nothing to say about WNY or upstate issues (except for spotty broadband service and fracking) because they don’t know the first thing about it.  Teachout fumbled questions about keeping the Bills in WNY. Teachout/Wu presents a wide spectrum of points of view about New York State – Upper West and Lower East Side. 

Teachout’s “economy” piece deals mostly with consolidation of power, and the parts about infrastructure deal with the MTA and the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Upstate gets an abrupt shout-out about broadband, but that’s it.  The “education” piece is of general applicability to all of New York, and is replete with positions any Democrat should support – especially when it comes to the shameful way Albany has been balancing budgets on the schools’ backs for several years. On the “environment“, Teachout is the only serious candidate who opposes hydrofracking, full stop. Let Pennyslvania destroy its own aquifers – we like ours just fine, thanks. On “an open democracy“, Teachout talks about reforms that really have little to do with opening up democracy, and talks instead of reforming criminal justice, marijuana laws, and preventing abuse of the disabled. 

But the bigger picture has to do with the way the system itself is rigged – even when it benefits us as western New Yorkers.  It’s simply not being treated like the serious problem it is. That’s why the position on “corruption” is so important to me. The only thing missing – because Working Families Party – is an entry denouncing and promising an end to electoral fusion in New York State. Not incidentally, Teachout has written a scholarly work attempting to prove that embedded in our Constitution is an “anti-corruption principle” every bit as important as, say, separation of powers. 

So, because Teachout’s platform imagines that New York consists – with the exception of the Albany exclave – mainly of territories East of the Hudson and South of Poughkeepsie, I will be voting for Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor. 

Hochul has the administrative and governmental chops to make up for Teachout’s utter lack of experience, and Hochul brings with her a native’s passion and knowledge about rural and western New York realities to help balance out Teachout’s geographically limited platform. Hochul was an independent-minded, conservative Democrat and balances out Teachout’s progressive-left worldview and mindset. Remember – although Teachout is running with Wu and Hochul is running with Cuomo, you can split these slates up however you’d like. Vote Cuomo/Wu, if you prefer. 

This isn’t about conspiratorial fantasies, either. I’m not trying to punish Cuomo for the NY SAFE Act or the dictatorship of the bureaucracy, except insofar as he’s doing nothing to make state bureaucrats answerable (at least indirectly) to their bosses – the people. 

For all the good he’s done for western New York, Andrew Cuomo has deceived Democrats and reformists in this state to the point of outrage. The brazen horse-trading with Senate President Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver to abruptly end the Moreland Commission on corruption was the last straw. No on-time budget is worth sacrificing the public trust yet again. It also speaks to the fundamental anti-democratic unfairness of the continued all-powerful triumverate that presides over Albany’s body politic. Cuomo’s apparent involvement in maintaining a Republican-led Senate is a betrayal made worse by lies

Albany graft and corruption help to stall and demean economic, political, and social progress in every corner of New York State. Teachout deserves support in the upcoming primary because she’s the only candidate who perceives and identifies the problem, and is assigning it the importance it deserves. But Teachout’s political novelty and ignorance about rural and upstate issues demand that the ticket be balanced with someone with experience and a WNY worldview.

Democrats should vote Teachout/Hochul on September 9th. 

Teachout, Cuomo & the Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy

When I think of Zephyr Teachout, I am specifically mindful of the fact that she’s a protest vote for the liberal wing of the statewide Democratic Party.  Most of them in and around the 5 New York City Boroughs. When I think of Zephyr Teachout, I think of this classic scene from Annie Hall: 

Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu are bright and, as far as anyone can tell, beyond reproach. Both of them are Manhattan intellectuals, and Teachout has adopted statewide political corruption as a platform plank, and Wu is known for his work on behalf of net neutrality.  Indeed, he coined the phrase. 

Andrew Cuomo has disappointed a lot of left activists. While the right assail him for the mild additive restrictions on guns via the “NY SAFE Act”, the left is sick and tired of continued Albany corruption, the constant, unchecked abuses of power, the power of incumbency, the insidious poisoning of the process by money and electoral fusion, and – above all – the comical overnight dismantling of the Moreland Commission just as soon as it started really doing its job. 

The New York Times declined to endorse Teachout due to her rookie non-credentials and her ignorance on anything going on north of Poughkeepsie and west of Nyack. It also declined to endorse Cuomo because of his fumbling of corruption. I think this is something of a cop-out. 

I have no idea whether Teachout can win the primary – I highly doubt it, but stranger things have happened.

Here in WNY we have a unique position unlike other parts of the state. There’s no Billion for Binghamton; no Assets for Albany, no Riches for Rochester or Silver for Syracuse.  Yet Buffalo and WNY have come under special Cuomo attention for two reasons: 1. he lost to Paladino here in 2010, and he wants badly to win; and 2. if he can show the world that Buffalo underwent a turnaround under his watch, he can sell that to the rest of the country in some future run. Fix Buffalo and the world is your political oyster. 

So, it’s tough to ignore the attention that the state has heaped on our fair city and region and simply dismiss Cuomo out of hand. Indeed, it’s about damn time an Albany pol tried to un-fuck Buffalo. 

But from a less selfish point of view, Albany politics are just as ugly and problematic as they’ve ever been. Efforts to change that have not only been stymied – Cuomo has actively prevented them.  Our Democratic governor, whom gun nuts liken to Karl Marx, actively supported the notion of a Republican majority in the feckless State Senate. It took Teachout to get him to actually support the idea that Democrats should win elections. 

Last night, I received a call from a Cuomo phone bank asking for my support. I bluntly told them, “ordinarily I would, but this Moreland thing has really thrown me for a loop”.  She marked me down as “undecided”, but seriously – it’s tough for me to support a governor who so casually dismisses the root of all state evils – Albany dysfunction and corruption.  This is especially true given the clean mandate that Cuomo has had to do just that. Cuomo’s inaction and outright refusal to address these issues is disappointing to me as a Democrat, but should be disappointing to all New Yorkers. 

Bluntly put, you can take your “REPEAL NY SAFE” sign and shove it, because the size of your magazine isn’t the assault on liberty you should be concerned about.

Instead, get angry about Albany’s multipartisan conspiracy with the dictatorial bureaucracies to commit managerial and legislative malpractice. This perverse system ensures that state government works for the tri-state area and no one else. Manhattan’s own Teachout and Wu aren’t going to fix that. Neither is Cuomo from Queens or Rob from Mount Pleasant (really). 

There’s nothing new here. The Brennan Center’s blueprint for reforming Albany is a decade old. No one pushes it because it’s heady and complicated and not as shiny as a gun. 

You won’t do anything about it. Your village, town, city, Assembly, and state Senate won’t do anything about it. Andrew Cuomo won’t do anything about it, and neither will Rob Astorino. Zephyr Teachout is at least talking about the right things, but there’s zero chance that she would get elected in November.

So, suck it up, New Yorkers. No matter whom you vote for in September’s primary, you’re in for another 4 years of bureaucrats running the state for their own benefit.  Unfortunately, short of a governor with some balls or a Constitutional Convention, it’s never going to change. 

Carl Paladino: The Pride of Buffalo

Carl Paladino loves to send emails. Here’s one that went out Monday: 

I don’t really care about the substance of Paladino’s whining to his party’s state chairman. I couldn’t care less about Paladino’s political desires or expectations any more than I care whether Ed Cox is running that statewide gun dealer masquerading as a political party. 

What I care about here – aside from a licensed attorney not knowing how to spell “versus” – is Paladino’s endless hate parade against gay people in general, and State Senator George Maziarz in particular. In this case, he reckons Maziarz would be raped in prison, and wishes for him to be beaten by guards.

In 2012, Paladino stooge, liar (or criminal – one or the other), and perennial candidate for somethingorother Rus Thompson accused Maziarz of being gay, and that they would soon “open the closet”

Libeling George Maziarz ca. 2012

There was no closet to open, and there was never anything that these dummies could put forth except accusations and innuendo.  Maziarz may have a lot of faults – some of which are leading to his resignation from the Senate – but whether or not he’s gay is (a) irrelevant to anything he does in Albany; (b) not a bad thing, if true; (c) an accusation that Thompson and Paladino vomited in order to engorge the vicious gay hatred held by members of western New York’s tea party. 

Without a hint of irony, these malignant assholes don a mantle of good government purity yet throw around wild, false accusations and smear enemies based not on facts or policy, but on make-believe and hatred. Think: what is it about Maziarz that led Paladino to single him out as “not doing well in prison”? Why would Libous fare any better than Maziarz?

Paladino is harking back to his and Rus’ 2 year-old effort to smear Maziarz as gay. Not only is Paladino suggesting that Maziarz would be raped by other prisoners, he is reveling in that notion, going on to wish physical harm on Maziarz, hoping that he’ll receive “very special treatment”, whatever that means. Is Paladino just being a straight-up sadist, wishing not only imprisonment, but violent anal rape against Maziarz? 

What do you think Is the genesis of Paladino’s acute hatred and fear of homosexuals?

Paladino’s invocation of “Dannemora” refers to the Clinton Correctional Facility. Although conditions were found to have improved by 2004, in the 1990s, Clinton was notorious for extreme violence and brutality. Evidently, Paladino is not only hopeful that his foes be anally raped, but also that they be beaten by corrections officers for Mr. Paladino’s amusement. 

These are the twisted words of a sick, sadistic individual. Yet we in WNY treat him and his company like pillars of the community – at worst a crazy uncle, at best a point of civic pride. Check yourself, Buffalo – Carl Paladino repeatedly exposes himself for being unworthy of your respect.  

It takes a special kind of megalomania to demand “cleansing” of a statewide party committee that has to take into account not only the virulent homophobia of influential upstate millionaire emailers, but also of downstate moderates. 

It wouldn’t be a proper Paladino rant if there wasn’t a smidge of racial animus thrown into the mix. Yes, of course, Astorino should ignore leaders in the African-American community and only stick to the upstate fairs, this despite the fact that 4.6 million of New York State’s voters live within the 5 boroughs of New York City, while 7.1 million live everywhere else. Erie County, for instance, which has the biggest county fair in the state, boasts 612,000 registered voters – less than 10% of the 5 boroughs. The state’s largest concentration of minority voters is in New York City. 

Paladino lost to Andrew Cuomo dramatically in 2010.  Who is he to give Astorino advice? 

Cuomo’s Betrayal

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

The biggest and worst problem plaguing Albany and New York State politics is corruption. Albany’s especial brand of dysfunction thrives in an opaque environment, and there is a complete and bipartisan absence of political or moral will to change it. It’s been well over a decade since people and organizations began to seriously address this culture of corruption, and NYU’s Brennan Center deserves kudos for pushing the issue with specificity

It was almost a decade ago that Suffolk County Executive Tom Suozzi barnstormed the state, seeking the Democractic nomination for governor under the banner of “Fix Albany”. We send Assemblypeople and Senators to Albany, and while we see occasional profiles in courage, like Mark Grisanti’s pivotal vote on same-sex marriage, these individuals do little legislating and a lot of grandstanding. Nothing ever changes, and there’s no one who’s all that interested in cleaning Albany up. 

Enter Andrew Cuomo, a former Attorney General who swept into Albany to get things done, but also to restore trust in state institutions. While he has infuriated the gun-hugging areas of the state outside the NYC media market, he has now successfully angered the left, most starkly by helping to maintain a Republican Senate majority. In order to secure the Working Families Party’s Wilson Pakula, Cuomo decided to actually back members of his own party to win Senate races. 

But his most promising act was to establish a “Moreland Commission” to investigate corruption in Albany – most importantly, the misuse and corruption surrounding campaign finance in the state. This dovetailed nicely with Cuomo’s now-erstwhile support for public financing of elections – a goal he all but abandoned in order to “get things done” with respect to a budget deal with the other two men in the room. (That hasn’t changed, either). 

This New York Times article is a blockbuster of investigative journalism, outlining the ways in which Governor Cuomo’s office micromanaged and hamstrung the work the Moreland Commission was doing before he unceremoniously and summarily killed it in order to “get things done” viz. budget deal with Silver and Skelos. Here is a brilliant timeline that the Times put together. Luckily, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, is picking up where the defunct commission left off, investigating and prosecuting obvious illegality. 

I frankly don’t get it. If Cuomo’s aim is to ascend to the White House, he’s just dealt himself a huge blow. It won’t do much to say, “I fixed Buffalo, the unfixable” when opponents and allies alike view him with distrust because when it came time to address the state’s most pressing problem, Cuomo whiffed. 

He didn’t just whiff – he threw the game. 

I’m not going to support Astorino, and Zephyr Teachout lost me by holding a “Cuomo resign” presser with Astorino. It’s high time we stopped demanding resignation and impeachment every time a politician does something stupid or with which we disagree. It’s stupid and childish.

I want someone to say that the NY SAFE Act is a distraction from the real problems we have, like unfunded mandates, the Gap Elimination Adjustment robbing schools blind, the completely unregulated and mismanaged state Authorities, our corrupt and corrupting Wilson Pakula/electoral fusion system whereby party endorsements are exchanged for money and jobs, and the toothless, ineffective board of elections that is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute campaign finance fraud. These are all long-standing issues, and very well known. But New York has a dictatorship of the bureaucracy, and for some reason elected officials have no will to fight that tyranny of the careerists. Even, tragically, Andrew Cuomo. 

Getting things done is great, and it’s a welcome change from the feckless Pataki Adminstration. But New York Democrats have had almost 10 years to do something meaningful about not just the symptoms, but the root causes of why the state underperforms economically – especially outside of the New York City metro. 

Four years ago, a New York Observer article wrote that mine was the “Site that Saved Andrew Cuomo”. I don’t – for a second – doubt, question, or regret my 2010 support for Cuomo over Carl Paladino. But in 2014, the continued state gutting of public school budgets, tyranny of the Authorities, continued erosion of public trust through “electoral fusion” dealmaking,  and Albany’s unwillingness to heal itself make me wish for a true alternative – not just a Westchester County apparatchik or a leftist Manhattan protest candidate. 

New York isn’t broken because of the number of bullets you can put in a magazine is now restricted. But your focus on things like that help to distract you from genuine problems that affect us all. 

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