THIS EDITORIAL IS A WASTE OF TIME. Mine and yours. It’s about the election, and while voting is always a worthwhile exercise here, this campaign season has become more trying than most.
It should have been easy to sidestep an endorsement in the race for governor between major party candidates Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino. Aside from the issues that affect most New Yorkers, like the state’s oppressive tax structure and our crumbling roads and bridges, why should a local newspaper use space to voice a preference for governor when voters here must also choose state legislators and a handful of county and local candidates?
But Mr. Paladino’s insistence on diverting attention from a substantive discussion of issues has become not only an embarrassment but a source of frustration, especially for those of us who genuinely wanted to know how he might govern the state. It’s not only his reprehensible statements this weekend about gay and lesbian citizens — and then his self-serving apology; it’s not just his unsubstantiated, hypocritical remarks about Andrew Cuomo’s personal life — and then his smarmy backtracking; it’s not even his decision to disseminate racist email, which, like his homophobic statements, are ugly when anyone voices them and wholly unacceptable for someone who expects to lead the state by example. And yes, there was an apology there too, along with an attempt minimize the importance of his colossally bad judgment. You don’t have to single out any one of these hurtful stunts to see the pattern.
What attracted so many people to Mr. Paladino was the anger we shared with him over a government in Albany so disconnected from the daily reality of taxpayers that it might as well phone in its failures from Mars. The hope lay in harnessing that anger into a political force capable of breaking the logjams that have stymied change in the state capitol and given New York the highest tax burden in the nation. But in practice the Paladino campaign has never been about issues. It’s been about one thing and one thing only: Mr. Paladino.
We recently had a governor who brashly promised to clean up Albany, saying “everything’s different from Day One….” He put his own gratification well ahead of service to the people who elected him. We don’t have time or money for someone else like that.
Columbia County has had some direct experience with Andrew Cuomo. When he became state attorney general, there were legal actions and investigations under way involving the local activities of Sal Cascino, the Bronx waste hauler now under indictment for illegal activities at three sites around the county. Mr. Cuomo had bigger targets, like shady college loan practices and the greedy misbehavior of Wall Street executives. But the persistence of the attorney general’s office has led to serious charges against Mr. Cascino, a man who flouted local law for years. That indicates a pattern too, one that suggests Mr. Cuomo will be around when we need him regardless of where we live.
Mr. Cuomo has laid out some specific, plausible plans for bolstering the state’s economy. He has endorsed a property tax cap, something this state needs, though it will require careful crafting and plenty of scrutiny. There’s more. It’s spelled out online at www.andrewcuomo.com. For these reasons and because Mr. Cuomo has displayed the temperament that will help make New York a healthier, more just place to live, I will vote for him, and I urge you to vote for him too.
The other time wasters? Money is number two. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision abolishing limits on the amount of money corporations and big organizations, including unions, can spend on political campaigns has provided us with an endless drone of disinformation about candidates for national office. All this secret spending may help elect people who will answer to the big spenders first and their constituents second, but how does that improve the state of our nation?
And finally, political lawn sign thieves. Are they morons? Yes. Losers? Check. People too lazy to read the Constitution but all too willing to claim its protections? You bet.
Owners could electrify their signs, but that’s not good for dogs or children, and cementing signs into the ground is expensive. Besides, some people will steal anything. Last month a used pink plastic flamingo disappeared (thankfully) from our yard.
Sign theft is just another cost of running for office in a democracy. Who cares? The thieves don’t vote. They’re in the basement wondering what to do with all those lovely signs.