THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: The game’s still rigged

EVERYONE TALKS ETHICS REFORM. Good idea, but the players in the political game are no different than the players in all the other games—like the people who run the biggest corporations in America but pay little or no taxes thanks to their lobbyists and their lack of social conscience.

Legislators or governors get elected and then convince themselves that they are not paid enough for what they do. They then fix the rules in order to favor themselves. In some cases, they actually believe their own garbage. They are convinced that only they can do their jobs. Years ago, I heard a senior state senator suggest that if he wasn’t there, some kids would be running and ruining things.

I was a college professor for a long, long time. I took on extra courses because I wanted to. Trust me, some of my colleagues were not happy about that and thought that I was showing off to their disadvantage. Fixing the game is what it’s all about. It really is no different in the state legislature. All of a sudden, a great phalanx of legislators, Democrats and Republicans alike, decided that the governor was corrupt. Out came the long knives and pompous, nay pious, attestations of gubernatorial wrongdoing. Oh, don’t get me wrong. His character was not sterling, particularly when it came to political skulduggery. On the other hand, neither were theirs. They had the nerve to yell about changing the rules of gubernatorial politics, but I heard almost nothing about fixing the larger political game.

Why do people hate politics? Because they know the game is loaded. Their legislators tell big fat lies. They say the speaker in the Assembly and the majority leader in the Senate listen to their aggregate caucuses in order to make decisions. Right. Sure they do! I remember when Shelly Silver (remember him?) was the speaker. Does anyone really have the nerve to tell me that when Shelly went into the now famous “three men in a room” room, he would say, “Wait a minute—I have to go back to my members to ask what they want before I commit?” Nope, those three men would make decisions and What a bunch of nonsense. Do you really think we are done with ethics reform now that Andrew has been done in? Nope, you’d better believe that we are not done until the legislature is also called to account.

When the majority and minority members of both houses gather together in their ornate chambers, we need to know just what decisions are being made. If we don’t, the whole concept of representative government goes out the window.

How about term limits for legislators? Theoretically, not a great political science idea but considering the money these people raise in order to stay in office, it needs to be done, and now.

If we don’t do that, the whole process becomes a farce. One of the reasons why people like to be committee chairs is that they can be sure that the people who are affected by those committees will pony up money to help them get reelected. Frankly, the whole thing stinks. You might respect the leaders of the anti-Cuomo insurrection for their insistence that Andrew be called to account for his various misbehaviors but it sure would be great if they were as passionate about themselves.

I’ve been speaking to many of these very folks for a long time. Will Speaker Heastie come on my radio show and face the tough questions? He’s always welcome and will be treated fairly. Nope, the game is loaded and the people know it. It smells like fish. It’s time for yet another look into the way the things work.

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