CHARTOCK: Albany's 'Alice in Wonderland' answer
CAN anyone fully comprehend the unmitigated gall and chutzpah of the players in state government?
Now they’ve initiated an “Alice in Wonderland” solution to the redistricting problem (read: gerrymander) that has been challenging state government.
These people have come up with a self-serving solution to the undemocratic process of drawing their own lines so that they can stay on top of the political heap.
It’s disgusting and outrageous and the biggest problem is that the voters simply don’t understand it. If they did, they would be shouting from the rooftops that it was time for a voter revolution.
PUT yourself in the place of the majority parties in the Legislature’s component parts, the Assembly and Senate.
The leaders of both parties are negotiating with Gov. Cuomo to “fix” the gerrymander problem. In 10 years, when most of them will no longer be on the scene, they say there will be a Constitutional amendment that will allow almost the same set of rules that we have now. They will fix nothing but the political game that ensures only they can win. It’s really unbelievable.
We send our kids to fight for democracy in foreign lands and yet we pervert that same democracy here at home. When Saddam Hussein behaved this way, we stood up at the United Nations and railed about his treatment of his people. When it happens here, we shrug and say, “Business as usual.”
I have always liked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. He often has the guts to stand up for the little guy including the state’s teachers who have been put upon by opportunistic politicians.
But in this reapportionment thing, Silver, D-Manhattan, he apparently has led his troops into a self-serving mode that makes no sense.
We have a lot of Democrats in New York. Given any fair and honest way of drawing the lines, the Assembly will be Democratic. If you have ex-judges or professors or an outside group drawing the lines so that they are relatively fair, compact and contiguous, the Democrats will continue to run the Assembly. Continued...
If Silver looks at his grandchildren and the future of democracy, he has very little to lose in coming up with a fair system. Of course, some of those in his conference who voted for him to become speaker may be put out but if he does right, they’ll put up a statue honoring him in the park in front of the Legislature. He’ll be a true hero.
HIS opposite, the Republican Senate leader, Dean Skelos of Long Island, has a lot more to lose.
If a single vote changes in the Senate, the Democrats will take control. Then his group will be in the same minority hell that has imprisoned the minority Senate Democrats who blew it when they briefly held control and who have probably not learned a thing since then.
Skelos’ house has a bunch of older statesmen who have held on and eschewed retirement to maintain control. Skelos has tried to load the game and his sometimes ally, Andrew Cuomo, has helped him do it. The so-called compromise bill, a real turkey, is a shame and these people know it. How they can look at themselves in the mirror is beyond me. History will not treat them kindly.
THE old New York City mayor, Ed Koch, made most of these pols sign a pledge that they would fix the system and make it fair. Instead, they think that the public is so unengaged and stupid that we will allow the game to be fixed. Their cynical approach may turn out to be true.
But, you know what? Even when the game is loaded, people do wake up and demand change. Sometimes they occupy, sometimes they just get out in the streets. Sooner or later, they get it.
If you are reading this, I am sure you understand just how serious this is.
Sunday Freeman columnist Alan Chartock is a professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network.
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