December 18, 2016

Meanwhile Back in Albany (v9)

Nathaniel Brooks/NY Times

The beat goes on in Albany, it surely does.

The last few times we talked about doings in New York's capital, it was all about good people, and full time vs. part time, and pay raises for our lawmakers.

They may or may not be good people, you see, because from what we heard (and hear) all along when it comes to paying elected officials is that the salary is too low to get good people involved. Which means, I guess, instead of having the best legislature, we have the best legislature we can entice for a piddly wage that's more than $20K over the median for the state, plus travel, per diem and, in a whole lot of cases, cases a leadership lulu.

Anyway -- the tripartite Commission on Legislative, Executive and Judicial Compensation - a group of representatives of the State Senate, State Assembly, and Governor's Cuomo's office, made their decision on the judiciary, giving judges and district attorneys (who work full time, by the way) a nice raise. But when it came time to make a decision on the legislature, commissioners and executives, no deal was done: the Commission rules require agreement by all three parties, and our Sonofa Gov's representatives said no.

So, where are we today?  Well, see, the Governor -- who is the only one of the Three Amigos still standing, and who has ethically-challenged people very close to him, who sleeps well at night because he knows he's doing the right thing, and who started and abruptly ended a big darn deal Moreland Commission on ethics -- wants to do something about ethics reform in Albany.

The best way to do that, apparently, is to have the Legislature come back for a special session so they can chat, and wheel-and-deal, and pass a bill on ethics reform, and a bill to either authorize a pay raise, or authorize the Commission to come back to the table at some defined future point so that they can give the Leg a raise.

Now, of course, everyone involved says this is no quid pro quo, tit for tat, play for pay for play kind of deal. It's about "getting the people's work done," and of course, "it's not a deal if everyone agrees"  and stuff like that.

And while it appears the reason for the special session may move from Let's-do-ethics-reform-in-return-for-a-raise to Let's-help-the-homeless-in-return-for-a-raise, I admit to some curiosity here.

  • Isn't urgently helping the homeless something that could be done for the $172 per diem and cents-per-mile, without having to dangle a carrot in front of these folks? 
  • Maybe we really do need to get some better people in the Legislature, if they won't come back to do urgent homelessness legislation without getting something in return?
  • Aren't these folks, who desperately need us to agree that they're full timers to justify their raise, shooting themselves in the foot by refusing to work on important stuff like this in the off-season?

I'm not normally a huge fan of time flying by, but in this case, I hope that it does -- we do NOT need a special session that results in giving legislators a raise. Period. I don't want them to come to agreement on any deal, because the cards were already dealt to give them a raise, and they got a losing hand.

If they're unhappy with the salary and benefits they receive, they know where their district are -- and it's in their districts they should stay for the last two weeks of December.