July 11, 2009

Open Letter to all New York State senators

I’m willing to pretend for a minute that I don’t think you’re all self-serving, what’s-in-it-for-me-thinking, party- over-all, damn-my-constituents, full-speed-ahead goofballs; you pretend to be honest; and we’ll pretend to have a conversation.

Here are two simple questions for which only a yes or no answer is required:

1. If you are a Democrat, do you approve of Pedro Espada as your majority leader?
2. If you are a Republican, will you admit that your party is for sale to the highest bidder?

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

At this point, after the month of nonsense we've been subjected to, most of us in the Empire State are not really that concerned about who gets to bring bills to the floor, or who gets how big a legislative staff, or who has the biggest office. Truth be told, we don’t care who’s in charge of the playground that is our State Legislature. What we are concerned about are the budget, the economy as a whole, the unfair distribution of taxes, special deals for people who don’t need them, unfunded mandates, fees, and surcharges that are killing businesses large and small in our state, our backwards way of funding education through property taxes, whether or not we’ll allow gay marriage, health care, and so on down the line. These are the things that you were ignoring while you were pretending to work on 'reform'.

What many of us are dealing with, in case you’ve been so completely wrapped up in your games in Albany that you’ve forgotten, are the actual or potential loss of our jobs; temporary pay cuts; forced shortened work weeks; loss of current or future benefits; and of course the increased fees, taxes, and costs that you and your brethren are imposing upon us. I’m thinking you need to feel some of the pain that we’re feeling. So here are a few more easy questions, again a simple yes or no answer is all that’s needed:

1. Will you immediately and permanently give up your lulu, the added thousands of dollars you’re paid above and beyond your salary? The rest of us don’t get these types of payments; if we were lucky enough to be eligible for a bonus, most of us have lost them.
2. Will you immediately and permanently give up the per-diem payments you receive for going to work? Again, your constituents don’t get this type of pay, particularly not for a volunteer job. Besides, with your salaries, you should be able to afford to buy your own lunch. Or, like us, you can bring it from home.
3. Are you willing to immediately reduce your staff and office costs by 20%, or furlough your staff for 20% of their work hours, without pay? This is the kind of thing that many New Yorkers have been forced to do.

And I have one last question for you. Your ability to ‘bring home the bacon’, something of which you all are pretty proud, is primarily a tool to ensure you get re-elected, but guess what? The money to pay for the bacon comes out of our pockets, and they’re pretty empty these days.

So: will you give up – completely give up – the so-called member items for your district, and include all requests for funding as line items in the State budget?

An honest, on-the-record answer to these questions is requested.


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