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December 12, 2009 - John Stack
had to know Joe Bruno was up to no good. One of the laws he was convicted under a federal one to punish those that use the ‘wired or mail to deprive constituents of ‘honest services’ by concealing conflicts of interest. In a number of cases, Bruno was advised (advice which he took) to not send anything thru the mail, therefore he could not be found guilty of mail fraud! Why would someone need this type of advice? He was paid millions by corporations wanting to do business with New York State. yet, he staunchly hid his connections with these companies from his colleagues and everyone else. Why? My person opinion would be that having been paid millions to further someone’s case, if others knew, he would have less of a chance of that happening! Sounds like a little, no A LOT of conflict of interest. Now, as a paid lobbyist, lobbying for a firm has its place in politics. But, the lobbyists aren’t (usually!) the public officials that will vote on their interests. The public officials who meet with lobbyists understand the lobbyists are biased, and have their own interests at heart. Some lobbyists just want to make the playing field easier for their clients. (Not always in the public’s best interest, but sometimes maybe so). Others are lobbyists for children’s rights, battered women and farmers. These at least seem more innocent than the profit motive, but still are asking for special favors or better treatment of their group than they had before. Unbelievably ( to me at least) Bruno’s lawyers stated ‘The official benefits Mr. Bruno delivered for those who did business with his clients, were indistinguishable from the legislative action and earmarks he sought for all his constituents, and were driven by a sincere desire to create jobs and help working people.’ Oh, except that Bruno was paid millions to forward these interests. In other words, if I was a business owner, and I wanted better tax treatment on my type of business, just because I came in, dropped $50,000 on Joe Bruno’s desk, that wouldn’t be unethical, because according to his lawyers, I would get the same benefits accorded all his constituents’. Hogwash. The statute Bruno was convicted on has been convicted on is claimed to be far too ambiguous and is probably going to come before the US Supreme Court. Regardless if the technical statute he was convicted under, his actions were deplorable, and he concealed obvious conflicts of interest, and profited himself by these deceptions while holding public office. If its not a crime, it should be. As Mark Slackmeyer said ‘Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!’
The editorial in today’s Enterprise speaks of Bruno’s shenanigans. In it, the editorial staff laments that this is not just a conviction of Bruno, but of the whole legislative process and legislators of New York. Yes it is. It is sad that NY has the most dysfunctional Senate and Assembly in the nation. Even without pointing out obvious conflicts of interest and corruption (Such as senate leader Espada trying to send pork money to the non-profit he runs and also gets a half million in salary) it is monstrously dysfunctional. I have written many times about the folly of the happenings in Albany over the last year. Its hard to believe that there is anyone who has trust in our legislature. I mean the polls usually show only about 20-30% New Yorkers have a positive opinion of the Senate and Assembly. Are there that many family members in these polls? Do the pollsters end up calling just lobbyists? Mentally deranged? People living under rocks or who live in the woods with no connection to current events?
The editorial got me thinking of something else though. It mentioned Teresa Sayward and Janet Duprey, two local Republican assemblywomen. Although the editorial was about something else, it reminded me that these two were backing ‘town hall’ meetings to drum up support for a ‘constitutional convention’. Now, the points Tereasa Sayward made in a September 18th column do have validity. But the problem is WITH THE LEGISLATURE! The GOP, which is sponsoring these ‘town hall’ meetings keep talking about runaway spending, unrestrained property taxes, and all other that ails New York. Assemblywoman Sayward ends her note with ‘Help me put New York back in the hands of the people, not the politicians!’. Great sentiment, but… it is written by…a politician! For years Ny was run by a republican governor, a republican senate, and a democratic assembly. They never found a new pet project and new ways to spend money and tax New Yorkers that they didn’t like. Now, all three areas are run by democrats. Guess what’s changed? Nothing! (Except I still think Gov Paterson is the only voice of reason in all of Albany). Why didn’t the Republicans change things when they were in power? Why haven’t the democrats now that they are in power? It is ludicrous to believe that those who have caused this colossal mess are those we should now turn to to save us! Have these legislators all of a sudden become self sacrificing? Have they decided NOW that the good of the whole is better than the good of the individual (themselves)? Are they now willing to sacrifice and tighten their belts? If you believe this, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny will arrive under your tree on Christmas morning, and, in the words of the great orator Spongebob Squarepants ‘and with a tiny pinch of magic, all your dreams will come true’.
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