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Term limits now!

February 11, 2010 - John Stack
As it becomes more and more apparent to common citizenry that our government is controlled not by the voters, but by big money, special interests and the desire to be re-elected we look for ways to try to stem this fetid tide. Many say to ‘vote them out’. Great idea, but as you know ‘our’ representatives are great its ‘everyone else’ who is bad in congress/senate/assembly. How about term limits and ethics reform?
            This week, the NYS senate failed to override the governor’s veto of the weak vote buying window dressing ethics reform bill. Sometimes you read where some governor vetoed a bill, claiming ‘it didn’t go far enough’ where they really meant ‘this goes way too far for me to be comfortable’. This time, I’d wager Gov Paterson was dead on in vetoing this bill because it was way too weak. We know this because he has all ready supplied his own version of the bill which is far tougher than the bill allows for. A big portion of Paterson’s plan would be to divulge much more of financial conflicts of interests by lawyers and consultants. Had this bill been law years ago, we never would have had the Joe Bruno trial (or he would have been punished much more severely). I would really feel better if there was some big regulation involving an industry on the legislative agenda and I knew if some of the lawmakers worked for firms where the big players in this industry had multimillion dollar retainers. Looking at the jobs Joe Bruno was paid for, it is impossible to come away not thinking he was basically selling his vote and influence. As Shelley Silver also makes a ton of dough as a consultant, I’m sure he’d give up his own children before he agreed to more stringent ethics regulations.
            But, then again, you can’t really regulate ethics. This week, the Senate voted to remove Hiram Monserrate from office. The same HM who is caught on a video camera screaming at his girlfriend and dragging her thru the halls of their apartment building. Somehow, she also somehow got cut on her face from broken glass. Of course Hi is claiming that it is all a conspiracy etc etc. He claims his constituents voted him into office and he should continue to represent them. He neglects the fact he was elected BEFORE he assaulted his girlfriend. I’m sure the electorate would have a different view of him now. The vote was 53-8 against him. Who were the 8? Pedro Espada – whom I have written about numerous times as the ringleader of the leadership fiasco in Albany last year, Ruben Diaz (another conspirator who is not worthy of the term senator. After the vote, Diaz had the temerity to compare himself to Martin Luther King himself saying the events of the day ‘ …relieves him of his anguish. Now I am a free man…Free at last, free at last, thank Gid almighty, I am free at last’ – this for a guy who was convicted of assault on his girlfriend and is the lowest form of society, and he thinks he is still a viable senator. Kevin Parker – who not surprisingly voted to keep Monserrate – as he himself is facing felony assault charges for an altercation with a photographer. John Sampson, democratic conference leader who basically owes his position to Espada, monserrate and Diaz . We can’t get these sleazeballs to vote with any conscience or ethics, no matter what laws we pass.
            How about term limits? I finally have come around to that being a viable solution, mostly because of the terrible reasoning in a editorial in the Press Republican. A big portion of the P-Rs opposition is that if term limits were set at like 12 years, who would run for office? They surmised only older people or the rich would run, if they didn’t have the belief that they would be in office for more than 12 years! I say, no politician should believe that they have some type of god given right to stay in office forever! Currently, something like over 90% of all NY legislators (Senate and Assembly) get reelected. Its not because they are doing a good job, as evidenced by these two legislative bodies having lower approval ratings than George W Bush at a Green Peace rally. They get reelected because their districts are mostly drawn to get their party elected, and then use their position to spend most of their time using the trappings of office to get reelected. Regardless if you are a democrat or republican, rarely will you face a primary, or at least a primary where the party supports the upstart. With term limits, yeah we may throw some of the good out with the bad. But, when you get rid of the 95 % who are the bad, I’ll gladly take the 5% of the good being let go. The more a politician is in office, the more powerful he or she gets. They rarely use this power for the overall good, but to make themselves more powerful for the sake of power and money. I can’t think of any assemblymen or senators or congressmen who are indisposable, where the state would be worse off without them. But, I can name a bunch quickly (including most people mentioned here) who the state would be better off with them gone. 


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