Sunday, September 7, 2008

Silver bullet

Both the New York Daily News and Post today editorialized for the defeat of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in a Tuesday primary in his Manhattan district.

Best part of the News' editorial:

Nothing better illustrates Albany's lack of accountability than that Silver has not faced competition for reelection in 22 years. Only now is he being called to answer for so lowering the Legislature that it was properly branded the worst in the nation.

What happens in the Assembly is a charade. Individual lawmakers are all but irrelevant. They have surrendered their authority to Silver, who rewards loyalists with added pay and pork-barrel grants for their districts. (While dispensing a gargantuan $2 million a year to his own pet causes.)

The rank-and-file do what they are told - to the point that until recently, they were counted as automatically voting yes even though they were not present in the chamber. There are no meaningful hearings, and every bill that comes to the floor passes, as Silver dictates.

The big decisions are made in his inner sanctum, easily accessed by politically connected players who have much at stake in acts of the Legislature. In such a distortion of democracy, it's no wonder the state budget has ballooned beyond proportion.

Two upstarts are challenging Silver. Keep your fingers crossed.
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