Friday, October 24, 2008

Christmas comes early

Hold out your hand long enough these days and you may land a big check from a politician.

Right before Election Day, the pork barrel handouts come in a wave: Sen. Bonacic at a train station in Port Jervis. Sen. Saland at a firehouse in Columbia County. On the federal level, Congressman Hinchey in Uptown Kingston and again on the Strand. They all do it. Those in the majority of their legislative houses have the most dough to spend. But even the minority party members get a taste.

I believe it's known as the Incumbent Protection Plan.

Of course, it works.

On the state level, despite widespread condemnation of the Legislature as a body, the individual members are re-elected at startlingly high rates.

"Oh, sure, Albany stinks, but not our guy," is what you'll hear.

As I've said in this space and elsewhere, the state Capitol cries out for a housecleaning. But those of us who share that belief harbor no illusions. It won't happen. Incumbents will keep on winning as long as local voters, many of whom feel obliged to thank politicians for being generous with your tax money, keep pulling the levers next to their names.

Merry Christmas!
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