[New York Senate Democrats] recently realized there are some 75 employees working at the Senate’s own printing plant, a plain brick building on the outskirts of Albany. On Long Island, they found a small television studio, which had been set up — all with public money, with two press aides on hand to help operate it — for the exclusive use of Republican senators to record cable TV shows.
Democrats also came across what they are calling the “Brunomobile,” a $50,000 specially outfitted GMC van, with six leather captain’s chairs (some swiveling), a navigation system, rearview camera and meeting table. Joseph L. Bruno, the former Senate majority leader who was recently indicted on corruption charges, traveled in the van after his use of state helicopters sparked a feud with the Spitzer administration.
Then there are the parking spots, always at a premium near the Capitol. Democrats had been given roughly one spot per senator — there were 30 Democrats last year — and guessed there were perhaps double or even triple that controlled by the majority. Instead, they have learned, there are more than 800.
We all knew, more by intuition than evidence, that Bruno's gang treated itself well, certainly much better than they treated the then-minority Democrats.
But eight hundred parking spaces? Come on.
Joseph L. Bruno, the former State Senate majority leader, was indicted on Friday in Albany on charges that he reaped millions of dollars from companies seeking business from the state or from labor unions, capping a long-running investigation into one of New York’s most powerful political figures.
In an eight-count indictment, federal prosecutors accused Mr. Bruno of collecting more than $3 million over a 13-year period, beginning in 1993, from a handful of companies seeking state contracts and grants, as well as contracts to manage pension fund investments for at least 16 labor unions.
Betcha nobody saw that coming, eh? Except, perhaps, for Eliot Spitzer.
Do an experiment today: ask any New Yorker whom you know or meet randomly on the street who their state representatives are. The odds are very good that they won't know. This is because that knowledge makes little pertinent difference in their lives.
The ramifications of that simple fact are laid out in two Daily News pieces today that should make you cringe. One is headlined Ex-staffer says top Shelly aide raped her and Silver did nothing about it, the other, New York burns while Albany fiddles.
The first piece deals with an alleged rape incident in the State Assembly.
[Alleged rape victim Elizabth] Crothers, 32, was a young staffer for an upstate Republican assemblyman when she brought an internal complaint in 2001 with the Assembly that she was raped by Silver's then-counsel Michael Boxley.
Crothers and her boss met directly with Silver, who she said was callously eating pretzels as she recounted her story.
Boxley later in an unrelated incident pled guilty to misdemeanor sexual assault. read more »
Back in January 2006 I had as my goals:
1.) defeating the Bush/Gingrich/McCain agenda nationally
2.) defeating the Pataki, Bruno and Silver Albany constipation
3.) defeating the local Brooklyn Vito Lopez machine.
Still working on #3 through several channels. And it remains to be seen whether indictments or ill health or Brooklyn fatigue with corruption bring down Vito Lopez. For my part I prefer indictments to ill health. But Charles Hynes, the Brooklyn DA, has pushed that aside and has focused on other, also worthy efforts. So we wait to see who will replace Lopez in time.
Goal #1 began to happen in 2006 with a massive take over of the House and an evening up of the Senate. And we have a damned good shot at continuing this in 2008 with MORE House seats, a REAL takeover of the Senate and a White House win by Obama. read more »
Joe Bruno's retirement throws open the settled nature of New York politics, so it's worthwhile speculating on some possible developments.
His departure from the scene breaks the all-but-statutory requirement for GOP Senators to seek re-election as long as they're tolerably animate wide open. It's not unreasonable to expect Senators who have continued to serve at Bruno's request to now head for the exits; names being floated are Caesar Trunzo (born 1926), Owen Johnson (no birth date given, but first elected in 1972), Kenneth P. LaValle (no birth date given, again, but first elected in 1976), and Hugh Farley (first elected to public office in 1970, elevated to the Senate in 1976). It's an open secret in Albany that several of these lawmakers had wanted to retire for some time, but were kept in the fold by a majority leader anxious to preserve his majority. That's over, and no one would blame them for seeking retirement.
It's also reasonable to expect other Senators from the soon-to-be minority to seek greener pastures in other legislative bodies. For example, George Maziarz would probably be the strongest candidate for his party in NY-26, just as Andrew Lanza would be for the race in NY-13, where there is presently no GOP contender. I would take bets that the NRCC is on the phone with both Maziarz and Lanza right now to save something from the wreckage that republican fortunes in this state will likely become in November. read more »