To the Editor:
The insightful “Paterson in the Hot Seat” (The Capitol Connection, Dec. 18) makes me wonder if Democrats have taken real democracy away from the voters and returned it to Albany’s smoke-filled backrooms.
Remember former New York State Democratic Assembly member Tom DiNapoli? As a result of his faithful allegiance to Democratic State Assembly Speaker Silver, he was selected by a joint session of all 212 members of the State Legislature to fill the vacancy created by resignation of fellow Democratic State Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Millions of registered voters were disenfranchised by this backdoor maneuver. DiNapoli had a free four-year term without voter approval.
Next, we had the resignation of former Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Lt. Gov. David Paterson was promoted to governor for a free three-year term without voter approval.
Today, Paterson has to fill the soon-to-be-vacated seat of our United States Senator Hillary Clinton. She is being promoted by President-elect Barack Obama to Secretary of State. One of the leading candidates being promoted to succeed her is Caroline Kennedy. Kennedy couldn’t even find the time to vote in a number of past Democratic Party primary and general elections. If she couldn’t perform the most basic civic duty of voting, how interested is she really in becoming senator?
The second favored candidate is New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Should Cuomo be appointed senator by Paterson, his vacancy will also be filled by the State Legislature.
Both contenders come from famous family dynasties. What about all the other hard working Democratic Congress members from New York, such as Manhattan’s own Congress Member Carolyn Maloney? She, like most, worked her way up the ladder from local office without the benefits of famous family names, political connections and easy access to money.
Another candidate is Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. Nassau County was in financial ruin due to one-party rule, excessive spending and runaway debt. Does all this sound familiar on the city, state and federal level? Suozzi restored Nassau’s fiscal credit rating, balanced the budget, controlled spending, reduced debt and still managed to deliver essential services constituents desired. Suozzi’s real life experience is just what Washington needs today.
Once again, Albany career politicians will decide. Senator Kennedy or Cuomo will have a free two-year term before facing the voters for the first time. Why not amend the State Constitution to allow the governor the right to call for a special election within 90 days when a vacancy occurs for senator, state comptroller or state attorney general, just as the governor can when a seat in Congress or the State Legislature becomes vacant? Candidates can pledge to hold a series of town hall meetings televised live around the state. Newspapers and television stations can hold debates between the candidates. This will allow the voters rather than the legislature to select one of their own as a replacement.
Remember in 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a redistricting bill allowing his party to rig the drawing of district boundaries in their favor. This practice is commonly known as gerrymandering. After the 2010 census, remove the redistricting power from both the State Senate and State Assembly leadership. Have the League of Women voters or some other impartial group redraw district boundaries to prevent incumbents of both parties from stacking the deck in their favor. These are the only paths to real reform in Albany.
Great Neck, Long Island
Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.
Tags: Letters to the Editor
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