Monday, August 02, 2010

The sleaziest man in Albany deemed a 'hero of reform'

A lot of noise has been made recently by the group NY Uprising, founded by former New York City mayor Ed Koch. The group states three principal goals: non-partisan independent redistricting, responsible budgeting and ethics reform. I support all of these things, as does the truly reform minded Green Party of New York (whose candidates' opinions apparently weren't important enough to Koch's group to solicit).

NY Uprising takes it one step further. It categorically labels those who sign a pledge supporting these three issues as "Heroes of Reform," and those who don't "Enemies of Reform."

I don't like this.

First, I'm not a big fan of this sort of pledge because it essentially reduces complicated issues to black and white, squishing out any nuance.

If I were a politician, I'd be wary about being pressured to sign something by a group trying to put words in my mouth.

Second, it deems people heroes and enemies solely based on whether a politician agrees to someone else's words.

Especially in Albany, talk is cheap.

My local Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward took a shot at Koch's group for exactly this reason.

She wrote: Your lists mean nothing if in fact those who have taken your pledge as reformers have legislative voting records against reform and those named to the list as enemies have consistent reform records.

The ultimate illustration of the meaninglessness Koch's lists is the legislature's most infamous member (a pretty powerful label considering the competition).

You might remember Sen. Pedro Espada as the main instigator of two changes of power in the senate, both exploited by Espada to gain plum leadership positions for himself. Or perhaps you might remember him as the latest legislator to find himself under criminal investigation (for suspected corruption and campaign finance violations). Or maybe you remember him as the guy who dismissed all criticism of his lust for power and alleged corruption as racially motivated.

According to Koch's group, this sleazeball was decreed... (drumroll please)... a Hero of Reform.

If the hope of ethics reform and good governance in New York rests on the shoulders of Pedro Espada, then the state is truly screwed.

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