Here’s a look at opinion content published today, Thursday, Dec. 16:
Pedro Espada: Editorial
We comment on news that state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, and his son, Pedro Gautier Espada, were federally indicted on corruption charges related to their dealings with the Soundview Healthcare Center in the Bronx. The Espadas, of course, are just the latest in a long line of Albany insiders who have faced or are still facing similar charges. We write:
New York is truly a special place, so special that the Senate majority leader gets indicted on a cornucopia of corruption charges, for alleged figurative and literal gluttony, and it engenders little more than raised eyebrows from the masses. Perhaps more interesting than the long-expected charges against Sen. Pedro Espada was this from Attorney General and Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, in announcing the charges : “The days where state officials can abuse the taxpayers are over.” Is there anyone in New York who really believes that? …
…Despite the seemingly endless indictments, Albany has yet to agree on any ethics law with any teeth in them; campaign finance reform remains a nice idea; only the barest constraints even endeavor to keep lawmakers’ hands out of the coffers of taxpayer-supported nonprofit groups; and nearly everybody elected to the Legislature gets re-elected (because of political advantage and mostly woeful challengers). Gov.-elect Cuomo, preening after the Espada indictment, said the days are “over” where state officials “can abuse” the taxpayers.
We sure wish someone would tell that to the legislators; it still feels like they are running up the score …
Westchester County Board of Legislators: Reisman
Phil Reisman writes on the recent news that the Westchester County Board of Legislators voted to create term limits for their body. Those limits would allow legislators to serve six terms, or 12 years, and would go into effect after the 2011 elections. Commenting on the $1.79 billion spending plan the Board of Legislators passed last week, Reisman has another suggestion as to how the board might better operate. He writes:
… Here’s a thought: Shrink the board. Reduce the number of seats to 11 and redraw district lines accordingly.
Jettisoning six positions would save more than $250,000 in salaries and stipends alone.
It’s an idea that has caught on elsewhere in New York. Voters in Erie County voted in November to rightsize their Legislature from 15 members to 11. A rightsizing referendum was also passed last month in Onondaga County, where there are 19 legislators, soon to be 17.
Westchester should get the Onondaga treatment. That would effectively force the board to do less with less. As it is, they seem to want to do more with more and more.