Can we ever fix Albany?
Submitted by Philip Anselmo on February 5, 2009 - 8:44am
Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson doesn't hold back in his indictment of our state legislature in today's edition of the paper. He goes for the jugular in this piece, comparing the cast of characters in Albany to the fabled mafia crew of television's Sopranos.
Consider what passes for governance here:
Legalized bribery and extortion, which is what the campaign system amounts to. Buying loyalty with high-priced, do-nothing committee assignments. Running a front-operation that meets in the legislative chamber while all of the decisions are made in the back room.
But even when the needed reforms — campaign finance limits, independent redistricting, etc. — are apparent, how do you change a system when the ones who write the laws are the ones who benefit most from it?
Of course, the answer, as always, is us. It's all about us paying attention and demanding change. Watson calls for a C-SPAN of the state legislature. If they're being watched all the time, maybe they will start to behave. Or that's the idea.
What do you think? Are we capable of paying attention en masse, because that's what it would take, it seems? A few gadflies here and there will only get swatted down. Or are we too complacent, too ready to buy into the aggressive campaigning of specialty groups who spur an uproar every time their funding is threatened? Or too complacent, too willing to chew on the fodder of smallish political victories passed off as significant achievements—think of Chris Lee recently championing how he saved local libraries from the big bad government? Or should we even be blaming ourselves?
While you brood over that, I would recommend checking out Watson's article.