Albany Smackdown

albanysmackdownDo you remember how it felt when the first time you heard the dreadful phrase “It’s not you, it’s me” before a break up? That feeling of the wind being knocked out of your stomach so hard it whistled as it passed your ribs? This reaction should temper as you mature and realize that life is full of letdowns.

I guess I haven’t matured, because for some reason I get this sinking feeling every time I read about what goes on in Albany.

Politics is that on-again/off-again girlfriend that I’ve courted since first falling in love in college. I attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs about half an hour north of Albany and can remember my first trip to the state capital and how awestruck I was. Even though I majored in business, my favorite subjects were government courses, and I sought out political debate whenever possible. I was determined to be the ultimate contrarian and never let anyone know how I really felt about anything, just to sharpen my debate skills and learn from every argument.

But lately politics has become the psycho ex-girlfriend I can’t quit. I peek at Albany through my fingers like it is a gory slasher movie. I get a cheap thrill out of watching the carnage, but know I’m going to have nightmares later. And, as I watch the legislative gridlock brought on by this kangaroo coup d’état come home to roost, causing programs and bills coming to a grinding halt, I feel like I am watching one of the Saw movies. It’s that scary.

What are they fighting for at the end of the day? Money.

The Republicans seek voting control of the Senate in order to restore and keep a vise-like grip over key committees and even out the amount of “member items”— another way of saying “slush fund”—spread across party lines. It’s as simple as that. Those funds support local programs that should be coming out of the state budget to begin with, but their hyper-local focus keep key voting blocs dependent upon the person with the checkbook. It’s the power of incumbency.

Democrats in Albany have been asking for this since they have been in the Senate minority, which dates back to, well, forever. Only now that the Republicans lost the majority did it occur to them that a smaller allocation of discretionary funds for the minority was inequitable. So spread it out, make it law, and let’s move on. As far as the voters go, let’s use this as our jumping-off point to vote for every single member of the opposition in the upcoming elections.

I say we unseat every incumbent no matter how bad the opposition candidate, because given the collective behavior of the New York State Senate right now, they are all unfit to hold their positions.

The global backdrop to this ridiculous situation is what makes this so troubling. I mean, let’s get some perspective. Every day these past two weeks the Albany fiasco runs adjacent to the news out of Tehran where the recent elections were a sham. The youth and women of Iran are taking it to the streets to protest years of abuse of their civil liberties; a movement brought forth by the encroachment of democracy that has been introduced throughout the world by way of the expanding capital markets and the spread of information. People everywhere are hungry for our system and our way of life.

How their appetite would be quelled if they saw how democracy is being squandered in Albany. At the moment we need them the most, they have abandoned us and taken the liberties this system affords them for granted.

But don’t fret, Long Island. It’s truly is them, not us. Yet just like the first love who uttered those words, you know it’s an empty sentiment and it hurts as much as it did the first time.

Author: Jed Morey

Jed Morey is the publisher of the Long Island Press, LI's Cultural Arts and Investigative News Journal. The Press has a monthly circulation of 100,000, and, welcomes more than 500,000 unique visitors every month. He serves on the board of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Nassau County, as well as the President's Council of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Long Island. In addition to the contributions on this blog, Morey authors a column for the Long Island Press titled "Off The Reservation" and is a staunch advocate for Indian rights. The column was voted Best Column in New York by the NY Press Association in 2010 and third overall in the nation among alternative publications by the Association of Alternative Weeklies in 2012. Morey lives in Glen Cove with his wife, Eden White, and their two daughters.

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