HATS OFF TO KARIM CAMARA AND JOHN SAMPSON
There are times when the movers and shakers of mainstream media simply refuse to do their primary duty: edify the public as to what’s really happening in the corridors of power. And this is why blogs -like this one- have now emerged as crucial back-ups for those who seek to truthfully bring the four-one-one to the public.
Take the recent legislative package passed in Albany for example. Mainstream media heralded it as a victory for Governor Andrew Cuomo; but is it? Really?
Many blacks -politically active on the New York scene- are now asking how the governor could fix his fingers to sign off on this horrid legislative package; especially the redistricting piece. Andrew Cuomo and Sheldon Silver are planting seeds for rebellion and mutiny; they need to walk carefully in the short term. They need to be both creative and contrite in the long-term.
This legislative package included the redistricting/reapportionment plan that has been overwhelmingly rejected offhand, by most of the people I have spoken to in my political orbit. It also included legislation on extending casino gambling in both NYC and New York State; the further enhancement of the state’s DNA database for law breakers; the creation of an evaluative system for educators; a new Tier VI pension plan for government workers; and also set in motion the mechanisms for creating an independent redistricting commission for the 2022 legislative lines.
I am not going to dissect the whole legislative package frame by frame but I will say a few things about it. Firstly, let me ask a simple question: does governor Cuomo truly trust that republican lawmakers will honor their word to move forward toward an independent commission on redistricting? Didn’t they not sign on to Ed Koch’s initiative on this very issue in 2009-2010 -and made all sorts of promises and guarantees- until they regained control of the senate chamber? Didn’t they then turn around and stab the man in his back? If Ed Koch were to pass-on anytime soon, it wouldn’t be from old age-related health issues: it will be from political betrayal and heartbreak. He deserved better.
Secondly, let me say that the legislative package relative to the pension plan was passed without the legally mandated 38 votes (3/5 majority) needed. The courts need to throw out this piece (at least) of the legislative package.
There were a total of thirty-seven members in the senate chamber, after John Sampson led a walk out of democrats, in protest. This made voting on any appropriations-bill impossible. And even though Brooklyn state senator Daniel Squadron raised the quorum issue, he was illegally over-ruled. Our law makers are now law breakers: what a friggin travesty! They don’t obey their own laws and rules but we ordinary citizens should? Talk about being duplicitous!
The normal rules of the state legislature laws call for at least three days posting before these bills could be voted on, but some were never posted in advance. Lawmakers in their haste to do their early morning dirt voted on bills most of them hadn’t even read. What a shame! But guess what: this isn’t an anomaly in Albany; this is business as usual. This is the ways bills are usually voted on: without full knowledge of its contents.
The senate majority leader (republican Dean Skelos) even went as far as changing up committee rules to now make it harder for bills to escape the Rules committee. Here we go again. Albany will once again revert to being a place where needed pieces of legislation go off to die in committee.
Thirdly, the new lines adopted are totally unacceptable to the hopes and political aspirations of minorities: aspirations for mutual respect, inclusion, acceptance and empowerment. Not a single minority was included on the panel which drew up these new lines. I have already written extensively on this year’s redistricting process in New York; so do read my previous columns for more info. The main point is this: minority voting-power has been diluted with the immoral redistricting plan. Splitting up predominantly non-white communities when they could be compressed instead (to enhance the chances of electing more minorities to the various legislative bodies) is disgusting and very troublesome.
I suspect that one of these days a Malcolm X type of charismatic black leader will emerge to shake up the hard-headed maintainers of the status quo. Let’s hope the expected confrontations aren’t bloody. You can’t hold people down forever folks: you just cannot.
The new lines are meant to maintain the status quo of white-male domination over the legislative branch. Given that white-males dominate the two other branches of government, is it any wonder in the year of Trayvon Martin -and one year after Occupy Wall Street- the natives are becoming restless on the streets again.
Non-Hispanic white males make up a little over twenty five per cent of the state’s population, but are represented by over seventy five per cent of the state’s bi-cameral legislature. Is it any wonder that over ninety per cent of all contracts awarded from governmental entities in this state go to companies owned and/or controlled by white males? Do females of all races, ethnicities, nationalities and religions get this? Do minorities get this?
This is economic injustice: clear and simple. The NYC council has done two studies in the last decade which highlight this disparity. Over the years things have gotten worse. I am awaiting the results of new disparity studies done at the state level, if legislators ever get around to it.
Assembly member Karim Camara (43rdAD/Brooklyn)-leader of the Black, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, informed the media that his group will be voting against the package; but most of them did vote for it. Camara himself didn't. Speaker Sheldon Silver must have made an unholy alliance with republicans in the assembly, in order to obtain (more than) enough needed votes for passage in his body. While in the senate, Dems senate leader John Sampson led a walkout in protest. A few democrats (including that traitorous Diane Savino of Staten Island) voted with the repugnicans for passage of this repulsive legislative package.
All I can say is this: hats off to Karim Camara and John Sampson. They displayed courage under fire. They stood up for their political principles. It’s time for Blacks, Hispanics and Asians in the state legislature, to show much more militancy in dealing with the daily injustices of this body. They are slowly becoming the last bastion against inevitable social turmoil. Issac Hayes once said: “you can kick a dog around; but one day it will rise; one day it will turn”.
The NY state legislature needs to do things correctly if they want to regain even an iota of respect from the public at large. It’s time for twelve year term limits on all electeds in NY: at all three levels of government. It’s also time for Sheldon Silver to resign in disgrace. He has been the main architect of Albany’s dysfunctional legislative system for way too long. Who is going to take this guy out (from the speakership)? Who is brave enough to even try? Can someone courageously step up like Mr. Bragman once did?Stay tuned-in folks. (EDITORS NOTE: this column was slightly amended and updated 03-28-2012).
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