Did Someone Say New Year's Resolution?
I never liked the idea of so-called "halls of power." But it sure beats the "backrooms of power." The extraordinary legislative session held earlier this month was an indictment of the current system. We passed nothing.
What followed was the capitol blame game – a boon to the pundit community I’m sure, but a real waste for New York residents. The leaders of the Senate and Assembly must work better together, and they can do so by including the rest of us in the process.
As for the rest of us, if we’re going to call for a more open decision-making process, then we need to promote a more transparent budget. In the future, let's not wait for a judge to order the disclosure of our member items. We can do it ourselves.
Irony haunts the member item process. Even as some legislators are reluctant to make their member items public, they are unwilling to distribute the money evenly across the aisle.
By virtue of my party affiliation and (lack of) seniority, I have perhaps 90% less spending power than my Republican colleagues. Mind you that’s in a district already on the short end of inequity – in everything from health care access to the siting of environmentally harmful facilities.
And if money is one problem, bureaucracy is another …
Ten percent of my constituents live on Roosevelt Island, which is governed by a public authority and its non-elected board. According to a 2005 report by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, the public authority has exhibited "a pattern of secrecy and unaccountability.”
That has to change, and I’m hoping the new governor agrees.
Transparency works for just about everything but business envelopes and bedroom curtains. It garners trust and makes government run more efficiently.
New York needs a strong dose of transparency. My New Year’s resolution is to continue fighting toward that goal.
Senator José M. Serrano represents the 28th District, which includes parts of the South Bronx, Highbridge, University Heights, East Harlem, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island.