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Kinky Friedman sells salsa; why not Mayor Bloomberg?

Greetings from Texas! I was strolling through a supermarket here and came across "Kinky Friedman's Private Stock--Politically Correct Salsa & Dip." (www.KinkysPrivateStock.com)

Kinky Friedman is, as some of you may know, running for Governor of Texas.

Why don't New York politicians do food items? Where is our Pataki Punch? Sheldon Silver's (Matzoh Ball) Soup? Christine Quinn Cookies? 

More to the point, why doesn't Mayor Bloomberg produce food items?

Kinky Friedman can do it. Paul Newman can do it. Why can't Mayor Bloomberg?



What I Would Do About State Education Funding

This essay will talk about state school funding and the Campaign for Equity Lawsuit.  But before I describe what I would consider a fair system, after a root-and-branch reform, let me give you the bottom line.  Under New York State’s Reverse Robin Hood system, New York City’s share of front door and back door (STAR, son of STAR, anything else they come up with) state education funding is not only less than its share of the state’s public school children but also its residents’ state income tax payments.  This must end.  Argue all you want about whether educational resources should be redistributed to poor children; it is an outrage that for 30 years they have been redistributed away from poor children.  And the level of public school spending, staffing and pay in the rest of New York State is far too high, which is unfair to local taxpayers, to New York City’s schools which get outbid for qualified staff, and to New York City taxpayers who are increasingly expected to accept an even lower share of state education funding to pay for it.  The practice of giving more state school aid, under STAR and similar programs, to those who spend the most must end.  The fact that spending in the rest of the state is so high, that New York City’s children have been sacrificed to pay for it, is what no one is willing to say.  I’m saying it, and demanding that it stop.



FYI: Texas' City Council salaries are much lower than NYC's

"Austin officials want review of outside posts, $45,000 salaries" is on the front page of Wednesday's Austin American-Statesman (statesman.com). It stuck me that this is less than half of what NYC city council members make ($90,000, before lulus), even before the proposed $20,000+ increase.

From a box on pg. A7, "How Austin City Council pay compares":

AUSTIN

Mayor: $52,998

Council member: $45,011

Benefits: health care; no retirement plan

TRAVIS COUNTY

County judge: $100,644

Commissioner: $83,716

Benefits: health care and retirement plan



Pants on Fire?

"When Brooklyn and Queens got together, we saw that we can work together for the common good of both counties. We were able to achieve something very special, and that was the election of the speaker of the City Council. And it was then that we saw not only the integrity of your chair, but of how well he worked with other people. And I think that we will be able to share that together when Senator Paterson becomes lieutenant governor on selecting a leader to state senate. I think we'll see Brooklyn and Queens working together again."

- Michael Reich, Executive Secretary Queens Democratic Party at the 2006 Brooklyn Democratic Dinner (6/26/06)

Let’s be charitable, and remember that he was then speaking on behalf of a different County Leader; as they say Out West, “Dead Men Seal No Deals”.

SECOND THOUGHTS: MALCOLM IN THE MUDDLE

I’m embarrassed to admit that Malcolm Smith’s election as Senate Democratic Leader took me by surprise. I never saw it coming, but in my defense I’ll that neither did the Brooklyn Democratic Leader. If I known a denunciation of the race was imminent, I certainly would have expressed some thought, which doubtless would have been proven wrong.

Like many, at the beginning I thought that the numbers made a black leader likely, but Carl Andrews ran for Congress, Byron Brown went back to Buffalo, and Smith, the only other member black member of the conference considered politically formidable, had just fathered an illegitimate child, with rumors of more revelations to come. I guess he was just one lucky bastard.

I did, however, catch that the winner was not going to be David Paterson’s Deputy, Eric Schneiderman, as attested to by these posts from threads on the Politicker:  

There's a perception, that I've shared, that Democrats have basically written off their hopes of retaking the State Senate this year, and aren't raising much money for the effort.

But a source tells me that some top Democratic fundraisers gathered at Bill Samuels's Manhattan apartment Monday evening to talk about the senate campaigns with Spitzer, Paterson, and Eric Schneiderman.

i think the seante dems are rope-a-doping. they have more money now than ever. and the senate r's have much less than have had in recent years. with eliott/hillary at the top, bush in the tanks a lot of D voters will turnout and a lot R's will stay home. if they can't do it now then they probably won't get the house till 2010/2012.what *might* happen is they pick up 2 seats. morahan dies/retires. a D wins the special leaving a 1 seat margin. then i'd bet a moderate R (robach, balboni, maybe fuschillo or spano) flip in exchange for a big chairmanship (finance).

Posted by: santos | June 9, 2006
Santos: nice analysis, except that if Schniederman is the leader, the flipping is likely to go the other way.
Posted by: Gatemouth | June 9, 2006

the senate dems don't want spano or balboni. if klein or dilan take over, progressives might as well give up on the senate. the two of them are sleezy enough for 10 people. eric or liz krueger should take over, take the majority and then get rid of all the dead weight (and there's a lot of it) in their conference.

Posted by: anon | June 10, 2006

The contempt shown in your post for the members of the Senate Democratic Conference, even if deserved, is emblematic of why Schniederman is is so disliked by its membership. It is not the function of a leader to get rid of the dead weight in his conference (as opposed to damage controlling it, which is a leaders' function); the leader works for the members, not the other way around.

While folks like us do not consider servicing the needs of the Conference membership to be the highest priority a leader should be striving to achieve, the members of those conferences generally feel otherwise, and they are the ones who get to vote. People like Dilan, Klein and Connor all understand this. Schneiderman may understand it, but he gives off the impression that he doesn't care.

In choosing among the candidates, the Party's best possible hope is to find the candidate who both understands the prirorities of the conference, but also has the ability to transcend them (as opposed to ignoring them, which won't work). Whatever his flaws in achieving the goal of a majority, Connor clearly had achieving a majority as his primary goal (there are worse crimes than to overreach); whether Dilan and/or Klein share this ambition, or merely want to be king of the smaller pond is a good question, and one we can only hope the Conference's membership keeps in mind.

Posted by: Gatemouth on June 10, 2006

Gatemouth -- Schneiderman HAS worked for his conference, as Deputy Minority Leader he helped get Klein, Savino, Serano, and Valeski elected. The leaders race will not be the 2000 presidential campaign, where members vote according to who they'd want to have a beer with. They will need to figure out who can lead Dems to take the Senate so they will become Majority Senators and Committee Chairs. Schneiderman will need to address this perception of arrogance, but he is clearly the most qualified for the job. 

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2006

You may be correct in your assertion that the members will not be using who they'd rather have a drink with as the basis for their vote; I think that, in the case of at least some of the members, you may not be correct. But, even if you are right about this, you are still dead wrong. The members see their leader primarilly as a service provider; they want a leader whose first priority is to work for them. Eric just doesn't summon up the image of "Member Services with a Smile".

Schniederman can address "this perception of his arrogance" all he wants, but the results are likely to be disappointing; last week my dog tried to address the "perception that he is a canine"; his sincerity at first seemed overwhelming, but, in the end, he still chased the cat.

Posted by: Gatemouth | June 11, 2006

of course the leader represents the conference but that doesn't mean the leader should do nothing but kiss up to his or her members. the leader is responsible to strengthen the entire conference and make everyone more effective. effective legislative leaders on all levels of government listen to their members but also expect things from them. part of the problem with the senate democrats right now is you have about 10% of the members doing all the work...the rest of them are too lazy or self-centered to really wwork for the good of the people or the good of the people of new york. of the people running for minority leader only right now, only eric is smart enough to really turn things around up there.

Posted by: anon | June 11, 2006  

Do you think you are helping Schniederman? Your comments reek of contempt for the people who will be doing the voting, and the only question is whether Klein, Connor or Dilan is first to email them out to the rest of the conference to illustrate exactly how Eric feels about them, and eaxactly how Eric's staff occupies themsleves on their days off.

Posted by: Gatemouth | June 11, 2006

Remember, the "real" Democratic leader of the Senate has always been Eric Schneiderman, with help from Liz Krueger.

They are the only two who have the brains and the political savvy in the entire conference.

When Eric is leader, Liz and he will get the job done.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2006

It may or may not be true, but the more they let their minions keep saying it, the less true it is. No conference elects leaders with that much contempt for its membership.

Posted by: Gatemouth | July 17, 2006 


Drecky Rides Again

This column recognizes its obligation, in the interests of fairness, to provide a forum for those with opposing viewpoints to respond, and, in fact, we are most especially sensitive to allowing those who've been personally attacked to get out their side of the story.

On 9/16/06, I noted that the City had approved a $12.5 million refinancing plan for the All Stars Project, a "non-profit" group controlled by cult leaders Fred Newman and Leonora Fulani, which specializes in staging anti-Semitic theatre of cruelty performance pieces and indoctrinating young recruits to the cult. The NYC Industrial Development Agency (IDA), on which the Mayor controls a majority, voted 6 to 4 to approve the project. I noted that all of Mayor Bloomberg's representatives had voted for it. I also noted that "Doctors" Newman and Fulani were leaders in the Independence Party (IP), which had provided the Mayor crucial support in his initial election, and less crucial support thereafter. I'd previously noted elsewhere that the Newman/Fulani Empire of Evil had, as a result of its political activities, benefited from large charitable contributions, consulting fees, patronage appointments, and public funding, all courtesy of the Mayor (although the Governor and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, among others, have also been guilty), including an effort to allow the cult to provide taxpayer supported, school-based "therapy" to our children.



LunchBox: Who's Your Daddy?

Today on LunchBox, host Adam Green on: former Rep Mark Foley, Rep John Boehner, Rep Thomas Reynolds, Malcolm Smith, Jeannine Pirro, George Pataki and more...



Strange Argument From a Prosecutor

Ms. Pirro wanted Elliot Jacobson, the U.S. Attorney’s office prosecutor who assisted in the 2000 conviction of her possibly cheating husband for tax evasion, removed from her case. “The fact is, he is the prosecutor on this case. His behavior echoes his behavior of seven years ago,” she said.

---

Excuse me, but didn't Jacobson's behavior seven years ago result in the conviction of a crooked tax evader? Wasn't that his job? 



Missing the Point on Foley-gate

Wednesday’s NY Post, joining the rest of the right-wing media calls Democrats “Hypocritical Critics” in the Mark Foley scandal.

They compare Foley to previous sex scandals involving Democrats.

The flaw with the argument can be seen on the same day’s Post Op-Ed page. Robert Novak reports "A member of the House leadership told me that Foley, under continuous political pressure because of his sexual orientation, was considering not seeking a seventh term this year but that Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), talked him into running." (No link provided)



Joe Hynes: My Greatest Disappointment

I may have said before.  I will say it again.  For the last time.  One day the full and true story of two decades of Corruption in Kings County will be written.  And at that time  District Attorney Joe Hynes will be fingered as the single person most responsible for the sleaziness of these years.   Joe Hynes is my greatest disappointment. I don’t need to be reminded that I have supported Hynes from the first time he ran for office, through last year.  And at the same time I have no apology for choosing against John Sampson last year.  It was like making a decision between prostate cancer and a massive heart attack.
As often has to be done in politics, I went with the lesser of evils.  It was easy.



Where are the Also-Rans Now?: Part Deux

Almost six months ago I tried to tap into the wealth of knowledge of the Room 8 community to find out what the "Also-Rans" of 2005 were doing now. I didn't get many answers. I thought maybe now that readership has increased, I’d try again.

The Campaign Spending Free-For-All

New York elected officials must abide laws that regulate how political candidates can raise money. Yet the laws regulating how that money can be spent remain among the most lax in the entire country.

Under current law, three words fully describe New York's campaign spending guidelines: "any lawful purpose." This ambiguous definition has created an environment in which current or former political candidates can do just about anything with campaign funds short of writing themselves a check. Though spending campaign funds for personal use is technically prohibited, the lack of any clear definition for what constitutes a personal use renders the provision meaningless.



What I Would Do About Medicaid 2: The Family of Last Resort Problem

One of the reasons New York spends more on Medicaid is because the health care industry uses its political power to charge more, the subject of my prior post. A second reason is it charges for services it does not actually deliver – Medicaid fraud. A third reason is that New York provides more Medicaid services for recipients than do other states. And as I wrote here, the beneficiaries of most of those additional services are the elderly.

Today’s American elderly are the best off people, with the easiest lives, in history – unless one counts slave-owners. Tomorrow’s elderly, those born after 1955 or so, will not be as fortunate. Entering the labor force after social security taxes were raised, on the wrong end of multi-tier labor contracts, without defined benefit pensions and perhaps, when they reach their 50s, losing health insurance as well, and with limited savings, today’s young and middle-aged will reach old age as social security funds begin to run dry and the debts run up by their predecessors must be paid. We will have to work until no longer able, and will then face poverty. The poverty rate of the elderly, much lower than that of children in recent decades, is likely to explode – unless the seniors use their political clout to tax their own children into poverty, or to wipe out public education, or otherwise do unto their offspring what was done to them.



LunchBox: IM This!

On LunchBox today, host Adam Green on: former Rep Mark Foley, Rep Thomas Reynolds, Daily News, New York Post, Jeannine Pirro, New York City Council and Cocaine.



Tom Reynolds (NY-26) On Defense

The media here in the dog's nose of New York State have been atwitter over Tom Reynolds' involvement in the PageGate scandal involving Mark Foley.  As has been widely reported, we know that the 16-year old recipient of Foley's inappapropriate emails was troubled enough to bring it up with Rodney Alexander (R-LA), who then took it to Tom Reynolds. 

Why?  Because Reynolds is in charge of the NRCC. 

Reynolds, in turn, did not engage in any sort of investigation into the matter, but instead claims to have informed his boss, Denny Hastert about the matter.  There was no ethics probe of Foley; no censure, no reprimand.



What I Would Do About Medicaid: Part 1, Prices

What I would do about Medicaid is not what I would do about health care.  In my view, because those in need of expensive care, and those who do not want to pay for them, are free to move across state borders, health care is a national problem with a national solution (see here).

Any state that attempts to provide universal care for its residents will end up providing universal care for all Americans – until its economy collapses and it provides nothing to anyone.  With regard to Medicaid, my goal is to avoid having the health care industry – with its political power and indifference to the consequences of its increasing demands – from destroying other public services and the economy of the state.  Medicaid, for me, is a fiscal issue, not a health care issue, and my goal is to continue to get necessary health care without paying twice as much as everyone else.  That is different from the current fiscal goal – to pay as much as possible in for as little as possible in exchange for political support.  The current situation is a product of incentives – the state government gets to hand out money to its supporters, but other governments are forced to pay much of the cost and impose much of the sacrifice.  My proposal is to change the incentives.