Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unicameralism Now

I have made this point before, but it seems more relevant than ever. Please, please, can we abolish the New York State Senate? It is a gerrymandered swamp, which has existed for many decades solely to bolster the declining fortunes of the Republican Party, to multiply the opportunities for patronage, and to establish a veto point from which to extort favors. The short tenure of the Democrats as masters of the Senate has not been very impressive and part of the problem is certainly that David Paterson has proven to be a weak governor, and a strong governor is needed to hold the fractious hordes at bay.

But let us focus on the cupidity of the Republicans, who engineered this profoundly dishonest deal, at the behest of Tom Golisano, a Rochester area billionaire who has plastered his name over all of his benefactions. (Andrew Cuomo needs to start an investigation immediately on whether any untoward influence was exerted.) My wife Jane, works at the Golisano Children’s Hospital, and I guess we can all call this the Golisano State Senate.

Golisano’s beef with the Democrats is evidently that they decided, in an effort to cut the state’s huge budget deficit, to raise taxes on the wealthy. Golisano recently announced his decision to move to Florida, where all New Yorkers eventually go, and may he take the entire membership of the state senate, or at least the Republican caucus, with its tax cheats and girl friend beaters to some deep spot in the Everglades.

If this tawdry episode proves anything, it is that the moment for “reform” of the governmental process in Albany is a fool’s errand. The newly engineered Republican majority in the Senate is touting a "reform agenda." Wanting to "clean up the mess in Albany" has become the last refuge of scoundrels. We need a constitutional revolution now—Abolish the State Senate now.

All New Yorkers should demand an immediate constitutional convention to change the form of government in our state. All power to (a fairly and equitably apportioned)the state assembly. This is the sort of last-minute coup by revanchist forces that foretokens the assumption of power by the people. To the barricades! To the Plaza!!

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