2008-03-21 / Columnists

From the Editor's Desk

First, Shoot All The State Officials
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Shakespeare was right when he wrote, "First, kill all the lawyers." He just didn't write about the right group. If he were alive today, he would have focused instead on our state legislators - many of whom are lawyers.

The sudden downfall of the hypocrite who was our governor is only one indication that something is rotten in Albany and it has nothing to do with garbage in the streets.

I never liked Spitzer, and that's not coming from hindsight. I didn't vote for him even though he's a Democrat. I always considered him to be smarmy and condescending, even when he was winning his big battles against Wall Street and prostitutes.

Who would have thunk that prostitution would eventually bring him down.

Added to the fact that no woman is worth $5,000 an hour for sex, the governor had to know that the feds were following the money on unusual transfers and his were some of the most unusual. Talk about the arrogance of power.

My dislike of Albany and its minions doesn't stop there, however.

I don't like David Patterson any better than I liked Eliot Spitzer.

Can I say that? After all, he is black and legally blind and the politically correct are going to get on my back for saying I don't like a black man and one who is physically challenged at that.

All I can say is that if that statement angers you, take a ticket and get in line.

Why am I picking on poor, legally blind David Patterson?

Because he has always represented all that is wrong with the left-leaning Democratic politicians that have come in a long line that includes Ed Koch, David Dinkins, Ruth Messenger and Mark Green - and his father, Basil Patterson.

Our new governor once sponsored highly controversial legislation in the State Senate requiring that cops faced with an armed criminal had to shoot to wound rather than shoot to kill. The bill would have made it a seconddegree manslaughter for a cop to shoot to kill rather than to wound.

Does Patterson think that cowboy movies and television shows, where the good guys shoot the gun out of the hand of the bad guy, are real life? You have to wonder what world he lives in to even think that it is possible to shoot to wound somebody who is shooting at you and live to tell about it. The bill brought such outrage from the police, and even from his running mate, Eliot Spitzer, that he eventually dropped the idea. He has since disavowed the police shooting measure.

In addition, he drew up a bill that would have changed a law already on the books which outlawed the use of force against a police officer making an arrest, whether or not that arrest was "authorized," meaning legal.

His proposal would have made it legal to use force against a police officer if the suspect believed that the arrest was unauthorized or illegal, and doesn't every criminal think that his or her arrest is illegal.

Besides punishing cops who have to defend themselves from criminals, Patterson pushed a bill that would have allowed illegal - excuse me, undocumented - aliens to vote in local elections, such as state and city elections.

He has also been charged in a suit arguing that he fired a white staff photographer to hire a black staff photographer simply because of race. That case is still wending its way through the court system.

Patterson has an ultra-liberal voting record over his two decades in office and he has been so closely aligned to Spitzer (although the two have fallen out of late) that I'm surprised that he wasn't tarred with the same brush, especially when he announced that both he and his wife had affairs in the past.

It seems as if everybody in Albany is corrupt or immoral, or both. In addition, they are all intertwined with one another in that corruption and immorality, which has made New York's legislature the laughing-stock of the nation. In fact, it is often termed the most dysfunctional government in the United States.

Staying in office is the name of the game, and our state legislators are champs at that game. Somewhere in the vicinity of 98 percent of them get reelected year after year after year after year.

Malcolm Smith is a perfect example.

Even an out-of-wedlock child and suspicions that he was cashing in on a local charter school that he founded while he was a State Senator did not keep Smith from winning reelection and moving up to Minority Leader. Should the Democrats take control of the Senate in the next election, he would become the second most powerful politician in the city after David Patterson and ahead of Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver.

Let's talk about Silver.

Silver insisted recently that there is "no conflict at all" in his naming the head of his personal-injury law firm to a 13-member judicial screening panel.

Who joined Silver in making the questionable appointment? Why, it was Malcolm Smith, the Senate's Minority Leader and the man who represents Rockaway.

Silver has been "of counsel" of the famous Weitz and Luxembourg law firm. Silver refuses to say how much money the firm pays him or what, exactly, he does for the firm.

Just a normal day for our do-nothing, corrupt, immoral state legislature.

Bruno, Silver's Senate counterpart, is also in trouble. He is under of investigation for his work outside the Senate, work he and Silver and the others are allowed to do because the legislature is technically a part-time gig.

There is something about a Connecticut firm and New York State bonds that the FBI is looking into. There's his use of state-owned helicopters on private business. There are all sorts of things that he will have to answer for eventually.

Should the Democrats take the one seat majority they need to take control of the Senate, most of Bruno's legendary power will dissipate like fog on a summer morning.

Then, he will be left for the dogs and Smith will assume his power. What a world!

Then, we have the dynamic duo of Rockaway Assemblywomen - Audrey Pheffer and Michelle Titus.

Titus is a non-entity. You hardly know she's there, and she probably likes it that way. You don't get knocked out of office if you don't make a mistake. Do nothing, and you can't make a mistake.

Pheffer has been around a long time and she is a very nice, friendly person. Because she had never, not once in all of her years in the Assembly, bucked the leadership, she will most likely become our next Borough President when Helen Marshall steps down. In all her years representing Rockaway in the Assembly, I can only think of one real achievement, and that is helping to get the surfing beaches established.

She was on the committee that gave Mayor Mike Bloomberg control over the school system, thereby guaranteeing that all education would stop in all schools and that tests would become the be-all and end-all of schools.

Not much of a legacy.

In the name of full disclosure, I have to admit that I personally like most of the legislators. Audrey Pheffer, Malcolm Smith and the others are personable and, when you speak to them in person, they talk a good game.

If only they walked the walk to go with the talk they talk.

Which is why we need term limits for state officials just as we have them for city officials.

On second thought, don't kill the legislature. Just throw them out of office.

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