Keeping Political Promises
A while back, The Wave had an excellent editorial calling for reform of our "dysfunctional" state legislature. The legislature has been "dysfunctional." That is primarily because bills passed by the Assembly have often not been brought to the Senate for the debate or vote, and because the workings of the Senate have not been open to the public.
This has made a difference in our lives. Bills to strengthen ethic rules, to reform campaign finance and to place further restrictions on lobbying have, so far, not reached the Senate floor. This has affected not only the cost of prescription drugs and energy, but our environment, taxes, transportation, health and the education of our children.
But we can have hope. Malcolm Smith, the new majority leader of the Senate (who is our district's representative), has agreed that the Senate has to be committed to a "more open, accountable and inclusive" process. A special committee for the reform of Senate rules has been formed and it will be holding open hearings in several parts of New York State. The public is invited to attend and offer their opinions. There is one2 such hearing scheduled for February 26 at 250 Broadway (across from City Hall). More information can be obtained from State Senator David Valesky at 518-455-2838.
Now that our new state leaders have promised change, we must hold them to that promise. We must demand true democracy. There should be open hearings of senate committees outside of Albany so that diverse views can be heard; legislatures should be able to bring bills directly to the floor of the Senate, rather than at the direction of a few politicians; proceedings should be available on the internet, not kept behind closed doors.
We should thank Senator Malcolm Smith for finally getting the reform process underway. We must also urge him to continue along this path so that the long needed reforms finally come to pass.