A Zero Sum Reform For Our State Legislature
In the wake of the recent debacle in the State Senate, there should be little doubt on the part of any of our readers that the New York State Legislature needs reform, and we believe that the reform should be zero-sum - that there is nothing about the legislature that should not be on the table for that reform. We believe that a number of things must be done before the legislature can be truly little-d democratic. First of all, to stop the empire-building and power-grabbing that now occurs every day, and to stop the three-men in the closed room mentality that now drives both the Senate and Assembly, we must have term limits. Those limits should mandate a set term of eight years and then out. Let the fresh air in and the new broom sweep clean. Secondly, the state must be redistricted honestly. Senate and Assembly districts must be drawn along community lines, not to insure the election of an incumbent or to insure that a minority candidate wins. To this end, we need a non-partisan redistricting committee made up not of politicians, but of political scientists and community activists with no political agenda. Then, reform the campaign finance rules which now allow almost anybody to fund a political campaign with an excess zeal and without sanction. Disclosure is poor and enforcement is non-existent, allowing lobbyists and special interests to call the tune in Albany. Lastly, open the ballot so that candidates who want to run have a chance to do so. The rules for getting on the ballot in New York State are draconian and ridiculous. The state's Board of Elections is made up of political hacks whose only job is to insure that incumbents and other party favorites get on the ballot and insurgents do not. That has to change. We need a clean sweep. Only by making all of the necessary changes will we really have a democratic process in Albany.