Thursday, October 25, 2007
Why I keep blue pills in my purse...
TEN REASONS WHY HUDSON WON’T CHANGE
Not in my lifetime at least.
The state capital. The bars there suck. Trixie hon you need to get out more. That's why the kids from Albany drive here to Hudson, and the politickos from Albany think that the burritos at Mexican Radio are great. The only chance to make systemic change in Albany comes every 20 years, as the New York constitution requires that the voters be asked whether they want a constitutional convention. And so the whole town is old-fashioned, and so we eat 20 year old burritos I guess.
If the NY voters approve a constitutional convention, the voters would then elect delegates who can reform the state constitution, establish term limits, get new burrito recipes, or overhaul the redistricting process. The last New York State Constitutional convention I recall was in 1821, and I think there's a store on Warren Street selling the desk it was signed on. In 1997, voters decisively rejected holding a convention. The next opportunity is not until 2017.
2. MONEY = POWER
The senate majority leader Joe Bruno and assembly speaker Sheldon Silver control the money. Period. And I don't get none and neither do you. Tippy gets a little public assistance via Animalkind.
Each leader uses his majority party’s campaign money as he sees fit, shoring up the most incompetent members, and also doling out funds to maintain power and enforce loyalty. Bobo incumbents hold power; challengers in or outside the parties always fail.
If someone dares to challenge an incumbent, the challenger is almost always at an enormous economic disadvantage. New York’s campaign financing contribution limits are far more lax than the limits imposed in presidential campaigns, and there are enough loopholes to drive a hook and ladder truck full of Benjamins through.
2. DISSENTERS GET PUNISHED
Those who challenge the existing leadership better be able to pull off a coup or suffer the consequences. The inherent "loyalty" caused by backroom financial incentives and jobs for life insures it. Play the game. Just ignore the rules. And your parking tickets get fixed automatically. Challenge authority? Get towed accordingly.
3. INCUMBENT PROTECTION
Polls consistently show New Yorkers are dissatisfied with the legislature but pleased with their representative - and the voters do not seem concerned with this apparent disconnect, and repeatedly re-elect the same second-rate crew.
"Bug squashed on a '63 Studebaker Lark windshield"
4. DRAWING DISTRICTS
Ever wonder about the bizarre shapes of New York State legislative districts? "Oops Tippy Spilled My Coffee on the Map", "Price Chopper shopping cart full of fishing poles", "Abe Lincoln Riding a Vacuum Cleaner", "Double-Helix Linux Code", "Meatlovers Breakfast Special at the Columbia Diner"...
After every census, the legislature has the authority to draw new district lines. There is no prohibition against drawing districts solely to entertain the kiddies, or for political benefit.
The legislature’s redistricting task force is armed with the technical knowhow and detailed data on population and voting characteristics that allows them to tailor a district to an incumbent’s needs with block-by-block precision.
The Only Game in Town: Parades!
5. IT’S THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
If voters don’t like what the legislature is doing, we all assume, voters can throw them out. But given the difficulty in beating an incumbent in New York, people is left with few other options.
There is no way of placing legislative proposals or constitutional amendments on the ballot without legislative approval like in California, where you just get ten of your wackiest neighbors to get together.
Nor can New York voters petition to recall a legislator for poor performance or even criminal activity. In addition, there are no term limits in state government, nor are there limits on the length of time a legislator can serve as leader. So go ahead - elect that fetus. He'll serve you for life.
We have an entrenched legislature, facing no risk to either its actions or its members, that has become a prescription for inertia in New York. Glacial action hasn’t stop forming our state.
And what's true in Albany politics is true in upstate politics and is true in Hudson politics. And these downstate newbies are fucking with our dysfuntional stability, OK? They just want to change things and make them work. So go away. Unless you wanna buy me a drink or let me bum a cigarette. I like things they way they was, and I'm here to tell you about them.
6. FERAL CATS
Tippy has been talking to me about National Feral Cat Day, which was October 16th some sorta holiday I hadn't heard about and apparently the only holiday Hudson doesn't have a fire truck parade for, I guess because cats can't get on the Hudson Fire Department yet because they aren't fat enough.
Apparently feral cats socialize a lot like the New York State legislature, hanging out in alleys and stealing things from us.
But they should not be confused with Feral Katz, who designs and sells furniture and pulls his wee-wee out on Warren Street. Not that that designing and selling furniture and pulling your wee-wee out on Warren Street shouldn't be encouraged…
I'm just not sure we need another parade that we have to pay the cops more overtime for, when all the coppers do is ticket parked cars and pull them over to check on their vehicle registration and seatbelts and cigarette lighters and hubcaps and generally harass the citizens of Hudson and the outta-towners who drive in to patronize them, and give us here all this upstate hick toothless hillbilly reputation that we all don't need.
But, I got all my teeth still!
Tippy hon, what were we talkin' about again?