Time To Call Upon The Most Effective Lobbyists In America - - YOU!
Never mind Tom Golisano and his billions. They're in Florida.
Fuggetabout George Soros and all the money he can pour into the political stream.
Drug companies? Teachers' unions? Tobacco companies? No, they can't hold a candle to those who hold in their hands the very power to either stay the course or change it in our great democracy.
And just who would those lobbyists extraordinaire be?
Why, you, of course. The citizen voter.
For all the money in the world can't by what our elected officials covet most -- your vote.
And now, comes the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of that democracy, by raising their voices, individually and collectively, as prelude to casting their votes.
The time has come for each of us, as citizens, as taxpayers, as electors, to tell our State Senators we've had enough of their antics.
So today, friends, neighbors, and supporters of community throughout the Empire State, before you do anything else, contact your State Senator -- by phone, by e-mail, by cryptic note, by smoke signal -- and say, DON'T VEGETATE. LEGISLATE!
It is time to get back to work.
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From The Associated Press:
Analysis: NY Senate coup a month-long standoff
By MICHAEL GORMLEY
Associated Press Writer
New York's senators are stuck in Albany this July 4 weekend in a partisan standoff that has lasted about as long as the founding fathers spent in Philadelphia in 1776, drafting a new government that derived its power from the governed. But in Albany, the fight concerns what is mostly seen as the power government control provides: Patronage jobs, bigger offices, leadership jobs and their stipends, how to dole out $85 million in pork-barrel grants and the power to attract bigger campaign contributions.
Meanwhile, the senators have refused to work together to pass critical and overdue bills for taxpayers and school kids, and taxpayers are picking up the tab for meaningless sessions during a fiscal crisis. Welcome to the close of the fourth week of New York's Senate holding itself hostage. It's been nearly a month of parliamentary plotting, name-calling, frat house stunts and trickery, but little negotiation to make the Senate work again.
That's changing now. Gov. David Paterson has gone from condemning the June 8 coup and the chaos it brought to the usually productive final session weeks to being invited to mediate the dispute. So far, neither side is budging much, but they are finally meeting. In part, that's because in the cool marble, carved oak and gilded ceiling of the Senate chamber, it's been getting hotter. Paterson has ordered the Senate to stay in Albany for mandated daily sessions through the holiday weekend and until they work out a power-sharing arrangement. He's also withholding their pay and $160 daily expense checks, while he spent much of two weeks on the road declaring them derelict in their duty.
Back in their districts, many senators face critical letters to the editor, e-mails, editorials, and robo-calls by lobbyists and partisans telling voters how embarrassed they should be by their lawmakers. The Syracuse Post-Standard found senators "incapable of rising above their own selfish interests" and labeled a raft of critical letters to the editor with, "End this Insanity." "The battle in the Senate is about power for its own sake," stated the Buffalo News. A New York Daily News editorial called the lawmakers dunces in a "shameless Senate." Newsday put it flatly: "Albany has lost its grip on reality."
Uncomfortable brushes with New Yorkers in barber shops, bodegas and in elevators come with lots of free advice for senators on how to share power and get back to work. Most involve a plan to rotate the most powerful positions and creating a bipartisan committee to agree on which bills to take to the floor _ you know, democracy. But this is Albany. And unlike in most states, majority power has always been near absolute and the top priority.
But it's wrong to portray the fight as simply corrupt politicians trying to further corrupt Albany. "I'd do it again tomorrow," said Republican Sen. Thomas Libous from his Capitol office, surrounded by photos from his Southern Tier district. He carried out the swift coup June 8, but he's catching flak at home, too, and is hitting local radio to fend off criticism of the Senate gridlock. His reasons: A bloated state budget negotiated solely by liberal New York City Democrats in secret that won't be affordable after federal stimulus money runs out next year, part of a pattern of silencing the voice of upstate and Long Island New Yorkers paying some of the nation's highest property taxes, and no check on otherwise all-Democratic control.
"The Senate Democratic Conference wants to get back to doing the people's work, but the Senate Republicans are more interested in continuing their desperate attempt at a political power grab," counters Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson of Brooklyn. "We're not up here to play games." He notes that after 40 years of being ignored, Democrats won 32 of 62 seats in the November elections. They sought what they call a progressive agenda, including the long-delayed ending of the Rockefeller-era drug laws to send more addicts and nonviolent dealers into rehab, rather than prison which only hardened the offenders for release back into society; and returning a higher tax rate for the rich while breaking the economic and social forces afflicting minority communities.
Both sides know the pain of being in the minority. The final blow may have been when Democrats decided to keep 90 percent of $85 million pork-barrel funds for their districts in a vote scheduled for June 8, the day of the coup.
More than two centuries ago, it took the founding fathers about the same amount of time as the Senate's standoff to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" for a greater good. "Perhaps," said Democratic Assemblyman John McEneny, a historian, "they will go to bed and be visited by three ghosts -- maybe Washington, Madison and Jefferson -- and wake up with a new attitude."
Michael Gormley is the Albany, N.Y., Capitol editor for The Associated Press. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved.