THE BLOG

How to Throw the Rascals Out!

07/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Ed Koch Former Mayor, New York City

The New York State Legislature is less than dysfunctional, a description given it by the Brennan Institute for Justice. It has become a joke. What once was the pride of the Empire State under Governor Al Smith, when the Legislature engaged in the cutting edge of social reform, is now a collection of losers, particularly the State Senate, worthy of a banana republic.

Two Democrats, both with reputations that have been amply soiled over the years, Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, crossed over and provided the Republican Senate caucus with a two-vote majority. (Monserrate then crossed back, creating a 31-31 deadlock.) In exchange for his defection -- among the goodies I am sure are yet to be revealed -- Senator Espada was selected by the Republican leader to be President Pro Tempore of the Senate, making him, under the New York State Constitution, the person who becomes Acting Governor when the present Governor, David Paterson, is physically out of New York State. Espada would also become Governor for the balance of Paterson's term should the Governor die, become incapacitated, be convicted of a felony, resign or be impeached.

I don't know what else Espada received or may receive for his desertion of the Democratic Party which elected him to his present seat. I have no doubt that Espada's motives do not relate to a philosophical goal, but do relate to personal advancement.

The Assembly under Sheldon Silver is much better run than was the Senate under Malcolm Smith. However, its ethical standards are sorely lacking, as its leader holds a lucrative position in the private sector and determines the outcome of legislation affecting his private interests.

I have in the past and continue to advocate the formation of a new party. Its goal would be to throw out of office all of the incumbents elected on both the Democratic and Republican Party lines and elect new members to the Assembly and Senate. Those individuals would pledge to run only for two terms and then leave it to the two major parties in the next election to contest for the open seats in the entire Assembly and Senate. One proviso would be that any incumbent could run in the Democratic and Republican primary, if eligible under the law, to succeed themselves. The new party would then go out of business, hoping the two major parties had been sufficiently punished by the citizen voters of New York and would take the opportunity to redeem themselves.

The battle cry for the new party, yet to be named, should be "Throw the Rascals Out!" I suggest all of the incumbents, the bad and the good, be thrown out unless they are accepted by the new party and only run on the new party line. The so-called good current members have obviously not been effective and have allowed the Legislature - both houses - to degenerate and their colleagues' antics to disgrace all of us.

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