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Short Takes – July 23, 2010

July 23, 2010

Charlie Rangel will face an ethics trial this fall. We’re not sure what the Dems are thinking, but airing their dirty laundry during campaign season is bizarre. This couldn’t have been settled?  With regard to Rangel, we’re just not sympathetic.  He lost us a few years ago when he blamed his wife for an accounting problem. Even if it was her fault, he should have manned up and taken the hit. Add another point to the Dem’s electoral discount rate this fall.

Shelly Silver and John Sampson got rather defensive when Ed Koch criticized them for not signing his reform pledge. Their response was to feign outrage at Koch’s embrace of the Senate Republicans, who did sign the pledge. They fumed: “They (the Republicans) blocked reform measures when they were in power!”  Someone needs to tell the two leaders that all that matters is what the Dems have done, or to be specific, not done, over the last two years. 

In previous posts, we noted an extremely weird vibe at the Capitol in recent days. There was a sense by insiders that something negative was about to break in connection to Governor Paterson. And in supposed preparation for the hit, the Governor’s press office was in overdrive, pushing out release after release touting Paterson’s “accomplishments.” That something appears to have been the Daily News exclusive with Sherr-una Booker. But the article didn’t seem to be that bad for Paterson. She didn’t directly link Paterson to the domestic abuse controversy. Not yet, anyway. 

Sen. Cathy Young, one of the most capable and dignified people in the state legislature, is being given bad advice in pressing the issue of Gladys Carrion’s mis-management of OCFS. Young does not need to hype this situation. She should let the ridiculous facts speak for themselves. The key here is the employees at the facilities. They should be the ones to complain. The senator should give them the opportunity, but not pile on in such a way that makes this either and upstate vs. downstate conflict or racial matter.  

We believe the Mosque controversy in lower Manhattan is a complete diversion from substantive issues of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Having said that, it is certainly not the modern day equivalent of this 1988 ad, as some have contended.  

Andrew Cuomo is in the North Country today. He’s scheduled to drive through Lewis County, which at this time of the year is one of the prettiest places in New York – rolling hills, dairy farms, and, yes, wind turbines. The turbines have been operating for several years now. The rural nature of the community has not been destroyed. Jobs have been created and clean energy produced. We hope AC will recognize this is a model of what can and should happen elsewhere in the state. 

Lastly, it’s the first day of the Saratoga meet, and the first meet since Joe Bruno was convicted of running his private business out of his public office.  Without making light of the misconduct, we hope Bruno is at the track and as vigorous as ever. The place just wouldn’t be the same without him.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 23, 2010 12:10 PM

    I thought you guys were against government waste. Carrion is trying to close down unneeded upstate juvenile jails. The unions are fighting this to save their jobs. The other stuff is tabloid nonsense. And you are supporting the unions on this one? Please do explain.

    • July 23, 2010 2:22 PM

      Dear Anon:

      We’re not taking exception to any effort to close under-utilized facilities. Instead, our real interest (and this should have been the subject of a separate post) has to do with the “benefits” given to inmates in correctional facilities. Some background is important:

      About 20 years ago, there was a big controversy about whether or not the state corrections system should permit televisions in inmates’ cells. Some people were outraged by the concept. It was said to be a soft-on-crime, liberal idea. It was called “molly-coddling” of criminals. Then-Governor Cuomo was said to be turning prisons in to country clubs.

      As it turned out, some pretty hard-ass folks, like the prison guards themselves, strongly favored TV in cells. Why? Because it helped the guards avoid fights in the recreation room, and it could be used to modify the cons’ behavior. In this regard, all the guards had to say was: “Hey, Scarface, you’d better be good, or we’ll take the TV away from you.” And it worked like a charm.

      Fast forward to today, we presume that Ms. Carrion and her people are trying to use social privileges as some kind of inducement to or reward for good behavior by inmates.

      Unfortunately, the implementation of this program has been marred by truly embarrassing incidents – a party for inmates at a facility in Delaware County was described as “an orgy,” and an inmate wedding and reception at facility in Claverack was described as inappropriate and excessive.

      While the social privilege concept might in theory be defensible, its implementation is being parodied. (The mocking question in bar rooms in Columbia County is now: So where did the state (and its taxpayers) send them (the inmate and his bride) for their honeymoon?)

      Sen. Young, whom we always admired as a person of intelligence and style, is right to question this policy, but we think she needs to be more careful. In this regard, she has been sounding more and more strident and divisive. On Dicker show today, she was demagoguing it: “Why should these killers be getting weddings and proms and special treatment!?”

      As we noted in the post, we think both the skilled workers at the facility and other experts in juvenile justice should weigh in and carry the day on this matter. If they say that using social privileges is effective and appropriate, fine. If they say that Ms. Carrion is making a mockery of juvenile justice, then something needs to be done.

      Thanks for your question.


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