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Wurst Case Scenario

March 26, 2015

If Republicans were real Republicans instead of Cuomoblicans, this would be the time to break out culinary metaphors. God, how we miss George Winner. In the same sentence, he could decry the fat in a Cuomo budget and warn of cutting to the bone.  He could complain about pork, but still bring home the bacon.

All the Republicans can muster this year in terms of loyal opposition is DeFran’s suggestion that a First Lady who is a long-time companion is indistinguishable from a wife and that she ought make minimal financial disclosure.  This prompted a screed from the governor.  Yes, of course, it came from the governor. The press staff had to clean up his comment, which was something to the effect of: “She (Sandra Lee) will file an ethics disclosure when they (the lawmakers) file disclosures for their crack whore mistresses.”

A real opposition party could have so much fun with Cuomo – so frequently a little poke produces a wildly intemperate over-response.  We haven’t yet read the Shnayerson book, but apparently that’s one of his themes.

Back to our culinary thing: The operative metaphor, of course, is sausage making. Now in our culture, this has negative connotation. But the Europeans? Well, that’s a different story. The Germans have all kinds of wurst delicacies – Nurnberger Rostbratwurst, Landjager wurst, Thuringer Bratwurst. And the French, they make fine sausage – diot de Savoie, Auergne saucisse – and cover it with extraordinary sauces. They go a step further and actually ferment the sausage so it has a little kick.

What do we have in Albany? We have (with apologies to Ms. Lee) semi-homemade sausage – more like a meatloaf hand-formed in the shape of a sausage.  It’s a mish-mash, half-baked concoction that looks like excrement.

And who is to blame? Well, you have to blame the chef, butcher, otherwise known as the governor.

In this regard, even though all government is basically sausage making, wouldn’t you, as governor, want to come up with A sensible plan (a basic recipe) for a state budget negotiation and then try to stick to it as best you could?

Cuomo used to know the answer to this rhetorical question,  but this time around he has been all over the place from the get go. He started with – count ‘em-63 goals and priorities in the SOS/budget presentation.  This from a man whose adamant advice to his father was to focus on two or three big issues and not try to be all things to all people.

This ambitious agenda also included a series of linkages:  A school funding increase was tied to teacher evaluations; the Dream Act was tied to the education tax credit; and expanding the charter cap was linked to mayoral control.

And there was the strangest thing the lawmakers ever saw: The Governor refused to provide school aid runs.

A  short while later, out of the blue, unprompted by any specific expression of hesitation let alone opposition from lawmakers who were still trying to process all that he’d put on the table, the Governor announced that he would make the budget late if they didn’t adopt his ethics plan.

Then came that tentative pushback from the Senate and the Governor’s outburst toward DeFran. Then there was the I-Love-Carl bear hug, quickly followed by the  I-hate-Carl-because-he’s-really-just-Shelly’s-puppet outburst.

And then came the big “never mind.”  Everything was then uncoupled, the Governor became conciliatory, appealing for lawmakers to simply do ethics and push off everything else to commissions and panels and future discussion. This has been memorialized for all time by Bill Hammond who tweeted: “Maybe the Governor and the Legislature could just agree to do the whole budget, post budget.”

Where we are now nobody seems to know. What’s in this budget nobody seems to know. There even appears to be a mechanisms that could provide for billions of dollars worth of member item spending, but nobody is talking about that.

They have until Friday or Saturday to sort it out. But really, has there ever been a more unruly budget process? The answer is yes, when there’s been a massive deficit, but no, not with a huge surplus to work with.

Right now, none of what the Governor is concocting seems to be a palatable mix, but it’s still possible that he turns out a decent product.  But there can be no doubt that it’s a sausage. The question is: What kind?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. mark keister permalink
    March 26, 2015 3:14 PM

    “half-baked concoction that looks like excrement” what a perfect description! Tastes like it too, no doubt. Not limited to this post; a universal condemnation of our policy making by the body politic.
    Bon appetite.

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