I’ve written before about corruption and cringeworthy behavior in our New York legislature.
Despite a heavy Democratic enrollment edge, Republicans have managed to cling to control of the State Senate by grace of extreme gerrymandering. Well, at least it has kept New York from being a one-party state.
As of 2012, Republicans had a bare 32 of 62 Senate seats. But fearing loss of a seat, they created a sixty-third one (of dubious constitutionality) tailored for their hand-picked candidate to win. But then Democrats outside the district threw in a ton of money, and pulled out an 18-vote squeaker for their candidate, Cecilia Tkaczyk (pronounced “Gotcha”).
Giving the Democrats a clear 32-31 Senate majority. You would think. But this is New York.
So Bronx Democratic Senator Jeff Klein organizes an “independent Democratic caucus” group of a few colleagues (one of whom he’s sleeping with) and makes a deal with the Republicans to share power and shut out all the other Democrats. In normal politics this would be considered utterly treasonous to both his party and the voters who seemingly elected a Democrat majority. But this is New York, and they get away with this slimy maneuver.
So now Klein has sponsored a bill that would require all wine sold in the state to have been warehoused in New York for at least 24 hours. Just another idiotic regulation that pointlessly hobbles commerce, you might think; just part of government’s never-ending war against (small) business. But such legislation never comes out of the blue. There is always some interest to be served.
Klein’s office insists the bill is aimed at job creation. There’s that Tooth Fairy again. The truth: most wine distributors happen to have their warehouses in New Jersey, near the port where much wine arrives. They’ll be screwed. But one big distributor – Empire Merchants – already has warehouses in New York. Thus the bill would handicap Empire’s smaller competitors, maybe drive them out of business, which would limit the wine choices available to New York consumers, and raise prices. All to Empire’s benefit, and the public’s detriment. (And as if you do “job creation” by forcing businesses to add unneeded warehouses.)
And guess what? Since 2009, Empire has handed Jeff Klein $53,000 in campaign contributions; and given to a wide range of other elected officials, including $259,850 to Governor Cuomo (who’d have to sign the bill).
When a contributor gives money to an official whose stances the contributor likes, that’s called politics. When there’s a specific bill created to benefit that contributor, against the public good, it’s called BRIBERY. I’m shocked, shocked, that corruption is taking place in this legislature.
I credit the Albany Times-Union’s Chris Churchill for exposing this cesspool.