Despite warnings over the last decade of the dangers of a dysfunctional and corrupt Albany, New Yorkers re-elected almost every incumbent running for office. Now we must live with not only a broken government, but, worse, the busted state economy caused by it. In this coming year, our children will sit in more overcrowded classrooms. Seventy-five senior centers will be cut, firehouses closed, and doctors cut from hospitals where any one of us could wind-up in an emergency. Thousands more jobs will be lost.
All of us are badly affected by these government cuts, but our local elected officials who are responsible have perfected a re-election system that always gets them re-elected. They get off scot-free.
My opponent, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and her colleagues have built local support by annually distributing millions in tax revenue to schools, senior centers, parks and other nonprofits that provide vital services to our community. This “member item” system keeps huge blocks of voters under incumbents’ thumbs — and lobbyists and party insiders keep the contributions flowing.
Coupled with the state’s arcane election law, it is virtually impossible for challengers to win. Legally complicated by design, election law is used by the incumbents to throw hundreds of challengers off the ballot, resulting in 98 percent being re-elected no matter how bad of a job they are doing, no matter how badly they hurt us and the state.
Assemblywoman Millman is directly responsible for this crisis in democracy because she chairs the Assembly’s Election Law Committee, the sole chairperson who has the power to affect real reform, yet she has done nothing of substance and has not been held one bit accountable, not even for her $12,500 lulu. But has the broken election law that Millman protects knocked off challengers with the skills to fix this state? Yes.
In 2004, a New York Times editorial, frustrated with the corruption, dysfunction, and the fact that so few incumbents were being challenged, recommended that voters “throw the bums out” in every race there was one. Unfortunately, there were only four competitive races in the city. The editorial was published before we even heard of Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, before the felony convictions of Bruno, Brian McLaughlin, Anthony Seminerio and a legislature that to this very day refuses to make the hard choices every family in our community makes cutting the budget in hard economic times.
In my campaign for Council last year, I warned the voters that the campaign promises other candidates were making were fantasy. This year I am again warning the voters of this district that unless the old Albany gang is removed and we start making the hard decisions needed to rebuild our state’s economy, we will see runaway public debt and a 25-percent cut in state funding over the next two years that will endanger everyone’s future.
Albany resembles political organized crime, not a democratic body that is protecting the people of New York. Incumbents act just like the mob, ripping off our money, never ever criticizing any of their colleagues convicted in corruption scandals and doing whatever’s good for them regardless of who they hurt.
We cannot reform political organized crime. We have to lock them up or vote the bums out on Sept. 14. For challengers to win on primary day, you must help them now. Get involved.
Doug Biviano is running against Assemblywoman Joan Millman, whose district includes Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill.