Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DiNapoli Budget Review

Comptroller and former New York State Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli reviewed Paterson's budget. The result? We're still going to be spending more in 2009-2010 than we did previously in spite of his arbitrary cuts and in spite of all the tax increases to increase revenue. You can read the entire text of the review here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NY For Growth - Budget Edition

Here's a message from New Yorkers for Growth which I recently received via email -
New Yorkers Bleed Red Ink Under Special Interest Tax Hike Proposal

Using television ads, websites and press releases, Albany's biggest spenders are pushing a plan to spend even more than the 1.7 percent increase in Governor Paterson's budget proposal - and they want to pay for it with a new tax increase in a recession economy.

Using familiar scare tactics, the spending proponents argue that the Governor's budget does not allocate enough to education and healthcare - ironically, the two areas where the state spends the most. They're calling their plan the 'Fair Share Tax Reform,' but it's really nothing more than an income tax increase.

Like you, we know that simply throwing money at the system doesn't transcend into better results.

Consider this: New York's per-capita Medicaid spending is more than double the national average; and, we have the highest per pupil education spending in the country - yielding mediocre performance scores.

New Yorkers Already Pay the Most

According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization based in Washington, D.C., New York already has the second highest state and local tax burden in the nation and has consistently ranked first or second highest since 1977. You can find more facts about New York's excessive tax burden at:
http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/46.html.
It's true. Paterson's budget is not the answer and instead of figuring out how to streamline our budget and cut spending in a meaningful way, we will continue on the path we've been on for decades wasting money and increasing taxes. I await the budget analysis from our Comptroller.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quick News Blurbs

Before I take a Christmas sabatical from blogging, here's a quick news update for those following the State Legislature.

The NY Post is reporting that Senator-Elect Monserrate slashed his girlfriend in a jealous rage over finding another man's business card in her purse. She's trying to get the charges dropped, but they're still going through with them at the moment. Also, Malcolm Smith confirmed that he dropped by to see and show support for Monserrate when he was in jail.

Currently two Republican State Senators are trying to prevent Monserrate from taking the oath of office and serving due to the severity of the charges laid against him. The resolution was initially submitted by Senator Martin Golden (R-22) and was co-sponsored the following day by Senator Cathy Young (R-57). If the resolution passes, Monserrate would not be able to hold office until there is closure on the pending case against him.

The Working Families Party is working against the "Gang of Three," currently working to get petitions signed by Democrats in Espada and Diaz's districts in order to try to coerce them into siding with Malcolm Smith in the Senate leadership dispute. The WFP hopes that by shaming them into noticing that their district Democrats want them to support Smith, that they'll do it. From what we know of the two of them, that doesn't seem plausible.

Here's some statements on Governor Paterson's Budget by two conservative Assembly Republicans, (both profiled here at Red Albany in the past).
“This is ongoing disingenuous argument that ever statewide elected official ever makes...We’re not going to raise taxes which means we are not going to raise the income tax, but in the meantime, we are going to nickel and dime everybody to death. In the end, they are still dead. And that’s the problem, that the budget is sort of the death by a thousand cuts here...it is not a genuine discussion to success that we didn’t raise the income tax, but we got everybody else doing everything else. And that’s what this budget does.”
-Assemblyman Marc Molinaro (R)

"We taxed our way into this hole; we cannot tax our way out...We have to stop digging and get our addiction to spending in line. Folks are going to have to feel the pain at all levels, but it has to be equal and there should be no tax increases."
-Assemblyman Greg Ball (R)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monserrate Arrested on Assault Charges

State Senator-Elect Hiram Monserrate, a former New York City Council member, was arrested on Friday for potentially stabbing his girlfriend in the face with broken glass. After the incident, instead of taking his bleeding girlfriend to the closest hospital, approximately five blocks from his apartment, he drove her twelve miles to the Long Island Jewish medical Center in Nassau County. According to prosecuters, his girlfriend, Ms. Karla Giraldo, is the one who told police that he cut her with the chunk of broken glass but later asked that he not be arrested. He is claiming to prosecurters that he tripped and the hunk of glass went into her face. Giraldo is currently not cooperating with prosecuters. He's currently out on $5,000 bail. A random purported relative of Giraldo claims that he heard that she said that State Senator-Elect Monerrate is innocent of the purported charges. If convicted, Monserrate would be removed from office automatically. While on the City Council, Monserrate was an active supporter of legislation pertaining to the rights of the victims of domestic violence. This makes his arrest all the more ironic.

For the record, Monserrate ran unopposed this November for State Senate. Also, in May authorities were investigating whether an agency that Monserrate helped get hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to support illegally helped his campaign.

For the Record - Seminerio

Indicted Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D) ran with no Republican opponent in 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The iPod Tax?

Patrick Ruffini, one of the founders of The Next Right, wrote about the so-called iPod tax that Paterson is proposing and about how Republicans can win using this and other ridiculous proposals from the likes of liberals like Paterson as rallying points. He's right. Check out the article here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Crazy 88

Paterson has just provided New Yorkers with 88 new reasons to vote for a Republican Governor in 2010. Here's a list - iTunes sales tax, 18% soda sales tax, doubled beer/wine sales tax, removal of clothing tax exemption, sales tax on hair cuts, sales tax on satellite radio, increased cigar tax, tax on fitness clubs, movie ticket sales tax, taxi and bus sales tax, and all around higher government fees. Newsday has a nice rundown on the new fees and taxes. All in all, nearly $6 billion in new taxes and fees. If I ever saw a rallying cry for Conservatives and Republicans, this is it. Assembly Minority Leader Tedisco and Senate Republican Leader Skelos have each made their own public statements opposing the proposed new fees. I stand here with them. Republicans in New York need to use this as a call to arms.

There are ways to deal with budget shortfalls that don't force more New Yorkers to lose their entire paycheck paying taxes to the state. What of the citizens of New York City who rely on public transportation and taxis to get around? What of the people who want to overcome obesity (that the soda tax is supposed to be fighting)? Why penalize them as they now have to pay new gym fees? Paterson needs to reexamine this budget and, if it passes, the CPNYS and the NYGOP owe it to themselves to battle this tooth and nail. These fees and taxes are the types of things that have been driving out New Yorkers for years. Truthfully, I hope there are fiscally reasonable individuals out there who are ready to fight this and help find new ways to cut the fat/remove the fees.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flip4.org

MR Newman (me) from Red Albany is joining forces with Flip4.org. I'll be focusing in on discussions pertaining to the unique situation of the NY State Senate. In 2010, if four seats change hands to the GOP, the GOP regains control and this will be crucial during the coming redistribution of Congressional seats. Check out the site and feel free to sign up to learn more about them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2009 Budget Previews

The NY Daily News is reporting that based on the unveiling of Paterson's FY 2009 budget, New Yorkers are going to see a 15% obesity tax on drinks that aren't water, juice, diet soda, or milk; a return of the sales tax on clothing and shoes; a 3% cut in education spending; tuition hikes at SUNY and CUNY ($620 and $600 per year respectively); approximately $3.5 billion in health care cuts; a proposed lifting of the gas tax increase cap; and a 30% increase in 30% welfare funding over the next three years. The health care cuts come on the heels of a Paterson proposal to eliminate fingerprint and face-to-face interview requirements for access to Medicaid.

So, Paterson plans to make it easier to get access to and easier to defraud Medicaid, but plans to decrease funding as Medicaid is a part of the healthcare spending drop. It shows where the priorities are of the Governor when he wants to cut education spending while increasing the welfare rolls. Does Governor Paterson not realize that with a better education people will be able to get better jobs and therefore the welfare rolls will, in turn, decrease? I understand 100% having to make spending cuts in a bad financial crisis - but perhaps learning where cuts are most reasonable (arts, legislative salaries/pensions) and where reforms are most needed (welfare, Medicaid).

In 2009 and 2010, New Yorkers can expect higher gas, clothing, beverage prices along with increased fraud in the Medicaid system and a weakened education system that will continue the drop from recent years. Thanks Governor Paterson.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Assemblyman Seminerio Indicted

Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, a socially conservative Queens Democrat from the 38th District, is being indicted on corruption charges. He is being charged with accepting over a million dollars worth of improper payments. The payments appear to have been laundered. The link includes the full text of the indictment from U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin's office.

Here's a quick background check on the indicted Assemblyman, for those interested - The 73 year old Assemblyman has been in the Assembly since 1979. Prior to that, he served as an executive board member representing the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association. Since his election, Seminerio has been a pro-life advocate and has endorsed such Republicans as George Pataki and Al D'Amato for statewide office in the past, putting him at odds with some of the Assembly Democrats. Then again, his fiscal record is considered strongly liberal with glowing endorsements from liberal leaning outfits. He would have been considered a mixed bag for Republican and Conservative voters in his district. Now, being indicted for $1 million in bribes, it's a no-brainer - vote for almost anyone else.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Senate Majority in Question?

The majority status of the NYS Senate is now in question and it's unclear who's going to be in the majority. The "Gang of Three" Senators and Democratic Caucus Leader Malcolm Smith...have changed their minds. Smith is no longer willing to compromise on certain social issues for the "Gang of Three" and Senator-Elect Espada claims that Smith did not fulfill his part of the bargain. Espada was going to be Majority Leader with Smith as President Pro-Temp. Espada said that the position was minimized by Smith, saying, "There was to be a partnership with the rest of the conference; that office would have a budget. As the week wore on there was no budget, there was no power, it was just a title. He was set to announce it today; it was an empty title. I was not going to make myself a party to that kind of fraud."

The goal of the "Gang of Three" was to have more Latinos in leadership roles, themselves specifically. That was part of their big deal, making sure Latinos are represented in the Senate in their misguided attempt to create racial quotas in leadership. I find the whole idea of racial quotas in the leadership roles demeaning, but Senator-Elect Espada apparently disagrees.

With the three "renegade" Senators unclear about their status - it's up to Dean Skelos and Malcolm Smith to unite their respective caucuses and figure out what to do. According to insiders, two Republicans contacted Smith saying they'd consider supporting him for leader of the Senate. By the end of the week, it's predicted that Espada and company will have met with the two caucuses and made some form of decision.

New Yorkers, be prepared for an agressive legislative session filled with arguments from within both caucuses.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bruno Fundraises for DiNapoli

Showing the colors that some of us expected, former State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno shies away from helping any potential Republican Comptroller challenger and helps fundraise for the appointed incumbent and former Democratic Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli. Bruno, who's currently being investigated by the FBI which partially led to his stepping down from the State Senate, has been a fixture in New York State politics for over a decade. Bruno watched as the GOP Senate majority slipped away to the state it's in today. Hopefully, Dean Skelos will perform better in his duties at rebuilding the GOP Senate Majority instead of focusing only on how he can better keep power in his own hands.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tedisco on the Democratic Senate Majority

Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco in a bold statement begs the question, is the Democratic Senate Majority for sale. What does he mean? After the "Gang of Three" got their way, one of them being handed the Majority Leader Status, Tedisco asks if Malcolm Smith is just ready to cede to anyone who will help them retain majority status. Here's a quote -
"The in-coming Senate Democrat Majority talked a good game about reform, but when it came time to act, they went back to the standard Albany playbook. They cut the mother of all backroom deals to divvy up political power among themselves, anointing Senator Smith the new President Pro Tem. It looked like a bad episode of ‘Let’s Make a Deal..."
Following his comments, Tedisco offers some potential reform ideas which are worth examining.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Better Know Red Albany

Here's a repository of the ever popular Better Know Red Albany articles. This post will be updated to serve as a sort of "Table of Contents" for these articles.

Better Know Red Albany: James Tedisco

James Tedisco is the New York State Assembly Minority Leader representing the 110th Assembly District. Tedisco has served the Assembly since 1983. He was elected to Minority Leader by the Republican Assembly caucus unanimously in 2005. Prior to his public service through politics, Tedisco was a special education teacher, guidance counselor, and later served as the athletic director at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady.

In 1977, at 27 years old, Tedisco was elected to the Schenectady City Council, as the youngest person ever elected to that role. He was reelected four years later. In 1982, Tedisco decided to run for an open Assembly seat. Tedisco faced a four man Republican primary, and won. He went on to win the general election and has been reelected ever since. As a Freshman Assemblyman, Tedisco became the ranking Minority member of the Committee on Children and Families and Chairman of the Assembly Minority Task Force on Missing Children. He has been an advocate for missing children and has co-written a book on the topic in 1996.

His Minority leadership has been over only a few years and the Assembly minority has been pretty vocal. Opposing tax increases and helped lead the charge against Eliot Spitzer's failed attempt at granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Early this year, he led the Assembly Minority to prepare a comprehensive platform for themselves entited ReNew New York. The platform is divided into eight broader categories with specific pieces of legislation to help reform each area. I like to call it a Contract for New Yorkers As a conservative former New Yorker, I'm inspired and excited by the concept that the Assembly Republicans have put together. If the Assembly Republicans can get the people of New York to review their platform - I think they'll find some new voters.

Tedisco has been a solid voice for pragmatic conservative governance. He vocally opposed the illegal immigrant license fiasco, he publicly called for Spitzer to resign, he stood up for tax cuts and caps, and he has continuously led the charge to fight cronyism, as shown by his direction of his caucus to oppose the appointment of DiNapoli for Comptroller. Tedisco has worked for the public good for years and is becoming to the State Assembly what Newt Gingrich was to the House of Representatives.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Democratic Senate Majority, Officially

The "Gang of 3" who were holding out to see who offered them something better, have decided to join the Democratic Caucus in the New York State Senate and grant them the leadership. The catch? Each of them gets a prize and same-sex marriage is pulled off the table as the three of them are more socially conservative on this issue. Pedro Espada, who it is still unclear if he legally ran for office, will become the Senate Majority Leader. Malcolm Smith would become President Pro-Tem of the Senate, the first time these positions have been divided in a long time.

I'm glad Skelos didn't bend to make promises he should not have in order to recapture the majority -- but this loss is going to be huge. Red Albany wishes the Democrats the best of luck at fixing the massive budget crisis that they all had a part in helping create.

Commission on Property Tax Relief

Monday, the Commission on Property Tax Relief, led by the most conservative Democrat in New York, Tom Suozzi, released their report. It can be read here. It came out with 32 recommendations including -
School District consolidation
An annual property tax increase cap
Cost evaluation requirements on any new state mandate including the economic impact at both the state and local level
To be honest, Tom Suozzi was a better candidate than Eliot Spitzer in 2006. I think if he were in office, New York may be in a different place than it currently is. That said, the Commission's results are interesting and I await to see how the legislature actually copes with them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Missing Candidates of 2008

In 2008, the Republican Party of New York failed to run candidates in 14.5% of State Senate races and 24.6% of State Assembly races. In 2010, this can not be the case. If the Republican Party of New York wants to be competitive, they can not merely allow the Democrats to control every seat or allow Democratic nominees to also capture the Republican line. They must have their own candidate in each and every race statewide and they must be competitive, they can not merely put up a sacrificial lamb. Drafting real candidates for each and every district is a goal of mine here at home and in New York. It must be done or else they will remain the minority party. Here is the breakdown -
Districts Without Republican Senate Candidates: Districts 10, 13, 14, 27, 30, 32, 33, 46, and 60

Districts Without Republican Assembly Candidates: Districts 6, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 45, 58, 66, 79, 81, 84, 87, 89, 92, 94, 95, 98, 106, 111, 125, 126, 132, 133, 140, 141, and 150.
In 2010, this has to change.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Yorkers for Growth

I've got to plug the group New Yorkers for Growth. Here's their mission statement --
New Yorker's for Growth (NYFG) is dedicated to the proposition that excessive taxes and government spending are driving jobs, people, and businesses out of New York State. NYFG will support candidates for the New York State Legislature who, regardless of party, favor and vote for 1) lower taxes, 2) reduced reliance upon debt, and 3) reform of State and local government spending practices. NYFG has registered a political committee with the New York State Board of Elections in order to make financial contributions to candidates.

Special-interest groups often wield a disproportionate share of political power in Albany because of their ability to finance political campaigns. NYFG seeks to level the playing field by providing financial assistance to those candidates who will stand up to special interests and favor the principle of fiscal responsibility towards all State taxpayers.

NYFG will make direct contributions to campaigns of selected candidates, and encourage its supporters to provide financial backing to these same candidates. NYFG will research candidate records and promises to ensure that its support is going to solely those candidates who support the above principles. Moreover, NYFG will keep its overhead low in order that the most funding possible is available to be directed towards all worthy candidates.
A fiscally conservative PAC that will promote good, small government state legislative candidates and which will actually work internally as fiscal conservatives in order to make sure there's more money for the candidates. I like the sound of that. Founding members of interest? Former Assembly Minority Leader and 2006 Gubernatorial candidate John Faso and Nixon Son-in-law and 2006 potential US Senate candidate Ed Cox. If you share their vision of a more fiscally responsible New York, I suggest checking them out and looking into their candidates, I know I will.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two conservatives lose for the price of one

Let’s not forget the main idea of making Albany red is to ultimately make Albany more conservative and not to have a knee-jerk reaction with a “Four R legs good, two D legs bad”-type of thinking. That’s not really thinking at all and just blind allegiance to a party, which is what Sean Hannity partakes in.

An article caught my eye in this weekend’s Daily News about one such pol – Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio:

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2008/11/29/2008-11-29_queens_democrat_seminerio_charged_with_c.html

I paid closer attention to the parts of the above story about him running unopposed for his 16th term rather than “corrupt Democrat.” There ideally shouldn’t be any seat unopposed anywhere in this country, especially someone running for a 16th term as that stagnation is a ripe breeding ground for the corruption Seminerio is willing to plead guilty to committing.

Researching Seminerio further, it looks like we are losing a pro-life Democrat who had supported George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani, Al D’Amato, and Serphin Maltese. The last person can be included in that list of elected Republicans in New York State who are no longer in their elected positions. Maltese is a Republican State Senator in Queens who was a founding member of the Conservative Party of NY and on the National Board of the ACU which organizes the CPAC and provides the ratings to help us keep tabs on our elected officials’ voting records. Maltese just lost reelection this past month and he’s also 76 so he is unlikely he will run again, although we can hope.

One of the reasons Serphin Maltese was able to retain his seat for so long is because a conservative Democrat like Seminerio helped to rally his constituents to vote for a conservative Republican like Maltese in an overwhelmingly Democratic area. Unfortunately, “overwhelmingly Democratic area” is becoming an apt way to describe more and more of New York. The Daily News wrote an article in September when Seminerio was first arrested and how an association with him could hurt a close ally like Maltese in a tight race with the eventual victor Democrat Joseph Addabbo Jr. – son of the Congressman. This race shifted the power in the New York State Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats for the upcoming session.

Had the Republicans put up someone for the Assembly they likely would have won that seat as Senator Maltese went down with the ship with Seminerio. Instead, we lose a Republican Senator and now we’ll have to wait and see who will replace the relatively conservative Assemblyman.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mini-Break and Call to Arms

I'll be visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, so I will be unable to post until early next week.

If there are those of you out there who wish to see a Red Albany, post below and leave me an email address. I'm looking for more people who are dedicated to post at a minimum weekly here at Red Albany. The more who are ready to help increase awareness of State Legislative candidates and incumbents; and help keep the current legislature honest, the merrier.

NYS GOP Not Looking Inward?

Bob Fois of News Copy has a post on why the NYS GOP has lost in recent elections. First he discusses NYS GOP Chairman Mondello's comments on the election, who said "...Democrats created a wonderful political product, packaged it amazingly well, found the right “buzz” words and then marketed it using the latest information technology. If Ford could have been as effective as the Democrats we would all be driving Pintos." He's partially right, the right message got through this year and helped Democrats at all levels. He's also partially wrong.

Fois points out that Mondello is blaming the electorate, saying they were duped. But Fois is quick to point out that the NYS GOP did not do their job effectively. They have not been effective Republicans, they haven't been legislating like Republicans, and they haven't been acting like those who believe in limited government. Fois' point is really hit home when he says,
Joe Mondello could start with Dean Skelos, advising the outgoing Republican State Senate Majority Leader to start considering the plight of property owners first and the not become so infatuated with the teachers union. Mondello wants to know why the Republicans lost. He should look at his own county -- where the fiscal reformer is a Democrat. Tom Suozzi wins and he succeeds as a conservative, not as a liberal or an establishment player.
How true it is. Real fiscal conservatism can win in New York. Republicans need to realize that and get ready to buck up. Let's hope the Greg Ball's and Marc Molinaro's take back the reigns of the party to get them back on track.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Better Know Red Albany: Marc Molinaro

Marcus J. Molinaro will be starting his second term in the New York State Assembly from the 103rd Assembly District starting January 1. Molinaro has been active in Republican politics since he was 18 years old, first running for Tivoli Villiage Board of Trustees in 1994. In 1995, Molinaro became the youngest Mayor in United States. He was reelected five times. As Mayor, he cut property taxes while still improving the quality of public services and improving the roads in Tivoli. After his five terms, Molinaro ran for Dutchess County Council and won. He was reelected three times. While on the county council, Molinaro managed the county's $300 million budget adoption process and pushed for tax cuts. He was ambitious and it became very aparant in 2006.

In 2006, the 103rd Assembly District was represented by Pat Manning. In 2006, Manning had decided to run for Governor of New York. He had surged amongst conservatives who viewed him as one of their own. Standing at nearly seven feet tall, Manning was an imposing figure. He ran on a platform of family values and traditional conservatism. What conservatives throughout New York didn't know, was that Manning had been carrying on an affair on his wife for years with an aide. When the details of his divorve became very public, Manning dropped out of the race for Governor and went back to the 103rd Assembly District hoping that he could run for reelection. It was too late, though, because Mr. Molinaro had already stepped up to the plate.

Molinaro primaried Manning for the Republican line, he had already received the Conservative Party line. During the campaign the incumbent showed his true colors -- trying to impersonate Molinaro in order to steal the results for internal polling that Molinaro had paid for. Manning failed at pretending to be Molinaro on the phone and Molinaro just released the results. Manning was losing.

Molinaro beat Manning in the primary and won the general election. He won reelection in 2008 with the endorsement of every major third party.

Since serving in the Assembly, Molinaro has been a consistent opponent of wasteful and excessive spending. He received a 64% from the Conservative Party of New York in 2007 and joins Assemblyman Greg Ball with an F for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, a generally left leaning group in support of gun control legislation. Molinaro and Ball represent what's right amongst the grassroots of the Republican Party. Molinaro especially represents the type of conservatism that is appealing in New York.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Followup on Espada

Apparently, the Espada situation is even more strange than I could have expected. The oddness? Espada doesn't have a registered campaign committee. Which is interesting, considering that he campaigned for office. This also shows that he hasn't disclosed his finances or who's donated to his campaign. For all we know, his entire run could be funded by illegal fundraising or with massive donations above legal limits. What makes it fishier is the fact that Espada has a seperate account set up entitled "Espada for the People" which he's used to pay for all manner of things, including a $1,480.00 buy on August 8, 2008 to the Tri-State Pennysaver. If this has anything to do with his campaign for State Senate, Espada has violated campaign finance laws. As it is now, his lack of legal committee makes him in massive violation of campaign finance laws. It also makes us wonder...how was it that Dean Skelos and Malcom Smith both were able to donate to his campaign? They donate to "Espada for the People," which means that their contributions could not be used for his campaign. You would think that the Senate leaders from the two parties would realize that prior to cutting Senator-Elect Espada a check.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Special" Session

In the only thing to come out of the special legislative session, the Republican and Democratic caucuses reelected their leaders. The difference? The conferences in the New York State Senate flip from Republican to Democratic Majorities.

If this marks the beginning of the next term, then we're off to a seriously shakey start. I hope that the taxpayers didn't foot the bill for all these trips back and forth to Albany.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Espada Predicament

Pedro Espada is quite the character. Depending on what is politically expedient, depends on what party he's a member of. From 1993-1997, Espada served in the New York State Senate (District 32) representing the Bronx. He ran as a Republican and Democrat in every case. In 1998, he lost the Democratic line and lost reelection. Lost again in 1998. In 2000, he won back his seat and served as a Democrat. When up for reelection in 2002, he became a Republican. Then, New York had a Republican Governor and a Republican dominated State Senate and it looked to be a big year for Republicans nationwide. Republicans were "cool." He lost reelection by a 2 to 1 margin. He is now back again in 2008 as a Democrat in the 33rd District, but is not sure who he wants to caucus with yet. Despite being registered as a Democrat, his record is a mixed bag for Republicans. His record is 100% pro-choice, but he had a 63% rating from the generally right leaning (on fiscal issues) NY National Federation of Independent Business in the 2001-2002 session. Prior to that, he had a 50% rating (1996). His indecisive attitude had garnered the attention of the GOP members of the Senate -- who personally donated to him as much or more than their Democratic equivalents. For example? GOP Majority Leader Skelos donated $5,000 to his campaign...Democratic Minority Leader Malcolm Smith donated $500. That's 10 times more from the leader of the Republican caucus.

Espada's views are varied and it will be interesting to see where he ends up. It could be one more vote for Republican leadership and potentially, a voice of support on certain fiscal issues. Then again, which Pedro Espada will be seen in this coming legislative session? The 2002 Espada who stood by Joe Bruno and wanted to be a Republican, the former member of the New Alliance Party supporting a "more progressive agenda," or the guy who just outdid the Democratic incumbent on his own line. Time will tell.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Better Know Red Albany: Greg Ball

Gregory R. Ball is the 31 year old Assemblyman who represents the 99th District. The 99th District is in the southern part of New York, covering parts of Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester Counties. Ball was first elected in 2006.

Prior to 2006, for 12 years, the 99th Assembly District was represented by Willis Stephens. Stephens was one of three Republicans in the State Assembly who had been consistently endorsed by Planned Parenthood. Stephens was a generational name in the district, his father and grandfather had held the seat before him for a combined total of 68 years. Stephens was "entitled" to the seat and served when elected following his father's retirement in 1994. He was constantly endorsed by traditionally liberal leaning outfits such as AFL-CIO, Environmental Advocates of New York, CSEA, and NYSUT. During his time in office, he was cited for using campaign money for personal expenses such as a clown for a child's party. In 2005, Stephens inadvertently showed the local community what he thought of them by sending out an email message to an email discussion group saying that people of his hometown of Brewster were "pontificating idiots." Enter 29 year old Greg Ball in 2006.

Greg Ball is a retired Air Force Captain, he left active duty in January 2005 and remains a member of the Air Force Reserves. He was then hired by Exceed International, an international development corporation. Through his work there, he was elevated to Vice President of Exceed's Northeastern United States within a year. In 2006, Exceed proposed a $75 million urban renewal project for the village of Brewster, within the 99th Assembly District that should, when completed, generate some $2 million annually in tax revenue for the community. With his business and military experience behind him, Ball decided to primary Stephens. In early 2005, he declared his candidacy. He ran an unorthodox campaign -- when Stephens refused to debate him, he hired a guy in a chicken suit to show up at events; when it came out that Stephens had received shady donations from an indicted trashman/reported mob boss, Ball brought trash bags to campaign events to emphasize it; when illegal immigration was being discussed across the country, Ball brought it up locally and showed that it was happening here in New York. Ball's campaign won the hearts of the district and he defeated Stephens 70% to 30%. Stephens retained ballot access on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, but declined to campaign in the fall -- instead running for a Judgeship at the last minute. After Ball's insurgent campaign, he won in 2006 with 50.8% of the vote.

Ball campaigned on reform and traditional conservative principles. He's kept to that since being in office. He wrote the New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act which would have created an inflation-indexed cap on spending and school/property tax increases. He has proposed caps on the state sales tax on gasoline. He has supported gun rights and opposed firearm microstamping in New York. On immigration, Ball pushed the New York State Criminal Illegal Alien Deportation and Legal Hiring Act which would have authorized police to detain and start the deportation process for illegal immigrants caught committing a crime immediately. In terms of the environment, Ball is a bit of an environmentalist at heart, and has vowed to create lesiglation providing tax credits for using alternative sources of energy. He has supported Greasestock, a privately run alternative energy exposition held in Yorktown Heights, NY. He has attended since being in office.

For reelection in 2008, he faced former Brewster Mayor John Degnan. Degnan is a Republican who enjoyed also running on the Democratic Party line. He did so for Mayor of Brewster and he did so when he challenged Ball. He primaried Ball on the Republican line while retaining the Democratic Party line as well. In September 2008, a 60 year old former staff member accused Ball of sexual harassment in a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. A panel determined in October that no sexual harassment had taken place and that the charges were fabricated. It was also discovered that the accuser may have had connections to Ball's opponent, Degnan. Ball won reelection by a wider margin.

Ball is an up and comer in the Republican Party of New York. His drive and devotion to reform makes him the epitome of what the Republican Party needs to be in the future; and reminds us of what it was in the early 90s under Gingrich's House of Representatives. Ball's campaign as a reform Republican should serve as a model to other Republicans, reminding them of how we can win in this state.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What we're up against

It's been said that "Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take your eyes off of your goal." I certainly believe that, but at the same time there needs to be a gameplan for the challenges in front of us.

I work in the healthcare industry in NY and my boss remarked to me that 25% of New York State's population is on MedicAID. I captialized the last three letters to emphasize: that's the poor one, not the old people one.
So I went to google the stat and I found this NCPA study from 2006. I couldn't even get past the Executive Summary on the first page it was so disheartening.
http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st284/

Here are some highlights (actually lowlights); I bolded the NY politicians' responsibilities:

New York's Medicaid program is especially costly. New York has less than 7 percent of the U.S. population, but spends about 14 percent of the nation's Medicaid dollars. In 2004, the latest year for which complete data is available:

  • New York spent $10,349 per enrollee, compared to the nationwide average of $6,834. Only New Hampshire spent more.
  • New York Medicaid spent about $2,165 for each state resident (more than any other state) and almost two-and-one-half times the national average.

Why Is New York's Medicaid Program so Costly? Higher living costs do not account for the high Medicaid spending in New York. The state spends more because of policies that encourage higher spending and discourage cost control. Other states share some of these same problems, but none have such a wide array of perverse incentives. Specifically:

  • Unlike most other states, New York offers coverage to virtually all optional populations, and covers almost all optional services.
  • New York pays physicians less than almost any other state, even though physician therapies are often more cost effective than hospital therapies.
  • In contrast to its treatment of physicians, New York pays hospitals generously; whereas in most states Medicaid pays the lowest hospital fees of any payer, in New York Medicaid pays the highest fees of any payer — including private insurers.
  • New York does not use smart buying techniques, such as selective contracting with providers, to reduce costs.
  • New York spends more than any other state on drugs and pays some of the highest drug prices of any state; the state imposes few restrictions on doctors who prescribe the most expensive drugs, when lower-cost alternatives are often just as effective.
  • The political incentives to spend are greater since the New York legislature bears only a fraction of the cost (less than almost any other state); for every dollar the state spends, it can confer $4 of benefits.
  • New York does not aggressively pursue fraud — even failing to spend a substantial portion of the federal funding available for antifraud efforts; in
    2004, only 37 cases of suspected fraud were uncovered.
  • New York's insurance regulations raise the cost of private insurance, and make (free) Medicaid coverage more attractive.
  • If New York Medicaid were as efficient as the average state program, it could spend billions of dollars less to achieve the same health outcomes, and would have billions of dollars each year to fund tax cuts or other spending programs.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Democratic Dominance of Senate

Under State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno we saw a number of Republicans in the State Senate decrease. Next session, the Republicans will be out of power in the New York State Senate and will begin their first session in minority status in the NYS Senate since the 1964-1965 legislative session. This marks the beginning of Democratic Party rule over both legislative branches and the Executive Branch in New York.

This year, Bruno resigned leading to the ascenion of the 9th District State Senator, Dean Skelos as acting Lieutenant Governor and Senate Majority Leader. With the defeat of too many Republicans in the State Senate, Dean Skelos, is responsible for leading the Republicans out of the wilderness in order to retake the missing Senate seats and the upper chamber in the process. His agenda and how he works in the coming year will define whether or not the GOP will be able to reclaim anything in 2010. Senator Skelos, we await your next move.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Welcome

Welcome to Red Albany. I've created this site to, hopefully, serve as an open forum for right-leaning New York State bloggers to coordinate efforts and help spread information regarding similarly minded candidates to the New York State Legislature. In the coming days, hopefully this page will be filled with information and commentary about New York State legislative candidates and races from all over New York. If you are interested in joining in this open source experiment to help make Albany red, feel free to comment. Thank you.