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.