June 15, 2009

Stachowski's Dilemma

Odds are that before recent events, you'd never heard of New York State Senator Bill Stachowski. This despite his having served over 27 years in the Senate. For most of his career, Stack toiled in virtual obscurity. He sat in the minority for those 27 years, until the Senate majority flipped with the 2008 election. All of the sudden, what Stachowski does matters.

He was identified by the Buffalo News as being the swing vote in the debate over gay marriage, and has been a strong ally of the union-dominated Working Families Party. Stachowski is faced with something he had never encountered in his previous 27 years in office: Relevance.

After last week's coup on the floor left the Republicans with a fragile 32-30 majority, one of the rogue senators, Hiram Monserrate, insinuated that the now "coalition" will fall apart if more Democrats don't join in.

Bill Stachowski, a Dem from Lake View, is one of the senators being heavily targeted by Upstate and Western New York interests to flip. Anthony Baynes, the former chairman of the Erie County control board and Buffalo-based Mark Hamister are just two of the prominent local businessmen that are said to be exerting pressure on Stack to side with the new coalition form of government.

As part of the enticement to flip, Stachowski has been offered the Chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee by the GOP-led coalition. During last year's election, when Stachowski was facing a significant challenge from former Buffalo cop Dennis Delano, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith promised this chairmanship to Stack. He failed to deliver on his promise. The chairmanship of Finance is one of the three most powerful positions in the Senate. The chairman of Finance is in a position to bring millions of dollars in funding back to his district, as well as wield significant power over the direction of legislation in this state. In essence, this position puts the person holding it in a position to do tremendous things for his district.

Which brings us to Stachowski's dilemma. If he says no to those who are pushing him to align with the new coalition and take the Chairmanship of Finance, he is saying that he is SO strongly aligned with the downstate Dems that he is willing to put the interests of New York City-based politicians ahead of the people whom he has been elected to represent. That is downright offensive.

Out of the 62 Senate seats, Stachowski is just one of five Democrats who do not represent a constituency in or around New York City. Please, someone tell me what NYC and WNY have in common. Whether he likes it or not, Stack has more in common with Dale Volker, George Maziarz, Cathy Young, Mike Ranzenhofer and every other Senator that represents Upstate.

He needs to put political parties aside, tell the NYC political bosses that he was elected to represent the interests of Western New York, and for the first time in his career, start doing just that.


crusher said...

A lot of faulty logic found in this effort to pressure Stachowski. In fact, it could be argued that Senator Maziarz should be looking to flip as a way to best serve his constituents. The future of the state is Democratic and even this last gasp effort to hold on to power will not keep Republicans in power long enough to gerrymander districts for another decade. If the Senator shifted parties it would give upstate some serious representation--and allow him to be in a position to continue to bring home the bacon. That is all he can brag about ever having done for WNY!

I love the Senator's argument that this is about "reform." This is about political power--and the demographics are overwhelmingly against the Republicans.

Senator Maziarz is a popular, well funded politician likely to be around for many more years. After five months in the minority the Senator knew he was dead in the water. Senator Maziarz should be the one cutting a deal for his own future. An irrelevant position in the minority awaits voters of the 62nd unless the Senator sees the light.

lido said...

Crusher, Maziarz wouldn't swicth parties because he is a person that has stood up for something and has articulated his poistions to the public. He cares about WNY, and has made that very clear. Bill Stachoswki, on the other hand, has never taken a position on anything. He has sat in the minority for nearly three decades, never having uttered a relevant word.

If Maziarz switches, that leaves upstate with four senators. FOUR SENATORS to represent ALL of upstate. If Stachowski switches, that gives non-NYC senators 32 (assuming Monserrate goes back). So your argument, no matter how much you try to make it about GOP vs. Dems, does nothing to address the massive disparity between the interests of upstate vs. the interests of downstate.

As far as Maziarz being irrelevant, tell that to Richie Kessel, who's made HIMSELF relevant by defending himself from Maziarz' repeated questions of NYPA policies and procedures.

James T. Kirk said...

Crusher? Wasn't he that precocious child on the Enterprise?

Pirate's Code said...

Yes, professor, let's blame the corporations. Clearly it's their fault.

The facts, however, might point elsewhere...NYS is #2 in state & local govt. spending per capita, behind only Alaska. NYS does indeed have the highest individual income taxes per capita, but also manages to have the second highest corporate taxes in the nation. State and local govt DEBT in NY is third highest, 70 percent above the national average. NY ranks second in the number of state and local govt workers, who have the ninth highest pension in the country. Only ninth? Well, it's not so bad...those state and local govt workers have the second LOWEST rate of contribution to that pension, so somebody else is paying for it.

The question, professor, isn't where did those large corporations go? The question is, why do any of them stay?

You had it right at the beginning...the problem in NY is structural, not parlimentary. The structure in NY is simply too expensive compared to alternatives, both overseas and in other parts of the US. As businesses leave...and take individuals with them...the burden of that structure on those remaining grows.

So, if you ran a business, would you stay until the point that the cost of doing business in NY crushes you, or would you move on? How socially responsible can any business be when it can't afford to do business at all?

Pirate's Code said...

You paint with such a broad brush, Larry, that it's hard to know where to begin. I can only assume you had some horrible job at a large company that turned you so against all corporations. Or, perhaps you've spent your entire life in academia -- a fine, honorable profession, to be sure -- and only know of corporations from what you read in the papers. If that's case, you should know there is an old saying the media business -- if it bleeds, it leads. Meaning, good news rarely get reported, mostly bad. So, you might never know about the thousands of companies that employ your friends, neighbors, students and so on that do what they are supposed to do, every day.

Without question, there are corporations -- too many, in fact -- that are as despicable as you suggest. But, I'd suggest to you that the majority do not fall into your evil empire category. Someday I may stop by my alma mater and we can discuss the many ways the corporation I work for demonstrates its responsibility to the community. And, the company I work for is the norm, not the exception.

No one, and no company, WANTS to pay taxes. We do because we know its necessary (and the law), but only a fool would pay any more than is necessary.

You call my statistics vague and general. OK. I might counter that such statistics are just the tip of the iceberg in demonstrating that EVERYTHING costs more in NY, perhaps for no other reason than it IS New York.

Individuals often do not have the luxury (wherewithall?) to seek less expensive pastures. But companies do. If my company can meet its social requirements and responsibilities in NY at $10 million per year, or in Ohio at $ 5 million per year -- why should it stay?

And, perhaps I was vague -- clearly taxes are not the only reason why companies fail or decide to move. But, in New York, taxes are a symptom of a larger disease that also has its roots in our "let's just spend more" attitude that permeates Albany (and too many local layers). I might even accept the higher cost burden in New York if I had any sense that we got a decent return for that investment. But can you tell me that our school systems -- public or private -- are any better than most of the 48 states where such education costs less? Or that our bloated welfare system deals with poverty in any sort of meaningful, constructive way?

And you'll forgive me, Evita, if I don't cry for your pension. If you are part of the state pension system, I'm guessing it's relatively secure.

So, yes, corporations sometimes suck. And some "right wingers" care not a bit about education or your pension. But your pedantic rants ignore reality -- the high cost of the business end of government in New York is killing business, squeezing the middle and lower classes, trapping fixed income folks in their homes and generally making the Excelsior state an unattractive place to live and/or do business. Because you see, professor, you need one to do the other.

And, by the way, I don't know that our views of "structure" are all that different. I fully agree that true representative govt is hindered by our current structure. It is that very hinderance (aided by a unhealthy dose of voter ignorance and apathy), that helps make govt here more expensive (or perhaps less effecient, if you prefer) than it needs to be. It's not a Democrat or Republican thing, it's a New York thing.