The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News, "Change consolidation laws," supports the drive by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo [right] to change the conflicting, inscrutable and, in some cases, flat unconstitutional laws that get in the way of reforming or eliminating the estimated 10,500 or more units of local government scattered about the state. Those units include a plague of special service districts that were formed to do everything from field fire departments to clean up duck waste.
They may have all seemed like good ideas at the time, but they soon evolved into a cynical shell game. Shoving various public services off the books of towns and villages and into the laps of the myriad special districts allowed the mayors and supervisors to brag about how their budgets and payrolls were flat, while shifting the costs, and an uncountable number of patronage jobs, off to the districts.
The News editorially supported the idea of Cuomo replacing Clinton in the U.S. Senate, when Clinton went on to become President Obama's secretary of state. But Cuomo's drive to reform government, coupled with his successful attacks on corruption in the student loan and health insurance industries, suggests that it was a lot easier to find a new senator than it would be to find another attorney general who would have the guts to take on these modern robber barons on behalf of the people of New York.
We journalists tease Cuomo about preparing to run for governor, and a new Quinnipac poll indicates he'd have a great shot at the office if he were. But would it really be such a good application of talent to take the best lawyer we've got on our side and make him an overstretched administrator? And, given the budget pain and unending partisanship now suffered by Govs. Paterson, Schwarzenegger and Sebelius, among others, who would want the aggravation?
- The Albany Times-Union and Newsday share our view on Cuomo's local government reform proposals.
- The Lundine Commission, more formally known as The New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, outlines a lot of the problems Cuomo is on about.
-- George Pyle/Editorial Writer