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... the NY Legislature is the problem

- Quality, not quantity - Buffalo News Editorial
   It's easy to be cynical about the latest proposal from government downsizing guru Kevin Gaughan -- the one that calls for reducing the size of the New York Legislature by about 17 percent. A smaller Legislature, Gaughan after all, would simply be easier for special interest money to buy.
   Gaughan, the Hamburg lawyer who has already persuaded several area towns to downsize their boards and has turned his attention to the proposed dissolution of local villages, wants to reduce the State Senate from 62 members to 50, and shrink the Assembly to 125 from 150. But, while smaller may be better when it comes to town boards, it isn't the number of state lawmakers that is the problem. It is the way they are chosen. ...
   ...it could certainly be argued that New York has way more lawmakers than it needs. Or uses. The speaker of the Assembly and the majority leader of the Senate hold so much power -- making up, with the governor, the Three Men in a Room who dictate budget decisions -- that maybe we don't need a Legislature at all. Maybe we ought to be honest about the fact that we are ruled by a Triumvirate -- in the style of Octavian, Antony and Marcus Lepidus -- and just shrink the Legislature down to nothing. ...
   What the New York Legislature really needs is not fewer members, or more members, but better members. And one key way to do that would be, as we have often argued in this space, to change the way legislative districts are drawn.
   Taking that function away from the lawmakers themselves and turning it over to an independent, nonpartisan commission would end the practice of drawing district lines in ways that make seats safe for incumbents, or at least so tilted in favor of either Democrats or Republicans that no real choice is ever offered to the voters.
   Truly competitive legislative races, whether there are 212 of them, 175 or 12, would be much more responsive to the popular will and less likely to become the personal property of incumbents, property they can use to extort campaign contributions from special interests who know they aren't influencing the outcome of any election, just influencing their chances of being heard by the winners.

   A new way of drawing legislative districts in New York is one of the goals of a new group called New York Uprising, led by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
   Related:
- Koch Will Head To Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse To Blast “Enemies Of Reform”  - City Hall News
- All talk, no reform - Albany Times-Union Editorial
- Throw the bums out: Here’s the list of legislators to vote against this fall - New York Daily News Editorial
- Enemies of reform - Middletown Times Herald-Record Editorial
- Taking sides in N.Y.  - Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin Editorial
- The Big Fix - New York Times Editorial
   And, of course, before New York Uprising, there was The Brennan Center.
- Still Broken: New York State Legislative Reform 2008 Update

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

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