No near, yet so far.
Connecticut's state capital is just a two-hour drive from Albany, but its Legislature might as well be in a different world.
Democrats and Republicans work together to pass laws. Residents speak their minds in public hearings, and legislators listen. Bills are written and amended in the light of day. Everything gets posted online.
The story is part of a recent series called State of Shame, in which the Daily News focuses on our state government. (Links to stories can be found in the story I've linked to above).
One of my favs is a list of committee chairmen, their stipends and the number of times their committees met this legislative session, through March 31.
Suffice to say, there are a whole lot of stipends being paid for not many committee meetings, particularly in the Senate.
Take the Senate committees on Economic Development and Environment and Conservation, chaired respectively by Bill Stachowksi and Antoine Thompson. Each committee met twice, about par for most of the Senate's 33 standing committees. Stachowski and Thompson receive stipends of $12,500 each, which works out to more than $6,000 a meeting so far. Not bad work if you can get it.
The Assembly's 36 committees tend to meet more often, two or three times is the norm, as opposed to once or twice in the Senate.
Robin Schimminger, chairman of the Assembly Economic Development Committee, has held two meetings so far for his $18,000 stipend. Sam Hoyt, whose Local Government Committee is considering IDA reform, has met three times. Hoyt's stipend is $15,000.
These stipends are in addition to a legislator's annual salary of $79,500. And some of them get more than one stipend.
Which committee has met the least? As in never. In both chambers. Come on, guess!