Once upon a time, when a state senator from downstate wanted to know something about upstate, he or she would ask a colleague from that neck of the woods. Or maybe have his people talk to the other guy's people.
That was then.
Now the Democratic majority has hired a special staff to focus on upstate. Offices in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.
But, it turns out, that, too, was "then."
Now comes word that Sen. Pedro Espada has hired his own guy for upstate. "Director of Upstate Relations," to be precise. As majority leader, I guess Espada feels entitled to his very own upstate liaison.
You'd think at $150,000 a year, Steve Pigeon, his new attorney, could pitch in as needed. But no, this job requires a Pigeon flunky, Dave Pfaff.
At $70,000 a year.
In a year when the state's budget deficit is now $4.1 billion and climbing.
Reports Matt Spina:
An investigation begun in 2008 by the Erie County Board of Elections revealed that a political fund maintained by Pfaff and controlled by Pigeon … People for Accountable Government … had collected and spent tens of thousands of dollars more than Pfaff had disclosed on his official reports to the state Board of Elections.
Indeed, Pfaff's duties over the years have included helping Pigeons play shell games with political contributions. As Spina reported in June:
The county (election) commissioners said the two committees filed on time just nine of the 43 periodic reports that have been required since Citizens for Fiscal Integrity was launched in 2005. They have now filed 11 of the 43.
Pigeon and at least one of his treasurers say they are not required to file as frequently as county officials believe because they are not active in every election season.
But the state board says it has obtained six judgments and begun several other enforcement actions against the two committees over the years.
This, folks, is the kind of "talent" your tax dollars are paying for.