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Taxpayer money not well spent

Today's topic is state politics. Let's drive in:

Members of the state Senate and Assembly spent a lot of time schelping back and forth between their districts and Albany last year to accomplish, well, not much, unless you count the Senate coup and largely ignoring the state's fiscal crisis as productive work.

Stachowski The Albany Times Union has calculated the cost to taxpayers at $3 million for transportation expenses and per diems.

The tab for eight lawmakers topped $30,000 apiece and three of them hail from Western New York, including:

  • Sen. William Stachowski of Buffalo, $39,077, pictured at right entering a fund-raiser last summer that was picketed by members of the public.
  • Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak of Cheektowaga, $35,587.
  • Sen. Dale Volker of Depew, $30,108. Volker, whose time in the Senate dates to the days when Julius Ceasar held sway, isn't shy about spending our money. I did a story a while back that showed he spent close to $1 million to staff and otherwise operate his office the last year the "cost conscious" Republicans controlled the chamber.

A quick show of hands - how many of you feel you got your money's worth?


The Times Union also surveyed legislators asking them to disclose their household income. Two-thirds failed to cooperate.

Here's the list of senators who think it is none of our business. They include Volker, Mike Razenhofer, Antione Thompson and Catherine Young.

Here's the none-of-your-business list from the Assembly. Included are Francine DelMonte, Sam Hoyt, Crystal Peoples and Mark Schroeder.

The good news for Sen. Kristen Gillibrand is that the latest Marist poll shows her with a big lead over Harold Ford - 44 to 27 percent. So, maybe she wins the Democratic primary.

The bad news -- the poll shows George Pataki beats her head-to-head in November by 10 points.

Yes, it is early, too early to read too much into the polls. But the numbers indicate the Gillibrand will have her hands full if Pataki decides to run.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer -- deemed all but unbeatable, according to the conventional wisdom -- has an approval rating that has dipped below 50 percent for the first time in nine years.

Schumer is a power in the Senate and a major player in Democratic Party circles, to say nothing of being a master in generating lots of positive coverage from a rather compliant press corps around the state. So I find his numbers surprising. Kind of.

Then again, he's long been a good friend to Wall Street and some folks see him as a shameless self-promoter. Perhaps the poll is an early sign that his shelf-life is starting to expire.


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Federal government | State government
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