Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Appointments Strengthen Special Interests, Corrupt Politicians

by Gary Tilzer

Appointments Strengthen

Special Interests
Lobbyists
Corrupt Politicians $$$


Senator Russ Feingold has proposed a constitutional amendment which would require that vacant Senate seats be filled by popular election. The senator says he wants to replace high-level deal-making and arbitrary exercises of authority with democracy.

While the recent election brought change to the nation, New York has been headed in the opposite direction with several high level appointments and power plays during a change in party leadership of the state senate. All of the New York changes have strengthened the “Political Industrial Complex" – the insiders. This is clearly demonstrated by following Senator Gillibrand in her attempt to solve her issues problems and gain political power. She started off with high-powered lobbyist and former Republican Senator Al DAmato at her announcement. Also there was former mayoral candidate now working as a lobbyist for Mercury Public Affairs, Freddie Ferrer. Gillibrand hired lobbyist Roberto Ramirez, of Mirram Group, as a consultant to help with her Latino problem. Besides hiring lobbyists she has been meeting and calling elected officials all over the state.

A winning candidate in an election has had meetings with voters and made promises for change in order to win their support. Because of the power and publicity inherent in incumbency, appointed officials see an effective strategy to win in making peace with the insiders who run government. The recent epidemic of appointments has strengthened the power of state insiders. Andrew Stengel was hired away from the Brennan Center by the senate democrats as a senior policy adviser for government reform. Stengel, who recently called Albany's efforts to reform "cosmetic fixes", has seen the job become much harder with New York's appointed government. Stengel has to look no further then Carl Kruger a senator in the chamber he works for. Kruger was called the leader of the “Gang of 4 or 3” which held up majority leader Smith, gaining control of the senate for two months. Kruger ended up voting with Smith after his gang was paid off in chairmanships, and in a letter just sent, thanked Brooklyn County leader Vito Lopez and Bronx County leader Carl Heastie for their invaluable help in bringing negotiations to a conclusion.

After running the gang in an open rebellion that negotiated with the Republican leadership, Kruger in his letter said he was proud that the Democrats controlled the senate for the first time in 43 years. He also said that the Democratic senate will move New York towards reform and a more open government. In 2007 when Kruger became the only Democrat named as chairman by Bruno, “He emphasized the need to set aside politics and partisanship for the sake of the public interest, ethics and good governance.” Kruger the proud Democrat, set aside politics often. He endorsed Republicans Pataki, Giuliani and then Lazio against Senator Hillary Clinton.

Kruger, even released a statement in support of Bruno after the majority leader revealed late last year that his outside business interests are the subject of an FBI probe. Kruger said questions about Bruno's integrity were "appalling and ironic", given his commitment to "openness and fairness".

Kruger on Ethics
A 2001 endorsement of Ferrer came after Kruger attended a controversial strategy session with the Mark Green campaign at Nick’s Lobster House in Sheepshead Bay. Though Kruger denies this, numerous sources have told us that it was Kruger who animatedly advised Green’s people to tie Ferrer to Al Sharpton in order to hurt Ferrer with white voters. – Feb. 14, 2005, Brooklyn Politics

"Today a Politicker 'blog' repeated the lie that I was involved in the 'racist' Green campaign flyer. These are the facts. I attended a lunch of Mark Green supporters and campaign staff where the idea of such a flyer surfaced. I told them in the strongest terms that it was wrong. After leaving the lunch I contacted Fernando Ferrer. I then notified the Green campaign that I could not support Green and would endorse Ferrer for Mayor." – March 23, 2005

In a November 2, 2001 Daily News story Kruger defends the decision to use that flyer: "My perception was, prejudice is in the eyes of the beholder. If someone is supporting someone's campaign, there's no reason on Earth why someone else can't point that out." Senator Kruger said.

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