The Shmooze is a weekly download of thoughts, analysis, reporting, and other things the author finds interesting. In other words: Susan conversing, informally.
On a recent Friday afternoon, I was catching up with one of the reporters who cover the state capitol and we got to talking about the Senate Republicans.
Where the hell are they, he asked.
He had a point.
The leadership of the Senate minority has been unusually quiet this fall. It’s as if they are stuck in stage 4 of Kubler-Ross’ timeline of grief.
If the cause is depression, the timing is lousy.
First, all of their seats are up for re-election next year. As of today, seven incumbents including former Senator Cathy Young, have announced they would be resigning, retiring or gunning for new positions.
In the world of political campaigning, that’s bad news; it means the GOP will have to pour money into seats they thought were safe.
The second reason this apparent abdication of responsibility by the Senate Republicans is ill-timed, is that there is plenty of fodder for outrage in Albany, real or manufactured, around Governor Andrew Cuomo’s alleged meddling in an ethics board’s decision-making. Again.
Whether Cuomo is guilty or not of having had an inappropriate conversation with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie over a JCOPE vote isn’t the point. The point is, that the minority party plays an important role in a democracy, and the Senate Republicans appear to be missing from the current state of play.
Thomas Jefferson ensured that, at the federal level, institutional procedures guarantee the political minority the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the legislative process. Certainly those rules apply in New York, too, whether or not the legislature is in session?
Put another way, former Congressman Robert Walker once said, "the chief job of the minority party is to become the majority."
To be sure, not all Republicans have been silent.
After the Times-Union broke the JCOPE news, GOP Chair Nick Langworthy issued a press release calling the governor’s alleged sway over the ethics board “unconscionable.”
And Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Geneva) has again called for the creation of a new ethics panel.
Kolb also told the New York Post, “This was never a serious investigation; in fact, it has the appearance of a cover up.”
Perhaps I missed it, but I can’t find anything from Senator Minority Leader John Flanagan, and a couple of emails to his spokesperson haven’t been answered.
Granted the GOP may have a lot to be depressed about in New York State: They are losing net enrollment. They lost their majority in the State Senate. They have less money and clout than they used to have.
Personally I understand how frustrating it can be when someone who knows nothing about depression says, “Hey, just snap out of it." It’s not at all helpful. But this was: A therapist once recommended that I “simply go through the motions” until my “mojo” returned.
Along with some pharmaceutical help, it worked.
Minus the Prozac, I think that’s good advice for the Senate minority, too.
Don’t New Yorkers deserve more than a one-party system?
Starting in January, this column, The Shmooze, will run every Friday. If you have tips, stories, thoughts or you just want to fill me in on your life, send an email: email@example.com