Monday, October 24, 2005

"The Stealth Amendment"

These are the responses to my October 21 article, "The Emperors Strike Back. Silver and Bruno Would Diminish Governor's Authority Over Budget. Public To Decide The Issue." Thanks to all, please continue to provide us with your feedback.


  1. Very good observations. I imagine you’ve already seen Joyce Purnick’s column today. I would think they might print a letter from you commenting on the subject, if you’re interested, especially since you’re not quoted in her column.

  2. As usual, you put the issue exactly right. Let's hope that the unofficial name for the proposal, "the Stealth Amendment," gets some currency over the next 10 days.

    The elctorate wisely rejects mos tproposed constitutional amendments, because as bad as the State Constitution is, most amendments that reach the ballot, would make it worse. Let's hope that this caution prevails again.

    Common Cause and the LWV should be ashamed of themselves. PIRG is keeping its record perfect--never having supporting the right side in any controversy.

  3. Right you are, once again. Thankfully the Daily News has been steadily
    running editorials in opposition to this amendment. Hopefully it will go
    down in flames.

  4. Its better to have a triumvirate than a dictatorship of two.

  5. Excellent piece.

  6. It's as if two drunk teens have the keys to the car, and now they want to
    > get the parent out of the back seat, too! I hope the media can muster
    > some outrage about this. We must wail with great lamentation the lack of
    > a citizen's referendum or legislative term limits, which would give this
    > state some hope.

  7. As there is a realistic chance for the public to directly elect a different Governor every 4 years; and, no chance, ever, for the public to directly vote-in different leadership for the Assembly and the Senate; the status quo ante is the preferred choice as it comports with the doctrine that in a democracy the voice of the people must be paramount.

  8. Thanks for keeping us informed of such arcane but important matters coming before the electorate on November 8.

  9. Your piece was excellent and very important; however, it was not until the very recent Court of Appeals decision that the Alfred E. Smith amendment was read literally. For the past 75 years the budget process in New York was the same as almost every other state: The Governor proposed a budget, then the Governor and the Legislature would confer, bargain, negotiate, horse trade etc. until they could agree on a budget which budget would then be enacted by the legislature. As a result of the recent divided Court of Appeals decision (but see Chief Judge Kaye's brilliant dissent) it was decided that a literal reading of the Constitution allows the Legislature to either pass or reject the Governor's budget without giving the Legislature any power in the process (i.e. to propose alternatives.) The vice of this is that the Governor, by including budget allocations for executive position appointments, has, in effect, legislated the creation of budgeted for positions with -- in some instances -- his/her ability to delegate powers -- all of this without legislative approval.

    I have not yet read the proposed amendment; however, this whole debate would not be necessary if we had the kind of leadership we once had. During Rockefeller's 18 years as Governor we had not one, not one, late budget. This was his kind of leadership: He would sit down with the legislative leadership, and, after having ordered an unlimited supply of sandwiches, would lock the door. He would tell the participants that neither he nor any one of them would leave until they had agreed on a budget. He served with legislative bodies, both Assembly and Senate, which were controlled by both parties (yes, we did have a Democratic Senate and a Republican Assembly at one time) and, as I said, we had 18 budgets on time. These "sandwich session" budgets illustrated the need for Executive participation but not necessarily control. Under the system in the wake of the Court of Appeals decision, the Governor can propose a budget, leave for New Mexico, and tell the legislature to pass or reject it. If the legislature turns it down, we have to wait until the Governor proposes a new budget -- of course, first he will have to return from New Mexico. That's why New York is unique in applying the type of "Alfred E. Smith amendment" which is now the law in New York.

  10. I'm glad that we have such hard working legislators such as Shelly and Joey who obviously toil around the clock figuring ways to shaft the public.

  11. What do you think about passing the Transportation Bond Act without a Vendex procedure for state procurements of contractors?

  12. Thanks for this information. Quite frankly it hasn't gotten much play here in Buffalo.
    Stealth is the right word.

  13. Henry...I knew about abomination. It's good that you are bringing it to everyone's attention. Same for the Transportation Bond proposal. NAY to both!

  14. Brisket3:25 PM

    In regard to your recent article, here is something for the blog: I find
    > this proposed amendment to be appalling. To have three men control the
    > entire state government is bad enough, but at least there is democratic
    > accountability for the most powerful of them. Let's hope the media can
    > stay focused on the issue and thus help to convince the public to vote
    > against it. But, as you mentioned during the Medicaid fraud revelations,
    > the news media also seeks profits, and has to keep the public interested
    > in its stories and continually provide fresh material.

  15. Anonymous3:25 PM

    At present, the governor and our other state-wide elected officials are the ONLY people elected fairly by ALL of the people of N.Y. The legislature's hideous gerrymandering has ensured bitter, partisan government by entrenched incumbents unafraid of the wrath of their constituents for half a century. And these buffoons really believe that they're more fit to govern us than the governor? I don't think so!