The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin has a hard-hitting editorial today on the need to reform New York’s “strong leader”—er, make that “omnipotent leader”—system. Although New York has a proud history of producing great men and women, the editorial notes, there is no reason that a personality-centric ethic should export to the lawmaking process. How virtuous or talented the Speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Majority Leader might be is irrelevant; concentrating so much power in the hands of two people in and of itself represents a breakdown of representative democracy. Only by standing up to their leaders and reforming house rules can the rank-and-file legislators begin to correct this power imbalance.

The editorial also calls attention to the issue of public authorities. New York has hundreds of these authorities, about which the general populace knows little. Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi calls them “an immense shadow government operating without meaningful oversight.” We understand that former State Senator Seymour P. Lachman and Robert Polner also take on the public authorities in their forthcoming book, Three Men in a Room. A serious, and sober, conversation about this issue is slowly beginning to take shape.

Categories: General, Legislative Rules, Governmental Ethics