June 13, 2009 (GBN News): NY Assembly and Senate leaders announced today a deal which will settle once and for all the legislative leadership crisis which has gridlocked state government in recent days. Under terms of the deal, effective control of the State Legislature will be ceded to NY City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
A beaming Mayor Bloomberg appeared today with the legislative leaders at an Albany news conference to discuss details of the new arrangement. The crux of the deal will be that, while the legislature will still be elected by the voters, the Mayor will have the power to dismiss any member at will and appoint his or her replacement.
According to sources in Albany, the question of fixed terms for the legislators was apparently a major sticking point to the agreement, with Senate and Assembly leaders insisting that the voters deserve independent representatives who are not beholden to the Mayor. But Mr. Bloomberg said in his statement that the “status quo is unacceptable”, and that only an “independent, non partisan figure” such as himself can break the paralysis in Albany.
The Mayor also insisted that his goals are limited, and that he is not looking to control every aspect of state government. “If Mayoral control of the NY City schools was not being put in jeopardy,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “I would not have needed to do this. But the legislative crisis threatened to send us back to the bad old days when parents actually had a say on the running of the school system. That sort of interference would be totally unacceptable.” However, some analysts are saying that the Mayor's move benefits him in another way. Control over the state legislature will make it easier for him to effect his proposed changes to the City Charter, which would give him total control over the City Council as well.
J. Fredrick Runson, political science professor at Manhattan University, says that there is precedent for the sort of arrangement where one powerful figure can supercede voters and determine the behavior of those in elective office. “Iran is a perfect analogy,” he told GBN News. “No matter who is elected, it’s the Ayatollah Khamenei who has the final say. The only difference is that his authority comes from his religious standing in a theocratic state, while Mayor Bloomberg’s comes from his financial standing in a plutocratic state.”
When asked how a Mayor of one city can effectively control the leadership of a state, Professor Runson cited a number of precedents. “Colonel Qaddafi in Libya, Colonel Pinochet in Chile, Colonel Doe in Liberia. They all took control over people with higher ranks and positions. Why not Colonel – I mean, Mayor Bloomberg?”
In other news, details are still emerging on Bernie Madoff’s educational Ponzi scheme, which was reported yesterday by GBN News. Apparently, Mr. Madoff was not just getting clients to invest in students’ test scores, but he also offered shares in the scheme to the students themselves as a reward for improved scores. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein defended the plan, saying, “The ‘shares for scores’ project not only encourages academic achievement by rewarding students but also cultivates valuable business acumen and nurtures NYC's future tax base with inflated apparent wealth.”
With thanks to Ann Kjellberg for contributing to this story