It’s been a truly abysmal week for New York politics. Earlier this week, Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith was accused of trying to rig the city’s mayoral election by bribing his way onto the GOP ballot. Now two New York State Assemblymen are being charged in another bribery racket to keep a Bronx senior center free of competition. ABC reports on the latest scandal:
In court papers, the government said Stevenson accepted more than $22,000 in bribes in exchange for drafting, proposing and agreeing to enact legislation to aid his co-defendants’ businesses, including an adult day care center in the Bronx, the “Westchester Avenue Center,” which opened a month ago. In return for bribes, the government said Stevenson agreed to propose legislation that would ban new adult centers from opening for three years.
Bharara called the allegation that legislation would be affected by bribes “an especially breathtaking bit of corruption, even by Albany standards.”
With three Democratic politicians charged in one week, prosecutors are calling corruption in New York politics “rampant.” It’s hard to disagree: The blasé reaction of many of the accused suggests that this sort of corruption is far more common than anyone would like to admit. The NY Daily News quotes City Councilman Dan Halloran, one of the accused:
“You can’t do anything without the f—ing money,” he declared. “ Money is what greases the wheels—good, bad or indifferent.”
“That’s politics. That’s politics,” he added. “Not about whether or will, it’s about how much, and that’s our politicians in New York, they’re all like that. And they get like that because of the drive that the money does for everything else.”
It’s hardly a stretch to say that New York has some of the worst political leadership in the country. This wouldn’t be such a problem if these leaders were powerless, but unfortunately that’s not the case: a study by the Mercatus Institute found that New York government puts more limits on its citizens’ freedom than does government in any other state. In addition to the high-profile embarassments like the “Big Gulp Ban” and the proposed ear bud ban, the Empire State also limits its residents with tight regulations on everything from education to health care to rent prices. Even on “personal freedom,” New York fares worse than much of the nation:
On personal freedoms, gun control laws are extremely restrictive, but marijuana laws are ranked better than average. Tobacco laws are extremely strict, and cigarette taxes are the highest in the country, encouraging the growth of a dangerous black market. Motorists are highly regulated, and home school regulations are excessive, but alcohol taxes are low, and so are non-drug victimless crimes arrests and the crime-adjusted incarceration rate.
In New York, the government has its finger in every pie, and politics is full of hypocritical blue swill about helping the poor and the needy. New York has a government that wants to do what it shouldn’t do, that can’t do what it ought to do, and that has been hijacked by a criminal class of political hacks. This is what blue model decline looks like.
And with businesses and people fleeing the state, the worst may be yet to come.