July 23, 2004

Is New York State a democracy?

I know we have an elected government, but its connection to actual voters seems more and more tenuous every year, as power in the state concentrates in three officials, only one of whom is elected directly. It's not specific to Dryden, but it certainly affects us:

"From 1997 to 2001, the New York State Senate voted on 7,109 bills; not a single bill was voted down. From 1997 to 1999, the state Assembly voted on 4,365 bills; not a single bill was voted down."

Far more detail, and even suggestions for fixing this sorry state of affairs, is here (405KB PDF) in a report from NYU Law School's Brennan Center of Justice. For one reasonably outraged (but perhaps still too calm) reaction to the report - and Senate Majority Leader Bruno's reaction that democratic process is "just chaotic, doesn't work... That's Third World country stuff" - see NYCO's blog.

(Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's response to the report, that "The rank-and-file representatives of the citizens of this state weigh in in the Assembly on a consistent, regular basis," is not particularly encouraging either, given that the "weighing in" seems to be done mostly in private.)

Posted by simon at July 23, 2004 11:25 PM in
Note on photos