April 25, 2008

Lifton digs deeper

I wrote about Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton's garbage truck trainwreck earlier, and of her fellow Democrats who undermined her case completely in their quest to get things done.

There's a strange thing about a trainwreck, though. In movies, where there's a stunt crew making sure the destruction is visually exciting, they're a lot of fun. In reality, where someone has to clean up the many disasters left behind, they're not much fun. Instead of being exciting spectacle, it becomes painful to watch.

Unfortunately, Lifton pushes forward into that pain zone in this morning's Ithaca Journal, penning a guest column that never mentions the name "Schumer". She keeps plowing forward, arguing that it's just those Republicans and a transition at the DOT that made it look like her train was off the tracks. Democratic U.S. Senator Schumer, the state DOT, and Governor Paterson pretty much pulled the rails out from under her - that's why her train is wrecking.

To make things worse, her proposed solution sounds even more perverse than the "blue-ribbon commission, let's study it" option that earlier articles suggested she was proposing:

I am working on a bill that calls upon the governor to form an independent commission that would designate routes to be used by tractor trailers. This commission would have the power to recommend and execute policy and would operate under a specific timeline with the full inclusion of local stakeholders. Unlike DeFrancisco's bill, it does not leave the fate of truck routes in the hands of a state agency indefinitely.

You know, once upon a time I thought we had a State Department of Transportation that was supposed to maintain and manage state highways. I'd really like an independent commission to take a look at making Route 366 livable, too, but for some reason the DOT is in charge of that. The role reversal in hearing a Democrat call for keeping the fates of truck routes out of the hands of a state agency might have been ironic, if it was actually a good idea.

And "independent" is not a very meaningful word in New York State government. Who appoints the members? For what terms? Somehow I'm guessing that the legislative leadership would get to have a hand in that, and maybe they'd even get around to appointing members, eventually. I also expect that the commission would include plenty of representatives from the places where the trash comes from, who might not be excited about a "solution" of any kind.

A lot of the rest of the article is outrage at the DOT for having a different position from hers today when she's still doing what she thought they told her to do months ago, and blasting at the Republicans for not being her friends. As much as I hate to defend Republican State Senators, this is deeply disingenuous:

It's worth noting that DeFrancisco has said he has been working on this issue for 10 years but never drafted a bill to respond until recently. He also apparently never asked his close political friend and ally, former Gov. George Pataki, during his 12 years in office, to address this problem by issuing an Executive Order to the DOT. DeFrancisco suddenly drafted a bill last August well past the end of our session in Albany.

Lots of people have complained about truck traffic for a long time, but the current garbage truck problem is a relatively new one, caused by shifts in how New York City and New Jersey handle their trash. This wasn't the pressing issue under the Pataki administration that it is today.

The only sensible thing I can find in this article is Lifton proposing the use of rail to move the garbage instead of trucks. That makes sense to me. I hope it goes further than the rest of this, which seems to be an effort to justify Lifton's position in ways that only work if you haven't been paying any attention whatsoever to the actual unfolding story.

Some days it's best just to stop, issue a press release thanking the Governor and the Senator for their interest in a pressing matter and express the hope that you can be a constructive part of the solution. Instead, Lifton seems intent on riding her original position as far as she can.

Also on the opinion page, former Dryden resident Richard Couch of Cortland congratulates Dryden schools for choosing a superintendent who's already part of the community, and writes about the challenge of superintendent salaries.

The Journal also has an editorial on the dangers of brush fires. It's the time of year when the soil may be wet, but the plants aren't. Be careful!

Posted by simon at April 25, 2008 8:23 AM in , ,
Note on photos


David Makar said:

Will you be blogging about last night's county democratic committee meeting and the endorsements for state assembly?

Yep - see here. Thanks!