April 19, 2008

Varna firefighter honored; truck route controversy

The County Legislature honored Will Hine of Varna as the county's Distinguished Youth for April. Hine, 19, responded to more than half, nearly 200, of the company's calls. (The Journal's Wednesday editorial also supported a federal tax break for volunteer firefighters.)

It sounds like a truck meeting turned into a trainwreck for Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. Dryden residents on Route 79 may be especially interested. The Journal starts with some questioning by her Republican fellow legislators and the Upstate New York Safety Coalition Task Force :

Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-50th Dist., and Assemblywoman Lifton, D-125th Dist., disagree about whether a bill proposed by DeFrancisco in the Senate could stand up in court. The Upstate Task Force sided with DeFrancisco, along with many audience members.

The same bill has been put forth in the Assembly by Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-124th Dist., and Lifton said she has not signed on because everything she has heard indicates that Gov. David Paterson will veto the bill.

The bills in the Assembly and the Senate would designate the state Department of Transportation as the truck-routing agency that would have the authority to designate what routes trucks can travel. Lifton said a bill stating that the DOT can designate routes "is not going to meet constitutional muster."

"That means the governor is going to veto it and it's not going to happen," she said.

There's no discussion here of whether it's a good idea - Lifton seems simply not to want to vote against a veto of an unconstitutional veto. But there's more here - not even from Republicans knocking down both of those claims. First, the DOT claims not to have taken a position yet:

Lifton said transportation officials have told her the bill would not hold up constitutionally.

"State DOT has read the DeFrancisco bill and they say that they will turn around to the governor ... and urge the governor to veto that bill," Lifton said. "That's what's going to happen currently. That's what DOT is telling me."

Skip Carrier, a public information officer at the DOT, said the department has not taken a position yet. Carrier was not at the meeting.

"We're looking at the legislation and are reviewing it," he said. "We haven't taken a position on these bills yet."

Then, a representative of fellow Democrat Chuck Schumer's office questions the "unconstitutional" claim:

Amanda Spellicy, a legislative aide for Schumer, disagreed with the fact that the bill is unconstitutional.

"I do have to respectfully disagree in terms of the constitutionality component," she said. "We've done a lot of vetting and truck agencies absolutely can be created. There are states where they exist. The key element is that reasonable access is afforded because that is where we get into some of those interferences with clauses. As long as that's done we have every assurance that there is precedent constitutionally to do so."

Lifton's answer to all this seems to be the classic Albany approach to making it look like you want a problem solved without actually having to take action that might bother someone: creating a "Blue Ribbon Commission."

The Syracuse Post-Standard also has a blog entry - "Assemblywoman Lifton irritates garbage truck task force, others and an article - " Task Force Hits Detour".

Posted by simon at April 19, 2008 7:15 AM in , , ,
Note on photos