Monday, May 14, 2007


Are we in upstate New York, or San Francisco? Judging by the recent votes of the Democrats in the minority in the Rensselaer County Legislature, get your money ready for the Golden Gate Bridge tolls.

At the May 8 legislative meeting, the Democratic minority voted “NO” on reinstating the death penalty for those convicted of killing a police officer, corrections officer or murdering a person during a terrorist act. Apparently, the deaths of eight police officers and the arrests of terrorists planning an attack on Fort Dix weren’t enough to convince the minority.

This year, the minority has also voted against legislation aimed at protecting the rights of hunters and sportsmen, and against a resolution aimed at avoiding a cut of several hundred thousand dollars in Medicaid reimbursements. Add that all to their vote against reducing a 2007 property tax increase by 11 percent.

The only member of the legislative Dems who has avoided his gang’s lurch to the left is Keith Hammond. Hammond voted in favor of the death penalty resolution and for the hunting resolution. Smart moves, from a lawmaker who seems to want to remember how his constituents think. Not so in touch are Minority Leader Ginny O’Brien, and Legislators Brian Zweig, Kevin Harrington, Peter Grimm and Flora Fasoldt.

That’s a solid voting record if you’re running in Cambridge, San Fran or the Lower East Side. But these Dems seem determined to set a course to remain in the minority. They lost legislative elections in ’93, ’97, ’01 and ’05, with the GOP capturing a record three-straight veto-proof majorities. The only time the Dems won a veto-proof majority it ended with convictions for racketeering for illegal insurance commissions brought about by Dem county lawmakers.

Fasoldt’s votes are curious, considering she comes from one of the most Republican legislative districts in the county. She barely won election in ’05 and her votes mean she is likely to face real trouble against strong GOP competition in ’09. Grimm really didn’t win election, as a machine error wrongly penalized Pete Durkee at least several dozen votes. And more and more North Greenbush residents are wondering when O’Brien, Hammond and Zweig will take a stand against the CB Smith antics in their town. Harrington’s blind allegiance to CB has already cost a committee seat in the Democratic Party. And votes like the death penalty, hunting, budget and mandate votes show the Pelosi playbook spell continued trouble for legislative Dems.