ALBANY—While announcing that Geico would expand to create 300 new jobs in suburban Buffalo, David Paterson was asked what he would do about a bill to strengthen oversight of public authorities. Paterson has written the bill’s sponsors with some concerns, and was asked if he would veto it if it is not amended.
“That question had three ‘ifs,’ so I’m going to give you an answer that has none,” Paterson said, before blasting the State Senate, which has been part of his political comeback strategy. He said that he is calling lawmakers back for an extraordinary session to “finish legislation that couldn’t be completed because the legislature went out to have a political fight in the last two weeks of session.”
Here’s the rest of what Paterson said:
The public authorities have needed to be reformed for a long time. I, as a member of the legislature, worked with one of the sponsors–Assemblyman Brodsky–on that issue and turned it over when I left to the senator who actually took my place in my district, Senator Perkins, and that’s who passed the bill. Public authorities: there is abuse, there is waste, it does need reform. Public auth at times have become the shadow government. Here’s the problem: there are some inequities in that bill that act for actually work counter to what the bill is supposed to do. How do you reform an agency when you ask that the appointees only serve the agency? That is the wrong way to reform an agency because now appointees to the board can’t identify the abuse and the waste that we already know. The people who are appointed to the agency shouldn’t be responding to the legislature, they should be responding to the public. Here’s another example: when you do a land swap, often what we’re doing often to create jobs, is helping subsidize the land so a company can come in and create jobs. We just did that a few weeks ago around here. So if you have to have an even swap for land all the time, you lose the opportunity to use public money as we’re doing even here today with Geico in trying to stimulate the economy by stimulating the work force.
Whenever you have an agency system and you’re trying to keep it so that it’s serving the public, you must always have it responding to one entity. Many of these aspects of the bill have it responding to the Senate and the Assembly. When do the Senate and Assembly agree on anything? One of those two bodies couldn’t even show up for work for a month at the end of the session, necessitating us going back in September. If you leave decisions for more than one person, not only in government but in life, you’ve got a lot of problems.