Thursday, February 24, 2011

NY Senator: 'Wisconsin Budget, Union Battle Could Happen Here!'

Offers Key Strategy to Handle Possible Protests and Calm the Public

New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. represents the 15th District, which includes Forest Hill Gardens, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Maspeth, Middle Village and other areas of Queens.

Before being elected to the Senate, Addabbo served as a member of the New York City Council and was Chair of the council's Civil Service and Labor Committee.

During the course of his political career, the senator has gained a reputation for being brutally honest, outspoken and passionate on any given issue -- three traits that he considers “gifts” from his father, the late Congressman Joseph Addabbo, who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for nearly 30 years.

On February 23, From The G-Man met with Senator Addabbo at his district office to discuss the recent developments in Wisconsin, a call for a temporary salary cap for all elected officials during the recession, and the incident involving a homeless woman that was found dead -- after spending the night in bitter cold -- near a church in the East Village section of Manhattan. He offered the following comments.

On the Wisconsin Budget Battle....

“People in my district are very, very worried. The budget battle and union protests started in Wisconsin, but they've spread to sections of Ohio and Seattle, Washington. As a show of solidarity, New York Teamsters recently headed to Wisconsin, so the situation shouldn't be taken lightly. I think there is a real possibility that it could happen in New York, given the large labor force that we have. I hope that it doesn't, but with states looking to make significant cuts to save money, it could.”

On Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario....

“If union protests do take place in New York, I really hope that Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg handle the situation in a manner that will benefit everyone involved. We managed to do it in the 70's when Hugh Carey was governor and Abe Beame was mayor. What did they do? They negotiated out of the eyes of the media and kept discussions solely between them and labor officials. When a compromise was reached, that's when the media was brought in. Unfortunately, we don't do that anymore. Nowadays, governors and mayors engage in confrontations -- calling press conferences to blame or chide labor for being difficult during the negotiation process. Labor officials are then put in a position to publicly defend themselves and their mission, and they retaliate by calling a press conference. We need to understand that no one is ever going to be completely happy or get exactly what they want when bargaining. However, taking away employee incentives, whether it's benefits, pensions or both, is never the answer. You just can't do that. I don't want to see that happen because it's not an effective way to negotiate, and it's not good for New York City or the people who live and work here.”

On a Temporary Salary Cap for Elected Officials (Nationwide) During the Recession....

“That is an extremely interesting and intriguing idea. The White House, Congress and Senate continue to urge Americans to sacrifice or tighten their belts, but how much of a sacrifice are elected officials willing to make? I made the decision to walk away from my law practice and devote myself as a full-time public servant, but, in reality, there are a good number of elected officials, on the federal and state level, that don't believe public service is a full-time job. That statement may anger many of my colleagues, but it's the truth. That's why many of them continue to hold a second job or make substantial money as doctors, lawyers, ect. Unfortunately, what you propose wouldn't work. Consider this. If rank-and-file members of the Congress and U.S. Senate are making $174,000 a year, as you pointed out, and the American people ask them to tighten their belts by temporarily capping their salaries at $100,000 a year, it wouldn't matter because they'll simply place more attention and time on their second profession to make up for the loss. They'll remain comfortable or well-off no matter what. Again, I believe -- if a public official has two jobs -- all the focus should be placed on serving the public to the best of their ability. There should be more full-time public servants in government, and it's sad that there aren't. That's why I have a special, 24-hour call-in line for my constituents, and I don't know of any other elected official that does. I'll close on this topic by stating that nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies a pay increase for elected officials during a recession. With millions of people suffering at this time, a pay increase is not an option.”

On the death of “Grace”, a homeless woman whose body was found on the frigid streets of the East Village in Manhattan.....

“I will never understand how this could be allowed to happen. It should never happen, not in New York City or any other city in America. I just don't understand it. This is another reason why so many people have lost faith in the political system and their elected officials. A good number of us are not doing what the people put us in office to do, and that's why you have sad situations like this. It really hurts me to think that woman felt she had no other option than the streets, and things are only going to get worse as the recession lingers. I'm sure Mayor Bloomberg has measures in place to deal with the homeless crisis, but, obviously, it's time to try something new. We can't keep reverting back to this. It's unacceptable, and the city can and must do better to prevent this from happening.

If you would like to obtain more information on Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., visit the following site:

For detailed information on the salaries of Congress and U.S. Senate members:

To read the tragic story of “Grace”:

Photo source: Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

Photo credit: New York State Senate

Permission: Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quotes from the Capitol

Governor Cuomo Praises School District Decision

The following statement was issued by the New York governor on February 18.

"I commend the administrators and faculty of the West Genesee School District who have taken a voluntary salary freeze. These are the type of tough but smart decisions school districts across New York should be making. West Genesee clearly understands the economic pressures we are facing and other school districts should follow this example."

Photo source: Pat Arnow
Photo credit: Pat Arnow
Permission: Creative Commons 2.0