New York State Senator Dale Volker has been a state senator forever. In New York, an incumbent seems to get replaced only when he dies. The election process in New York is pretty much rigged so that incumbents have something like a 99% likelihood of being re-elected. Worse, it’s rigged so that with few exceptions, only the major political parties (Democratic, Republican) are able to get on local or statewide ballots. In New York, the candidates are hand-picked by a powerful few long before the election. We get to choose one of two. Which do I choose, the rock or the hard place?
Okay, so I’m stuck with Dale Volker forever. He spent years telling Western New York that nothing could be done about the highway tolls at Buffalo’s boundaries. When the Thruway Authority was sued by Carl Paladino, a local developer, on the basis that the tolls were illegal, the Authority decided to take the toll booths down rather than fight the case in court. Senator Volker couldn’t jump on the bandwagon fast enough and in fact, almost fell off the flatbed truck that was being used as a stage for all the other politicians who stood in front of the reporters, praising each others’ efforts for a job well done. The local news channels filmed it. It was pretty funny. Not so funny was the ensuing video taken of Dale Volker trying to deflect credit away from Paladino and toward his own “efforts”. You can see it on Buffalo Pundit, one of the better blogs focusing on Western New York issues.
When it comes to expressing my opinion of someone, I generally work hard to find kind words – or at least accommodating words – so that I do not needlessly denigrate the individual. I cannot find those words for my state senator.
Dale Volker is a pompous ass. Every year he sends me a “Legislative Questionnaire”, which he claims to “know what you are thinking and seek your views concerning issues and matters of particular interest/concern to you.” The questions, however, are intentionally worded such that the only reasonable answer is the one that Volker wants to receive. An example of the one-sided questions:
“The New York State Court of Appeals has mandated that the New York State Legislature must increase school aid by billions of dollars for New York City. The request could mean huge increases in state taxes and real property taxes in upstate New York. Do you think the court of Appeals has overstepped its jurisdiction?”
Another example: “Would you support the State of New York assuming the local share of your county’s Medicaid program as some government officials, business leaders and editorial boards have suggested, even if it meant your state taxes would increase by billions of dollars?”
What’s the purpose of the superfluous phrasing except to lead the reader to the answer that Volker wants? Every year he puts out this questionnaire, and every year I cringe at it. This year, question #16 asks: “In your viewpoint, what is the most important issue facing New York State government (choose only one): Taxes, Economy/Jobs, Education, Budget Spending, Cost of Living, Crime.” By far the most import issue facing New York State government is the government itself. These guys just don’t get how ineffective they are, and until they start doing a little introspection our wonderful state is going to continue to bleed jobs and people. Dale Volker is the problem, not the solution.
I sure wish that some politician, somewhere, could demonstrate that he/she is more interested in doing something for their constituency rather than getting re-elected. It doesn’t happen around here.