A lawyer friend of mine says that whenever a law is named for someone, you can pretty much figure that it’s a bad law.
I generally agree with my friend the attorney, but after the indictment of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, I’m willing to make an exception this time and offer the following suggestion: The New York State Legislature, or at least the unindicted remnant of its members, should pass David’s law, named in honor of Oneida’s own Sen. David Valesky, a six-term Democrat who belongs to the Independent Democratic Conference, a tiny band of legislators who have hopes of being the swing votes in the state Senate and pushing a reform agenda.
Valesky is unashamed to admit in public, and to verify in writing on his financial disclosure forms, that he moonlights as the accompanist playing the organ at the Catholic church where he grew up and where his family attends Mass most Sundays. The disclosure forms say he is paid less than $5,000 for this service, but the senator himself once told me the exact amount is $500. (This may or may not be an exclusive.)
In the wake of the allegations that Silver collected millions of dollars in bribes disguised as legal work, it seems evident to me that the time has come to finally force our legislators to do the job we hired them to do and to knock off this moonlighting.
Legislating and serving one’s constituents is a full-time job, and it should be treated as such. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State speech one day before the Silver bombshell, seemed to acknowledge as much. The governor suggested a pay cut for any legislator who moonlights.
In this space, you have been hearing for years a simpler and more radical proposal: In exchange for the privilege of representing us (and the ample salary and perks we bestow upon them), our state legislators should be mandated to forego outside income.
Except that would deprive the good people of St. Patrick’s parish in Oneida of the valued services of Mr. Valesky. Not wishing to force a sanctuary filled with worshippers to sing a cappella, let us adopt the following compromise: No one in the Assembly or Senate is allowed to earn more outside income than Dave Valesky. If the parish gives him a raise, the whole Albany bunch can up their take by just as much.
In the meantime, let’s remind them: They work for us, and not the other way around.
Je Suis Abdullah?
President Barack Obama, who skipped the Paris march of world leaders in support of freedom of expression after the Charlie Hebdo massacre by Islamic extremists, cut short his stay in India to pay his respects to the deceased king of Saudi Arabia, where blogger Raif Badawi has been publicly caned for publishing views challenging the Islamic extremists who run his country.
Obama’s obsequiousness to the Saudi kingdom (which, lest we forget, was home to 15 of the 19 men who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2011) is consistent with long-standing U.S. policy of ignoring the kingdom’s discrimination against women, lack of due process and its theocratic worldview while peddling armaments to the Saudis to the tune of nearly $86 billion over the past five years. That’s billion, with a “B.”
“Abdullah presided over one of the world’s most wicked nonpariah states, whose domestic policies are almost cartoonishly repressive and whose international influence has been strikingly malign. His dynasty is founded on gangsterish control over a precious natural resource, sustained by an unholy alliance with a most cruel interpretation of Islam and protected by the United States and its allies out of fear of worse alternatives if it fell.”
— Russ Douthat, columnist, New York Times