Thursday, November 07, 2013

Fallen Soldier

Kyle York saw the silver Alpha Romeo as the train wreck it was: Busted radio, grime-sealed leather seats, missing parts, lackluster paint and a B-pipe detached from the muffler hanging only by a bracket.

An aficionado of two-seat sports cars from his days at the University of Florida, York implored the owner --his platonic friend and a single mother of two --to restore the roadster. She demurred. Her kids came first and job came second. There was no time to fix up the Alpha, she told him; not now at least.

York stopped prodding the woman about the car, but started to hatch a plan. He’d tell her an old fling was coming to town and that he wanted to impress her with a ride in a choice sports car, even one that had clearly seen better days. He’d ask to barrow the Alpha for a day as a favor, and then secretly set to work restoring it at his dad's house on the Great Sacandaga Lake.

“I tore that damn car down to the frame,” he recalled in one of his typical caps-laced e-mails in 2008. “I steel-wooled and polished every bit of corrosion. I machined parts that were missing. I rebuilt and sealed the exhaust…And I hit it with three coats of the World's Finest Wax…When finished, I damn near had an erection.”

Of course, the rebuild took longer than a day. In fact, it took close to 36 hours. The woman was starting to get nervous about the car, which she had only expected to loan York for a day or so. York assured her everything was going alright and that he’d have it back in short order.

After three days, he pulled into the woman’s driveway, the car shimmering like new. The worry from the woman’s face melted quickly into elation. He recalled the mother --a name now well-known in city politics --and her children “smiling like kids on their birthday looking at their first bike.”

And York?

“I'm happier than both of them put together,” he wrote. “But that is me.”

This was quintessential Kyle York: Selfless, quirky and unnecessarily verbose, but deeply dedicated to the people he regarded as friends and the causes he championed as a citizen. Passionate is a word that falls painfully short of describing him with any degree of realism. York’s heart burned with the warmth of a thousand suns, even though that heat was sometimes received with exasperated sighs and pronounced eye rolling.

Kyle York didn’t have enemies, per se, but plenty of denizens that snickered about his causes. Usually his detractors veiled themselves in anonymity and materialized in the form of caustic comments left on local blogs and the Saratogian’s clusterfuck of a website. Yet these comments never deterred him from opining at length on any issue he saw fit.

York’s expositions were seldom short and often replete with ‘Yorkisms’ --quirky homonyms and allusions he used to stress his certain points. Still, they brimmed with the same exuberance he brought to all his pursuits.

York loved Saratoga Springs. Every last square inch of the city. Every person inhabiting its expanse. Even the people he didn’t agree with or see eye-to-eye. He was a fierce advocate of public discourse and only seemed hurt during the times when it would break down. He died in the city he championed, doing what he loved the most: Being an integral part of its vast fabric of characters.

York spent Election Day at the top of the hill on Broadway, watching as yet another whirlwind contest unfolded between the Republican camp in the Holiday Inn and the Democratic headquarters across the street at the Inn at Saratoga. Politics seemed to charge his batteries and Tuesday was no exception.

And then came the next day. He was tinkering at his Railroad Place condo. Nothing dramatic. Nothing unusual. Just another day in the life of Kyle York. Only this one happened to be his last.

York left this world with more friends than he’ll ever know. He left Saratoga Springs a better place, which is hopefully a realization he had before exhaling his last breath. There’s no easy way to say goodbye to him other than to raise a pint and salute his memory. Peace be with you, old friend. May your legacy burn eternal.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Common Sense

Common sense suggests that pounding back five or six car bombs, a dozen pints and a few shots of Irish whiskey in a sitting isn’t the best idea after the witching hour. Common sense suggests getting plastered and pounding on someone’s face isn’t a good idea at any hour. Common sense suggest running someone down with your car at 4 a.m. isn’t even an idea one should entertain at all.

But common sense is not something that comes easy on Caroline Street. Not at noon on a Monday, not at midnight on a Saturday and certainly not at closing time, just a few hours before dawn. There are errors of judgment at all these hours of the day, and some of them have dreadful consequences: Just ask the family of Eddie Loomis.

Life on Caroline Street would be much simpler and safer if every drink served there was chased with a shot of common sense. There wouldn’t be bar-emptying brawls over a spilled slosh of beer. There wouldn’t be drivers climbing behind the wheel with the blood coursing through their veins registering at 1 proof. There wouldn’t be the needless tragedies that sporadically and spontaneously erupt amid the bar district, sometimes claiming the life or lives of the innocent.

True, a shot of common sense would do everyone a bit of good on those late-night sojourns downtown. Yet as we all know, there is no magical shot to give tipplers a lucid look at the big picture before they make their fateful choices. And there’s positively no legislation that will illicit this common sense, contrary to what an out-of-touch jack ass on the City Council might suggest.

Accounts Commissioner John Franck seems to think closing the bars down two hours earlier would somehow sprinkle the city bars with a magical fairy dust that would settle the unrest prompted by the late-night consumption of booze. In his myopic view, all the troublemakers are perched bar side and pounding drinks after 2 a.m., ready to start mayhem and wanton destruction throughout the city. More specifically, Franck seems to think these rabble-rousing drunks only imbibe between the day after Labor Day and the day before Memorial Day.

To put it kindly, Franck’s plan to close down bars two hours earlier in the “off-season” is an asinine proposal pitched by someone who probably couldn’t find Caroline Street without a road map. It smacks of someone who is dreadfully out of touch with the way the city operates after hours and feels the need to cater to tourists, not the people who power the very heart of downtown.

Of course, those who read this blog with any frequency realize there are few kind words here, so why put it nicely? Franck’s legislation isn’t worth the ink used to print the first letter of it. Hell, it’s not even worth the energy used to make a pixel illuminate on a computer or LCD screen. Just as an example of how incredibly stupid his legislation is, Franck himself points to the post-St. Patrick’s Day incident downtown that lead to the death of a city man this year as a motivating force behind the law. Of course it should be noted that Travis Carroll, the man now convicted of running down Ryan Rossley with his car, did so when he was allegedly sober as a church mouse.

Let’s play some revisionist history here for the accounts commissioner. Let’s say the bars closed at 2 a.m. Rossley and his mates decide to keep drinking at a city apartment downtown. Several hours later, they walk out onto the street and encounter Carroll. And the end is all too familiar.

Why stop there? Let’s take a look at Michael Arpey, the fellow who decided to drink all day and night on a Wednesday, then get behind the wheel and crash into a popular 17-year-old Saratoga High football player on his way home. What if the bars had closed two hours earlier then? Well for that would have chased Arpey out a bit earlier, right?

Wrong-o, Johnny boy. Tragically, Arpey sped out of Saratoga Springs shortly before 10 p.m. In fact, it’s safe to say there would be more fellows like Arpey hitting the sauce earlier and harder if Franck’s legislation is ratified.

To add even more stupidity to a mind-numbingly stupid legislation, Franck also notes that the bars would be permitted to stay open later on “special nights” like New Year’s Eve. Who knows? Maybe St. Patrick’s Day would be one of those “special nights.” After all, it makes sense to keep the bars open later on the nights when amateur 'two-beer-queers' are prone to over-indulging, right?

Strangely enough, none of the press given to this proposed law has included comment from the people most directly impacted by closing time: The Saratoga Springs Police. Franck claims he’s talked to plenty of officers and they all insist the time after 2 a.m. is “the worst.” Still, none of these cops have made their thoughts know during the lengthy public dialogue over this ill-conceived law, which is indeed odd.

Franck’s nanny legislation is yet another attempt at the council legislating what does or does not happen on Caroline Street and should be taken seriously by any business owner that doesn’t think a part-time commissioner has any right to dictate how they run their affairs. The discussion now seems oddly similar to the one that occurred about a decade ago, when a hell-bent jackass commissioner named Benton drove a knife into the heart of the Caroline Street Block Party. And there are plenty of people who are still sore about that sordid decision.

The bottom line is that no government can legislate common sense, and the resident of Saratoga Springs should make sure Franck understands this clearly. Aside from banning booze altogether, accidents and tragedies will still occur via the booze consumption in downtown. The best bet is to implore bar owners and servers to police their own patrons so that a hothead freak isn’t willingly given a half-bottle of hard liquor to fuel a festering rage. Hopefully the council realizes this when they mull this legislation tonight in City Hall. Hopefully they also understand that boozers vote, even if they've been up all night drinking.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

At a medium pace

Nobody likes a parking meter. In fact, the parking meter could very well be one of the most loathed inhabitants of the urban jungle, second only to the overzealous parking cop. Business owners say they scare customers away to the free fields of parking at nearby shopping plazas. And the customers often view them as yet another tithe they are forced to pay on their way to being fleeced by a tourist trap.

Indeed, parking meters stir all kinds of ire among the public. Some see damaging them as a suitable way to strike out against a taxing authority –or authority in general. Others see them as a roadside treasure trove to be smashed, bashed, hacked, sawed or otherwise defiled in a manner to rob the bevy of quarters. These are the types of things many parking authorities deal with in municipalities that have their motorists socialized into paying for their spot on the street.

Of course, Saratoga Springs is not one of those municipalities. The Spa City pulled out its meters decades ago in an attempt to make the downtown area more alluring. Ever since, parking has been a right for residents and visitors alike. Not a privilege that can be taxed, but an inalienable right.

This notion is one the City Council should understand as it moves forward with a plan to implement paid parking. Given the almost-certain-to-grow $1.35 million budget deficit, paid parking is pretty much imminent. Layoffs didn’t seem to save much money and the city’s stalled negotiations with the unions don’t appear to be yielding any forthcoming savings.

But if it’s between raising property taxes and billing the city’s visitors, most residents would choose the latter. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a happy medium between implementing paid parking and keeping other spaces free for the taking.

For example, the easiest plan to start charging for spaces is to put barricades up at all the two municipally-owned parking decks. Generally speaking, motorists almost assume they’re going to pay for a spot in such lots. After all, there needs to be some revenue coming in to care for them in the event their concrete starts crumbling.

Moreover, the parking garages shield vehicles from the elements, which can be a real bonus in bad weather. Certainly, there will be some people pissed off by paid parking no matter how it is implemented; count downtown workers among this group. However, charging for the municipal decks while leaving the rest of the business district alone would be one way of striking a happy medium with ardent paid parking opponents, such as the Downtown Business Association.

Will this bring in enough revenue to balance the city budget? Probably not. And as Albany has demonstrated, paid parking can be a bit of a disaster when the wrong folks are enforcing it. The last think Saratoga Springs needs is a new entitlement program that allows the well-connected to flout the law.

But asking people to pay for the garages is a start, and not one that’s a hard-and-fast screwing like nailing in meters in front of every business downtown. Let’s call it a trial balloon. On the plus side, maybe paid parking will convince a few of the city’s laziest commuters to walk a few blocks to work instead of hopping into the car.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How DARE they?

With wounds still fresh from the New Year’s Day layoffs and city officials still grumbling about potential budget cuts, first-year Police Chief Chris Cole played the DARE card. That being, he defunded the city’s “drug abuse resistance education” program, much to the dismay of the few folks in prevention that still think this Reagan-era relic is an effective weapon to use against the so-called War on Drugs.

The city’s DARE program was instituted more than two decades ago and has trained scores of officers to teach children how to stay off dope. For a while, the Spa City Police actually hosted DARE training seminars and were considered a leading agency in helping to proliferate the program.

“The DARE program has been singularly successful in Saratoga because of the personal quality and integrity of the officers who teach and interact with the students," Maureen Cary, of the Saratoga Partnership for Prevention, lamented to the Times Union Thursday.

Yet after years of brainwashing and billions worth of tax-dollar funding –estimated between $1.04 and $1.34 billion annually across the United States –DARE never seemed to live up to its reputation of preventing drug abuse. Kids kept smoking or snorting, dealers kept dealing and cops kept busting. By 2001, even the U.S. Surgeon General was questioning the program’s effectiveness. Six years later the Association of Professional Psychologists even went as far to say DARE programs actually increase the likelihood of children falling into drug habits.

In Saratoga Springs, the city continues to graduate high school seniors who go on to lead fruitful lives of drug smoking and binge drinking. Some of them come around from their substance-induced haze and go onto lead productive lives. Others succumb to their vices and follow the path to its end. This happens whether or not there’s a cop there telling them that it’s OK to not be one of the ‘cool kids’ smoking grass in between lunch period and class; it’s fine to avoid the weekend keggers or friend who passes a 16 oz. Sprite bottle half-filled with mom’s Smiranoff.

Still, municipalities continue to funnel funding into DARE programs. In specific, this means paying cops’ overtime, mileage and travel expenses for attending DARE seminars and assorted other informational sessions for a program that has never been determined to be effective. And the funding often means spending public safety dollars to keep a cop in a classroom instead of out on the street, as Cole proved by sending the Spa City’s DARE officer back onto the beat.

Like many feel-good programs, DARE is able to withstand the omnipresent scepter of budget cuts because it has withstood the test of time; it is etched into our collective memory as something that is needed to prevent the youth twisting up a fatty with pages ripped out of the Dr. Seuss book tucked in their Elmo book bag. Cutting DARE is a political hot-button and one that social conservatives love to flout as an indicator of a society that is increasingly morally corrupt.

And that is evidenced by the indignation posted by the Saratogian’s online readers. These folks seem to think their anecdotal evidence about the DARE program –that junior didn’t take up manufacturing crystal meth in the basement of their East Side colonial –is enough to warrant keeping a full-time officer in a classroom telling kids to forgo their natural impulses to try something different. Not that any of these kids don’t already get this message from health class, public service announcements, sports team code-of-conduct pledges, persistent visits from Mothers Against Drunk Driving or other organizations, et cetera.

Even if DARE did prove to be somewhat effect, there simply isn’t enough cash lying around to keep a program going in Saratoga Springs. It’s something former Police Chief Ed Moore might have thought about last year or even the year before when he was crafting a department budget way beyond the means set out by the City Council. These are the exact programs that could have been trimmed to prevent the layoffs that occurred, if in fact there were any once the dust finally settles.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You can make a difference

As you read this, people are dying in Haiti. They’re starving. They’re sick. They’re scared. And that was before a 7-magnitude earthquake ripped through the capital of Port-au-Prince.

This poverty-stricken Caribbean nation was in bad shape long before concrete and timbers started raining down on them. Years of inept leadership left them with a nation mired in abject poverty. With exception to a very few corrupt despots, this is a population entirely bereft of even a modicum of prosperity.

And that’s exactly why you should consider giving money to the legal relief fund of former state Sen. Joe Bruno. He was there in our time of need, now we need to be there in his. For a measly $1,000 –less than the monthly lease payment on a 2009 H2 –you can buy a ticket to Hollywood Joe’s fundraiser at the Desmond in Colonie and help fund the best legal defense team money can buy.

See, unlike the Haitians, Bruno isn’t sick or starving, and he certainly didn’t seem scared when a trial jury found him guilty of federal corruption charges last month. And that’s exactly why affluent New Yorkers need to help him out. In short, this is a man who knows prosperity and can’t afford to lose it. He’s got plenty of fight left, and he plans to use every last bit of it to polish his larger-than-life image.

In contrast, the starving Haitian who spent three days buried beneath the ruble of a poverty-stricken nation’s ruined capital is probably going to die anyway. Even if he or she beats the odds and survives the aftermath of the quake thanks to a modest donation, that person will then need to subsist on the standard $2 the average Haitian earns per day.

Besides, they’ll likely fall prey to the lawlessness that will inevitably descend upon the country once the world stops paying attention to it in a few weeks and all those earnestly given dollars donated to the so-called cause will be lost in an anonymous grave. Or even worse, the aforementioned individual will lash some sub-standards rafts together and then join several dozen friends on a 700-mile sojourn across the Atlantic to Miami. Under these circumstances, it’s highly probable those donated dollars will end up feeding sharks, which is hardly the intended purpose, right?

Then there’s Joe. True, he’s already 80 years old. But he’s got lots of life to live, and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to do that living behind the confining bars of a federal penitentiary. Even worse yet, the taxpayers will have to pay for Bruno’s stay at Club Fed, which simply adds insult to injury from a fiscal perspective.

Of course, there are some wingnuts out there who think it’s not right for the disgraced senator to be soliciting money for his legal defense, which has cost $742,000 over the last six months and left the Committee to Re-Elect Senator Bruno fund more than $1,000 in the rears. These stinking hippies somehow think it’s wrong for multimillionaires like Nigro Company President John Nigro and Albany Med CEO James Barba to throw a lavish shindig aimed at raising money for a lawmaker who many view as the epitome of what is wrong with the system. Talk about wet rags.

Update: The Times Union reports a veritable who's who of were among "the notable attendees" at Bruno's bash, including "banker Daniel J. Hogarty Jr.; lobbyists James Crane and James Featherstonhaugh, who was the first witness called by the government at Bruno's trial; lobbyist David Dudley, a former Rensselaer County Republican chairman and former Senate counsel to Bruno; Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola; and ex- state Sen. Mike Hoblock...Robert Mujica, a Senate budget specialist; former Senate counsel Michael Avella; Abe Lackman, an ex-state Senate finance secretary under Bruno; state Senate GOP spokesman John McArdle; ex-Senate secretary Steve Boggess and Jack Casey, a Senate lawyer." The fundraiser was also attended by Price Chopper President Neil Golub, who for some reason entered through a side door. Fancy that.

Seriously though, Bruno and his supporters have a lot of chutzpa to carry on this fiasco in wake of the most deadly natural disaster this hemisphere has seen in modern history. To say it's in poor taste to host such an event is sort of like saying it’s in poor taste to piss on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a Veteran’s Day observance.

Were Bruno and his followers to have even a teaspoon of tact, they’d do an about-face during this event and donate all the proceeds to the relief effort. The gesture would be both a show of class and a display of humility amid a tragedy that has wrought untold misery on our continent. Or better yet, this whole crew of plutocrats could forgo the fundraiser’s merriment, hop aboard one of their jump jets and go lend a hand down there. After all, sometimes a helping hand is worth more than a donated dollar.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Only in the Spa City could the throwing of an envelope make headlines. In most municipalities, such an occurrence would be worth a laugh in at the water cooler; maybe some playful ribbing between co-workers.

Yet with the vitriol pumping through City Hall these days, the simple act of the city attorney chucking an envelope at the Public Works commissioner seems to have stirred the fetid pot of politics, leading some more rational thinkers to wonder whether a slow gas leak on Lake Avenue has diminished the thought processes in the seat of government enough that the common municipal worker has reverted to a kindergarten level of intellect.

The Daily Gazette chronicles the childish exchange between Joe Scala and Skip Scirocco in an article that really exemplifies why the city is in such dire straits. Fortunately for the city and its self-respecting residents, the article was relegated to the back section, allowing both to save a bit of face in what is the latest in a series of poor discord among government officials.

As the story goes, Scirocco showed up at the city attorney’s office shortly before the close of business Wednesday and dumped off the envelop containing 28 letters to be distributed to the various DPW employees being laid off. Scala promptly sent them back to the commissioner with a note saying that it wasn’t his job to distribute the letters. Scirocco, incensed by the refusal, promptly returned the envelope, claiming he figured it was a “human resources issue” that should be handled by the attorney, who works as part of the mayor’s office.

The equally incensed Scala followed Scirocco out of the office and then chucked the letters in his direction, striking him in the “back, neck and head,” according to the Gazette article. The two men then “exchanged words” and the whole incident somehow made its way into the news.

Now at this point, it should be noted that there are no mysteries over who is getting laid off in City Hall. This message has been made abundantly clear to all those involved. The letter is a mere legal formality that could have been tasked to just about anyone. Hell, the letters probably could have been included in each worker’s paycheck this week, absolving any need to throw them at anyone.

Not in Saratoga. Here, everything must be a fucking three-ring political circus; every word a scandal, every gesture, an ordeal; and now every envelop-chuck, a news story. Sadly, the chuck-heard-around-the-region is a news story, because it exemplifies the fetid state of local politics and personifies the type of thinking that dragged the city into financial ruin.

There is an ever-increasing willingness to pass the buck, if not to the other political party or administration, then to whoever seems to be conveniently located. In other words, it’s easier to chuck your problems onto someone else’s desk –or someone else’s head – instead of dealing with them and moving on.

Ironically, this is precisely the thinking that led to these employees getting laid off in the first place. None of this would have happened had the City Council spent within its means many moons ago. Instead, they chose to spend the windfall of VLT funding at the peak of the city’s modern golden age and push off any sort of fiscal responsibility onto the next administration.

Hopefully, these are things that dawn upon Scirocco and Scala as they open up the B-section of the Gazette Friday. Maybe it’s time to grow up and take responsibility, rather than acting like petulant children fighting over who has to wash the evening dishes.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Post Script

Sometimes it’s better not knowing who is behind the curtain pulling the levers and turning the knobs that control the grand visions that suddenly appear in the Capital Region’s sky line. Sometime knowing about the machinations that make government work can be disheartening. After all, society desperately wants to believe there’s an honest and powerful wizard out there altruistically looking out for the public good; instilling a feeling of pride in job well done.

That’s why the public tends to look the other way when they get a peak behind the curtain. In fact, they’ll look the other way during the first, second and even third time the curtain is parted. Only when the screen is thrust open and the man behind is dragged into the light will they finally admit there’s something screwy with the whole process.

Take for instance Joe Bruno, the debonair Republican state Senate majority leader, who always exuded the type of moxy usually reserved for old-school gangsters. Hollywood Joe carried himself like a power broker that didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and would do anything short of selling his own grandmother to get a deal done. There was simply nothing about him that suggested he operated under the law or by the book. In short, it would take a lot of wishful thinking to consider Bruno as a politician on the up-and-up.

Instead, Bruno’s constituents sort of looked at him like the guy who would drive an unmarked box truck into an impoverished neighborhood around the holidays and start unloading brand new color TVs at 10 cents on the dollar. Certainly, no one is under the illusion that the sets are legit, that the shady cigar-toting salesman is selling them as a charity or that some great miscarriage of justice hasn’t occurred somewhere beyond the city limits. At the end of the day, the ghetto will glow with the radiance of a thousand network colors thanks to that shady cigar-toting salesman. And he’ll be welcomed back with open arms each time they hear that dull growl from the box truck.

This is Joe Bruno at his quintessence: If the taxpayers are going to get robbed, I’m going to slice a cut for myself and then I’m going to get a share for my people. And for the more than two centuries that have lead up to this very moment, this is exactly how politics are conducted in New York or any state for that matter. Quid pro quo; you help me, I help you, we help them.

If the electorate really cared, they would have dispatched of guy like Bruno years ago. Take for instance the scandal that enveloped him in 2004. After littering the state government with his entire extended family, Bruno brashly secured a lavish office for his brother at the newly restored Van Raalte Mill in Saratoga Springs. The office cost taxpayers more than $50,000 a year and was aimed at easing poor Robert Bruno’s 50-mile commute to his six-figure job at the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Albany from Glens Falls. Hollywood Joe ran unopposed that year, just like every election since 1996, and the scandal barley left a blemish on Bruno’s career. Ironically, he won tens of thousands of votes that year on a platform to reform Albany, just one month after the scandal broke.

Even the opposition party supported Bruno during his heyday. He was in the process of mounting his fifth consecutive unopposed election in 2006, when pesky Rensselaer attorney Brian Premo decided he wanted to give voters a choice. Premo, a Republican-turned-Democrat, petitioned for a chance to take a crack at Bruno, but was summarily tossed out on his ass by the senatorial district’s Democratic leadership. The idea was to not offend the powerful leader so that the pork carcasses would continue to arrive unabated.

Premo took the issue to state Supreme Court, but met rare bi-partisan resistance. Democratic leaders lead the charge against the prospective challenger, and they used a sharp-tipped rapier handed to them by the GOP. Ironically, this micro-battle was occurring at a time when the national Democrats were bitterly fighting to regain seats in the U.S. Congress; most notably in the Capital Region, the seat of Republican U.S. Rep. John Sweeney.

In the end, the 2006 election could have been the high watermark of Bruno’s career in politics and the point at which the tide began to sweep back out to sea. Divisions had been forming in the state GOP for some time, and Bruno happened to be on the one that didn’t have the U.S. Attorney’s Office on its side.

There was no mystery about then Gov. George Pataki’s presidential aspirations or that he quietly played doorman to the Bush Administration whenever he could to get in the better graces of the neoconservative cabal. Sweeney, who was a strident Pataki-ally, had plenty of clout with national party prior to his fall from grace. And as that fall grew more precipitous during the 2006 election, Joe Bruno sat on the sidelines watching; clearly not willing to sacrifice an ounce of his political capital to rescue Pataki’s federal connection.

The 2006 election also was the unofficial coronation of Eliot Spitzer, the so-called “Sheriff of Wall Street” and ardent government reformer, who seemed to target Bruno as an epitome of the corrupt brand of politics that had plagued Albany for centuries. Spitzer very quickly moved to expose some of the senator’s indiscretions in an apparent attempt to discredit his chief opponent to reform. Less than a year later, Spitzer was gone.

Why dig into all this old history as Bruno walks away in shame? Well, because a man of Bruno’s power and political savvy doesn’t suddenly lose both overnight to a very convoluted federal corruption scandal that could potentially implicate any number of state legislators who regularly throw their influence around in questionable ways. Not unless there was a bi-partisan commando team parachuting in to take him down.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s bombshell verdict –one that hardly came as a surprise to any political pundit –there was nary a state legislator to chime in on Bruno’s demise or the fate of his legacy. His colleagues in the Republican caucus were quiet, as were their Democratic counterparts. There wasn’t a peep from Gov. David Paterson’s office, even though he served more than two decades with Bruno in the senate. All of them stood quietly, as the jury slowly and methodically hung Bruno with the miles of rope he left behind amid his political legacy.

What does all this mean for New York and its brand of politics? Most likely, nothing at all, even though the hollow cries for reform are ringing loudly throughout the land right now. Sure, there will be talk about reform, just like there always is when a well-known politician is unceremoniously slain like a charging bull by the matador. There will be more like Bruno to rise and fall like the sun and moon. The cycle will continue because it’s the bitter nature of politics itself: maintaining the three-way balance between self-interest, special interest and the public’s interest.

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