Saturday, January 15, 2011
Sexism, Good ol' Boy Politics and Possible Corruption Rocks Legislature
If you challenge the King you better beat him or suffer the consequences. That is the way it goes in politics, whether you are running for School board president, county chair or speaker of the house. Honestly I don't have a problem with that, an elected official in a leadership post represents not just his constituents but his/her colleagues and needs to show strength not weakness, rules of survival.
That is not the case of what happened with the retaliation of replacing Brian Shapiro over Terry Bernardo as chair of the Government Operations and Efficiency committee. Yesterday, I got four calls from Republican legislators within two hrs of a post I did on this yesterday; I also called some people myself and it just amazes me how upset these lawmakers are and how deep this RRA nonsense runs.
First let's get some background:
1. Many members of the majority have been upset with Fred Wadnola and the leadership in the party, that is pretty clear when you have Mike Sweeney threatening to bolt the caucus and giving us accounts that people in leadership were flat out told him to shut up and sit down and than there is Laura Petit who actually said enough is enough and left the party.
2. The RRA is a mess I think what we have heard is just the tip of the iceberg on what we will find out in the coming weeks and months, including an $800 dinner the rra had a little restaurant in the town of Ulster called Fred's place, while Wadnola was on the board, among other frivolous expenses...there are major players involved and there are people in my opinion that wish this entire thing would just go away.
3. Kevin Roberts a former chairman of the RRA, is the head of the committee that oversees the RRA and has been one of it's biggest defenders. At some point last year Roberts decided that he didn't want to chair the committee anymore (which who could blame him) and Chairman Wadnola offered it to Legislator Terry Bernardo, who went to the last meeting and was introduced by Kevin Roberts at the meeting as the incoming chair.
From what I hear, members, employees, and people with close knowledge to the rra called Legislator Bernardo and confided some information to her, including audio tapes that Terry was ethically obligated to turn over to legislative attorneys. Shortly after that Chairman Wadnola (also a former rra member) and Robin Yess decided that Terry should stay were she is at as chair of the gov opper comm and Roberts would keep the rra..these people really have no shame at all!
4. Meanwhile, Fred was still upsetting certain members of his caucus and talks of replacing him were discussed, Terry Bernardo is asked and recruited to run, she never announces her candidacy or actively seeks the office. Terry instead meets with former Chairman and veteran lawmaker Rich Gerentine to try and find a way to bring everyone together. Gerintine has a talk with Wadnola and some issues get resolved..no one challenges Fred for the chairmanship and he is reelected.
5. Little did Gerentine know, Fred Wadnola decided in late December with Majority Leader Paul Hansit that they would replace Terry as chair of the government efficiencies committee but decide for obvious reasons to them, not to tell her. "Fred Wadnola wanted a little pay back and bullied leadership in to keeping their mouths shut, he wanted Terry to find out in the press" a lawmaker told me asking his name not be used.
Really this is not just about getting back at Legislator Bernardo, Bernardo was not running for chair, she was raising a red flag like Bonacic did when he had reservations about Joe Bruno, and he was right. This is about a deeper cover up with the rra and a power struggle between the old guard of the legislature, that is used to a certian way of doing buisness and the new that refuses to accept the good ol' boy politics of the past.
Several times during conversations with Legislator Bernardo, Wadnola has tried to put her and other legislators in their place, at one instance Wadnola said to Bernardo "Listen here, young lady", Really? Are you kidding me????? I wish Wadnola would say that to someone like Shirley Whitlock, who would of knocked him out. But really, How dare Fred Wadnola address anyone like that, it's completely inappropriate, demeaning and just out of line to address a colleague like that. Especially one that the Chairman might be able to learn something from.
It's going to be an interesting year and if there is anything good that came out of all of this, it is the fact that Wadnola in appointing Shapiro (a progressive Democrat) to chair a committee that is designed to oversee and come up with ways to make government more efficient, he's admitting he thinks Democrats are the most qualified to find these answers. I hope when election time comes the general public will agree and return Democrats to the majority. Which shouldn't be too difficult because I think a lot of Republicans in key districts will be without the Independence line in 20111. Hey, that's politics and if your gunna challenge the Indy chair's wife....
Posted by Jeremy Blaber at 2:32 PM