The Albany Glacier

While Everything Else Changes, the State Legislature Remains Frozen in Time

Silver has not indicated if he will even do that, though Sanders says that Silver has been generally "positive" about the group's findings since they were finalized in late October. Sanders says the recommendations will be considered at a retreat for the Democratic assembly caucus this week in Saratoga. Neither Sanders's group, nor the assembly leadership, however, is considering cutbacks in these expenditures, only further disclosure of them.

The senate Republicans get $40 million more of the operating slush funds than the assembly Democrats, helping them stay in control by five or six seats, even when the Democratic presidential candidate carries the state by a million and a half votes. Senate Democratic leader Marty Connor says that he's not sure these "large lump-sum pools of money are constitutionally appropriate." He sees them as one of the pillars of incumbency protection, charging that a "longstanding truce" has existed "between the two houses, with neither one going after the other's majority."

The one seat up for grabs—Goodman's—may well be decided by the same sort of Board of Elections flap that's convulsed the presidential race for weeks. The board mailed the wrong absentee ballot to what executive director Danny DeFrancesco estimates were more than 3000 voters. Ballots were sent into the East Side district that carried the names of the borough's five other incumbents, all Democrats. Many were mistakenly sent to the only Republican assembly district within Goodman's senate district—the 73rd.

Ironically, Eleanor Friedman, a Republican board staffer appointed by Goodman, who doubles as Manhattan GOP leader, was in charge of the absentee mailings. DeFrancesco says he learned of the error "late Thursday, four days before the election." Most voters didn't get the new ballots—sent by priority mail—on time. While DeFrancesco denies it, others at the board insist that the Giuliani administration guaranteed funding for the emergency mailing.

DeFrancesco says he "would imagine that the thought" that this mistake might cost Goodman the election "has crossed his mind," adding that Friedman "should be taken out of that department."


Research: Rebecca Center, Robbie Chaplick, Rob Morlino

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