By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
It was the first in a series of Brodsky exposés: He discovered a deal cut by a division of the Thruway Authority to sell 45 miles of development rights along the Erie Canal to a Republican crony for all of $30,000. "The state is selling used trucks for more than this," Brodsky said. Pataki's office insisted that the deal was news to them. But memo and e-mail traffic between the governor's office and the agency, produced under court order after Brodsky subpoenaed it, showed that Pataki's people had been calling the shots the entire time.
Another hearing asked why the state power authority had hired Pataki's former state police bodyguard as a $160,000-a-year inspector general, even though he'd taken the Fifth Amendment in front of a grand jury. Pataki stormed out of a press conference when asked about it. Another hearing spotlighted six-figure contracts awarded by the Long Island Power Authority to the governor's top political consultant. "He's on a witch hunt," Pataki's people said. Brodsky beamed. The only higher praise was the new public authority accountability law, creating new watchdog oversight, that the legislator sponsored and saw signed into law in December.
"I've believed in everything I've done," he said the other day. "And I have been wrong sometimes. But I believed in it. The genius of the American system is that if you bring that quality to the job, good things can happen."
If this isn't enough, there is also the flip, sensitive side of this fierce legislative tiger. Last weekend, he said, he baked a loaf of bread for a friend, folk singer Pete Seeger, and delivered it to Seeger's home in Beacon. Brodsky started baking bread because his wife's family owns a flour company. "I make this old, corn-flour Jewish rye," he says. As for Seeger, the pair got to know each other when they jointly sued the owners of the Indian Point nuclear plant for polluting the Hudson. The lawsuit is ongoing, and Brodsky goes to hear his friend whenever he can: "I heard him in Newburgh this month. He sang the best version of 'This Land Is Your Land' that I've heard in 25 years."