Good Monday morning. Here’s a glance at opinion content published over the weekend in The Journal News:
Saturday, May 14
Mississippi River flooding: Commentary
Bill McKibben, author of more than a dozen books on the environment, argues that the massive flooding along the Mississippi is a sure sign of global warming and climate change.
Sunday, May 15
Leibell and ethics reform: Editorial
We comment on former state Sen. Vincent Leibell’s Friday sentencing on corruption charges; the Putnam County Republican will spend 21 months in prison. We argue in favor of comprehensive and expedient ethics reform in the state Legislature. We write:
… The Legislature, to state the fitfully obvious, begs for comprehensive ethics reform — toothy, onerous and unforgiving legislation commanding, among other things, full disclosure of legislators’ business interests and clients, and fundamentally targeting the pay-to-play ethos that grips Albany, as well as new laws strengthening do-little campaign-finance laws. Anyone who believes otherwise hasn’t been reading the crime blotter.
Mostly closed-door discussions aimed at passing reforms have failed to yield results, hence the governor’s serial threats. He is hardly the only frustrated party: Public confidence in the Legislature is at its lowest ebb, undermined by a steady stream of officials convicted on corruption charges, including former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and ex-Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who was sentenced in April to one to four years in prison.
Longtime state legislator Leibell of Putnam County joined the line of infamy in December, when he pleaded guilty to federal tax and extortion charges. On Friday, a federal judge rejected his pleas for leniency and sentenced him to 21 months in prison. He is due to surrender July 13. While it seems doubtful that even a robust ethics law would have compelled better conduct from Leibell and the others, the reforms are still necessary. The governor and legislative leaders should see that a comprehensive package is hammered out in public and enacted without delay.
The probe threatened by Cuomo, however, should be treated as a separate matter: If the governor has the grounds and authority to act, he should stop talking about investigating and start investigating — whether the ethics reforms are enacted or not. Certainly voters deserve robust reforms as well as considered inquiry into what’s ailing their Legislature. …
Related: Leibell gets fitting sentence: Editorial, Poughkeepsie Journal
Baby Boomers: Reisman
Phil Reisman assesses the spectre of the Baby Boomer generation turning into a version of Jonathan Swift’s Struldbrugs. Research for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, Reisman argues, must be a national priority.
Mandate relief and education reform: Commentary
David Lacher and Lisa Davis, president and executive director, respectively, of the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association, argue in favor of a host of mandate reliefs and education reforms to lower the cost of public education in New York.
Monday, May 16
Political independents: Commentary
Tim Rutten, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, examines the polarity of contemporary American political life and argues that independents, once viewed as the moderate midddle, are increasingly anything but.