Niagara Gazette — By now most New York residents interested in their state government must be convinced they're living in two worlds.
One that promotes the Empire State with the lofty claim that "New York Works," a current taxpayer-funded public relations drive shaped by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his executive team. It's about revitalizing the state's economy, with the focus on helping business owners, creating job opportunities and investing in higher education.
The other, a sphere of rampant corruption in their government.
An astute observer of the Capitol Hill scene has counted at least 30 state lawmakers having a brush with the law in the last decade. Admittedly, some were as routine as driving while intoxicated. On a higher level though, three of the last four majority leaders were indicted. That's a sad commentary on the quality of leadership at the Capitol.
It's difficult to put much trust in Gov. Cuomo's plan to clean up Albany. In fact, his State of the State message rings hollow in light of the shameful and deceptive actions in the Legislature.
Ken Lovett, Albany Bureau chief for the New York Daily News, quipped that the practice of people wearing hidden tape recorders on Capitol Hill — a sneaky way to get inside information or damning evidence — is so widespread that a reporter should probably stop a source and say, "Pardon me, sir, but could you rewind that thing in your pocket because I'd like to use that last statement as a quote."
If you think for a fleeting moment that the governor and state lawmakers have ended "dysfunction" in our government, consider just a sampling of recent developments:
• Sen. Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, and former president of the State Senate, arrested after trying to bribe New York City Republicans to get him a spot on their party's ballot in the mayoral primary. People familiar with Big Apple politics agree that Smith had absolutely no chance to win and now he faces 45 years in prison.
• Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, D-Bronx, charged with accepting bribes to introduce legislation to pave the way for an adult day-care center in his district and to virtually cash-in on his influence as a legislator.
• Former Assemblyman Nelson Castro, D-Bronx, a government mole who admitted to wearing a wire for nearly four years as part of a sting operation to trap Stevenson and whistle blow on others. He had been indicted in 2008 for making false statements about the large number of people who registered to vote from his Bronx apartment.
• Suddenly a lot of lawmakers are now wondering what, if anything, they might have said to Castro in the past few years. It could come back to bite them. One reporter said, "Those people are probably sweating bullets."
Finally, people are sick and tired of hearing that the state lawmakers have consecutively passed three on-time budgets. So what! Isn't that their job?
Meanwhile, what about all the criminal matters?
OFF THE PRESS: "Little Glimmers of Light," by the Rev. Elton Rengstorf (Outskirts Press, 146 pages, paperback, $14.95) is a collection of true stories that the minister says is to entertain, inform and enlighten the readers' path.
Rengstore, a retired Lutheran pastor and former missionary, grew up in rural communities in Kansas and Iowa, before assuming his ministry work in the Philippine Islands for 13 years. Returning to the U.S., he served as director of the Lutheran Camp at Angola on Lake Erie and as a pastor in Buffalo and Colden, N.Y., before serving six years at the Escarpment Lutheran Church, Lewiston.
A FILM CRITIC: Overheard at the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 12: "Why should people go out any night to see a bad movie when they can stay home and watch bad television? — a disgruntled person exiting the theater at Builders Way, off Buffalo Avenue.Contact Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.