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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

County Republicans Try "Democrat" Spain for Ethics Board

The joke in North Greenbush has spread to the wacky world of Rensselaer County politics where last night County Republicans in the Legislature first supported then pulled back one of their candidates for the County Ethics Board. The candidate the GOP tried to appoint was "Democrat" Al Spain.

Spain was first floated by Legislative Chairman Martin Reid in a Rules Committee meeting held about a week ago. The problem is that the name of the Democrat to be appointed by the Legislature has always come from the party's caucus and not the other party's caucus which is supposed to support a Republican nominee. The Ethics Law gives two appointments to the Legislature and two to the County Executive. Republicans apparently floated Spain's name to the Democrats hoping their status as newbies without any staff or lawyers to fill them in, would allow the GOP to control all of the appointments to the Ethics Board.

Democrats however had their own choice in mind and it wasn't the GOP favorite Al Spain. Democrats offered an amendment to the resolution of appointment that would substitute North Greenbush attorney George Burke for the GOP's token Democrat Al Spain. It failed along party lines with Republicans trying to impose their Democrat on the Democratic Legislators. Then remarkably, the resolution was withdrawn by its sponsor, Chairman Martin Reid.

Oh the fun the Democrats could have with this one! The GOP was caught trying to rig the Ethics Board with a Democrat loyal to the GOP and not his own party. So much for the checks and balances intended by the law.

Better yet, think of the fun they'd have with Al Spain's ethics. Imagine appointing someone to an Ethics Board who, as a Town Councilman, failed for two years to appoint an Ethics Board as required by law in his own town! Or appointing someone whose sense of ethics allowed him in 2008, to vote to appoint his two siblings to town committees without any thought of recusing for the sake of avoiding those inappropriate appearances. Oh well, he did figure out that it looked bad by the time 2010 came along and finally did recuse from a repeat vote to appoint his brother back to his position on the town IDA.

What a great Republican choice for the Rensselaer County Ethics Board hey? The only thing we can think of is that the two newly elected Republican legislators from North Greenbush brought along the newly imported water that makes folks do crazy things out here in North Greenbush. Why else would County Legislative Republicans try to appoint a Democrat to the Ethics Board without the approval the Democrats in the County legislature?

Cheer up folks. The County Ethics Law requires the Ethics Board to be appointed by March 1st and we'll have to wait a bit to see if the water wears off in the Majority Office or whether they filled the cooler with the stuff.

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