Friday, August 5, 2011

Killing with concern in the Assembly

I usually don't even bother responding to the lies and distortions about our transit system that come out of the State Assembly echo chamber, but this one was a bit too close to home. Aravella Simotas represents a district near me, replacing her mentor Mike Gianaris, who has taken over the Senate district. She was recently interviewed for a local podcast, the Perez Notes. It'll be nice when host Rob Perez gets a real hosting service, but until then you can download the MP3 here if you want to listen to it on a portable device.

Simotas may put her words together into odd combinations and then stumble over them, but she's very good at one particular tactic, what I call "killing with concern." It goes like this:
  1. Acknowledge the problem and sympathize with the people experiencing it.
  2. Raise concerns about the proposed solution. Go into as much detail as you can.
  3. DO NOT propose any remedy to the concerns you raised in Step 2.
  4. If anyone tries to address the concerns you raised or proposes an alternate solution, return to Step 1.

You will notice that Simotas does this with the MTA and the taxis: yes, of course her constituents need good transit, but the MTA is so wasteful and unfair! Her constituents need good taxi service, but the current law was passed in an unconventional way, and may be unconstitutional!

This is, of course, standard practice for the Assembly, and she probably learned it directly from Gianaris and from her other mentors, City Council member Peter Vallone and his father, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone. Read and listen to statements made by various Assembly members about transit and you'll hear it over and over: they'd love to do something about transit, but they've got this concern...

In this interview, it is easy to tell the difference between an issue that Simotas actually cares about (pork and redistricting) and one that she doesn't. If she cares about the issue she addresses all the possible objections and has a solution ready. If she doesn't care, well, gee, she'd love to help, but she's got these concerns...

I'd like to finish by pointing out that this bullshit artist was not actually elected in any meaningful sense of the word. She was chosen as the party favorite after heavy lobbying by Gianaris and the Vallones. Her primary challengers, the disappointing Jeremiah Frei-Pearson and some guy named John Ciafone, quit the race when it became clear that Simotas had overwhelming political and financial backing. The Republicans and the Greens couldn't find anyone to run against her in the general election. Voters have never had the opportunity to choose her over anyone else.

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