Charter reform is being manipulated by the Democrats at the expense of open government

To the Editor:

I wish the majority party in control of the Albany County Legislature would put as much effort into reducing taxes and helping our community as it does in its efforts to increase political power.

As we debate alternatives for charter reform, I’ve come to a conclusion. The Democrat majority, currently in control of the county legislature, has put itself into a win-win situation.

Over a year ago a charter reform committee was set up and manned by ordinary citizens with no political agenda. After much hard work, the committee came up with excellent recommendations to provide open and efficient government in Albany County. These recommendations and the work of this committee were supported by many, including the League of Women Voters.

Unfortunately, for those currently in control of the legislature, some of the recommendations supported a stronger balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. As a result, the legislative majority set up another committee, in order to make “new” recommendations.

The result is a true story of what happens when a political party has absolute power. Charter reform has been manipulated into a three-case scenario, allowing those in power to maintain, or even increase, control of county government and its day-to-day operations.

First, if the charter recommendations made by the handpicked legislative reform committee are passed by the legislature, they will most likely, and correctly, be vetoed by the county executive. If by chance he does not veto them, or the county executive’s veto is overridden, the result will be a large expansion of power for those already in control of the legislature.

The second and third scenarios provide the same result. If the county executive’s veto is upheld, or if the legislature fails to address charter reform at all, the current charter remains in place. The results limit the efficiencies of true reform and maintain the status quo, with a majority party stranglehold on the legislative process.

Whatever scenario plays out, residents should know it is a win-win for those in power and a losing situation for those who believe in open government and a healthy balance of power.

Travis D. Stevens

Editor’s note: Travis D. Stevens, a Republican, represents the 31st District in the Albany County Legislature.

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