Friday, March 21, 2008

Jumpin' Jimmy-T

It didn't take Assembly Republican Minority Leader Jim Tedisco long to intrude himself into the campaign for the 105th Assembly seat, even though there are no declared candidates.

Tedisco, a Schenectady fixture and longtime state-senator-in-waiting, couldn't wait to take a shot a my friend and former City Council colleague Mark Blanchfield, a Democrat, for failing to negotiate a discipline process in the city's contract with the Police Benevolent Association. Ever the partisan, Tedisco chided Blanchfield and Mayor Brian Stratton for not using the contract to keep wayward Schenectady cops in line.

The assemblyman's comments were dripping with hypocrisy. For one, Tedisco should know -- he served on the Council a few decades ago -- that the City Council has absolutely no role in the negotiations process. Contracts are reached through talks between the union and the administration. Once a deal's done, the Council is asked to approve it -- or not -- but for any Council member to take an active part in the talks would be inappropriate. The mayor would have correctly called for the head of any Council member who got involved.

Second, state law dictates how police discipline is dispensed and, until his feet were held to the political fire last week, Tedisco has consistently voted to maintain the status quo. It may or may not be the best way to operate but many who are concerned about the antics of the Schenectady Police Department view Tedisco's record as part of the problem, not the solution.

The 105th is the Assembly District represented for many years by Paul Tonko, who resigned in 2007 to work for the Spitzer administration. It includes most of the City of Schenectady and Montgomery County. Blanchfield -- a thoughtful, hard-working public servant -- is, indeed, considering a run for the Assembly seat now held by Republican George Amedore, who has yet to announce his intentions. I think it would be a heck of a race between two, young pols who are obviously committed to their community and I hope Mark makes the leap. If he does, I'm knocking on doors and handing out lit once again.

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