Schenectady County

GOP leader goes after waste

The Assembly’s top Republican is going after waste, fraud and abuse in state government, including a

The Assembly’s top Republican is going after waste, fraud and abuse in state government, including an agency co-chaired by the Republican Senate majority leader.

Some see the effort as an election year tactic and others see it as long overdue.

Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, has created a two-member Republican task force called WASTE, which stands for Waste at State Taxpayers’ Expense.

He appointed two Republican assemblymen to the task force, George Amedore Jr. of Rotterdam and Bill Reilich of Greece.

Amedore, 39, whom Tedisco recruited to run for the office, won a difficult special election last year to complete the term of former assemblyman Paul Tonko, D-105th District. Tonko resigned part-way into his 13th two-year term on June 30, 2007, to head the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. He later resigned from that position and is now running for Congress.

This time around, Amedore is facing Mark Blanchfield, 41, a Schenectady city councilman and private practice attorney, for a full two-year term.

Reilich is chairman of the Monroe County Republican Committee and is facing Dave Garretson in November. Tedisco is running unopposed.

Tedisco spokesman Joshua Fitzpatrick said Tedisco picked the two Republicans based on their backgrounds as small business operators and their experience in “maximizing efficiencies.” Neither will receive a stipend to serve on the task force, he said.

Fitzpatrick said the task force will expose “ghost ship” commissions that are continuing even through they finished their work. It will make sure “we get the most efficiency out of government at a time we are facing a huge state deficit and state debt.” It must produce a report by Feb. 9.

Tedisco identified several such ghost ship commissions and is awaiting a report from the state comptroller on a list of others, Fitzpatrick said.

The identified commissions include the state Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, which issued a report in April and is still operating; and the Commission on Higher Education, which produced a final report in June but maintains an active Web site.

Fitzpatrick also put the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment on the list. Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, co-chairs the task force. Fitzpatrick said the task force was established in 1978, held its last public hearing in March 2002 and received $361,944 in the 2008-09 state budget.

The task force provides technical plans for meeting the requirements of legislative timetables for the reapportionment of Senate, Assembly and congressional districts.

Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group said Tedisco has good reason to publicly discuss whether a task force should be a perpetual entity.

“The issue is whether there is substance to his complaint,” Haven said.

In the case of the reappointment task force, “We don’t understand why that needs to be up and running decade to decade when the work they do is confined to a two-year period,” he said.

Haven said the task force’s next “real work” will be in 2011-2012, following release of new census data.

Senate majority spokesman Scott Reif said he would look into Tedisco’s complaint that the reappointment task force is unnecessary and call back. Calls to the other identified commissions were not returned.

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, downplayed Tedisco’s initiative. “It is the political season and I do not put much stock into it, honestly,” he said. “If Jim has any talent, it is he’s able to grab headlines on the fly.”

Canestrari said the appointment of Amedore and Reilich is an attempt to garner them publicity for their re-election efforts. “It’s topical and timely to capitalize on what is happening on Wall Street,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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