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Editorials: Politics and the police discipline bill

Editorials: Politics and the police discipline bill

Lawmakers shouldn't play games with important legislation

Anyone who might have doubted the political nature of the infamous police discipline bill that’s been passed by the state Legislature for the past four years (but, thankfully, vetoed by the governor) need only consider the remarks of Sen. Hugh Farley at a Schenectady City Council meeting Monday night.

Farley acknowledged that the Senate only passed the bill, which would force all municipalities to negotiate disciplinary proceedings with police or face overrule by the state Public Employment Relations Board, because it knew the governor would veto it — in the process embarrassing him. Sure enough, the pro-union bill always managed to pass both chambers by veto-proof majorities, but neither chamber ever even attempted an override. In other words, they didn’t really want the law, they just wanted to make the police unions think they did.

Farley thinks the Senate won’t even bother passing the law this year, because the Democrats are now in control and won’t want to set Democratic Gov. David Paterson up for another embarrassment. That may be true, but Democrats in both the Senate and Assembly haven’t seemed too concerned about humiliating Paterson over his demands to cut the state budget.

The police discipline bill would be bad news for Schenectady, and it’s about time that Farley and other lawmakers public spoke out, loudly and clearly, against it. Farley finally got around to voting against it last year, as did Assemblyman James Tedisco, but both have voted for it in the past. Just playing political games, perhaps. But one never knows when a governor might decide to play them back.

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