New York Post
July 21, 2010
The Working Families Party declared jihad on state Sen. Pedro Espada over the weekend, labeling the corrupt Bronx Democrat a symbol of "everything that's wrong with Albany" and vowing to defeat him in the September primary.
Which is sort of like Boss Tweed giving lectures on political probity.
Sure: Espada, who led the Senate coup that threw Albany into chaos last year, is a bad actor -- as this newspaper has thorougly documented. Post reporters have exposed how he used his Soundview Health Center as a piggy-bank, among other things.
Plus, he's under state and federal investigation -- that is, an easy target for dubious players intending to deflect attention from their own misdeeds.
But pretending that Espada is the biggest problem with Albany is either naive or cynical -- and the union sock-puppet WFP is anything but naive.
The fact is that Espada's No. 1 interest is primarily, well, Pedro Espada -- which puts at least some limit on his appetite for taxpayer cash.
The WFP, on the other hand, provides the muscle for far more pervasive corruption.
What's really bleeding New York dry is the transactional nature of all Albany politics -- especially when it comes to the public- and quasi-public-sector unions that effectively created the WFP in the first place.
To wit: The unions persuade Albany pols to vote them ever-increasing cash and privileges, which in turn augments labor's political power.
The WFP's expertise is in closing the loop -- making sure that union stooges are rewarded on Election Day and pummeling those who don't toe their line.
It's that culture of brazen self-seeking that in turn gives rise to master craftsmen like Espada.
Meanwhile, don't be surprised if you detect desperation in the WFP's attempt to scramble onto the good-government, anti-Espada bandwagon.
The party's under federal investigation for possible violations of election law, which has made gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo hesitate to accept its endorsement.
The attorney general long ago sicc'ed his investigators on Espada, and rightly so. By singling out the senator, the WFP could be angling to make common cause with Cuomo, thereby enticing him onto its ballot line.
But, just as leopards don't change spots, neither do corrupt Albany institutions.
Cuomo needs to resist the temptation to crawl in bed with the Working Families Party. It's thoroughly bad news.