Op-Ed by Tom Basile
The New York Post
If you’re a suburbanite, the latest scandal to rock the de Blasio administration shouldn’t be viewed as just your garden-variety campaign-finance corruption affair. It’s a hostile incursion into counties and towns with the express purpose of extending City Hall’s influence far beyond the borders of the five boroughs.
The sad fact is that City Hall colonizing the suburbs is nothing new. And the only way to stop it is to root out state legislators who are beholden to city politicians.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ham-handed, if not criminal, effort to influence the outcomes of suburban elections is the latest chapter in a long, sordid history of big money flowing particularly from the speaker of the Assembly and the city-based Senate Democrats to campaigns outside the boroughs.
Whether the mayor and his aides are indicted or not, the investigation should expose the lack of political independence of many suburban state legislators. High-tax, high-cost suburban communities need honest, effective representation.
Geography demonstrates why de Blasio would risk committing a felony to elect a Democratic majority in the Senate. It also reveals why the political dynamic in our state is perennially bad for reform-minded suburban taxpayers.
When it comes to elected representation, our state is Upstate-heavy in the Republican Senate and New York City-centric in the Democratic Assembly. Of the 63 members of the Senate, Democrats hold a scant six seats outside the city. Of the 103 Democrats in the Assembly, more than 60 are in the five boroughs.
This dynamic profoundly influences money in New York politics and leads to suburban legislators perennially relying on New York City political bosses to get re-elected every two years.
On one hand, you have someone like de Blasio looking to essentially buy more legislators outside the city to support his agenda and push back against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On the other, Assembly Democrats in the suburbs and Upstate are so beholden to the heavy influence and significant financial resources of New York City leadership that they lack independence on policy.
Both of those factors result in a system that puts the wants and needs of the New York City Democratic machine ahead of those of suburbanites who bear the heaviest tax burden in the nation. If you live in the suburbs and ever wondered why your legislator voted in favor of tax and fee increases and more government mandates or against education reforms — you have your answer.
Fortunately, those with leafy yards and picket fences are more pragmatic and less partisan. Suburban Democrats aren’t so quick to pray at the altar of de Blasio or the party’s left wing. They benefited from 20 years of Bloomberg and Giuliani — and they know it. They clearly see a regression under a mayor who once advocated for Democratic socialism.
With control of the state Senate hanging in the balance again this year and the entire Legislature up for re-election, suburban voters need to be asking every candidate in their area if they’ve taken money from de Blasio, organizations affiliated with the mayor or his major contributors.
They should be asking who’s financing the campaign — donors aligned with the needs of the suburbs or Democratic campaign committees controlled by New York City politicians.
Voters should be demanding answers from Democratic officials in the lower Hudson Valley and on Long Island as to whether political consultants aligned with the mayor have been used in any way in their area. Perhaps most critically, voters and the media should be looking at the legislative record of incumbents and candidates and asking whether the official appears to be working for local interests or an agenda paid for by out-of-district donors.
Suburbia will beat back the de Blasio incursion. The mayor and his aides, for their part, if not indicted, will simply join a long list of New York politicians who figured that hypocrisy only matters if you get caught. What remains to be seen is whether we finally realize this isn’t a one-front war and all do our job to ensure suburbia isn’t just sold to the highest bidder.
Tom Basile is a Stony Point town councilman and a former executive director of the state Republican Party.