Tallying Up the Score (or… When Do I Eat the Humble Pie?)

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This space allows me the chance to make a few predictions.

With 2005 coming to a close, it only seems fair to make an accounting of whether these "prophecies" came to pass.

Doubt still remains about one proclamation I made at the start of 2005: That New York would see the death of the "moderate Republican." Last January I wrote that with the departure of Rep. Amo Houghton, we will no longer see this type of Republican representative in these parts.

But the Republican Party hasn’t made that decision yet… although it’s coming soon. In the next few weeks, New York GOP Chairman Steve Minarik (also the Monroe County chief) plans to have the county chairman vote on who they would support for governor in 2006.

If Minarik gets his way, they will back the very definition of "moderate" in the Republican ranks – former Massachusetts governor William Weld. But there is dissention in the ranks, which has emboldened more conservative voices in the party to run – former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and former Secretary of State Randy Daniels chief among them. Faso and Daniels will have to sell themselves as true conservatives.

My bet (perhaps I shouldn’t be making a prediction in a column devoted to deconstructing previous predictions.. but what the hell) is that Weld will get the nod.

And then Tom Golisano will be waiting for a primary challenge. And tell me the New Yorker that would call him a rock-ribbed conservative.

I also predicted at the start of 05 (probably under the influence of a champagne hangover) that the mayoral candidates would trip over themselves to sell the city voters that they could work well with County Executive Maggie Brooks. I proclaimed this as though it would be a campaign centerpiece.

In reality, a Brooks accord was far from the core of the campaign. The violence in the city, the relationship with the City School District and the competence of the candidates took the rightful places as top issues during that campaign.

But on another city issue I was dead-on. I wrote that taxpayers should prepare to be on the hook for the remainder of the life of the Rochester Fast Ferry.

There should have been no surprise when Mayor Bill Johnson said a few weeks back that it was a mistake to say the city-operated ferry would not need a government subsidy.

Of course it would. And of course it will continue to need an infusion of city cash for the foreseeable future. The question now will be whether the city should seek other government funders (the county, the region, the state)… and, more importantly, whether those entities would even broach the idea of helping to keep the ferry afloat.

And while I apparently have no trouble taking bows for the Ferry prediction, I ought to hide my head on the next one. I wrote (rather sniffily) on January 2, 2005 that the Democratic Party will be scrambling just to keep the 12 seats they already have on the Monroe County Legislature.

It seemed logical at the time. County Legislator Chris Wilmot had just flipped parties moving from Democrat to Republican (giving the GOP a 17 to 12 advantage before 2006 even began). Fred Amato, a Greece conservative Democrat, was being forced out and the party would have a problem in his district. In Irondequoit, Democratic incumbent Stephanie Aldersley barely survived her last challenge. And Ted O’Brien, who had been appointed to the other legislative seat, had never won a political race. Both could be had.

And the Democrats had far more incumbents being forced out by term limits than the GOP. Frankly, I thought the Republicans would get 20 seats on the 29 member county legislature and gain a veto-proof majority.

Well Amato did lose (his wife, that is)… but Democrats made gains by taking back Wilmot’s seat. Aldersley and O’Brien became part of the Irondequoit surge, both winning their races rather handily. The Democrats held serve.

Ah… you win some, you lose some, right?

Finally came this prediction at the dawn of the current year: That we would see New York State Legislators talking about reform, but not actually achieving substantive change.

They could have reopened the call for a constitutional convention or tried to give away the power of redrawing district lines. That didn’t happen.

But they did come up with a budget reform package that would have given more control to themselves… it would also impose a contingency budget if the lawmakers and the governor couldn’t agree by a new deadline of May 1.

This went before the voters. And before it did, the voices of opposition rang out loudly. And it went down to defeat.

This budget reform package, however, was really no reform at all. It would have split up power in a different way… but it wouldn’t have gotten to the core of the problem. The concentration of power in the hands of a few in Albany would not have changed. Nor would it alter the entrenched incumbent class in the legislature.

Creating a ray of hope that Albany would be responsive – that’s where reform begins. Of course that wasn’t on the ballot in 2005.

I suppose I got that one right. I wish I hadn’t.

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