Friday, May 18, 2012

Tantillo's Law

Usually, when a law is named after you, it's because you wrote the legislation in question. But it can also stem from the fact that you inspired this law in some way. Sometimes this is for tragic reasons -- for example, Megan's Law -- and sometimes it's because the person was heroic in some way. Today we're going to talk about a third category, in which someone does something so questionable, the subsequent law forever bears that person's name as a mark of shame.

In the case of Tantillo's Law, the legislation stemmed from her 2004 appointment to become the director of the Office of Employment and Training -- immediately after she resigned her office as a county legislator:
Democrats in the Ulster County Legislature say the practice of giving former lawmakers county jobs shakes people's confidence in county government. So they've proposed a prohibition on ex-lawmakers taking county positions for at least a year after they leave office.

"It gives a perception to the public that there is preferential treatment," said Minority Leader Gary Bischoff, D-Saugerties.

Democrats are seeking to change a local law that establishes rules of conduct for officers and employees of Ulster County by adding a provision prohibiting any elected official from being employed by the county for at least a year after termination of that official's term of office.

Bischoff said the proposal stems from the appointment of former Legislator Fawn Tantillo, a New Paltz Republican, as director of the Office of Employment and Training. He said the point of the change is not to prevent Tantillo from taking the position but to create a mechanism to prevent similar appointments in the future.
It took a little while, but the full legislature put a stop to this practice later that same year:
THE RESOLUTION that restricts county employment for ex-legislators was approved 20-13, with four of the Legislature's 17 Republicans crossing party lines.

Voting yes were all 16 Democratic legislators and Republicans Robert Aiello and Joseph Roberti of Saugerties, Brian Hathaway of Bloomington and Joan Every of Rosendale. The other 13 Republicans voted no.

Proponents of the new rule say it will prevent legislators from receiving choice county jobs simply by virtue of having served in the Legislature.

"I think the public, in the past, has ... thought that legislators have gotten special treatment and the jobs didn't necessarily go to the most qualified" people, said Legislator Richard Parete, D-Accord, who introduced the resolution with his brother, Robert Parete, D-Boiceville, and Peter Kraft, D-Glenford. It later was co-sponsored by all 16 Democratic lawmakers.

SEVERAL former lawmakers have been given county appointments over the years, the most recent being New Paltz Republican Fawn Tantillo. Tantillo resigned from the Legislature in June 2003, citing "unforeseen personal demands," and was appointed director of the county's Office of Employment and Training, at a salary of $56,200, just weeks later.
Tantillo's Law put a stop to this revolving door. And this is a good thing, as it prevents legislators from rewarding themselves with crony jobs when they get bounced from office. Of course, Tantillo, a small-government Republican, didn't see any problem with taking this job, just as she has no problem living off the taxpayer dime currently.

At the end of the Freeman article, now-former legislator Sue Cummings makes a transparently disingenuous argument:
Legislature Majority Leader Susan Cummings, R-Wawarsing, said few former lawmakers hold county positions, and the power of appointment is not abused by the GOP majority.

"If you look at the turnover of legislators, how many are serving in county positions? You're going to find there are not very many of them," she said.
Just how many ex-county legislators were there at the time, Sue? A couple dozen, perhaps? Give me a break.

So, do you think Fawn Tantillo is now holding her head up high because she inspired this law?

Notice, also, that as soon as one of her pals could reward her with another cushy government job, Tantillo was there, hand outstretched, ready to pocket more of our money.

And if Tantillo hates "big government" so much, why does she forever want to be a part of it?

1 comment:

  1. Very well said. Shocking, the way they don't even pretend to be honest anymore. They don't even cconcern themselves with appearances. Like everyone in the big government they supposedly eschew, they do what they want, how they want.

    And the people who pay them can go to hell.