Thursday, April 22, 2010

SD-46: Martland Slams Sen. “Flip Flop” Breslin On Politics, Policy

Two press releases in as many days see State Senate candidate Luke Martland slamming the seven-term incumbent Neil D. Breslin. Martland calls him out both as a flip-flopper on his support for turncoat Senator Pedro Espada as well as his waning political support in the district, Albany County.

Breslin, who announced his bid for re-election yesterday, is cited as having supported Espada before going on record against him. Martland will be formally announcing his challenge to the entrenched Assistant Majority Leader on Sunday, April 25th. He will also be facing a second challenger, Tim Carney, who made his thoughts known via the above-linked blog.

All this and we had a fantastic article on this fast-developing race in the Legislative Gazette I missed earlier this month. I will try not to miss a thing below the fold…

Cross-Posted on The Albany Project

First, we have challenger Luke Martland’s firm stance on Sen. Breslin’s shifting stance on 2009 Senate coup mastermind Espada. Choice excerpts from press release number one, out today:

Martland Calls Breslin a Flip Flopper on Pedro Espada

For immediate release: April 22, 2010

(Albany) – State Senate candidate Luke Martland today called State Senator Neil Breslin a flip flopper on his support for tarnished State Senator Pedro Espada. (D-Bronx)
On July 9th 2009, Assistant Majority Leader Neil Breslin accepted the State Senate leadership’s decision to appoint State Senator Pedro Espada to the post of majority leader, the third highest post in the State Senate.

Now that state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed a civil suit against Espada for his involvement in Soundview Management Enterprises, Breslin says Espada should voluntarily give up his post and perks as majority leader of the State Senate.

“Why didn’t Breslin stand up and fight the dysfunctional Senate bosses over Espada’s power grab when he had a chance last summer?” asks Martland. “If Breslin thought Espada was corrupt then, he should have said so loud and clear.”

“Breslin has been asleep at the switch on ethics reform for the past 13 years,” said Martland. “He is attacking Pedro Espada now so he can look like he is a reformer when his record proves he is not.”

Breslin seems to only have an interest in ethics reform when it is safe and convenient for him,” adds Martland.
“I say his new-found interest in cleaning up the dysfunction in Albany is a dollar short and a day late.”
“I’m not a flip flopper, I’m a fighter,” said Martland, who has spent his career in criminal justice as an assistant district attorney, assistant attorney general and working for the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Emphasis mine – SP

In between the snip, Martland reiterated another Breslin flip-flop on school aid which I reported a month ago. I can tell you, based on the budget battle at my high school alum currently going on that both charges are extremely relevant.

This charge simply calls for more accountability regarding Sen. Breslin’s role in the infamous 2009 State Senate coup. Not only did Breslin have the gavel in his hands at the rostrum that fateful day, only Luke Martland (and not the local media) seems to be reminding us that Senator Breslin basically voted for Espada before voting against him.

Second, yesterday’s revelations that Senator Breslin would not be receiving the blanket endorsement of the Albany County Democratic Committee has turned out to be a big story indeed. Why? Because after 14 years and with his two brothers (County Executive Mike Breslin and County Judge Tom Breslin), you’d think that such a “loyal” and “liberal” Democrat would automatically get the endorsement of the only county committee in the district.

But Martland had quite a bit to say about that yesterday, as did several commentators on the blog reporting the non-endorsement:

Democratic Candidate for State Senate 46th District Martland Calls for No Endorsement From Party in State Senate Race Against Breslin

For immediate release: April 21, 2010

“People are tired of politics as usual. Support for my campaign has grown significantly over the last week, as people within the Democratic Party realize that I am a real reform candidate and that I am a winning candidate.

On Saturday, the Review Committee, which has responsibility for vetting candidates and recommending whether candidates should be endorsed or not, heard from me and Neil Breslin.

I answered all questions that were asked, and after my presentation the Committee voted to NOT endorse 13-year incumbent Neil Breslin. In my presentation I explained why I am the best candidate and emphasized that I will work hard to make the Democratic Party as strong as possible and to ensure that both the City and County of Albany get all the support they deserve from the State.

It is my understanding that the vote to NOT endorse Neil Breslin was a lop-sided one. I hope that the Party leaders respect the decision of the Review Committee and let the people decide who their next Senator will be. I support the efforts of the County Chairman to bring openness to the party, and I hope that the Review Committee’s decision to not endorse any candidate is respected.”

Once again, a link to the blog that broke the story on the Albany Times Union Local Politics site is an order. There, an unusually large number of comments found very little support for the deadbeat, flip-flopping incumbent. Perhaps the committee truly owes Breslin a vote of no confidence (unlike his flip-flop on Coup-master Espada).

Third, not to be outdone and in a stance of solidarity between Breslin’s two challengers, candidate Tim Carney was one of the earliest commentators on the Local Politics thread. Failing an official press release, I feel compelled to quote his comment all the same:

I want to thank the Albany County Selection Committee for the opportunity to state my case why they should consider me as the endorsed candidate for New York State Senate representing the 46th District which includes all of Albany County.

I hope this rumor is true because it would mean that this vindicates the hard work I’ve already put into this campaign. I also gave them several major issues that I will propose if I am elected and they had great appeal to the group.

I have spent the past 4 months attending all the City, Town and Village board meetings in Albany County, listening to the board members dealing with the “fiscal crisis” we have in NYS and how do they do more with less. I have also been to senior luncheons and neighborhood meetings talking about the high property and school taxes. The people are worried about the future.

I have already met with many of the Albany City Councilmember’s, Ward Leaders and the County Legislators within the district to ask for their endorsement and support in this year’s campaign. Over the next couple of weeks I will be meeting with many more of the City, Town and Village officials to garner their support.

On May 4th I will complete my listening/speaking tour of all 19 municipalities in Albany County including the Albany County Legislature. Shortly after I will be making a major announcement with many elected officials standing by my side. Also if I’m elected, I promiss to visit every town, village and city board or council meeting at least once every year to listen to the issues effecting the municipalities. I have been told that Neil has never been at these meetings in 14 years. (except Albany)

This is why I would like to discuss the issues that you would like to see me address this year. You can reach me via email at

I have laid out a plan for my candidacy, which has been, in part, supported by various prominent officials. To learn about my platform in greater detail, please go to .

I look forward to seeing and speaking with you soon. “NYS Needs TLC”

Best regards,

Tim Carney

Emphasis mine – SP

It’s an interesting point-and-counterpoint to Martland’s message that Carney submits straight to the blogosphere. One might say that his approach of visiting town and village boards is more “grassroots” than Martland’s frequent official press releases. I say that having both approaches compliment each other does absolutely everything possible to let the people know just what a deadbeat Senator Breslin has been during the past two decades.

Third,with regard to Breslin’s arrogant bid for re-election, students of political science and supporters of reform might tell you that all this is a bad thing. That is, having two challengers from the same camp automatically dilutes the message and favors the third candidate. But the political theory is one thing, and political reality is another thing. Breslin himself acknowledged the “sharp anti-incumbent sentiment” of 2010 in his re-election bid announcement yesterday, according to Times Union staff writer Jordan Carleo-Evangelist:

ALBANY -- State Sen. Neil Breslin launched his seventh re-election campaign Wednesday night saying he's confident voters will distinguish between lawmakers who have brought scorn on the Legislature and those, like himself, working to improve New Yorkers' lives.

Breslin's frank acknowledgement in his speech of the sharp anti-incumbent sentiment stalking legislators this election season underscores just how perilous a road back to office he and his colleagues may face.

"This won't be easy. There's a lot of discontent across this state and across this country ... and a lot of it is justified," Breslin told a large crowd of supporters at the Crossgates Restaurant on Washington Avenue Extension.

"But I ask you to commit yourselves to this campaign," Breslin said, adding that he's passed more legislation in the last decade than any other Democrat, "because there's a lot of work to be done."

Breslin, 67, of Bethlehem, already has two announced Democratic opponents -- Albany residents Luke Martland and Tim Carney -- and county Republicans are also vowing to run a candidate for the 46th Senate District seat, which covers all of Albany County.

These kinds of quotes really get my goat. Breslin has built a career on voter ignorance, and he’s relying on the same thing now. He was elected in 1995, replacing a one-term Republican Senator who came into office during the 1994 Republican Revolution that also saw New York State elect a Republican governor, George Pataki. The former seat holder? Howard Nolan, a Democrat, who served for nearly three decades.

So how did Breslin get his cozy seat? Simple. His brother Tom was elected County Judge in 1993, to a ten-year term. Then his other brother, Mike, was appointed to serve as County Executive in January 1995, and has been re-elected every four years since. So with all these Breslins winning (or simply obtaining) office in Albany County, why not put all those “Breslin” signs to use every two years to get big brother Breslin elected to the State Senate on name recognition alone to get rid of the Republican Revolutionary fluke and get a real nice stranglehold on Albany County.

Working backwards, I’d say that since Neil is 67 this year, he’s of the perfect age to retire. I’d also say that most of his “more legislation” has been less legislation and more proclamation.

I’d ask just how much justification for voter discontentment Senator Breslin is willing to take responsibility for, given his key role in the 2009 Senate coup, his huge insurance and banking industry contributions while he was either chair or ranking member of those committees, and his nepotistic rise to power.

Finally, and I’ll never forgive myself for not getting this out there on the fifth of the month, we have an excellent Legislative Gazette article profiling Luke Martland by intrepid young reporter Faith Burkins-Gimzek. My excuse for not getting this out there are only lightweight: I have no home internet connection and haven’t had a job in a year and a half, a victim of the recession and a rapid right-wing boss (I will explain in the next edition of Soundpolitic Sundays), yet Faith had interviewed me during my first organizational meeting of the Albany County Coffee Party and informed me she’d be doing this profile when I stopped by the Gazette’s offices, so I should have highlighted the following earlier:

Senate hopeful says 'fundamental change' needed in Albany

By Faith Burkins-Gimzek
April 05, 2010

Luke Martland describes himself as a fighter.

A black belt in ju-jitsu and former criminal prosecutor, these days the 45-year-old Center Square, Albany resident is fighting for the 46th Senate District seat.

"I'm not a politician, and I don't want to be a politician," he contends.
Echoing the voices of many before him who have tried and failed, Martland says he will battle against the culture of corruption in Albany to ameliorate the dysfunction, scandal and incompetence he says is inherent in the Capitol. "I will be a fighter for the issues I believe in. I'm not going to just do what the party leadership tells me, or the special interests," he said.
Last June, Martland took a position as assistant counsel to Gov. David A. Paterson. Martland said the experience prompted him to run for office himself.

"What I saw down here really changed my view and I became increasingly frustrated, and then disgusted, at the dysfunction in the Legislature and the government in general. I wasn't proud to be working here anymore. And it began to convince me that we need fundamental change. So a year ago I had no idea I'd be running for office, and I had no plans to run for office."

Martland gave his two-week's notice the week of February 15, just days before a New York Times article surfaced detailing the governor's alleged cover-up of a domestic-abuse altercation involving a top aide, which may have prompted the resignations of other Paterson officials. Martland said his resignation was unrelated to the scandal. "That stuff obviously upset me, but it convinced me more than ever that we need fundamental change," he said.

Working under the governor, Martland said, "I sort of had a ringside seat. I started the same week as the [Senate] coup [in the summer of 2009] – so as I got a close up view of what was happening … over the next few months I became more and more disgusted at how our government doesn't work. And I began to think, 'Well, how do you change that?' And I don't think it can be changed with the current people, with the current senators and current Assembly members."

I’ve gotten a bit wordy here, but only because a race that nobody seemed to think would go anywhere has fast become hotter than you can drop. If you’re an Albany County Democrat, you owe it to yourself to read the whole article and stay on top of this race and these candidates.

And for that endeavor, Soundpolitic is on the beat and willing to serve. Stay tuned as formal announcements are made, endorsements (and non-endorsements) materialize, and Breslin falls further and further from his perch.

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