Below is the exact text of an editorial that came out today in the Times Herald Record. I particularly liked the line that I bolded.
The Ulster County sales tax dispute of 2013 appears to be a local issue, a clash between the county executive and the county's most prominent legislator, with neither willing to give in.
Actually, it is much more than that because while a local standoff is always educational, the underlying cause is located well north of Kingston, in the chambers of the New York State Assembly and Senate and in the antiquated rules that members follow without regard for their detrimental effects.
Those rules need to be changed.
Albany needs to stop giving extraordinary powers to individuals who have done little more than faithfully follow the orders of their political bosses, no matter how disreputable those bosses may be. It needs to adjust its procedures to keep important legislation from having to withstand repeated tests where political clout is more important than public policy.
Because he unilaterally forced Ulster County to lower its sales tax rate, Kevin Cahill, a veteran Assembly Democrat, is now surrounded by critics of both parties. Yet if those critics, especially state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, are serious, they must do more than ask Cahill for something that is well beyond his power — bringing the Assembly back into session for a new vote on the tax — and work instead to change the rules that allowed this to happen in the first place.
Chances are they will not do much because they, like Cahill, want to hold on to these extraordinary and undeserved powers. The only reason they are ganging up on Cahill this time is because, for once, things did not turn out the way they expected.
This all started when Cahill blocked consideration of a bill allowing Ulster County to keep collecting a sales tax at its current level, above the state-mandated percentage for such local taxes.
He said that this was consistent with his fundamental principle that sales taxes are regressive, harming those with the least ability to pay. So far this year, the governor has signed 36 pieces of legislation approving either an increase in the local sales tax or permission to keep a local sales tax above the state minimum. In all 36 cases, Cahill voted no, consistent with his principles.
But in the 37th case, the bill sponsored by another member of the Assembly and a member of the Senate representing parts of Ulster County, Cahill did more than vote no. He used his power as an entrenched member of the Assembly Democratic majority to keep the bill from coming to a vote.
When the legislation concerned 36 other governments, including the neighboring counties of Sullivan and Orange, where many of Cahill's constituents shop, he was content to confine his actions to a vote. Only when it affected his home county did he flex his political muscles, leaving Ulster County to face layoffs, job elimination, curtailment of services and increases in other taxes to make up for the missing sales taxes.
The only principle involved was the one that it is now clear he adheres to most strongly, the principle that those who have the power in Albany get to wield it as they see fit.