GLENS FALLS -- The conviction of former state Sen. Majority Leader Joseph Bruno on two federal corruption charges is emblematic of the dysfunctional nature of state government, said Assemblyman Tony Jordan.
A jury on Monday convicted Bruno, R-Brunswick, on two counts of mail fraud, stemming from his consulting work in companies in which Jared Abbruzzese, a Bruno friend and associate, was majority owner. Bruno sponsored state grants for Evident Technologies, a company in which Abbruzzese was an investor, The Associated Press reported.
The jury acquitted Bruno of two counts of wire fraud and three counts of mail fraud, and could not reach a decision on another mail fraud count.
Jordan, R-Jackson, said Bruno, who retired in 2008, was part of a state government system that revolves around a few power brokers who control the flow of legislation and doling out of member item grants.
"To me that's where the real dysfunction is that all of the power really rests top-heavy," Jordan said Tuesday in a meeting with The Post-Star editorial board. "I mean former Sen. Bruno - I don't think anyone would question that he didn't provide a lot of resources to the Capital Region. But, by the same token, because he controlled all those resources, whether he did what he was ultimately convicted of - and whatever happens with it is irrelevant - it certainly creates that opportunity for that kind of abuse."
Jordan said a state constitutional convention could recommend sweeping reform of the state government process.
In New York, an automatic public vote is held every 10 years on whether to stage a constitutional convention, but the next regularly scheduled vote isn't until 2017.
Assembly Republicans are pushing to put the question up for an early vote next year.
Jordan, along with Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the topic from 8 to 10 a.m. Dec. 16 at the West Glens Falls fire station at 33 Luzerne Road in Queensbury.
Possible reforms to be discussed could include a property tax and spending cap, term limits for legislators and a succession plan for state offices, according to a press release.
Jordan said a rushed vote last week on the latest deficit reduction plan is an example of the dysfunctional system.
Legislators had just over an hour to review the 400-page bill before voting.
"It arrived in print form at 4:30 a.m., 5 a.m., something like that. And the vote was at 6:30," he said.
On other topics, Jordan said he and Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Suffolk County, will introduce legislation to enroll all future elected and appointed officials in New York - state, county and local - in a defined contribution retirement plan such as a 401(k).
He also is preparing a package of bills aimed at stimulating the economy in the 110th Assembly District, which includes all of Washington and parts of Saratoga and Rensselaer counties.
The plan, to be unveiled probably in February, will focus on regulatory reform and tax reduction.
"Our hope is for it to be part of a conference package," he said.