We know you have had them clog up your mailbox at one time or another, perhaps even sometime in the last week.
Our elected representatives like to keep us up to date on what they’ve been doing in Albany, so they mail large postcards and newsletters with information about what they are doing on our behalf.
One of our editorial board members got one this week.
Assemblyman Dan Stec’s flyer arrived on Sept. 11 with a full color photograph of a soldier holding a little blond-headed girl in his arms. In the photo, both were surrounded by American flags. Underneath were the words, “Serving those who have served us.”
It’s a nice sentiment.
On the flip side of the mailer is a picture of Stec on the floor of the Assembly under the words, “Thank you for your service.” Next to that photo there is text that reminds us that Stec is a veteran and lists five legislative items he has endorsed in the Assembly to benefit veterans.
Yes, it is an election year.
We suspect most of you didn’t give this mailer much of your time. We confess we sometimes toss them in the trash without much of a thought.
You might not be so quick to toss it out if you knew how much it was costing you.
Before we go there, we don’t want you to think we are picking on Dan Stec. The former Queensbury supervisor is not doing anything wrong or anything that his colleagues aren’t doing as well.
But according to the Empire Center — an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank based in Albany — the state Senate spends over $3 million in bulk postage, while the state Assembly spends approximately $2.7 million. That is almost double what it was from a year ago.
Granted, in the grand scheme of New York’s $168.3 billion budget, $6 million is change in the couch cushions, but it still bugs us.
Considering the availability of email and websites to communicate information, it seems like a waste of taxpayer money.
Sending out bulk mailings has also been part of the home-field advantage for incumbents in the New York State Legislature. Mailers like the one that landed from Dan Stec this past week serve as campaign advertising paid for by the taxpayers.
That rubs us the wrong way, too.
Again, Stec is not doing anything wrong. They all do it. That’s the $6 million problem.
In 2014, Stec spent $47,496.82 on bulk mail when he was unopposed. Two years later, with competition from just the Green Party, Stec spent $52,068.36.
Running for re-election for the first time in 2016 against a Republican opponent, Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner spent $52,855.82 on bulk mailings.
The state Senate gets even more of an allowance.
Sen. Little spent $152,240.33 in bulk mail in 2014 when she ran against Robin Barkenhagen of the Green Party. When she was unopposed in 2016, she spent $111,499.83.
Not surprisingly, the amount spent in non-election years tends to drop.
There are times there is important information in these mailers, and other times when they are used to promote events, such as the one Sen. Little sent out promoting a local health fair.
But we believe there are better ways for our elected representatives to get out their message that are far less expensive.
We believe it is time to stop snail-mail advertising from our representatives. It is wasteful and an advantage that incumbent politicians should not have.
We are hoping that one of our elected representatives will set an example and give up the practice voluntarily.