We need more officials like Kearns, Cleveland

I applaud Assemblyman Michael Kearns’ decision to leave, if only temporarily, the Democratic conference. As a casual observer of New York State politics, it has become clear that the continued leadership of Sheldon Silver should be unacceptable to the general public. A man who covers up a sex scandal and pays off the victims with public funds does not deserve to continue in his position as an assemblyman, much less as speaker. For far too long, Silver has maintained his power by handing out lucrative committee assignments, thereby padding the pockets of legislators secure in their gerrymandered districts. Silver has “apologized” for his mistakes, but some mistakes are simply too big for an apology. A man of real integrity would have resigned his office.

There was one Buffalonian who stood against such practices, President Grover Cleveland. He was considered so honest in an age of unparalleled political corruption that he rose from the mayor of Buffalo to president in only five years. Upon assuming the presidency, in contrast to prior holders of the office, he did not engage in wholesale replacement of Republican office holders with those from his own Democratic Party. Rather he looked at people’s skills and capabilities, replacing only those he felt unworthy.

Kearns’ political career has been one of honesty, integrity and hard work. He has, at much political risk to himself, gone against the status quo and power brokers on numerous occasions. But he has always been able to appeal to the common sense and decency of his constituents, who I am confident will continue to support him. Kearns is picking up Cleveland’s torch. He says what he means and means what he says. We need more Grover Clevelands in elective office.

Kevin J. Christner