The Tonawanda News - North Tonawanda, NY January 25, 2009
— It’s time for a quick check on the definition of the verb “to consult.” Average Americans might consult a friend about the merits of a particular shirt or blouse: “Does this make me look fat?” They could fairly consult an attorney when drafting a will. It would be reasonable to consult a physician if having persistent medical problems, or a trusted mechanic if buying a used car. All legitimate consultations to be sure. Sometimes the advice is free; sometimes it comes at minimal cost. One does not, however, seek the paid “consultation” of a major political figure if they have business before this person, on say, how best to ensure the favorable advancement of said business. And average Americans certainly don’t pay millions for the “advice.” But in New York politics, words don’t even mean what they’re supposed to, so this should come as no shock. Take retired state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, whose political consulting charade netted him some $3.2 million in “consulting fees” from interested parties with lucrative businesses under Bruno’s control — when he wasn’t dispensing advice on how to get things passed.
Joe Bruno was and always will be an embarrassment. A professional huffer-and-puffer, he fawned outrage in front of television cameras any time someone he didn’t like did something he didn’t approve of — an almost daily occurrence for the better part of two decades in office. All the while, he was peddling his own power and parlaying it into lucrative “consulting” fees in the back room. We find it hard to believe that any advice from such a world-class blowhard was worth $3.2 million, except for the tremendous influence he had over the way our money was spent.