A Quaint Illustration of a Quaint Saying

The quaint saying: “hoist by one’s own petard.”

Meaning:  To be caught in one’s own trap…  A “petard” was an explosive device used in medieval warfare. To be hoisted, or lifted, by a petard literally means to be blown up.

Current Illustration: For months, Governor Spitzer has been the target of charges that he abused his power by having State Troopers track the travels of Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who was using taxpayer funded transportation merely  and properly to do official business (although the “official business” was merely peppering a great deal of political work.)  This well-cultivated victimology blew up this weekend. The hoisting is outlined by the Daily News’ Bill Hammond:

The closer you look at the Troopergate affair, the more obvious it is that the only true scandal is Joe Bruno’s abuse of state aircraft.

Reports in the Albany Times Union this weekend show that the state police kept detailed records of the Senate majority leader’s helicopter travels going back to at least 2004, long before Gov. Spitzer took office in January. And guess what: Bruno was using police vehicles to speed himself to political fund-raisers back then, too.

This blows away Bruno’s central complaint against Spitzer – that the governor cooked up the idea of snooping on Bruno’s travels as part of a plot to destroy a political enemy.

In fact, Spitzer’s people merely restarted a record-keeping policy that had begun under former Gov. George Pataki, Bruno’s fellow Republican, but lapsed for some reason last year. The big difference is that the Pataki-era records never saw the light of day, whereas Spitzer’s aides bent over backward to deliver them to a Times Union reporter in June.

…If the records obtained by the Times Union are correct, Bruno did precious little of anything that could be called government business on some of these trips. He was too busy dashing from one purely political event to another.

Take, for example, his schedule for Sept. 28 and 29, 2004. According to the Times Union, he and three aides were due to go straight from the helipad to a meeting with a Republican assemblyman from Staten Island – which just happened to be at the same time and place as a fund-raiser for a Senate candidate that Bruno also attended. How convenient.

The itinerary called for Bruno to hit two more fund-raisers – as well as meet with Independence Party activists, a Long Island senator and labor leaders – before choppering back to Albany the next day.

The 2007 trips that triggered the Troopergate brouhaha followed the same pattern: heavy-duty check-cadging combined with token official meetings.

Owee. But don’t they all do that sort of thing? Apparently not.

… As reported by the Village Voice, former Gov. Mario Cuomo paid thousands of dollars in income taxes to cover the value of his nongovernmental travel on state aircraft. Not Bruno.

Outrageously, Bruno just signed a $500,000 contract with a Washington-based lawyer to further flog the idea that Spitzer was the one abusing the state police. Bruno should have hired an accountant to figure out what he owes in back taxes – before the IRS picks up a copy of the Voice.

Distinguished legislators, ahem. There is time to catch our breath before the next session begins. Let us stop the grandstanding nonsense and get prepared instead to to work for the people.


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