The legislature tossed one Regent overboard yesterday, communicating to him that he did not have the votes to be re-elected to the Board of Regents, and then proceeded to replace him with this:
ALBANY—The newest member of the Board of Regents runs a consulting practice in which she charges thousands of dollars for “spiritual” weight loss sessions.
Josephine Finn, a town justice in Sullivan County and community college professor, was elected to the Board of Regents with 121 votes on Tuesday, more votes than any of the other three candidates elected.
After the Legislature confirmed Finn on Tuesday, two Democratic Assembly members came across Finn's Facebook page, which features spiritual affirmations.
One of the members shook his head, saying, “What did we do? What did we do?”
Finn offers a “spiritual diet” website called “Weight is Lifted,” a limited liability company, where clients can pay $3,600 annually for personal coaching and access to her private number. For $999, clients receive personal coaching a private weekly session. There are cheaper options, for $40 a month, to participate in conference calls.
In a brief interview after her vote, Finn said she is not sure is she will continue her business.
“What I'm doing personally has absolutely nothing to do with the Regents," she said. "It's my relationship with the person, personally."
Still, her website was offering weight loss counseling services on Tuesday.
“To my subscribers, you keep coming here because your soul has been stirred,” she wrote. “It is nudging you. It is whispering a truth that you have long known.”
And just how did Finn make it onto the Regents short list?
Finn's candidacy was rushed. She first interviewed with lawmakers on Monday, 24 hours before the elections, even though at least one Republican assemblywoman pointed out that applicants' resumes were supposed to be submitted for considered by January 31.
She said she was recruited by a friend on Friday but wouldn't say who asked her to interview.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Finn “seems very qualified.”
“I think you've seen the members, our members, are comfortable with the Regents who represent their districts," Silver said. "They've been around, they listen, they understand and that's the key thing.”
Clearly nobody looked very deeply into Ms. Finn's background or the spiritual entrepreneur thing would have come up.
I'm betting if that had been seen before Tuesday's election, Ms. Finn would not have been a member of the Board of Regents on Wednesday.
It's emblematic of how corrupt things are in Albany, how half-assed and rushed and ill-thought out.
The members of the legislature wanted to make it look like they were listening to the public over the reforms, but they really didn't want to make many changes to the Regents Board (and by extension, the Regents reform agenda.)
So they sacrificed one Regent to satisfy the public's call for change at the Board of Regents and rushed to fill that slot.
Earlier in the process we had heard how the members of the Assembly were not impressed with some of the candidates who were standing for election to the Board of Regents.
I'm going to bet a couple of Danielson artifacts that some of those candidates were as impressive or more so than the one they eventually went with.