to the editor:

the insightful "paterson in the hot seat" (the capitol connection, dec. 18) makes me wonder if democrats have taken real democracy away from the voters and returned it to albany's smoke-filled backrooms.

remember former new york state democratic assembly member tom dinapoli? as aresult of his faithfulallegiance to democratic state assembly speaker silver,he was selected by a joint session of all212 members of the state legislature to fill the vacancy created byresignation offellow democratic state comptroller alan hevesi. millions of registered voters were disenfranchised by this backdoor maneuver. dinapolihad afree four-year term without voter approval.

next, we had the resignation of former democratic gov. eliot spitzer. lt. gov. david paterson waspromoted to governor for a free three-year term without voter approval.

today, paterson has tofill the soon-to-be-vacated seat of our united states senator hillary clinton. she is being promoted by president-elect barack obamatosecretary of state. one of the leading candidates being promoted to succeed her is caroline kennedy. kennedycouldn't even find the time to vote in a number of past democratic party primary and general elections. if she couldn'tperform the most basic civic duty of voting,how interested is she reallyinbecoming senator?

the second favored candidate is new york state attorney general andrew cuomo. should cuomo be appointedsenator by paterson, his vacancy will also be filled by the state legislature.

both contenders come from famous family dynasties. what about all the other hard workingdemocratic congress members from new york, such as manhattan's owncongress member carolyn maloney? she, like most,worked her way up the ladder from local office without the benefits of famous family names, political connections and easy access to money.

another candidate is nassau county executive tom suozzi. nassau county was in financial ruin due to one-party rule, excessive spending and runaway debt. does all this sound familiar on the city, state and federal level? suozzi restored nassau's fiscal credit rating, balanced the budget, controlled spending, reduced debt and still managed to deliver essential services constituents desired. suozzi's real life experience is just whatwashington needs today.

once again, albany careerpoliticianswill decide. senator kennedy or cuomo will havea free two-year term before facing the voters for the first time.why not amend the state constitution to allow the governor the right to call for a special election within 90 days when a vacancy occurs forsenator, state comptroller or state attorney general, just as the governor canwhen a seat in congress or the state legislature becomes vacant? candidates can pledge to hold a series of town hall meetings televised live around the state. newspapers and television stations can hold debates between the candidates. this will allowthe votersrather than the legislature to select one of their own as a replacement.

rememberin 1812, massachusetts gov. elbridge gerry signed a redistricting bill allowing his party to rig the drawing of district boundaries in their favor. this practice is commonly known as gerrymandering. after the 2010 census, remove the redistricting power from both the state senate and state assembly leadership. have the league of women voters or some other impartial group redraw district boundaries to prevent incumbents of both parties from stacking the deckin their favor. these are the only paths to real reform in albany.

larry penner

great neck, long island