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It seems to us: Saving the trees, friends and family, and New Orleans acts to clear the air

The Assembly has gone live with the new system that allows members to read bills on tablet computers at their desks on the Assembly floor rather than having to leaf through a stack of printed pages.

As News Albany Bureau Chief Tom Precious reported, the Legislature is catching up to the 21st century, with the Senate following next month. Before long, all members will have a tablet that is supposed to help them do their jobs better by making it easier to look up specific language in bills.

That means they’ll have no excuses not to have done their homework. But it also probably means that instead of ignoring the stacks of paper on their desks they’ll just be ignoring their new tablets.

Niagara Falls Republican Chairman Vincent M. Sandonato wasted no time in criticizing Democrat Johnny G. Destino for trying to use his pull to get a city job. Then things turned, well, hypocritical.

Destino lost last year’s election for the 62nd District State Senate seat. However, he has a fairly new political ally in Democratic Mayor Paul A. Dyster, whom he once ran against – are you keeping up so far? Well, Destino campaigned to get the newly created $62,000-a-year job as Niagara Falls’ director of information management services. Never mind that Dyster had vetoed the creation of a civil service IT job with just about the same description last fall.

Sandonato cried foul, but held the moral high ground for only about a New York minute. Turns out his father has started in a newly created data processing job with the county. The nonunion position, paying $45,433 per year, was created by the Republican-controlled Legislature on a party-line vote. As might be expected, Sandonato says the circumstances involving the job for his father are far different, since his father has never run for office, nor has been political.

Both men apparently meet the qualifications for the jobs, but that’s not really the No. 1 factor in politics, is it?

You know things have taken a turn when even New Orleans, the famous Big Easy, starts banning bad habits. Of American cities, only Las Vegas – maybe – has a more permissive culture than New Orleans, but look what happened this week: New Orleans banned smoking in bars. No more lighting up while you’re boozing it up, flirting with the bartender and contemplating that hottie across the room – and hoping your spouse doesn’t find out.

It’s just as well, given what we know about cigarette smoke, but for the diehards there is this: You can still smoke in Vegas.