Richard Brodsky, Legislator Known as Albany’s Conscience, Dies at 73

Richard Brodsky, who persuaded his fellow state legislators to impose a monitor over 700 quasi-public authorities that had borrowed $150 billion on behalf of New Yorkers with no oversight, died on Wednesday at his home in Greenburgh, N.Y. He was 73.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Emilyn said. He had shown symptoms of the coronavirus, she said, but also had a heart condition. Test results received after he died showed he did not have the disease.

A 14-term Democratic assemblyman from Westchester, Mr. Brodsky was regarded as a sometimes discordant, sometimes quixotic conscience of the State Legislature.

Representing the Lower Hudson Valley from 1983 through 2010, he was a champion of the environment, a critic of safety precautions at the Indian Point nuclear power plant and a supporter of universal internet access.

He also opposed Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to charge motorists a fee to enter the Manhattan business district, arguing that it amounted to a regressive tax.

“He tormented the corporate world in New York — the utilities, the cable companies,” said his fellow assemblyman James F. Brennan, a Brooklyn Democrat.

Mr. Brodsky wielded his chairmanship of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions as a cudgel over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York State Thruway Authority, the Long Island Power Authority and other agencies that had proliferated largely to avoid oversight by the voters and their approval to incur debt beyond what the state can borrow on its own.

He labeled those agencies “Soviet-style bureaucracies” that together constituted a “shadow government.”

His 2009 legislation, drafted by a commission led by the lawyer Ira Millstein, an expert on corporate governance, established an independent authorities budget office, which required greater transparency of agencies that operated largely independent of state government and subjected them to greater oversight.

“This is the most fundamental reform of state government in decades, and it’s a blueprint for further reform of state government,” he told The New York Times.

Richard Louis Brodsky was born on May 4, 1946, in Manhattan to William and Louise (Snow) Brodsky. His father was a structural engineer and his mother a dental hygienist. The family moved from Brooklyn to Westchester when he was 9.

After graduating from Ardsley High School, in the village of Ardsley, part of Greenburgh, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brandeis University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He was a county legislator before being elected to the State Assembly in 1982.

Besides his daughter Emilyn, survivors include his wife, Paige Massman Brodsky; another daughter, Willie; and a sister, Vicki Wessel.

Mr. Brodsky ran for state attorney general in 2006 but abandoned his campaign to donate a kidney to Willie. In 2010, he gave up his Assembly seat to seek the Democratic nomination to succeed Andrew M. Cuomo as attorney general, but lost the primary to Eric Schneiderman.

Since then, Mr. Brodsky won two court cases on behalf of the Working Families Party. One, in 2004, let the party contribute to candidates running in Democratic primaries. And in March, a judge overturned rules by the Public Financing Commission that would have raised the threshold for minor parties to automatically remain on the ballot. Those rules, however, were reimposed this month by the Legislature.

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