Like a good soap opera or kung-fu movie, New York politics never lacks for a villain: Once one is vanquished, another steps to the plate. Alan Hevesi exiting stage left and taking the wife-chauffeuring plotline with him? No problem. Hello, Joe Bruno and stories of shady real-estate deals, backroom tit-for-tats, private jets, stocks, and ponies. Bruno is the State Senate majority leader, one of the three guys who runs Albany, and the top Republican in the state (behind the packing-his-boxers George Pataki). Federal subpoenas are now flying as investigators look into Bruno's friendship with one Jared Abbruzzese. An Abbruzzese company is vying to control the state's thoroughbred racing — a huge matter in which Bruno will have a major say. And there seems to be some doubt about Bruno's objectivity in approving the contract, considering that (a) Bruno already gave another Abbruzzese business $500,000 in state funds, (b) Bruno's real-estate company sold Abbruzzese's wife a housing lot for a pittance, (c) Abbruzzese gave $118,000 to Bruno's campaign committeee, and (d) Bruno had been known to use Abbruzzese's private jet.
Oh, and then there's this: Today's Times notes that records show Bruno has a habit of buying stock in companies that shortly thereafter get state contracts. The ever-tactful Gray Lady calls it a "broad array of personal financial interests, several of which have intersected with his activities … in the State Legislature." Intersected? It sounds to us like they're quite parallel.