Reforming Albany: Now, the rest of the story

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

My last column, “Stop playing games with the budget deficit (Feb 3) was written one week before Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state’s comptroller, issued his analysis of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget draft.. The irrationality I outlined fell short of anticipating the following mea-culpa expressed in the current comptroller’s analysis “The SFY 2010-2011 enacted budget relied on $16.7 …

‘Stop playing games with the budget deficit’

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

On April 5, New York state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a report showing that the state has, for decades, masked budget deficits by “shifting funds dedicated to a specific cause or program to provide one-time influxes of cash for the General Fund.” Net result: it is impossible to pin down the state’s real fiscal condition. He stated that every …

Albany’s fiscal crisis and the road to redemption

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

The Aug. 12 issue of the Herald alerted readers that I was a “Man on a Mission” calling for the reform of New York’s dysfunctional state government. Sounds like a promo for one of those serial flicks we used to see as kids on Saturday afternoons. Who is this ‘masked man’ who has the audacity and the tenacity to continually …

The great train robbery: An audit of MTA overtime costs

In Audit Findings by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

As I have mentioned in previous columns, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), with over 71,000 employees, is, without question, the most beleaguered, problem prone and costly public authority operating in New York state. To illustrate how ludicrous, absurd, ridiculous, preposterous, nonsensical, comical, farcical, foolish, stupid, and daft things are, I suggest we start by examining how the MTA has managed …

Cuomo report calls local governments antiquated and inefficient.

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s transition team produced during his campaign a detailed and well- annotated report outlining plans for “Rightsizing Government.” The report’s findings and recommendations reiterates much of what the previous columns in this series have suggested: that New York state’s Public Authorities and agencies “have become too big, too expensive, and too ineffective – an ever proliferating tangle …

An open letter to State Senator Dean Skelos: “With all due respect, prove us wrong!

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

Back in early August, I began to consider writing a series of columns on reforming New York’s dysfunctional state government. Friends and neighbors were not aware of my interest in this subject; others suggested no amount of disclosure could possibly make a difference. After writing five columns, I am surprised to find interest beyond expectation and, at the risk of …

The illusion of reform: What happened to change we can believe in?

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

As I’ve mentioned in my four prior columns, our state authorities and agencies are not sufficiently accountable to the public. In the past decade alone there have been multiple reports by the State Comptroller’s office, governors’ commissions, and public sector watchdog groups about this. Efforts to legislate greater accountability by officials who have focused their attention on authorities have met …

Is New York State Insolvent?

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

As the New York Times reported on Sept. 11, at the insistence of the S.E.C., “New Jersey agreed never again to fraudulently hide its underfunding of the states’ public pension system.” Hide or not, many states (including New York) have invested too little money in public pension funds. This represents a huge hidden liability for both current and future taxpayers. …

High debt and high taxes: Shouldn’t reform follow?

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

It was during the 1930s, in the depth of the deft of the great Depression, that Robert Moses put public authorities on New York state’s map. Hailed at the time as “the man who can get things done,” Moses gained the consent of beleaguered politicians to create public authorities that would capture federal appropriations to restart a stalled economy. Using …

Someone’s gotta do something

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

As mentioned in my prior column, reforming state affairs will be easier said than done, requiring political support across party lines and leadership that has not been evident to date. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver recently commented “New Yorkers are frustrated with their government, with the economy, with politics, with the way things are today.” Not exactly a mea-cupla. Obviously, “Someone’s …