Cuomo will have no trouble finding new muck mates*

In From the Desk Of by Hal Peterson0 Comments

The ar­rest of Ske­los on Mon­day, less than three months af­ter Sil­ver also was busted on fed­eral charges, neuters the lead­ers of both par­ties in both houses of the Leg­is­la­ture. The Em­pire State was never a bas­tion for the pure of heart, but the twin take­downs make this an era of his­toric ve­nal­ity. Still, to call the ar­rests shock­ing wouldn’t be ac­cu­rate. Inevitable is ­more like it.

You could smell the rot of Al­bany around the coun­try. And with Ske­los and Sil­ver hav­ing a to­tal lock on ev­ery ac­tion and non- action, there was no way to be­lieve they were run­ning clean houses. Cuomo once ac­cused me of be­liev­ing that “all politi­cians are cor­rupt.” Well, well, where did I ever get such a cock­eyed idea? In truth, I don’t be­lieve all politi­cians are cor­rupt. Just most of those in Al­bany, along with a smat­ter­ing here, there and ev­ery­where else.

Al­bany is dif­fer­ent in all the worst ways. Cor­rup­tion there is not a side gig, it’s the heart of the mat­ter. Some pols have been busted in their first terms, mean­ing they went there pre­cisely to steal. Others did it slowly, learn­ing from the mas­ter kick-back­ers one con at a time. As the string of nearly 40 in­dict­ments and con­vic­tions shows, leg­is­la­tion, reg­u­la­tions, taxes, spend­ing, the bud­get — they’ve all been dis­torted so the crooked pols could get a cut of the ac­tion.

It’s a cesspool of self-­deal­ing, where al­most noth­ing is done on the mer­its. Scores of so ­called char­i­ties have been cre­ated for the sole pur­pose of loot­ing tax­payer money. Of all the sky ­high taxes New York­ers pay, the cor­rup­tion tax is the most galling. The real cost of gov­ern­ment is grossly in­flated when the toll tak­ers are on the take. The Ske­los charges are typ­i­cal. They al­lege he was “mon­e­tiz­ing” his of­fice by sell­ing fa­vors to var­i­ous in­ter­ests and cor­po­ra­tions, pri­mar­ily to get money for his son. He should have just told the kid to get a real job. But that’s not the Al­bany way. What’s the point of power if you don’t abuse it?

Think of what it must be like in the cap­i­tal for an hon­est per­son, leg­is­la­tor or bu­reau­crat. Wher­ever you look, some­body is on the take. Some role mod­els, some peer pres­sure. That pat­tern helps to ex­plain why New York has such lousy gov­ern­ment. If you were a man or woman of in­tegrity and tal­ent, but knew you would have to fall in line be­hind party lead­ers like Sil­ver and Ske­los, would you run for of­fice or even work in the cap­i­tal? Hell, you could get the same ex­pe­ri­ence by jump­ing in the Gowanus Canal!

There is, how­ever, one of­fi­cial who emerges from this muck smelling like a rose — Preet Bharara. Not since Rudy Gi­u­liani cleaned out the sta­bles of City Hall 30 years ago has there been a Gotham pros­e­cu­tor brave enough to take on the Big Boys. Back then, it was Don­ald Manes and a slew of dirty pols and shady busi­ness­men who had made whole ar­eas of city gov­ern­ment their pri­vate thing.

Now it’s Al­bany and it’s Bharara, who has Gi­u­liani’s old job as head of the leg­endary South­ern District. He’s a bull­dozer in a china shop, and thank God for him. He’s also been in­cred­i­bly ar­tic­u­late about the need for New York­ers to get mad as hell and not take it any­more. Now it’s Al­bany and it’s Bharara, who has Gi­u­liani’s old job as head of the leg­endary South­ern District. He’s a bull­dozer in a china shop, and thank God for him. He’s also been in­cred­i­bly ar­tic­u­late about the need for New York­ers to get mad as hell and not take it any­more.

As for Cuomo, he came into of­fice vow­ing to throw the bums out, ended up em­brac­ing Sil­ver and Ske­los, and now he’s cov­ered in mud. What can he be think­ing? Do tell, lucky fly on the wall, do tell.

New York Post- May 5, 2015-  by Michael Goodwin

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