Not sold on Cuomo’s plan to stop corruption!

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

On June 28th, Governor Cuomo, was very pleased to announce the progress made during the past legislative session to “restore New York as the progressive leader of the nation……furthering his work to bring integrity to Albany, and to prove that government can work and produce results for its people.” He also mentioned, as reported in the Herald,  the “corroding influence of money in politics” the resolution of which would not be compromised.

How! Form a commission to probe systemic public corruption and make recommendations that will repair a “broken political process.”

Not everyone is so enthralled. Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New York, offered the following suggestion. If you’re looking to lessen corruption, start with a search at the intersection of “greed and ambition” in Albany. Senate Co-Majority leader Dean Skelos also commented (as noted in the paper’s editorial) that what the governor wants to accomplish could result in a “witch hunt” totally inappropriate.” In a tit for tat moment, he suggested the Legislature might well exercise its’ own might by examining executive branch campaign finance.

We’re dealing with a real paradox. Our elected officials march to the beat of a different drum, while prosecutorial groups are slogging through the debris of public corruption that has resulted in the conviction of one of eleven state legislators during the period 1999-2010 and counting.

Bharara’s comments were made before the Citizens’ Crime Commission back in April.  An India-born, Harvard College and Columbia Law School educated attorney, he chided those in charge for facilitating a wide range of disingenuous activities including compromised legislation, oversight and gaping holes in much promised transparency. The text of his full presentation, titled “More than a Prosecutor’s Problem,” can be found on the web.

I disagree with the editorial referred to above. The commission is not the best hope for a cleaner New York. For one, commissions, to a great extent, regurgitate what we already know about a system of government that is in disrepair; and, not very likely to fix anything that works for their personal benefit. Every incident captured in the conviction of many (not just a few) senator’s,  assemblymen, councilmen and even mayor’s,  tells us more than enough about bad people playing the system for all its worth. Governor Cuomo cannot, in my opinion, relegated leadership responsibility to others. He needs to act, not react. End of story.

The average person on the street, in a poll released by Quinnipiac University made it clear that New York voters have paid attention to the scandals and are not pleased. Two-thirds described state government as dysfunctional. A plurality of voters agreed that “almost everyone” in the Senate and Assembly should be thrown out in a legislative housecleaning (including their own representatives) and, that Governor Cuomo in particular has done a “lackluster job” in cleaning up corruption.

I will do my best to track how this all sorts out. Back to more basic stuff. The Governor has never reacted to my challenge concerning perceived SAGE Commission savings (G-o-l-l-y 5/9/13) and; he has also completely insulated himself from any discussion of pension funding shortfall obligations.(Our Exploding Pension Costs 3/25/13). Oh well. He did suggest when he set up the new commission “the people of the state should sleep better tonight.” 


Leave a Comment