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Citizens Union

Citizens Union

  • sheldon silver conviction

    Sheldon Silver in 2012 (photo via the Governor's Office)


    Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, thought to be the most powerful man in New York state government for decades, was found guilty Monday on seven counts of corruption in multiple schemes to monetize the power of his office. During the trial Silver's own defense attorney insisted that Albany itself was on trial and claimed that Silver's behavior was business as usual in Albany,

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  • de blasio mark-viverito council members

    The Mayor, Speaker, & Council members (Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    Attendance was notably sparse at the first public hearing of the commission charged with making recommendations around compensation for city elected officials.

    Fewer than fifteen people, about half of whom were journalists, went to Brooklyn Law School on November 23 for the Quadrennial Advisory Commission hearing to collect input from the public. Four people testified to urge

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  • cuomo silver skelos 2011

    L-R: Silver, Cuomo & Skelos in 2011 (photo via the governor's office) 


    New York's leading good government groups gathered at Manhattan's Foley Square Wednesday to call on the New York State legislature and the governor to take immediate action to reform public ethics laws. The press conference, held in the shadows of a federal courthouse where one of New York’s most

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  • voter registration via NYC Votes

    Voter registration efforts (photo: @NYCVotes)


    On Tuesday morning - Election Day - in Manhattan's Foley Square, a large group of New Yorkers will hold a rally, kicking off a campaign to address two of New York's enduring problems: voting access and voter turnout.

    While New York City voters go to the polls Tuesday to fill vacant City Council, District Attorney, and state legislative seats, as well as to vote for judges, a coalition of advocates and activists, including good government and community groups, ...

  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Mayor Bill de Blasio was in Israel over the weekend, where he spoke at the Annual Conference of Mayors, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visited recent terror attack victims, and made several other stops, including at the Western Wall and at a school educating a diverse student population. De Blasio spoke against a new wave of anti-Semitism and ...

  • cuomo parade banner

    The governor's office, on the march (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The 2011 law that created the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) to be the top ethics watchdog in the state contained a proviso that the body would be periodically reviewed to find ways to improve its functioning. That mandate fell upon the New York Ethics Review Commission, more commonly known as the JCOPE review commission, which held its first-ever public hearing on Wednesday at New York Law School in downtown Manhattan.

    The forum was sparsely attended with barely 20 people

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  • john sampson

    Recently convicted former Sen. John Sampson (photo: @SampsonVictory)


    It would reason to think that the conviction of two legislative leaders would lead to a flurry of anti-corruption activity in any state capital. But in Albany, where the new normal appears to involve multiple convictions and indictments of sitting lawmakers every year, last week's crime blotter appears to have barely turned a head. The convictions of Republican Senate Deputy Leader Tom Libous and Democratic Sen. John Sampson, a former Majority Leader, on

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  • bratton bdb policing plan

    NYPD Commissioner Bratton at a recent announcement (photo: @CommissBratton)


    Just one day after NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton resisted calls from City Council members pushing police reform legislation — which followed the news that 1297 new officers will be added

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  • Cuomo Heastie Flanagan

    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (L-R) (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    In the Democrat-controlled Assembly, it was 122-13; in the Republican-controlled Senate, 47-12. With those votes and a Governor Andrew Cuomo signature, a final policy package brought an underwhelming end to a tumultuous 2015 legislative session in New York's capital. 

    Look at ...

  • AG

    AG Schneiderman at Tweed Courthouse on Wednesday (Ben Max)


    Standing on the steps of Manhattan's Tweed Courthouse, surrounded by activists, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman unveiled a legislative package Wednesday that is designed to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers who have written off negotiating ethics reform this year despite the arrest of two of the most powerful men in Albany on corruption charges.

    "I'm done vouching for incremental reforms," Schneiderman announced to cheers from the gathered crowd on the steps of

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  • squadron podium

    Sen. Daniel Squadron (photo: @DanielSquadron)


    On Tuesday the state Assembly passed a bill to close the controversial LLC loophole at the center of the federal corruption cases against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both men - a Democrat and a Republican, respectively - were recently arrested and subsequently stepped down from their powerful leadership posts. Later in the evening Tuesday, the Senate’s version of the bill to close the loophole that allows money

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  • cuomo side

    Gov. Cuomo (photo: @NYGovCuomo)


    Last March Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Now, a little more than a year later, both legislative leaders have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of federal corruption. Surrounded by scandal, it isn't immediately clear what the governor can or will do next. One thing that is sure, though, is that the worse Albany looks, the worse Cuomo looks.

    After

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  • dromm kallos

    CMs Dromm, middle, and Kallos, right, have intro'd reform bills (photo: William Alatriste)


    At a hearing of the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations Thursday, issues of community board function will be taken up through bills to introduce term limits for board members and to add professional urban planners to board staff.

    The term-limit bill, introduced

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  • bric panel

    Panel at BRIC event (photo: Ben Max)


    BROOKLYN - An expert group was called together Thursday night in Brooklyn for a town hall on the influence of big money on politics and to answer questions about what can be done to fix a system that virtually all in attendance agreed is broken.

    Hosted by

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  • stringer audit presser

    Comptroller Stringer at a recent press conference (photo: @scottmstringer)


    In February, Comptroller Scott Stringer declared that his office's online City-spending tracking tool, Checkbook NYC, would start providing information about subcontracts handed out by prime vendors working with the City. The push to publicly display what is billions of dollars of often

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  • Cuomo Nolan

    Gov. Cuomo & AM Nolan shake on an ethics deal (photo: the Governor's Office via flickr)


    The arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was supposed to spark the moment for true reform in Albany. It felt to many a simultaneously shocking and galvanizing event, strong enough to splinter, if not destroy the dam, allowing the flow of real discussion about regulating lawyer-legislators, loopholes allowing unlimited LLC donations to candidates, and conflicts of interest. It was a time for bold

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  • Schneiderman
    AG Schneiderman speaking Monday night (photo: Ben Max)


    NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday inserted himself squarely in the debate on ethics reforms by proposing a slate of measures that would tackle the culture of corruption in Albany.

    "Corruption has been a feature of government in the Empire State for a long time," said Schneiderman at a forum hosted at New York Law School by good government group Citizens Union. Speaking to an auditorium of about 200 people and others watching a livestream, the

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  • New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will again be dominated by budget negotiations - especially in Albany, where a budget is due by the end of the month, which is rapidly approaching. In New York City, City Council hearings will continue on Mayor Bill de Blasio's preliminary fiscal year 2016 budget - once those hearings wrap up at the end of the month, the Council will craft its response to de Blasio, negotiations will continue, and the mayor

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