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corruption

  • Vote ‘Yes’ on Question 2 and Send Albany a Message

    de blasio town hall

    (photo: Edwin J. Torres/NYC Mayor's Office)


    This Election Day, New Yorkers have an opportunity to vote for ethics in government. You won’t see the words “anti-corruption” or “integrity” on the ballot, but make no mistake – these essential elements of trust in government are at the core of Ballot Proposal 2, which will be put before voters on November 7.

    Proposal 2 -- which can be found on the back of your ballot

    There Will Be Three Big Questions on Your Ballot in November

    voting election ballot proposals

    Voting (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


    A state constitutional amendment slightly loosening stringent environmental protections in the Adirondacks and Catskills in certain cases will be on the ballot this fall, the state Board of Elections announced this week.

    The legislation, which has passed through two consecutive sessions of the Legislature in order to make it onto the ballot, allows for select infrastructure projects deemed necessary for the safety and economic vitality of nearby areas to be installed without a

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  • Cuomo Contradicts Bharara on Prosecutors & Government Oversight

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    Gov. Cuomo at a recent cabinet meeting (Governor's Office on flickr)


    At a rare cabinet meeting at the Capitol on February 28, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that prosecutors already provide sufficient independent oversight over the state’s economic development programs.

    “You do have independent oversight,” said Cuomo, a second-term Democrat, when asked about calls to increase checks from outside his purview on state programs at the center of federal corruption charges. “That’s called 62 district attorneys, an attorney general, U.S.

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  • Donald Trump, New York Corruption & A Loss of Faith in Institutions

    al smith dinner 1

    The 2016 Al Smith Dinner


    Public trust in Washington began diminishing under President Lyndon Johnson over the course of the 1964 presidential election and the escalation of war in Vietnam. Watergate ushered in a new era of distrust in government in the United States as the country’s top elected office was compromised. By 1974, public trust in government dipped below 40 percent for the first time since such records had been kept. 

    As with

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  • It's Time for Wholesale Ethics Reform

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    Sen. Todd Kaminsky, the author (photo: @toddkaminsky)


    The headline is the same. The names are interchangeable.

    And yet, the laws and attitudes stay the same.

    The most recent indictment of Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto should serve as a wakeup call to elected officials and taxpayers alike. The corruption within our governments is pervasive and isn’t going anywhere until we implement comprehensive ethics reform. No one is above the law.

    Having put away both corrupt Democrats and Republicans as a former

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  • Federal Corruption Charges Confirm Systemic Flaws in State Economic Development System

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    Cuomo in Buffalo (photo via The Governor's Office on Flickr)


    After laying out multiple corruption and bribery charges against nine players involved with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development program, including his former aide and close friend Joe Percoco, family friend and confidante Todd Howe, and a number of major developers and Cuomo donors, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara refused to say whether the governor is a target in the probe or if it is reasonable to hold him accountable for the conduct of the people he empowered.

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  • Corruption in Albany: Will Anything Really Change?

    Cuomo 2016 State of the State side stage

    Gov. Cuomo (photo via The Governor's Office on Flickr)


    Can legal restrictions halt corruption in the state Legislature? History suggests that they are necessary but limited.

    A new ethics law, more of the same
    Several state legislators have been charged with corrupt practices in recent years and the leaders of both houses of the Legislature found guilty of violating federal laws. Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos are headed to prison unless their appeals succeed. The

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  • Former Informant, Out; Candidate Indicted on Voter Fraud, In

    Hector Ramirez petitioning

    Hector Ramirez petitioning in the Bronx (photo via Facebook)


    Bronx Assemblymember Victor Pichardo will no longer be facing former Assemblymember Nelson Castro, a onetime federal informant who helped dig up dirt on fellow electeds in an attempt to reduce charges he was facing for election-related perjury, in the upcoming Democratic primary.

    Instead, Pichardo will again be

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  • Should Everything Silver and Skelos Touched Be Reviewed?

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    Skelos, Cuomo, Silver (l-r) (photo via The Governor's Office, Jan. 2015)


    Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were each told by their judge during recent prison sentencing that their corrupt actions have increased public cynicism around state government. Their corrupt actions, they were told, make people question what might have been different in the budgets and policy deals they negotiated, government decision-making that impacted millions. Judge Kimba Wood told Skelos we “can’t know” how his budget advocacy would

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  • Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r) (photo via The Governor's Office)


    "Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform," said Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking on NY1 on Jan. 3. "We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven't done enough. And I'm going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etcetera."

    While the governor

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  • Questioning Importance, Council Members Spend Limited Time at Hearings

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    Council Member Van Bramer starts a hearing (photo: @JimmyVanBramer)


    On March 1, at perhaps the most important City Council hearing of the year, just three of the finance committee’s eleven members were present when the session began. The Council’s first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82 billion fiscal year 2017 preliminary budget began nine minutes after its scheduled time, at 10:09 a.m., more prompt than typical Council hearings. The City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, arrived three minutes later, just after the finance chair, Council Member

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  • Heastie Outlines Assembly Ethics Plan

    heastie inauguration

    Carl Heastie (photo: Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)


    In a major departure from his predecessor, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie publicly laid out his conference's proposals for government ethics reform during a wide-ranging speech and interview Friday morning. At a breakfast event hosted by Crain's New York Business, Heastie explained the proposals for preventing government corruption that will be contained in the Assembly's one-house budget, the release of which is key to intensifying negotiations with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority

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  • Bharara Visits Capital He Upended

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    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (photo: @SDNYnews)


    For the last year a siege mentality has dominated the New York state capitol. And in some respect, Albany, or at least the political denizens who dwell within the capitol, does appear to be very much in the cross hairs of a conquering army headed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The main roads into town feature digital billboards flashing entreaties from the FBI urging New Yorkers to "REPORT CORRUPTION," along with a number for

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  • New York One Signature Away from Calling for Overturn of Citizens United

    nys

    (photo: nysenate.gov)


    In a landmark year for corruption in the state legislature, 2015 saw the arrest and conviction of two of the most powerful political leaders in New York. A crescendo of voices across the state -- from good government watchdogs to lawmakers -- expressed outrage and demanded stronger ethics laws and campaign finance reforms. In one sense, Albany now has the opportunity to put its money where its mouth is -- and all it needs is one signature.  

    New York is one signatory away from becoming the 17th state in the country to

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  • The Week That Was in New York Politics, Nov 30-Dec 4

    week in review bus readers

    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday December 4, 2015

    PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Sheldon Silver outside the courthouse, via Zack Fink of NY1

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  • Will Silver Conviction Be Tipping Point for 'Real' Reform?

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    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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  • Top Ten Corruption Quotes from Silver, Skelos Trials

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    Happier times: Silver, Cuomo, Skelos in 2011 (l-r) photo via Governor's Office on flickr 


    Two former leaders of their respective houses of the New York state legislature are on trial concurrently. In separate cases brought by the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, each is accused of using his office for private gain, among other charges. While the case against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon

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  • Do New York Elected Officials Deserve A Raise?

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    Mayor de Blasio along the parade route (photo: @BilldeBlasio)


    What should the mayor of New York City be paid each year? How much should City Council members be paid? Do elected officials deserve incremental raises each year?

    Or, maybe elected officials are overpaid as it is?

    Some, like New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, think higher government salaries would entice “better” people into public service, meaning smarter and more honest officials.

    A host of questions have

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  • Newest Prison Sentences Remind of Limited Movement on Even Agreed Upon Reforms

    Heastie Cuomo Flanagan

    Albany leaders (photo: The Governor's Office via flickr)


    Last week, two former New York State Assembly Democrats were sentenced in federal corruption cases. While the punishment bestowed upon each may warn current lawmakers to toe ethical lines, progress on concrete reforms aimed at curbing the type of behavior that landed William Boyland Jr. and William Scarborough in prison has been slow to materialize.

    Boyland Jr., of Brooklyn, received 14

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  • Despite Unprecedented Scandal, Calls for Special Ethics Session Fall on Deaf Ears

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    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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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, July 27

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    BIDEN IN NY: Monday starts off with a bang as Vice President Joe Biden is in New York, first events with Governor Andrew Cuomo in Rochester, then New York City. According to Cuomo's office,  Biden and Cuomo will appear at 11 a.m. at SUNY Polytechnic Canal Ponds in Rochester, where they "will deliver remarks on the economy" and then at 2:45 at the Sheraton New York on 7th Avenue, Biden and

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  • The Week That Was in New York Politics, July 20-24

    week in review bus readers

    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday July 24

    PHOTO OF THE WEEK: the capitol office of former State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, scrubbed of his name after he was convicted of lying to the FBI, ...

  • Cuomo Waves Left with Executive Actions, Is Met with Shrugs

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    Cuomo at Wednesday's rally (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    On Wednesday, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo streamed live video of the wage board he convened as its members recommended a multi-year plan to phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers across the state. As the meeting ended the same stream cut to a jubilant rally in New York City. In stark contrast to previous

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  • Schneiderman's Evolution on Ethics

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    AG Schneiderman (photo via AG's flickr account)


    Scandal fatigue hit Attorney General Eric Schneiderman differently than it hit Governor Andrew Cuomo and leaders of the state legislature.

    Conventional wisdom is that the arrest and indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver earlier this year sent shockwaves through Albany. And yet as far as ethics reforms go, the result of the indictment of the man many saw as the most powerful man in "the room," a man who controlled the Assembly for over two decades, was

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  • John Flanagan's Senate Campaign Finance: The Full Picture

    Flanagan via Senate website

    John Flanagan (photo: Senate website)


    John Flanagan, Republican state Senator, is now Temporary President and Majority Leader in Albany's upper chamber. He replaces Dean Skelos in leadership following the fellow Long Island senator's arrest on
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