JCOPE Tag All blog entries tagged as JCOPE http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/latest Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:36:14 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Silver Names Judge to State Ethics Panel http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/31/silver-names-judge-to-state-ethics-panel http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/31/silver-names-judge-to-state-ethics-panel Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has named Judge Renee R. Roth to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The move comes after the sudden resignation of another of Silver's appointees to the commission.

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The ethics panel announced that Pat Bulgaro had submitted his resignation by letter during their meeting yesterday. The panel would not say when the letter was sent and Bulgaro did not give a reason for his departure.

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Silver and his appointees on JCOPE have been the subject of intense scrutiny following the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal. A number of good government groups and legislators called for JCOPE to investigate Silver's handling of the matter given the fact that Silver settled one complaint against Lopez in secret. Instead, it appears JCOPE looked only at Lopez's behavior.

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Silver's appointees could have voted to block an investigation into their boss but JCOPE's actions are not subject to public meeting laws, so only JCOPE knows and they aren't talking.

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Silver is supposed to file paperwork declaring any professional or personal relationship he might have with Roth.

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Here is more on Roth's background from Silver's office:

A graduate of Fordham Law School and the City College of New York, Judge Roth began her career as a Law Assistant – Referee for Surrogate’s Court in King’s County and subsequently presided over the New York County Surrogate Court from 1983 to 2008.

Judge Roth is employed of Counsel for the law firm of McLaughlin & Stern, LLP. In addition, Judge Roth currently acts as a Judicial Hearing Officer for the New York State Supreme Court, and holds a long-time position as adjunct professor for Fordham University School of Law. Judge Roth is also the Chair of the Surrogate’s Court Advisory Committee of the Office of Court Administration.

She previously served as a member of the Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections; Trustee of St. Francis College; Member of Women’s Forum, Inc.; Member of New York Task Force on Permanency Planning for Children; Board Member of the National Association for the furtherance of Jewish Education; and President of City College Alumni Association.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 31 Jul 2013 20:39:33 +0000
NY Legislative Leaders Make Big Bucks In Outside Income http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/03/ny-legislative-leaders-make-big-bucks-in-outside-income http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/03/ny-legislative-leaders-make-big-bucks-in-outside-income

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has lifted the veil on how legislators make their outside income and, perhaps, where their loyalties lie. Legislators all make a salary of $79,500 a year for their work and are reimbursed for travel. Many also earn stipends for their positions on committees.

The filings drawing the most interest from journalists and advocates are from legislative leaders who are also known to work for law firms — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and Independent Democratic Conference head Jeff Klein.

According to his filings, Silver makes at least $350,000 and up to $450,000 a year as council at Weiz & Luxenberg. Silver has long been criticized for acting in the interest of trial lawyers.

Silver was recently attacked for killing changes to the citys' scaffolding law that would have allowed juries to consider whether the action of workers had any impact on accidents. Current law puts the onus on the shoulders of the building owners and contractors. The changes were seen as detrimental to trial lawyers.

Skelos pulls down $150,000 to $250,000 a year as council for Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. The law firm recently set up a lobbying branch.

Klein earns between $50,000 and $75,000 a year in guaranteed payments from his law firm Klein Calderoni & Santucci LLP.

Legislators' investments and properties are also catalogued in the filings.

Silver reports having major investments in JP Morgan, Anheuser Busch, IBM, Hasbro, Disney and AOL. He also earned between $150,000 and $250,000 from the sale of Ford stock.

Skelos owns stock in AIG, Citigroup, JetBlue and others.

Other interesting investments include that of Sen. High Farley of Schenectady. Farley heads the Senate's Banking Committee and owns up to $75,000 in shares of Trustco Bank, which is headquartered in his district.

We will be pouring over these disclosures for the rest of the day. Feel free to join us and comment if you see anything that sticks out!

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 03 Jul 2013 17:13:47 +0000
Today's Headlines: Silver Moves to Oust Lopez http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/headlines/2013/05/17/todays-headlines-silver-moves-to-oust-lopez http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/headlines/2013/05/17/todays-headlines-silver-moves-to-oust-lopez

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced he is moving to expel Assemblyman Vito Lopez last night. Silver, facing a firestorm of criticism for his office's handling of the Lopez sexual harassment scandal is looking to take decisive action as soon as Monday. Silver refused to expel Lopez last year as the scandal broke but stripped Lopez of his seniority and committee assignments. Now, with more criticism focused on his office following the release of the Joint Commission on Public Ethic's damning report, Silver says he plans to introduce a resolution that according to his spokesman Michael Whyland will be, "voted on Monday to ask the Ethics & Guidance Committee to consider the full JCOPE report and to recommend appropriate sanctions including expulsion of Assemblymember Lopez." Earlier Thursday Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters the Assembly shouldconsider expelling Lopez. “The reaction from the legislature should be zero tolerance,” Cuomo said. “If he doesn't resign, he should be expelled.”


Other Stories We're Following

City to Sell Councilwoman's Debt to Collectors (Daily News)

Voting Machine Firm Offers City Help in Upcoming Election (Daily News)

Lopez's Girlfriend Sticks With Her man (Daily News)

De Blasio Offers Plan to Help Immigrants Assimilate (NY Times)

Quinn Attacks Thompson For D'Amato Cash (NY Times)

How Much Did Andrew Cuomo Make This Year? (Albany Times Union)

MTA Relying on Plywood, Sandbags For Hurricane Season (Daily News)

Suit Claims City's Gifted and Talented Selection Process is Flawed (Wall Street Journal)

Hakeem Jeffries Questions Eric Holder on Stop and Frisk (DNAinfo)

NYC Unemployment Rate Hits 4-Year Low (Crain's)

Rockaways A-Train Service to be Restored This Month (Crain's)

Squadron's Consultants Say He's Got The Money Edge In Public Advocate Race (Capital)

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Fri, 17 May 2013 11:35:27 +0000
Who Is NY State Sen. John Sampson? http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/06/who-is-ny-state-sen-john-sampson http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/06/who-is-ny-state-sen-john-sampson

Who is state Sen. John Sampson? This morning, everyone knows Sampson as the man who turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to face multiple charges for embezzling money he was in charge of as a lawyer to fund his ill-fated run for Brooklyn District Attorney.

But Samspon has long been a player in Albany, and rumors of corruption have swirled around him for years.

Elected to his seat in 1996, Sampson has worked as an attorney for Alter & Barbaro, Esqs., since 1994. For a while Sampson was the answer for all the Senate Democrats' problems and became one of the most powerful men in Albany.

In 2009, during the Senate coup, the Democratic conference elevated Sampson to conference leader (a position that had previously not existed) in a bid to return Sens. Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada to the fold.

Sampson's time as a leader of a majority conference was brief; Democrats lost their majority in 2010.

Sampson later faced scandal relating to bid-rigging at the Aqueduct Casino. Reports and rumorshave swirled around Albany for years about Sampson's involvement in securing Aqueduct Entertainment Group win a lucrative contract to run the Aqueduct Casino. The Inspector General rescinded the bid, alleging favoritism and Genting eventually won the contract.

Sampson promised an investigation into the bidding process in 2010 but the report has still not been made public.

In December 2011, Sampson as Senate Minority Leader named Ravi Batra to serve as his pick on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Sampson was required to fill out a form disclosing his relationship with Batra. Sampson failed to note that he was "of council" to Batra's law firm. Batra was already known as a controversial figure and his appointment drew the concern of many of Sampson's colleagues.

Late last year, Senate Democrats replaced Sampson as Minority Leader with Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Some saw the move as an effort to put a clean new face on the Democratic Conference in the hope that the Independent Democratic Conference and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would take them more seriously.

Today Sampson was stripped of all his committees and his seniority by Stewart-Cousins.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Mon, 06 May 2013 17:53:00 +0000
State Ethics Panel Threatens to Release Vito Lopez Report http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/04/30/state-ethics-panel-threatens-to-release-vito-lopez-report http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/04/30/state-ethics-panel-threatens-to-release-vito-lopez-report The Joint Commission on Public Ethics released a statement threatening to make the findings of their investigation into disgraced Brooklyn powerbroker and Assemblyman Vito Lopez public.

JCOPE has been looking into the scandal involving sexual harassment allegations against Lopez that led Speaker Sheldon Silver to pay out a settlement to Lopez's accusers and eventually strip Lopez of his legislative perks. JCOPE finished its investigation and forwarded it to the Legislative Ethics Commission according to the law so that they can measure punishment for Lopez and possibly Silver.

But Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan requested earlier this year that the Legislative Ethics Commission refrain from releasing the report as he continues a criminal investigation into Lopez. But JCOPE isn't interested in waiting. JCOPE has been accused of being a toothless watchdog in the past weeks as legislative corruption scandals have bloomed.

The ethics panel says it will go ahead and release its findings if the Legislative Ethics Commission doesn't.

Here is JCOPE's statement:

In February, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics issued a Substantial Basis Investigation Report to the Legislative Ethics Commission for its review under Legislative Law §80. Pursuant to statutory mandate, if the Legislative Ethics Commission should fail to do so, the Joint Commission shall release the report in its entirety after the ongoing 90-day period provided for under law.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Tue, 30 Apr 2013 21:22:18 +0000
Cuomo Floats Yet Another Idea for Special Session Past Fred Dicker http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/10/25/cuomo-floats-yet-another-idea-for-special-session-past-fred-dicker- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/10/25/cuomo-floats-yet-another-idea-for-special-session-past-fred-dicker-

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to his official radio show this morning to have host Fred Dicker vet his latest policy ideas, including possible reforms to the state's ethics panel. Cuomo said he wants a,“campaign finance reform special session, and a JOPE reform special session.”

JCOPE was signed into law last Summer and only started functioning this past winter and yet reforming the organization is already on tap.

Cuomo has been floating a series of ideas for a special session of the state Legislature that is expected to take place in November, including pay raises for legislators even though legislators are doing their best to convey just how horrible an idea they think pay raises would be.

Other possible ideas include a minimum wage hike, making the Legislature subject to Freedom of Information Laws, strengthening gun laws, decriminalizing certain amounts of marijuana and somehow reforming public financing of campaigns.

“We have a legislative agenda that has not been passed, which is the priority for me,” Cuomo said earlier this month at a graduation of the newest class of State Troopers. “If there is an opportunity for the Legislature to act, I’m going to be looking for them to act on the people’s agenda. I understand they may have an interest in a pay raise. I’m interested in a people’s agenda and that’s what the session would be about.“

Cuomo has spent successive Thursday mornings regailing the New York Post's state government editor with possible policy positions relating to the rumored special session. The Thursday morning radio show hosted by The New York Post's state government editor has long been Cuomo's favorite venue for floating policy balloons and then gauging public reaction.

The show has become such a fixture that the governor's offcial website now features an alert at the top of the homepage telling people to tune in to the station.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Thu, 25 Oct 2012 16:35:47 +0000
Groups Call for Investigation Into 'Culture of Sexual Harassment' in Albany http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/10/11/groups-call-for-investigation-into-culture-of-sexual-harassment-in-albany http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/10/11/groups-call-for-investigation-into-culture-of-sexual-harassment-in-albany

The National Organization for Women and Common Cause New York rallied today to call for a broader investigation into the "culture of sexual harassment in Albany."

The groups outlined a list of expectations for the Joint Commission on Public Ethic's investigation into the Assembly's handling of the Assemblyman Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.

"JCOPE has an opportunity to prove itself by conducting a real investigation which reveals how pervasive the problem is, whether other instances of sexual harassment were properly addressed as well as bringing forth the full facts of who knew what and when they knew it. A hurried report which fails to address the full scope of the Assembly, and Mr. Lopez's, wrong doing is unacceptable," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, in a statement.

Its unclear at the moment how far JCOPE's investigation will go into the sexual harassment scandal, but a spokesman for the commission told the Wall Street Journal that the probe would be thorough.

”As with any investigation undertaken by the Joint Commission, the evidence is followed wherever it may lead," spokesman John Milgrim said.

Good government groups want an investigation into how Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver handled the settlement with Lopez's accusers, but confidentiality rules prevent JCOPE from detailing whom they are investigating.

Silver said yesterday that he had not been interviewed for the investigation. The speaker faced a lawsuit for tolerating a culture of sexual harassment in the Assembly in 2004 after one of his aides was accused of rape.

Here are the "expectations" NOW and Common Cause/NY have for JCOPE's investigation:

The investigation should be broad in scope in order to determine the duration and extent of Mr. Lopez's actions and the Assembly's responses to any extended course of misconduct. Sexual harassment is rarely an isolated incident, and this holds true in the case of Mr. Lopez where two sets of victims have already come forward with credible claims. News reports have suggested that Mr. Lopez has long operated with impunity and the public deserves accurate information addressing concerns that there may have been additional instances of misconduct, and if so, how they were addressed by the Assembly.

The investigation should be specific, covering in detail any and all acts perpetrated. The language of sexual harassment is too often vague and fails to paint an accurate picture of the abuse. Assembly Speaker Silver's letter of censure was quite detailed; this should be the model for JCOPE.

JCOPE should issue a report that clearly identifies who knew what, when they knew it and what they did about it. Due to the secretive manner in which the Assembly conducted itself, the public requires a full airing of the facts.

Assembly Speaker Silver, and Assembly Staff (past and present), must be held responsible for their role as appropriate under the Assembly's established policies on sexual harassment and ethics and the law. There must be recourse, which demonstrates that there are not two sets of rules: one of the powerful and well connected, and one for everyone else. Sexual harassment is a systemic problem, which must be pro-actively addressed by all employers and by the justice system. Cultural apathy is what creates the environment that allows sexual harassment to exist. It is unacceptable for political interests to be prioritized over the economic needs and safety of female employees.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Thu, 11 Oct 2012 21:58:19 +0000
Today's Lead Stories: Expansion of Lopez investigation; climate change; 9/11 museum agreement http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/11/todays-lead-stories-expansion-of-lopez-investigation-climate-change-911-museum-agreement http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/11/todays-lead-stories-expansion-of-lopez-investigation-climate-change-911-museum-agreement

In response to criticism of its initially limited investigation into the sexual harassment scandal, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics has expanded its probe beyond Assemblyman Vito Lopez to include Assembly Speaker Silver, Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli. The decision was made in private as prescribed by law and gleaned from the subjects of the investigation. But board members wanted to publicly counter claims that there were attempts to block certain investigations. Gov. Cuomo has said he is open to some changes in the board and also said he'd form his own commission to probe the matter if the board fails.

More stories in the press:

New York is lagging as seas and risks rise, critics warn

Officials reach agreement on 9/11 Memorial Museum

On heels of criticism, elections board tests new election night closing process

Investigators tapped city comptroller's phone starting two years ago

Ethnic politics in the mix in crowded Flushing Assembly primary

Video of police assault may play lead role in lawsuit

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mmuller@gothamgazette.com (Mike Muller) City Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:19:19 +0000
Today's Lead Stories: Lopez scandal; homeless children; 9/11 cancer link http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/09/10/todays-lead-stories-lopez-scandal-homeless-children-911-cancer-link http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/09/10/todays-lead-stories-lopez-scandal-homeless-children-911-cancer-link

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics may be considering an expansion of their probe into Assemblyman Vito Lopez's sexual harassment suit. Ravi Batra, a member of the commission, quit over the weekend, claiming the board had no independence. He also said good government groups were more concerned with Albany access than real reform. The attorney general and comptroller have been playing down their roles in the settlement. Also, a new accuser - who is also a candidate for State Senate - says she was the victim of sexual harassment when she worked in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

More stories in the press:

Number of children in city's homeless shelters hits 19,000

Feds ready to recognize 9/11 cancer link

Ex-speaker spared $400,000 in lobbying fines

Big city projects on back burner since the attacks

Teacher grading off to uneven start

Family of bodega worker killed by NYPD wants grand jury investigation

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mmuller@gothamgazette.com (Mike Muller) State Mon, 10 Sep 2012 12:24:06 +0000
Ethics panel to look into scandal surrounding Lopez http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/05/ethics-panel-to-probe-lopez http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/city/2012/09/05/ethics-panel-to-probe-lopez

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted yesterday to open a formal investigation into the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Assemblyman Vito Lopez, according to The Post. But there could be a delay in that probe if prosecutors ask the board to wait until they are finished with their own investigation. Meanwhile, Lopez derided Assembly Speaker Silver's call for him to resign 'self serving.'

In the Press...

Lunch trays got too lean in city’s fight against fat (NY Times)

Map: City Council prepares for redistricting (WNYC)

Activists call for more Latino and Asian-American council districts (Daily News)

If this Brooklyn kingmaker is asking, saying no is a risky option (NY Times)

Powerful but poorly understood, Brooklyn county party chair is seat to have (WNYC)

Race for 80th Assembly District in Bronx heats up with scandal and mudslinging (Daily News)

Searching for answers after violence mars parade (NY Times)

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webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Administrator) City Wed, 05 Sep 2012 12:37:37 +0000