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The arrests of two state lawmakers on federal corruption charges last week were unwelcome reminders that New York is among the nation’s go-to destinations for political scandal, graft and greed. They also helped to remind New Yorkers about how difficult it is to stop unscrupulous lawmakers from violating the public trust.
Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group tells the Gotham Gazette that some progress has been made in recent years in preventing corruption in Albany, but that the entire culture of the capital is to blame. To stem the tide of corruption, reformers have called for changes to the state campaign finance system (modeled after the city's much-lauded system) and expanding the power of the state attorney general to investigate public corruption.
One Republican consultant said the city's campaign finance system shouldn't be a model because it is too easy to game (Newsday). Meanwhile, some commentators are blaming Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to push hard enough for reforms. "At best, the governor made no impact on public integrity among New York’s native criminal class," wrote columnist Michael Goodwin in The New York Post over the weekend.
The Wall Street Journal reports in a story based on anonymous sources that the Cuomo administration is considering new policy remedies. Fred Dickers writes in the Post that the Cuomo administration is weighing whether to oust Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver over the scandals.
Read more about what some reformers are calling for on the Gotham Gazette.
GAS DRILLING: Gov. Andrew Cuomo was about to give the go-ahead to allow drilling for natural gas in New York using the contentious process known as hydraulic fracturing — until conversations with environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., convinced him to hold off, The Associated Press reported Saturday.
TEEN PREGNANCY ADS: A new public information campaign announced by the city Sunday aims to show teenagers the potential consequences of becoming parents when they do not have the emotional and financial means to support children. "We must encourage responsibility and send the right message, especially to young people," said Human Resources Administration Commissioner Richard Doar in a statement (Gothamist, Staten Island Advance).
Other Stories We're Following
'Vision' For Proposed Domino Factory Site Redevelopment (Capital)
Silver-Backed Constitutional Amendment Would Benefit Friend (NY Post)
At an education forum for the mayoral candidates last night, a few issues separated them along party lines. All the Democrats supported the teachers union’s push for smaller class sizes and more education funding, while the Republicans supported merit-based pay for teachers. None of the candidates said whether teachers should receive retroactive pay raises when their next contract is negotiated. Meanwhile, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion officially announced he's running for mayor. And Working Families Party officials weresubpoenaed about their ties to a company that provided campaign assistance to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, among other city candidates, in 2009.
Fracking Rules To Miss Deadline; Review Lingers (Associated Press)
Trade Center Classified As Flood Danger Zone In New FEMA Maps (Daily News)
Roosevelt Island Safety Officers Accused Of Excessive Force (WNYC)
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind is under fire for wearing a blackface costume to a party this weekend celebrating the Jewish holiday Purim. He was dressed as a "black basketball player." Purim has a costume tradition similar to Halloween. Hikind initially called the criticism "absurd," but eventually apologized after mounting outrage. Then in a radio interview following the recantation, he asked the host if it would be alright if he "played a gay person next year."
Reclaiming Storm-Torn Homes, Step By Uncertain Step (NY Times)
To Curb Suits, City Now Opts To Fight Them (NY Times)
Pact, For Now, In Mayoral Campaign Donation Limit Case(Associated Press)
The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and more than 100 influential business leaders called on the U.S. Congress to decide on $60 billion in aid for Superstorm Sandy relief before the holidays begin. The governors said Congress had taken longer to approve aid to their states than it had for relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Business executives also wrote a letter to congressional representatives. "We believe that failure to expeditiously fund storm relief and recovery will severely weaken this region and worsen our nation's overall fiscal condition," they wrote.
In the Press...
Utilities To Give Rebates For Lost Service During Sandy (Associated Press)
Republican Senator Who Voted For Gay Marriage Concedes (Gotham Gazette)
Countdown 'Til Senate Democrats Pick a New Leader? (Gotham Gazette)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that the city would rethink evacuation zones, electrical infrastructure, telecommunications networks, hospitals and transportations systems after Superstorm Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage, paralyzed communities and killed dozens of people.
But Bloomberg said that his administration would not abandon the waterfront and dismissed the possibility of building sea walls to hold back the ocean. Instead, he said the city would look at "coastline protections" such as berms, dunes, jetties and levies.
"No matter how much we do to make homes and businesses more resilient, the fact of the matter is we live next to the ocean, and the ocean comes with risks that we just cannot eliminate," the mayor said.
Bloomberg outlined the post-Sandy plan, his first major address since the storm, at a Lower Manhattan event, where former Vice President Al Gore also made an appearance and praised the mayor's previous efforts to respond to the effects of climate change.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would begin rationing gas for the first time since the 1970s, in response to fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Sandy. Drivers with cars with license plates ending in odd numbers or that end in a letter or other character will be able to fill up on odd-numbered days. Cars with plates ending in even numbers get their turn on even-numbered days. The odd-even rationing system begins today, Nov. 9, with odd-numbered plates. "Drivers are still facing long lines. Frustrations are only growing," Bloomberg said at a news conference at City Hall yesterday
Sandy Troubles Won't Stop Con Ed From Seeking Rate Hike (Associated Press)
Gov Says Sandy Could Cost NY $33 Billion (Associated Press)
Coney Island Group Launches With Focus On Sandy Cleanup (NY Post)