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What better way to celebrate the New York Public Interest Research Group's 40th anniversary than to have long-time good government gadfly Blair Horner return to deliver is one-of-a-kind anti-corruption quotes?

Horner left NYPIRG two and a half years ago to work for The American Cancer Society. He returns to NYPIRG right in time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's anti-corruption Moreland Commission's first public meetings and the 2014 state-wide elections.

I will continue to work with them on the state’s important health issues,” Horner said in a statement. “I look forward to working on many other looming issues as well. From release of the findings of the Moreland Act Commission, to next year’s vote on the constitutional amendment on redistricting, to the 2017 referendum on whether to convene a Constitutional Convention, New Yorkers have big decisions to make and I want to be deeply involved in those discussions. Being back in NYPIRG allows me to do just that.”

Horner is known for blisteringly poignant and funny quotes about corruption and good government policy. Albany reporters can rest easy knowing Horner will be bringing his quotes back with him.

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Cuomo's Developer Donations

The New York Daily News reported today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo received $76,000 in donations from real estate developers just weeks before signing legislation that gave tax breaks to their properties. Three partners at Fisher Brothers donated $25,000 each to Cuomo on Dec. 27 of last year. Cuomo signed legislation giving tax breaks to their properties at New York Curb Exchange and 86 Trinity Place on Jan. 30. The Daily News reported last week that Extell Development Co. gave Cuomo $100,000 a few days before he signed the bill that gives creates $35 million in tax breaks on their One57 luxury apartment tower. The Moreland Commission that Cuomo created to investigate corruption has subpoenaed the five companies that received tax breaks from the bill. Cuomo administration officials say that the bill was supported by the city and wasn't their focus. The News writes however that legislators claims they don't know who inserted the tax breaks for the five subpoenaed companies.


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The Daily News recently highlighted a $100,000 donation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by Extell Development that appears to have been made the same day as a piece of legisaltion that granted the company tax breaks was passed in the Assembly. The tax breaks applied to the One57 building at 157 W. Fifth St., and others.

The bill had been scheduled for a vote in June 2012. Cuomo's representatives have denied any connection between Cuomo's approval of the bill and the donations but Sen. Ruben Diaz sees things differently.

He used his newsletter to imagine what would happen if he was caught up in similar controversy.

My dear reader, can you imagine if I did that kind of thing? Can you
imagine if I, Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., received $100,000 from any developer right before I threw my support for a piece of legislation that benefited that developer?

Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think there would be full-scale
local, state, and federal investigations claiming that I had accepted a
bribe in exchange for a political favor? Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think that every single editorial board would be condemning me as corrupt? I can only imagine the torch and pitchfork crowds descending on my office.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission will hold three public meetings in September.

Cuomo called together the group of district attorneys and law enforcement officials to investigate corruption and dysfunction in Albany. The commission's first meeting took place in private witout any public notice. The move was roundly criticized.

The commission is next scheduled to meet Sept. 17 at Pace Univesity in the city; Sept. 18 at the state office building in Buffalo; and Sept. 24 at The Crossings in Colonie (near Albany).

Moreland Press Release 7-16

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Gov. Cuomo yesterday followed through on threats to establish a commission to investigate corruption in Albany after the legislature failed to pass any bills addressing the recent rash of scandals there. The commission will recommend cases against public officials and suggest changes to election and campaign fund-raising laws. It can issue subpoenas and examine witnesses under oath and it's slated to issue a preliminary report by year's end. Many of the panels members have ties to the governor. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau are special advisors to the commission.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo's nominees to head his Moreland Commission that will investigate corruption in Albany have already raised the hackles of some advocates and legislators.

Cuomo announced the formation of the commission this morning. The Daily News reported yesterday that the committee — which will have subpoena power — will be chaired by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Syracuse District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and lawyer Milton Williams. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also leant his staffers and the power of his office to broaden the scope of the investigation.

Rice, who ran for attorney general in 2010, has long been a Cuomo ally, which does nothing to allay the fears of some legislators that Cuomo will have undue control of what the commission will and won't look into.

Furthermore, good government advocates worry that Rice is too close to the largest political donors in the state to cast a critical eye on their behavior. Rice is in the middle of running for reelection and is one of the state's most prolific fundraisers.

"This isn't kind of message we were looking for," said one advocate who asked to remain anonymous. "We are talking about someone who is just as beholden to this system as anyone else in the state."

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it clear he is angry at utility companies for their response to Hurricane Sandy. Thousands of people have been without power and heat for weeks and Cuomo has questioned whether the utilities were prepared for the storm despite fair warning. Now Cuomo has officially acted on his anger by issuing an executive order under the Moreland Act to form a commission to investigate all of the utilities that were charged with maintaining their infrastructure in the wake of Sandy.

Cuomo has repeatedly threatened the Legislature with the Moreland Act to get them to move on ethics legislation but he never used the authority in that case. Now Cuomo has chosen to invoke the power in the wake of Sandy. Utility companies are likely the only group more disliked by the Legislature, and the move is almost certain to boost Cuomo's already staggering approval ratings.

Here is the make up of the commission that will hav ethe power to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath:

Co-Chair Robert Abrams, former Attorney General of New York State
Co-Chair Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services
Peter Bradford, former Chair of the Public Service Commission
Tony Collins, President of Clarkson University
John Dyson, former Chairman of the New York Power Authority
Rev. Floyd Flake, Senior Pastor of Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral
Mark Green, former New York City Public Advocate
Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County Executive
Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney
Dan Tishman, Vice Chairman at AECOM Technology Corporation, and Chairman and CEO of Tishman Construction Corporation

And here is the Executive Order that Cuomo signed:

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