Authority Over Authorities
August 18th, 2009

Created by Robert Moses so he could keep building more and more highways, New York’s public authorities have been likened to a shadow government — fiefdoms, at times rife with corruption and cronyism, that can avoid the public scrutiny required of more conventional government agencies.

After years of debate the state legislature recently approved legislation intended to address some of these concern. According to Crain’s, the bill, proposed by Assemblymember Richard Brodsky and State Sen. Bill Perkins “would impose fiscal controls on the state authorities that can borrow and spend large sums of money, set fares and tolls and sell state assets such as property development rights.” To do this, the legislation would create an independent budget office to oversee the authorities and makes clear that people who serve on authority boards have a fiduciary responsibility to the authorities and rather than to whatever politicians appointed them.

The measure, though, has encountered a formidable stumbling block in Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wants Gov. David Paterson to veto it. Bloomberg apparently is particularly aghast at requiring authority directors to protect authority finances — rather than do the bidding of politicians (such as Bloomberg) who appoint them. He also sees the law as hampering development projects.

“The bill could benefit from a few changes, but the crux of it should remain intact,” the Times said in an editorial today. Newsday went further, calling on Paterson to sign “one of the most sweeping reforms of state government in a decade.”

For his part, Brodsky, who has clashed with Bloomberg in the past, dismissed Bloomberg’s concerns “Their arguments are bogus, he said. Its about power; its not about any particular projects.

By on August 18, 2009, 10:16 am
In category: Albany,Gotham City,Public Finance | Comments Off on Authority Over Authorities

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