January 25, 2007

Ethics changes: How much substance?

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on agreement about ethics reform in Albany in a deal brokered by the classic Three Men In A Room: Governor Spitzer, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The agreement bans gifts and travel from lobbyists, keeps elected officials out of state-funded TV and radio ads, keeps legislative employees from becoming lobbyists for two years, and keeps the state (except the legislature) from asking about party affiliation during hiring. They also combine the Ethics and Lobbying Commissions.

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton is cited on WHCU today saying:

Area Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton says although the reforms are needed, she believes that there are still good people in government. Lifton added that she believes that some of the ethics reforms have some substance, but that some of the reforms seem to be for appearance purposes only.

It's hard to extract much meaning from that brief statement. Is Sheldon Silver one of the good people in government? Are the good people actually in control, or are they watching from the sidelines? Does "for appearance purposes only" mean that the reforms don't go deep enough? Too deep? (I don't know if WHCU is quoting or paraphrasing, of course.)

The New York Post has a cheerful editorial on the whole process, "Lunches with Wolves", (thanks NYCO) that wonders if Spitzer got fleeced:

Silver and Bruno will still be calling the legislative shots. All alone.

This means that the "reforms" don't go nearly far enough. ...

Bottom line?

Albany needs a deep fumigation. But it appears to be getting a dusting of roach powder, and nothing else.

Spitzer was never a party to what NYU Law School's Brennan Center called the nation's most "dysfunctional" (i.e., corrupt) legislature.

But Silver and Bruno are the Legislature.

They alone hold all the legislative power. And they alone are responsible for the sleaze and dysfunction.

Much as it pains me to agree with the Post, sometimes they're right. This definitely doesn't look like a deep fumigation.

An article about County Environmental Management Council members suing the City of Ithaca over the temporary dog park's lack of an environmental review notes Dryden resident Joyce Gerbasi as one of the plaintiffs.

Posted by simon at January 25, 2007 8:46 AM in
Note on photos