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NYT: Paterson Is Urged to Empower Prosecutor to Investigate Public Officials

August 16, 2010

The Times had this story, which I think is very much worth reading. We’d appreciate your feedback, and more commentary will follow.

ALBANY — Governors and mayors should stop meddling in the affairs of public authorities, according to a new report from a state task force reviewing the state’s sprawling authority system.

The commission was created by Gov. David A. Paterson in December 2009 to assess the effectiveness of new legislation that created an oversight and enforcement body to police the authority system and put in place new measures to improve the accountability of authorities.

But the report found that politicians were inserting themselves in the business of authorities, which are supposed to be independent bodies, by sometimes pressuring their appointees to vote in certain ways.

The report proposes that the law be amended to make explicit that politicians who appoint board members have a fiduciary duty that precludes them from improperly influencing their appointees. And it proposes giving state regulators enforcement powers over politicians who appoint board members, including referring violations to the attorney general or a local district attorney.

The recommendations are unlikely to be met with enthusiasm by many politicians, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has often seemed to expect that his appointees carry out his policies, particularly those he has named to the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The report will probably renew an old debate about authorities. While many politicians believe elected officials should have more influence over their management, government watchdogs believe the boards of authorities should be devoted solely to fulfilling the public mission of the authorities, not doing the bidding of politicians.

“The law has always required board members to do what’s right for the public, not what’s right for the elected officials,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who championed the 2009 authorities law.

“Think if it was a judge,” he added. “Should the governor be able to call a judge on the Court of Appeals and tell them how to decide a case? The same should be true of the M.T.A. These are independent agencies with an independent mission.”

Mr. Paterson thanked the task force for its work but did not comment on many of its recommendations, though he did praise the report’s concerns that authorities were not complying with state law regarding contracting with businesses owned by minorities and women.

Mr. Bloomberg’s office said it needed to review the report before commenting.

The report also suggests that the administrator of a new Authority Budget Office, David Kidera, has not been active enough in enforcing the law.

“He’s a man of integrity and I don’t doubt his honesty or intelligence,” said Ira M. Millstein, a corporate governance expert who led the seven-member task force. But he added, “If this thing is going to be meaningful, he’s going to have to be more aggressive.”

Mr. Kidera was not available for comment.

The state’s hundreds of public authorities have long been criticized for their lack of accountability and often corrupt practices. They range in size from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which has about 69,000 employees, to tiny authorities with fewer than 100 employees, like the New York State Theater Institute, a public theater group that has been mired in scandal.

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2 Comments
  1. Gatewood Tyler permalink
    August 18, 2010 7:03 am

    It just goes on and on.

    New York State government is an oxymoron, and “We the People” of New York have to be morons to put up with it.

    Where are our “watchdogs”? Aren’t conservative Republicans supposed to be against waste and mismanagement? Aren’t they as much of the problem as anybody? During the Pataki years, didn’t the Republicans have have two thirds (two out of three) of the “three men in a room” that ran New York State? Weren’t the Republican and Conservative supported State Senators belly-up to the trough during all those years? Didn’t that all continue for the brief period that the Republican’s place at the table was reduced to one third, but essentially still with “Veto Power”, if they wanted to exercise it?

    Too many Republicans and Conservatives are on New York State payrolls beholden to the Democrats. Some of their names are frequently mentioned on this blog. They’re game in politics is called feather their own nest. Then there are the fewer and fewer elected “Republican-Conservative” officials like State Senator Martin J. Golden.

    Recently, the New York Post has highlighted “Double-Dipping” and phony “Disablity Pensions” as some of the corrupt practices that are bankrupting New York State:

    http://www.nypost.com/…/gold_plated_pay_for_disabled_pa_YAgzyM5gXvN0P14oNlABuK

    http://www.nypost.com/…/editorials/finally_cracking_down_0YXKcYXMlfte5woJW6UTqN

    HOW LONG BEFORE MARTY GOLDEN IS EXPOSED IN THE NY POST AS A
    “DISABILITY-PENSION DOUBLE-DIPPER”?

    Not only is Brooklyn’s only elected Republican State Senator Martin J. Golden guilty of both of these questionable practices himself, he is so completely in the pocket of several public employee unions, that he won’t vote for any reforms to those budget-busting items in the future. Golden’s voting on this completely parallels that of liberal Democratic Assemblyman PETER ABBATE, with whom Golden has often appeared at events in the 49th AD and other parts of Brooklyn, and against whom Golden has never campaigned.

    As I said earlier about “We the People” of New York State, double-in- spades to conservative Republicans and Conservative Party members, they have to be morons to put up with this from “one of their own” representatives in Albany.

  2. Gatewood Tyler permalink
    August 18, 2010 7:06 am

    It just goes on and on.

    New York State government is an oxymoron, and “We the People” of New York have to be morons to put up with it.

    Where are our “watchdogs”? Aren’t conservative Republicans supposed to be against waste and mismanagement? Aren’t they as much of the problem as anybody? During the Pataki years, didn’t the Republicans have have two thirds (two out of three) of the “three men in a room” that ran New York State? Weren’t the Republican and Conservative supported State Senators belly-up to the trough during all those years? Didn’t that all continue for the brief period that the Republican’s place at the table was reduced to one third, but essentially still with “Veto Power”, if they wanted to exercise it?

    Too many Republicans and Conservatives are on New York State payrolls beholden to the Democrats. Some of their names are frequently mentioned on this blog. They’re game in politics is called feather their own nest. Then there are the fewer and fewer elected “Republican-Conservative” officials like State Senator Martin J. Golden.

    Recently, the New York Post has highlighted “Double-Dipping” and phony “Disablity Pensions” as some of the corrupt practices that are bankrupting New York State:

    http://www.nypost.com/…/gold_plated_pay_for_disabled_pa_YAgzyM5gXvN0P14oNlABuK

    http://www.nypost.com/…/editorials/finally_cracking_down_0YXKcYXMlfte5woJW6UTqN

    HOW LONG BEFORE MARTY GOLDEN IS EXPOSED IN THE NY POST AS A
    “DISABILITY-PENSION DOUBLE-DIPPER”?

    Not only is Brooklyn’s only elected Republican State Senator Martin J. Golden guilty of both of these questionable practices himself, he is so completely in the pocket of several public employee unions, that he won’t vote for any reforms to those budget-busting items in the future. His voting on this is completely parallels that of liberal Democratic Assemblyman Peter Abbate, with whom he often has appeared at events in the 49th AD and against whom he has never campaigned.

    As I said earlier, conservative Republicans and Conservative Party members have to be morons to put up with this from “one of their own”.

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