“ETHICS TAKE A VACATION,” Ellis Henican Column, amNewYork, 6-5-09
Ethics delayed in Albany!
Honesty in government forced to wait!
Holy kickback, who would have expected
something like this?
Only someone who’d never driven within 100
miles of New York’s cozy state capital, where
legislators and lobbyists never, ever forget who’s
who. (Hint: The lobbyists pick up the tabs. The
legislators show their appreciation.)
If secret deals ever took a holiday from Albany,
there’d be no deals up there at all.
There has been much talk this year — and
no real action — on state-government ethics
reform. Gov. David Paterson, who fashions
himself quite a reformer, was unequivocal on the
topic this week.
“We’re not putting anything off,” Paterson
declared. And he seemed to really mean it, unless
by “putting anything off” you mean putting
anything off. Ethics reform, he explained, will have to
wait ’till fall.
But fear not: “We are actually far closer to a resolution in
the last couple of weeks than we have been at any
time that we’ve been in Albany,” the governor
Got it? Of course not.
None of this makes any sense. If they’re so darn
close, why not just do it? If they aren’t close,
why pretend? But those are logical questions.
This is Albany. They don’t apply, especially
when the issue is ethics reform.
Paterson isn’t alone in his confused selfrighteousness.
On Thursday, Malcolm Smith, the state Senate
majority leader, announced that ethics
reform cannot wait until fall. June 20, he said,
would be a better date.
But of course, Senator Smith doesn’t have the
power to actually do anything, even if he had
the inclination to. He can’t even get his
Democratic majority to hold together for something
easy, such as gay marriage.
Something sticky like ethics reform? Good luck!
Thankfully, Sheldon Silver, the Assembly boss,
was standing by to help.
Silver has his own version of how to reform
Albany’s ethics rules. The details aren’t important,
any more than Paterson’s are. What you need to
know is that sorting out all the differences
between the two plans — gosh, that could take
months or years or decades.
Category: In Print