State House of New York, Albany
Curious, isn't it, that this journalist does not mention journalists as part of the solution to corruption. Nor does he see them as a part of the problem. How are journalists not as corrupt as the politicians they fail to hold accountable? And what about all of the Inspectors General, high paid lawyers whose mission is to expose and to curb corruption? What are they doing? Is the New York system of overdue exposure of corruption better than how it is done in Massachusetts, where they never expose or investigate corruption?
From City Hall to Albany, the sewer runneth over. It is no longer adequate to talk of a few bad apples. We are suffering through a bumper crop of rottenness.
In normal times, the fall of Sheldon Silver, sentenced yesterday to 12 years in federal prison, would be drama enough. Yet the former Democratic leader of the Assembly is joined in infamy by Dean Skelos, the former Republican leader of the state Senate, whose sentencing comes up next week on the con- man calendar.
The comeuppance of the bosses of both legislative houses and both parties in the same year is, as far as I can tell, unprecedented in modern times. Even the legendary thieves of Tammany tended to leave space between dramatic downfalls.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio is in a serious jam, as both state and federal prosecutors have hisfundraising-and-favors operation in their cross hairs. Another sordid chapter would be written if the mayor himself is hit with criminal charges.
Then there’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who looked as if he had escaped a federal probe only to see a close friend and former aide suddenly land in very hot water about money paid to him by companies with state business. There’s no telling where the case will lead.
How did all this happen? How did New York become such a swirling cesspool?
For answers, it is fitting that we turn to a cartoon character. It was Pogo who declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
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First, we have developed the very bad habit of electing people of low moral character.
Having foolishly decided that integrity is not a necessary virtue in politics, we are reaping the results. If we don’t care about integrity, why should the pols?
The Legislature is especially a comfort zone for crooks. The dozens of lawmakers hauled out in handcuffs in recent years would make a bipartisan diversity specialist proud.
Democrats and Republicans, blacks, whites and Latinos, upstate and down, the Convicts Club doesn’t discriminate. Get caught stealing and you’re admitted.
Second, this deregulation of public morals is not the whole story. The other part is greed — ours.
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Corruption is not cheap; it affects everybody and raises the cost of living and working in New York, not to mention the cost of cynicism.
How to clean up the stables? By all means, we should support tougher ethics laws and stiffer penalties for those who break them. Politicians who violate their offices must not be rewarded with taxpayer-funded pensions. And it’s time that Albany try term limits, which would prevent the accumulation of the vast power that Silver and Skelos abused.
Yet there already are sensible laws on the books, and they’re not proving to be much of a deterrent. So another, better law will not be a silver bullet.
Vigilance from voters, and self-discipline, is the answer. We have to make it clear that integrity is mandatory, and prove we mean it by demanding less from government by way of handouts.
Shrinking the size of government is the best way to shrink its power, and the corruption of that power. Instead of looking for endless favors, what if we focused on ending government’s favor bank?
What if we elected people who promised not only integrity, but also modesty about the offices they seek? What if we said we don’t expect bureaucrats to solve all of life’s problems?
In that case, less government would be more. More honest and more worthy of our trust.
Either way, we get the government we deserve.
NY is a corruption-filled cesspool — and we have ourselves to blame
By Michael Goodwin
New York Post
May 4, 2016 | 12:02am