There are so many political scientists around lately that I asked a friend if they ever manage to amass a small fortune. He said, “Well, you have to start with a large one and know when to stop. That said, if you ever must get rid of one at your door, just pay for the pizza.” Still, I have decided to command everyone near and far to do one thing despite all this silliness. STOP SPLITTING YOUR VOTE! If you need persuasion, I suggest reading:
Why Americans Split Their Tickets, Barry C. Burden and David C. Kimbal and
No Middle Ground How, Seth E. Masket
Political scientists determined to address election problems afflicting Americans give three points of view. First, the preference of Americans for a divided government is no longer a mandate for compromise. Second, the modern-media age falsely sharpens or intentionally blurs party differences to sustain the incumbency advantage. Third, this leaves one and only one thing of concern — the Benjamins for the next election. You can already sense the good and bad of these conditions concerning lections. However, it is time for one party to rise or fall on the vote, and that option alone. The “split tickets” book referenced above is about California. One about New York would be interesting – their methods are transparent. “No Middle” is scary.
Of course, other factors are in a vote for democracy. The main one is how partisanship is thrust on political leaders by actors outside the government to manipulate elections, especially primaries. The number of informal party-based organizations also contribute to polarized legislatures. I believe political leaders would prefer pragmatism to partisanship if voters had a way to give them that opportunity – ranked-choice voting is one. Maybe it solves the “split” problem in every election. Similar sophistication is needed to re-establish the vote as a device that reduces conflict. The interest now seems to create conflict. I am all ears on adding ideas there. See voting reform story (here) from City & State New York
Of course, the ideological positions of candidates still matter in American elections. Political parties have gained strength in state and national governments. Still, due to the false premise of compromise, the harmful effects remain among the three equal branches in local, state, and federal governments. It is time to say, “I solemnly affirm to pick one party, and only one party, so help me, God.” This leaves one central question.
I would leave a final judgment to historians. Yet, when this control occurs across the three-branch system, I see a thriving belief in Democracy because things can get done and evaluated. I offer the following modern examples:
1927-1933, Republicans controlled all three branches of the government when Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover occupied the White House.
1937-1945, Democrats controlled all three government branches during the administrations of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.
1953-1955, Republicans held all three branches during the presidency of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, nine senators died, and one resigned. These changes shifted the balance of power in the Senate with each new replacement, according to the U.S. Senate website.
1961-1969, Democrats controlled all three branches during the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson
Then it gets politically complicated, and not in a good way. During the last half-century, wealth has flowed exponentially to the top, leading to a growing sense of irresponsibility, if not outright confusion in their use of that power. The last time one party held all the chambers.
2001-2007, Republicans held all three with interruptions. From 2001-2003 the Senate flipped to Democrats as one senator switched party affiliation, and one senator died. The 2002 midterm elections shifted control of the upper chamber to Republicans.
My taxi drove by the U.S. Congress in D.C. and I said, “I wonder how many people work there?” The driver said, “I’d say, less than half.” It was fun to laugh because it reflected a truth about recent political behavior that erodes American belief in its basic institutions. That will be the next post, researching the positions, opinions, and actions.
This post was stimulated by a recent ask of people on the “Indivisible” Map in BK and SI to exchange a few words.
Liat Olenick & Lisa Raymond-Tolan – Indivisible Nation BK (Indivisible)
Mustafa – Staten Island Women Who March (Facebook)
Like any clear-headed voter, I was in shock following the “what happened” 2016 election. I turned to Jane Jacobs for help and went straight for Dark Days Ahead” in my library and came to this in the first chapter:
“…the death or the stagnated moribundity of formerly unassailable and vigorous cultures is caused not by an assault from outside but by an assault from within, that is, by internal rot in the form of fatal cultural turnings not recognized as wrong turnings when they occur or soon enough afterward to be correctable. The time during which corrections can be made runs out because of cultural forgetfulness.”
There is still time. In this election, will we forget the assault on the dignity of women carried out by a candidate for the Presidency of the United States? Will we forget the self-serving lies? As a candidate, he is that unrecognized “rot” in the cultural turning of a national election. Take hope in knowing it is not “fatal.” There is a time to correct. Vote early. To find where your early site is located go here. If you want to go the absentee route get the application here.
The terms of office in the U.S. Constitution assure the observance of character sufficient to support or deny renewal. Terms are kernels of political time, and like seeds, they carry stories of leadership. Some champion the highest of human ideals and guide us with the opportunity for growth with every kind of crucial nutrient. The message of the seed is not to grieve, but to find the nutrients to grow. The rot we have now will provide if left to decay.
I cannot think of a better time to build a massive effort to vote as JFK said, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. The cities are skeptical and easily angered, but on balance, unafraid of change because they are diverse and highly skilled in the experience of it. Today, it may seem difficult to get to the truth and I can tell you exactly where you will find it.
Walk to a street outside your home and accept this idea. Out there the worried search for nutrients and fear of change is strong. Many will be tempted to choose the false promises of a liar. Know that justice can be ripped from our hearts, but not without cost. To succeed in this task, one dark force in the world requires exposure and the “vote” is not all we have, but it is all we need to renew and begin again.
Vote early. To find where your early site is located go here. If you want to go the absentee route get the application here.
Long live Mother Jones. They know they cannot fix all of the new forms of corruption destroying American democracy, but they are going to give it a try. You already know this to be their honest work, so click here to make a tax-free donation to the Corruption Project. The goal is $500,000. Click (<a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label="here (opens in a new tab)" href="http://<p class="has-small-font-size">A reasonable combination of the policymakers that appear to be conservative or progressive.
here) for an update on recent events.
Deciding to make a more significant difference, the Corruption Project will build a 1.2 million dollar investment to publish reports on the kinds of corruption that seem to define America today. They will examine the illegal and the legal kind (here). In the summer of 2020, it will be tuned to make an impact that year’s election. Perhaps the most important in the history of America.
The needs to be more sunshine on the
folks who pull strings behind the scenes. The Kaiser Family Foundation added “corruption” to the list of topics of great concern over health care and
the economy. Corruption is the rot beneath thousands of scandals, all seen as
perception or news cycle problems, ahead of the behavior of cancer that it
If a demagogue benefits from the corruption,
they will run on a platform against it as a step to take full advantage in
Financial systems that are consistently manipulated by those with money and power for personal gain.
In-depth, time-intensive reporting on the crisis of democracy requires an inward vs. outward look. First, the crisis must be recognized.
Where there is no clarity, transparency, and change, corruption is likely.
The incentive to bring forward a new media landscape requires more analysis of results. For example,
What are fines without admission of guilt other than the debasement of values?
Do hundreds of pleas of wrongdoing, and malfeasance cloud the senses?
Examples like these expose the substantial issue — attacking “systems” of corruption.
Started on a Cure
The thing about systems is they are best only understood in terms of larger and more complex systems. The earth and moon cannot be defined usefully without understanding the solar system and its place among a galaxy of galaxies. A single cancer cell is unknown without the organ in which it grows in the body of the person in which it becomes lethal.
Mother Jones has come up with a
strategy for putting the quality of life as a nation in the context of our
choice in 2020. Will it be a choice made in a system designed by those with enormous
economic power seeking to defend great wealth or a messy system formed in the
expression needs and concerns embedded in the great diversity of the United
Send Mother Jones a few of your hard earned bucks and pay close attention with your sense of inner-guidance to the body politic
A modest step toward transparency began implementation in January 2019. Currently overseen by Seth Agata, Executive Director of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), lobbyists in New York must disclose all the public officials they target. The purpose of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics is to eliminate conflicts of interest in lawmaking, campaign donations, and interrelated matters. The range of agencies involved in corruption and the creation of the JCOPE is described from a different angle in Corruption Compelled in which JCOPE is more of a foil and cop-out, sidestep, and skirt around the real cops.
JCOPE’s regulatory framework completed in 2011 but did not take effect until Jan. 1, 2019. There is a reason for this long road to implementation. The disclosure of names changes everything. They are of state lawmakers, agency employees and local unelected officials approached on questions of legislation, regulations, and billions of dollars related to most governmental matters. The new rules also allow those who watch the watchers get the names of lobbyists, their clients, and public officials and look for accountability. In the first required bi-monthly report Jan/Feb 2019, the Times Union reported the following lobbyists did not disclose adequately. Examples are:
Complying with JCOPE is less transparent and will remain so if JCOPE does not penalize lobbyists for rule-breaking and confront the issue in the courts. While the report from the New York State United Teachers NYSUT offered every detail, why the slow start among the big, multi-client players?
Why? A Catch 22? A Wrench in the Works?
David Grandeau filed a lawsuit against JCOPE claiming the regulations to be vague, illegal, and not based on a law passed by the state legislature. He also represents lobbyists about complying with state law. The suit has a SCRIBD Final, and under the terms of the settlement, Grandeau reached in December with the agency, if JCOPE seeks to penalize Grandeau’s clients for noncompliance with the regulations, JCOPE would have to rely on state law text and not rules. The settlement only applies to Grandeau’s clients. It’s not like people were unaware of this problem a Politico Story in 2015 highlighted Grandeau’s point (here). Twitter Feed (here).
A road map for lobbyist/client non-compliance is now available for all who seek to avoid disclosure. The collapse of the regulations for the lack of enabling legislation or statute requiring JCOPE to implement them is the game in play. If corruption is punished it could kill the law aimed at ending corruption a classic Catch 22. Just like the original. If you say you’ve been driven psychologically insane by war – the claim is a logical one and that makes you sane and you cannot be discharged.
Other reasons for NYS and JCOPE will do a poor job and develop a bad record is outlined carefully by the Center for Public Integrity. See their March 2015 article (NY State Gets a “D” for Ethics) for more information dating to 2012. A key criticism was any three members can kill an investigation among the fourteen assigned for service on the Ethics Board by the people they are intended to investigate. Catch 22 all over the place. There are others and the rules in 2019 are far more convoluted.
The first rule of power politics: If the public is upset — confuse them.
The route to a better state of New York looks directly at its annual commitment to $10-14 billion in capital budget spending and a large but tightening $180 billion expense budget. Corruption is not built into human nature — it is compelled. Participants in this process are needed to take on a role. One good idea is to volunteer with Represent NYC.
JCOPE Executive Director Seth Agata has said that the agency intends to enforce the regulations and that those who don’t follow them will be subject to punishment. A person to follow his activities, meetings, conferences, enforcement activities, and plea agreements is needed.
Walter McClure, Director of Communications and Public Information Officer.
Contact him regarding questions concerning the regulated community, lobbyists,
and clients of lobbyists regarding assurance of compliance with filing
requirements. (518) 486-7842 or by email at email@example.com.
Chris Bragg (Times Union 4/27.19) the political and investigative reporter for the Capitol Bureau and contributor to Capitol Confidential it is “unclear if the rule issued by JCOPE would hold up if challenged in court.” Contact him at (518) 454-5303, (518) 454-5619 https://twitter.com/ChrisBragg1cbragg@timesunion.com Follow him.
The Office of the City Clerk website contains the Lobbying Bureau’s online filing application system, the site through which lobbyists and clients file reports under the Lobbying Law. For members of the public, Lobbyist Search, the public information database is accessed with reasonable ease. This is a black hole of data and people become exhausted A good example is New York Shame now very still and quite.
I recently met some smart people from RepresentUS-NY who focus on the question of corruption in all its forms and seek to remove its occurrence with the aid of law enforcement and community activism. I want you to join them, get the emails and subscribe.
Related stories are: “My Represent Us Story,”a bit to promote the Unbreaking America video with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Silver. A description of “Corruption Compelled” among New York State Legislators is very detailed and lists the main sources of enforcement. I have a piece on “Ranking Leadership” using a 21st century innovation to improve our right to a useful vote.
Draft for Comment
The draft below is an attempt to examine the technologies of cooperation available to advance the work that needs to be done in the New York Metropolitan Region.
RepresentUs uses Nation Builder to provide a platform of protocols, specific “how to” papers, and Discord as a resource to help build chapters and aid their membership in selecting useful strategies that discover or encourage the detection of corruption.
Political leaders and the administrators of government policies are being damaged and manipulated. As they old saying goes, “If you dance with a bear, you must dance until the bear wants to stop.” The members of Represent.us watch closely and find ways to cut-in.
Technologies that Support Cooperation.
Access to the statistical tools of digital platforms offer methods to measure the “connectedness” of readers and users to specific issues presented by RepresentUS-NY. The purpose of an online interaction platform is to aid in the development and support of volunteers, organization affiliates and associates. This must be a two-way communication. The Unbreak America video wants 11 million to see it and when I visited in early May 2019 and it was approaching 1 million. That is the is the kind feedback people need, but their is a great deal more possible.
The terms are familiar: total clicks, views and time spent per page, post, or video, the use of search terms, and so on. Building trust in building large communities of strangers (and friends0 requires reports to users. Building a reputation along dimensions that are appropriate to a specific context requires understanding specific interests and responding to them. To get at the technologies that foster cooperation I’ll use the following example.
The failure of the Citizens Review Board is its inability get accountability and improve civic authority. Reporting on the history of advocacy within this specific community can build relationships for common ground with RepresentUS-NY on police corruption, concealment and cover-ups.
Self-organizing web networks and community grids distribute the burden of corruption investigations through a defined population of issue-based participants. In this example, Represent US would establish a foundation for intelligence from people and devices on all categories of police or general authoritarian misconduct.
The term “grid” is used to recover resources from publicly distributed sources within a network of people and devices, who decide when and how to foster cooperation versus competition used to amplify specific reports organized by the community as peers.
Peer networks combine volunteer communities to accomplish a specific result. These networks are potentially unbounded communities. They create value by rapidly defining and solving problems that would be impossible for smaller workgroups.
example in this context would seek self-defining human rights participants such
as 1) Survivors subdivided as necessary, 2) Attorneys focused on civil
liberties and social justice, 3) Social workers and mental health professionals,
4) Activists and community organizers using standard methods as well as
innovations such as “playtivism”.
All offer a unique peer group process of social change actors to expose violence
by building ground for social change.
mobilitytechnologies allow large or small groups of people, known and unknown to one another to act
in a coherent and coordinated fashion in a set place and time. It is supported
by information accessed in current time and space. In this example, the
organization ImprovNow has developed a playful group of constituents.
How should Represent Us approach them for advice
on on questions of political corruption or human rights violations? TED’s
Senior Fellow on the subject, Yana Buhrer Tavanier describes it is a very good
thing to try. They use Meet
Up as a mobility tool. The knowledge of that
experience could be useful.
technologies assist self-organized subgroups within a
larger network. The possibilities for exponential growth of a network occurs by
shortening the social distance among members of the network on specific. In
this example, the work to produce greater accountability for holding police
offices accountable for serious crimes fits within the larger human rights
network and holds the possibility for sharing portions of their agenda.
software is known for informal cultural exchanges. It helps
people to manage specific purposes like keeping in touch, sharing interests, or
as a business for building a following and support participation in events like
tastings, product sales or discounts, or get new product notifications. In this
example searching Twitter feeds, Facebook, Instagram and other social software
platforms may excellent searchable sources for readers interested in seeing
political corruption to advance their interests.
Collective knowledge technologies help to take uses of “all of the above” for managing a common resource that is changing continuously Securing this information against deliberate or accidental destruction and expanding its use for accessibility for a wide range of uses and users. In this example, the work to produce a more Citizens Review Board with power goes right to one of the most serious forms of corruption in our society. A quasi-military force, with the right to use deadly force, in the face of danger (real or supposed) needs a better path to reconciliation of error. A resource such as the “truth commission” that provides for the complete exposure of human error is a far better route to pursue than a regime of punishment. Wikipedia is a good example of a disciplined source under specific subject areas.
Imagine Yourself in an Animated TV Series
Here is an example of how to take the horror out of dealing with the apologists of brutal authority. Writers, Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh introduced us to Dr. Doofenshmirtz (pictured above) in the Phineas and Ferb series. The doctor engineers’ destructive machines and names them with the suffix “er” and “or.” The doctor’s evil deeds are foiled by Perry, a secret agent platypus. You can go only so far with a cartoon metaphor other than Perry is the one of the only egg laying mammals of the species of echidna and monotremes. The crossover of Dr. Doofenshmirtz into Milo Murphy’s Law series brings in the power of Melissa who is daring, loyal self-possessed, smart, and curious. This is in contrast to how the role of Candace who is gaslighted in every episode not by the act of their brothers, but a kind of whimsical happenstance of their male privilege in Phineas and Ferb. It is up to us to pay attention.
Stay with the theme for one more moment. The suffix “er” and “or” long with “ist” make “agent nouns.” The also make words denoting an action and identifies the entity of the action. “Driver” is an agent noun formed from the word, “drive.”
A lax and ineffective Civilian Complaint Review Board could be promoted as the operators of the Complaint Removinator under the orders of the Coverupinaters at 1 Police Plaza. A force capable of erasing all police wrong doing in a single blast.
The “Where is Waldo Demonstration” is an excellent example of the fine art of truth finding and enhanced awareness undertaken by a group of activists in Harrisburg PA. Have a look.
In the words of Senator Hirono of Hawaii, POTUS45 is a “liar and grifter who sits in the Oval Office” (source). Let’s say this fact sinks into the American consciousness and it becomes a removal tipping point like the 415 ppm of CO2 that now guarantees irreversible climate change in mid-2019. It is not Trump or Putin that will cause the collapse of stable climate conditions or the American three-equal-branch system of government. The process that led us to these two situations do not occur independently of what governments can control. The issue is corruption, nothing else will matter as we find ourselves adapting to this changing world. Might as well have a laugh along the way.
I call upon you to fight corruption in every nook and cranny on the American political breakfast table.
A look at the last few years in NYS to go forward.
“The examination of people that get swept-up in offering or receiving a corrupt benefit reminds me of the punchline in a joke describing a negotiating process. ‘You and I have already decided what you are; now we’re just haggling about the price.” The “what you are” list that society would see eliminated with the threat of punishment and mitigation resources is compelling and long.”
Rex L. Curry
Embezzling, conspiracy, extortion, mail and wire fraud, bribe solicitation, tax-evasion, intentionally soliciting illegal campaign contributions, and judicial extortion payments have all been committed by New York political leaders include theft of honest services, bribes and kickbacks, felony and a variety of misdemeanor charges. The results involve expelling leaders from office, hefty fines, and terms of imprisonment.
Most of those in the photo collage (above) did not commit a major crime. It is everyone since 2000. Of the forty-eight state political leaders arrested from 2000 to 2018, fourteen went to prison, less than one per year. It is statistically embarrassing. It is alarming due to the expected “high-bar” of public service but not out of line with bad human behavior in general. Over 18 years, troubles with the law affected fourteen Republicans and thirty-four Democrats, representing a third of NYS lawmakers (source listing the crimes).
Seriously, How Bad
To make a comparison, I pulled arrest data by state from Table 69 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Program (UCR). I culled it down somewhat roughly to executive/professional collar crimes. Annually all arrests in New York State average in the area of 260,000, of which fraud and embezzlement make up about 7,000 arrests per year.
The idea that this is a “few bad apples” issue is wrong. Legislators (including staff) are hagglers in every aspect of their political lives. Those who get out of control and get caught end their careers in political life and much of their personal lives. None of us are saints, nor do we expect our political representative to be candidates for divine recognition. What I (we, people) want is an aggressive public effort to discover wrongdoing whenever there is a hint of it.
The concerns of an
ordinary, reasonably thoughtful citizen are focused on the growing number of
new ways our leaders are corruptible in today’s political climate. The front of
the line has people (corporations) who want a part of the state’s $10-14 billion
in capital budget spending or a few more campaign bucks, but today that line extends
around the block and back ten years to Citizen’s United vs. FEC (SCOTUS pdf).
The New York State annual operating budget is approaching $180 billion, and it will make yearly capital investments between $11 to $14 billion (2020 Report pdf). New York City’s budget is approaching $100 billion. While it is a “creature of the state,” a discussion of corruption and money requires a separate review that connects the nation’s metropolitan regions to the political process embedded in public benefit corporations that cross state boundaries. NYC’s creation of the Independent Budget Office (IBO) has proven to be a highly effective provider of fact in this regard. The New York state legislature is considering a similar option.
Well-funded investigation divisions in the Attorney General’s local and state offices, the Election Commission, the Controller, and the FBI are institutions that citizens need to believe are doing their job well and with integrity. They cannot confirm the political honesty of all the people who seek to lead. Still, they can “follow the money,” which is where a network of community-based and national advocacy groups plays an essential function if unbreaking our democracy is to get some local traction.
The Office of the Attorney General led by Letitia James (D) went from New York City’s Office of Public Advocate with a budget less than $4M budget to the AG’s $230M+ statewide operating budget. Drilling down into the role this office plays in preventing political corruption is on the public’s radar. A detailed look at AG’s responsibilities and resources is ongoing.
The New York State Comptroller is the State’s chief fiscal officer ensures that New York State and local governments use taxpayer money effectively and efficiently. It is the sole trustee of the $207.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. An audit released March 31, 2018, revealed the fund as one of the world’s largest institutional investors. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued an audit to find out if Empire State Development had met its statutory reporting requirements and revealed that between April 2012 and September 2016, 17 programs didn’t undergo mandatory, independent evaluations, and public reports weren’t issued on 12 programs that received more than $500 million in total funding.
The New York State Board of Elections is responsible for administering all laws relating to elections in New York State and operates with a budget of about $12M. Another $41M is from legislation reauthorizing the BoE obligates expired budget authority through )reapportionment. The role of BoE will also be the subject of a detailed look at NYS through the lens offered by proposed legislative changes in voting practices and campaign financing at the city and state level.
The strategy of changing local laws to bring about national change begins at the local level. In New York, the citizens have the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The question is, how well do the Laws of New York State legislature and the home rule work of NYC hold up against the demands for change by RepresentUs and the work of its NY Chapter. This link will lead to a report on JCOPE’s reports (here).
An argument for one other institutional analysis of political behavior (both APAs) or private, professional psychology or psychiatric team. As this review of NYS implies, it is not just the money. It is the power for the imbalance that money represents. See the post Control vs. Balance for a look at the control balance theory.
Examples Worthy of a Close Look
During policy and budget negotiations, the give and take practices of a healthy democracy are like fencing. Participants will thrust, and reprise, even produce the third intention. Another often-used metaphor is, if not achieved after three attempts, punt. Give the other side a try if you can get them in the game.
The most severe forms of corruption occur in the reverse of the authorized/allocated condition where funds are authorized in the sense that they will meet a need or support a project on which there is consensus. Still, the actors who seek the funds use a strategic means to secure the allocation. Understanding this fact is the best way to find the line in the sand that matters. It helps separate political banter and partisanship from what is factually determined by standing authorizations and measured allocations to which the actors can be held accountable.
Since 2010 concerns regarding the economic recovery of Western New York were agreed to politically and based in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo and the surrounding counties. With “we have to do something” well established, a good analysis offered by the Citizen’s Budget Commission (CBC) finds the current NYS Budget in the areas of growth and reductions by program reasonable. It points out that steps to improve transparency and accountability still continue to make outcomes obscure — see (10 Billion Reasons).
The following examples illustrate corruption as an agent of change at the state level. The dangers of attacking public institutional efforts to implement reforms are critical and should not be part of political dialogue unless it is an independent evaluation of excesses and errors. The bills the legislature state Senate has offered solutions that would prevent the condition in which New Yorkers find themselves. It is your busted, “post-trauma” and catastrophic resolution policy ending in the prosecution of criminal intent. That is not good enough.
When a Corporation
Controls a Market
The Cor Construction Company is a mid-sized, upstate development corporation that got greedy for a guarantee. Despite the bid-fixing controversy, Cor still boasts of 50 employees and many large development projects. Like a business remains interested in drawing on the NYS investment in their economic sector and sections of the state requiring more jobs and economic development. Just outside of Syracuse, Cor built an attractive building for $15 million in state funding. The project also resulted in discovering significant crimes, bid fixing, and bribery by company executives involving the participation of a top aide in the governor’s office and many others.
As the dust of litigants continues to settle, the state gave the building to a nonprofit corporation created by Onondaga County for one dollar. With about $2M in additional seed funds, the project became the Greater Syracuse Soundstage (GSS). Not exactly Kaufman Studios, but it remains a capital investment that is not forgotten, it is in local hands, and the pressure to get a return on that investment continues. With more local control, it is likely to be successful but slow. Will the forgetful citizen of the state follow-up on this public investment? Will the GSS succeed, create jobs, become an important new institution. Who wants to follow that one, if it is you leave a reply?
When a Corporation Walks
The $90 million used to build the factory for the Soraa LED lighting company resulted in them leaving the deal with no penalty even though its developer was implicated in the bid fixing, bribery, and wire fraud by the agent in charge of the project. Meanwhile, NYS added up to $15 million more, so NexGen Power Systems, a semiconductor company, would retrofit and lease the plant outside Syracuse. Lesson learned: in the new deal, NexGen will repay $2.5 million if the company failed to create ten jobs in 2018 – it did. Another $2.5 million will be due if it fails to employ 30 people by the end of 2019. Another $2 million will be due if it fails to have 58 employees in 2020. Known as “clawbacks,” the company agrees to 290 jobs by 2024 measured in annual increments increases requiring $2M payments each of the next four years. As in the case of criminal prosecution, the practice of assuring accountability or the lack of it stands with those who hold the clocks and triggers of fact. Will these targets be met or penalties assigned? Who will follow that one if it is you leave a reply?
In these two examples, and the slow appeals process only leaves
names to follow to learn if punishment is a real deterrent – these are Alain
Kaloyeros, Stephen Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, (Cor) and Louis Ciminelli, (LPCiminielli)
and Joseph Percoco. All of whom are appealing prison terms. Also watch for Fort
Schuyler Management Corp., a corporation created by SUNY Polytechnic Institute which
oversaw the corruption-tainted projects regarding all the above. It may be the reforms proposed will not occur
unless the law provides its proof as a deterrent. at
When a Corporation Gets
The Western part of NYS is economically depressed. Increased public spending demand falls on the shoulders of its local development agencies and the state. New York is the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) and its ten regional economic development councils. The state’s human capital investment arm is the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) system. It also works with several community-based nonprofits partners who are asked to play a role or develop initiatives. The two examples above were obvious screw-ups that need follow-up. To sustain trust, the CEO of Empire State Development will point to the positives Howard Zemsky — Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, (3,000 jobs) for $31 million in grants and tax incentives. He will also tell you private-sector jobs continue to grow in NYS, and he’ll give EDC credit. Should we? If you want to follow that one, leave a reply.
The ESD is a business. Of its $77M in annual operating budget (pdf) for 2020, just $9M is from NYS program-specific budget appropriations and some federal funding. The ESD runs on commercial receipts, its assets, fees, and bond financing. As the NYS Controller recently observed, it may be a small agency, but its reach and economic power are considerable. Corruption can occur honestly, through stupid eagerness aimed at capturing fast-moving capital. If the Great Recession of 2008 or the ridiculous excess of Wells Fargo and others is not a signal to this, then the world is going blind.
What Will NYS Legislators Do?
Three bills (S6613B, S3354, S3984A) to address this question are supported (see descriptions below plus a snowball). They have passed the Senate, still await the Assembly, and are not codified (Article VII) as law. Briefly, they: 1) create a “database of deals” on economic development, 2) establishes a unified economic development budget, and 3) reforms procurement by restoring the State Comptroller’s oversight of contracts made by SUNY and CUNY, and the state’s Office of General Services to heighten the quality of monitoring.
A unified economic
development budget on the costs of all economic development programs is
essential; the use of metrics for comparability across all programs would
confirm benefits from private sector participation. All these steps can lead to
program design improvements and the efficiency of public tax and capital
The Senate is calling its passage of ethical reforms historic. The thing to pay attention to is they do not carry the force of law yet, and there is a lot more left to do. Voting reforms, and an independent redistricting agency ready to go following the 2020 census, and so on.
The number of those who have a strong interest in ethical reforms in the NYS legislature needs to grow. Their numbers are few. A strategy toward “exponential” participation is needed. The question is direct. When will you know if and how any of the following reasonable ideas become law and have access to the final content? Take one step, leave a reply to subscribe.
Sponsored by Senator Croci, it requires creating a searchable state subsidy and economic development benefits database that would benefit New Yorkers and policymakers by helping monitor the use of taxpayer money used to grow our state’s economy create jobs. The database would include the participant’s name and location, the period of received economic development benefits, the type of benefit received, and the total number of employees at all project sites. The number of jobs a participant is obligated to retain and create during the project is in the contract. The number of economic development benefits received for the current reporting year; and a statement of compliance indicating if any other state agency has reduced, canceled, or recaptured economic development benefits from a participant.
Sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), it prevents self-dealing in the government procurement process by enhancing the integrity, transparency, and accountability of the state’s procurement process. Historically, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has performed this essential oversight function. Still, in recent years OSC’s ability to do so has been eroded by executive and legislative action. The bill, called the New York State Procurement Integrity Act, would:
restore the state Comptroller’s independent oversight (eliminated
in 2011 and 2012) of SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts;
expand the Comptroller’s oversight of the procurement process to
include contracts over $1 million awarded by the SUNY Research Foundation;
prohibit state contracting through state-affiliated
not-for-profit (NFP) entities unless explicitly authorized in law;
Making Economic Data Available
to Help Measure Effectiveness S3354
Sponsored Senator Liz Krueger (D, Manhattan), directs the state Division of the Budget (DOB) to prepare an annual Unified Economic Development budget that outlines the aggregate amounts of state investments in economic development projects statewide, the benefactors of these investments, and the number of jobs created or retained by businesses as a result of this development assistance. The legislation also standardizes the types of information that state entities and recipients of development assistance must report to the DOB.
Sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), it creates the New York State Independent Budget Office to provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenues, expenditures, and management practices to members of the Legislature for any legislation with fiscal impact or at the request of a leader or a committee. Accurate, up-to-date information is a key ingredient for prudent, timely budgetary and policy decisions. At least 23 other states, including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, and Vermont, have already established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures.
Oddly interesting that the New York City Independent Budget Office is not mentioned in the Senate’s description. It is a very valuable independent tool in relation to the city’s massive OMB.
Help to find out what it will take to get these measures passed and signed by the Governor. One more time — leave a reply.