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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
GREAT New York Daily News Editorial (MORE, CLICK HERE)
New York Daily News Editorial - Monday, December 10th 2007,
Sunlight, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote, is "the best of disinfectants." And a lot more of it is shining on Albany's germy recesses these days thanks to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo's Project Sunlight - a Web site devoted to connecting the dots between money and politics in Albany - went online last week. For the first time, New Yorkers can easily look up political donations to individual state politicians, legislation they have sponsored and who lobbied on the matters. With a few mouse clicks, you can also find out how much pork-barrel spending they are doling out, and to whom.
The site (sunlightny.com) marks a sharp break with the Capitol's culture of evasiveness. And, of course, there is far more to make public. First among the materials must be the pols' personal financial disclosure forms.
Cuomo says these are coming, and that's good, because the public will see how disgracefully little New York's part-time legislators require themselves to reveal about how much money they make and how they make it.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is "of counsel" to a major personal-injury law firm - and that's about all you can find out - while blocking tort reform. Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno ran a consulting business and has a job with a money management company that invests for labor unions. What does Bruno do for both enterprises? Beats us. But we know he mingled his private interests with his public duties to the point that the FBI opened an investigation.
Secrecy is such a tradition in Albany that, two years ago, Bruno and Silver went to court in a failed attempt to avoid identifying which lawmakers requested which pork-barrel grants. Now, Cuomo and Blair Horner, who for years was New York's top public-interest watchdog as head of NYPIRG, have put the same data at everyone's fingertips.
(Compare how much money Silver and Bruno throw around with the slices your own legislators bring home. You'll be amazed at the disparity.)
To their credit, Silver and Bruno backed Project Sunlight with a $701,000 appropriation. It's money very well spent. Let the sun shine in.
...and for judges
Justice Duane Hart of the Queens Supreme Court has been in trouble with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct for a year, and he may lose his gavel. The charges against him include being rude and intemperate in an argument with court officers, wrongly threatening to hold in contempt and jail a lawyer and attempting to steer witness testimony in the commission proceedings. Hart says his actions do not rise to misconduct.
We know all this only because Hart, in an exceedingly rare move, asked that the proceedings be open to the public - which they were last week.
Open proceedings against jurists occur in less than 1% of commission cases, and only at the behest of the accused. This, despite the citizenry's right to know how - of all people - those who sit in solemn judgment conduct themselves.
Once a formal charge is brought against a judge, the process should automatically be open. That is in the public interest, and the law should be changed to ensure same. The commission itself has long wanted its work to be public, but the Legislature insists on secrecy.
Judges - at least some of them - deserve positions of honor. The public deserves to know the details when someone allegedly sullies that honor. And, the judges themselves should be seeking the light, as Hart did.
Posted by Corrupt Courts Administrator at 3:04 PM
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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
Worthy of Review: Click here to see 'Sex Scandal at Attorney Ethics Committee'
Worthy of Review: Click here to see 'NY Attorney pleads guilty to federal felony; Gets law license back'