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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A way to reform ethics reform

A way to reform ethics reform
The Albany Times Union  - May 31, 2009

It's become clearer than ever in recent weeks that the ethics reforms New York attempted in 2007 need reforming. Gov. David Paterson's proposal to create a new ethics commission is a commendable first draft of how an effective system should look. Mr. Paterson envisions a more balanced board. He also offers an innovative idea that would add a necessary degree of separation between state officials and the panel that would investigate allegations of misconduct by those officials and the people who work for them. As we have said before, the current Commission on Public Integrity should be scrapped. The panel's members are all directly appointed or nominated by state officials. That's too direct a tie between the commission and those who may themselves come under the commission's scrutiny. Moreover, the governor has far too many appointees on the panel -- seven of the 13 members. There is no legitimate reason for one official to command a majority, or even a formidable minority. Mr. Paterson has a better idea: a five-member Government Ethics Commission that would replace the Commission on Public Integrity, and a Government Ethics Designation Commission that would appoint the ethics commission's members. That removes key officials who control virtually all of the state government from the appointment of the ethics commission. State leaders instead would appoint the members of the designation commission, a 10-member body that would seek out on its own candidates for the ethics commission. The only major problem with Mr. Paterson's proposal is that it again would give the governor an edge in the process. Of the designation commission's 10 members, four would be appointed by the governor. There is no compelling argument for that. Seven members -- one each chosen by the governor, Assembly speaker, Senate majority leader, the two legislative minority leaders, the comptroller and attorney general -- would be perfectly adequate.

Mr. Paterson also proposes to fold the Legislative Ethics Commission, a body appointed solely by legislative leaders to police the Legislature, into the Government Ethics Commission. He would also give the commission authority over campaign finance issues, an area previously overseen by the state Board of Elections. Both the Legislative Ethics Commission and the elections board have long been viewed as ineffective and designed more to serve politicians than watch over them. Such an ethics commission's authority would be strengthened by several bills percolating in the Senate to increase disclosure requirements on legislators' business relationships, reduce contribution limits for lobbyists and state contractors, and tighten up the absurdly lax rules on personal use by politicians of campaign funds. Now, with the session ending June 22, the question is whether all this is just for show, or whether the governor and Legislature are serious enough about cleaning up Albany to make ethics reform a priority. We will, hopefully not in vain, hold our breath.

The issue: Gov. Paterson offers a redesigned ethics commission. 
The Stakes: With some work, this would fix a system that has lost public confidence. 
To comment: tuletters@timesunion.com

27 comments:

NYC Attorney said...

To restore the full faith in the Justice system, Gov. Paterson must overcome the inherent conflict that all attorneys have in any system that is regulated by fellow attorneys. Give responsibility to independent Non-attorneys. The complete alleged Justice system as currently fabricated lacks any public confidence and many attorneys have similar feelings. It currently only works for a small group of well placed and powerful attorneys and Judges who have bend things to their only personal gain. The federal entities need to step in and take over the corrupt New York State court system.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't overlook the fact that most of the elected reps that vote for these things are lawyers too! That's even a bigger conflict!

upstate informed said...

The first commentor is accurate and complete in their view of and their idea of... correcting the NY state judicial system.

I have been involved in working within this system for many years and with federal litigation twice against the court system...and this is the only method that will cleanup this operation.

My realization of this method comes from my very lengthy and intensive investigations of our judicial system and it's powers. Our state officials are way too involved in multiple categories to even desire the thought of cleaning out the judicial mess.... because they are all involved in it..in some very criminal ways.

The people of this state have been left so completely out of the NY judicial administrative and selection process, that it has delivered us into a devastating hell!

The sins of our judicial leaders and members, rivels that of those they rule upon, with their alleged and altered justice!

Non lawyer oversight and citizen choice/vote for ALL judicial positions is mandated to assure a system that can be deemed ours....where we the people of NY can responsibly secure and be in control when or if it begins to break.

The federal government is the solution...if only they would recognize their role and rush to proceed....this country will certainly go down if NY state's judicial system fails like wall street.

Anonymous said...

Bring in the FEDS and CLEAN HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Forever Pessimist said...

Obviously it is a waste of time for our executive and legislative branch to attempt to reform judicial ethics.

Sotomayor Says Judges Make Laws in this Country

[see link]
www.operationrescue.org/archives/obama-nominee-sotomayor-unfit-for-supreme-court/

and then giggles about it.

Well, we all knew that anyway...

Luisa Esposito said...

When a Grievance Complaint gets filed at the DDC or CJC, against a Lawyer or Judge, it gets investigated (LOL) and if it ever gets to the Hearing process, the Public should be allowed to attend. THE HEARING PROCESS SHOULD NEVER BE IN A PRIVATE FORUM!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Reform Ethics - what are you kidding! Fire all the snakes and close the courts we would all be better off!

Anonymous said...

Years ago I was a NYC detective assigned to the Manhattan DA office. As such, we were afforded expenses for job related issues. At times a detective would lay out money for a case because the detective thought it was necessary. We are not talking about large sums of money here, that would always require authorization.

I had such a situation where I spent some money and then wasn't sure if I should be compensated for it. I went to my commanding officer and presented him with the problem. He gave me the best and most wisest advice I have ever received. He told me the best way to determine if I was entitled to it was to ask myself, I mean really ask myself if this was the right thing to do. Usually, an honest man will be very conscious of right and wrong.

The point is that most folks do have a lot of ethics, and if they really look into their hearts on all matters of ethics they will usually come out with the right answer.

In the PD, the officers have two performance evaluations a year. One time the boss did an experiment, He allowed us to make out our own evaluations. What he found was the officer's own evaluation was usually less than the one his superior made out for him.

The people that should be used for any ethics commission should be drawn from the common folks with no political attachments. No salary, no compensation other than ordinary expenses. They should be banned from any paid position for several years after they leave the commission.

If political correctness has a place in the selection process, e.g. percentages of blacks, white, gays, males, females, etc., then make those numbers known before those folks are drawn.

I am available for the assignment. The one thing we don't need is more lawyers mucking up the system. just ordinary folks without an agenda or an ax to grind, or a politician to protect.

LTC said...

Crooked Politicians and Crooked Lawyers are ruining and polluting our Judicial and Legal Systems...They have all SOLD their SOULS to the DEVIL!!!!

TLC said...

Crooked Politicians and Crooked Lawyers are ruining and polluting our Judicial and Legal Systems...They have all SOLD their SOULS to the DEVIL!!!!

LTC said...

Crooked Politicians and Crooked Lawyers are ruining and polluting our Judicial and Legal Systems...They have all SOLD their SOULS to the DEVIL!!!!

Anonymous said...

LTC- stands for, LOST TRUST in our COURTS!!!!!

Eliot Bernstein said...

None of these public office crimes can succeed without Conflicts existing and conflict laws being wholly ignored. Force all players to sign conflict disclosures. Also, each person should file with the following organization regarding conflicts you may have had in NY.

Conflict of Interest Board - New York, USA http://www.nyc.gov/html/conflicts/html/home/home.shtml

The legal entity for enforcing the Conflict of Interest Laws of New York is the Conflict of Interest Board. It consists of five members, appointed by the Mayor and through the advice and consent of the Council. These members are not permitted to hold any public office not seek election to any public office, be a public employee in any jurisdiction, hold any political party office, or appear as a lobbyist before the city, parallel to their Board membership.

The members serve for six years each and the Board meets at least once a month. The Mayor is empowered to remove any board member from office for neglect of duty, gross misconduct or inability to discharge the powers of office.

It is this Board that is given the duty of informing public servants of the provisions of the Conflict of Interest Laws and assisting them in understanding the law. They develop education materials and programmes for educating the public servants on the provisions of this law, and train all individuals who become public servants.

The Board provides advisory opinions with respect to all matters covered in the law and ensures that financial disclosures are examined to determine compliance with the regulations on financial disclosures. It also receives complaints and directs the department of investigation to conduct investigations into matters related to its responsibilities.

The Board is also empowered to review the provisions of the Conflict of Interest Laws and recommend to the Council from time to time any changes or additions that it may consider appropriate or desirable.

Source: http://www.nyc.gov/html/conflicts/html/home/home.shtml

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Paterson this doesn't cut it. You'll get ethics reform when you call the media into your office and present many of 60,00 plus complaints filed with exposecorruptcourts and say you're not tolerating it any longer. Direct Cuomo get off his butt and immediately begin prosecution. Every week reveal more judicial corruption. The media will do the investigating for you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Paterson this doesn't cut it. You'll get ethics reform when you call the media into your office and present many of 60,00 plus complaints filed with exposecorruptcourts and say you're not tolerating it any longer. Direct Cuomo get off his butt and immediately begin prosecution. Every week reveal more judicial corruption. The media will do the investigating for you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Paterson this doesn't cut it. You'll get ethics reform when you call the media into your office and present many of 60,00 plus complaints filed with exposecorruptcourts and say you're not tolerating it any longer. Direct Cuomo get off his butt and immediately begin prosecution. Every week reveal more judicial corruption. The media will do the investigating for you.

Eliot Bernstein said...

A current or former public servant who violates the Conflicts of Interest Law may be subject to serious penalties. The Board may fine a public servant up to $10,000 for each violation of the Conflicts of Interest Law and may recommend to his or her agency that he or she be suspended or fired. A violation of the Conflicts of Interest Law could also result in the public servant’s City agency, on its own initiative, suspending or firing the public servant under the agency’s disciplinary process. A violation of the Conflicts of Interest Law is also a crime, a misdemeanor that the District Attorney’s Office may prosecute. Upon conviction, a public servant may be fined and sent to jail and lose his or her City job. The Board may also void any contract or transaction that violates the Conflicts of Interest Law.

In order to report a conflict of interest violation, you may:


1. Call or write the Conflicts of Interest Board, 2 Lafayette Street, Suite 1010, NY, NY, 10007, (212) 442-1400;

2. Call the Department of Investigation, 24 hours a day, at (212) 825-5959; and/or

3. Call the Inspector General of your agency (you can find your Inspector General’s name and telephone number at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doi/html/ig_office.html.
All complaints are confidential.
Enforcement Links


Below are links to more information on the COIB's Enforcement Unit, including a searchable index of all of its Enforcement cases.

(Documents on this page may be Adobe Acrobat files. Download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Enforcement: A Plain Language Leaflet
Enforcement: Current Chapter from the COIB Monograph
Enforcement Case Summaries
Enforcement Fines
Enforcement Dispositions (searchable via New York Law School's "CityLaw" website)
Executive Order No. 16 (Department of Investigation)

Anonymous said...

How are these people going to reform ethics when they have no ethics?

Eliot Bernstein said...

Conflicts in State of New York
http://www.tenant.net/Other_Laws/Pubofc/pubofc.html
PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW
Laws 1909, Chap. 51.

AN ACT in relation to public officers, constituting chapter forty-
seven of the consolidated laws.

Became a law February 17, 1909, with the approval of the
Governor. Passed, three-fifths being present.

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and
Assembly, do enact as follows:

CHAPTER 47 OF THE CONSOLIDATED LAWS
PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW
Sec. 2. Definitions.

The term "state officer" includes every officer for whom all the
electors of the state are entitled to vote, members of the
legislature, justices of the supreme court, regents of the
university, and every officer, appointed by one or more state
officers, or by the legislature, and authorized to exercise his
official functions throughout the entire state, or without
limitation to any political subdivision of the state, except
United States senators, members of congress, and electors for
president and vice-president of the United States. The term
"local officer" includes every other officer who is elected by
the electors of a portion only of the state, every officer of a
political subdivision or municipal corporation of the state, and
every officer limited in the execution of his official functions
to a portion only of the state. The office of a state officer is
a state office. The office of a local officer is a local office.

Sec. 17. Defense and indemnification of state officers and employees.
2 (b)
Sec. 18. Defense and indemnification of officers and employees of public entities.
3 (b)

Sec. 74. Code of ethics.
(2)
(3)
(4)

Anonymous said...

I must again remind you that Cuomo cannot prosecute judicial corruption...because he is presently defending it in federal court for the past 5 yrs.

His AG is more than well aware that OCA has activated and participated in corruption, that was blatantly evident from testimony and discovery...and yet Cuomo continues to move on to continued revelations.....for how many more years....to avoid admitting he is allowing judicial corruption to fester and perpetuate!

Unless Cuomo is using his defense process to conduct an investigation..which is illegal...then he is well aware of what has been stated here and believes his job is still to defend corruption and permit it's advance even though 60,000 people of NY state (that he represents also)REPORTED THEIR objection vehemently to it's existence. The people of NY desire his intervention immediately ....through his ethical push for action from the DOJ and the FBI to investigate it!

Cuomo is not your savior.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Paterson this doesn't cut it. You'll get ethics reform when you call the media into your office and present many of 60,00 plus complaints filed with exposecorruptcourts and say you're not tolerating it any longer. Direct Cuomo get off his butt and immediately begin prosecution. Every week reveal more judicial corruption. The media will do the investigating for you.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the only requirement of office that AG sees for himself is that to use it as a springboard and public relations gambit to get himself elected governor. Who knows what after that - President?

One should ask HRH how many cases did he prosecute while in the Manh DA office.

Anonymous said...

Who is HRH?

Anonymous said...

His Royal Highness Andrew Cuomo. Sorry about that.

Godfrey Putange said...

WHO KNOWS WHY THE JUDICIARY IS SO DYSFUNCTIONAL? NO SPECULATORS NEED APPLY.
I REALLY NEED THE BOTTOM LINE !

Anonymous said...

who, what, when, where??? I was just dreaming about justice... let me take another pill maybe, next time I will dream of corrupt judges and attorneys been sent to jail by Royal Higness Andrew Cuomo.. zzzzzzzzzz

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Blog Archive

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:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2