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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cuomo's Making the Tammany Hall II Pigs Squeal

Hog heaven
EDITORIAL - The New York Daily News - April 29, 2008

There is now documented, slam-dunk, incontrovertible evidence that the state Legislature is up to its eyeballs in a humongous pork scandal of its own. As if the City Council's wanton abuse of so-called member items wasn't sickening enough, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday produced facts that show Albany lawmakers have been funneling tens of millions of dollars to deeply questionable, if not outright bogus, causes. By long tradition, the Assembly and Senate appropriate huge slush funds for distribution almost any way they see fit. The total now runs to roughly $170 million a year.

Virtually every lawmaker gets a chunk for pals in the home district. And they all swear up and down that they give the taxpayers' hard-earned money only to the most deserving groups. Groups that urgently need help so seniors don't go hungry and Little Leaguers can play ball and neighborhoods can be beautified. The lawmakers also protest that the many proven cases of pork going to fly-by-night outfits - packed with political cronies and spending money to no known purpose - are bad apples that should not spoil the barrel. Wrong. The barrel is filled with rot.

In reviewing grants earmarked in 2006 for about 6,500 groups, Cuomo imposed simple requirements on proposed recipients. Before collecting tax dollars, they'd have to certify, under penalty of perjury, that they would spend the money on a valid public purpose, that they do not employ friends or family of the sponsoring lawmaker and that they are up to date on their tax filings. Not a lot to ask, you would think.

Well, so far only 2,756 of the groups selected by lawmakers have satisfied Cuomo's standards. An additional 1,026 were rejected. And, most astonishing, 2,700 groups have not come forward to claim grants they were awarded more than two years ago. These organizations have turned their backs on $78 million. Suddenly, when the specter of perjury entered the picture, they decided they were better off leaving the money alone. Suddenly, freedom from prison was more important than free money.

And those services that were once so vital to the public weal, well, maybe they weren't so necessary after all. So, a tip of the hat to Cuomo, who's still on the case. He has yet to reveal the names of the runaway groups. He says he will do so, and we look forward to reading the names forthwith.  And to identifying legislators who conspired to rip off taxpayers.


Anonymous said...

take all the money back and put them ALL in jail - Good Luck Andrew Cuomo, take them all down....

Kate said...

Too much of the money collected in taxes in New York is divided up among political cronies both within the legislature and within our court system. Hopefully Cuomo will name names of not just the agencies, but alos the individuals within those agencies with potential political ties.

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