They Rat Each Other Out
For Lighter Sentences
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

For the last few weeks, New Yorkers have been exposed to the spectacle of politicians caught in various inappropriate behaviors - sexual, financial or both. Even if the misdeeds of the accused officials are a subject long familiar to the political community, the public exposure changes the game by enabling the media to say what it believed all along, but did not print for lack of proof.

Vito Lopez is the prime example of this implosion. His fall from grace is particularly striking. Some months ago he was the leader of the Democratic Party in Kings County, the most populous county in New York State. Lopez was Chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee, responsible for approving the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars spent on public housing. His girlfriend was earning over $300,000 per year working for organizations he controlled, which would donate heavily to his political campaigns. The whole web of arrangements turned out to be a house of cards, but nonetheless until someone removed one card, it stood for over a decade.

Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

From time to time, we receive articles from talented writers which we think should be brought to our readers’ attention.

One of our most distinguished contributors is former Assemblyman Edward C. Sullivan, who represented the Upper West Side of Manhattan for 26 years. Here, Mr. Sullivan discusses various reform proposals for Albany to consider.  With wit and insight, he evaluates each idea and makes his recommendation.

You may well have your own feelings about the suggestions below and many others which have been offered. We encourage you to join the discussion below and let your voice be heard.

Crime Wave in Legislature
Or Just Better Prosecutors?
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, May 10th, 2013

Is there a crime wave among elected officials in New York State?

That is a question that can reasonably be asked in view of the current spate of indictments, trials and convictions of elected public officials, primarily state legislators. The increasing number of prosecutions, however, is not just today's news. In the last seven years, 32 state level officials have been the subject of criminal proceedings. The ratio of defendants to the entire population of the legislature is comparable to street criminality in some neighborhoods.

We ask: Why? Does the field of public service have a particular attraction for white collar criminals? Or do ordinary men and women, previously presumably honorable, succumb to temptation when substantial public funds are available for them to spend or allocate without their having to carry guns or commit crimes of violence?

Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The appearance of the new movie “42,” which tells the story of Jackie Robinson’s historic arrival in Major League Baseball, back in 1947, reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend in the 1980’s.

We were both Members of the New York State Assembly, I as a Democrat, he as a Republican. Despite our disagreement on many public issues, we were good friends. I asked him, on this occasion if he had read “The Boys Of Summer,” which I considered an excellent book. It was about the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1940’s and 50’s, written by Roger Kahn, a sports reporter who had covered the exploits of the Dodgers back in the day.

My friend said he had not read the book, so I recounted one of the stories told in the book, that I thought he would find interesting.

Six Sought GOP Ballot Line
By Bribes to County Leaders
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

The frustrated plot to seize political power is a staple of both history and fiction. From Guy Fawkes's gun powder plot in London in 1605 through the party switches and seizure of power in the New York State Senate in 2009, politicians have sought to improve the outcomes of elections through various means.

Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the waters of full contact politics, two new scandals have emerged, one based on an audacious plot to steal the mayoralty in 2013.

The plotters, six highly placed public and party officials, are alleged to have entered into a conspiracy to grant one of their number permission to enter the Republican primary in September. If he won then and in the November general election, City Hall would be in the hands of a band of lowlifes, a situation that reached its depth during the reign of Boss Tweed in 1870.

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