Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Police Officer Eduardo Cornejo, one day last May, decided to take in a Mets game on his day off. So he went to Citi Field in Flushing, Queens, and bought a ticket to an upper deck seat, among the nose-bleed seats, as they are called. He settled in to watch his team, the Mets, play the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

But he noticed during an inning break that most of the seats in the lower deck, the Party City Deck, were vacant, so he decided to move himself down there, closer to the field and he sat in one of the thousands of empty seats.

But a Mets attendant spotted him, demanded to look at his ticket, and asked him to get up and move back to where he belonged, in the cheap seats. (The purchaser of the ticket for the seat Cornejo had occupied had chosen not to come to the game.) Cornejo gave the attendant the logical argument that since no one else was using the seat, what difference did it make? The attendant, not a philosopher, apparently, called the police (on-duty) and had Cornejo arrested.

Obesity Rising Sharply In US;
City Bans Sale Of Sugary Soda
In Cartons Larger Than 16 oz
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Friday, September 28th, 2012

Observers of city government have learned about a wide variety of local issues in recent years. Today a new question is before us.

We have written about education, housing, planning and development, health care, crime and punishment, air and water quality, rent control, housing and planning, waste disposal, public sector unions, race and intergroup relations, as well as political topics such as districting, elections, campaign finance and term limits.

This year recurring scandals involving legislators have provided an ominous background for the solons’ deliberations. It is hard to pay close attention to the intricacies of local laws when your colleagues are in the dock.

JCOPE Off To A Slow Start;
Can The Legislature Cure Itself?
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

 

The issue of ethics reform in Albany has bounced around for several years. Everyone is supposed to favor it, but somehow it never happens.

The controversy caught fire in 2006 when the Brennan Center for Justice, affiliated with New York University School of Law, was said to have concluded that New York State had the most dysfunctional legislature in the country. It has been disputed whether that phrase actually appears in the report. That to us is akin to the historical question: Did Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, actually say "Let them eat cake" when she was told that the peasants in France had no bread?

In fact, there is no evidence that she used those words, and the phrase must be considered an urban legend. But it resonated as a statement of royal disdain for the plight of poor people, and it may have contributed to the climate which led to the guillotining of Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI.

Why Many Politicians
Disappoint The Public
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

One of the perennial questions citizens ask about government is: why is it so corrupt? People who read newspapers, listen to the radio or watch television encounter a steady flow of stories recounting misconduct by public officials or reporting the details of their arrests, trials and, in many cases, convictions. The crimes of Shirley Huntley, Carl Kruger, Vito Lopez, Naomi Rivera and Larry Seabrook have been reported in great detail.

The crimes of politicians can easily be divided in two classes: job related and non-job related. Soliciting or accepting a bribe in exchange for a vote or a contract is job related, while sexual misconduct, such as former Governor Spitzer’s acts, is considered non-job related.

The two categories overlap when the misconduct involves public employees, particularly if they are forced into unwanted personal relationships with their colleagues or superiors.

Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Monday, September 10th, 2012

Today we offer additional commentary on the ongoing scandal born of the State Assembly and now encompassing two statewide offices. Like our recent essay on the matter, Mr Sullivan observes the inner-workings of the Assembly, his perspective being that of a long-time member and committee chair.

 

 

There are calls these days for the reining in, or even the resignation, of State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the powerful leader of the Assembly Democrats in Albany.

Some people are upset over the way he has handled the misbehavior of Vito Lopez, a Democratic Assembly Member and, until recently, an ally of the Speaker.  Lopez was the Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee for years, before Silver removed him from that position, after allegations of sexual abuse of Assembly staff members under Lopez’ supervision were upheld by the State Ethics Commission. Silver also stripped Lopez of perks due him as a senior Member of the Assembly.

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