Albany’s new ethics watchdogs function a lot like the rest of state government

Andrew Cuomo. (GQ magazine)
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Day 1 has not gone smoothly for the people policing ethics in Albany. 

First, a couple of appointees were criticized for having ties to lawmakers: One appointee, attorney Ravi Batra, worked with Brooklyn Democratic County Leader Clarence Norman, who later was convicted of corruption; another appointee is the husband of a current State Senate staffer.

And, according to Batra, the executive director of the no-longer-existing Public Integrity Commission, Barry Ginsberg, has "taken over" as executive director of the new Joint Commission on Public Ethics, and needs to be replaced. Batra's proposed replacement director, David Grandeau, chimed in by saying that Ginsberg is impersonating a public official.

I'm not sure how much to read into the silence from the other appointees charged with policing ethical behavior in the legislature and executive office, but it's not encouraging.

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Already, before JCOPE has had the chance to demonstrate its ability to weed out corruption in Albany, where two legislators are currently facing bribery charges, they are have trouble getting their own affairs in order.

Some links:

Former New York State Republican operative Tom Basile gets photographed as part of Time magazine's coverage of The Protester. [Patrick Witty]

A controversial ethics watchdog wants David Grandeau back in watchdog business. [Nick Reisman]

Grandeu likes the idea of being drafted back into that role, and thinks some good-government groups "are a joke." [Casey Seiler]

Batra, who has been criticized for his own ties to unethical pols, seems to be "doing his best to show critics that he is involved and interested in ethics." [David King]

Cuomo's budget and redistricting were issues that drew the some lobbying money. [Colby Hamilton]

Unlike in past years, the organization that spent the most money on lobbying was advocating for the governor's budget, not against it. [Erik Kriss]

Cuomo artfully avoids the question, "So, Cuomo versus Christie in '16?" [Celeste Katz]

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman looks at charitable fund-raising. [Celeste Katz]

One of the guns undercover investigators were able to buy illegally from an online vendor was the same model used by the killer of Officer Peter Figoski. [Jill Colvin]

62 percent of private sellers were wiling to sell guns to undercover agents posing as people who couldn't pass background checks. [David Seifman]

When one prospective buyer said "I probably couldn't pass" a background check, one gun dealer replied, "Yeah, I probably couldn't either." [Joseph Goldstein]

Most of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators took pleas, abandoning their threat to "clog" the courts. [Serena Solomon and Shayna Jacobs]

City Comptroller John Liu halted a custodial contract renewal that had an unexplained $20 million increase. [Winnie Hu]

A woman was crushed by an elevator this afternoon in an 85-year-old Manhattan building that received 4 unsatisfactory elevator inspections in the last two years. [Andy Newman, Meredith Hoffman and Al Baker]