This article, titled “Nearly 300 Empire State Employees Slapped With Corruption Charges” illustrated that there is indeed corruption in other branches of state government. This article’s focus was on the executive branch that the commission did not deem worthy of mentioning in its report.
Then came the coverage from our December 27, 2013 issue, where we reported on the unrelenting, and unchecked, power of Brooklyn Democratic party boss Frank Seddio. And Seddio has come up again in this very issue, on page 3, as the Jewish Voice reports that Seddio is apparently assisting Mayor Bill De Blasio in backroom deals that are being put in place to secure the position of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
And while outgoing city councilman Lewis Fidler attempted to make this appear to be ‘par for the course’ by saying that “no speaker has taken that job since I was there without discussing committee assignments with possible supporters. This is standard,” perhaps it is standard. Perhaps it is business as usual. But it shouldn’t be. There should be no backroom deals but transparency in government.
This is the transparency that Michael Bloomberg had promised us in the early days of his administration, when he said “All I could offer you was a promise: That I would govern as a results-oriented leader, not a partisan politician; that I would make integrity the hallmark of City Hall, never owing the special interests a favor; and that I would always do what I believed to be right, no matter which way the political winds were blowing.”
See again: Never owing the special interests a favor. For his part Bloomberg managed to keep that in check (see our related story on Page 3, titled “Bloomberg-era Corruption Arrests Break Record.” We learned upon reporting for this article that during his 12 years in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration made 6,773 municipal corruption arrests, which is nearly double the Giuliani tally for corruption arrests. While it is troubling that it has to occur, as least Bloomberg stepped up his game by aggressively pursuing those arrests. What was not reported was the conviction rate.
The recurring theme here is the repetition in our coverage of a dirty political arena that continues to define New York. Keep in mind that in this issue we also cover the departure of Jeremy Creelan from his position as the “good government guy”, or the “ethics guy” in the Cuomo administration. The timing is ironic as the corruption hits keep coming: Creelan is most famous for co-authoring a 2004 report on the dysfunction at the state legislature, which he called the worst in the country.
For all the stories that we turn out on commission’s and reports and studies that tally arrests, probes, investigations and charges of impropriety, we look ahead to a time when we can begin reporting on the solutions and not the sad statistics. When city council seats are not bought and sold with prize committee chair positions and generous stipends. When steering committees don’t direct slush fund cash to charities either they oversee themselves or they have family members working alongside, which is the equivalent of lining their own pockets.
In 2014, the Jewish Voice looks forward to printing stories whereupon New York Governor Andrew Cuomo can indeed pass campaign finance and ethics reforms. Where the recommendations of the Moreland Commission for reform aren’t kept in limbo by a stalled state Congress, and where the Bloomberg record breaking corruption busters keep on fighting the good fight.