Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Albany, Show Us All Of The Money!

Yesterday we found out, or had the choice to find out the salaries of everyone that works for the New York State Government. Well, almost everyone. See the politicians have their state salaries listed, but those are technically part time jobs and the citizens that elected them are not allowed to see where they have other incomes, especially if it creates a conflict of interest. That is exactly what we are still seeking.

From The Poughkeepsie Journal:

"This should be the top ethics issue going into next year's session," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "Right now we have the combination of a lousy disclosure law and nonindependent oversight."

State law requires lawmakers, who are part time even though their government salaries are $79,500 a year (plus stipends), to report any sources of outside income of more than $1,000 to the Legislative Ethics Commission, which is made up of a majority of lawmakers and has never publicly criticized a lawmaker.

Lawmakers also report to the commission ranges of their income, in six categories ranging from less than $5,000 to more than $250,000. The public can see the sources of the income, but not the categories of the amounts.

Keeping such information secret "confirms the worst suspicions of cynics who say that the elected representatives don't work for the people - they have outside interests that have primacy," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.

And that is exactly how the system works, for the politicians and their outside entities that no one else is allowed to see. Seminerio is only one example of a massive problem we have up in Albany. Lawmakers say that changing the rules will scare good candidates away from running, but does anyone really buy that excuse? Good candidates shouldn't have to be afraid of where they work. What they have done, want to do and their overall record should prove to the people what kind of politician they are. Helping to hide those outside sources only adds to the general taint of what goes on in our state's capitol.