Limiting outside jobs for Albany's top pols? Now that is something I can get behind Malcolm Smith on. The Majority Leader told reporters this yesterday at a press conference along with wanting those that do to disclose what they do and how much they make from it. It almost sounded too good to be true.
"I believe, at this point in time, the paradigm needs to shift on how state government manages its members," Smith said after speaking at a luncheon. "There are enough circumstances and cases where it's gotten us in trouble, and it'd be better for everybody if we make sure that there's enough clarity in what we do and how we do it so we can be more focused on the business of the state."
He said he favors "very liberal" disclosures. Currently, the Legislative Ethics Commission releases disclosure forms that show outside employment, but do not detail income received. State Senator Daniel Squadron is poised to introduce two bills, his aide John Raskin told me, which would mandate more disclosure for legislators and create an independent government watchdog.
Smith went on to say that he has closed down his real estate business and receives no outside income.
An independent government watchdog? Can my ears be deceiving me?
Well, that of course is merely talk at this point in time, but I'm glad to hear the Majority Leader is focusing on the business of the government and not the sour real estate market. Especially with this narrowly divided Senate, Smith has had his hands full trying to get his caucus to vote for legislation, sometimes succeeding and other times not.
Smith mentioned that there is a conflict of interest when it comes to outside jobs. Of course that is obvious to those that watch the state legislature, but I wonder if Shelly Silver heard Smith's sound advice.