When Governor Andrew M. Cuomo first took office in 2011, he stressed the need to “fundamentally realign state government and face up to its overspending problems before it is too late.” His high-minded presentation left little doubt that our fiscal outlook is currently challenging solvency, with spending for state and local authorities in excess of $53.4 billion and another $233.3 billion in debt hanging over our heads.
To achieve the realignment necessary, on Jan. 5, 2011, the governor issued Executive Order No. 4 that established a Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission to provide recommendations that would result in the closure of at least 20 percent of the agencies and authorities in operation, with a report due date of June 1, 2012.
On April 19, 2011, appointments of the usual mix of former and current politicians, business and union leaders were announced with Paul Francis, Director of Agency Redesign and Efficiency and Antonio Perez, Chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak designated Co-Chairs. Promising?
On Dec. 15, 2011 the commission released a 72 page report that was primarily mission oriented, avoiding any definitive statement on how to really realign, right-size, or outright eliminate hundreds of entities that no longer effectively serve the public need. One group, representing state workers, found the report less than useful.
2012 proved to be an equally fruitless year with their website in vegetation status. With a final report due for release, I called Antonio Perez in Rochester to learn that he left the commission and was replaced by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy. I also called Co-Chair Francis and the press office of the governor to determine if the commission was still active. Both calls were never returned.
Now for the rest of the story! On Dec. 15, 2012 I filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the Records Access Officer of the Executive Chamber of the State of New York. The following reply was received on Jan. 23, 2013. “Please be advised that the Executive Chamber has conducted a diligent search, but does not possess records responsive to your request. Please note that Executive Order No. 4 states that the SAGE Commission’s final report shall be presented to the Governor on or before June 1, 2012 or such other date as the Governor shall advise the SAGE Commission.”
In my opinion, we are being manipulated as puppets on a string by Governor Andrew Cuomo; and the magnificence of his leadership should be challenged. How serious! The opening paragraph of the order he issued back in 2011 notes, “the last comprehensive governmental reorganization was completed in 1927.” We’re back to square one with insolvency lurking somewhere in the shadowy corners of state affairs. A man is only, as good as his word. My website reformalbanynowregistry.com is available for your use and comment.