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Monday, October 20, 2014

Let's end the arrogance of power in New York

The arrest of seven corrupt politicians brought down by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara renewed the call for reform in New York state, and Governor Cuomo has come out swinging.

At a joint news conference with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Governor Cuomo told officials, “I want to strike while the iron is hot.”

Well, the iron is practically molten.

The governor went on to say, “I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that political corruption is a new problem, but it isn’t, and in many ways that makes it worse. There have been too many incidents in too many years.”

Cuomo is right. In fact, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group, in the past six years, 11 state senators have been arrested, more than the nine that have lost an election. It’s one thing to have arrests and legislation, but the only legitimate way to end corruption is, as Mayor Koch said, throw the bums out. The people must not be pushed around. They must take a stand and vote for change.

Politicians have become so much more brazen and arrogant in their plots and schemes, and it must not be tolerated. New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, accused of plotting with fellow arrestee State Senator Malcolm Smith to buy him the Republican nomination for mayor of New York City, famously told an undercover agent that, in New York, “you can’t do anything without the [expletive] money” and “money is what greases the wheels.”

Campaign finance laws may make fundraising and donors more transparent, but who is tracking the candidates themselves?

Cuomo’s new laws would make it easier for district attorneys around the state to investigate and prosecute the sleazy individuals who offer bribes to public officials, as well as the politicians who are taking the bribes. Under his proposal, plotting and conspiring to corrupt government officials would be a crime. Public officials would also be charged with a misdemeanor if they fail to report any public corruption schemes. Penalties would be stiffened for violations of existing laws.

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