If you love New York, you have to read the amazing speech U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara gave to the Citizen’s Crime Commission today. Bharara highlights “gaping holes in transparency,” and a “culture of corruption that has grown like barnacles on a boat bottom.” His speech is so interesting because is a sober minded realist — whose job is wading through corruption — yet, he’s an optimist who clearly believes we, New Yorkers, can do much better.
Prepared Remarks of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
Public Corruption in New York: More than a Prosecutor’s Problem
Citizens Crime Commission
April 22, 2013
I want to thank Richard Aborn and the Citizens Crime Commission for inviting me and for organizing events like this. Before I get started, please silence your cell phones and body wires, as the case may be.
Why am I here this morning and why am I talking about this? Because public corruption in New York, from all the available evidence, appears pervasive and because it is more than a prosecutor’s problem. Recent and not-so-recent events paint a fairly dismal portrait of the state of government in the State of New York. It is a portrait of a show-me-the-money culture, as I have said before. It increasingly seems that the best way to find Albany on a map is to look for the intersection of greed and ambition. So is corruption in New York rampant and is it worse than elsewhere? All the available evidence says that the answer, sadly, is yes.
… And so after such a disheartening spate of scandals, it is heartening to see that many people are beginning to take the problem more seriously than perhaps they have until now.
And that is good because state lawmakers matter. State legislators, believe it or not, are important. Each senator represents more than 300,000 people; each assemblyman, almost 130,000. Senators confirm appointments of state officials and court judges. State lawmakers determine our budget. They decide how much money goes to children’s education, to public safety, to transportation, to health, and to public welfare. They decide what constitutes a crime and how it should be punished. And they draw the boundaries of the electoral districts in which you live, work, and vote.