NY Gets D- Grade In National Corruption Risk Report

Confirming the public’s perception of a state government which has lost its way, New York State got a D- grade in a comprehensive report on corruption risk by The State Integrity Investigation, a  project of the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, which are national and international groups which advocate for clean and transparent government. New York’s D- is a cumulative grade based on an assessment of hundreds of measures and interviews with dozens of academics, former government officials, journalists and advocates, including Reinvent Albany.

“We’re talking about a gold medal-winning corruption performance by New York,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, an advocacy group. “It’s a pretty bleak moment for public governance.”

As suggested by our quote, we believe New York should have gotten an “F” for corruption risk, but some high risk categories, including subsidies directed to businesses which are major donors to political campaigns, were not graded.

Why New York got a D-

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Following the Money: Opening NY Campaign Finance Data

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On November 20, join staff from the NYS Board of Elections and NYC Campaign Finance Board for a preview of new state campaign finance data reporting, and a discussion on how to make state and city campaign finance data easier to use.

Register for this free event here.

This is a great opportunity for civic technologists, journalists, and advocates to speak directly to the government officials who collect and publish campaign contribution data in New York State and NYC. Campaign contributions are a staple of election year news coverage and analysis, yet collecting and reporting that data to the public in a useful form can be a big challenge for regulators at the state and city level. There is a lot to talk about.

The State Board of Elections is completely revamping aging technology and will deploy a new campaign finance reporting system after the 2016 elections.

The NYC Campaign Finance Board has made effective use of technology and is seeking to expand and improve its digital offerings before the next mayoral election in 2017.

Civic Hall: 156 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10010.

Governor Cuomo Speaks Out On “Good Corporate Citizenship” —- Seems To Forget GE

In a statement today about the announced closing of the FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Scriba, NY, Governor Cuomo spoke out on “Good corporate citizenship.”

“The closing of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant will devastate the lives of the more than 600 employees and their families. Good corporate citizenship must appreciate that there are many factors that count as the “bottom line.” The State of New York will pursue every legal and regulatory avenue in an attempt to stop Entergy’s actions and its callous disregard for their skilled and loyal workforce.”

We are glad to see the governor speaking out, and we would like to see him extend his philosophy of corporate responsibility to his dealings with America’s most notorious corporate tax dodger and local environmental scofflaw, General Electric. Governor Cuomo has been publicly wooing GE to bring its headquarters from Connecticut to New York — probably New York City, and has implied that he will give GE significant  taxpayer subsidies. It is hard to see how GE qualifies as a “good corporate citizen.”  Just last month, the New York Times harshly criticized GE for refusing to finish cleaning up the toxic PCB’s it dumped in the Hudson River, and Governor Cuomo for letting GE off the hook.  GE also fails in another basic measurement of corporate citizenship — paying taxes.  It is highly ironic that Cuomo is offering NYS tax dollars to a company which holds $119B in profits off-shore, and is ranked as the second biggest corporate tax evader and which paid -$71m in state income taxes in 2014.  GE employs 9,000 New Yorkers and is important to the state, but a good corporate “citizen” pays its taxes and considers more than the bottom line.