Monthly Archives: February 2015

An End to Serving Two Masters: Cap Legislator’s Outside Income Like Congress Does

Albany is in the midst of a long ethical meltdown. In just a few years we have seen a governor, comptroller, senate leaders and an assembly speaker arrested or deposed because of scandal. Most recently Sheldon Silver was indicted in part for hiding secret payments made from a law firm which employed him as a consultant. […]

Can Real Estate Businesses Succeed in New York Without Making Big Political Contributions?

The real estate industry makes the largest campaign contributions to New York politicians. This makes sense, because the state can make them rich with tax abatements, economic development aid, and regulations on rent. Big real estate political donors are at the center of the ongoing Sheldon Silver scandal, the end of the Moreland Commission, and […]

When Transparency Is Not Enough: Disclosing Lawmakers’ Outside Income Won’t Do Much

New Yorkers who want to reduce corruption in Albany should read The Trouble with Disclosure: It Doesn’t Work by Jesse Eisenger, which was published this week by Pro Publica and also appeared in the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. Eisenger makes the case that the disclosure* of various things hasn’t led to any reductions […]

Federal FOIA Advisory Committee “Listens to” Reinvent Albany

In June 2014, we published Listening to FOIL,  a short report that used an analysis of the FOIL logs of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to show that FOIL requests can be used as a tool to identify what data the public is seeking – and which should be published online as open data. […]

Committee on Open Govt Calls for 10 Upgrades to NY FOI Law

The New York State Committee on Open Government’s 2014 annual report is out, and is aptly called More to Be Done. The COOG is a government advisory panel mostly appointed by the governor, and directed by a full-time state employee, Robert Freeman. Freeman’s report includes numerous excellent recommendations, including two which we think are particularly important. One […]

Silver Resignation is “Historic Moment” For Assembly to Enact Major Reforms

Hours before Sheldon Silver resigns as Speaker of the State Assembly, six government reform groups sent a an email to all members of the NYS Assembly calling on them to enact four basic reforms that will make the Assembly more transparent, participatory and democratic. Below is the email from the groups. Download a copy here. January […]

Fake Shelly Is Reinvent Albany’s Aaron Naparstek

Reinvent Albany founding board member Aaron Naparstek was unveiled as Fake Sheldon Silver in a New Yorker magazine Talk of the Town piece today. Naparstek’s @ShellySilver parody account on Twitter is closely followed by Albany insiders, who have often speculated that the author is a legislative staffer or lobbyist. (Aaron is neither.) Naparstek launched the parody […]

NY Times Editorial Lists Three Albany Reforms

The challenge for Albany reformers is that the most important reforms are almost impossible to win because they are perceived by the powers that be as an existential threat. In the last five years,  major pushes for the creation of a statewide small donor matching program like New York City’s and for a less politicized […]