The truth about good government groups is that they can only do so much. They can decry ethical lapses and advocate for reforms, but they aren’t going to get the pols to change their ways.
That’s because Albany is a place where shame died and was buried long ago.
Enter a new good government group– Reinvent Albany, which is led by some very sharp people who have been successful in the environmental and urban planning fields.
This is an encouraging development. New blood is needed in the movement, and so is a new approach.
We understand the group’s focus is “making government more understandable and accountable through the use of online tools…” The group will also “foster cooperation between open government advocates…” and issue reports.
At the risk of being presumptuous, NT2 would like to make a suggestion for the new group. In this regard, there is a desperate need in New York. It’s not the need for greater scrutiny of the pols. Instead, what we need more than anything else is greater scrutiny of the officials whose job it is to enforce ethics laws.
The case in point is the Public Integrity Commission. Exposed as conflicted and corrupt by the Inspector General, the members of this commission ignored calls for their resignations from the governor and good government groups. And now the commission operates, not in the public interest, but for its own public relations benefit.
The simple truth is this: There will be no accountability in New York until the state has a truly independent top ethics panel that operates not in secret, but in full public view.
We urge Reinvent Albany to make the establishment of such a body one of its top priorities.