Dear Commons Community,
Governor Andrew Cuomo is floating a proposal to create a new inspector general position that would have broad powers to investigate state procurement processes. The positon would answer directly to the governor. Legislators and other government officials are referring to this proposal as “a scheme’ that would be used by Cuomo for questionable political reasons. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article:
“For its part, the Cuomo administration recently floated proposals to create a new inspector general with oversight of state issues at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a new special prosecutor with broad investigative powers over the state procurement process. For their part, legislative leaders continue to have their hopes set on a raise for their members.
While the administration appears to have backed off part of the Port Authority proposal — saying bill language that would have enhanced the governor’s powers over appointees reflected earlier thinking on the subject — the idea of an inspector general for the authority is still alive. The new procurement prosecutor, controlled by the governor, would be empowered to investigate complaints, policies and procedures in vast array of agencies, employees and contracts.
The prosecutor proposal has set off another skirmish between Mr. Cuomo and the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, a fellow Democrat.
Mr. Schneiderman expressed his displeasure over the proposal in a letter to Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders on Wednesday, calling the idea of an executive branch prosecutor “likely unconstitutional” and “a scheme.”
“It does not establish the independence required of a procurement watchdog,” Mr. Schneiderman wrote, “and therefore will not achieve the real accountability and reform our state desperately needs.”
The governor first floated the concept of such executive oversight in a statement last month, just before Joseph Percoco, one of his closest aides and a former confidant, was indicted in a corruption scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts.
Also indicted was Alain Kaloyeros, who resigned as president of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, which has been central to the governor’s upstate economic policies and would also be subject to the powers of the proposed procurement prosecutor…
The attorney general was not alone in reacting negatively to the governor’s idea. On Thursday, a collection of government watchdog groups condemned the proposal, saying in a letter it would “effectively weaken the independent oversight authority of the state comptroller and the attorney general.”
Last week, Thomas P. DiNapoli, the comptroller, asked the governor to restore his powers to monitor the state and city university systems’ spending and state contracts. He said his authority in those areas had been substantially reduced by executive and legislative actions during Mr. Cuomo’s time in office.
The possibility of a special session has been percolating since last month, when a commission formed to evaluate a raise for lawmakers and members of the executive branch disbanded after Mr. Cuomo’s appointees helped block approval of a raise proposal.
Mr. Cuomo, who has a reputation for wielding a heavy hand in all things Albany, then offered up the basics of a possible deal: supporting a salary increase in exchange for action on ethics and other policy proposals.
The governor’s overt quid pro quo irked legislative leaders and members, but did not stop negotiations: Talks were continuing on Thursday, with lawmakers being contacted about their holiday-season availability. A special session could be convened as early as Tuesday.”
Cuomo sinks Albany deeper and deeper into the political muck!