THE PEOPLE FIGHT BACK...
THE PRESS IN ACTION --
THE PRESS IN ACTION --
May 1, 2015 "Andrew Cuomo dines with the executive director of public
ethics", Daily News (Ken Lovett)
May 1, 2015 "Andrew Cuomo dines with the executive director of public ethics", Daily News (Ken Lovett)
"Cuomo and state legislative leaders on Friday announced a commission
to review the performance of JCOPE since it was created in 2011."
"Cuomo and state legislative leaders on Friday announced a commission to review the performance of JCOPE since it was created in 2011."
July 24, 2015: "New Hire for ethics board attacked", Albany Times Union (Casey Seiler)
"An eight-member JCOPE review panel named in early May by Cuomo and legislative leaders is now halfway through its anticipated lifespan, though it's unclear if any activity has taken place. The review panel was originally required by statute to be named almost a year earlier; Cuomo and lawmakers ignored that deadline and gave themselves a new one in the 2015 budget negotiation.
Dick Dadey, executive director of the ethics reform group Citizens Union, said he had heard 'nothing' about the review panel's activities — including whether it would be scheduling public hearings — despite numerous queries.
'With these legislators dropping like flies, it's remarkable that this review commission isn't doing anything,' he said.
A JCOPE spokesman identified Anthony Crowell, dean of New York Law School, as a media contact for the review panel. Crowell did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.
The report is due Nov. 1."
"...the JCOPE review panel, whose members were appointed almost a year past the original deadline set by the 2011 law that created the ethics commission. The governor and legislative leaders generously gave themselves a new set of deadlines in the most recent state budget negotiation.
This weekend marks the midway point between the May 1 appointment of the panel's eight members — just three days before the arrest of one of the panel-pickers, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos — and the Nov. 1 deadline for its report. It has already lost one member: Seymour James of the Legal Aid Society of New York City, whose assistant told me his exit was due to 'time commitments.' James' schedule must be hectic indeed: The review panel's members have to date held one live meeting and one telephone conference. (Christopher Pisciota, who runs Legal Aid's Staten Island office, took his place on Friday.) The panel plans to hold 'stakeholder meetings,' but no public hearings have been scheduled."
"New York law requires that an independent commission review the work of JCOPE. That group has been appointed and is beginning its work. Its recommendations are due later this year. When its reactions become public, the governor should use that opportunity to call lawmakers back to get cracking on ethics reforms."
August 20, 2015: "JCOPE reviewers meet commission critics", Capital New York (Jimmy Vielkind)
"The commission tasked with examining New York's ethics watchdog met last week with some of its most persistent critics, POLITICO New York has learned.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics' review board, which was (tardily) appointed in May, huddled in Manhattan with leaders of Common Cause New York, the New York Public Interest Research Group, League of Women Voters and Citizens Union.
group's executive director, Dick Dadey, said members of
the review commission, led by Anthony Crowell, the dean
of New York Law School, showed 'sincere interest' in the
'They were seemingly beginning their fact finding...'...
In response to a phone call,
Crowell and Patricia Salkin—the dean of Touro Law Center and
another member of the review commission—issued a statement
saying last week's gathering was 'productive and part of a broad
outreach' that will include additional meetings over the next
"The controversial New York State ethics commission is in the midst of a review by a panel appointed by Governor Cuomo and the legislature. Government reform groups said they have been asked to give their opinions on how to fix some of the commission’s problems...
The review panel has already reached out to reform groups. Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), said he had a preliminary meeting with the panel. 'They’re just beginning that process,' Horner said. 'We’ve urged them to continue working.'
The League of Women Voters’ Barbara Bartoletti also met with the reform panel. ...
Bartoletti said the reform panel looking into JCOPE, is made up of 'irreproachable' appointees, including its chair, former Albany Law School Dean and now Dean of the Touro Law School, Patricia Salkin. It also includes a former Republican State Senator, Dale Volker from Western New York, and a former long-time aid to Governor Mario Cuomo, Elizabeth Moore, and others.... 'This review commission is our single best hope for turning things around,' Bartoletti said.
The review commission is due to issue a final report by November 1..."
September 20, 2015: "Will review of ethics watchdog have bite?", Albany Times Union (Chris Bragg)
"A panel reviewing the operations of the state's ethics and lobbying watchdog, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, faces a Nov. 1 deadline to issue a report on its findings. But it's not clear how deeply the panel can or will delve into the operations of an entity often criticized for its secrecy and charged with a lack of independence.
About six weeks from the
deadline, one review panel member,
said she was not aware of any efforts to request nonpublic
documents from JCOPE that might shed light on a watchdog that
makes many of its decisions behind closed doors.
'Not to my knowledge but I am just one member,' Salkin said via email.
Calls and emails to a number of other members of the review
panel were not returned..
Under the ethics reform law that created JCOPE, the panel was supposed to begin its work in June 2014, but its members were not appointed until this May 1.
As of early August, the review panel had held one live meeting and one conference call — neither of them open to the public.
According to Salkin, the review panel is in the process of scheduling a public hearing in Albany on Oct. 7, and scheduling a series of meetings in Albany on Sept. 28.
Salkin said interviews of JCOPE staff and commissioners have been conducted, and were ongoing. It's unclear how revealing those will be, however: JCOPE commissioners and staff, are required to sign non-disclosure statements saying they will not discuss confidential commission information, subject to a criminal penalty.
The review panel did confer in mid-August with leaders of several good-government groups, including Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters. Bartoletti said she was impressed by the academic credentials of the eight volunteer commissioners, and believed they would be independent.
The topic of whether the review panel was requesting documents from JCOPE did not come up at the meeting.
'Considering most of the people on the panel are very accomplished lawyers, I can only assume they thought about it and decided legally they can't do it,' Bartoletti said.
But JCOPE's commissioners can collectively choose to make such information public. The law states that, 'Any confidential communication to any person or entity outside the commission related to the matters before the commission may occur only as authorized by the commission.'
JCOPE commissioners themselves have said they to want to make more information public.
In a February report on its own workings, the watchdog's very first recommendation was that lawmakers change state law to 'provide JCOPE with more flexibility to make information public by a vote of the commissioners, including the ability to make investigative findings public if no legal violation is found or if JCOPE determines not to investigate.'
The commissioners also implored lawmakers to consider whether JCOPE's current exemptions from the Freedom of Information Law and Open Meetings Law should be 'modified to increase the transparency of JCOPE's operations while still protecting the integrity of JCOPE's sensitive compliance and investigative functions.'
David Grandeau, the state's former top ethics official and now a lobbying compliance lawyer, first raised some of these issues on his ethics and lobbying blog on Tuesday.
Grandeau, a strident JCOPE critic, posted an email he had received Tuesday morning from Salkin, in which she asked for Grandeau's input on the JCOPE review, and invited him to testify at the October public hearing.
Grandeau responded by asking Salkin to provide him with a list of investigations opened by JCOPE, files for concluded cases, minutes of executive sessions and transcripts of interviews of past and present JCOPE commissioners and staff.
'If you have these items I would be happy to review them prior to my appearance before your review commission so as to provide meaningful input on (JCOPE's) 'activities and performance,'' Grandeau wrote, adding later that 'if you haven't requested or reviewed those items nothing else you do will have any value or worth.'
Salkin did not provide Grandeau such documents in a follow-up email, as they apparently have not been requested by the review panel during its four-and-a-half month existence.
Salkin told the Times Union Tuesday, 'I
received David's suggestion this morning; the commission as a
whole has not seen it yet. It will be shared with everyone.'"
September 22, 2015: "JCOPE review panel sets two -- count 'em! -- hearings", Capitol Confidential-Albany Times Union (Casey Seiler)
"The review panel appointed in May to review the operations of the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics has scheduled two public hearings to receive public comments on the workings of JCOPE and the Legislative Ethics Commission.
The first hearing will be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Albany Law School; the second will run 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the following Wednesday, Oct. 14, at New York Law School, located at 185 West Broadway in New York City.
'In order to accommodate everyone who wishes to be heard, the public is encouraged to sign up in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org,' the panel said in its release. Written testimony can be submitted, as well."
September 24, 2015: "Ethics Commission Review Panel Set To Hold Hearings in October", WSKG News (Karen DeWitt): NY Now WAMC North Country Radio WRVO
"Fixing the New York's troubled ethics commission will be the subject of two hearings in Albany and New York City next month. Reform groups say they are ready with suggestions....
According to Dick Dadey, with Citizens Action, the hearings will be a chance for New Yorkers to weigh in on how to clean up public corruption.
Citizens Union and other groups have already offered suggestions to the panel, but also intend to speak at the hearings."
October 1, 2015: "Few indications of 'national search' for new JCOPE head", Albany Times Union (Chris Bragg)
"Wednesday's JCOPE meeting is set to begin at 10:30 a.m.
A half hour later, a panel mandated by state law to review JCOPE's operations will be holding one of two planned public hearings: The session, at Albany Law School, will overlap with JCOPE's meeting and make it difficult for commissioners to testify.
The report of the review panel, also appointed by Cuomo and legislative leaders, is due Nov. 1."
"...The panel, which is supposed to file its report by Nov. 1, will instead hold only a single hearing, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 14 at New York Law School in Manhattan, before submitting its findings.
The Review Commission’s brief notice of the Albany cancellation gave no reason."
October 7, 2015: "Three Cuomo-tied hires spark JCOPE board unrest", Capitol Confidential-Albany Times Union, Chris Bragg
"A panel created by a 2011 law mandated to review JCOPE’s operations was set to hold its only Albany public hearing on Wednesday — but it was canceled Friday in part because the review panel did not want to “pose a conflict” with JCOPE’s meeting, according to a review panel spokesman.
But only six people from the public
(including journalists) attended the JCOPE meeting on Wednesday
— with no members of the review panel on hand to see
JCOPE in person."
October 13, 2015: "A guide to what the JCOPE review commission will be looking at", Capitol New York, Bill Mahoney
October 14, 2015: "Witnesses at Public Hearing Say Ethics Commission Not Living Up to Its Mission", WXXI, Karen DeWitt; WXKG , North Country Radio; "Witnesses testify of dysfunction on state ethics commission at public hearing", WVRO
October 14, 2015: "JCOPE review chairman says he asked Cuomo for staff", Capital Confidential-Albany Times Union, Chris Bragg
October 15, 2015: "Reform Proposals Fly as Panel Evaluates Ethics Watchdog", Gotham Gazette, Samar Khurshid
* * *
October 16, 2015: "NYC Bar: Delay JCOPE review deadline three months", Capitol Confidential - Albany Times Union (Chris Bragg)
October 20, 2015: "More Silence from JCOPE", Albany Times Union, editorial
October 27, 2015: "Watch at 10:30 a.m.: JCOPE holds its monthly meeting", Albany Times Union-Capitol Confidential (Matthew Hamilton)
October 28, 2015: "High salaries for new JCOPE hires", Albany Times Union-Capitol Confidential (Matthew Hamilton) Albany Times Union
October 31, 2015: "JCOPE hire that sparked controversy is vying for top job", Albany Times Union (Chris Bragg)
November 2, 2015: "JCOPE review offers tepid critique", Gannett (Joseph Specter)
November 2, 2015: "Ethics review panel recommends changes at JCOPE", Capital New York (Bill Mahoney)
November 2, 2015: "JCOPE should be smaller, more transparent", Capitol Confidential-Albany Times Union (Casey Seiler)
November 3, 2015: "Cuomo's ethics watchdog is ineffective: review board", Daily News (Kristen Conley)
November 3, 2015: "Reviewers suggests changes for NY ethics commission", AP-Washington Times
November 8, 2015: "An ethical work in progress", Times Union editoral
November 9, 2015: "New teeth for New York's ethics watchmouse", New York Post editorial
November 9, 2015: "Silver, Skelos, and secrets and why JCOPE is a joke", Daily News editorial
November 12, 2015:
"Good government groups point to new evidence of Need for Major Ethics Reform", Gotham Gazette-Citizen Union (Meg O'Connor)
"Good-government groups on special session for ethics: If not now, when?", Capitol Confidential-Times Union (Matthew Hamilton November 11, 2015 letter to Governor, Temp Senate President, Assembly Speaker
November 13, 2015:
"As Top Officials Stand Trial, Groups Call for Ethics Reform", Public News Service (Andrea Sears) -- & in Long Island News
* * *
September 15, 2015: "That didn't take long"
September 21, 2015: "Barbara Bartoletti is an ethics lightweight"
September 23, 2015: "Who stepped in a huge stinking pile of ethics reform horseshit?"
October 2, 2015: "If a JCOPE review commission cancels its public hearing does anyone care?"
October 8, 2015: "JJOKE meeting got hot and I have the inside scoop"
October 12, 2015: "JERKOFF commission is trying to give me a hand job"
October 14, 2015: "Cancel the JERKOFF meeting Feerick proves my point"
October 15, 2015: "Volker is tonedeaf on independence and ethics"
November 3, 2015: "A happy ending for the JERKOFF review commission"