How do I write this and be fair and constructive? Hmm. Double hmm.
I think the first point is that we ought not to rush to judgment. Let’s give JCOPE a chance. We should all want it to succeed.
Thinking positively now: Some of the appointments are very good. For example, Pat Bulgaro is one of the most honorable guys in Albany. If he’s on board, it’s a real insurance policy against the kind of shenanigans we saw in the past. He simply wouldn’t tolerate that. Gary Lavine is cut from the same cloth and an additional guarantee that the old Spitzer days are a thing of the past.
That said several of the commissioners have issues from conflicts to past associations.
These issues need to be handled properly – through a clearly-defined policy of disclosure and recusal. (Cherkasy operated for months with a host of conflicts he never fully disclosed.)
JCOPE must follow the rules right from the beginning. And in this regard, here’s another important issue: There is no provision under the law for the old executive director to continue to function under the new commission, but that is what appears to be happening this morning.
What does it say about the new commission that its first action is to flout the rules and fudge it? Isn’t that what previous discredited ethics panels did? Not good.
Fortunately, there’s a way to address all of these issues. The new chair of the commission must act today. Step one: Pick up the phone and tell Barry Ginsberg, who was linked to so many past problems, that he has no more right under the statute to be sitting in his chair than Pedro Espada does. Step two: Convene a meeting and appoint one of the commissioners to act in a caretaker role until such time as a search for new ED is concluded. Step three: Develop a protocol for internal conflicts. Before any substantive, non-organizational votes can be taken, this is imperative. In this regard, people need to know that the new panel is committed to handling internal ethical matters appropriately and not making expedient decisions.
The noted philosopher Lao Tzu stated “expediency is the mere shadow of right and truth; it is the beginning of disorder”
Hopefully, JCOPE will take Tzu’s advice to heart and do all of this as soon as possible. If it does, it will get off to a legitimate start. If it doesn’t it will prove T. S. Elliot’s point that “In my beginning is my end”
Don’t you love Google quotes?