Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Having your cake and eating it too

The proverb that one can't have cake and eat it too is found thruout different cultures.  It is believed to have originated in March 1538 in a message from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Cromwell, as "a man can not have his cake and eate his cake". It is found in almost every language in various forms. In Bulgarian it is "both the wolf is full and the lamb is whole" in Hebrew "you can't eat the cake and keep it whole" in Italian "to have the barrel full and the wife drunk" and even Tamil (whatever that is) "desire to have both the moustache and drink the porridge"

JJOKE's most recent opinion allowing the governor's "domestic partner" to fly on the state's various aircraft proves the point that while the proverb says you can't have your cake and eat it too that doesn't prevent JJOKE from giving it a try.

The opinion greatly expands the definition of "first family" that previous ethics opinions had established when it comes to who gets the benifits available to a governor's first family.  In a giant leap from previous opinions JJOKE with the stroke of a pen takes the definition of "domestic partner" from the Health Law and applies it to the Public Officers Law but ONLY with respect to the use of state resources.  And the group known as New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms jumped on the cake bandwagon and filed a complaint effectively saying if you want to allow the governors "domestic partner" to get the perks of the first family she should have to file a financial disclosure report as well.

Small problem in the world of cake eating.  The Public Officers Law has a clear definition for the term "spouse" when it comes to financial disclosure and the governor's "domestic partner" doesn't fall within it.  So on its face it looks like JJOKE will be able to keep the barrel full and the wife (or domestic partner) drunk.  But not so fast these proverbs exist because they usually are true and the JJOKE opinion is no different.

It's not the disclosure requirements that the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms should be focused on its the opinion.  Why would JJOKE search out a definition from the Health Law to apply to the Public Officers Law when that Law already has a clear definition for "spouse"?  Further why would JJOKE provide an opinion on a subject that the governor did not request?  The complaint that should be filed should be against JJOKE and its staff and commissioners.  The opinion grants a benefit to the governor not available to other state employees and I'd be willing to bet did not occur without direction from outside JJOKE.  Thought for anyone motivated enough to file a complaint once again it's time to investigate JCOPE.  And with JJOKE's former Chair running for election in Westchester someone ought to apply some pressure and find out what she knew and when she knew it when it comes to first families and their perks.

If I was interested in the prosecution of those with mustaches that drink porridge I'd be at the JJOKE meeting today asking the new chair Dan Horwitz to explain how much cake he has eaten lately.  Or maybe Ellen Biben can clarify yet again where she walks her wolf and lamb.

As for me it's a simple issue.  The governor's "domestic partner" or girlfriend or significant other or best friend with benefits or drinking buddy or live in cook should not be required to file a financial disclosure report anymore than he/she should be allowed to reap the benefits available to the first family.  Taken to it's logical conclusion the JJOKE opinion would allow the governor to fly a harem of playboy bunnies or Chippendale male dancers on the states aircraft as long as he considers them to be part of the first family.

Once again JJOKE proves it's more of a burden for this governor than a help.  To which I say let them eat cake and off with Biben's head, figurativly of course.

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