The recent media uproar over this public official in Lake George who looked like he was being targeted by the Cuomo hit men got me thinking.
The fellows name is David Wick and according to media accounts he is the Mother Theresa of the North Country.
I've never met Mr. Wick, know absolutely nothing about him and have no connection to Lake George other than I get up there several times a year to visit my college roommate who lives in the village. And I purposely did not call my old roommate to see what he knew about Wick because I wanted to remain blissfully ignorant.
From what I can tell from reading news accounts, the Times Union's editorial and my good friend Fred LeBruns recent column the Cuomo camp is upset at Mr. Wick for not giving the Governor proper credit and deference when it comes to taking credit for washing boats before they are allowed in the lake. Upset enough for a Cuomo minion to travel north to deliver orders to Mr. Wick's employers to fire him. And here is where it gets interesting. The orders were delivered and reported but the media could not nail down the why for several days. First no one knew the answer then it was for a small spill of gas in the lake and then after huge public outcry it is announced that the IG had investigated and discovered a gift violation. AHA thats something I know about and understand.
Mr. Wick solicited a gift from an organization under his jurisdiction. Thats a violation of the Public Officers Law, doesn't matter why he did it and it doesn't matter that he might be Mother Theresa IT"S A VIOLATION.
Now the media should be careful stating that it is trivial because of all the good Mr. Wick has done. Who gets to decide if Mr. Wick is a good guy or a bad guy? And on that point if Mr. Wick was such a stand up guy why didn't he tell the media that he was under investigation for soliciting this gift? He knew about it and could have put a lot of the confusion and unrest to bed by being honest and upfront about it.
Same goes for the commissioners themselves that he reports to. Some of them were involved in the solicitation and use of the gift yet they stood by mute when it came to explaining what was going on.
Ditto for the Cuomo hit man. Why not announce why you want Wick fired?
Instead this is what ethics in New York has come to.
A clear gift ban violation is excused by the media because the wrongdoer is a "good guy".
The Cuomo machine is seen as so corrupt that even when they use a clear violation of the gift ban as a rationale no one believes them and everyone starts looking for the shooter on the grassy knoll.
And we are left with JJOKE to sort it out.
Please JJOKE do not take forever to investigate Mr. Wick AND the commissioners that assisted him.
If the IG facts are accurate the punishment should be the same if Mr. Wick is a good or a bad guy, don't pull another Lopez and throw the book at him because he is a loathsome individual any more than let him off the hook because he is the governor. The statute says the penalty is equal to up to 5 times the value of the gift. Make it 5 times each, for all involved, Wick, the commissioners and the Steamboat Company and then take the opportunity to investigate why the Cuomo hitman traveled north to deliver the message to fire Wick prior to the IG reports public release. What did he know, who told him and why. And if the facts show the Cuomo camp used Wick's transgression as a stalking horse for an ulterior motive take a look at the IG investigation and everything associated with it.
AND DO IT ALL IN PUBLIC and while you are at it explain why a boat ride on Lake George is different than the private jet trip David Boies gave NYAAG David Ellenhorn. (Did you let Ellenhorn skate because he is a "good guy" or because Boies cut a deal?)
That would go a long way to changing the perspective that JCOPE is the wholly owned JJOKE of the Governor.
Here is a list of other Public Officer Law violations you could stop ignoring:
Cuomo's use of state offices to promote his book
The State Democratic Party's failure to register as a lobbyist
Complaints against Schneiderman and DiNapoli
Artists against Fracking failure to register
Susan Lerner's source of funding disclosure's accuracy
Duffy's revolving door and house purchase
DeRosa's advance knowledge of your decisions
I could go on and on
Now I've been hearing from those inside JJOKE that no matter what they do I will criticize them. Maybe yes maybe no but you certainly have made it easier to criticize than compliment. Do something meaningful in the open so it can be evaluated and watch my reaction.
I've also been hearing the tired old argument that "Grandeau thinks he can do a better job than us" Well DUH of course I do. In fact I did for 12 years. My guess is I could do LT's job in about 2 hours a day the rest of the time I'd be leaking stuff to the media to improve my reputation, I'd be destabilizing my commissioners so I had no opposition, I'd be scaring the bejeezus out of those in power and I'd be keeping my head on a swivel to feed my paranoia. Any working hours left over I'd go curling . . . if the media thinks you are a good guy you can get away with that kind of thing.
CORRECTION to my previous blog stating " LT followed the advice that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt." It appears many including LT interpreted this to be my saying LT is stupid. Not the case in fact for the record I think LT is the smartest executive director since . . . yup me. LT's issue isn't intelligence it's confidence. I know she's smart because I have had conversations and arguments in private with her. I think she needs to show that intelligence in public, start getting involved in the public debates about ethics, we deserve that much from you. Don't defer to your Chairman you know more about this issue than he does, I guarantee it. One easy way to do it other than regular interaction with the press would be the simple remedy of allowing a Q and A at the commission meetings, I guarantee if you do 'llI ask a question that provides you an opportunity to show everyone how smart you are. Don't be afraid just buckle up and enjoy the ride.