Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ethics reform on Aprils fools day - perfect

New York's new best in the world disclosure rules for legislators will not change the culture of corruption that exists in Albany.  In fact they are actual proof that the laws themselves and the continual "reform" of those laws are the problem not the solution.

I suggest a simple test.  Just apply the new laws to the financial disclosures provided by a list of our corrupt politicians (at least those perceived to be corrupt, convicted and/or indicted) like Shelly Silver, Joe Bruno, Tony Seminerio, Pedro Espada etc etc etc yada yada yada.  I think you will find the new law isn't any more effective than the old law. 

Why do we expect criminals to change into self reporting criminals just because the governor touts the latest bullshit ethics reform as a gleaming triumph?

Do you want a simple test?  Go ask some lawyer legislators if the new disclosure rules would result in their disclosing any new information.  A simple question for Dean Skelos, under the new best in the world disclosure rules will you be required to inform the public about any arrangements you do not presently disclose?  There are three possible answers.

1. NO  -  the most likely response of our legislators.  As I said it's unrealistic to expect criminals to become self reporting criminals (or for the innocent to fabricate a disclosure).  If this is the case why did we need this "reform".

2. YES -  I doubt any legislator would admit this but if they do just ask the followup question of will you voluntarily tell us of this previously undisclosed relationship?  I especially would like Jeff Klein to do this afterall he made a big deal of announcing his decision to give up his law practice now he can tell us why.

3. I DON"T KNOW BECAUSE I DIDN"T READ THE BILL BEFORE I VOTED FOR IT - If they are honest (I know I know stop laughing) this is the response the vast majority should give. 

Yet somehow I don't think this new strictest in the nation disclosure will actually result in many if any new disclosures.

So once again the reform of the ethics laws themselves is an act of corruption.

Now for a little introspection.  A new friend told me yesterday that my obsession with JCOPE's failures is causing me to lose credibility and that my bias is showing.  She pointed out that my work disclosing the backlog of registrations at JCOPE and my promotion of that story in the media was proof that I have an ax to grind with the agency and in fact displays some inner desire for revenge and or the belief that I could do a better job than JCOPE. 

I thought about it and she is right.   I clearly think I can do a better job and by the way I did for over a decade.  Not boasting just go check the factual record.  And yes I do enjoy getting revenge but I should make it crystal clear the backlog presently occurring at JCOPE is not because the staff member in charge of processing the registrations is slow and overly methodical, Maria certainly is but I hired her and I know her strengths and weaknesses and I made her an auditor not a filing processor because auditors working slowly and methodically is a strength (plus it got her out of the office).  And it's not because the staff member supervising Maria thinks she is a lawyer and wants every possible scenario reviewed prior to approval, Amy certainly does but I hired her and I know her strengths and weaknesses and I made her an auditor not a filing processor because auditors working like a lawyer and wanting every possible scenario reviewed is a strength (plus it got her out of the office).  And it's not because the lawyer supervising Amy couldn't forsee the backlog occurring.  Martin is a very responsive attorney.  I didn't hire him but I would have I think he may be one of the best JCOPE staff members I have done business with but Martin can only fix the problems that he knows about and this problem required a level of knowledge that you only get from experience and those working for you providing you information in a timely manner (not Maria and Amy's strong suits).  And the backlog presently occurring at JCOPE is not because it's executive director, LT, lacks managerial talent.  Far from it,  I think LT has the most talent since . . . well me.  But LT didn't know about the backlog until I told her.  That's the result of a culture that exists at JCOPE and was created by the former executive director Ellen Biben.  This backlog was created by Ellen Biben 3 years ago.  That's when Ellen Biben fired the vast majority of former lobby commission staffers that processed filings and replaced them with her lawyer buddies and cronies at triple the salaries and in the NYC office.  When I ran the lobby commission we had 13 staffers processing filings and 3 lawyers available for consultation on filing issues (and no lawyer was allowed to stop the process they could only answer staff questions which were discouraged by yours truly).  After Ellen Biben got thru purging the lobby commission staff the ratio is now reversed you have 3 staff members processing or supervising registration approval and at least 13 lawyers doing what lawyers do (and anyone that saw the last commission meeting knows what that is - wasting time discussing meaningless bs).  The backlog was inevitable.    Unfortunately LT and Martin didn't have the experience and knowledge with the lobby reporting system to see it coming (there are or used to be step by step idiot proofed internal controls that you can review).  I guess I could have been a good friend and told them 6 months ago but I did want my revenge for all the old lobby commission staff that got fired so Ellen Biben could hire her lawyers.  And I did want to teach Maria and Amy a lesson since they have become a royal pain in the ass to the regulated community.

So having said all that the registration backlog is clearly ELLEN BIBEN's fault.  One more failure to add to her list.  And I'm guessing one more time JCOPE will have to grant an amnesty for late filings.

As an aside in my conversations with Gary Lavine before the meeting he admitted he only knew of the backlog from reading my blog.  Glad I could help Gary now take my advice and resign you have failed as a JCOPE commissioner.

I hope that helps my friend answer her question of why I do what I do.

Back to the original question of testing the effectiveness of the new "ethics reform"   Why doesn't someone ask JCOPE to discuss in public how the new law will actually work and if it will have a meaningful effect?  Could you imagine that?  I would pay big money to be at that discussion.

Come on LT show the world you have the chops to make people trust you to run ethics.  I know you can do it and I'm rooting for you (whether you believe it or not) but until you prove it you are part of the problem not the solution.

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