Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Who just stepped in a huge stinking pile of ethics reform horseshit?

That list is as long and illustrious as my . . . (that will be enough of the top gun quotes for now) but lets focus on some easy ones that are particularly timely.

As I recently blogged Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters is an ethics lightweight but that didn't stop her from going balls deep into the latest pile of ethics horseshit.  Specifically her recent comments on the independence of the appointed members of the JJOKE review commission.  I don't have the time to do an in depth review of the independence of the members of that commission (and apparently they don't have the time, creativity or talent to do one of JJOKE either, but I will get to that in a moment) but I am a curious and cynical type so I took a quick look at one commissioner, Patricia Salkin.  Independence is a funny thing and somewhat subjective but those that believe they are independent enough to review the work of a state ethics agency should at least consider the appearance of their independence.  On that point I think Ms. Salkin is blind to her own appearance and I am positive Ms. Bartoletti did not do even the most basic analysis before anointing Ms. Salkin as independent.  Consider the following facts I gleaned from a quick review of Ms. Salkins connections.  And keep in mind I have not verified what Ms. Salkin or her husband Howard Gross have said in published reports about themselves.  Mr. Gross has a business that in the past has been enriched by a number of contracts it has with the State of New York and has similarly suffered serious business reversals when those contract were cancelled but then made an impressive financial recovery when it landed more State contracts.  According to the Albany Business Review when it comes to Mr. Gross's business and state contracts

 ". . . there’s no ignoring that the state contract work speaks volumes, as the jobs from the two agencies represent the lion’s share of E-BizDocs' revenue. Earlier this year, before E-BizDocs secured the contracts, the records-management company operated with a staff of 22.
The newest contract involves scanning 80,000 boxes of paper documents to electronic format for the New York State Dormitory Authority.
Gross calls the project “a long-term initiative with no end in sight.” The work should generate $400,000 this year and keep 7-9 people employed for its duration.
“This is a huge opportunity for us,” Gross says."
Huge opportunities for your spouse have a funny way of effecting ones independence, don't you agree Ms. Bartoletti?
And it's not just Ms. Salkin's husband that benefits from state contracts Ms. Salkin herself has received consulting contracts from the State of New York in the past.  According to her bio on the Touro Law School website she has performed  "consulting work for various
state agencies in New York"
Now I don't know if she still does consulting work for New York State or plans to in the future but I think it's an important fact to know when it comes to judging her independence on the JJOKE review commission don't you Ms. Bartoletti?
On that same website bio I found the following "Dean Salkin has served on the transition teams for
attorneys general-elect Eric Schneiderman, Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer"
At a minimum any connection to Spitzer, the whore fucker, by someone reviewing the work of New York's ethics agencies is troubling.  But maybe the JJOKE review commission can take another look at how the airplane trip on a state plane to go fuck the whore was handled by our ethics agencies.  I wrote about it on my blog.  In case you haven't read it here it is again Ms. Bartoletti 
Seeing how Ms. Salkin served on the governors transition team for Attorney General  goes a long way to explaining why she is on this review commission wouldn't you agree Ms. Bartoletti?  How it explains her independence I'm at a loss to understand.
Ms. Salkin's service on Mr. Schneiderman's transition team is far more troubling in the context of her review of JJOKE.  In case either Ms. Bartoletti or Ms. Salkin were unaware several ethics complaints were filed against Mr. Schneiderman by my clients Donald Trump and Hank Greenberg.  How those complaints were handled could serve as a very useful case study as to JJOKE's effectiveness.  But to do that we need to know what it was that JJOKE did with them.  In the Trump complaint Mr. Trump had to sue JJOKE to force a vote on the complaint.  JJOKE lost that suit and then voted not to pursue the complaint.  A review of what led to those actions would certainly shed light on JJOKE's dark inner workings.  Will Ms. Salkin demand access to those records as part of her independent review of JJOKE?  Will she ask Schneiderman for his records related to the complaint and JJOKE investigation?  What do you think Ms. Bartoletti?  When it comes to the Greenberg complaint JJOKE actions get even more curious and beg for an independent review.  Although presented with voluminous records of  clear violations by members of Mr. Schneiderman's office JJOKE fashioned a no fine settlement that rewrote the rules on the provision of gifts to state officials.  I'd heard rumors of JJOKE commissioners being influenced by Schneiderman's minions but without access to the secret JJOKE investigation files and minutes we will never know. Will Ms. Salkin demand access to those records as part of her independent review of JJOKE?  Will she ask Schneiderman for his records related to the complaint and JJOKE investigation?  What do you think Ms. Bartoletti?
Speaking of Ms. Salkin I still have not heard back from her on the timing for my public appearance before her independent review commission.  Nor has she replied to my request for copies of JJOKE records that would make that request and analysis meaningful.  She did tell the Times Union that her commission has not requested records from JJOKE . . . yet.  Lets see if they ever do.  The Times Unions top spellchecking reporter Casey Sielor did post that the date and time for the Albany hearing has been posted on the commissions website and that it conflicts with JJOKE's next meeting also in Albany.  Now maybe I am being too critical of this accomplished group of independent lawyers but what the fuck were they thinking?  Salkin has asked for my suggestions as they go thru the review process so I sent her the following email today.
I haven't heard back from you as to my appearance in front of your commission nor have I received a reply to my request for any information you may have gathered from JJOKE but I did read in the Times Union that you have not asked for any of the relevant information.  I suggest you do so in a timely fashion to take advantage of the opportunity that has been afforded you by your appointment.  Additionally I read that your public hearing will be held in Albany at Albany Law School and will conflict with the next JJOKE meeting.  At the risk of being arrogant let me suggest that both the time and location of your hearing are poorly chosen and ethically tone deaf.  I am positive few if any of your commissioners have actually attended a meeting of JJOKE in person.  Don't you think they should?  The date of October 7th provides the perfect opportunity to attend the JJOKE meeting and then hold the hearing at JJOKE with all JJOKE commissioners (at least those that bother to attend in person) available to testify.  Their public input, I'm sure you would agree is invaluable to your review.  Lastly holding the public hearing at JJOKE would allow both those interested in ethics and those in the media to attend both the JJOKE meeting and your hearing, as opposed to having to choose between these two very worthwhile educational opportunities and would have the added benefit of avoiding Albany Law School, the client of a registered lobbyist and therefor subject to the strictures of the Lobby Act, possibly providing what could be seen at worst as an illegal gift or a reportable business relationship to your state commission and at best the appearance of impropriety, by giving you free space, unless of course the state is paying for the rental of that space, in which case I must ask why you are wasting taxpayer funds to rent when the state can provide any number of state locations, including JJOKE for free.  I shall await your response and look forward to providing additional suggestions as your hearings draw near.
You would think all these accomplished independent appointees could manage not to step in the huge stinking piles of ethics reform horseshit that litter Albany . . . just once. PLEASE.


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