As Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new ethics panel begins meeting, the group has raised eyebrows by holding two meetings — one on a conference call and the other in a closed executive session — without public scrutiny.
This from WNYC’s political blog The Empire.
The Associated Press’ Michael Gormley then asked why the commission felt the need to go into special executive, non-public session–what was the specific reason. [Chair Janet] DiFiore essentially told Gormley, “Because I said so.”
Actually, DiFiore’s statement was a little more nuanced than that. Here it is:
I think all of us would agree, given the nature of the work here, we should endeavor to do as much of our work in open view and have the public be able to tune in and hear what we’re thinking, and talking about and working on.
But there are some matters that requires confidentiality and I think that as we go we will figure out what those matters are.
Today, the matters that are on our agendas, that we will discuss in executive and closed session meeting, I think are appropriate.
As a journalist, I have to say that doesn’t pass the sniff test.
The public needs to know at the very least what issues are being raised behind closed doors. Denying the public that minimal amount of disclosure is a pretty questionable way to start this latest effort at cleaning up Albany.
This panel is supposed to look out for the interests of voters and citizens, not politicians and insiders. It’s hard to see how that’s going to happen if basic standards of public accountability aren’t met.
With another state Senator resigning in disgrace this week and facing criminal corruption charges, this isn’t just academic stuff. This goes to the heart of good government in the Empire state.
What do you think? Governor Andrew Cuomo promised real, substantive ethics reform. Is this the right path to get us there?