Some Critical Of Albany's Transparency Efforts
Governor Andrew Cuomo used his budget address this week to tell the public that the government in Albany is functioning again, but the process for how it all is getting done is being criticized by some for its lack of transparency and public input. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Upon taking office, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he intends to have the most transparent government in state history. Since then, the Cuomo administration has attempted to fulfill that pledge.
This week, for example, members of Cuomo's cabinet held a briefing for reporters to explain a new open budget website, which they say goes to the very heart of transparency in government.
"It's a budget print transparency tool that is bringing people back into government, providing unprecedented access and transparency," said Mary Beth Labate of the New York State Division of Budget.
But critics say one only needs to look at the recent gun control legislation as an example of how Albany continues to be the same old place. While the bill was considered a major victory by supporters, it passed the state Senate in the middle of the night under a message of necessity from the governor, which waives the required three-day waiting period before a vote.
Negotiations over the bill were held mostly behind closed doors.
"Well, I've heard from people that they were critical of it," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "But the issue has been out there."
"Things are better in that the outcome is much more positive. Government is being much more productive," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union. "But what is not happening, and is, in fact, happening less, is the transparency of how our government operates."
Schenectady Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, a Republican, has introduced a transparency bill, which, among other things, would make messages of necessity take place only in cases of emergencies.
"I think what we're seeing here is a process that's close to secret government," Tedisco said. "They want to push things through. They don't want to have discussion. They don't want to have debate."
In an ironic twist, Tedisco's legislation has virtually no chance of passing since he is in the minority party.
The public also rarely gets to testify on legislation because committee hearings are not well advertised or easily accessible.
"Government is not a debating society," Cuomo said Tuesday. "Government is an active service bureau. Government is supposed to perform."
Most Albany watchers agree that things are better at the State Capitol, but Albany still has a long way to go before it can held up as a model of open government.