Paterson To Legislature: Practice What You Preach On Transparency
At 6:24 p.m., a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Communications Director Melissa DeRosa landed in my inbox, declaring that the governor will be calling a meeting with legislative leaders plus the state attorney general and comptroller to come up with “one uniform email retention and FOIL policy that applies to all state officials and agencies.”
At 6:26 p.m., a letter from former Gov. David Paterson to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie followed DeRosa’s statement. In it, Paterson, who – thanks to Cuomo – is now serving as chairman of the state Democratic Party, accused the Legislature of “breathtaking” hypocrisy when it comes to the subject of transparency.
Paterson said he was motivated to write his letter after reading about the proposals introduced today by members of the Senate and Assembly that would block the governor’s controversial 90-day email purge policy and establish an up to seven-year retention policy based on the system already in place in the federal government.
“It feels to me like Albany’s version of the movie Groundhog Day,” Paterson wrote of the transparency debate. “It should really be titled ‘Transparency for Others’ and it must be the 1000th legislative proposal on ‘transparency’ slated to go nowhere.”
“Indeed in truth the hypocrisy of the legislature on this topic is breathtaking. Neither the Assembly nor Senate is yet subject to FOIL – a decades old reform almost every credible government in the country follows. There is no transparency in the State Senate. Senators and Assembly members have no email policy whatsoever. They can delete any email and dispose of every piece of paper. Even Washington, D.C. is better.”
Paterson, who served 22 years in the Legislature and was the first black legislative leader (Senate minority leader) before departing to become Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s LG, urged the Senate Democratic conference he used to lead to follow through on this issue and not be “press release reformers.” (The bill Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell have introduced would subject the Legislature to FOIL for the first time).
“In truth the Democrats know that we never passed these measures when we were in power and the Assembly Democrats know also that they could pass such measures if they ever wanted to,” Paterson wrote.
“The Senate minority should voluntarily agree now to FOIL and agree to keep records and make their documents available to the public. Let them agree to keep their emails for 90 days or permanently as they propose for others and subject them to FOIL. If the Senate minority enacted this policy, it would soon force the Republican majority to accept it. If the Senate did it, the Assembly would be forced to follow. That’s how change occurs.”
“Otherwise, today’s proposal will be another false gesture to appear as a reformer but to act like the same old recalcitrant Senate. Indeed if the Senate minority is not willing to practice what it preaches, my advice is it better not preach.”
Earlier today, AG Eric Schneiderman announced that he has decided to suspend the 90-day purge policy in his office, which was put into place in 2007 by his predecessor, Cuomo. The state comptroller’s office never embraced this policy and has no plans to do so any time soon, according to the comptroller’s spokeswoman.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on March 12, 2015 at 7:26 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo, Assembly, David Paterson, State Senate, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|