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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Short Life of the Moreland Commission
July 23, 2014 7:57 AM   Subscribe

A "pulled-back subpoena was the most flagrant example of how the commission, established with great ceremony by Mr. Cuomo in July 2013, was hobbled almost from the outset by demands from the governor’s office." (SLNYT, ~6800 words)
posted by Chutzler (33 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
What do you expect from the guy who supports continuing the completely inexplicable $54 million / year tax break for Madison Square Garden but has fewer compunctions against cutting education and Medicaid spending?
posted by rishabguha at 8:10 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


While he allowed the commission the independence to investigate whatever it wanted, the governor’s office said, it would have been a conflict for a panel he created to investigate his own administration.

“A commission appointed by and staffed by the executive cannot investigate the executive,” the statement said. “It is a pure conflict of interest and would not pass the laugh test.”
"Clearly, I am so corrupt that I could not keep myself from corrupting this anti-corruption commission, therefore we should not bother trying to weed out corruption."
posted by Etrigan at 8:27 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


The worst part about this, more so than the inferred and actual impropriety on the Cuomo administration, is that it just gives further ammo to the cynics that claim "both sides do it" and "they're all the same". This cynical and apathtic feedback cycle further poisons the body politic which in turn only serves to stop the change that everyone wants to see in politics.
posted by Talez at 8:34 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I respectfully disagree, Etrigan. Cuomo's administration is correct in claiming that having a commission it appointed investigate that administration itself wouldn't make sense: if they report evidence of wrongdoing, that would be one thing; but the possibility of the commission finding no wrongdoing would be inherently suspect, and rightly so. That doesn't imply that it shouldn't investigate other things, of course, or that it shouldn't exist.

The real problem is that Cuomo's administration appointed the commission and that its etiology in his office entailed veto power. That should have been done differently by design. He shouldn't have had so much control over its operations and initiatives, and it was incredibly stupid to think that this ever could have gone well for Cuomo. Wonder what they were thinking.
posted by clockzero at 8:36 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


See, if I were an ambitious U.S. Attorney, I'd take this as a golden opportunity to make a national name for myself. Anti-corruption is something that all voters can get behind.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:37 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


“A commission appointed by and staffed by the executive cannot investigate the executive,”

If the commission investigated and cleared them of wrongdoing, it'd be as credible as when Christie's lawyer found him totally innocent of wrongdoing in Bridgegate.
posted by fatbird at 8:44 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


In New York, being an anti-corruption political actor is an incoherent proposition. Both parties are riddled with corruption, so neither really want to throw any big stones.
posted by clockzero at 8:45 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Anti-corruption is something that all voters can get behind.

Not sure if joking, or has not heard of New York's neighbor to the south....
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:56 AM on July 23


And if you've ever suffered a pulled-back subpoena, you know how painful that can be!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:58 AM on July 23


Democrats: Corrupt as hell, but we're your only option.™
posted by Drinky Die at 9:00 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Talez: The worst part about this, more so than the inferred and actual impropriety on the Cuomo administration, is that it just gives further ammo to the cynics that claim "both sides do it" and "they're all the same". This cynical and apathtic feedback cycle further poisons the body politic which in turn only serves to stop the change that everyone wants to see in politics.

With respect to corruption at the state and local levels, this is one of the few times where it's actually correct to say that "both sides do it" and "they're all (pretty much) the same." This superb piece of investigative reporting notwithstanding, media outlets just don't have the resources that are required to shine light on the garden-variety corruption that's going on in state houses and city halls all over the country. I think this was exposed primarily because Cuomo's a big target with Presidential aspirations (see also Christie, Chris), but there is no doubt in my mind that smaller versions of this same story are playing out all over the country in blue states and red states, and in cities controlled by mayors from both parties.

If anything, the fact that urban areas tend to elect more Democrats probably means there is more Democratic corruption at the municipal level, though I'd wager that proportionally, state and local corruption is one thing that both parties enjoy equally.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:03 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


See, if I were an ambitious U.S. Attorney, I'd take this as a golden opportunity to make a national name for myself. Anti-corruption is something that all voters can get behind.
Ambition or not, there's not much hope if you think it's the voters you have to impress in order to go far.
posted by fullerine at 9:09 AM on July 23


The worst part about this, more so than the inferred and actual impropriety on the Cuomo administration, is that it just gives further ammo to the cynics that claim "both sides do it" and "they're all the same".

This is that error in thinking where beliefs are paradoxically confirmed by evidence to the contrary. Evidence that "both sides do it" should cause you to consider that both sides may in fact be doing it.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:11 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Those of us who practice tenant-side law on behalf of low-income people in NY were cynically unsurprised by this paragraph in the article:

"Ms. Perry also wanted the report to highlight her team’s discovery of email correspondence from a major New York City builder, Extell Development, about a coming fund-raiser for Mr. Cuomo tied to his birthday. The email discussed what amounted to a perfectly legal sidestepping of campaign-donation limits: funneling money through a series of limited-liability companies.

“As you know,” Ms. Perry wrote, “I strongly believe we should include whichever docs we think will add the most value in the report and include them without fear or favor, as they say.”

The report did recommend closing the limited-liability company loophole. But it omitted any mention of the real estate board, the governor’s birthday party or Extell."


To put this in context, Extell Development recently received approval to require renters of "affordable" apartments in one of their buildings to use a separate, back-alley entrance to access their apartments while providing front-door access to market rate renters.
posted by lassie at 9:17 AM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Congress should set something up so that on a rolling 3-year schedule, every state is responsible for investigating the administrations and state-houses of another state. For municipalities above a certain size, you could set up something similar.
Would probably require a constitutional amendment though, and slim chance that gets ratified by all the states :/
posted by joecacti at 9:17 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


> it was incredibly stupid to think that this ever could have gone well for Cuomo

I don't quite see how this went badly for him. There was the appearance of an investigation and some wrist-slaps - big win for him.

And now there's a "controversy". Most people (unfortunately) won't notice and don't care. I doubt this incident is going to make New Yorkers suddenly vote Republican.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:17 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I don't see what the problem is. Every police department in America investigates itself on a regular basis and clears its officers of wrongdoing quickly, effectively and without controversy. If they can do it, why not the Cuomo administration?
posted by Naberius at 9:18 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


> Congress should set something up so that on a rolling 3-year schedule, every state is responsible for investigating the administrations and state-houses of another state.

I love that idea, but no idea like that will be taken seriously until the malfeasance of elected officials is taken seriously.

Terrorism is a big deal you say? But malfeasance by public officials has killed far more Americans and cost far more money than all the terrorists put together - even just the series of deliberate lies that led to the Iraq War did that.

We should pursue public servants that betray the public trust with as much zeal as we pursue terrorists - we as a society would get as much value out of once seeing Cheney doing a perp walk as all the anti-terror actions in the universe.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:22 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I respectfully disagree, Etrigan. Cuomo's administration is correct in claiming that having a commission it appointed investigate that administration itself wouldn't make sense: if they report evidence of wrongdoing, that would be one thing; but the possibility of the commission finding no wrongdoing would be inherently suspect, and rightly so.

That's true, but it's manifestly not what happened. The administration is using, "Oh, whoops, our commission obviously can't investigate us fairly!" as an excuse for the fact that the commission was investigating them fairly, and they had to kill it with fire.
posted by Etrigan at 9:27 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


To put this in context, Extell Development recently received approval to require renters of "affordable" apartments in one of their buildings to use a separate, back-alley entrance to access their apartments while providing front-door access to market rate renters.

Oh, my god. /derail

No, really, is it government I don't understand, or just humanity in general?
posted by allthinky at 9:36 AM on July 23


While "both sides do it" is certainly correct, one of the flaws of that analysis is seeing politics as binary. At the very least, there is a continuous spectrum from left to right, and it's not a coincidence that Cuomo is on the far right of the left half of that spectrum.
posted by chortly at 9:38 AM on July 23


chortly: While "both sides do it" is certainly correct, one of the flaws of that analysis is seeing politics as binary. At the very least, there is a continuous spectrum from left to right, and it's not a coincidence that Cuomo is on the far right of the left half of that spectrum.

I dunno, there have been plenty of Democratic machine politicians throughout the years that were squarely on the left side of the spectrum. If there's really a correlation between ideology and corruption, I'd love to see more data showing that to be the case.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:42 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I would argue conservative ideology itself is essentially an effort to legalize corruption. Which could cause some confusion.....
posted by lattiboy at 9:46 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


That's true, but it's manifestly not what happened. The administration is using, "Oh, whoops, our commission obviously can't investigate us fairly!" as an excuse for the fact that the commission was investigating them fairly, and they had to kill it with fire.

No, I know, you're right about that. I was saying that there was a limited validity to the Cuomo administration's claim, only because an investigation which ended favorably for the governor would be unavoidably suspect. Because of that, the ability of the commission to investigate the administration is inherently tainted. However, as a matter of facts and not possibilities, you are of course right that these preliminary findings of impropriety don't exactly just go away because the whole thing was designed with a fatal and obvious flaw.
posted by clockzero at 9:54 AM on July 23


Also, does anyone else recall Mario Cuomo's incredible 1984 speech to the DNC? About how inequality was bad and Reagan was wrong about America being a shining city on a hill, because this country is actually a tale of two cities, and the other one wasn't doing so hot? Jesus, how Andrew has squandered the moral lessons of his father. So disappointing.
posted by clockzero at 10:08 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


It is a pattern of thinking that he is above the rules. He and Sandra live in New Castle in a house off of 133 and Bittersweet lane. They failed to pull permits for renovations and thus failed to have a proper tax assessment on the place. He claimed he did not know the assessor was barred from entering the house.

Cuomo has done some good as Governor, but he is a bully and politician by nature which eventually plays itself out. Just as sooner or later the crazy always comes out, with Cuomo, sooner or later the politics and power always comes out.

He is a huge Corvette fan. Works on his on the weekends. Sheds his security detail to take it out driving.
posted by 724A at 10:14 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


This is that error in thinking where beliefs are paradoxically confirmed by evidence to the contrary. Evidence that "both sides do it" should cause you to consider that both sides may in fact be doing it.

Yes. But I guess the crux of my point is a) "we should be better" and b) it's one shitty example that shouldn't indicate systemic behaviour when both parties have vastly different attitudes to the poor, minorities, LGBT rights, taxation, size and role of government.
posted by Talez at 10:48 AM on July 23


Whenever I hear Cuomo on the radio, he's always yelling. Why is he always yelling? What's with the yelling? What I really want to know is, why does he yell all the time?
posted by valkane at 10:57 AM on July 23


Because you won't fucking listen?
posted by Etrigan at 11:15 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]






See, if I were an ambitious U.S. Attorney, I'd take this as a golden opportunity to make a national name for myself. Anti-corruption is something that all voters can get behind.

If you were an ambitious U.S. Attorney you would get busted via some dirt found by anti-terrorism spying measures before you got anywhere near anything real.
posted by srboisvert at 5:01 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


See, if I were an ambitious U.S. Attorney, I'd take this as a golden opportunity to make a national name for myself.
An ambitious U.S. Attorney you say?
posted by Octaviuz at 4:53 AM on July 24


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