Much of what is in the Moreland Commission's first public report would have been news had it not happened.
The commission, charged with investigating the causes of recent corruption scandals in state government and then with making recommendations to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to end such scandals, made its first report recently. Many of the commission's recommendations are of the "no-duh" variety and have in fact been floated by Cuomo and Republicans in state government several times in recent months. State Assembylman Andrew Goodell and state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, have said in the past they support - at least broadly - measures that would reduce campaign contribution caps, reduce the ability of party committees to transfer large amounts of money into local races, close loopholes that allow limited liability companies to contribute more than others and close loopholes which allow political action committees to make unlimited contributions. It is obvious the state Board of Elections needs to be reformed and that new punishments for public corruption should be approved.
All of these types of recommendations are included in the Moreland Commission's report and should be enacted quickly. We trust such common-sense solutions will bridge political divides in Albany.
We are less bullish about the prospect of campaign finance reform. Commission members were split on that touchy issue, with seven of 25 members dissenting from the commission's recommendation for public financing of political campaigns. It is a topic the state Legislature should discuss, but it would seem there are better ways to clean up politics than using the public's hard-earned money on political campaigns.
We are also frustrated by the lack of mechanism making it easier to remove from office politicians accused of breaching the public trust. A form of automatic suspension without pay and benefits until a hearing can be held is surely warranted.
One thing on which most can agree is the putrid stench raised from the actions of too many New York politicians. On its face, this first report is a bit disappointing because it merely spells out - very well, we might add - many of the well-known problems with state politics. We take the positive view, however, that it is merely the Moreland Commission's first report and that perhaps a continuing focus on the unsavory world of state government will be beneficial in the long run.
We are encouraged at the Moreland Commission's insistence on continuing its work and its use of technology and analytics as it continues its probe. Examples given include a "With comprehensive campaign finance and lobbying data already ingested into our analytics platform, the commission will continue its investigations using its own investigative resources and this powerful analytics tool to untangle the web of money and influence that has allowed well-financed special interests to play such a dominant role in New York government," the commission states on Page 7 of its report.
In that vein, we eagerly await the commission's next report.