As the end of session approaches, movement toward resolution on key issues facing our state remains excruciatingly slow. Last month I talked about two of those issues – rent law renewal and marriage equality – and I will devote this message to yet another outstanding issue – ethics reform. Since the beginning of session, Governor Cuomo has been trumpeting this issue, and as more of my colleagues – and former colleagues – are indicted, convicted or sentenced, the need for stronger laws only grows clearer.
That said, I don’t believe that better laws in and of themselves will ensure an end to malfeasance on the part of public officials. While most elected officials are driven by their commitment to public service, there always seems to be a few individuals who view, and take, their position in office as an opportunity for personal enrichment. But with stronger ethics laws we can make it easier to identify potential conflicts of interest and provide adequate enforcement mechanisms to discourage bad behavior, while also punishing those who continue to abuse their power.