Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Member Item Abuse, Writ Small

Apparently Albany is not the only city in New York with a member-items problem. A blurb in today's New York Times indicates that Queens councilman Hiram Monserrate is challenging the City Council's tradition of inserting member items -- the funds allocated to individual legislators for their own projects -- "in the final days of budget talks" and then listing them "on a document with minimal explanation of the purpose of each item and no totals or year-by-year comparisons."

As we have written about before, the New York State Legislature has also been highly secretive about the details of its member items, which are largely controlled by the house leadership and are, some charge, routinely manipulated for personal and partisan political gain. Better disclosure on member items is a necessary first step to rectifying their abuse, in Albany as well as New York City. There is no reason why this information ought to be kept from the public, and growing reason to think that outside scrutiny will yield some unpleasant findings.

Categories: General, Legislative Rules, Government Ethics

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