Friday, April 25, 2008

Observer Shines Sun on Sunshine AG

In today's Observer, journalist Azi Paybarah flashes some good government virtual ink in a well-reported post about the schedule--or lack thereof--of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Apparently, the AG, who has received praise for his work on transparency and opening government, doesn't keep a schedule. The explanation was that the office is protecting the identities of "whistleblowers, witnesses and complainants." It should be noted that the attorney general, like his predecessor, has been aggressively taking on mortgage giants and student loan companies, and recently began a well-advised public integrity investigation.

No public official should refuse to keep a schedule. If there are sensitive meetings of the kind described by the AG's office, then we wouldn't quibble with a redaction here or there. We're pleased that the AG released a reconstructed schedule, though it's only five pages long and covers 13 months.

We hope that going forward--and backward--the AG will continue to record his comings and goings.

In other news, the New York Times points out today that a number of City Council members have relatives on the payroll of their campaign, which is cause to raise an eyebrow, as our good government colleagues point out.

In some cases, probably rarely so, such arrangements are worthwhile. While in his 20's Attorney General Cuomo earned praise as campaign manager for his father's winning gubernatorial bid in 1982. It's unclear how much he was paid, although the following year the current AG worked as a gubernatorial aide earning a salary of $1.

(Full disclosure: I worked in Albany for the attorney general's father in the final years of Governor Cuomo's administration.)

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