Local pol looks to clean up Albany

It’s about time Albany sees the clean-up it deserves, contended Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who represents parts of Staten Island and a swathe of Southwest Brooklyn, and State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb at a media roundtable, held on Tuesday, February 24 at the Ridge’s Royal Restaurant.

“I think just from a historical perspective, we have a job to do,” said Kolb, pointing out a number of long advocated-for proposals by the Assembly Republican Conference such as the implementation of eight-year term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs, and the increased transparency and easier public access to committee meetings and votes, among others. “We’re trying to champion new ideas and policy solutions.”

Locally, Malliotakis, a Republican, said, those reforms would lead to an all-around more accountable government.

“When you have a better functioning government and representatives around the state, it’s more of a democratic process where everyone plays a part,” she said. “It’s better for the taxpayers, there are better checks and balances and we don’t see what we’re seeing now.”
What we’re seeing now, she said, is corruption.

“In the four years that I’ve been in the Assembly, 15 of my colleagues have either been indicted, convicted or forced to resign,” she said, standing in strong support of stripping pensions from lawmakers who have been convicted of felonies – a proposal that dates back to before her first run for office in 2010.

“What we have today are members who have been convicted and are sitting in jail collecting pension in the form of taxpayer money. That’s been one of the priorities of our conference for a long time,” she said.

Additionally, the local pol supports changes to the Assembly rules that – in light of former Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest – would limit the speaker’s ability secretly to dole out grants without legislative approval; unilaterally maintain a slush fund of taxpayer money to spend; unilaterally stop legislation from coming to the floor despite overwhelming bipartisan support; and unilaterally strip members of leadership positions, stipends or staff allocation simply for disagreeing with him or her.

“With new leadership, the Assembly has a unique opportunity to implement real, meaningful ethics reform this legislative session,” said Malliotakis.

Many Democrats agree. The new Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, has proposed a variety of changes, including creating an office of ethics compliance, as well as limiting the amount of outside income legislators can make, and more stringent reporting requirements for outside income, both salaries and stipends.

Governor Andrew Cuomo also has weighed in with a variety of proposals. These include public financing of elections as well as full disclosure of income sources for legislators, and stricter rules on the use of campaign funds and lawmaker expense allowances.

Corruption is not limited to the Assembly. Several state senators, on both sides of the aisle, have also been indicted, pled guilty or convicted in the past few years.

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