New York government corruption
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"State Sen. George D. Maziarz ramped up his campaign Friday against the “secrecy” surrounding the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission by bringing B. Thomas Golisano into the fray.
Golisano said his Responsible New York organization will pay for a lawsuit against the binational entity to force it to disclose its finances and open its meetings to the media and the public.
“What are they trying to hide?” Golisano said at a news conference at Niagara Falls City Hall."
In 2000, Espada's senate campaign was fined for failing to submit finance reports. Five years later, three workers at Soundview Healthcare Network, a Bronx nonprofit health care company run by Espada, pleaded guilty to diverting some $30,000 from family care and AIDS programs into one of his campaigns. Espada himself was never charged with wrongdoing in the case.
The senator-elect admitted to making mistakes in some cases, but said he was unfairly accused in others. “No excuses,” he said. “That’s part of the business we’re in, as they say in the ‘Godfather’ movies.” Soundview, he said, should not be defined "by our blemishes, but by 30 years of work.”
Lopez followed Parker in Brooklyn for a story about a possible foreclosure on his home. 
The questions spending included the following:
- The superintendent was overpaid $26,275 during the 2000-01 to 2002-03 fiscal years, and leave records were not available to support payments he received for unused leave totaling $67,790.
- In 2005-06, the superintendent approved payments totaling $15,000 into the tax shelter annuities of three employees without board authorization.
- A board member received free health insurance for a total of $44,283 in insurance costs
- 32 laptops (costing about $38,400) for the districts "Student Lap Top program" went missing and were never recovered
- The district violated the State Constitution when it donated the proceeds from the sale of 28 new laptop computers to a nonprofit corporation directly to the non-profit. This circumvented the district’s regular disbursement procedures, entirely bypassing the claims audit and approval process.
In 2003, when Anello was a city councilman, he needed to pay off business debts, but did not want it to get to the media and endanger his chances as a candidate for mayor. He approached Niagra Falls businessman Joseph Anderson, asking for $40,000 in loans. Anderson agreed to give him the loans at no-interest, sending Anello checks in June and July 2003 for $15,000 each, and one in November 2003 for $10,000, right after Anello began his term as mayor. According to court documents, at the end of Anello's term as mayor, Anderson “never asked for repayment of the aforementioned money, and no repayment was made.”
The 20-count indictment that the court charged to Novello, a former U.S. surgeon general, involved using state workers to run errands, to taker on shopping sprees, and to act as servants in her home, New York Daily News reports.
Albany District Attorney David Soares negotiated the plea bargain, resulting in pleading guilty to one count of a felony for offering a false instrument for filing.
Her formal sentencing was to be August 14, but the plea bargain requires she pay the state $22,500 in restitution. Novello must also complete 250 hours of community service at an Albany health clinic and pay a $5,000 fine. Noncompliance will result in up to four years in prison, but Novello can keep her medical license at this point.
The former Health Commissioner didn't speak to reporters Friday, but her lawyer, E. Stewart Jones, said that he still believed the matter should never have been in court, the New York Daily News reports.
"Islip's deputy public works commissioner has resigned and two department managers have been suspended after, town officials say, they played golf and went on at least one boating excursion during work hours and used town-issued vehicles for the personal trips.
Newsday had submitted a Freedom of Information request in February for the GPS records of town vehicles driven by the four men, and the town launched its own investigation."
"Local practices that have kept critical state civil court documents out of the public record in Monroe County and elsewhere in the state should be corrected by summer, the state's chief administrative judge said last week.
Addressing the issue more than two months after the state Office of Court Administration had claimed the filing lapses would be remedied within weeks, Judge Ann Pfau said in a telephone interview that a committee of judges and county and court clerks from across the state is working toward a resolution."
"When the State Attorney General's Office launched its new Web site Project Sunlight in 2007, it served as a most useful tool for those who wanted to find out what their state representatives were up to.
It provided information about legislation, voting records, lobbyist connections, government contracts and more. All of this information was, and is, available to the public through other means, but the attorney general's new Web site made searches that much easier."
"So there you have it, Albany: How and why people get their parking tickets excused, forgiven, fixed or whatever word you choose, is none of your business, according to Albany City Treasurer Betty Barnette.
It's a matter of medical privacy, you see.
That's right, Ms. Barnette and her lawyer, Brian Devane, offer what must surely be one of the most creative and lame excuses for secrecy ever to come out of City Hall in refusing to give the Common Council access to the written explanations that drivers use to get out of parking tickets."
"The top 50 wage earners in the town of Clarkstown worked for the police department and collectively made about $10 million in 2008.
The highest paid among them was Capt. Thomas Purtill, who earned $335,676.88 in 2008 while working two days a week because of a disability. Purtill, who retired in March after 35 years in the police department, spent three days a week receiving physical therapy."
"Five town attorneys in the region [in New York] have been collecting credits toward public pensions as though they were full-time town employees, even though each also works for a private practice or represents more than one municipal client.
Public records obtained by the Times Herald-Record show that the towns that employ these lawyers regularly credit them with full-time service when submitting monthly reports to the New York State and Local Retirement System, the taxpayer-funded pension plan for public employees."
"It might become one of the more popular features on the city’s Web site. Internet surfers are now able to find out the base salaries of most city employees. By early summer, the site will also disclose how much overtime each worker made in the fiscal year that ends June 30.
But Mayor Byron W. Brown’s new initiative has infuriated the fire union, which is threatening to sue him for harassment."
"The town's top earner last year wasn't its top-salaried employee, and he didn't receive a penny of overtime pay.
Records provided by the town put police Lt. Richard Malan, a 36-year veteran, ahead of the town supervisor and every department head, including his own chief, with total compensation for 2008 of $140,931. That includes nearly $48,000 beyond his regular salary, including retroactive pay increases."
"Draft disciplinary charges that were part of a dispute between former Schools Superintendent Debra Jackson and the school board do not need to be disclosed, a judge has ruled.
But acting Supreme Court Justice Barbara G. Zambelli also said in her March 31 decision that the district must release any other documents related to the dispute - as long as there's not a legitimate reason those records can be exempt from public disclosure."
"Suppose members of the Canandaigua Town Board running for re-election discussed pending town business at a public forum. Under a proposed resolution, slated to be voted on tonight, they might be in violation for speaking about those matters in public.
The proposal would regulate the dissemination of information by the town of Canandaigua.
Town Board member Marion Cassie, who proposed this policy change, said that her intent is not to limit the free flow of information but to have proper channels for its release."
"Parents and advocates say they are shut out of information allowing them to keep tabs on how the mayor's management of the school system is working.
Many report extensive delays and barriers getting access to public information just as a showdown looms over control of the city's schools.
Mayor Bloomberg is the first to have direct control over the school system, but the law giving him that power is up for renewal this year."
"The town is considering creating a Web site that could allow its residents to download town documents and send them where they need to go instead of only receiving them by mail.
Board member James Wheeler, the leader of the town's effort to create a Web site, said at a meeting Tuesday the potential site also would feature important dates, hours of operation for the town's departments, announcements of any vacancies and phone numbers.
"I'm foreseeing it will be informational and educational," he said."
- See also: New York state budget
"Lower Hudson Valley taxpayers will shell out millions of dollars in salaries this year for public sector retirees who continue to collect state pensions despite taking new government and education jobs.
The double dippers include a Westchester schools superintendent making nearly $400,000 a year, a Putnam town supervisor with two public jobs who earns more than $230,000 and a Rockland environmental manager earning in excess of $272,000.
Due to a loophole in state law, more than 185 public employees in the three counties have been allowed to collect a pension and a salary during the past three years, records obtained by The Journal News under the state Freedom of Information Law show."
"City school district officials say they do not want to distribute the first draft of their $141.7 million budget for 2009-10 primarily because not all the figures are accurate yet. But the state’s public information watchdog says the public is entitled to that information.
“In the courts’ eyes, the fact that it’s a draft means nothing,” said Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York Committee on Open Government. “It’s about content. Statistics and figures (like those found in a budget) are public information. If estimates and projections are not accurate or not realistic, even if they’re pie in the sky, that doesn’t matter.”"
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