Perhaps because of the legendary dysfunction at the state Capitol through the years, New York has no shortage of government watchdog groups.
The list includes the New York Public Interest Research Group, League of Women Voters, Empire Justice Center, Common Cause, Consumers Union and the Brennan Center for Justice.
Unfortunately, as spot-on as many of their studies and recommendations have been through the years, not nearly enough has been translated into action by the governor and state Legislature.
The truth is, while many Albany politicians like to call themselves reformers, they often privately cringe at what the watchdog groups call for in their advocacy and often carry private resentment. Remember what Gov. David Paterson said at the beginning of last year? Calling them “so-called good government groups,” he said they needed government oversight themselves so they couldn’t “hide their donors behind walls of sanctimony.”
This attitude toward groups that are putting important information and ideas out there needs to stop. And the person who can be a leader in this is Andrew Cuomo, the governor-elect.
We’re a little concerned about a Cuomo spokesman’s response to a report from NYPIRG this week that outlined a series of reform steps the governor could take without the Legislature. Cuomo’s office basically declined to address any of the specifics, and instead referred people to the policy books he published during the campaign.
But to truly move forward, Cuomo should engage in an open discussion about the ideas these groups propose. Of course, he shouldn’t agree to all of their suggestions, but he should take their ideas seriously and lead by example so some legislators, long stuck in their ways, open their ideas to the resource these groups can be.