Published in
The Empire

This Week in Politics: Campaign Finance, Fraud and Wages

Money was a big theme in this week’s political landscape. Federal prosecutors charged one of the city’s leading contractors in a multi-million dollar fraud case. In Albany, campaign finance reform legislation ― one of the governor’s big promises ― was introduced, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed a bill that would increase the prevailing wage in the city.

Just as the legislative session starts to wind down, campaign finance reform legislation was introduced in the state Assembly this week. Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, doesn’t seem willing to expend the political capital necessary to get legislation turned into law this session. The governor said Wednesday “You could take the public relations track of appearing to do something. I could put out my bill and rant and rave about it. Or I could actually try and get something done and I’m trying to actually get something done.”

The firm Lend Lease U.S. Construction LMB Inc., formerly known as Bovis Lend Lease was charged with bilking the city of millions of dollars for public projects for over decade. The company agreed to pay the government as much as $56 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. It isn’t the first time the company has come under fire. It January it settled with the city on overcharging allegations. The company has also been involved in fatal construction accidents in the city.

Bovis projects have included Grand Central Terminal, the Bronx Criminal Courthouse, the Deutsche Bank building demolition, Citifield and scores of other public projects being built  both in New York State and New Jersey.

Also in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg was facing off against labor unions and the City Council over two bills that would raise worker’s earning. On Wednesday he vetoed the Prevailing Wage Bill. He also threatened to veto the Living Wage Bill, which is expected to be passed by the City Council on Monday.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn vowed to overturn the mayoral vetoes. "The Council stands by this legislation, and my colleagues and I look forward to overriding the Mayor's veto," she said.