How Corrupt is New York?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Cover of the New York Post and Daily News the day after Malcolm Smith and Dan Halloran were arrested on charges of corruption, including trying to fix the NY mayor's race

Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, and Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, discuss whether or not the recent mayoral race bribery scandal can be seen as an indictment of state politics on the whole, and what measures could yield greater transparency within the political process.



Dick Dadey and Susan Lerner

Comments [23]

Mollie from Suffolk from Suffolk county N.Y.

Is anyone interested in learning where a lot of the money from mortgage fraud is going?How it is being done by who?
I have a story with facts and documents that should be told to the public.
Bastards, dirty players lawless creeps. CORRUPT and getting worse.

Oct. 21 2013 12:00 AM
DTorres from Manhattan

How can there be fair elections, if you have one individual with so
much money, that he can buy himself a term and others that need cash
and so must be beholden to those individuals, corporations that pay
for their campaigns.
Nobody wins here.

Apr. 03 2013 01:53 PM
Chris Garvey from Libertarian 4 Suffolk DA

NY’s barriers to an independent candidate (such as Libertarian Party) being on the ballot:
‒ 1500 to 15000 (depending on office) valid witnessed signatures on a confusing petition.
‒ All signatures must be collected in 6 weeks, after July 4, and submitted before the end of August, when many voters are away on vacation. It’s hard to wear a dignified suit in the sun in the hottest part of the year.
‒ The big parties have already had their petition period, requiring fewer signatures. If you signed one of their petitions, you can’t sign the Libertarian petition.
‒ Major-party hacks will try to make a fraud case:
Witness: “Why are there 2 new signatures?”
Hack: “I signed for my friend too.”
Witness needs to retire the page and certify number of signatures minus 1.

‒ Any voter may Object to the petitions. Several party hacks will file objections to an insurgent candidate, whom the party boss really fears.
‒ The Bi-Partisan Board Of Elections (run by an appointee of the Democrat Party Boss and an appointee of the Republican Party Boss) decides if there is a fatal technical flaw in your petitions. Some boards don’t even specify what the flaw is.
‒ You have 3 days, from the Decision, to prepare and file a lawsuit against the Board, and serve a copy on the Board and all the Objectors. Board employees won’t tell you when the decision has been made, and will mail the decision at 6 PM, in hope to delay its arrival at least 2 days.
‒ Your Judge relies on the party bosses to re-nominate him at the end of his 7-year term. Often a Judge will use any technical flaw to disqualify your candidacy (so as not to displease his Party Boss?). Courts have delayed acceptance of the suit in an attempt to thwart your timely service on the many party objectors.
‒ Experienced election lawyers are too expensive for some independent candidates. Such election lawyers work mostly for the Parties, so there is likely a conflict.
‒ Appeals Court judges also rely on party bosses to re-nominate them at the end of 7-year terms.
‒ NY has more election litigation than any other state. Many elections have only one candidate.
‒ NJ only requires a small ballot fee, and does not have a “confusingly crowded” ballot.

Apr. 03 2013 11:58 AM

You didn't address my question.
Perhaps you (innocently I'm sure) mistakenly misinterpreted it. ;-)

Maybe some other members of the listening audience will take up the inquiry until it is answered by a guest or another listener.

Again -
"Where are the U.S. Attorney's and the N.Y.C. Department of Investigation's reports on Queen Quinn's confession to the embezzlement scheme involving the mis-allocation of city money to non-existent agencies for their later disbursement, at the Speaker's discretion, to various politically favored members!"

Frankly, I expect the every member of the "city council of embezzlers" as of 2008, Mr. DeBlasio, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Liu, and whom ever else hired an attorney at the City's expense during the supposed investigations could be negatively impacted.

Apr. 03 2013 11:33 AM
Chris Garvey from Libertarian 4 Suffolk DA

"Public financing" they all cry;
Will solve these thorny problems;
Let taxpayers support these birds;
Who're lining up to rob 'em.

But, do you think incumbents,
When they're allocating money,
Won't somehow advantage themselves,
With rules arcane and funny?

Apr. 03 2013 10:31 AM

Of course "THEY" think they can get away with it! Of course "THEY" think they can use our money! Where are the U.S. Attorney's and the N.Y.C. Department of Investigation's reports on Queen Quinn's confession to the embezzlement scheme involving the mis-allocation of city money to non-existent agencies for their later disbursement, at the Speaker's discretion, to various politically favored members!

Apr. 03 2013 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Times may change, but people don't." Remember that and you will never be disappointed by people.

Apr. 03 2013 10:27 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

For what it's worth, here are the Center for Public Integrity's "Corruption Risk" report cards for all 50 states. (You can see their criteria and metrics on the website, too.)

Here is NY's (ranks at 37, or as the 13th worst state):

Here's an overview of the report:

Apr. 03 2013 10:25 AM
Alan from Manhattan

In multi-candidate elections, the best voting system is Approval Voting.

For an explanation, please see

Apr. 03 2013 10:25 AM
Joan from Brooklyn

Oh, thank you to the gentleman who asked about Bloomberg's donations to the the Republican party. Money also went to the abominable Independence Party from the mayor. It seems the only problem here is that the guys involved in this weren't rich enough to fund their own campaigns.

Apr. 03 2013 10:25 AM
sy from uws

it is known and still disgusting, but i'm wondering how these investigations are decided upon by FBI and the justice dept? do these investigations help reduce our trust in lower level elected persons & democracy? do they investigate mayors & governors and other more powerful ones? how this is going to effect our trust & public psyche?

Apr. 03 2013 10:20 AM
Not Surprised

Profoundly corrupt at every level. The problem is that most of the corruption is perfectly legal. There are few if any restrictions on the revolving doors between public and private organizations, and only lip service is paid to oversight of private companies with public contracts. These companies will frequently wine and dine so-called public servants who themselves are getting ready for a lucrative career once they themselves move to the said companies. This makes employees very cynical, and they themselves do what they are able to do to circumvent rules and regulations, often with the collusion of unions. There are few who should be surprised by this, I have found it is a fact of life here, where "conflict of interest" has become a "quaint" concept. I worked in home care, yes, home care, and it is just as corrupt as any level of government. If such basic and fundamental and supposedly honest work as this can be corrupted, one can only assume the worst at all other levels.

Apr. 03 2013 10:18 AM

Christine Quinn has herself been found to have abused funds in the past. She set up slush-funds for friends. This was reported by the New York Times in 2011. Dick Dadey is wrong or lying on this point when he defends Quinn.

Apr. 03 2013 10:16 AM
Karen from NYC

Halloran- not even an "honest crook"?

Apr. 03 2013 10:16 AM
fuva from harlemworld

hjs11211's question -- which I don't know the answer to -- is indicative of the problem. We don't really know how government works -- officially and unofficially. Both the works and the corruption are too abstract.

Apr. 03 2013 10:14 AM
fuva from harlemworld

What's stunning is how stunned the host and guest seem to be.

Apr. 03 2013 10:13 AM
Robert from NYC

How can you even ask if the corruption is systematic! You're a journalist and I'm sure you see regularly.
Absolutely, brazenness is exactly right!!
I ask will this prosecutor become our next Giuliani, hero turn corrupt rogue.

Apr. 03 2013 10:13 AM

What do county chairmen do anyway?!

Apr. 03 2013 10:09 AM
Hugh Sansom

Halloran was being honest. New York State has a widespread reputation as the _most corrupt_ state in the United States. Sobering, isn't it. New York is the most corrupt state in the country. This has been a widespread view among political scientists for many years. Gov. Cuomo is part of the problem.

Apr. 03 2013 10:09 AM
Robert from NYC

NY is totally corrupt which is sad for the very few who probably ar not corrupt. For example take WTC, if this were Singapore there would be several new tall, skyscraper struckers built on that site after 2 to 3 years, where here it's been almost 12 years and the one big deal building still is not completed!! Now if that doesn't represent par exdellent corruption then tell me what is. (And you probably can tell me what is with numerous other examples what is corruption in this city.) It's all around us. What other policc commissioner has his ties made personally by a french designer and bears the best in attire!

Apr. 03 2013 10:07 AM

Sunlight turning events into scandals and lawsuits is a badge to be worn proudly. It's when there are no corruption trials when I worry.

Presumably most intelligent people shuddered with fear when President Bush called Enron's corruption in the Energy business and (what turned out to be) the first of the Catholic Church gay child sex cases "just a few bad apples."

Apr. 03 2013 09:16 AM
john from office

Ed, there are other issues other than abortion. That issue is destroying the republican party.

How can you be pro life, and then not want to pay the taxes to cover the social cost of those births?? Abortion is a social good, it acts as a safety valve and limits the growth of the underclass.

Apr. 03 2013 07:57 AM
Ed from Larchmont

New York and the City are the center of the practice of abortion in the U.S., the most violent, unjust, and corrupt action today. How can we expect NY politics to not be completely corrupt?

Apr. 03 2013 05:45 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.