Thursday, September 22, 2011
By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief
Governor Cuomo launched a new website today, which he said aimed at making his administration more transparent to the public and as “a new way to get people involved.” It lists events from his public schedule since taking office in January, and will feature on-line chats with top state officials, including, the Governor himself, this coming Saturday.
The site includes information on staff meetings the governor has held, meals at the executive mansion with legislators, and one-on-one meetings with various State Senators in the days leading up to the successful Senate vote to legalize gay marriage. It also shows records of numerous plane trips the governor has taken, some to promote his budget and tax cap agenda. Others to survey storm damages after Irene and Lee.
Cuomo promised during the 2010 campaign for governor to make more details of his personal schedule available to the public, but until now had not followed through on that. Now, with the launch of a new website that includes details from the governor’s day to day schedule and a list of upcoming events by administration officials, government reform groups say Cuomo has taken a major step towards openness.
“I think it’s a very good development,” said Susan Lerner, with Common Cause.
Russ Haven, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says the Governor has set a standard for transparency that will be hard to retreat from in the future. “It does create a set of expectations,” said Haven. “You can’t un-ring that bell.”
Haven says a major gap in the schedule, or a questionable plane ride, would be open to greater scrutiny.
“If there are any gaps people are going to assume that there’s a story to be told even if there isn’t” said Haven. “I think it really does ratchet up the level of accountability.”