NYS lawmakers, Hochul talk ethics reform

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — State ethics reform has been a big topic of discussion in Albany in recent months. On her first day on the job Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul talked about the changes she’d like to make, and Wednesday, the State Senate held a hearing on “ethics oversight and enforcement.”

“We’ll focus on open, ethical governing that New Yorkers will trust,” Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday.

She has called for making sexual harassment and ethics training for state workers be done live. She’s also asking state entities to look at compliance with state transparency laws and come up with a public report. And, she said, “I’ve instructed my counsel to come up with an expedited process to fulfil all FOIL requests as fast as possible.”

Wednesday, the Hochul Administration posted almost 12,000 more deaths than had been reported under Governor Cuomo. 

“Governor Hochul is deeply committed to transparency and restoring trust in government. Upon advice from and consultation with the Department of Health, starting on day one of the Hochul Administration, we began including an additional data set from the CDC in the daily reports to be as open and transparent as possible. This data set, which is death certificate numbers that have been reported to and compiled by the CDC, was not included before in the State’s daily reports. We will always prioritize open communication with New Yorkers as we work together to battle the pandemic,” said Haley Viccaro, Governor Hochul’s Senior Advisor for Communications.

In a statement former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said:

“In August 2020, when testing became widely available, DOH issued a health order mandating that any presumed COVID death be tested to ensure accuracy in numbers.  As such, the State reported daily and clearly labeled confirmed COVID deaths.  At the same time, the CDC requested ‘presumed’ COVID deaths, which are not lab confirmed.  New York always reported these numbers and they were always publicly available.” 

Meanwhile, State Senators held a pre-scheduled ethics hearing where lawmakers criticized the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and its transparency. 

“It is no secret to any of us here that Albany has a long history riddled with corruption and abuses of power, and it has long been subject to scrutiny for its failure to implement an effective ethical oversight regime,” said Senator Alessandra Biaggi.

“This is something that I think has been of significant concern to both parties, both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Anthony Palumbo.

JCOPE’s executive director argued that confidentiality laws that surround the Commission are “strict.”

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