blair horner


Sunday marks the beginning of “Sunshine Week,” a week in which the nation focuses its attention on government openness.  The “Week” makes it clear that it is important to maintain an open government, in order to ensure the proper relationship between public officials and the citizens they are pledged to serve.


 The pace is picking up at the state Capitol.  The budget is scheduled to be approved by April 1st.  In order to meet that deadline, the state Senate and the state Assembly are likely to advance their own one-house budget plans this upcoming week.  A week after that, both houses should begin a joint conference committee process to work out their differences while they negotiate with the governor.

Blair Horner: Albany Goes Dark

Mar 2, 2015


Two years ago, Governor Cuomo unveiled a new government portal called “open.ny.gov.”  At that time the governor proclaimed, “"This new website will dramatically increase public access to one of our most valuable assets - data. As it expands and evolves over time, open.ny.gov will spark innovation, improve efficiency, promote accountability, and bring the people back into government."

Blair Horner: Albany's "Watergate" Moment

Feb 23, 2015


The recent indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is simply the latest in a series of scandals involving the conflicts created by allowing sitting legislators to earn unlimited, unrestricted income from outside jobs.  But the controversy surrounding the former Speaker’s “moonlighting” is not the first time the issue has been raised.  The ability of sitting lawmakers to profit in any profession or business has been central to other recent scandals.  Here are some of the most high profile examples:


Like many areas of the governor’s proposed $141 billion-plus state budget, his higher education plans include items that help and others that hurt.

Blair Horner: Ethics Reform Redux

Feb 9, 2015


In the old “Peanuts” cartoon, Lucy holds the football for Charlie Brown and assures him that this time she really means it, she will hold the football and not pull it away.  So he should charge and kick the football.  And every year – despite having previously seen her pull the ball away at the last minute – Charlie believes her.

Blair Horner: The Speaker Gets Arrested

Jan 26, 2015


Albany was rocked by a political earthquake last week with the arrest of Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver.  The arrest stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office and alleged the Speaker’s involvement in a vast kickback and corruption enterprise that spanned many years.  The Speaker denies the U.S. Attorney’s allegations and maintains his innocence.


This week, Governor Cuomo unveils his plans for the 2015 legislative session.  The State of the State allows the executive a unique opportunity to command public attention and to mobilize support for his proposals, as well as to kick off the legislative session.

An important reason for New York State to ban hydraulic fracturing was the need to move from a fossil fuel-based economy to one based on non-greenhouse gas-emitting alternative fuels.

Blair Horner: Examining Lawmakers’ Outside Income

Jan 5, 2015


Like the rest of the nation, New York State allows its legislators to have outside jobs – they are considered part-time.  Laws are in place to ensure that such outside income does not create a conflict-of-interest for the lawmakers – laws require a combination of requirements that lawmakers recuse themselves of decisions which may directly affect their wealth, prohibit them from using their office for personal gain, and by requiring the disclosure of the sources of outside income in order to ensure that the public – and regulatory agencies – can monitor lawmakers’ behavior.

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