Posted at: 04/04/2013 11:30 PM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - The scandals that have been erupting this week at the state capitol are exactly what good government groups have been trying to prevent for years. One watchdog says on Thursday night: as long as there have ben politicians in Albany there has been scandal and until and unless significant reform takes place, it will continue to happen.
Perhaps the saddest thing when words like corruption or bribery are used in association with government or elected officials is that too few people are surprised by it.
"The real question we need to ask," begins David Grandeau, former commissioner of the State Lobbying Commission, "Who do we blame for it and why can't we stop it?"
Grandeau says there's a simplistic answer to those questions.
"If you want to stop this culture of corruption, you have to stop the gateway violations," he says. "It starts with per diems and they get away with that and then they put friends and relatives on their payroll and they get away with that. Then they start using their campaign funds for things that aren't related to the campaign. And then from there they move on to the small bribes and then large bribes."
"He's voicing the same frustration that all of us have had," says Barbara Bartoletti, of the League of Women Voters. "I'm sure 95% of the public have that same frustration. We need momentum from the average citizen who elects these people and puts them in office to say to their elected officials enough is enough!"
"It's not geographic," Grandeau opines, "It's not racial. It's not political. It's endemic and it's endemic because there's no one there to stop them."
Bartoletti says what saddens her the most is that she thinks most of the legislators are good people who do a good job for their constituents, but scandals like the ones that have unfolded this wee, taint the entire institution.