This week is Sunshine Week, the national effort to push for openness in government. In Albany, however, the sun was long down when lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reached deals for pension reform, legalizing casinos, approving new district lines and expanding the state’s DNA database.
The backroom, late-night dealmaking drew criticism from good-government groups.
Russ Haven, counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group, knocked the process, saying it is ironic that it happened on Sunshine Week.
“The Legislature and the governor appear to be banking on that the public is more focused on the product than the process,” Haven said. “But process really matters whether or not people know what is in bills and whether they feel are openly and thoroughly debated.”
Cuomo defended the process, though, saying it is sometimes the only way to get an agreement.
“It’s the nature of the process. It’s how a legislative body works,” Cuomo said.
He said for too long Albany was known for its inaction.
“Government is supposed to function. It’s not a debating society. You’re supposed to debate, argue. Fine. Then conclude and act.”
Here’s the concerns of Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Women Voters, and her support of Cuomo’s redistricting deal.