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Cheers and jeers

August 4, 2012
The Leader Herald

CHEERS - To people caring. An old newspaper adage says "bad news makes a good press." But we at this newspaper are happy to applaud the way the people of our communities continually reach out to one another. Recent examples are Friday's 10th annual Johnstown Block Party and today's eighth annual Gloversville Railfest that both assist nonprofit projects. The former aided Humor Heals the Heart: The Anna King Project, helping a 12-year-old former Mayfield girl awaiting a heart transplant. The latter will donate proceeds to the Little Huskies Football League in Gloversville. Thanks for keeping up the good work.

JEERS - To secrecy. We believe in following the money - especially when it may reveal who is influencing public policy and our state's top elected officials.

On Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics board decided a business lobbying group that promotes Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not have to reveal the majority of its millionaire donors, since most of them started donating before July 1.

This lobbying group was created just days after Cuomo's election, and it has spent more than $10 million on advertisements that support Cuomo.

The board, except for one member who dissented, cited a state law passed last year that only requires lobbying groups to reveal donors who have contributed since July 1.

This means the public won't know who has been funding this group for the past two years.

Board member Ravi Batra, the lone dissenter, said an 1845 state law requires people who try to influence law-making to be open about their identities.

We don't understand why this group won't voluntarily release its donor lists. It makes us question whether or not the group has something to hide.

CHEERS - To the recognition of 15 years of public service. This week, Fulton County Coroner Margaret Luck asked the Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee to consider changing her title and her compensation to reflect the extra administrative work she's done on behalf of the coroner's office since 1997.

All this time, the county has had two elected coroners who received equal pay on a per-call basis, and Luck has gone the extra mile, handling administrative duties in addition to the investigative work central to the job.

The committee was right to support her request for a small stipend and the title of "administrative coroner," but it's unfortunate that county leaders allowed this imbalance in the division of labor to persist so long.

In response to Luck's request, committee members made two valid observations - money is tight these days, and new expenses should be considered in the larger context of annual budget deliberations - but at least this disparity now has the attention of the board and it can be corrected at the next appropriate opportunity.



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