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TODAY IN GOTHAM GAZETTE

Citizens Union Foundation's watchdog publication Gotham Gazette, provides New Yorkers with illuminating analyses on policy, long-form interviews with thought leaders, and underreported stories about the actions of government and government officials. Read Gotham Gazette's latest stories.


LATEST CU BUDGET REPORT FINDS $19 BILLION IN UNSPECIFIED FUNDS IN 2017 STATE BUDGET

Today, Citizens Union released the latest edition of its watchdog report on the state budget, Spending in the Shadows, examining the NYS 2017 Enacted Budget. In the report, Citizens Union identifies $19 billion in nonspecific funds that have almost no detailed explanation for how the funds will be used and no accountable reporting to the public, providing NYS elected officials with a clear path to misuse taxpayer dollars. See the major findings in the news release here9/29/16

CITIZENS UNION'S VOTERS DIRECTORY FOR THE 2016 PRIMARY ELECTIONS IS NOW ONLINE!

Since 1910, Citizens Union has undertaken a comprehensive evaluation of city and state elections and publishes the results in our Voters Directory. With the help of 42 member volunteers, Citizens Union is proud to release the latest edition of the Voters Directory covering the 2016 primary elections for state Senate and Assembly races online! In addition to listing CU's preferences in 11 races in New York City, the Voters Directory also provides information on incumbents running unopposed in NYC (who make up 56% of all NYC seats in the state Legislature), and a report on special elections and open seats. 9/8/16


CITIZENS UNION ANNOUNCES CANDIDATE PREFERENCES IN SEPTEMBER 2016 PRIMARY ELECTIONS

After evaluating 35 candidates in 15 competitive races and receiving questionnaire responses from dozens more, Citizens Union today announced their candidate preferences for state Senate and Assembly races in anticipation of the September 13th Primary Election. "The incumbent re-election rate will remain high again this season as there are even fewer contests for open and vacant seats in New York City, of which there are only seven.   But we are pleased to provide some guidance to those New Yorkers who live in districts where there are real contests.  We have supported those who we believe will fight against corruption and for democratic reform, and are proud of those who have earned Citizens Union’s preference,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director. 9/1/16


CITIZENS UNION PROPOSES LOCAL LAW TO REGULATE NYC ELECTED OFFICIAL-AFFILIATED NONPROFITS

In response to the increasingly common practice by elected officials to form non-profit organizations to support their policy agendas and their political aims, such as Mayor de Blasio's Campaign for One New York, Citizens Union has released a proposal for a   local law  that would require such New York City elected official-affiliated organizations to be treated similarly to political committees under the city's campaign finances laws and rules, which are subject to disclosure requirements and contribution limitations. CU believes that such a law is necessary to prevent city elected officials from organizing or directing organizations to advance their political interests without meaningful oversight. Both the NY Times and the NY Daily News issued editorials in support of Citizens Union’s positions. 7/12/16


MEASURES ARE NEEDED TO PREVENT CORRUPTION AND NOT JUST PUNISH CORRUPT OFFICIALS

CU's executive director, Dick Dadey, released two statements earlier this month, which called the sentencing of former legislative leaders Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos "just" and "fair," given their dishonest actions against the public interest. Federal judges sentenced Silver to 12 years in prison and Skelos to 5 years, in addition to ordering that they relinquish millions of dollars in fines and forfeitures between them. The number of public officials who have been forced from office due to misconduct in recent years reflects the severity of corruption crimes throughout the State of New York, and points to the need for preventative measures. While CU believes the sentencing of Silver and Skelos was necessary, punishment alone has not proven to be a strong enough deterrent of corruption. 5/26/16     


REFORMERS DECRY ALBANY'S FAILURE TO RESPOND TO ALBANY'S "WATERGATE MOMENT"

Reform groups charge that the governor and legislative leaders have "kicked the can" by failing to act on ethics. The groups point out that not one ethics reform measure in the 3 ½ months since former legislative leaders Silver and Skelos were convicted of corruption has been passed and criticize that the calls to itemize and create back-end public disclosure and transparency of billions of dollars in secret state spending  within the budget have gone unanswered. 3/28/16  


REFORMERS CALL ON GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO OPENLY ADDRESS STATE ETHICS REFORM 

Today, a coalition of government reform organizations delivered a  letter and gathered at a press conference to called on Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the other legislative leaders to hold a series of open public leaders' meetings to discuss and negotiate – in public – ethics reforms necessary to restore New Yorkers' battered confidence in Albany. 3/8/16  


CU REPORT FINDS $2.4 BILLION IN OPAQUE FUNDS IN 2017 STATE BUDGET

Citizens Union today released the fourth iteration of its watchdog report on discretionary state spending, Spending in the Shadows – FY 2017.  The report finds the proposed executive state budget contains $2.4 billion in opaque "lump sum funds" which allow spending decisions to be made in the shadows by our elected officials after budget bills are passed. See the major findings in the news release here. 2/29/16  


PASSAGE OF CITY ELECTED OFFICIAL PAY RAISE IS A WIN FOR REFORM BUT A LOSS FOR DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

The passed New York City compensation bills are a step forward for improving the salaries of our City elected officials and are supported by CU, as the raises appropriately reflects the value that elected officials bring to their jobs. But the fast-track way in which the bills were brought to the table reflect a flawed democratic process. Read our full statement here. 2/5/16


CU TESTIMONY URGES COUNCIL TO DELAY PAY RAISE VOTE

Citizens Union testified at the New York City Council public hearing on pay raises for all city elected officials. We shared a number of recommendation but foremost urged the council to delay their vote on the compensation bill to make time for more public input. Read our full testimony here or our press release here. 2/3/16

CU DECRIES LACK OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN COUNCIL PAY RAISE PROCESS

The City Council's eager introduction of legislation around city elected official compensation, while it may include all four reforms long sought by Citizens Union, is unconscionable because it denies the public the input that it had during past cycles of reviewing and commenting on the matter of elected official salaries before a bill was introduced. Read the full statement here. 1/28/16


REFORMERS REACT TO GOVERNOR'S ETHICS PACKAGE, PUSH CLEAN CONSCIENCE PLEDGE

In a letter to the Governor and Legislative Leaders reform groups applaud the proposals included in the executive budget plan but again urged lawmakers and the Governor to sign on to the Clean Conscience pledge to close the LLC loophole, ban/limit outside income for lawmakers, and increase transparency in discretionary funding. See the press release here. 1/20/16  


CU WELCOMES GOVERNOR CUOMO'S REFORM PROPOSALS IN 2016 STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS 

In his 2016 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo proposed important reforms that, if enacted, would help rebuild the public trust and protect New Yorkers. Proposals include limiting outside income, closing the LLC loophole, and a plan to create a constitutional convention commission. Learn more1/13/16