ASSEMBLYMAN LAVINE EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF PROCESS IN EFFORTS TO INSTITUTE MEANINGFUL ETHICS REFORMS
February 3, 2015 -- In the aftermath of corruption charges being filed against long time New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblyman Charles Lavine (13th AD) sent a letter to his colleagues on Thursday urging them to support significant changes to that legislative body's Ethics and Guidance Committee, and to have an open and deliberate process that would seek input from citizens across New York State in order that meaningful institutional reforms be instituted.
In the letter, Assemblyman Lavine, who chairs the Committee and co-chairs the Legislative Ethics Commission, expressed concern that "with each and every instance of corruption, the public's faith in our governmental institutions decreases and cynicism, the easiest and least courageous response, increases."
Mr. Lavine, while expressing understanding of many of his colleagues wanting to "adopt reforms immediately," suggested in the letter that public hearings be held across the State to get feedback from citizens, including "good government experts." "I believe that any meaningful effort at reform demands embarking on a true partnership with our citizens and can only be produced after the Assembly has listened to the voice of the people," Mr. Lavine wrote.
Asserting that the name of the committee which he chairs is misleading as it suggests that it has jurisdiction to investigate all matters of ethics when in fact its charge "is essentially limited to investigating claims of sexual harassment and retaliation," Mr. Lavine urged the Assembly to create two new committees in its place. One, the Committee on Civil Conduct and Guidance," would take on the role of its predecessor, while the other "The Standing Committee on Ethics" would be "vested with the original jurisdiction of reviewing and vetting all proposed legislation dealing with ethical issues."
The Assemblyman closed his letter saying that the "Assembly now needs to repair itself, and our next Speaker must be able to provide the leadership necessary to begin this process of healing."
Click Here for Assemblyman Lavine's Letter.
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