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Cloudy Forecast for Sunshine Week: Albany Legislature Must Embrace Transparency and Open Government


Starting today and until Saturday is sun week, an annual nationwide event where open government advocates and the press push for greater transparency in the way public business is conducted. Don’t expect much of that in Albany, where it has traditionally been the only action in the city, as the state Senate and Assembly push wonderful bills, but not jointly, which means nothing gets signed into law. It is a clever trick that has been called this year by a coalition of watchdog groups.

Why not pass the same bills together to improve the state’s Freedom of Information Act, the Open Meetings Act, and disclosure requirements for public officials and candidates and send them to the Governor for her signature? What a novel idea. Or could it be that lawmakers, happy with their new salaries of $142,000, by far the highest in the nation (California’s No. 2 is $122,694 and have term limits) will continue to play between the two chambers?

Unlike many Albany mysteries that are only solved when the budget is passed, New Yorkers will know the answer when Sunshine Week ends on Saturday and cloudy days resume.

The Sun Week calendar is tied to the March 16th birthday of James Madison, father of the Constitution, although the calendar marks March 5th when Mrs. Madison gave birth to her son. The double dates are because when James was a baby, the British colonies skipped 11 days by switching to the modern Gregorian calendar from the ancient Roman Julian calendar, a change that makes last night’s DST adjustment seem like nothing.

We don’t know what old Jim thought of open government considering that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 met entirely in secret session in Philadelphia and the new US Senate also held no public hearing for its first few years. five years. But Madison has been dead and gone for 187 years, and Americans today rightly expect the government to be fully accountable. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie should make Sunshine Week mean something real.

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