Anti-Corruption Advocates Take Comptroller's Side Over Cuomo's

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for open government in Albany continue to press for changes that could prevent further corruption, with just six weeks left in the legislative session.

They pointed toward the bid-rigging scandal that ensnared prominent upstate developers, the ex-president of SUNY Polytechnic, and a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on charges of bid rigging and bribery.

"The time to act is now. We have a trial that's coming up I believe in October that's going to air all of this dirty laundry again," said Ron Deutsch, Fiscal Policy Institute.

"The key to clean contracting to protecting public funds is prevention," said John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany. "We need to stop bid-rigging before it happens. Stopping bid-rigging before it happens means independent review. It means we need to have an independent reviewer of contracts, in this case, the comptroller."

Tom DiNapoli has pushed for that, but Cuomo doesn't agree. Cuomo wants to strengthen oversight powers with an inspector general, but that is a person he appoints.

DiNapoli's office is pushing to once again review state contracts for major economic development programs; a power taken away in 2011.

"We've all seen the indictments, we've all seen the mounting evidence and we know that something is wrong here," said Jennifer Wilson, program and policy director for the League of Women Voters. "Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on one of the largest bid-rigging schemes in state history and we need the legislature to act so this does not happen again."

Lawmakers this week said it's possible a reform bill could be voted on by the end of June, but it's not clear if will be the version backed by Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco.

"I expect that we'll have procurement reform before the end of the session. Whether it's Senator DeFrancisco's bill or a variation of his bill, I expect that we'll move in that direction," said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown.

In addition, the groups want a database of deals showing New Yorkers where state spending is going.

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