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What better way to celebrate the New York Public Interest Research Group's 40th anniversary than to have long-time good government gadfly Blair Horner return to deliver is one-of-a-kind anti-corruption quotes?

Horner left NYPIRG two and a half years ago to work for The American Cancer Society. He returns to NYPIRG right in time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's anti-corruption Moreland Commission's first public meetings and the 2014 state-wide elections.

I will continue to work with them on the state’s important health issues,” Horner said in a statement. “I look forward to working on many other looming issues as well. From release of the findings of the Moreland Act Commission, to next year’s vote on the constitutional amendment on redistricting, to the 2017 referendum on whether to convene a Constitutional Convention, New Yorkers have big decisions to make and I want to be deeply involved in those discussions. Being back in NYPIRG allows me to do just that.”

Horner is known for blisteringly poignant and funny quotes about corruption and good government policy. Albany reporters can rest easy knowing Horner will be bringing his quotes back with him.

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Cuomo's Developer Donations

The New York Daily News reported today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo received $76,000 in donations from real estate developers just weeks before signing legislation that gave tax breaks to their properties. Three partners at Fisher Brothers donated $25,000 each to Cuomo on Dec. 27 of last year. Cuomo signed legislation giving tax breaks to their properties at New York Curb Exchange and 86 Trinity Place on Jan. 30. The Daily News reported last week that Extell Development Co. gave Cuomo $100,000 a few days before he signed the bill that gives creates $35 million in tax breaks on their One57 luxury apartment tower. The Moreland Commission that Cuomo created to investigate corruption has subpoenaed the five companies that received tax breaks from the bill. Cuomo administration officials say that the bill was supported by the city and wasn't their focus. The News writes however that legislators claims they don't know who inserted the tax breaks for the five subpoenaed companies.


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The Daily News recently highlighted a $100,000 donation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by Extell Development that appears to have been made the same day as a piece of legisaltion that granted the company tax breaks was passed in the Assembly. The tax breaks applied to the One57 building at 157 W. Fifth St., and others.

The bill had been scheduled for a vote in June 2012. Cuomo's representatives have denied any connection between Cuomo's approval of the bill and the donations but Sen. Ruben Diaz sees things differently.

He used his newsletter to imagine what would happen if he was caught up in similar controversy.

My dear reader, can you imagine if I did that kind of thing? Can you
imagine if I, Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., received $100,000 from any developer right before I threw my support for a piece of legislation that benefited that developer?

Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think there would be full-scale
local, state, and federal investigations claiming that I had accepted a
bribe in exchange for a political favor? Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think that every single editorial board would be condemning me as corrupt? I can only imagine the torch and pitchfork crowds descending on my office.

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has named Judge Renee R. Roth to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The move comes after the sudden resignation of another of Silver's appointees to the commission.

The ethics panel announced that Pat Bulgaro had submitted his resignation by letter during their meeting yesterday. The panel would not say when the letter was sent and Bulgaro did not give a reason for his departure.

Silver and his appointees on JCOPE have been the subject of intense scrutiny following the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal. A number of good government groups and legislators called for JCOPE to investigate Silver's handling of the matter given the fact that Silver settled one complaint against Lopez in secret. Instead, it appears JCOPE looked only at Lopez's behavior.

Silver's appointees could have voted to block an investigation into their boss but JCOPE's actions are not subject to public meeting laws, so only JCOPE knows and they aren't talking.

Silver is supposed to file paperwork declaring any professional or personal relationship he might have with Roth.

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Assemblyman Micha Kellner is the latest Albany legislator to have sexual harassment charges made public. The New York Times reported today that Kellner sent a series of flirtatious messages to a junior female staffer over an Internet game of Scrabble.

Kellner told the woman during a late-night exchange that he hired her because she was "cute." "I wouldn't mind falling asleep with you but not remotely," he told his employee. Kellner is currently running for City Council in the 5th district.

The Times' reporting has resulted in the resignation of Assembly Lawyer Bill Collins, who failed to pass on the charges to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Kellner apologized for the behavior and said that it happened before he was married.

Over four years ago, for a few weeks while I was still single, I exchanged instant messages with a female member of my staff that were flirtatious. It was inappropriate. I was wrong and it was stupid. When I was told that my staffer felt the messages were unprofessional, I immediately stopped and regretted placing her in that position. I was sorry then and I am sorry now.

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