New York State Corruption Worse Than Ever

Vera Scroggins - Vic FurmanVictor Furman
Upstate New York Landowner Shale Gas Activist at NYRAD-R

There’s a tradition of New York State corruption, from Tammany Hall to the Moreland Commission. It was on full display in Cuomo’s fracking decision. 

New York State corruption in government is such a fact of life that our politicians today make little effort to even hide it; as if it was the normal way government was run. When Andrew Cuomo did that little act where he pretended his decision was somebody else’s and was non-political at that totally scripted news conference in December, it was like watching the pronouncements on Spring from Punxsutawney each Groundhog Day. There wasn’t a soul on any side of the debate who thought it was real, but the show had to go on, because so much depended upon the pretense, however poor the acting and the script might be.

That’s where we’re at in New York these days. The corruption is ingrained and everyone goes through the motions of pretending the naked Emperor is wearing clothes because no one is willing to confront the obvious.

Most readers knew when Cuomo arranged for his two hack puppets to recommend not proceeding with high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) “at this time” that the decision would cripple Upstate New York. The region is simply not able to effectively deal with the overtaxation driving development to Pennsylvania, its high cost of education or its ever-growing dependency on state funded entitlements without some economic stimulation on a large scale and drilling was just such an opportunity. The need for those costly entitlements, in fact, would dissipate with the jobs that gas drilling would have brought to the area.

The disappointment we feel, though, is nothing compared to the outrage we have for the betrayal of our interests by a governor and staff who claimed to be taking a reasoned path. I have been reviewing videos of testimony from state legislative hearings and, from what I see, the betrayal rises to the level of a criminal act against landowners and residents of the Southern Tier.

Take, for example, the February 4, 2013 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) budget hearing that took place in Albany. A video of some of the excerpts may be viewed here. The video is about an hour and a half long but well worth watching to understand why I believe we’re dealing with criminality or something very close to it. Here are the things that caught my attention:

  1. Some 16 minutes into the hearing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens declares that Dr. Shaw, then New York State Health Commissioner, would as stated in a previous hearing, be done performing a review of the D-SGEIS “in a few weeks.”
  2. A little later, Martens refers to a University of Pennsylvania study and its lack of funding. This, together with the Geisinger Health Systems study, were investigations from which Martens said he hoped to get information, and the video demonstrates he knew, as early as February, 2013, the studies weren’t fully funded. Yet, in December, 2014, Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker held up an unfunded and incomplete Geisinger study up for the TV cameras, never revealing it was not really a study at all but a proposal for further study.
  3. Then, starting at 23:20 into the video an anti-fracking member of the budget panel essentially asked Martens if the health study was to be an independent study. Martens went to great lengths to argue most of the S-GEIS was a health impacts review and to defend the independence of the state’s “experts from outside.” Yet, as we all know, the information ultimately relied upon came from the likes of Sandra Steingraber and such remarkable pieces of junk science as the infamous “compendium” found on every anti-drilling blog from Bill Huston’s to that of Food and Water Watch. There was no independent analysis to speak of, in fact.
  4. Starting at 45:35 Martens addressed a series of extremely muddled comments and questions from Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. He explained that most of the draft S-GEIS is in fact a health review done by DEC and that the Department of Health had worked alongside DE throughout the process of preparing it. When asked repeatedly who would be doing the health review of the draft S-GEIS for the Department of Health, Martens answered that there were three outside health experts. I have to ask why then was an unprecedented review of the draft S-GEIS even requested, as it was a duplication of a completed process? Why was Robert Kennedy Jr. able to exercise so much influence over Cuomo to insist on a duplicative health study? We all know we were days away, according to Cuomo himself in 2012, from an announced demonstration project (drilling of test wells upstate) as stated at earlier in the video.
  5. Martens also repeatedly noted Dr. Shaw would completing his health study in about two weeks. Once again, those of us watching this issue closely saw that two weeks grow into two months with Cuomo finally stating he is not rushing the completion and would take whatever time it took it took but, yet, in announcing his decision, Cuomo stated emphatically “I had nothing to do with this process.” Martens stated he had “faith in Dr. Shaw.”

Really, you should take time to watch this whole video because it shows the level of ignorance presented in the questions by our senate and legislative representatives.
It shows once again the apparently influential impact the antis had at the hearing
and it shows a total lack of government responsibility in New York as uninformed and unprincipled politicians determined the fate of the Southern Tier without the slightest grasp of what an environmental impact study is. One is even forced to sympathize with Martens’ futile efforts to explain health is not a separate subject, but, of course, in the end, like Zucker, he sold out too. Only Dr. Shah survived with his honor and reputation intact.

If you’re as angry as me about this, do something about it and start asking your legislators what happened. Also, note how the S-GEIS process itself was bastardized for political ends. That’s the criminality here, the New York State corruption that’s worse than ever.

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5 thoughts on “New York State Corruption Worse Than Ever

  1. Pingback: New York State Corruption Worse Than Ever | ShaleNOW

  2. Ahh, and again, what happened to the Advisory Panel? Didn’t the Wizard like what Peter Flanagan, and the other representatives of the side that knew how to manage the process at the local level had to say?

  3. I am doing something about it. I am closing down my company in NY this year. It has been a huge disappointment to invest in the southern tier only to lose our shirt because of the decisions made by politicians to crush the economy in the area. They are dumping folks on assistance from NYC like England dumped their unwanted citizens on Australia. The goal is to save the money of supporting them in the high rent districts of New York City. Far better for the budget to pay $750 a month in the Southern Tier versus $2000 a month in the metropolitan areas. It is ruining the small town communities where the subsidized rent is practically the only way to find a tenant. But many of those tenants do not have any respect for the communities in which they live. Drug dealings and crime are rampant and law-abiding citizens are moving out. Look at the 40% loss of the population in Elmira. Look at Newburg which has been devastated, not to mention the greater Binghampton area.

    It is curious that they are emphasizing Casinos as a lifeline when it is known that casinos thrive in the drilling areas of Pennsylvania but the money does not stay local. I wonder who would profit from all that money and how they are tied into the political population of New York? Would drilling soon follow if the casinos go in? Are the casinos banking on that large influx of money that comes from leasing and the first flush of money from the new wells? You betcha!

  4. I would like to see propane fracturing to be used in NewYork, as it is not hydraulic fracturing. Likely, the anti’s would blow a gasket.

  5. Nothing happens in Albany on the merits. Cuomo and politicians like Barbara Lifton are only influenced by your ability to deliver votes or money. The southern tier property owners did not deliver either in 2014. Worse, Senator Libous and other Republican senators were effectively endorsing Cuomo because he quietly buys them off.

    Rob Astorino made clear he would open NY for drilling, yet the voter registration numbers and Nov 4 turnout in the southern tier were abysmal. Cuomo only won by 540,000 votes statewide. If the southern tier landowners had joined with the Second Amendment supporters who hated the SAFE Act and the anti-Common Core teachers and parents in organizing for Nov 4, you would have Gov Astorino today.

    If you want change, quit whining and start registering your neighbors, friends, family & everyone else you can reach, then back candidates who will actually support you as opposed to giving you lip service. The first to go should be Libous, who plays you like a fiddle.

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