Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New York State Has the Worst State Government in the Nation

No, That is Not Something to be Proud Of

[Editor’s  note:  The Dismal Political Economist resided for over 25 years in western New York.  He knows of what he speaks.]

John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
Nicholas A. Spano, center, with his wife,
 Linda, and his lawyer Richard Levitt at the
courthouse in White Plains on Friday.

The belief here is that most Americans are anti-government not because of high taxes, but because they just do not feel they are getting good value for their money.  In New York state the taxes are some of the highest in the nation, and the history of state government in the state is that a huge amount of that money is ineffective, or even worse, goes to line the pockets of state legislators, government officials and just about everyone else.

The current story of the admission of tax evasion by former state senator Nicholas Spano of Westchester county is just one example. In New York a real estate transaction with the state needs a broker of record, which Mr. Spano was in some cases.   Every piece of evidence suggests that Mr. Spano was getting paid off by somebody.

Mr. Spano falsely claimed that some of the money he received from the insurance company was rental payments on a property that he owned in Yonkers. He also failed to report actual rental payments he received from the tenants of the same Yonkers property. Separately, he failed to report a $45,000 commission he received from the sale of a commercial property in White Plains. . .

Mr. Spano also did not properly disclose his business dealings on his state ethics filings, records show.
In some years, he reported no income at all from the insurance scheme, while in other years, he underreported his income by tens of thousands of dollars. State officials and legal experts said that because Mr. Spano was defeated in 2006, he was unlikely to face any state ethics charges — regulators have limited jurisdiction over lawmakers after they leave office.

Mr. Spano has agreed to plead guilty to income tax evasion, apparently not recognizing that someone in his position had to pay taxes on money legally received and even had to pay taxes on money illegally received.  That’s right all you would be takers of graft, that money is taxable and if you do not report it you are violating income tax laws.

It would be nice to say that Mr. Spano, being a Republican is representative of Republicans in the state, but alas, the corruption is extensive and seems to cross party lines.

The former Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno, an upstate Republican, faces a second federal corruption trial after his 2009 conviction was overturned. Last year, former Senator Carl Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat, pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

Another former senator, Vincent L. Leibell III, a Hudson Valley Republican, was sentenced to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and tax evasion. A former Senate president, Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat, is facing a trial on charges that he misappropriated more than half a million dollars in federal money from the nonprofit health care network he operates in the borough.

So there is bad news and there is worse news.  The bad news is just how corrupt (and incompetent, but that’s another story) elected officials are in New York state.  The worse news, these are only the people who got caught.

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