"It shouldn't surprise anyone that the New York City mayoral race scandal has a member items connection. From Washington, to Albany, to New York City, government pork has opened the door to corruption.
"Member items cultivate a culture of corruption. State Senators Vinnie Leibell, Shirley Hunter, and Pedro Espada all were enthusiastic proponents of member items. Each one is a convicted felon. Member items lack oversight. They give individual legislators too much power. They lead to waste and abuse. There is no place for member items in good government. If a project is worthy of spending, the whole legislature can consider it.
"Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo's budget contains member items for Albany legislators with a different name. The budget's millions in 'bullet aid' is simply pork. It is a mistake. The budget also includes discretionary pork spending under the control of the governor's office. It's time to reconsider that spending as well. New York is broke, and we owe it to taxpayers not to waste public funds on a process rife with fraud and abuse.
"The press lauds politicians for 'bringing home the bacon' to their district with pet projects. The cameras come out for press conferences featuring balloons and big fake checks. We don't see what happens behind the scenes until the FBI and U.S. Attorney get involved. It's time to get serious about reform. That means taking a second look every time a politician 'brings home the bacon.' It's a job for the press, and it's a job for every leader in New York."