Monday, October 27, 2008

Time to End Conflicts Board

The editorial in this morning's NY Daily News dramatizes a compelling need: dismantling of the city's Conflict of Interest Board. It turns out that the COIB had turned its guns on a Brooklyn Tech librarian for promoting his daughter's book: "The city's ethics cops owe an apology and a clean bill of health to a public high school librarian whom they prosecuted to the most exaggerated extent of the law for the grave offense of being a proud father. Robert Grandt, a 39-year city schools veteran now stationed at Brooklyn Tech, was guilty only of sharing a dad's delight that his daughter had illustrated a pictorial version of "Macbeth."

These Keystone Kops ought to be ashamed of themselves-but shame is so obviously not in their personality profile. After all, these are the clowns who weren't able to see any conflicts in the relationship between former deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff and billionaire real estate developer Steve Ross-even after Deputy Dan ceded the entire Bronx Terminal Market over to Ross for a song; and without any competitive bid.

It should be noted, though, that the Daily News had a bout of lockjaw over this episode, even cheer leading the development without regard to the subornation of the democratic process. And even today, it sets its sights only on the usual suspects-and only very narrowly at that: "And wouldn't it be nice if the board applied the same zeal to officials who brazenly play around with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Such as the City Council, whose members funnel huge sums to private groups run by kinfolk and political pals. The board is just fine with this blatant abuse of power. As long as a Council member discloses that he or she is sending taxpayer money to, say, a brother, sister or spouse, the Council member is free to do exactly as he or she pleases."

So, let's get this straight. Funneling a few thousand dollars to a questionable local group is wrong; but voting to give themselves, as they did in the term limits vote, an additional four years and better than $500,000 of personal income is OK? And it was the same COIB that rubber stamped this after a complaint was lodged. It's a good thing that awards aren't given out for editorial inconsistency-the News would get top prize.