by Chris Stevenson & E.C. Toth
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is deservedly taking some heat for disbanding an ethics investigation commission according to the Buffalo News. A commission that was his idea. No other state seems to love corruption as much as New York save for perhaps Illinois, Cuomo since his campaign has been promising to bring about change (as have most gubernatorial candidates), but once in office some way or another the song remains the same.
Claiming he formed the Moreland Commission to “pressure lawmakers into adopting ethics reforms” back on 7/2/13, it seemed they were poised to make the most complete exposure of entrenched public corruption in decades, only to make them pay the ultimate price for… well, doing their jobs, by shutting them down. Typical New York. If you root for government corruption this shutdown came just in time according to the News. “While the files contained some cases that could result in criminal prosecutions, there was nothing that was likely to result in scandals or arrests of high-profile officials.”
One prime agency of concern is located in Western New York and has been there since 1890. Gateway by their own account is a child and family service organization with a focus on orphaned and abandoned children. In 1996 they merged with the Longview Niagara Group to provide services to children and families through 18 different programs. Their E. Ferry location in particular has been cited for various improprieties; directors and officers using income and assets for personal gain, engaged in deceptive and improper fundraising practices, racial discrimination and workplace harassment and bullying, fraudulent use of public money and it’s subsequent cover-up through secret meetings. One wonders where Gateway-Longview (GL) fits on Cuomo’s investigative commission or whether or not it’s even on the radar.
On a site oddly dated “July 25, 2014” (2 months in the future) Cuomo is quoted stating that crimes involving public corruption to be a “double crime” and a “separate and inexcusable offense” in contrast with other crimes: “Public corruption is a double crime. It’s the underlying crime and then it’s the crime of breaching the public trust.” Most likely the was a summer of 2013 statement. At any rate it seems the members of his blue-ribbon team (Judge Frank A. Sedita III is a special advisor on the commission, as is former NYPD Ray “Stop & Frisk” Kelly) agree with him, and that’s part of the problem. A couple of them have broken rank with their own views and disclose they feel he’s the one that’s corrupt. One of them is Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney. At that time told Capitol Tonight host Liz Benjamin: “I think the Moreland Commission is making a mockery of this whole process if we pretend that a group of us that’s been appointed by the attorney general and the governor is investigating the attorney general or the governor.”
Another skeptic of Cuomo only saw politics behind the commission’s purpose: “Andrew Cuomo see’s the Moreland Commission as a tool to punish his political opposition. When it comes to his friends, Cuomo pulls his punches for political purposes” said NYGOP Chairman Ed Cox during the time the state Board of Elections voted to investigate campaign finance violations by the Western New York Progressive Caucus. Cox feels that Cuomo’s commission can’t help but be corrupt since the man that formed it is corrupt. The Moreland Commission is also said to have ignored complaints from County Legislature Betty Jean Grant and former Legislature Tim Hogues having no-doubt to do with illegal coordination of campaign activities.
GL garnered the building at 347 East Ferry for a $1.00 from the YMCA in 2006’ with a specific condition. The condition of that $1.00 purchase was that Gateway maintained an Advisory Board which is comprised of community members. Like Frank Wills who was just doing his job during the Watergate Scandal of June ’72, the Gateway-Longview Family Resource Center Advisory Board members are doing their job.
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally must implement the law effectively. There were isolated reports of organizational corruption occurring at Gateway-Longview that the Family Resource Center Advisory Board attempted to investigate for over two years while working with the Director, Managerial hierarchy (VP’s and CEO), and the Gateway-Longview Board of Directors. The web of privilege and deception has been woven into a fabric of corruption in the following ways: Corruption: Nepotism, corrupt financial and legal practices exist. The GL Board of Directors and the New York State auditing agencies are responsible for combating organizational corruption. The New York State auditors are aware of the misappropriations of funds under former Gateway CEO James Sampson’s leadership which continues in his absence. Private deals are being cultivated to devise a payback system that imbues the least amount of negative impact on Gateway’s operations; business as usual.
Whistleblower Protection: Gateway-Longview’s Whistleblower Protection Team is comprised of the same individuals who have engaged in practices of discrimination, harassment, and bullying in the workplace. Although Gateway-Longview touts there are specific laws that provided protection for public and private employees for making internal disclosures or lawful public disclosures of improprieties there are special rules for people of color.
Financial Disclosure: There are financial disclosure laws, regulations, or codes of conduct requiring officials to disclose their income and assets as it pertains to the 501(c) 3 IRS regulations. GL has exercised a cooperative but resistant attitude toward providing the Gateway-Longview Family Resource Center Advisory Board financial information has it pertains to the Gateway-Longview Family Resource Center.
Public Access to Information: The law provides for public access to not-for-profit organizational information, but the organization has not complied with several written requests made by the Family Resource Center Advisory Board. Requests for access originally were met with the marginalization, then threats, special rules, and finally a physical lock out from the building 347 East Ferry.
Public Appeal: The Gateway-Longview Family Resource Center Advisory Board has contacted many public officials with their concerns namely: US Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, EEOC, The State Department of New York Comptroller, The County Legislator Representatives, The New York State Assembly Representatives, The City of Buffalo Masten District Councilman, The Executive Director, City of Buffalo’s Commission on Citizens’ Rights & Community Relations, NYS Department of Human Rights, The Internal Revenue Service, The State Department of New York and a plethora of others. The requests are simple from the Advisory Board Members that forensic accounting is performed targeting the last decade during the Sampson reign and that a Commission be installed.
Due to the numerous shared concerns from citizens who felt they had been discriminated against the Family Resource Center’s Advisory Board Members filed formal complaints. The members exercised their social responsibility and reported to those public officials and agencies that must be dutiful and investigate formal complaints. The goal is to work to change the culture of entitlement and discrimination, examine the recent past and current financial climate in which this organization operates, and of course and most importantly investigate the condition of the children.
Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentator, and a contributor to the Hampton Institute, his own blog www.thebuffalobullet.com, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice for clbTV & Follow his Blogtalkradio interviews on 36OOseconds. Respond to him on the link below.