Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rights For The Poor and Public Defenders

LAWYER AND DEFENDANT Kimberly Hurell-Harring was represented by Patrick E. Barber, left, in a case that could change the system

March 19, 2010
The Right to Counsel: Woman Becomes a Test Case


SHE was poor and in trouble. He was the public defender appointed to represent her.

She was Kimberly Hurell-Harring, a nobody in the courts, a nursing home worker and a mother of two who had done something stupid. He was Patrick E. Barber, a lawyer with a silver stubble of a beard, paid by the county and state to help make the criminal justice system as fair to the poor as it is to the rich.

At his urging, she pleaded guilty and went to jail for a felony that turned out not to be a felony at all. “It seemed like he was on the D.A.’s side,” she said later.

He said recently that he had done what he could: “They had her dead to rights.”

Usually, such a minor case would go unnoticed; a little test of the constitutional right to a lawyer, results unknown. Instead it has made Mr. Barber an emblem of the problems of the state’s ramshackle system of providing lawyers for indigent defendants. On Tuesday, New York’s highest court is to consider a class-action suit, filed by civil liberties lawyers in Ms. Hurell-Harring’s name, that seeks broad changes in the state’s frayed network of public defenders, who are routinely unmonitored and often overwhelmed. Her case, now being pored over by some of the state’s leading lawyers and judges, offers a window into the everyday corners of the legal system, where no one is usually watching.

It began two and a half years ago, in October 2007, in the Washington County Court here, not far from the Vermont border. In an area of the state where prisons are an industry, Ms. Hurell-Harring pleaded guilty to trying to sneak her inmate husband three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana in a condom she had hidden in her vagina.

From the courtroom benches, the few spectators saw a frightened woman who had never been in trouble before and a public defender who was not fighting for her. “She was sitting there looking stunned and confused,” said Daniel J. Freeman, a recent Yale Law School graduate who had been sent to observe by the New York Civil Liberties Union. “I didn’t see him interacting much with her.”

The story of this one defendant and her public defender, assembled through interviews and court records, is about a woman who was barely making it before the legal system helped shove her off track.

And it is also about a small-town lawyer and part-time public servant sinking in personal and professional quicksand that few people knew about when he showed up to represent Kimberly Hurell-Harring. Least of all her.

The Client

She was 31 in the fall of 2007, a spirited woman with a big smile and 13 gold hoops in one ear. Pregnant at 14, she could have become lost. But she had earned her high school diploma and done something with the nursing assistant’s certificate she carried proudly in her wallet.

She worked nights, sometimes two jobs, changing bedpans and offering solace. When Amos D. Harring was arrested for assault, she stuck by him. The police said he had shot someone.

She arrived in Washington County on Sept. 29 on the journey thousands of women make every year to the state’s far reaches, where their men are locked away. She came twice a month or even more often, sometimes alone, sometimes with her two girls, ages 16 and 4.

This time, the three of them had driven together, 240 miles across the state from Rochester, where they had always lived. There was to be a family visit the next day at the hulking maximum-security prison, Great Meadow Correctional Facility, where Mr. Harring, who was 30, was doing eight years.

But that morning, she left the girls at the Budget Inn and went by herself to see him. When she got to the turreted wall that makes Great Meadow look like some 1940s-movie prison, two investigators hustled her off. They had recordings of the couple’s phone conversations. They knew about the marijuana in the condom, a tactic that was more of a prison cliché than an investigative challenge.

Three-quarters of an ounce was not much. But any marijuana is contraband.

She was terrified as the investigators laid out their case, and confessed. “I am very, very, very sorry that I did this,” she wrote, acknowledging, too, that it was not the first time. Her husband said later that it had all been his idea. “I have threatened and forced her to bring drugs into the facility,” he wrote in a notarized statement a few days after her arrest.

There was a frantic call to an aunt in Rochester to pick up the girls. A local judge set bail at $10,000, an impossible sum. Then she landed in Alpha Pod, the spartan women’s dormitory at the county jail, where 22 women slept on metal bunks in a concrete-block room.

She worried. About her girls. About her mother, a stroke victim. About her future. She knew a felony conviction meant any nursing home job would be gone, along with her rent-subsidized apartment and a lot of other things.

She kept saying, to anyone who would listen, that she wanted a misdemeanor deal. She knew she had made a mistake, but, though she had not a day of legal training, it did not seem like a felony to her.

Some of the other women in Alpha Pod were hard cases, drug abusers and repeat petty criminals who warned her about public defenders. It is an article of jailhouse faith that poor people get what they pay for in lawyers: Nothing.

She said one of the women, named Becky, gave her a specific caution about Mr. Barber: “You got to be careful.”

The Lawyer

Everybody around Fort Edward knew Pat Barber, a fixture at the courthouse and a stepfather of two whose family owned a local tavern. He had been here all his life except for college in western New York and law school at Syracuse.

So there was not much in the way of vetting when he put in a cost-conscious bid to become Washington County’s chief public defender, a part-time position he added to his private practice of trial work, debt collections, wills and divorces. It was quickly settled. Beginning in 2006, he would get $50,000 a year and some rent for the office he had shared with a law partner who had recently died. “We have to have a good reason not to take the low bid,” said John A. Rymph, the chairman of the County Board of Supervisors.

There were plenty of good reasons, according to court records released last month. Mr. Barber, 49 at the time, had been reprimanded twice — in 2002 and 2005 — by the Committee on Professional Standards, the state group that disciplines lawyers, for neglecting cases. He had been struggling with depression for years. “On some occasions he had to leave the courtroom because of panic attacks,” a report from his psychiatrist said. “He had daily drinks to cope.”

But the people reviewing the bids in Washington County knew none of that. The reprimands were confidential, though officials at the professional standards committee say they could have been released to a potential employer if Mr. Barber had signed a waiver. If, that is, anyone in Washington County had known to ask him to sign one.

Told recently about Mr. Barber’s history, Roger Wickes, the county attorney, said, “I would have assumed the board would have been concerned had they known about it.”

By the time Ms. Hurell-Harring made her trip across the state, Mr. Barber’s troubles were piling up.

He had put $304,895.46 in checks for an auto-accident settlement into the file and never mailed them to his client, court records say. He kept telling another client he was finishing up some work related to her divorce. “I misled her as far as the progress of what was going on,” he testified later.

In a third private-practice case, a man appealed his rape conviction, claiming that Mr. Barber had failed to do basic things at the trial like question some important witnesses. In time, a divided appeals court ruled that “no legitimate trial strategy existed.”

The week in October that he went to court for Ms. Hurell-Harring, Mr. Barber was being pursued on yet another file full of trouble. At the request of county officials, John R. Winn, a local lawyer, had been asking questions about two estates Mr. Barber was supposed to be handling that had been so neglected that two properties had been sold for unpaid taxes.

Mr. Winn started calling Mr. Barber, and eventually he turned over a carton with all his records on the two estates — dividend checks, tax bills and bank statements, all in their original envelopes. “I looked, and I said, ‘He’s never opened anything,’ ” Mr. Winn said. One of the women had died six years earlier.

In a long interview this month, Mr. Barber blamed his depression. “You just develop this nausea fear of a file and you would do anything to stay away from it,” he said.

He argued that his problems had not affected his public work. But his psychiatrist, Dr. Koock E. Jung, said in another disciplinary case against him, in 2009, that his symptoms included “breaking out sweating, dizziness and shortness of breath, which affected his law practice seriously, especially his public defender’s job.”

The Case

At the county jail, Ms. Hurell-Harring was growing frantic as she waited nearly a month for her sentencing. She called Mr. Barber’s office every few days. Usually the secretary said he was busy. When they did talk, she said, Mr. Barber told her she had no options.

On Nov. 8, 2007, the civil liberties union filed its class-action suit in Albany, mentioning Ms. Hurell-Harring’s contraband charge. A lawyer read it at the New York State Defenders Association, an organization that provides training and expertise to defense lawyers.

The lawyer, Alfred A. O’Connor, had been working for years on the very issue in her case: whether that small amount of marijuana should be defined as dangerous prison contraband, which could make her smuggling effort a felony, or whether it was ordinary contraband, a misdemeanor that might mean no jail time at all and none of the consequences that come with felony convictions.

Mr. O’Connor started calling Mr. Barber, too. “Good news,” he recalls saying when they spoke on Nov. 15, the day before Ms. Hurell-Harring’s sentencing. He told Mr. Barber that the state’s highest court was considering the contraband question. Defense lawyers had already laid out the very argument that could mean freedom for his client.

But Mr. Barber did not ask for a copy of the briefs. “There wasn’t any enthusiasm,” Mr. O’Connor said. Asked about this in the recent interview, Mr. Barber said had not wanted to bring up anything that could make prosecutors ask for a longer sentence.

The next day in court, Judge Kelly S. McKeighan noted that Ms. Hurell-Harring had admitted to the felony charge: promoting prison contraband in the first degree. Mr. Barber agreed, never mentioning that it might not be a felony at all.

“I just want to go home to my kids and my mother,” Ms. Hurell-Harring told the judge. Instead, she went back to jail, serving four months before she was released for good behavior. She left Washington County on Jan. 28, 2008, a convicted felon facing five years of probation.

The Aftermath

At home on Rochester’s northwest side, things were rough. Her $12-an-hour job was gone. She and the girls moved into her mother’s run-down house and survived on food stamps. The older one, Shaniqua, took a while to pick up where they left off.

“I promised her I would never leave her again,” Ms. Hurell-Harring said.

In New York City, the civil liberties lawyers had asked Roberta A. Kaplan, a partner at one of the country’s leading corporate firms, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, to see what could be done for Ms. Hurell-Harring.

Working without a fee, Ms. Kaplan and her team of lawyers did the kind of work lawyers there do for big companies like Citigroup and Time Warner and well-known people like Gov. David A. Paterson. They studied Mr. Barber’s work. They started filing appeals on Ms. Hurell-Harring’s behalf. One of them, Andrew J. Ehrlich, wondered: “How many other Kimberlys are there out there?” How many other Pat Barbers?

In June 2008, the State Court of Appeals ruled in the case Mr. O’Connor had worked on: that, indeed, a small amount of marijuana does not usually amount to dangerous prison contraband like a gun or a razor blade.

Pointing to that ruling, the Paul, Weiss lawyers persuaded a state appeals court in October 2009 to overturn Ms. Hurell-Harring’s conviction. “The act of which defendant is accused,” the court said, “does not constitute a crime.”

In Rochester, Ms. Hurell-Harring talked to her husband on the phone for the first time in two years. This month, she went back to work at a nursing home, for $9.70 an hour. “I finally can try to get my life back,” she said a few weeks ago.

In Washington County, court officials last spring noticed something odd in a judge’s order in a paternity case Mr. Barber had handled in 2007. It seemed to be signed by a Family Court judge, but the court had no such document in its files.

In June, a suicidal Mr. Barber was briefly hospitalized. In September, he resigned as public defender. Five months later, he was arrested and charged with a felony: forging the court order. He was released without bail.

In February, he was disbarred. An appeals court said he had created fake documents to “deceive his clients into believing that he had undertaken the tasks for which he had been retained.”

This month, still awaiting his own day in court on a felony charge, Mr. Barber sat at his law office desk sorting through a bunch of files. Inside, there was no heat. Outside, there was a “for sale” sign.

“Obviously, I did some stupid things,” he said. “I even hurt a couple of people, which I am very regretful for.”

But he defended some of his work, including the case of Kimberly Hurell-Harring.

He was asked what he remembered of her in those weeks in 2007 when their paths crossed. “Honestly,” he said, “a lot of crying.”

Alain Delaquérière and Toby Lyles contributed research.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 and Updated Legislative Spending

That nice big castle thing you see above is our New York State legislature. When you get elected to represent people and you walk into that structure, something happens to your head; ethics and values which you grew up with disappear. Suddenly a nice thick, new carpet for your office seems necessary. The latest computer/fax/printer with the biggest to have it. Doesn't matter if people are going hungry in your district, they'll never know that you are spending thousands of dollars in public money on that extra comfy leather chair for your new desk.

Or will they? Thanks,!!!!


Betsy Combier
Editor, New York Court Corruption

Updated Legislative Spending Posted On Internet
March 17, 2010

CONTACT: Lise Bang-Jensen
(518) 434-3100

Office expenditures of individual state Senators and Assembly members for the six months ending September 30, 2009, the latest period for which data are available, have been posted in a searchable format on the Empire Center’s government transparency website,

The data show that Senate Democrats, who took control of the majority in January 2009, spent $12,994,058 on their member office operations from April through September last year. This was an increase of $4.2 million, or 48 percent, over the same period in 2008. Senate Republicans, now in the minority, spent $9,927,046 -- a decrease of $6 million, or 38 percent. Other highlights:

* Senate Democrats spent an average of $393,759 per member office. This represents an increase of $101,411 or 35 percent from the $292,349 per member from the same period in 2008, when they were in the minority.

* Senate Republicans averaged $320,227 per member office. This represents a decrease of $178,600, or 36 percent from the $498,827 in average member expenditures when they were in the majority. However, it was 9.5 percent more per member than Democrats received when they were in the minority a year earlier.

* Democratic members of the Assembly majority averaged $193,712 per member in spending, and increase of .06 percent, while Republican minority spending was $139,980 per member, a 5 percent decrease.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) (at right) spent $440,764 on staff, rent, travel, telephone service, office supplies and other expenditures during the 6-month period, making him the highest spender among the 150 members of his house. The Assembly’s next highest

spenders were: Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn-pictured at right), $381,710; Catherine Nolan (D-Queens), $354,043; Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), $346,389; and Robin Schimminger (D-Erie County), $332,115. The sixth highest was Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) at $311,971 for his expenditures as an Assembly member. That does not include his expenditures as Assembly Speaker.

In the 62-member Senate, the top spender was Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), who serves as the Deputy Majority Leader. He spent $758,070 on office operations, excluding his leadership expenses. The Senate’s next highest spenders were: Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn-pictured below), $705,741; Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan/Bronx), $607,200; John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), $570,976; and Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica), $500,325.
Senator Carl Kruger
The posted data, which can be downloaded on a spreadsheet, covers the period of April 1, 2009 through September 30, 2009. A copy of the expenditure rankings for the six-month period is here. Not included in the expenditure reports are member items, or pork barrel projects, which also can be viewed on the “Expenditures” section of

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Federal Judge in PA Says That The Two "Kids For Cash" Judges Can Be sued

"Kids For Cash" Judges Conahan and Ciavarella

Federal Judge Rules Ciavarella and Conahan Can be Sued for Non-Judicial, Administrative Actions

Judges Not Dismissed from Lawsuit

Philadelphia, PA (November 20, 2009)—U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo today granted in part and denied in part Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella’s requests for judicial immunity. The court declined to dismiss the two former Luzerne County judges from the federal civil lawsuit with respect to their conduct outside the courtroom as alleged in the complaint filed by the plaintiffs.

“This is an important victory for the plaintiffs. They will have the opportunity to pursue their allegations against the judges for their conduct outside the courtroom, including their acceptance of kickbacks and their conspiring with the developer and owner of the private for profit facilities,” says Marsha Levick, Deputy Director at Juvenile Law Center.

In the order, the court granted Ciavarella’s request for judicial immunity for his actions inside the courtroom. Although the judicial immunity doctrine is well entrenched in U.S. court history - thus barring civil lawsuits against judges for acts inside the courtroom - this will not shield Ciavarella from criminal proceedings against him and provides no protections for his actions outside the courtroom in the civil litigation.

Today’s order states, “That is not to say, however, that every act alleged of the two was judicial in nature. For example, Conahan’s signing of a ‘Placement Agreement’ would be an administrative, not a judicial act. Similarly, any acts in making budget requests to the Luzerne County commissioners would also be administrative or executive in nature. And the actions of Conahan and Ciavarella in coercing probation officers to change their recommendations is outside of the role of a judicial officer.”

The order continues, “The Motions to Dismiss by Ciavarella and Conahan will be granted as to their courtroom conduct. Specifically, Conahan’s motion will be granted as to his action granting injunctive relief preventing the release of the PACC audit. Ciavarella’s motion will be granted as to his juvenile delinquency determinations and the sentences he imposed. As to the remaining allegations against each, the doctrine of judicial immunity does not shield them from liability, because the other allegations relate to non-judicial acts. I will deny their Motions to Dismiss as to such non-judicial conduct.”

Juvenile Law Center is a national, non-profit, public interest law firm that advances and protects the rights and well-being of children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. For more information contact Lourdes Rosado at (215) 625-0551.

See also my articles on these two judges on

The "Kids For Cash" Scandal: The Decisions of Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella in Hundreds of Juvenile Convictions are Overturned.

Pennsylvania's Judicial Conduct Board Tries To Salve The Reputations of The Board As Well As The Two "Kids For Cash" Judges

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fighting Corruption in Medicine: How about Looking Into EmblemHealth?

NY. Fighting Corruption in Healthcare – We Thought Spitzer Had Left The Building

More corruption at very high levels of government in NY…

Can you say NY’s corruption is like a bottomless cesspool. It stinks so bad, no one wants to clean it.

This story written by a Member of an Association of Retired Police Officers:
This is a story of how disgraced former NYS Gov. Eliot Spitzer “fast-tracked” legislation through the New York State legislature that authorized his hand-picked Insurance Superintendent, Eric Dinallo, (pictured at right) to approve the merger and conversion of non-profit health insurers HIP and GHI into a for-profit corporation.

So far, the conversion has been prevented with Mr. Spitzer resigning as Governor after being involved in a prostitution scandal, and Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo resigning on July 2, 2009. Mr. Dinallo was replaced by James Wrynn on August 20, 2009.
After being confirmed by the NYS Senate, Mr. Wrynn agreed to meet with myself and a group of NYPD/FDNY retirees on October 26, 2009 to discuss our concerns regarding former governor Spitzer [a/k/a client number 9, resigned for getting caught with a prostitute with only his socks on] creating a public corporation where he, former Senator Joseph Bruno, who also resigned after being convicted of corruption, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver [another crook] would have control of the anticipated $3 to $5 billion proceeds from the initial sale of EmblemHealth stock if HIP/GHI was converted from a non-profit to a for-profit corporation under EmblemHealth.

Joe Bruno

Since Emblemhealth is a “shell” corporation formed by the board of directors of HIP and GHI, we filed a “Freedom of Information” request for the Independent Audit reports of HIP, GHI and EmblemHealth.

This FOIL request was recently denied by the NYS Insurance Department based on the objections of the Board of Directors of HIP and GHI[not grounds for denial as NYS FOIL law controls what documents by law need to be disclosed, not any board of directors] stating that since EmblemHealth, the “shell” corporation formed by the HIP/GHI boards was a “holding company”, EmblemHealth was not subject to NYS’s “Freedom of Information Laws”. [We'd love to know the actual NYS law the FOIL people sited for this.]

We now advise that this merger is corrupt and in need of investigation:

1. According to NYC records, in 2006, HIP had cash reserves of over $900 million and on March 10, 2005 HIP purchased a for-profit health care insurer named ConnectiCare for $354 million when, according to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance, ConnectiCare, which operated in Massachusetts, had a net worth of only $4.0 million.

2. Since President Obama is saying that his health care reform bill will include investigating the “waste, fraud and corruption” that appears to be endemic to New York City’s health care system, I believe the Congress should look into why HIP would pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a small out-of-state health care insurer whose credit rating in December 2003 was lowered by Standard and Poor’s from “marginal” to “weak”, after ConnectiCare took out a $115 million bank loan that allowed ConnectiCare’s owners, “The Carlyle Group” and “Liberty Partners”, two Wall Street private equity firms, to get a dividend on their investment in the ConnectiCare.

3. In addition, as stated above, since HIP paid $354 million for a health insurer whose net worth was only $4.0 million, and Attorney General Cuomo has ignored Mayor Bloomberg’s complaint that the conversion of HIP/GHI to a “single for-profit entity could increase health care costs by hundreds of millions of dollars” for New York City taxpayers, I fail to see how any New York member of the House, or the U.S. Senate, can support “fast-tracking” President Obama’s health reform bill that would add millions of dollars to New York State’s health care costs without first ensuring New York City’s health care insurers are being run in the best interest of New York City’s taxpayers and their active and retired employees, including the members of the NYPD Superior Officers Association Retired.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Best regards,

NYPD Superior Officers Association Retired

Story Link

PS: Please feel free to pass the above and Mayor Bloomberg’s attached members to the other members of Congress and U.S. Senate for their consideration as well.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Statement By Steve Cohen On New York State Corruption

March 2, 2010
Steven Cohen
Executive Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

The Corrupt Spectacle of New York's State Government

I confess that I am old enough to remember seeing John F. Kennedy on a little black and white TV screen, challenging me to ask what I could do for my country. I suppose that it was in that moment that I became interested in public service and politics, and all these years later my commitment is battered but still intact. The assassinations of the 1960's and the attempt on President Reagan in 1981 were terrifying, but in some way almost ennobling. Our leaders seemed like heroes, and these larger-than-life figures never had to tell us, Richard Nixon style, "I am not a crook." Some, like Teddy Kennedy, let us down, but then lived long enough to redeem themselves in our eyes.

But today, the slow and steady debasement of public service in New York is visible across the spectrum, characterized by disgraced ex-police commissioner Bernie Kerick's disgusting corruption, State Senator Hiram Monserrate's self-righteous domestic abuse, former Governor Elliot Spitzer's famous role as client number 9, and now, Governor David Paterson's ridiculous claim that he "never abused his office." No, it's just that he may have talked an alleged abuse victim into staying silent. Ask not, indeed.

Corruption is of course not limited to New York, and it is not new. The Tweed Court House that is now the home of the City's Department of Education has been termed a monument to corruption. Uncounted (literally) millions of dollars passed through the Democratic Party's corrupt and greedy hands during the twenty years (1861-1881) it took to construct that stately structure. Some have even argued that the corrupt party bosses of Tammany Hall helped the city absorb the waves of immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Political boss rule was seen as a necessary part of the city's economic and political development.

Yet while sin and corruption are not new, and my boyhood hero John Kennedy probably had more than wealth in common with Elliot Spitzer, I am starting to think that the American crisis of public ethics has spun out of control. There are two central aspects to this crisis:

* The first is the corrosive impact of money in politics, exacerbated by the Supreme Court's recent decision that campaign contributions are a form of free speech subject to virtually no limitations.

* The second is the abuse of power, which takes many forms, from Congressman Rangel's use of four rent-stabilized apartments to the illicit use of the Governor's state trooper detail to intimidate a victim of domestic abuse to Kerik's quarter million dollar apartment renovation by (of course) a mob-connected contractor.

Since America is the land of free market capitalism, why does this matter? Shouldn't we have a free market in terms of political influence? The problem is that corruption, oddly enough, corrupts. If the rule of law is a meaningless game, and everything is for sale, then there is no rule of law and, in the end, no civilization. Wealth in a modern economy requires rules that create certainty so that people are willing to invest their capital and put it to work instead of hiding it under the mattress. Political corruption is a primary cause of economic malaise. Without the incredible civic citizenship of New York's unions, elected officials and business leaders in the mid-1970's, New York City would have ended up bankrupt and in permanent decline. The temporary cessation of corruption and the presence of enlightened self-interest led to the revival that New York City enjoys today.

In contrast, the horrifying dysfunction of the political elite in Albany has directly contributed to the economic decline of upstate New York. In the 1970's we had the courageous leadership of then-Governor Hugh Carey. Today, we have former Senate leader Joe Bruno facing jail time, Assembly Leader Shelly Silver still collecting huge fees from his law practice, and a governor who may be guilty of obstructing justice. Investments in infrastructure and funding for business incentives are pushed aside in an effort to placate health care and education interests and unions. Perhaps at one time we were rich enough to afford this level of payoff, but its clear that those days are long over.

We need to search for a systemic cure for this disease of corruption. We need a real system of checks and balances that makes it clear to public officials that if they abuse the public's trust, someone is watching and they will get caught. But we also need to change the overall environment in our state government. I would start by tightly regulating outside income for legislators while increasing their salaries. Legislators make an average of $90,000 a year in New York, and we still operate under the myth that these are part time jobs. New York's budget is over $130 billion dollars a year. Running a state of this size should be a full time job and not a hobby. While average New Yorkers may think that $90,000 is a lot of money, it is not. These low salaries are an invitation for corruption - and many of our legislators seem to be accepting that invitation.

Still, the corrupt and dysfunctional environment in Albany does not excuse the abuse of power that the Governor, the state police and his top aide have been accused of. If the investigation proves that these charges are true, not only should Governor Patterson resign, but he should be prosecuted as well. Personally, I hope these charges are untrue, although I fear that that the worst is yet to come.

Steven Cohen is the Executive Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and is also Director of the Master of Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. From 2002 to 2006 he directed education programs at the Earth Institute. From 1998 to 2001 Cohen was Vice dean of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. From 1985 to 1998 he was the Director of Columbia's Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration. From 1987-1998 Cohen was Associate Dean for Faculty and Curriculum at SIPA.

He is a graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn (1970), Franklin College of Indiana (1974) and the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1979). In 1976-77 Cohen was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Environmental Policy; in 1978-79 he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in Public and Environmental Policy and Implementation.

Dr. Cohen served as a policy analyst in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1977 through 1978 and 1980-81, and as consultant to the agency from 1981 through 1991, from 1994 to 1996 and from 2005 to the present. From 1990-94, Cohen served on the Board of the Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs; he has also served on the Executive Committee and Committee on Accreditation and Peer Review of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. From 2001 to 2004 he served on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology. He serves on the Board of Directors of Homes for the Homeless.

Cohen is the author of The Effective Public Manager (1988), Understanding Environmental Policy (2006) and the co-author of Environmental Regulation Through Strategic Planning (1991), Total Quality Management in Government (1993), The New Effective Public Manager (1995), Tools for Innovators: Creative Strategies for Managing Public Sector Organizations (1998), The Effective Public Manager 3rd and 4th editions (2002, 2008), Strategic Planning in Environmental Regulation (2005), The Responsible Contract Manager (2008), and numerous articles on public management innovation, public ethics and environmental management.

Dr. Cohen has taught courses in public management, policy analysis, environmental policy and management innovation. In 1982 Cohen developed, and until 2001 directed, Columbia's Workshops in Applied Public Management and Applied Policy Analysis; bringing practical professional education into the center of Columbia's public administration curriculum. He has conducted professional training seminars in total quality management, strategic planning, project management and management innovation.

Cohen was born in Orange, New Jersey, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He now resides in New York City with his wife, Donna Fishman and their two wonderful daughters, Gabriella and Ariel.