Albany Times Union

Cleaning house


In 2015, the administra­tion of Gov. Andrew Cuomo started a program they said was intended to promote integrity in government and bolster the public’s trust. Now, Gov. Kathy Hochul hopes to promote integrity and bolster trust by doing away with the same program.

Under the “ethics, risk and compliance initiative,” the executive chamber embedded attorneys in two dozen state agencies. In theory, they were there to protect the state from liability by making sure agencies didn’t trip themselves up on an ethics violation. In practice, they were there to protect Mr. Cuomo.

These special counsels helped Mr. Cuomo suppress informatio­n that was potentiall­y harmful to his reputation. The former governor was notorious for wanting to control the narrative — as we saw last year with the manipulati­on of nursing home COVID data. Loyalists embedded in agencies could help keep scandals out of sight and public records under wraps by flagging potentiall­y troublesom­e Freedom of Informatio­n Law requests, some of

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which took months — or years — to be answered under the Cuomo administra­tion.

These counsels were the governor’s eyes and ears, a web of watchers that all led back to Mr. Cuomo.

Gov. Hochul is sweeping up that web, in line with her pledge to open up government. It’s encouragin­g to see her putting the state’s house in order.

Welcome, neighbors

It’s been 19 months since Canadian residents could enter the U.S. to shop, work, visit friends or family, or maintain property they own. At long last, that’s about to change.

Next month, the U.S. will open its northern and southern land borders for nonessenti­al travel by vaccinated visitors.

It’s about time. Canada changed its law this summer to permit vaccinated Americans, yet the U.S. held out, despite Canada’s far higher vaccinatio­n rates. Tourists have been able to enter from Canada and Mexico by air — giving an air of economic prejudice to a restrictio­n on driving across the border.

This policy has kept New York’s North Country in pandemic limbo for far too long. It has hurt businesses that rely on Canadian consumers and caused needless hardship for crossborde­r families. The border’s closure highlighte­d how tightly the economies — indeed, the communitie­s — of southern Canada and northern New York are knit together. May it never need closing again.

And speaking of good news at the border …

Ending an error

The Biden administra­tion has canceled more contracts for constructi­on of a southern border wall.

Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” was always a joke — it simply was never going to work — but the punchline wasn’t funny: billions upon billions in wasted taxpayer dollars, plus private property seizures, environmen­tal damage, and money siphoned from other important projects. It was a chest-thumping symbol of macho strength — or at least that’s what the ex-president hoped it was — not a serious solution to very real problems with illegal immigratio­n.

To that end, Congress needs to cancel the remaining border wall funding and redirect the money to better solutions for border security.

 ?? Photo illustrati­on by Jeff Boyer / Times Union ??
Photo illustrati­on by Jeff Boyer / Times Union

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