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Editorials knock Cuomo on transparency

Posted By Joseph Spector On February 25, 2013 @ 11:44 am In Other | Comments Disabled

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was criticized in editorials over the weekend for his administration’s handling of media requests to agencies, specifically the firing of a state employee after he spoke to media in the North Country.

[1]“Talk to the press if you work for the state and you could get fired,” the Glens Falls Post-Star editorial stated Sunday [2]. “Protest your poor treatment, and the Cuomo administration will ransack your files for any black marks and try to wreck your life.”

Some upstate papers, particularly reporters who has regularly been able to interview experts at the Department of Environmental Conservation or the Department of Transportation, have written in recent months about interview requests being kicked to Albany from regional offices.

“I’m talking about reporting on fish and wildlife issues that often can be handled by a brief call to the DEC’s local fish and wildlife biologists. They’re the experts, the ones who know the answers or who can steer me in the right direction if I’m off course, saving everybody tons of time,” the Post-Standard in Syracuse wrote. [3]

DEC commissioner Joseph Martens told the Post-Star on Friday [4] that the control over information is aimed at accuracy.

“DEC, and the whole administration, wants to be sure we’re giving you accurate information,” Martens said. “We would rather have it be accurate and a little bit slow than inaccurate.”

What brought the situation to a head was the recent firing of Mike Fayette, a DOT engineer. He was fired after speaking to a reporter from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in a laudatory way about the state government’s response to Hurricane Irene. [5]

Howard Glaser, Cuomo’s director of state operations, said last Thursday that Fayette’s discipline was the culmination of years of troubled job performance, including having an affair with an subordinate.

The Daily News knocked the handling of the situation [6], saying it will only lead to more tight-lipped state employees.

“The sequence of events leads to the conclusion that DOT officials pounced on Fayette’s utterances to be rid of him while Glaser then mauled Fayette to prove that ‘it is not the policy of this administration to terminate people solely for improper contact with the press.’

“But unauthorized talk will still be a black mark. And that will shut people up, not to mention the fear of getting flayed in the media. Way to go.”

The Press-Republican in Plattsburgh [7]also said it’s having problems with media requests.

“In the past few months, the Press-Republican has seen more and more occasions where sources who have always spoken with us are now referring questions to state officials in Albany in what appears to be an effort to carefully control messages,” its Sunday editorial reads. “Those controls sound very much like a violation of the public’s right to the most reliable information.”


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://statepolitics.lohudblogs.com/files/2013/02/cuomo4.jpg

[2] the Glens Falls Post-Star editorial stated Sunday: http://poststar.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-state-going-too-far-with-secrecy/article_2bce8d06-7e2e-11e2-a494-001a4bcf887a.html

[3] the Post-Standard in Syracuse wrote.: http://blog.syracuse.com/outdoors/2013/01/dec_gag_order_instituted_by_go.html

[4] DEC commissioner Joseph Martens told the Post-Star on Friday: http://poststar.com/news/local/dec-chief-information-flow-slowed-to-ensure-accuracy/article_23b8fe1c-7df7-11e2-8a71-001a4bcf887a.html

[5] the state government’s response to Hurricane Irene.: http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/535589/Punishment-for-praise.html?nav=5008

[6] The Daily News knocked the handling of the situation: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/left-speechless-article-1.1271316

[7] The Press-Republican in Plattsburgh : http://pressrepublican.com/0201_editorials/x1503756939/Editorial-Restricting-media-access