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Originally Published: January 29, 2015

Groups urge a transparent process in selection of new assembly speaker

Five good government groups today sent a letter to the four announced Speaker candidates calling on them to agree to a public process in which the Assembly would hold one public forum where they lay out their views and visions for the future of the Assembly’s operations, rules, and policies.

The groups have also reached out individually to the candidates and have asked that candidates respond to the request for a public forum by 10 a.m. Friday morning.

The letter is below:

The Honorable Carl Heastie
Member, New York State Assembly
The Honorable Joseph Lentol
Member, New York State Assembly
The Honorable Joseph Morelle
Member, New York State Assembly
The Honorable Catherine Nolan
Member, New York State Assembly

January 29, 2015

Dear Assemblymembers,

Since you are a member of the Assembly who has declared as a contender for the position of Speaker, we write to ask that you commit to the Assembly holding an open and public process for its selection of the next Speaker, as outlined by our groups in correspondence to the Assembly on Tuesday, January 27th.  This process should take place prior to the Assembly’s vote to select a new speaker.  We specifically ask you to confirm your commitment to such an open public process to our groups by 10 a.m. on Friday, January 30th.

We recommend that the Assembly create a defined, open and transparent process for selection of the next Speaker.  Specifically, we recommend the Assembly require candidates to publicly confirm their candidacy for the position, and that the Assembly hold an open hearing for candidates to speak publicly about their qualifications and vision for the job.  This event should be open to members of the public and be available by webcast on the Assembly web page, with sufficient public notification, as it will also help to focus the public’s attention on the importance of the role of the office in state government.  This public process is not intended to replace discussions taking place in conference, but rather to be a singular event that ensures that there is transparency regarding the candidates and how they would run the Assembly as Speaker.

Our organizations strongly believe that democracy demands openness.  Backroom dealing and secrecy undermine public confidence and breed public cynicism and apathy.  Public confidence in the Legislature is a cornerstone of public support for lawmaking, and public distrust of the legislative process erodes democracy.  Setting a more open process and offering a public forum for candidates for Speaker is important in helping to build public trust in the Assembly, an especially important public interest given the circumstances under which the Speaker vacancy has arisen and the situation in which the Assembly currently finds itself.

Again, to confirm your commitment to an open and public process, please contact any of the signers below by 10 a.m. on Friday, January 30th.

Sincerely,

Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director,
Democracy Program
Brennan Center for Justice
646-463-1579
Dick Dadey, Executive Director
Citizens Union
917-709-2896
Susan Lerner, Executive Director
Common Cause New York
917-670-5670
Blair Horner, Legislative Director
NYPIRG
518-727-4506
John Kaehny, Executive Director
Reinvent Albany
917-388-9087

 

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