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Letters: Lawmakers should open their books

Matt Davies

Matt Davies

I'm writing this only after standing for five minutes in my home applauding the editorial staff of Newsday for keeping the pressure on our state legislators ["Whom do they work for?" Editorial, March 8].

You stated what I and many others feel: New York lawmakers should be full time. However, I have a major issue with the part of your secondary headline that says, ". . . or identify their private clients."

The fact is, there should be no private clients. Every New Yorker should take a stand here and now. Our message should ring loud and clear: You work for us, period.

I applaud legislators who believed it was their responsibility to answer the two questions posed by Newsday. At the same time, virtually half felt that they did not need to respond to the taxpayers in New York State. For those 15 of the 31 legislators who didn't provide answers, I suggest we start with a much more basic question: Whom do you think you work for?

Steve Nowakowski, East Islip

For whom do they work? I seems that quite a few of our legislators from Long Island made it clear: It's not for those who elected them.

Those who declined to respond to Newsday's queries demonstrated the arrogance of the entrenched players who wish to keep the public in the dark, while they retain their lucrative roles in our legislature.

While I'm sure the non-responders can devise an elegant speech as to why they didn't answer, the bottom line is clear. They are avoiding the transparency we require so they can continue their backroom deals in Albany.

If we keep electing those who make empty promises, but are really there for themselves, it is our own fault.

Ronald Bode, Amityville

There is a definite need for more transparency from our elected officials. They owe this to the people they represent. Newsday asked 31 of these political leaders two simple questions.

Seven declined to provide a yes or no answer; eight didn't respond at all to Newsday's inquiries. One opposes a full-time legislature and full disclosure of all sources of income.

Sixteen of 31 are not willing to provide information to either Newsday or the public. The main reason is, more than likely, having to disclose all sources of income. Why?

Newsday's editorial described exactly why there is resistance. These legislators are considered part-time employees, with salaries of $79,500 a year, plus stipends for committee or leadership positions

They are privy to all sorts of information they could use for personal benefit. Opposing full disclosure of all sources of income ensures secrecy. Many are probably earning more money from their connections than their legislative positions.

Even if a new disclosure system were adopted, there are always creative ways some people would find to circumvent it.

It seems obvious, by an unwillingness to respond, many are working primarily for themselves and only secondarily for their constituents.

Joe Margolis, Westbury

On the subject of full disclosure of all sources of income for state senators and assembly members, why not put it to a voter referendum?

Considering that many of our elected officials opted not to respond to this survey, what does that tell the constituency? Can Albany police itself? What do you think?

Bob Hall, Port Jefferson Station