Has Andrew Cuomo Gone Crazy for Commissions?

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We already knew that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration might not be the most consistent -- with its wavering on whistleblowers and mixed messages on transparency, and uncertainty about medical marijuana.

Now, even more confusing news has emerged about the gov's policies.

As detailed by the Wall Street Journal, the number of governor-appointed commissions has grown under Cuomo -- even though he swore to cut down on government bureaucracy.

The Journal claims that Cuomo, having once slammed the "unwieldy number of commissions and task forces left behind by his predecessors" has "assembled an array of his own roundtables on a sweeping range of public-policy matters: at least 10 new work groups, 11 councils, four task forces, two teams, two commissions and two committees."

Though the Democrat "is hardly the first governor who has tried to solve complicated social and fiscal problems by convening people," the paper notes, "few have used them to shape the public debate and marginalize opposition the way Mr. Cuomo has."

In total, these 10 groups statewide amount to some 200 people. Sometimes these councils produce policy -- such as the Medicaid Redesign Team's successful steps to cut medical costs. Other times, council members -- which often include leaders of special interest groups -- simply don't show up or do their stated mission.

Transparency concerns have also surfaced: "The regional councils, which have been criticized as another form of pork-barrel spending, have yet to disclose a full list of groups that applied for grants and how each proposed project was numerically scored."

Joshua Vlasto, a spokesman for Cuomo, countered this criticism. He told the Voice that the councils had accomplished a lot of good work.

He said that Cuomo's councils today are advisory panels. The members are unpaid and are not government employees. They appointed on a temporary basis. Cuomo's concern had originally been with government panels and boards staffed by paid members, Vlasto said. A list of those cut committees is available here.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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