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Links of the Day:

– Does Albany’s location lead to more corruption? A Harvard researcher, using mathematical formulas, found more corruption in capitals located some distance from major population centers. New York State is mentioned often.

The Daily News reports on the findings:

Lest you think that this is just a matter of corruption, the paper also notes, “We find that states with isolated capital cities also seem to spend relatively less on things like education, public welfare, and health care, and more on administrative expenditures… This seems to suggest that low accountability and corruption induced by isolation do have an impact in terms of government performance and priorities.”

Media matters too, Campante finds. The more isolated the capital, the lower the level of scrutiny (although I’m sure my colleagues in the political press corps here in New York would beg to differ).

The Joe Bruno scandal got less attention in the media than a similar scandal in Massachusetts, the authors found.

– Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. In an important and disturbing story, the Times-Picayune describes a for-profit prison system that treats inmates like commodities:

The hidden engine behind the state’s well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.


If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.

Baltimore has truly stunning murals painted on building walls. Rochester is getting more of its own murals this summer.

A Syracuse woman left $50,000 in her will to care for her cats.

– Remember the $800 toilet seats? Now there are $17,000 drip plans.

The ancient Olympic games involved a lot of mud, sex and music.

4 Responses to Study: Albany=Isolated=Corrupt

  1. May 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm lynn e responds:

    Who goes to Albany except for government? It’s very isolated and not so attractive. I’m sure it is corrupt.

  2. Albany’s isolation does make a difference, and affects how much people can influence state government. Going there is an all-day ordeal, and costs big bucks whether taking the Thruway (almost in every case) or the train (on rare occasions when the hit & miss schedule is in alignment with your plans). In fact, despite growing up in upstate NY, I didn’t visit Albany until I was working on the $2.5M Transportation Enhancements grant for the Genesee Valley Greenway and a few of us went there to meet with the DEC commissioner to get a pledge for matching funds. (When my parents moved to NY from PA, they visited the capital, and the first building they visited found the security guard asleep with his feet on the desk. They never went back, and that was the standard story about NY state gvt. when I was growing up.) My most recent trip there was for an AmeriCorps rally day, and we had to meet at 2:30 AM in Buffalo to be in Albany first thing in the morning. How often will people go to Albany if each trip is such an ordeal–?

    That lack of constituents from around the state in Albany for legislators and administration officials to bump into & easily meet with makes them easy prey for the voices that remain — the professional lobbyists who swarm the capital, either living there or having pieds-a-terre. And if that wasn’t enough to isolate Albany, the access to good press coverage in the past didn’t help, either — but has become less of an issue with online tools. Having access to Liz Benjamin’s Twitter feed alone has helped me feel better plugged in to what’s happening in Albany than any time before. But it’s still limited, in that it doesn’t cover a lot of inner-agency moves and developments, which often have great impacts on policy and signal who’s up & who’s down. In that past the only way to follow Albany news was by grabbing a copy of the Albany Times-Union at World-Wide News, when they had it. It used to drive me nuts that the Central Library in DT Rochester didn’t — and wouldn’t — get the Albany paper.

    So although Albany is still isolated by physical proximity from most of those it governs, and hasn’t traditionally had the best press coverage, electronic tools have broken down some of the distance barriers and made it possible to get plugged in for those who really want or need to. And not just online tools: the spread of cell phones has made an Albany call the same price as one across town for most of us. And NPR affiliates and initiatives provide the Innovation Trail & Capital Tonight — which, for example, means that on my Buffalo NPR affiliate I get an hour of state gvt. news from Albany nightly.

    And all-in-all, the capital was located at Albany for a reason — to try to create a balance between upstate and the gravitational pull of NYC. Imagine what things would be like for upstate if the statehouse had been located in Manhattan!

  3. May 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm James Simons responds:

    Actually Lynn e, as someone who lived in Albany for 4 years I can attest that it is in fact a very attractive city. It is somewhat of an amalgamation of NYC meets Upstate. Not to mention that it is steeped in history being much older than Rochester, Syracuse or Buffalo.

    Albany is corrupt because our state government allows it to be corrupt. The isolation theory seems ridiculous to me. It makes no sense to compare NY to Mass because NY state is so much geographically bigger. If the capital had been placed in NYC, how much more out of touch would western NY feel? There would have been a much bigger risk of the state splitting in two.

  4. Not to go off on a tangent but I would love it if the State was split. Although unconstiutional to split into 2 states, there is nothing stopping us from running as 2 seperate entities under the New York banner. Lets face it Upstate and Downstate are two different states of being economically and culturally. Downstate there are Assemblymen and Senators representing neighborhoods. Here we have Assemblymen and Senators representing entire counties and congresspeople representing 5-6 county regions. Corruption aside, the disconnect is too big for the state to be operated effectively in my opinion.

    Yes Albany’s location has something to do with this as well. Sheldon Silver has probably never been west of Schenectady which is fine when making laws for his downstate district but terrible when making rational judgment on legislation that effects the entire state. If the state were governed geographically you would see better representation with better laws and tax levels that reflect OUR geographical econonmy and tax dollar use would be more transparent.

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