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