Teachable Moments in Good Government

rules committee Teachable Moments in Good GovernmentALBANY—There isn't much of a crowd at today's meeting of the State Senate's temporary rules reform committee, where members are hearing testimony from good-government advocates.

Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, spoke about the need to apportion staff and office budgets equally, with differences in accounting for district size and office rent ironed out in the budget process.

Lisa Bang-Jensen and E.J. McMahon, of the Empire Center for Policy, testified that more can be done to put publicly available information on the internet. "You will find a coloring book for kids, but you won't find the votes of the senate education committee whose activities affect those very kids," Bang-Jensen said of the Senate's current website.

And speaking of good government, State Senator John Bonacic, the Republican co-chair, said he was disappointed when he was told he could not speak about anything other than the "issue of the day" when using taxpayer-funded media services.

"I don't say this to whine, but I'm told that this is how my colleagues were treated in the minority. I didn't know," he said.

The committee has also planned hearings for later this month, and will issue its recommendations for changing the chamber's rules by April.