Cherkasky: Paterson’s Ethics Plan Has ‘Really Interesting Ideas’ That I’ve Read About

ALBANY—Apparently, as they devised a way to completely overhaul government ethics in New York, David Paterson’s staffers didn’t consult with Michael Cherkasky, the man Paterson praised as the “perfect person and most qualified to restore public confidence” in ethics enforcement.

“They haven’t called,” Cherkasky, who Paterson appointed as head of the Commission on Public Integrity, told me by phone. “I looked at their bullet points, I’m interested in seeing the bill, but I think it’s great that there’s dialogue. We just need to have a dialogue with different ideas, and it can’t be behind closed doors.”

Paterson’s proposal faces slim chances of legislative passage, and is seen by some as motivated less by a desire to enact change than to improve the governor’s political standing. Regardless, Cherkasky said the push–expected tomorrow in Paterson’s State of the State address–is positive.

 “There are a lot of really, really interesting ideas: how you select, the size of the commission the jurisdictional things and how you disclose stuff is really, really interesting,” he continued, even though one of the central ideas is blowing up the CPI.

I asked Cherkasky–whose day job is running Altegrity, the parent of United States Information Services–whether that means he’ll continue to have a job enforcing state ethics.

“I doubt it,” he replied. “I don’t think it’s about me or these individual commissioners. I think it’s getting it right, and we’ll find terrific people. There’s not a paucity of highly qualified people….I’m just turning 60 and running a billion dollar corporation right now; I’ve got plenty to do. I’m privileged to serve, but if we get the system right, we’ll find plenty of good people.”