Binghamton’s GOP-led Council (Again) Won’t Even Discuss Basic Reform Proposals to Increase Transparency and Improve Ethics

On September 26, I submitted to Binghamton City Council and the Clerk’s Office two Requests for Legislation (RLs) that share common themes of transparency and good governmental reforms.


Expand Broome’s Annual Financial Disclosure Reporting to Binghamton

The first request pertains to emulating the longstanding practice of Broome County, which requires all elected officials, key administrative officials, and citizens who volunteer to serve on county boards to submit Annual Financial Disclosure Forms to promote ethics in government and minimize or prevent public corruption. As a citizen who volunteers my time to serve on the Broome County Land Bank board to better my community, I have been submitting these Annual Financial Disclosure forms for years.

I first introduced this RL in 2019, but then-Council President Tom Scanlon worked with then-Mayor Rich David to bury the legislation. It never even received a discussion at a work session. (See my 2019 article here.)

Here is an excerpt from my cover letter:

“…I have been advocating for this legislation for almost four years, prompted by the poor judgement at best and unethical conduct at worst by the prior mayor.

The matter is even more urgent now. With more and more of our rental housing being gobbled up by corporate entities and real estate investment firms that shield the identify of investors, it is critically important for residents to know if Council members are profiting off this extractive industry that is displacing vulnerable residents, harming our neighborhoods, and increasing housing insecurity. The complete inaction by Council to consider any policy intervention to address our serious housing crisis raises questions about the interests of the majority party, since prior Council Presidents have blocked and buried this proposal from even a fair hearing at a Council work session. I introduce this good government reform again to allow this Council to make its position clear to the public on where it stands on ethics in government and its commitment to fight public corruption…”

You can read the full cover letter and Request for Legislation here.


Transparency for Binghamton’s $46 M Pandemic Recovery Award

The second request pertains to emulating most cities that have created a dedicated webpage on how they’re spending their local COVID recovery award. Every unit of government (village, city, town, county, and state) in the United States received a significant flexible grant award in 2021 to help with recovery, and Binghamton received $46 million that must be spent by December 31, 2026.

Following a five-minute google search, here are just six examples from local governments in upstate New York that created ARPA pages to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability:

Binghamton has no accessible information online, and as I wrote in my cover letter:

“…It is not unfair nor an exaggeration to say that both the David and Kraham administrations have treated this unprecedented recovery award as a political “slush fund,” especially the more than $12 million that was laundered through the general fund as “recovered revenue,” a dwindling portion of which remains available to support any investment in the City. Some of the decisions made to date I support. Some I don’t. But I have no idea what’s happening unless I carry out extensive research, and dig where only a few know where to dig.

This legislation, therefore, seeks to establish the most basic level of transparency and accountability…”

You can read the full cover letter and Request for Legislation here.


City Council Presidents have sole authority to set work session and business meeting agendas. At a meeting in 2021, Councilmember Phil Strawn said he’d be willing to discuss the Financial Disclosure Reporting proposal. He’s also mentioned in the past that he supports discussing how to make City government more transparent. As Council President, Strawn now has the power to make it happen.

The agenda for Binghamton City Council’s October 3 Work Session was published online on Friday.

Neither proposals are on the agenda.

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