Re-elect the comptroller

The Editorial Board

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Oct 31, 2018

Since taking office in 2007, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has served New York state and Adirondack residents very well. We back him for another four-year term in his race against Republican Jonathan Trichter, Mark Dunlea of the Green Party and Libertarian Cruger Gallaudet.

DiNapoli, through numerous audits, has proven the importance of the office. Consider what we would not know today without those reports:

¯ In late December 2017 we learned from his office that the Franklin County Solid Waste Management Authority’s receipts don’t add up 20 percent of the time.

¯ A month earlier, his office reported that in the town of St. Armand, “Significant deficiencies were found within the town’s accounting records.” A recent town supervisor had assigned bookkeeping to an accountant with insufficient oversight, and water and sewer district bills were inaccurate and improperly maintained. The state hadn’t audited St. Armand since 1976.

¯ 2017 also saw the imprisonment of a Minerva town clerk whose $19,000 embezzlement the comptroller’s office outed.

¯ It was a comptroller’s audit that caught the treasurer of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department stealing some $20,000 from his fellow firefighters in 2015.

¯ DiNapoli’s office reported in 2015 that Empire State Development Corp. got no tangible results from $211 million worth of advertising between 2011 and 2014.

¯ In 2014 his office faulted the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, based in Lake Placid, for poor financial planning.

¯ Also in 2014, DiNapoli’s office caught a Potsdam court clerk embezzling $117,000.

This is our tax money. It’s good to know about it, right?

And there’s more beyond that rogues’ gallery. Remember Comlinks? It was an audit by DiNapoli’s office that showed its leader Nancy Reich “diverted nearly $100,000 in grant monies to support a lavish lifestyle for herself.” Sadly, the charity agency, which did so much good for people in need in Franklin and Essex counties, couldn’t long survive the scandal, but it’s thanks to DiNapoli and his staff that we knew about this theft.

Keep these investigations coming.

DiNapoli, in meetings with newspaper editorial boards, also has advocated for consolidations of government as well as sharing of services. In addition, he has done a good job in oversight of the state pension fund.

Some quibble with the accuracy of his office’s Fiscal Stress Rankings, but no other comptroller had even tried to create such a mechanism. We give DiNapoli credit for devising such a system in the first place.

Trichter offers voters an alternative and wants to bring increased fiscal responsibility to Albany. That problem, however, normally does not begin with the comptroller’s office. It starts with the free-spending Assembly. DiNapoli has not been afraid to regularly offer fair but critical assessments of state budgets and the state fiscal situation — valuable to the public at large. He also advocates to restore the comptroller’s office’s oversight of economic development contracts, a literally scandalous lapse that helped some of the governor’s allies almost get away with accepting bribes.

Dunlea’s is laser-focused on divesting the state pension fund of environmentally unfriendly investments — high-minded but too simplistic for us.

Gallaudet, meanwhile, is running a tiny campaign as an extreme Libertarian, posting on Facebook that there should be no taxes and that government’s purpose should be to gradually dismantle itself.

Let’s stick with DiNapoli.