Man seeks museum of political corruption
ALBANY Albany is known for political corruption.
Why shouldn’t the city cash in?
That’s the attitude of Albany resident Bruce Roter, who has proposed creating an Albany Museum of Political Corruption to highlight the more ignominious aspects of New York’s history.
“Corruption could be our never-ending resource here in the Capital Region,” said Roter, a music professor at The College of Saint Rose. “It could be a great tourist attraction.”
Roter has created a website to promote his idea, http://www.albanymuseumofpoliticalcorruption.org. He has also set up a Facebook page to generate interest in the project.
The museum will be lighthearted but also informative, Roter said.
“It sort of ties in with what I like to do as a music professor,” Roter said. “I like to educate and entertain.”
Instead of paying an admission fee, patrons might pay a bribe. Parents would be encouraged to lie about their children’s ages.
But there would also be a rogue’s gallery to tell the stories of corrupt politicians, and Roter suggested the museum could be a force for good, fighting political corruption through satire.
On the museum’s Facebook page, Roter writes, “Somewhere in the museum must be an acknowledgement to the overwhelming number of public servants who are honorable and represent us to the best of their abilities. It is a sacrifice, it is a ‘calling.’ ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt (one of our NY governors) believed it was the responsibility of all of us to participate in public service. So to all our honorable public servants, I say ‘thank you’ and I hope this Museum of Corruption will serve you, even as you work to serve us.”
In another post, Roter writes, “How do you battle Albany’s image of corruption? By making fun of it!!!”
Right now Roter is trying to get people interested in his idea, and he said that the next step will be to assemble a team to raise money and come up with more concrete plans.
“This is not a joke,” he said. “On one hand, of course it’s a joke, and on the other hand, I’m very serious about it.”
Some of the more notable recent political figures ensnared by corruption scandals are former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in a prostitution scandal, former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who resigned from office over his use of state employees for personal services and later pleaded guilty to a “pay for play” scheme involving the state pension fund, and former state Sen. Pedro Espada, who was sentenced to five years in prison after a federal jury found him guilty of embezzling money from federally funded health care clinics.
But the state’s history of political corruption is long and deep.
In 1779, state Sen. John Williams, a colonel in the American Revolution, was expelled from the Senate for defrauding fellow soldiers of their wages.
And in 1861, Assemblyman Jay Gibbons was expelled for attempting to acquire bribes in exchange for votes.
Roter has experience generating grassroots support for seemingly farfetched projects.
He led the successful campaign to bring Trader Joe’s to the Capital Region, creating a website to rally people to the cause of bringing the popular supermarket to the area.
Roter said that people have been enthusiastic about his museum concept.
“Everybody I’ve told the idea to has just flipped for it,” he said.