Daily News: Put an end to the Shelly game

In New York City and state, the system is rigged. Our lawmakers long ago opened the door to corruption. Voters have mostly checked out of our politics. And now the Supreme Court has stripped prosecutors of their power to punish many of the sins that the people and their representatives let slide.And so crooked Shelly Silver, the former Assembly speaker finally fallen from grace, had his well-deserved conviction for fraud, extortion and money laundering reluctantly reversed by a three-judge federal appeals panel on Thursday. The court ruled that the jury might have let him walk even after putting millions into his own pockets had the lower-court judge instructed them about the Supreme Court’s outrageous decision, rendered following the conclusion of his trial, that it’s no crime for politicians to use their office to do many kinds of favors short of passing laws for “friends” who give them money.The feds say they’ll try Silver again, but Mayor de Blasio — who infamously called Silver a “man of integrity” after he was charged — now says “I’ve got nothing for you” when reporters asked him for comment on the good news for his old friend and governing partner.

Which is no wonder, given how the same Supreme Court decision that may save Silver was what the Southern District U.S. Attorney referred to when he cited “the high burden of proof” to explain closing a probe of de Blasio without charges. And Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance the same day explained that he wouldn’t charge de Blasio for an “end run” around “the intent and spirit of (New York’s) laws . . . which are meant to prevent ‘corruption and the appearance of corruption.’ ”

Having escaped criminal trial, our barely legal mayor framed the prosecutors’ public scoldings as vindication, lecturing that “it is normal” for him to call agencies to see what they were doing on behalf of his big-bucks donors, as if they were any other constituents: “That’s how we have done things. That’s how we will continue to do things.”

I’m sure he will, what with how his most potent challengers all cleared the field after the lawmen let him off the hook. He appears to be on a glide path to reelection.

Silver’s convicted counterpart in the state Senate, boss Dean Skelos, is licking his lips that his conviction, too, will be overturned since maybe getting his thuggish son a no-show job at a company that needed his support in Albany wasn’t an “official act” or a crime after all in this new golden age of legal graft.

Former Assemblyman William Boyland — the third member of his family to hold that seat! — won’t be so lucky, the appeals panel said in a footnote, but only because his lawyer failed to appeal the jury instructions after he was convicted for shaking down tens of thousands of dollars from feds posing as crooked businessmen and also scamming taxpayers for tens of thousands more in phony expenses.

The list of shame goes on, and on, and on, and hoping the feds will eventually prosecute some of our elected criminals years later can’t be the answer.

In November, New Yorkers will have a rare chance to cast a meaningful vote — one that could let us circumvent the whole crooked machine and speak for ourselves. We can choose to hold a constitutional convention (which the state’s cockamamie constitution allows us to vote for once every 20 years) and make the changes that our lawmakers have not.

As Citizens Union President Dick Dadey wrote in The News Friday, we can use this to finally end the incumbent protection racket that makes voting in New York difficult and unpleasant, encourages lawmakers to keep side gigs that are an open invitation to corruption and helps incumbents raise big bucks to run unopposed.

The powers that be are furiously objecting — after all, this crooked system is paying off for them — and spending big bucks to keep us from speaking for ourselves. In a rare bipartisan consensus, they’re furiously, frantically putting out the word that rich outsiders or dangerous nuts or unintended consequences could harm the state.

Don’t be fooled. New Yorkers would have to vote again to approve any changes our delegates made before they would become part of the state constitution, so there’s no chance of bogeymen running away with what’s left of our tattered democracy.

Voting for the convention is voting for a shot at building a better democracy — one that lets voters actually participate in meaningful elections that let us hold our elected officials accountable. That’s how we can at last get men and women of integrity to govern us, for us.

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