Albany (the state capital) has its own version of the “sin city” slogan: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Legislators from downstate (New York City and its suburbs) would do things in Albany that the press delicately did not report. Called the “Bear Mountain Compact” (anything north of the Bear Mountain Bridge) or the “Tappan Zee (Bridge) Rule,” this so-called compact or rule was widely discussed after Governor Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution scandal reached the press in March 2008.
The term “Bear Mountain Compact” dates in print to at least 1993, but the so-called rule existed informally for many years before this time.
New York (NY) Times
Editorial Notebook; Old News from Albany
By JOYCE PURNICK
Published: January 22, 1993
Albany is hardly the only place where men—and women—have trouble understanding sexual harassment. But the capital has an acute problem because, despite some progress, it remains a male bastion that has yet to overcome its antiquated legacies.
There’s a Brigadoon quality to the state capital—without the charm. It’s hasn’t quite entered the last third of the century. Indeed, not so long ago the professional woman was a rarity in Albany. Many legislators thought of women as pleasurable distractions, part-time companions during their time away from home and family.
Some still do, still abide by the Bear Mountain Compact—the agreement among many legislators to keep mum about personal improprieties that take place north of Bear Mountain.
New York (NY) Times
Budget Negotiations and Hostage-Taking in Albany
By ELIZABETH KOLBERT
Published: April 1, 1997
For many years, budget negotiations in Albany operated under the capital’s own version of the Geneva Convention. This convention stipulated that issues unrelated to the spending plan were not to be held hostage to the annual budget battle, and vice versa. The hostage convention had much the same force as the old Tappan Zee Rule, which held that legislators’ Albany amours were not to be discussed south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. This is to say that it had only as much authority as tradition could afford. And sometime in the last few years it began to break down.
From Rocky to Pataki:
Character and Caricatures in New York Politics
by Hy Rosen and Peter Slocum
Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press
The so-called Bear Mountain Compact dictated that anything that went on north of Bear Mountain wasn’t ever discusses back home in New York City. The press pretty much played along.
New York (NY) Daily News
SEX FUROR SHAKES UP ALBANY POLS Rape charge denied
By CELESTE KATZ and JOE MAHONEY DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU
Sunday, February 25th 2001, 2:20AM
In a city where politicians usually observe the Bear Mountain Compact - whatever transpires north of the Bear Mountain Bridge never gets south of it - the allegations amount to one of the biggest scandals in years.
New York magazine
No more Bear Mountain Compact: Albany’s days as Sin City are coming to an end.
By Michael Tomasky
Published Jun 23, 2003
In Albany, this unofficial concordat of the randy has long been known as the “Bear Mountain Compact,” by which downstate legislators have agreed that things that happened north of Bear Mountain (about the halfway point between New York and Albany) were never to be discussed south of it. It goes back to the days when the Democratic hotel was the De Witt Clinton, the Republican hotel was the Ten Eyck, and one didn’t pry too deeply into who was sleeping where.
New York (NY) Times
Albany Faces Its Sex Problem, and Nobody’s Snickering
By AL BAKER
Published: May 16, 2004
Only people who have never been to Albany laugh at its nickname among the press and politicians: Sin City.
Every week during a legislative session that lasts from January to June and perhaps beyond, most of the state’s 212 lawmakers leave their families to spend three or four days in Albany in an atmosphere that has increasingly become like that of a permanent political convention.
There are alcohol-laden fund-raisers, happy hours, after-hours parties and little else to do during the evenings in a town whose downtown has no movie theater but several loud, warehouse-size bars as well as other, more intimate settings. The conceit is that it is all unseen.
For years, the joke has been that the mostly male lawmakers and their hangers-on have clung to a secret code known as the Bear Mountain compact, whereby any liaisons with interns or young staff members that occur north of Bear Mountain Bridge, which spans the Hudson River between Orange and Westchester Counties, are not spoken about in the home districts in New York City or elsewhere.
Sex, Secrets, and Lies:
The Marriage Vows Revisited
by Marie Miranti Burnett
In a 2004 New York Times article describing Albany as Sin City we are told that when 212 lawmakers leave their families to work three or four days in New York’s capital, things happen between powerful mostly male lawmakers and young interns. There is a secret code known as the Bear Mountain compact, “whereby any liaisons with interns or young staff members that occur north of Bear Mountain Bridge…are not spoken about in the home districts in New York City or elsewhere.”
Albany (NY) Times-Union Editors’ Blog
Rex Smith: Sometimes, the private turns public
September 30, 2006 at 8:57 am by Rex Smith, Editor
Some refer to it as “The Bear Mountain Compact.” To others, it’s “The Tappan Zee Bridge Rule.” Nowadays it’s thought to be more mythical than real, but political reporters in this town still hear about it as soon as they get on the beat. Two decades ago, when I first came to Albany to cover state government for a downstate newspaper, a veteran reporter explained the rule to me: The transgressions of personal integrity by a politician that take place north of the Tappan Zee Bridge don’t get reported to the south of it. Really, he said, the geography was added just for color. The notion was that what an official does outside taxpayer-supported work isn’t newsworthy.
New York (NY) Times)
Oh, Everyone Knows That (Except You)
By ABBY GOODNOUGH
Published: September 2, 2007
Rick Wilson, a Republican consultant based in Florida who has worked for Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, and Katherine Harris, the former Florida congresswoman, among others, said that most states have their own expressions for the circumstances under which open secrets stay secret. In Florida, he said, it’s the “Three County Rule” — no girlfriends within three counties of your home district. In New York, it’s the “Bear Mountain Compact” — nobody talks about what politicians do with their free time once they’ve crossed the Bear Mountain Bridge en route to Albany from points south.
Albany (NY) Times-Union
Scandal always had a bed in Albany
By PAUL GRONDAHL
First published: Saturday, March 15, 2008
Around Albany, mention of the Bear Mountain Compact or the Tappan Zee Rule draws a wink and a nod from downstate lawmakers. Those variations on “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” hint at the fact that the legislative coterie may be engaging in behavior they’d rather not tell their wives and children back home about.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
There’s A Bear Mountain Compact?!?
To outdoorsy New Yorkers, Bear Mountain is known as a recreational getaway not too far from the city where you can fish, hike and do whatever woodsy stuff you like. However to a politician serving in the New York State Legislature there’s a hidden meaning when driving up I-87 on the way to Albany.
ALBANY - There are the booze-fueled fund-raisers and the attractive aides, the six-months-long, intense legislative session and the second homes stumbling distance from the bars—all of it conveniently far from home.
New York’s capital may look buttoned-down, but former legislative aides and lawmakers say Albany provides an accommodating culture for marital infidelities like those acknowledged by Gov. David A. Paterson on Monday.
“That’s just the nature of Albany. It lends itself to idle people misbehaving away from home,” said Charmian Neary, a former Albany aide who filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Assembly against her boss, former Assemb. Mark Alan Siegel, in 1992. It was dismissed, although Siegel and the Assembly later settled a harassment lawsuit with Neary.
For many years, there was a rule among New York City area lawmakers called the Bear Mountain Compact: personal transgressions north of the upstate mountain don’t get talked about south of it. At least not on the record. “Of course you hear the rumors,” said one state legislator who spoke on condition of anonymity. “And you do everything you can to avoid becoming part of them.”
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Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 07:04:18 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Fri, Mar 21 2008 10:04 am
Subject: NY’s Gov. Dave Paterson: Open To Blackmail?
“Ever heard of something called the Tappan Zee compact?” asks Steve Greenberg, who spent 12 years in the Assembly as a press secretary and now works in public relations. “It basically says that ‘what happens north of the Tappan Zee Bridge stays north of the Tappan Zee Bridge.’ I’m not pointing fingers, but it is assumed that some of the more significant figures in state politics have some things similar to what David Paterson has admitted to, and they don’t want the press inquiring about their own situations.”
New York City • Government/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Sunday, April 13, 2008 • Permalink