Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Spitzer No Match for Silver

I believe that Spitzer meant it when he said during the campaign he was going to reform Albany – but I don’t believe he realized how difficult it will be for him to take on the biggest roadblock that stands in his way – the state legislature.

As Attorney General, he was in a position of power that made it easy for him to bully Wall Street. Maybe he thought it would be just as easy to clean up the capitol – maybe he even fooled himself into thinking that because the Assembly is controlled by his own party he would be in a position to accomplish this mission.

Just one month into office, he is already finding out that Silver will prove to be a much bigger foe than Grasso ever was and that he has little recourse. Despite supporting Spitzer when an independent panel was chosen to select candidates for Comptroller, Silver changed course when the panel selected three candidates (with actual relevant experience) that were not members of the Assembly. The Assembly has decided that only one of their members will do, experience be damned, and Spitzer can do nothing but issue strongly worded statements that fall on deaf ears.

Spitzer is quoted in the NY Times as saying:
“I do believe that the process that was agreed upon, publicly articulated and agreed upon by the leaders in Albany, should be pursued,” he said on Tuesday morning in Manhattan. “And this is a fundamental test of the integrity of those who entered that decision process.”

Well Eliot, I believe your first mistake was to assume that Silver has integrity. The second mistake – to think that the Assembly as a whole is accountable to voters – the individual members know that come election time, the voters in their district are just going to check the name they know or vote along party lines.

Arnold took office with similar dreams of reforming a corrupt, partisan legislature. The momentum of the referendum gave him a few early victories, but his subsequent attempts to bring reform to Sacramento crashed and burned.

I wish Eliot the best of luck in his attempts to reform Albany, but I believe he is fighting a losing battle and will soon have to make a deal with the devil.

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